Tuesday, November 29, 2005

ikhide r. ikheloa on books he read in 2005

It's not often one finds an article on the net, with a title complete with one's name. It happened to me and I shan't trouble myself demurring. I am delighted - and freaked out too, in a pleasant way. Ikhide R. Ikheloa has written an article on the books he read this year, sharing his own views about books vis-a-vis the internet. Ikheloa favours the internet over the book, and goes as far as to predict the death of the latter. But I suspect this talented writer who will one day be revealed as something of a comic genius - is not too serious when he talks about the 'death' of the book, for he goes on in the same piece to exhort African writers - Nigerian writers especially - to write! write! write!

The article is titled, 'For Molara Wood... Listen, The Book, The Book Is Waving Us A Long Goodbye...' As I stated in my response to Ikheloa's piece, the long title reminds me of the film 'To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar'.

Among the many books discussed is Ogali A. Ogali's Veronica My Daughter and Other Onitsha Plays and Stories. Ikheloa says the book, a classic of the Onitsha Market Literature genre, is a "hoot". He is fond of a character from the play, known as Bomber Billy - and paraphrases the bombastic fellow thus (prepare to laugh):

"Your statements must not indicate psychological defeatism in my cerebrum and cerebellum. You must not be a radio that utters useless words. Instead, let your conversational communication possess a cherified consciousness and cogency. Let your entamporaness, discernment and unpremitted expectation have intangibility, veroness and versity. Beware of platitudeness and ponderosity and learn to respect people's integrity. Above all, avoid pomposity, proticity, verobosity and rapacity!"

Ikhide R. Ikheloa has been known by the pseudonym, 'Nnamdi'. More of his Essays From Exile can be found on the net, including the Nigerians In America website.

Monday, November 28, 2005

stevie wonder - a time 2 love

The story of how blind Steveland Judkins became Steveland Morris and grew up to be Stevie Wonder is musical… well, history - as they say. The above is one page in a profile of the singer, published in the Weekend magazine section of The Guardian (UK) of November 26, 2005. A cover story, it spreads across 8 pages of the magazine and looks at the singer’s life and career, which now spans five decades. It includes an interview with Wonder about his first album in 10 years - A Time 2 Love. There are also snippets from his recent concert in the UK - at Abbey Road. Stevie Wonder was supposed to play for an hour, but he just went on and on - for over three hours! They don’t make them like that anymore…

Stevie Wonder’s Abbey Road concert will be broadcast on Radio 2 (UK) on December 10.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

cyprian ekwensi - by afrofunkycool

"Cyprian Ekwensi's books to me have always described what it means to be a nigerian. In flesh and blood terms. I could virtually feel the mood of the nigerian cities he wrote ..." - read the rest on afrofunkycool.

cry of innocence - opera by tunde jegede

I've just found out that an opera, Cry of Innocence ends at the Greenwich Theatre today. Cry of Innocence features music by composer Tunde Jegede. The show opened on Saturday 19th and the last one is today at 8pm.

Greenwich Theatre
Crooms Hill
SE10 8ES

Tel: 020 8858 4447

Tunde Jegede is the son of the artist, Emmanuel Taiwo Jegede.

Friday, November 25, 2005

abuja carnival - in pictures

Pictures from the Abuja Carnival which started yesterday and continued today. Pictures courtesy of Naijablog.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

the other side - a play

The Muson Centre and Jasonvision collaborate to present the Stage Play,

Written and Directed by Wole Oguntokun, it will be staged at the Agip Recital Hall of the Muson Centre, Lagos - on Saturday the 26th of November 2005 at 7pm.

Admission is Free.

Performed at the same venue 7 weeks ago, The Other Side, in a reversal of roles, depicts Europe and North America as having crumbling economies, despotic leaders and unstable governments.
Africa is the land of plenty and Lagos, its most attractive city.

Darren Campbell, a white male, born and raised in the United Kingdom, seeks his fortune in Lagos as an illegal immigrant.

