Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Many Uses of the Mobile Phone

Sokari has an interesting post on her blog about an ongoing workshop organised by Fahamu that brought together African organisations currently involved in social justice and advocacy projects, which are using mobile phone technology.

Day 1 featured presentations on the Frontline sms Software used recently to monitor the Nigerian elections; the use of mobile phones in a rural agricultural project in Uganda along with radio broadcasts; community based organisations of women in Kenya using mobile phone technology in three specific areas: women and property, women leadership and government, resource livelihood.

It's incredible to know how the mobile phone that many of us take for granted can be such a powerful tool. I first started to realise its full potential after I moved back home. Where access to the Internet could be scarce and expensive, communication by GSM was always an easier (and cheaper) option. I could text friends even when I could not get to a computer connected to the Internet, or in the very likely event that there was 'no NEPA.'

Check out Sokari's blog to read more.

Addition: White African wrote-up on the meeting on his blog.

Time for a Trim

I had a lovely long weekend. It kicked off with a great meeting with some incredible, opinionated and highly intelligent women (plus one lone male)! It was a focus group for True Love magazine, which I was invited to participate in. TL wanted to get feedback on how it's been doing, what its readers like, what we don't and what we would like to see more of. It was held at Pearl Garden, which just happens to be one of my favourite restaurants and one which I can't afford to eat at as much as I would like (that would be every other day).

I'll write more about the focus group later (it's 8 minutes to shut-down time here at work) and I like to beat the traffic as much as I possibly can. One thing I did say was that TL's hair page needs to focus more on natural hair (nevermind that the current issue discusses hair care for locs). Yes, it's perhaps a selfish request, but I know there are many other nappies out there who sometimes need a clue on some funky new styles.

I was checking out some photos of the writer, Tayari Jones - she also has natural hair- and seeing her healthy twist out reminded me that it's been ages since my last trim (yes, natural hair also requires regular trims). I think I'll do that when I get home.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Here Come More Holidays

Oh, I love this country! We have a 2-day public holiday next week. Monday and Tuesday! Hand-over to our next government happens in Abuja on Tuesday. Oh, what shall I do with my unexpected holiday?

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Namesake on Film

I went to see The Namesake a few weeks ago - or many, many weeks ago probably more like.

I have been looking forward to this ever since I heard that Mira Nair was bringing the book to film. I loved the book and hoped that the film would be even half as good. I like a lot of Mira Nair's films, but sometimes they can be a bit hit or miss for me. Monsoon Wedding has been her biggest hit to date and definitely a crow-pleaser. If you want something less middle-of-the-road, you should see Salaam Bombay, which explores the lives of some Mumbai street children.

The Namesake is not a big book, but it packs in a lot and spans 2 continents and several decades. As a result, Mira Nair had to leave out a lot. It still leaves a good film with a solid story, but having read the book probably gave me some degree more understanding than I might have otherwise had. The original story is set in the Boston area, while the film moves the tale to New York. This really doesn't impact the story in anyway. I loved the book because it dealt with issues of feeling culturally at sea. At the time, I felt very much the same way too. I think most people who have lived in cultures outside of their own could relate very well to the book. Hell! Sometimes, we can even feel adrift in our own country.

i think many people wrongly asessed this film as "Just another Indian movie" i.e. a Bollywood film, which it certainly isn't. Consequently, when I went to see the film there couldn't have been more than 20 of us in the hall with my friend and I being the only black people. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, shedding bucket-loads of tears and admiring Tabu's beauty.

How Much Fun Can You Squeeze into 1 Day?

I took the day off and am so excited. I've been needing some time off for a while and this day could not have come at a better time. I've just come off a few particularly hectic weeks. I'm looking at decongesting my life and letting go of the things that I really don't have to do.

Today has started off brilliantly. I was stirred in the early hours of the morning by the angry sounds of thunder and the rain pouring down in torrents.

Perfect! I thought. There's nothing better than having nasty weather outside when you don't have to be anywhere. It's even better when it's a Monday. There's a song by The Carpenters called Rainy Days and Mondays in which Karen Carpenter sings about her intense dislike for rainy days and Mondays. I love that song!

To my disappointment, I still woke-up around 6AM and haven't been able to go back to sleep. So I rolled around in bed until I couldn't take it anymore. I finished watching the film I started yesterday, The Lion in Winter. I really like Katherine Hepburn and will watch virtually anything with her in it. It was funny seeing the very young Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton.

I daren't admit it, but I'm already a little bored. Hmmmm, no I will find another film to watch. My sister just bought Mahoganey with Diana Ross. I think I'll watch that.

Friday, May 18, 2007

When is a blog not a blog?

.... Or when has a blogger lost the right to call themselves one? Such questions have been running through my head in the last week or so. I feel like it's been ages since I last blogged, though in reality it has been just about 2 weeks - which is some blogger's average length of time between posts. Life is mostly made-up of mundane routines and sometimes there's simply nothing to write about. Well, no, I did want to write about the film The Namesake, which I went to see goodness knows how many weeks ago, but I just haven't been able to muster any energy for anything remotely creative. I'm focusing instead on catching-up on sleep.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Ore Visits an Art Gallery

Yesterday a friend invited me to an art exhibition at Didi Museum. I promised that I would stop by if I could. I love art, though I don't know much about it. Like most lay people would say "I just know what I like!".

