I read something pretty funny yesterday about listening to rappers’ early works and laughing at the aliases used which more often than not don’t make it. Mine would sound like this:
"Yo yo yo WHATUP, it’s Sindi Bindi.. AKA.. Forgetful Philomath.. AKA.. Ambitious Tea Set Collector.. AKA.. Miss Good At Pretending To Be In Control But Chronically Awkward In Every Way Especially On Rare Occasions of Inebriation, Frequent Occasions of Opposite Sex Obssesions And Random Occasions Of No Consequence.. AKA.. "
(I could basically go on forever but I’ll stop now. It is quite fun though.)
This weekend was like a sparkling crystal pool with randomly placed fountains of fun cascading into it. Hoisting myself out of it was tricky but that’s what Mondays are for I guess. Sometimes you’re meant to have Sundays that make you hate Mondays because you can always retake a class/fall asleep at work, you cant always relive a celebration. And now on tuesday, I’ll just dream of revelry.
Hey I pierced my nose yesterday. And I graduated too.
So quick super personal post. Yesterday was my last graduation (for the time being though, my mom is hinting HARD at me doing my doctorate soon. Mxm ambitious woman that she is). I graduated for my Masters degree in International Relations. I had sorta left it for the verrrry last minute and didn’t even really tell anyone about it because it’s not my first so didn’t expect it to be a big deal. My oh my. It was so emotional. I felt really overwhelmed during the actual ceremony, it finally hit home that I’m done done. Wanted to keep crying buuuuut smudgy make up is NOT a god look so I focused instead on not falling on stage. Chronic fear yo. Anyways so the ceremony was great (the vice Chancellor whispered “you’re so beautiful” as he shook my hand. LOL. Wits staff na.) but it was the dinner afterwards that truly blew my mind and gave the surface of my heart goosebumps.
Nothing too hectic, went to a Thai restaurant (since I’ll be off to Thailand soon soon) with just my immediate family, but the love was overwhelming and the tears didn’t stop flowing. My family is super dope and having them all around and proud as they were was such a gift. I am very very fortunate to have been raised by two of the most phenomenal people in the whole world who have done such a great job inspiring to me to always have a firmly instilled sense of self. So doing well is never for anybody but myself. That said, having that pride in myself reflected outwardly in the people I love and that love me back (waaaaay too much if you ask me), was truly something beautiful. I am extremely blessed, grateful and jubilant today. Stoooopid happy.
My mama jotted down a quick poem during the ceremony (some mad boring parts yo! During the ceremony not the poem) and then read it during alla the speeches and stuff and got all the tears started. She is so cute.
As we celebrate your graduation tonight
We bless you and hope you always do what is right
All the hard work and the effort you put into it, you exams, your books, has surely paid off
Stood you in great stead, cos now you can cruise with less stress on your head
You’re an inspiration, a joy
But now will you please bring home a nice boy
Because dad is getting crabby and grumpy at best
Empty nest syndrome is being put to the test
But really outstanding is how you remain
So focused, so grounded, always the same
Still goofy and silly and vacuous (that’s Dad!)
But if you should change, we’ll be really sad
An excellent example, role model you’ve bee
We’re definitely happy your brother has seen
Just how it is to behave and conduct yourself
Hope it’s not wasted or put on the shelf
We’re definitely proud of all you have achieved
I must also say we’re quite relieved
You’ll be leaving home soon to live in the Cape
(But that’s just for us in the know)
We have two children – one down, one to go!
My child, getting serious
We’d just like to say
You are special to us every day
We love you from your head to your toes
Even with that new stud in your nose
Since I like Tumblr more than Facebook, I added some happy snaps. See below.
6. Champagne. This was so cute. A young couple sitting next to our raucous table obviously heard alla the ruckus and sent over a bottle to congratutate and celebrate with me. So so sweet.
8. Brother. Mad love. He made me CRY yo. And then he says to me “Hmm sees like people like graduations hey? Makes everyone happy. Think I’ll do it too.” SMDH.
9. My nuts uncle. Because we were at a Thai place and because of the impending Thailand adventure, he thought it fitting that his speech should be in Thai. He does not speak thai. So we had a seven minute speech consisting of “waaa thong baa” and “makeeeee more muneeee”. Madness.
