Posted in Reviews

Changing the narrative

The world must respect us, they must see us, they must understand who we are as AfricansMo Abadu

Last week I shared a few of my favorite things and gave insight in the few media platforms that inspire me. One of the few things I did not get to share was my love for the television show CNN African Voices. The truth is if I was to list all the things am currently obsessed with I would have to probably publish a novel. Thus, why not simply write a new blog post.

 I discovered the show when my sister did her usual stealing of the television remote and demanded we watch African voices on CNN . Her friend’s brother from Rwanda was featured in that week’s episode. Part of me was embarrassed that as much as I am on this self-discovery journey of appreciating my Africa, there was so much I still did not know.

African voices has provided a platform for Africans to showcase their talents. Every week a new episode focuses on different individuals excelling in the food business, arts or sports. I cannot begin to express my excitement at watching a global show that has managed to change the narrative and focus on the good that comes out of Africa.

On this week’s episode of African Voices, I was particularly drawn to Mo Abadu, a Nigerian Media mogul. If like me your addicted to television talk shows then you will recognize her from the television show Moments with Mo. Mo argues that the Media today should produce content that is diverse. The media shapes and creates public opinion as well as builds strength within our society.

I think one of the main things that has pushed me to search and write content from and for Africa is feeling that I was not properly represented both as an African and black woman. It is more than inspiring for me to see that fellow African women are pushing for the same agenda. We must change the narrative, our stories must be told by us and given the attention they deserve.

Take a look at this week’s episode of CNN African Voices by clicking the link below and hopefully you will get to discover and celebrate Africa’s rich diversity and creativity.

 

http://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2017/03/27/african-voices-mo-abudu-nigeria-media-mogul-a.cnn

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Posted in Short stories

A letter to my mother tongue

Yebare (Thank you)

Mama, yebare kunejesa orurime rwanje. Webare kuba insistent gu nenje orurime gwowitu.  Tinkumana ku ngamba O’Ruyankole kurungi kwonka ndi determined kwega. Niyenda kwebaza Tata for being persistent and doing burikimwe to lecture us on the importance of our mother tongue.

Erizoba omu classi twaba tu yenga importance ywo orurimi rwintu. Nshanga ngu naba quite shy ku gamba abagenzi bange ngu nigamba O’Ruyankole omuka. Instead nabagambira ngu nitugamba oruswahili. I think part of me was afraid that they would not understand what the language is especially because most of my peers are from South Africa. So I choose to hide that part of myself and reveal a language that I thought would be more acceptable and I did not have to spend hours explaining what it was.

Mama, you have taught me to always be proud of who I am but I tend to find that whenever I am out of my home space and surrounded by people from similar backgrounds than mine I tend to shy away.  Omwegesa wintu  yangera ngu I need not to be shy of where I am from because that is what makes me, who I am today.

Mama na tata nibashaba okusasira haza nibebaza okunkunda nokunyegesa ngu okubo omuryankole nekintu kuba celebrated.

Yebare, yebare, yebare.

Posted in Reviews

These are a few of my favorite things

African love stories an anthology, edited by Ama Ata Aidoo. Ayebia Publishing, 2006.

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This book offers a collection of contemporary African love stories all written by amazing African women. The authors rage from Doreen Baingana whose story Tropical fish explores the life of a young woman in a confusing relationship with a British tourist to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie whose short story depicts what it is like for the “other woman” and what keeps her holding on to a married man. I love this collection of stories because they subvert the idea that Africans do not know romance and women are nothing but helpless victims who must remain submissive to their husbands. This collection depicts our reality, it tells our stories and most importantly the African love stories an anthology gives African women a voice.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Published by Fourth Estate, 2006.

Adichie made me fall in love with African literature. Set in the 1960’s Half of a yellow sun offers a history of the Biafran war. Adichie shows the effects of war through the relationships of each of the characters in the novel. Half of a yellow sun is  a story of nationality, fear and loss.  But most importantly it illustrates the power of love and how love triumphs all, even gunshots and bombs. Just in case your too lazy or busy to read the novel, there’s a film version starring famous actresses Thandie Newton and Anika Noni Rose. I would personally rather read the novel.

Thandie and Kay.com  (at http://thandiekay.com/our-archives/)

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I came across this blog last year via Instagram and was immediately blown away. Initially and I am embarrassed to admit I discovered the blog while trying to stalk British actress Thandie Newton. She did not have a personal account however she did have a joint account with make-up artist Kay Montano. All the pictures posted were from their blog and I became intrigued to see what it was about.  Thandie and Kay.com is a wonderful community for women and men of colour. It is a celebration of the diversity, strength and  uniqueness. The blog features women and men with empowering stories, from artists, to musicians and actresses. It uplifts the natural hair movement by providing stories and tips of how to rock the natural hair game. My dark skin is glowing as I write this thanks to the skin care tips shared from this blog. Thandie and Kay is a platform were difference is  celebrated.

