Saturday, 23 March 2013

Things Fell Apart: In Remembrance of Chinua Achebe


Perhaps, I should be surprised at the news of Professor Achebe’s passing away. I ought to have started a series of blog posts under titles that equal the late storyteller’s previous works. If I had been chanced to come through with the intention before his death, I would have started with Things Fall Apart. Precisely, I would have written about the opinion of Nigerian youth bloggers, wordsmiths and tweeters with reference to the #Amanpour interview Mr President had on CNN several weeks ago.

Born in 1930 within the Ogidi community, the Igbo man’s works were never without a proverb from his mother tongue, interpreted in other words for the reader’s understanding. In addition to Things Fall Apart (1958), the Achebe works we will always remember include Arrow of God (1964), No Longer at Ease (1960), A man of the People (1966) and the one he wrote the year I was born, Anthills of the Savannah. Through these books and more, Mr Achebe propagated the true characteristics of Africa and Africans and attempted to correct the meretricious writings of some British authors about us. Many of those writing about Africa back then had never been privileged to wash their faces with water sourced from the African earth. So, when they wrote, they told the tale of a people they do not know with awkward contentment.

Many argue that late Achebe should have won a Nobel Prize.  Those who participate in these arguments are mainly Nigerian and African writers. And those of us who do not join in the debates are often considered shallow readers. Perhaps, we should remind ourselves that the prize of contention did not originate from Africa. Our influence in the literary world will always be honoured by the fruits of readership; prizes are secondary. Let those who give prizes give them to whom they so choose. Let those who write do so with the primary purpose of affecting lives. Let those who read books buy original copies in thanksgiving to the authors. Then, when you win a prize, you would really be surprised and think of it as a supplement.

History will continue to recognise Achebe’s political works of the 60s and 70s. The conflicts within Nigeria following the post-colonial era were penned by the renowned writer. Before his death, I heard the old man had been ill for a while. I know he was in want of staying strength. But I am sure he did what many writers would love to achieve before emptying his spirit. He wrote with passion and creativity, won prestigious prizes and died when it was time to exit the flesh. He has gone. But he has left us many gifts. His essays, novels and poems will remain with us. He has offered us wise words as alphabets and long stories the way he understood them. They will remind us of his thoughts and distractions. May we find the useful bits and apply them where they perfectly fit in; because in late Achebe’s words, “Writers don’t give prescriptions. They give headaches!”

Adieu! Professor Achebe. You are late on Wikipedia but alive in history.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

In Rememberance of Charlie Chaplin

Photo Credits:
As a norm, I am not readily biased about Comedy movies. I believe Comedy should be about laughter, so it should be safe for me, with no strings attached. In addition, one of the objectives of Comedy producers is to make people laugh and the main intention of the entertainment consumers or viewers is to be humourously entertained. 

But, when comedy evolves out of obscenity, some viewers get a caveat and grow sceptical. At the next opportunity, they tend to exercise severe caution while scanning for movies. Personally, I am moved to raise an eyebrow the next time I choose to watch a movie. Though without offence, that's one reason why the youthful serial Comedy, American Pie, puts me off. I had to ask myself if I was watching Comedy or Comic porn. Perhaps, persons who consider themselves conservative should be properly forewarned, even at the point of sale.

Artistes who can make their audience laugh without introducing elements of stark lewdness or clear pornography into the entertainment content show that they have more creativity power. I opine that more kudos be offerred to dramatists whose inventiveness are safe enough for the entertainment consumption of more age groups and truly consider late Sir Charles Spencer KBE (1889-1977), a.k.a Charlie Chaplin as one of such men.

Charles' childhood experience was characterised by real poverty and strong webs of hardship. In his own words and in reference to his childhood,
"I was hardly aware of a crisis because we lived in a continual crisis; and, being a boy, I dismissed our troubles with gracious forgetfulness."
Young Charles started living in the workhouse at age 7 because his parents couldn't take care of him. Few years later, he witnessed the arrival of lunacy into his mother's life and endured living with a father who had become covenant friends with drunkenness. Yet, he worked hard relentlessly and won many transcontinental fans of Comedy movie. His eventual breakthrough was a huge testimony and perhaps, a final getaway from the holds of penury. Though Charles had many challenges as adult, he never gave up. He eventually got married three times before knowing the taste of love at age 53. Even at Golden Jubilee plus three years, he married Oona, the 18-year-old woman who stood by him in the thick of trouble and together, they produced a legion of eight yuppie kids.

Creativity in arts is interesting. I think it's one of the few things you can do anyhow and  make a great impression with. A simple word can evolve into a fantastic line; a fantastic line can grow into an enthusing plot; and an enthusing is just enough raw material to produce an entertaining story. If anyone else hasn't, I think Charlie Chaplin has doubtless succeeded in adding creativity to humourous entertainment.

I have spared these moments to honour Charlie; not because of the things he did not do well but for the depth of creativity he unleashed through jocular entertainment content creation. Charles did it with passion. He did it when it was not even profitable. He did it in ways that should be remembered and referenced today and tomorrow.

Whenever I come across any of Charlie's prime works, be it the Kid, Gold Rush, City Lights or Monsieur Verdoux, I am reminded that humour or Comedy does not have to contain lewdness or perversion. Humour itself, if interwoven with vital life lessons, is sufficient to innovate comical entertainment.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Where Babies Come From

I think I know where babies come from. As a matter of fact, they come from where they come from!
Courtesy of
A little girl once taught Bill Cosby how this stuff happens. A store keeper who probably lives on earth goes to heaven to get "them babies" and ships them to a hospital here on earth. Then the mother goes to the hospital to retrieve her baby with an ID number. That's how. Oh, kindly save your questions for later and ask the young professor in the video below.

Do you remember that funny line used by motivational speakers when they want to remind you of how special you really are? Yes. I'm referring to, "...out of over 1 million sperms, you made it through and here you are... so, why should you be feeling down and inferior...when you are so special?" Well, it is actually true that you are very special. Previous research findings at Oakland University by Dr Charles Lindemann have shown that the average number of sperm produced by man at each ejaculation is approximately 280 million. I understand that sheep, cows and pigs (other than guinea pigs) do more than that.

Many of the sperms do not make it to the finish line where the egg is waiting and feeling lucky like, at the extreme end of what scientists and medical experts call the fallopian tube. Just a few and perhaps, a couple of tens of spermatozoans (depending on the ability of the man's reproductive system to produce them) eventually reach the "innermost court". Out of all the finalists that swim to the egg's waiting room, only one sperm gets to fertalise it. Now, all that competitive activity happens within several mimutes before Mother Nature crowns one sperm the champion of the triathlon.

Today, I don't think someone else would have come if another spermatozoan had fertilised an ovum the day my zygote form was created. If a different sperm had fertilised the ovum, I still would have emerged as the same person. I may just look different on the outside, perhaps with a different gender; but on the inside, I'd still have the same spirit or life. More importantly, I'd have the same inherent purpose. I believe this applies to everyone. When we are formed as zygote, we enter a vessel and grow up in it. When we're done, we exit the body and leave. Babies come from where we all came from. And just like babies, each one of us is special.

After watching the video below, which is an interesting clip from the old Bill Cosby humour series, I guess you'd think twice before answering the question, "Where do babies come from?" Enjoy!

You are indeed special. You have a reason or purpose for living. Find it. Pursue it. Achieve it.