Jasonvision will continue with its Legend Series on Friday, the 30th of December, with a live presentation of Professor Wole Soyinka's play, CAMWOOD ON THE LEAVES at the same venue. More details soon...

Friday, November 18, 2005

aso ebi... or lace, sweat and tears

Sokari Douglas-Camp's sculpture, Aso Ebi or Lace, Sweat and Tears - was the centrepiece of the Africa Garden, opened at the British Museum on April 30, 2005. The Garden was designed by television's award winning Ground Force team - their very last creation together. Also in the garden were artworks by some of Africa's best known artists including, El Anatsui, Emmanuel Jegede and Adam Madebe.
Douglas Camp's water sculpture was made from galvanised steel and shows 5 women dressed to represent the Yoruba concept of Aso Ebi and the trouble that Nigerian women go through to put the look together. It also symbolises the beauty and resilliency of the culture. It was specially commissioned for the garden, which was open to view until late summer.
Some of the ladies that turned up with Sokari Douglas-Camp at the British Museum for the opening of the garden. They are suitably attired in the 'aso ebi' mode.
Here's aso-ebi clad artist, Sokari Douglas-Camp flanked by the Ground Force team that created the Africa Garden. To her right is Charlie Dimmock (in black shirt), famous for running around on television creating gardens. She doesn't care much for bras - something the male television viewers of the UK didn't mind in the least. The team's most famous creation - prior to the Africa Garden - was a special garden for Nelson Mandela. Not even the Madiba was immune to Ms. Dimmock's charms; he was heard telling her on television, "You look like a Spice Girl!."
Sokari Douglas-Camp & Siraz Izhar won the competion to create a Living Memorial for Ken Saro-Wiwa.

Sokari Douglas-Camp in iro and buba with gele. She got the idea for the name of her sculpture, 'Aso Ebi or Lace, Sweat and Tears', from a conversation with Nigerian dancer-choreographer, Peter Badejo.

Nigerian talking drummer, Ayan Ayandosu and his troupe, led guests through the path snaking through the Garden - at the opening event.

More Aso Ebi. About 20 identically dressed ladies were at the opening ceremony with Sokari Douglas-Camp - as would happen at any self-respecting owambe party in Nigeria.
The above giant Baobab tree sculpture - loaned from the Eden Project in Cornwall - featured prominently in the Africa garden. By the time I visited several weeks after the opening, one of its magnificent 'branches' had become detached. Many of the priceless artworks on display in the open air, like El Anatsui's 'gateway' through which guests entered, were already looking just that teeny bit off-their-best look, perhaps from exposure to the elements. The design of the garden itself seemed not to have been well thought out. The fanfare of the opening ceremony had shielded one from the fact that the flora and fauna on display - representing the 'climatic zones' of Africa - were actually not up to scratch. Douglas-Camp's splendid sculpture was meant to be in the forested area of the garden, since the artist comes from among the Kalabari of the troubled Niger Delta. But the 'forest' as conceived by the Ground Force team, consisted mainly of a banana grove!
In the beginning at least, whatever shortcomings could be masked by the fact that everything was green and lush. Not for long. One week after the garden opened, things were already looking wilted. The pipes supplying Douglas-Camp's water sculpture - was faulty from day one, so that water could not pour down the ladies' brows as intended by the artist. The individual sculptures of 5 women in aso ebi could therefore not really 'sweat'.
Someone emailed me sometime later to express disappointment at the garden. She felt that the artworks on display deserved a better setting that the 'shabby' garden. So what did I think? she asked. I told her I'd written about the opening of the garden in my weekly Arts column, but that I also came to the belated conclusion that the garden was not as glorious as it perhaps should have been. None of these were reflected in my initial article I explained, because frankly, "I've never 'reviewed' a Garden before."

Friday, November 11, 2005

atukwei okai - no show

There were lots of art/culture events of African interest happening in London yesterday - not to mention the various Ken Saro-Wiwa rememberance commemorations. But the only one that I'd planned to attend - and the only one doable for me in fact - was Atukwei Okai's much anticipated reading at the Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden. Good thing I checked my email before leaving work to begin the tedious journey on the tube to the venue. I could hardly believe it, when I went into my inbox to find the 'urgent' email telling those planning to attend the event that - it was not going to happen afterall. Why? Atukwei Okai, apparently, had 'missed' his flight from Ghana.

