Mar 30, 2013

Love Games: Episode 8

The story lines continue to unfold.

Mar 27, 2013

The immorality of the middle finger

Dora Siliya

I really wasn’t going to wade into the issue of former Education minister, Dora Siliya, and her now infamous middle finger gesture in parliament a few weeks ago but I feel compelled to since the issue just won’t die.

Let’s get the facts out as we know them. On March 15, our Justice Minister brought forth a motion to remove the immunity afforded former president, Rupiah Banda. The government alleges that the former president engaged in various acts of corruption during his three year tenure and as a result his immunity needed to be removed for investigations and subsequent prosecution to proceed.

This all played out on national television and parliament radio, and the debate was highly contentious. Members of the opposition, of which Ms Siliya is a part, staged a walk out as they claimed they did not want to be party to a flawed process. On the way out, Ms Siliya was caught on camera flipping her middle finger.

It is not entirely clear who this gesture was directed to but we have all manner of speculation – it was the speaker, the ruling party’s MPs, etc. She has since come out and said she was provoked by a fellow MP on her way out.

So, where do I stand on the issue? Frankly, I think her actions were silly and out of line for someone in her position as an MP. Should she be punished? That is up to parliament on what process they have in place to discipline members for such acts. Is this a big deal? No, there are bigger issues at hand and I don’t see why people have their panties in twist.

Now getting to why I felt compelled to add my voice to this non-troversy. I’m not pleased that the loudest voices on this topic are making this about women and morality. It seems like every time we have an incident involving Dora Siliya or someone else as visible as she, the village mob comes out armed with sticks and pangas ready to burn her at the stake.

Here are some delightful quotes as published in the media.

“The offensive gesture by Ms. Siliya is not only an insult to the dignity and sanctity of Parliament but the people of Zambia whose representatives sit in the House. Ms. Siliya’s insulting behaviour falls short of self respect, dignity and basic tenets of leadership in a person purporting to be a people’s representative…we wonder what sort of morals Ms. Siliya’s behaviour will impart in the young people that watched her gesture in the manner she did.” - Mwansa Kapeya, Deputy Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services 
“She behaved in an un-Parliamentarian fashion and uncultured for a woman of her status. And as a woman, also, I would urge her to come out and apologise to her fellow Parliamentarians and to the nation for her gesture.” Joyce Nonde, Federation of Free Trade Unions in Zambia. 
“That behaviour fell short of a calibre of a decent woman in society and we wonder how she behaves in private if she can have the audacity to display that offensive gesture not only in front of cameras but before the Speaker of the august House.” - Southern Province PF political secretary, Brian Hapunda.  
"The finger gesture exhibited by Dora Siliya was not only an affront to the honourable House but to all of us especially women of Zambia. The worst part is to hear that somebody saw nothing wrong in the act and supports her for the insult which was demeaning us women…we now know that she (Siliya) is not a well cultured leader from inception…” - Southern Province PF women chairperson, Anny Nyirenda Tischer.

These statements echo quite loudly because they fall into the repetitive narrative that teaches us that women behaving poorly are uncultured, disgraceful, and morally bankrupt. I can’t help but grimace at the irony of talking about Ms Siliya’s actions being demeaning to women, while they demean her with their choice of words. It’s shameful that this kind of ignorance and carelessness continues to be allowed a public platform and receives support.          

Call a spade a spade. Unhappy with Ms Siliya’s gesture, talk about that. Feel free to call her out by simply stating “I don’t like what you did in parliament.” But cut the crap, and stop degrading women with whom you disagree and/or don't like by using gender-associated slurs. Yes, this also applies to women who are all too eager to join the village mob forgetting tomorrow they may be the ones fighting for their own survival. 

Mar 26, 2013

Why did I buy that book?

I’m an admitted bibliophile. I find it difficult to resist book sales and offers, both online and in brick and mortar stores. I have many unread books sitting on my bookshelves (and in the closet in my spare bedroom). It used to be that when I looked at my TBR (To Be Read) pile I felt an overwhelming sense of shame. The shame wasn’t because of the money spent but rather from the understanding that some of those books would never be cracked open or if they were, only a chapter or two would be read before being put back on the shelf or in a box in my garage. Some books just aren't for me! 

I often times have bought books I aspire to read, such as Leo Tolstoy’s famed Anna Karenina. I have tried reading this book and failed on many occasions. Yet, I always wanted to be that person who could proudly say “yes, I own Anna Karenina. I’ve read it multiple times and find it to be the quintessential book for any bibliophile to own.” Grrr…well, I finally got to the point in my life where I admitted - I’m not the kind of person who cares enough about Russian literature to read Anna Karenina or Oblomov. So, there! I’m okay with that and that doesn’t diminish my appreciation for other works of literature.