So I was chastised yesterday by quite a few people about being a bit snobby about all of the masses lamenting the end of our democratic existence as a result of the Protection of Information Bill (henceforth, the bill) being passed by Parliament yesterday. I figured I should write something about it, not just because it is something monumental to the political situation in our country but also because I felt a bit guilty about not really engaging yesterday when everybody else was. The reasons for that are simple: I don’t like mass hysteria because more often than not it isn’t well-informed and more than a few dunces suddenly become experts on the subject, denounce the government at the first opportunity and spread paranoia. Besides, this is a big deal, the fact that Black Tuesday had legs and got people going is great, but the sneaky suspicion that it was a direct result of our national obsession with collective fashion statements obviously just left a gross taste in my mouth. But I digress. Ultimately, as was pointed out to me complete with wagging fingers in my face, awareness is great and that people with little interest in the current affairs of our country took to various platforms to oppose a draconian action (even if they didn’t understand said action in all its entirety) is a beautiful and inspiring thing.
I think we take our position of national stability for granted and the option of serious discord is not a reality for us because in comparison to the majority of African countries, we’re fortunate enough to be really well off. I try really hard to avoid doom declarations and paranoid prophecies but I think it is worth noting that Tunisia ranked pretty high on development indexes and was generally viewed as a stable enough country but public frustration with the predatory elite is what changed all of that and brought the dictatorship of Ben Ali to an end. Now we don’t live under a dictatorship but it is interesting to note that the revolution in Tunisia which sparked the Arab Spring and monumentally redefined the 21st century was started by anger against a secretive state that took away the voice of the people and basically sheltered a corrupt economic and political elite. Sound familiar?
One of the main demands of Mahmoud Bouzizi’s (the guy who set himself alight and started the whole shebang) and the legions feeling just as inflamed (haha) was for expression and the right to know. Parliament should sit up and recognize that history has proven this to be a powerful spark for action, in just the same way that repression of expression has been proven to be the death knell of democracy and open society. Not saying we’re about to start a revolution (it would be mad cool though) but the movements of an impassioned civil society is not something to underestimate.
That said, neither are the movements of a cornered government. A friend asked me yesterday if I think that the bill is an attack on democracy and the values entrenched in the Constitution to which I responded “Naahhhhh man, it’s a threat for sure sure, but like who would be so stupid to attack one of the most revered Constitutions in the world?” and the I sat back and thought about it properly. Earlier in the year, we had a meeting with some law professors and government people about the bill (at that stage it was still being amended because when it was originally proposed, people nearly dropped down dead, that’s how bad it was. It’s still bad, but it’s definitely improved) and I went into the meeting knowing next to nothing about it.
Afterwards, the short and snappy understanding I had developed for myself, whether true or not I don’t know, is that basically the content management system of the ANC government hadn’t been updated since apartheid times and so there was this flood of information that was suffering from a classification problem. As such, the new bill is meant to give the intelligence community more control over what should be state property etc. This makes perfect sense and is in no way an infringement of any citizens’ right. Most countries have laws just like this. The difference though is that they usually have a safety valve called “public interest” meaning if it’s in the interest of the public, the public have a right to know. And this is obviously where the major dissatisfaction with the secrecy bill stems from. Not to mention the bit about the punishment of those found to be in possession of such information deemed to be state secrets. Basically the problem with is two-pronged:
1. Secrecy should only be allowed for strictly-defined national security matters and state officials should have justifiable reasons for requests for classification. Quick aside: we have no political enemies or even allies that would require us to go to war, like, why do we even have national security issues at all?
2. There is really limited protection for whistleblowers or people who expose state secrets. For state employees, there is a little (this maaaay be a good thing, incentivizing government employees to expose wrongdoing but it could also be a bit ambitious of me hoping for something like that) but for ordinary citizens or journalists exposing wrongdoing or corruption, there is nothing. The original bill called for minimum mandatory prison sentences for such an offence. Fortunately this has been removed BUT the maximum prison sentence has been extended to up to 25 years. This is the scary part.
Say now I walk into the tavern down the road from my house and hello hello, General Bheki Cele is chilling there bragging about his McGuyver moves in the acquisition of his new police headquarters. Naturally as a forward gossip loving human being, I run to tweet about it and sommer just email the recorded audio clip, with some pictures of course, to Ferial Haffajee. Next day it appears in the City Press that straight outta the horse’s mouth, police headquarters were accrued via corrupt measures. But before anything can be done about it, Aunty Ferial and I are shipped off to Pollsmoor. End of story. Finish and klaar.