The unspoken shame of Africa 05, of course, has been the reluctance of British Consulates in several African countries, to actually grant visas to some of the very artists whose vibrant works the United Kingdom has been so busy 'celebrating' all this year.

The first - that I was aware of anyway - was the case of Cameroonian photographer Samuel Fosso. He was the 'poster boy' of the major exhibition that flagged off Africa 05 - the Africa Remix. Fosso's autoportrait of himself togged up as a Mobutuesque African dictator, adorned magazines, posters and fliers, promoting the exhibition. It was 'the' signature image of Africa Remix. Three of Fosso's autoportraits were in an 'exhibition' of sorts also, as Platform Art at London's Gloucester Road Station for several months. But did Fosso get a visa to come into Britain? No. The 'face' of Africa Remix missed the exhibition's opening event because he was not granted a visa. British newspapers just made passing, mildly amused references to it, as though it was some ridiculous thing that happened to some ridiculous person - one that should raise no more than a minute's chuckle. No serious questions were asked about how this could happen. Surely Samuel Fosso could not possibly enter the country and become a burden on the British state? So, how is one to see the incident but as what it was - an insult, the type that ordinary Africans experience daily. But one which we are increasingly finding, happens to our more illustrious personas as well.

It was not until a month or so later, that Samuel Fosso was able to enter Britain - through France, to give a 'performance', posing as one of his autoportrait subjects in the 'Africa 05' commemorative window display at Selfridges departmental store, Oxford Street, London.

More recently, a West African film director, regarded as one of the continent's best, was denied a visa to attend the showing of his film at the Barbican, where he was also supposed to have given a talk on his work. So, here we have artists invited by major art venues/organisations, and yet they can't get visas. What will it take to convince British Consulates in Africa that someone traveling to Britain is genuinely going for the glory of art and culture?

It doesn't end there. At the UK launching of Kwani? billed as one of Africa's most exciting new literary journals, a Kenyan writer that was supposed to be pivotal to the launch, was denied a visa. 2002 Caine Prize winner and founder of Kwani? Binyavanga Wainaina, had to do the launch all by himself. And this was for an event at the British Library, organised by the Africa Centre.

With side-shows like these, 'missing a flight' has become some kind of euphemism for 'visa denied'. One hopes this has not been the case with Atukwei Okai.

queueing to see achebe

The crowd that turned up for Chinua Achebe's discussion with Caryl Phillips - was a huge one. It was a concert capacity crowd and as would be expected of any self-respecting music concert, the seats were competely sold out. Very heartening therefore, to see such a crowd turning up for literature. But then, with Achebe, one can expect no less. The picture above was taken in the foyer of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, on October 4. These good people were patiently waiting in line (some sitting down) in the hope of getting any late return tickets, to see the author of Things Fall Apart.

decapitating the coconut

We were on Alfa Beach and one of our party, a writer visiting Nigeria for the first time, wanted to drink the juice of a real coconut fresh from the tree. Maltina, Gulder and such like, would be fine for the rest of us. But as for the coconut, the owner of the beachfront bar where we settled ourselves, said: 'oh yes', one or two could be fetched, for the right price. Price paid and we were informed that this young man (pictured above) would do the fetching. Perhaps his light frame would be best for climbing the slender coconut trees, we told ourselves. There were a few specimens in our sightline but the boy had gone elsewhere, where we could not see the actual climbing. In a way, this showed a concern on the part of the traders of Alfa Beach, not to deface or abuse the specimens right at the oceanfront. Some of us had nearly finished our bottled drinks by the time the young man arrived, dripping of sweat. No 419 at all. He'd indeed climbed some tree somewhere. Then he proceeded to remove the top of one coconut so expertly, that the filmy membrane protecting the juice inside was still intact. A straw inserted, our writer had her organic coconut drink. We took a second coconut with us in the car as we left. I don't recall what became of it. But I won't forget the young man above, for a while.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

remember saro-wiwa

Baribor Bera
Saturday Dobee
Nordu Eawo
Daniel Gbokoo
Barinem Kiobel
John Kpuinen
Paul Levura
Felix Nuate
Ken Saro-Wiwa