 Shuga  (Tv Series) at (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMkoWkAlIV8)

If you’re from East Africa and do not know the Mtv series Shuga, please get your life (Tamar Braxton voice). Where do you think the amazing Lupita Nyong’o started her film career? She was even a producer on the show. Funny enough I only found this out when she won the Oscar for 12 years a Slave. The successful Tv show was first aired in Kenya on Mtv Base. It was then moved to Nigeria and dubbed Shuga Naija. Shuga explores the lives of youths in the vibrant Nairobi city who are slowly coming to terms with their sexuality and at the same time trying to balance their social and school life. I appreciate Shuga because it focuses on social issues that society is afraid to talk about. The show was a part of a multimedia campaign trying to promote a message about safe sex. It also highlights the social stigmas around HIV and teen pregnancy. I will be discussing a lot  more about Shuga in a separate blog post this week so keep on the look for that but in the mean click the link above and watch the first episode of Mtv’s Shuga to get an idea of what I am talking about.

Baby Boy, Beyoncé featuring Sean Paul (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ucz_pm3LX8 )

You didn’t think I would share some of my favorite things and not pay homage to the Beehive. Beyonce, Beyonce, Beyonce. Yoh! She is the ultimate Queen. Please enjoy my all-time favorite video, which gives me so much life every morning by the one and only Queen B.

Posted in Short stories

The year was 1994

 My dad rushed back to our Lugazi home and brought back with him my two-year-old sister. They had all hoped for a morning delivery. He rushed into Mbarara hospital with her tiny hand griping his index finger.  They were kindly asked to sit in the lobby. My dad grabbed my sister and put her on his lap feeling grateful for the blessing he already had but anxiously waiting for the other.

The nurses walked back and forth showing no sign of excitement. To them it was a regular day like any other. My sister hang on to my dad unaware of what was about to happen to her world.

My dad with one arm griped around my sister and the other lightly holding  a newspaper  scrolled through its black and white pages. Things had gotten worse in Rwanda. Habayrimana’s plane had been shot down a few weeks into my mother’s contractions. Uganda was not at ease as they tried to find shelter for hundreds of Rwandans fleeing from the genocide.

Their little bundle of joy arrived in the wee hours of the morning with dislocated feet. The anticipated welcome home party was postponed. My dad and sister made a few more trips to the hospital.

Their little bundle of joy was taken to the operating room and my dad took his usual seat in the lobby with that day’s newspaper. It appears things had gotten worse in Rwanda. The West was getting ready to intervene.

 

Posted in Short stories

We too have a story to tell

As a child  I would sit next to my grey haired father as he told my sister and I stories about his past. My dad lost both his parents at a young age and was only able to put himself through school by convincing British educated Ugandan Priests that he was worth the trouble. The other half of the evening my father usually spent giving my sister and I unsolicited advice about how everything around us belonged to him and how we ought to work hard and get our own.

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This consistent pep talk was intriguing, however I recall that as he spoke I constantly found myself  writing every word he pronounced on my dark thigh using my figure. It was not surprising as the only subject I managed to pass at school at that time was English. My father’s daily dose of speeches were not the only words I found myself spelling out. It was every conversation I forced myself into, everything I watched on television and not forgetting the confrontational words exchanged in the midst of my sister and I’s daily 8pm fights about whose turn it was to turn off the lights.

I attended  Kabale Preparatory School in Uganda for primary school.Every afternoon, our primary one class was forced to sit under a tree whilst Mrs Tindebwa assembled herself in the mighty reading chair and began our daily dose of afternoon story time. For the first few months my best friend Bora and I took turns taking a young nap behind each others backs for what felt like 30 minutes each. It was not until the arrival of the British blue eyed Miss Lee, who took over the mighty chair and narrated to us Charlie And The Chocolate Factory that I fell in love with storytelling.

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Charlie And The Chocolate Factory to me was a world of escape. I could see myself drowning in pool of chocolate surrounded by  golden haired white boys and girls singing along with the Oompa-Loompas. I loved it. But it was not my world. It was not my reality. I went on to read more books that featured children just like me however these books were  not for me.  These stories did not have characters that resembled me. There was nothing I read that talked about the streets of Kampala. The market vendors hiking their prices every two hours or the incredible Owino market were one could by multiple pairs of jeans that the vendors tried to convince us were Louis Vuitton. That was my reality.

But all the stories I came across seemed to tell me otherwise. They convinced me that there was a better life across the blue ocean. That my dusty roads would be replaced by clean tarmacked ones and my English, well I just had to  practice and sound more like Miss Lee and the brother with the Canadian accent who joined Kabale Preparatory and immediately made head boy because visitors from abroad could understand him better.

I have always loved the idea of escaping reality and creating a world of my own. Writing provided me with that space. It was non-judgemental and always opened its warm arms to me even after years of fear and resentment at the idea of picking up a pen.

It was after reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s Half of A Yellow Sun, that I  realized that I did not have to escape. My Chocolate factory was right here, it was just as magical and it too was a story waiting to be told. Today I write for my Africa. I write for my Uganda.

Today I turn the invincible word on my dark thigh into a reality and try to make it known that we too, the people from the Dark Continent have a variety of stories to tell.