Okay that was dramatic and unrealistic (I hope) but it’s the kind of scenario that we need to think about as quite possibly becoming a reality under the kind of watchdog government that seeks to limit access to and propagation of information. I wouldn’t mind hanging with Ferial Haffajee. Just maybe not in Pollsmoor. The notion that the government can hand out such heavy-handed jail sentences for possessing, sharing or even receiving an email containing classified information is flippen scary. It makes no sense because that power is almost limitless. Securocrats will take over and basically target any individual, organisation or media agency that the state perceives is acting contrary to its security objectives. Which we probably won’t even know about anyway. That is really scary. Even scarier was State Security minister Siyabonga Cwele’s comment that opponents raising their concerns against the so-called Secrecy Bill are agents of foreign spies. Ludicrous yeah, but ominous too because that kinda talk is dangerous. It hints at a very paranoid direction for country.
I generally sit on the fence for most things because I don’t feel like I have the kind of political mind which forecasts things well, but the really weird haste with which this bill is being steamrolled through parliament is quite telling. Here’s my take on the situation:
The ANC is not the one it used to be. Gone are those wonderful notions of Mandela, Sisulu and Tambo. We need to rid ourselves of that nostalgia. It is simply an organization that is struggling to govern and opting instead to rule. The difficulties faced by the ANC must be reeeeeally bad for them to spit on the Constitution and risk local and international condemnation. People aren’t happy, it’s as simple as that. But rather than increasing service delivery and actually paying attention to the people who voted it into power, which would actually make us happy, the government is focusing on ways to keep the bad news out of sight so that it can focus all of its energy on next year’s elections. We might not be agents of foreign spies, but it’s pretty obvious that more steps are going to be taken to distract us from the bloody battle of who gets to inherit the ANC in 2012. My money is on a media tribunal to really persecute journalists who soil the images of those who have enough on their plate tryna stay in power. I mean, it’s only natural for the ANC to attempt to create some sort of pest control mechanism. I’m only half joking.
The fact is, the ANC keeps losing big battles and the more it loses, the more its gonna act like an injured bull; horns out to protect itself and hide its bloody wounds. Those horns are gonna hurt yo. I mean it isn’t even a law yet but we’re gonna feel it soon soon. The rand dropped like 13c immediately after the announcement. Hectic. The bill has yet to be voted in by the National Council of Provinces, before going back to the National Assembly, and then on to President Jacob Zuma to be signed into law. There is no reason at all why he wouldn’t sign it. Members of civil society have vowed to launch a massive constitutional challenge should the bill make it that far, and it is at that point that I’ll get involved. I figure challenges to democracy are good and necessary, which is why I didn’t freak out yesterday, but challenges to the Constitution are not. As the tangible evidence of our rights, it has not failed us yet and only when it is threatened can we revolt. My beret has however been dusted off juuust in case. Viva la revolution.
In the interim, the ANC is gonna keep brandishing its secrecy sword, to detract from the fact that it is struggling to govern itself as the soul-destroying infighting refuses to cease. But if it cannot govern itself, it will not be able to govern the country for much longer. Because it’s really not rocket science guys, as political infighting increases, political delivery decreases. The very thing that could save the ANC and restore trust in it, service delivery, is being forgotten as the ruling party keeps finding itself with its back against the wall.
Where does this leave us? Us agents of foreign spies? It leaves us separated from the highest representatives of our democracy, with that alienation and isolation from the powers that be growing with each intrepid step taken by a political party in crisis. This is dangerous man; we should know what deep divisions can do to a nation. I’m not saying it’s the end of democracy and we need to resign ourselves to the return of an apartheid-like life. It’s so far from that. We are lucky to have come so far that going back is impossible. But the progression made in South Africa can so easily slip through our fingers if we’re not careful. It isn’t time to raise arms just yet and immigration certainly isn’t an option (Not for me. Not now. Not ever.) but in the words of Mad-Eye Moody, “Constant Vigilance” need to be the order of the day. Be it on social networks, wearing black, on vaguely explained marches, it doesn’t matter. As long as we’re paying attention and reacting in a way that makes it clear that WE voted THEM into power, THEY represent US and as such, THEY are beholden to US and not the other way around, then the power of our Constitution remains in our hands.
Death by Twitter. I think @tejucole is morbidly magical.
Teju Cole is making Lagos’ nobodies famous. On Twitter.