"I am a man of ideas. My ideas will live"
- Ken Saro-Wiwa

soyinka remembers saro-wiwa

*Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka read the following out at the Purcell Room, South Bank, London, last night - in rememberance of Ken Saro-Wiwa.....

FLIGHT FROM AUCKLAND - Nov 1995 I was due in Tokyo, Japan, but not for a number of days. I diverted to Auckland where the Commonwealth Heads of States were gathering for their biannual summit, and it was clear that they alone, at that stage, still commanded the weight of voices that might save nine innocent men from the gallows. My message was insistent, desperate and even strident: only strong threats will save these lives, strong threats backed by unmistakable indications that such threats will be enforced if the sentence is carried out! Occasionally, very exceptionally I encountered an adviser who listened and thought hard and deep, as if resolved to influence attitudes within his delegation or the routine caucuses. I then walked back into the sunlit streets, desperately plucking courage from such meagre signs.The day's brightness augured well, but beneath itcautioned the persistent voice of the life-battered character, Mama Put, from my play, ‘The Beatification of Area Boy’, which had just begun its run at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, England. The coincidences were unnerving. Mama Put was a fugitive from the Delta region, the same embattled oil founts of Ken Saro-wiwa and the Ogoni people. As if strolling beside me, her voice continued to resound in my head, straight from the rehearsals:A sky such as this brings no good with it. The clouds have vanished from the sky but, where are they? In thehearts of those below. In the rafters. Over the hearth. Blighting the vegetable patch. Slinking through the orange grove. Rustling the plantain leaves and withering them – oh, I heard them again last night- and poisoning the fish ponds. When the gods mean to be kind to us, they draw up the gloom to themselves -yes, a cloud is a good sign, only, not many people know that. Even a wisp, a mere shred of cloud over my roof would bring me comfort, but not this stark, cruel brightness. It's not natural. It's a deceit.The Beatification of Area Boy was a play I had written long before Ken’s travails, indeed, it was to have commenced rehearsals in Nigeria a mere week or so before I was compelled to flee the country. Now Mama Put appeared to have taken on Ken Saro-wiwa’s voice from his dungeon. She was speaking of the Nigerian Civil War - one in which, again as it happened, Ken had played an important role. Like a night bird perched on my head, Mama Put continued to intone Ken’s indictment of his latest adversaries - the oil companies and their military collaborators in the Nigerian nation: Those who did this thing to us, those who turned our fields of garden eggs and prize tomatoes into mush,pulp and putrid flesh....After the massacre of our youth came the plague of oil rigs and the new death of farmland, shrines and fish sanctuaries, and the eternal flares that turn night into day and blanket the land with globules of soot....?"Jerked back into the present of Auckland masquerading as a clone of my hometown Abeokuta, my mind grasping greedily at distractions, I wondered, absurdly, if the successful preservation of the woodlands of New Zealand had anything to do with the prominent role ofNew Zealanders in the wave of ecological championing then sweeping across the globe. And sure enough, later that morning, I came upon a demonstration organised in denunciation of the British Prime Minister, John Major– expected at the conference - for his support of the French atomic explosion being carried out in the South Pacific islands, despite a near-unanimous condemnation by the world.The demonstration, I soon observed, was beamed at multiple targets. When the crowd came to an open space, it stopped, and a street drama began, utilising huge satirical masks. One of the themes dealt with the social injustices under which the Maoris, the original owners of the land, still laboured in modern-day New Zealand. I thought - aah, this would have been meat and drink to Ken! He would have mounted the rostrum, his trademark pipe to the fore, pugnacious, and…suddenly, there he was, larger than life! Banners were unfurled and I saw Ken Saro-wiwa hoisted high up above the trees and shopping malls: NO WAY FOR NIGERIAN DICTATORS! FREE KEN SARO-WIWA! SHELL IS HELL! OIL FOR BLOOD? It was a most uplifting moment, a morale booster that brought the talkative birds back into the sunlight, routing the owls and offals of the preceding night’s fitful sleep.But they returned. They came back when no one was watching, taking up patient positions in ironic response to the upbeat mood of the politicians. For these would hear of no alarms, dismissed all notion of deadly peril. No one, they said, would dare hang thosemen – and again the magic mantra - hadn’t Sanni Abacha personally given his word to Nelson Mandela? The sentence would not be endorsed by the all-powerful Ruling Council - you wait and see. What? Hang them in defiance of world opinion? And while the Commonwealth Summit is taking place? Really Mr. Soyinka, don’t you think this is - no offence meant, you understand, I don’t mean this personally - but really that is over-dramatising the situation. Sanni Abacha merely wants to give