I got there and signed-in at the reception. The guy manning the desk asked me if I was an artist.

- No! Not at all!, I responded.

- Really? You look like an artist.

I laughed.

- What does an artist look like?

- Like you!

Alrighty then!

The main exhibition room was pretty bare aside from the gorgeous paintings, the artist and a handful of reporters. I would say that there were about 7 news people and my friend and I. I can't remember if this was the opening day or not. I guess it must have been if the reporters were there. But do people not attend art shows? Or perhaps there wasn't wide publicity for the event, afterall I wouldn't have known about it had my friend (who incidentally is also an artist) invited me.

As I was getting ready to leave, a reporter inquired if she could ask me a few questions about the exhibition. Panic time! Because, like I said, I know zero about art. The camera man turned his lens on me and beads of sweat started to gather at my brow as the reporter started asking her questions.

- What do I think about the exhibition?

- Mmmm.. The paintings are absolutely beauiful.

- What do you like about the artist's work?

- I love his use of colour and how he portrays movement. I like how his work is open to interpretation. You can't look at each painting and say "This is what the artist is trying to depict." (My brother later told me that the word I was struggling to find was "abstract." I knew that!)

- How do you think the arts movement has progressed in Nigeria over the last few years?

Haba! Does this woman think that I am an art critic?????

- I think that there it's actually been quite vibrant over the years and there has always been a core group of people who appreciate art. However, it doesn't always seem to have gotten the attention that it should have. I remember going to art exhibitions with my family when I was much younger and that there were always a lot of people in attendance. I don't remember that there were a lot of places to view art though. So, I think that the arts movement in Nigeria has always been very strong but contained to a small group of people.

- Okay, so how do you compare that to art in Nigeria now?

My God, lady! Let this be the last hard question you ask me.

- Hmmm, well, I think there is now a wider appreciation for the arts. Yes, there have always been supporters of the arts, but I think it's gathered more speed and recognition now. For instance, there are more places that you can go to view art. Aside from here [Didi Museum], you have Nike Art Gallery and Terrakulture.

If there were some other questions, I honestly cannot remember them, or I have blocked them out. LOL!

Afterwards, I 'confessed' that I didn't know much about art (like that wasn't already so obvious).

- Really? But you did so well. You knew about colour and movement.

I felt like a 3-year old who had been patted on the head for going potty solo for the first time (Wait! Is 3 years old even the right age to potty-train? Okay, so I'm rather clueless about babies too!). I guess making people feel better about their lack of knowledge and incoherent ramblings must be an important part of her job. I asked her what station she worked for. She replied "Galaxy."

Thank the good Lord! I don't think anybody watches that station anyway.

A Hair Weekend

Jeez! I haven't blogged in a while. Well, perhaps a week is not long for some, but it is for me. Well, I guess my absence is partly (or no, in large part) due to the fact that my life has been so humdrum lately. Very routine, the same ole', same ole'. Nothing new or different to report.

This weekend I had to take out my beloved wet and wavy braids. Believe it or not, it was my first time doing this style that is so common here in Lagos. I totally loved them and for the first time in a long while, I could see why long hair is considered so utterly sexy. I flipped that hair over and around my shoulders like no one's business (for those who, in the last few weeks, have had cause to sit next to me and gotten an unexpected mouthful of hair flung at them, I truly apologise. LOL!!!!!). Anyway, since my hair is natural, it tends to get rough pretty quickly as my hair starts to kink up. It takes an exteremly skilled braider for this not to happen. I'm still looking for such a person.

I like to take my braids out myself. It's slower than if I went to a salon to get it done, but I'm happier with the results and the process is a lot less painful for me. I've seen women getting their braids undone at the salon and I wince along with them, as the stylists rip the extensions out of their hair with lightening speed. Sure, the braids are out in no time, but it seems like it is with a good chunk of their own hair. Let's not talk about having to take weaves out. As the stylists slice the extensions off with their razors, they inevitably carve out holes in their customers' hair. As much as I would love to save time, I also love my hair very much and kind of want it to remain on my head. I also love to play with my hair and taking out my own hair gives me ample time to do this. The best reason I love to take out my braids though is that this is about the only time that I watch films and can give them my undivided attention.

This weekend, I watched 4 Elizabeth Taylor movies while undoing my hair: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Butterfield 8; Father of the Bride; and National Velvet. Needless to say, I had a blast. I drooled over ET's clothes. They were gorgeous and timeless and the kind of clothes that I could see myself wearing (but, of course). I sighed over Paul Newman in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and how mean his character was to ET's. One thing I really like about old films is how some things are left for the viewer to figure out; I feel that today there is too much hand-holding and bludgeoning movie-goers over the head with the intended message, rather than letting them draw their own conclusions. In Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Paul Newman played a gay man, but never was that said in the film. I marvelled at how Elizabeth Taylor grew up from a rather awkward looking adolescent in National Velvet, complete with a faint moustache, to such a breath-takingly beautiful woman. It should give hope to all ungainly adolescents. I should know; I was one. LOL!

Anyway, back to my hair. It took my about 4 hours on Friday night/Saturday morning and maybe 8/9 hours on Saturday to remove all the braids, but it was well worth it. I missed my hair and am happy to have it back again.