@tejucole, Aug. 29: Scoop, scoop, scoop, spark. Four of those who were collecting petrol from a damaged tanker in Benue died right there.
@tejucole, Aug. 25: Children are a gift from God. In the returns department: a baby girl, left by the side of Effiom Ekpo Street in Calabar.
@tejucole, Aug. 23: O believers! Know that during the Hajj, a Jeddah hotel housing 34 Nigerian pilgrims went up in flames, and none were harmed.
@tejucole, Aug. 22: Even if one does not believe in ghosts, 2,700 of them continue to draw salaries from the Imo State payroll.
@tejucole, Aug. 19: The Nigerian police motto is “the police is your friend,” but Taiwo, 25, beaten in Alapere for not paying a bribe, has his doubts.
@tejucole, Aug. 14: An Air Force officer in Bayelsa who mistook himself for a cop mistook the baker Paul Wisdom for a thief and shot him in the head.
Cole, a novelist and sometime journalist, lives in Brooklyn but grew up in Lagos, the burgeoning Nigerian metropolis that will soon overtake New York City and Los Angeles in population if it hasn’t already. (Cole’s first novel, the recently published Open City, won love from New Yorker curmudgeon James Wood — no small feat.) While working on a book about Lagos, Cole discovered the oft-bizarre tragedies sketched out daily in its newspapers and set about refining them into a purer concentration of fate’s ironies. As he wrote :
That outlet turned out to be a form of writing for which there is no exact English term: fait divers. This is a French expression, in common use for centuries, for a certain kind of newspaper piece: a compressed report of an unusual happening. What fait divers means literally is “incidents,” or “various things.” The nearest English equivalent is “news briefs” or, more recently, “news of the weird.” The fait divers has a long and important history in French literature. Sensationalistic though it is, it has influenced the writing of Flaubert, Gide, Camus, Le Clézio and Barthes. In Francophone literature, it crossed the line from low to high culture. But though a version of it was present in American newspapers, it never quite caught on in the English language as a literary form.
Cole brings a literary horsepower to his tweets that’s a little hard to tease apart with conventional critical methods. For one, his fait divers — which he also calls “small fates” — often deploy an elusive irony or the logic-dazing bluntness of a Zen koan, which are tough modes to penetrate in any format. That’s compounded by the 21st-century issue, which is that we critics don’t really have a familiar rubric for analyzing Twitter yet. We can compare books to books and movies to movies, but my comparisons for Cole still leave me reaching for poetry and newspapers.
There is however an ethical question here that remains unique to Cole’s tweets: Should we feel bad about enjoying his work, which so often springs from real sadness? I couldn’t say, because I personally flirt with occasional bouts of soullessness. I’m inclined to believe that how you react to news of, say, a murder, ultimately says more about you than the way somebody told you about it. Then again, we generally have more control over saying things than listening to them — well, except on Twitter, where you can unfollow anybody who says something you dislike. The iTunes era of personal choice means we’re more responsible than ever for what we like. So there’s a moral peril for us here as consumers that’s as old as the news: What does it mean when we enjoy Cole’s tweets about death?
The thing about tragedies is that the gaps between confronting them personally and publicly are massive. We can frame this economically, in terms of scarcity: A relative’s murder is an enormous emotional event which may never happen to most of us in our lifetimes. But in public, murders are an abundance. Murders get 50 words thwacked next to the announcement of the opening of a new pool because they’re not unusual enough to merit more space.
Economic terms are not out of place here, because we’ve long commoditized the misfortune of others. I don’t really mean that as a critique of capitalism. I’m talking about gossip as an exchange. Media have simply monetized an impulse to disseminate that has existed at every kitchen table and supermarket aisle in the form of Hey, have you heard?
But what about sensitivity? Death has its ironies, but I’m reminded of a line from one of Edward St. Aubyn’s novels, a quick shiv that comes after one character is praised for never losing his sense of humor: “He only saw the funny side of things that didn’t have one. That’s not a sense of humour, just a form of cruelty.” When can tragedy have a funny side? Where’s the line where dark things can allow in a little light? Can that line even be consistently drawn?
Cole hints that one exists. “Whether I’m writing fiction or reportage or the small fates or poetry, I have to be aware at each instance that someone else might be affected by what I write, that someone else might choose to write it another way, or choose to pass it over in silence,” Cole wrote me. “So, to the question I often ask myself, about what right I have to write in an ironic or even humorous way about someone else’s distress, the answer is that it’s the same right I have, in the first place, to write anything at all about anyone at all.”