them a fright! The junior Ken and I joined forces on some of these visits, or else our paths crossed in hotel lobbies,our faces heavy with foreboding. Looking back, I can see what a dreary contrast we made to the buoyant smiles that wreathed the faces of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Heads of States and Ambassadors - African, European or Asian. I was saddened, not angry, because it was clear that they could not understand. They had never encountered, nor studied a creature of Sanni Abacha’s cast of mind. It was my cast of mind that they found abnormal, the more I tried to wear them down with the brutality of my conviction: If you fail to act, that man is going to hang Ken! Today, even after the tragic denouement, I am mildly surprised to find, it is not anger or bitterness that I feel as my mind traverses the few years, only sadness, tinged of course with renewed pain, as I recall the responses of those leaders. In the main –these Heads of States of the Commonwealth – former colonies of Great Britain from Canada through Asia andAfrica to Australia - few, despite their varied experience of humanity, had ever encountered, except in history books, the likes of Sanni Abacha. Maybe even now, they still believe that Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot were all mutants, created perhaps by undetected spores that spilled out of some secret Chernobyl, or the singular gas seepage from our neighbouring Cameroons’ Lake Nyos that killed, in the eighties, hundreds of sleeping victims between night and dawn. They conveniently forgot the lesson of Idi Amin Dada within their own club of nations. Their Foreign Ministers, ambassadors, advisers, political analysts etc. were mostly creatures of bloodless briefings, of cynical lobbies, of cocktail and dilplomatic reception circuits where the formal attire is camouflage for both viper and dove, and records ofatrocities are shed at the door, with a crested visiting card. The rest, like the rulers they served,were potential clones of the Abacha breed, and simply wondered what the fuss was all about. I knew Sanni Abacha – no, not personally, though we had met twice. It was simply his type that I knew intimately, a species that I had studied closely, lectured and written about. I did not share the confidence of the others, but I was hopeful – at least, at the start. And it was just as well. We were all doomed to be eviscerated by an invisible blade wielded by a psychopath from a place called Abuja. My only saving grace was that I had already felt its thrust, long before the noose tightened around Kenule’s neck.Four Ogoni chiefs in the Niger Delta had been murdered, denounced as collaborators with the military government and the oil companies. These were brutal, horrendous killings, totally indefensible. To the extent that the murders had been committed by Ogoni youth militants, members of MOSOP - the Movement for the Salvaion of the Ogoni Peoples - who owed loyalty to Ken Saro-wiwa, their leader, and that he failed to condemn the murders in the most rigorous language, Ken could be assailed with a measure of moral responsibility. But to accuse him of complicity, direct or indirect, was an act of cynical opportunism.To convict him and his companions in a hastily convened military court, and on the ‘evidence’ placed before the nation, was an act of minds totally devoid of all conscience, perhaps steeped in a diabolism that required human sacrifice. And finally, to proceed tohang those victims, before they had exhausted all channels of appeal that were open to them even within the provisions of the decree that established the ‘judicial process’, was a step that no sensate perso never thought possible – from the Ogoni infant in his village to the sage Nelson Mandela who arrived at Auckland airport beaming with confidence and dismissing the anxious questions of journalists with a jovial wave of the hand. Had Abacha not personally assured him, in a telephone exchange, that he would not execute those men? Even now, I still relive those moments of intense isolation, leaving one truly ‘spaced out’ – spaced out as in spinning in outer space - an alien among supportive, courteous mortals, yet with a feeling that clung to you, that, among the teeming population of that island, you were one of the mere handful of creatures – no more than two or three, one of whom was Ken’s son - who knew, with absolute certainty, that a mass murder was about to be committed, yet you were powerless to stop it or persuade anyone to believe you. My final moment of certitude came from a chance crossing of paths.On the streets of Auckland, where I exorcised my restlessnes and frustration with incessant walking, between appointments, a car drew up with young Ken, the son of the condemned man, and some workers from the Body Shop and other NGOs who were looking after him. Ken leapt out, thrust a cyclo styled statement from the Shell company. If ever there was a scripted form of Pontius Pilate washing his hands before handing Christ over to his executioners, this would be its very corporate equivalent! If anything untoward happened to the Ogoni Nine, the statement declared, others were to blame - the agitators whose aggressive tactics only hardened the mood of the military regimeand undid all the careful work of silent diplomacy being undertaken by their company, and well-meaning