Friday, February 13, 2015

The Weekly Sneak: Make The Joke So You Don't Have To Be The Joke

Oh, Hai!*

Quirk the corner of your mouth in a wry smile if you enjoyed #MugabeFalls. Couldn't resist writing about it because Uncle Bob just keeps on giving and giving and besides I have had media on my mind these past few weeks...

"The answer to the youth-appeal question doesn't seem all that hard. We want our politicians to entertain us, in the best sense of the word: by accommodating our thirst for someone tangible who can crack a joke or even better, take one. I don't think that this is limited to youth by any means, it is just a feature of a new political dimension, a sign of the times we live in. And there isn't much rocket science to it, just some social savvy and a good gadget or two plus some simcards."

Watching the evolution of the relationship that politicians have with social media is always fun, eh. But more seriously, I actually realized that in the coming elections one of my most important criteria for personal evaluations of a candidate's viability will be their social media profile. Do they own accounts? Do they personally operate them or defer them to peons? How genuine vs manufactured do their online avatars feel? In summary, how well-equipped do they seem to be to function in the current situation. And all this because Robert Mugabe couldn't take a joke :)

*Yeah, um, it's been a while. You good? Cool.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Weekly Sneak: Anything But Katiba

This week I started an article about the Katiba process only to get about 500 words into and realize: there's just no way. This thing turned into a circus without a majordomo months ago. It has been months, surely a few more months will not make a difference. So in the hopes of continuing my policy of letting Katiba Mpya stew in its own juices while the pressure increases, had to look far and wide for a meaty topic that would prove distracting. 

The internets, as always, came through:

"In the olden days there was a proprietorial sense of decorum about pictures, with more conservative or technology-avoiding cultures going so far as to suggest that taking a picture of someone is tantamount to taking a piece of their soul. Maybe they were on to something there. In this particular case my sympathies lie with the individuals whose privacy is violated for commercial gain. If it can happen to them, of course it can happen to us plebeians. Who, exactly, is accessing your stash of pictures and to what purpose might be a modern concern, but it bears thinking about above and beyond the regular fears of government censorship and espionage."

Friday, August 15, 2014

This Writing Life: Making Chinua Achebe Ghanaian

So this month will be a bit heavy in terms of productivity as all the deadlines come due. For African Arguments I got to speculate about what makes a Great African Writer only to conclude that I don't know. If I did, I would certainly be doing my best to get myself some awards and prize money. But here's a thing: essayists don't get that kind of love. Writing might be writing but the truth is that without a novel under your belt you haven't quite arrived as a writer. 

You know what else helps? Not calling Chinua Achebe a Ghanaian writer. If there's one thing that is consistent about the gods of print, it is their perversity. No matter what amount of effort you put in your most elementary mistakes will always make it to print. Always. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Weekly Sneak: The New Constitution. Again.

Took a break from the East African for about a month but I have come back to that desk this week because I felt bad about punking out on Jenerali Ulimwengu. Tis a poor footsoldier who leaves their post and leaves their General unsupported. The good news is that journalists generally don't go all court martial on each other, the occupation is a bit too loose-limbed for that.  

So, this new constitution of ours, eh. There are only roughly 18 months left before our next general election if things go according to the normal schedule, and we are still messing around with this thing. I am concerned:
"The whole project is turning out to be more complicated than the folks in charge implied it would be. I still maintain that you can't fast-track a Constitution no matter how badly you need a winning outcome for an outgoing administration- these things have to be started nice and early. Now the Establishment is proposing to drag us all in the wake of further “deliberations” come August because ati how many governments does one Republic need. This is unwelcome, but perhaps typical of the sunset days of the Fourth Administration."
Basically, I want a younger President. Not because I believe in the magical powers of youth- there aren't any- but I am definitely ready for someone who has lived experience and a visceral understanding that politics the world over have evolved significantly since 1960. A peer would do nicely. 


Monday, July 21, 2014

A Book Launch, A Birthday Party by the Sea and A Snoozing Blog.

That was my weekend, pretty much. It has been too long since the blog has been updated, but I want to tell you that there are plans. Thinking of really revamping the blog at some point (perhaps even this year). And more content. Those are the plans. 