And then there are the books that appealed to me at a certain phase in my life that I’ve since moved from and therefore they hold little appeal. They look back at me hopefully as I scan my collection, yet know the day my hands reach for that crisp spine, it will only be for the purposes of adding it to the box headed to the bookstore for trade-in. I’ve come to terms with this too. Our lives are ever evolving and it only stands to reason that our reading tastes will do the same. And who knows, I may circle back and enjoy those books again. In the meantime, their presence in my TBR isn’t a mark of shame anymore.

Someone will probably read this and sniff, “oh, she’s such a purveyor of consumerism.” Well, maybe but we all take pleasure in one thing or another, and I happen to find mine in literature. I read the books I want and have become comfortable with the fact that not every book is for everyone, and those might-never-be-read books affirm that truth. 

Mar 25, 2013

What's an Afropolitan?

Last week I attended a reading of Ghana Must Go by debut novelist, Taiye Selasi. I picked up a copy of this book about two weeks ago, read it in less than two days and have a review waiting to be published. In a nutshell, it was good and I was looking forward to meeting the author in person.  

But back to the reading…Taiye was very eloquent and engaging. Though familiar with the words and story in her book, I couldn’t help but be lulled by the quiet strength of her voice and the intimacy lent by the reading area at Powell’s Books.

She answered many audience questions about the writing process, her inspiration for the book, and so forth. What I enjoyed most were her thoughts about ‘self and home.’ These are major themes in her writings, articles and in her book. We shared a moment when she told us of her parents meeting in Lusaka, my hometown. 

As someone of African heritage and raised in Europe and the United States she has very unique experiences that inform her sense of what it is to be African, Ghanaian and Nigerian and where home is for her. As luck would have it, she published a piece in The Guardian a few days later which encompasses much of what she shared in the reading. Do read it to learn more, she does a much better job explaining this than I. 

Mar 21, 2013

Love Games: Episode 7

What's the fall out going to be after last week's shenanigans?

Mar 14, 2013

Love Games: Episode 6

We're almost at the halfway mark of this season of Love Games. What more stories will unfold before the season finale in a few weeks? 

Mar 13, 2013

ZedHair Natural Hair Show

The much anticipated ZedHair Natural Hair Show is just around the corner. The objective of this event is to bring together our growing community to learn about healthy hair whether your hair is natural, relaxed or locked. Among some of the topics to be covered:

  • Choosing the right products for your hair
  • How to properly moisturise your hair
  • Children's hair care
  • Natural hair for the work place
  • Recovering a damaged hair line
  • Healthy weaving and braiding practices
  • What to do about dandruff and other scalp conditions.
Additionally, there will be practical styling demonstrations and a hair care quiz. All participants will walk away with a DVD containing all presentations as well as useful information, videos and links to where you can go for more information.

Also available will be free giveaways and prizes! Books on hair care, satin scarves, bonnets and much more!

There will be vendors at the show selling various hair products and styling tools. The latest in afrocentric fashion and accessories will also be on display from some of Zambia's leading design houses.

When and Where: 

Date: Saturday, 6th April 2013
Venue: New Government Complex in Kamwala, next to the Museum/Freedom Statue
Time: 09:00hrs - 16:00hrs
Cost: K100


You can buy tickets all over the city of Lusaka. As of today, here are the ticket selling outlets.

  • NC Hair Studio - Golden Bridge Hotel, on Great East Road, opposite ZESCO
  • The Zambian Travellers Shop - Shop No. 39, Upper Level, Makeni Mall
  • SureSlim Zambia - No. 5 Omelo Mumba Road, Rhodespark
  • Kutowa Designs - Wild Orchid, Plot 4178 Nangwenya Road, Long Acres
Please join the event on Facebook in order to stay up-to-date with the latest news. Follow us on Twitter, the hashtag is #ZedHairShow. We will also be live-tweeting on the day of the event. 

Mar 12, 2013

Mini book haul

Last weekend I did one of my most favourite things in the world, I spent an afternoon in downtown Portland. I took some time to read in one of the city parks, ate some delightful food, window shopped and hit the best store of all time – Powell’s Bookstore.

It’s amazing to me that always seem to uncover some literary gems, most of which I didn’t even have on my radar. This is quite an eclectic selection if I might say; new and upcoming writers, two classics and established modern fantasy writer. There's never a dull moment for me. 

Here are descriptions as provided by the publishers.

Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi 

Kweku Sai is dead. A renowned surgeon and failed husband, he succumbs suddenly at dawn outside his home in suburban Accra. The news of Kweku’s death sends a ripple around the world, bringing together the family he abandoned years before. Ghana Must Go is their story. Electric, exhilarating, beautifully crafted, Ghana Must Go is a testament to the transformative power of unconditional love, from a debut novelist of extraordinary talent.

Moving with great elegance through time and place, Ghana Must Go charts the Sais’ circuitous journey to one another. In the wake of Kweku’s death, his children gather in Ghana at their enigmatic mother’s new home. The eldest son and his wife; the mysterious, beautiful twins; the baby sister, now a young woman: each carries secrets of his own. What is revealed in their coming together is the story of how they came apart: the hearts broken, the lies told, the crimes committed in the name of love. Splintered, alone, each navigates his pain, believing that what has been lost can never be recovered—until, in Ghana, a new way forward, a new family, begins to emerge.

Ghana Must Go is at once a portrait of a modern family, and an exploration of the importance of where we come from to who we are. In a sweeping narrative that takes us from Accra to Lagos to London to New York, Ghana Must Go teaches that the truths we speak can heal the wounds we hide.

Ancestors Stones by Aminatta Forna

Abie has followed the arc of a letter from London back to Africa, to the coffee groves of Kholifa Estates, the plantation formerly owned by her grandfather. It is a place she remembers from childhood and which now belongs to her—if she wants it. Standing among the ruined groves she strains to hear the sound of the past, but the 'layers of years' in between then and now are too many. So begins her gathering of the family's history through the tales of her aunts.

This is the story of four lives: Asana, Mariama, Hawa and Serah Kholifa, born to the different wives of a wealthy plantation owner in an Africa where change is just beginning to arrive. Asana, lost twin and head-wife's daughter. Hawa, motherless child and manipulator of her own misfortune. Mariama, who sees what lies beyond this world. And Serah, follower of a Western-made dream.

Stretching across generations and set against the backdrop of a country's descent into freefall, Ancestor Stones is a stunning novel about understanding the past and how stories ancient and new shape who we've become, and one which offers a different way of seeing the world we share. It is the story of a nation, a family and four women's attempts quietly to alter the course of their own destiny.

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

Zinzi has a Sloth on her back, a dirty 419 scam habit and a talent for finding lost things. But when a little old lady turns up dead and the cops confiscate her last paycheck, she’s forced to take on her least favourite kind of job – missing persons.

Being hired by reclusive music producer Odi Huron to find a teenybop pop star should be her ticket out of Zoo City, the festering slum where the criminal underclass and their animal companions live in the shadow of hell’s undertow.

Instead, it catapults Zinzi deeper into the maw of a city twisted by crime and magic, where she’ll be forced to confront the dark secrets of former lives – including her own.

The Poor Christ of Bomba by Mongo Beti

In Bomba the girls who are being prepared for Christian marriage live together in the women's camp. It is not clear whether the girls have to stay in the women's camp for such long periods for the good of their souls or for the good of the mission-building program. Only gradually does it become apparent that the local churchmen have also been using the local girls for their own purpose.

Mission to Kala by Mongo Beti

Mission to Kala (Mission terminée) is a powerful comic novel set in late colonial Cameroon. It won the Prix Sainte-Beuve in 1958. It describes the visit of a young Yaounde-educated man to a village in the interior. Jean-Marie Medza, the narrator, has just failed his Baccalauréat exam, and returns home expecting humiliation. Instead, he finds that as a scholar his prestige is immense, and he is charged with the duty of travelling to Kala, a remote village, to secure the return of a young woman who has fled her lazy, demanding husband. In Kala, while awaiting the return of the woman to the village, Medza stays with his uncle, who exploits the young man's celebrity status to have him showered with gifts, most of which his uncle keeps. Medza is the focus of a series of amusing incidents, becomes unexpectedly married, and eventually completes his mission - but then has to return home to deal with the anger of his ambitious father.

That Which Has Thorns by Miriam Shumba

That Which Has Horns is a gripping romance about Priscilla, a young woman who tries to understand where she fits in the new Zimbabwe, a nation where there are two types of women. There are those who submit to the rule of men, and those who are trying to break free of their limited options. Priscilla finds herself torn between a new day and the cultural bonds of the past.Whilst growing up resentful of a web of secrets that haunts her adolescence, she discovers that she has to begin her own cycle of secrets after the man she loves leaves her to pursue his education in England. Priscilla ends up living a life that many in the big city of Harare envy, but when the truth comes out there is uncertainty, danger and death.

Mar 9, 2013

Love Games: Episode 5