others.Yes, we were to blame, not Shell! Not the oil exploration companies. Not the military regime, its corporate allies, its kangaroo courts, but we! I handed back this tract of self-exoneration of company unctuousness and - it seemed clear to me - accessory knowledge. In my distraction, I thought I had spokenaloud and flagellated myself long afterwards for an outburst that was wrung out of me without consideration for the son’s presence. But he assured me, much later, that I had the sequence of events all wrong. For what I thought I had blurted out without thinking was, He’s dead. They’ve decided to hang them. This statement - Shell knows of the decision already.Even today however, the words still ring in my head as I thought I heard them, clear as the tolling of a funeral bell.Walking myself into a state of total exhaustion from a sweaty pace around the humid streets of Auckland,mostly along the harbour. beginning to feel somewhat dizzy, and recognising why - I had had only my usual morning espresso that day - I entered a restaurant off the beaten track where I attempted to stuff my insides but again, mostly drank. Then, instead of returning to the hotel, I went to the improvised office of the Body Shop NGO - it was abandoned, the volunteers were between hotels, waylaying and canvassing whatever delegates they could. I knew why I remained there, in that abandoned office – it was to await the news. I did not wish to be found, did not wish to be invited to join in canvassing one more statesman or delegate.I returned to my hotel room only when it was late, and news of the confirmation of sentence by Abacha’s military ruling council had been formally announced.Now I had only one thought - to get out of NewZealand! I had an engagement in Japan - a gathering of Nobel Laureates - but we were not expected for two more days. That was just too bad. I sent a message, but did not really care whether or not I was not met, or if I upset the protocols that appear to be encoded in the national genes of the Japanese. I had only one goal in mind - to escape the island that would shortly host a wake for complacent heads of states, their political advisers and their pundits. They would fashion statements of indignation and perform other accustomed rites of assaulted dignity - that would be their problem, it was no longer mine. The statement from Shell may not have been a death warrant, it was so clearly a death certificate that I no longer thought of Ken as being in the world of the living, and I had no wish to encounter politicians and statesmen after the event. Above all, I most certainly did not wish to speak to the press….so what is your view on these executions, Mr. Soyinka? Finally, I did not wish to witness the agony of a son when the now inevitable hole in his life yawned before him. All these sent me looking for the next plane out of Auckland, heading in the direction of Tokyo where Iknew I would have a clear two days alone before I was again obliged to face the world. I obtained relief from this irrational dread of pursuit only when the plane was airborne and out of New Zealand air space. Arrived in Tokyo, esconced in a temporary suite by my polite hosts, I awaited the expected. It came in the morning, in the form of a young journalist, ushered into my suite by a geisha-attired woman who had been specially assigned to look after me, sitting just outside my room at all times - I later discovered - as if my hosts from the Shinbum, the publishing house, feared that I might go into depression, do some kind of harm to myself. Ken Saro-wiwa, and his eight companions, the young man said, had been hanged in Port Harcourt prisons, shortly after the rejection of their appeal by the Supreme Military Council of Sanni Abacha. Never were hosts more gentle, more sensitive, self-retiring yet solicitous. The editor of the newspaper house, sponsors of the conference, called on me. His brief stay was virtually soundless. In the most delicate manner, he indicated that the contents of the envelope that he was leaving on the table were for me to use in any way I wanted, that it was a gift of sympathy from his fellow executives who wished to ensure that I lacked nothing, yet were conscious of my likely preference to be alone. If I wished to look round the city however, I need only inform the lady by the door and she would get in touch with his office. Even the choice of the young journalist who broke the news could not have been more deft. He looked more like a medical intern with practised bedside manners, tried to hide his astonishment (and relief) that I took the news so well. How was he to know that I had prepared myself, that I had left Auckland wondering only how soon the killing would be carried out! He tiptoed his way out, saying that he knew I would wish to be alone. Not that he forgot his calling - he left his card on the table by the door - if at any time, I wished to make a statement, he would remain on call. Being prepared for the worst is always one thing; confronting its stark actualisation is another. There is a point at which the mind threatens to fold up, succumbing to its own destructive power ofevocation….how does one erase the image of a friend and comrade, suspended in the immense loneliness of a prison yard! This was more harrowing than the mere degradation of land: my human landscape had become irremedially desecrated.