In the meantime, Dar is beautiful and I am falling in love with it all over again. I don't know how or why it happens, but it does, every couple of years or so. Maybe it is the winter climate, very nice coolness in the air and colors seem sharper. Maybe it is the pent up energy that's humming in traffic and in public spaces. Maybe it is the coming holidays? Or are we progressing into our version of Spring? Whatever it is, just about loving it. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Weekly Sneak: What? Oh. Merry World Cup to You Too.

The nice thing about growing older is that you don't have to accept your limitations so much as your limitations just kind of embrace you warmly and never let you go. After two decades of trying to fit in, this is me comfortably admitting that unless I am in the stadium, unless it is Serena Williams, or one of those sports that we only enjoy during the Olympics, unless it is Rugby, then I am not watching it. 

If you also love the beautiful human body and the feel of a good adrenaline high and a racing heart, if you dig the idea of fitness even if we are crap at actually working out, if you believe in a good long walk or hot yoga or karate, whatever your flavor... but you're just not going to watch the world cup? This one is for you: 
"Why lie, it really is the beautiful game. You wouldn't believe how much work can go into remaining completely and utterly unbewitched by it, which means that some of us are facing a long couple of weeks of avoiding crowds, bars, conversations, the first minute of any newscast, the last minute of any newscast, and possibly all human beings that can talk. When it comes to sports, I would rather do it however badly than sit around and watch someone else do it, however well."
Ain't no shame in it. See you around at the television-free restaurants and coffee shops. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

What Makes You Proud To Be an African?

A rather sweet and well-intentioned email came across my desk about three weeks back, asking me what makes me proud to be an African. Like, could I describe it? Preferably in so-many printable words for the benefit of her initiative. 

You know, I like to support, especially the young. But. Some questions, eh. So I did what a good Tanzanian does: dwelled in silence rather than say no directly. Oddly enough, I ended up answer her question sideways through an entirely different article. Coming to an African Arguments near you tomorrow:
" evening, I sat in a pub next to a gentleman who upon learning of my nationality proceeded to regale me with tales of his colonial service, only to insist that the only reason a woman like me would be in the school I was attending was because my parents must be part of the kleptocracy. After all, no such thing as honest Africans who work long and hard to give their children an elite education, right? 
Bojo! Clearly, this man did not know he was talking to a full-blooded Mhaya. And then he dragged my folks into it. Let's just say that many of the principles by which I conduct my professional life and approach to international relations, class, the development industry sprang out of those seminal encounters."

If you're Haya and you know, clap your hands. And while you're at it, might as well put the 'L' in "arrogance."  ;) I just wanted to keep that one para intact in case they edit in the next few hours.

As Craig Ferguson would say: "I look forward to your letters." Heh.


Friday, May 30, 2014

The Weekly Sneak: Why the Caged Bird Sings

By the time I was coming around to her, Miz Angelou was already a Grand Dame. She had that patrician thing going on, a stentorian voice full of gravitas and particular pronunciation.  Not to mention a head of hair that essentially said: 'don't mess with me. I might be warm and loving but if you piss me off I will crack your bones and bury you where even your maker won't find you.'*

And then, you know, teenage girls discover her and suddenly catch an American accent and a deep relationship with spoken word. To this day, I can't stand hearing 'Still I Rise' performed out loud, it makes me crazy. Of course I love it, even though I think the end kind of gets soggy, but there should be a moratorium on public performances of that particular poem.** 

Anyways, so I read her books. I'm so, so glad and thankful that she wrote her biography. 

Coming to an East African near you this week:
"One greyish kind of day in Washington a couple of years ago, a woman read a poem at some guy's function. It was all about passing it forward. It was quiet and deep and I heard it. It had strength and censure and I heard it. It was simple and timeless and I heard it. So I would like to quote, in memory of Miz Angelou, just the one line of Elizabeth Alexander's offering on that day: “A teacher says, take out your pencils. Begin.”"
*Scary Feminist Hair is an old and very rich artform. Think Grace Jones. Or Hilary Clinton's perfectly sized mid-chin helmet. Et cetera.  

**She's already dead so she can't kill me and bury me where even my maker won't find me :)***

*** Actually, I would love to see Still I Rise performed with great subversion by everyone who ISN't a Black Woman. Now that, folks, would be balls. Wait, I meant to say 'art'.

A little birdie told me...

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