In the end, despite these dark glances through the looking-glass, Cole adds more to this world than he’s taking away. Nor is he writing about fictional events; he’s writing about the truth. Without him, at the moment, I can certify I’d know nothing of Lagos’ people outside the size of its population: that it’s nearing those of Los Angeles and New York City, if not surpassing them already. Well, a big population means there are people living out their lives there.
NOTE: This article was written by Matt Pearce, I just took out the juicy bits. You can find the long version here.
"I think it’s a bummer that when we describe something that was amazing we say, “it was almost unreal.” “It was like in a movie or something.” “It was like it was fake.”
This goes for sights and sounds and events and conversations, things we see on the street or in the sky, things we think are amazingly good and things that we think are amazingly horrible. But it’s mainly the things we think are amazingly good that I’m addressing here. Because it means that we think things that are really beautiful are incompatible with our own lives, that our actual lives are the domain mostly of e-mail-checking and awkwardness, and anything that goes beyond that feels as though it belongs in someone else’s more glamorous life, or a TV show, or a song.
I can’t remember who I was talking to exactly, I think it was some friends who’d been to Europe, and we were comparing exotic-trip notes (mine are pretty limited) and we all noticed the same thing: Americans abroad, among the legitimately awesome and historical, and the really beautiful stuff we couldn’t help feeling like it was Disneyland. Like it was fake, a copy, even though it couldn’t get any more authentic. And there’s no denying that the sights themselves were authentic, it was just our presence, our seeing them that made them feel artificial. Like, if I’m allowed to see this, it must be cheap. These eyes have also seen my room back home with all my name-brand clothes all over the floor, and these eyes have also taken in an entire “Real World/Road Rules Challenge” marathon on MTV. Anything these eyes can take in must be a little tainted and downmarket. Nothing cool ever happens to me.
It bums me out that we think special stuff is reserved for other people, or worse yet, that the really beautiful is the province of fiction. I like to think that if we make ready for adventure, we might start to see it everywhere. I like to think that if we demand it, we might actually get it.
I want to look at the moon in the sky over New York on a really clear night, seeing every little detail of it hanging there, and not think “It looks unreal.” I want to think, “This is life, and the world, and we see and do the amazing all the god-damned time.”
Paramount Leader of the People’s Republic of China – President of the USA
"What does UNHATE mean? UN-hate. Stop hating, if you were hating. Unhate is a message that invites us to consider that hate and love are not as far away from each other as we think. Actually, the two opposing sentiments are often in a delicate and unstable balance. Our campaign promotes a shift in the balance: don’t hate, Unhate."
Guess controversial really is cool. Check out the resta the campaign here
Obviously not for all. I dont want my circumstances (which more often that not are completely removed from any acts of self-will but independent of me/at this stage merely inherited) contributing to my depravity. There’s more than enough of that go around. All seriousness though, this is true and its gross too.
”.. South African musicians (and I speak in sweeping generalisations directed mainly at pop music here) are bogus copycats of the highest order, adding nothing to the cultural discourse of our times. Helping nought to unpack and or resonate with the “South African condition”. Merely churning out international simulacras designed to pluck an emotion and echo a stronger original, and in one fell swoop ctrl alt deleting our culture. Clogging the channels with this musical cholestrol and causing the real South African music to dwindle on the sidelines in a kind of unsustainable economic anaemia. At best they’re original cover bands..”
I love/hate when you read something that you absent-mindedly bob your head to in agreement and then one insignificant word combination/thought lodges itself onto the side of your mind and you end up thinking all day about something that ordinarily you wouldnt even stop to look at twice but because its either redundant/boring/totally not allowed to have grabbed your attention at all, you do. The ”South African condition”, wtf is that anyways?
I find it hilarious that the word for the fear of palindromes is itself one. I love them. I wish I had the kind of brain that allowed me to speak in palindromes only. Of course, some people might call that dyslexia which is no joke, I dont want that no no. Unless it was a super mild form that I could switch on and off so that I could pop out some of these babies. Below are some I really like:
Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?
"The unicorn, through its intemperance and not knowing how to control itself, for the love it bears to fair maidens, forgets its ferocity and wildness; and laying aside all fear it will go up to a seated damsel and go to sleep in her lap, and thus the hunters take it" ~Leonardo da Vinci