Wole Soyinka

(from: YOU MUST SET FORTH AT DAWN – forthcoming Memoirs)

November 10th: Commemoration Ceremony

A Ceremony of Commemoration at Bernie Spain Gardens, South Bank, London. 11-12 Noon.
The ceremony will conclude with the announcement of the winning design for the Living Memorial.

dance the guns to silence

An evening of music dance and poetry
The 10th anniversary of Ken Saro-Wiwa's execution
261 Brixton Road
London SW9
Time: 7pm - 3am
(that rules me out! No babysitting so I'm stuck at home...)

Tube: Brixton or Oval
Buses: 133, 333, 159, 59

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Tonight: Soyinka in London for Ken Saro-Wiwa

Apologies for posting this late, but better late than...

Wole Soyinka heads the line-up tonight in an event commemorating the 10th anniversary of Ken Saro-Wiwa's death. Remember Saro-Wiwa is at the Purcell Room of London's South Bank Centre. Also on the programme are poets Alice Oswald and Byron Wallen. Lemm Sisay is the MC. These and many others will be reading in celebration of the life and work of the late environmental activist and fighter for the cause of the Ogoni people of Nigeria.

The event, starting at 7.45pm, is sold out. Return tickets only.

Poet Atukwei Okai in London - Nov 10

This is billed as the season finale for the African Writers' Evening series of literature events. Ghanaian poet Atukwei Okai appears in London's Poetry Cafe, in a much anticipated reading. It starts at 6.30pm, Thursday November 10. The starting time will not be a moment later, due to another important event in memory of Ken Saro-Wiwa later in the evening.

Atukwei Okai is the author of 'Oath of the Fomtomfrom' and 'Logorligi Logarithms'. A fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, his poems have been published in numerous anthologies, and his international performances include an acclaimed one at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London in 1975. His poem, Oblongo Concerto was featured in a special meridian-line display at the Millennium Dome exhibition in Greenwich, London.

Nigeria's Femi Osofisan once said that "Okai was the first to try to take African poetry back to one of its primal origins, in percussion, by deliberately violating the syntax and lexicon of English, creating his own rhythms through startling phonetic innovations."

Okai's London appearance this time, is made possible by the efforts of UK-based Ghanaian poet, Nii Ayikwei-Parkes, co-editor of Dance the Guns to Silence - the new anthology of 100 poems celebrating the life of Ken Saro Wiwa.