Maya Angelou and I

This afternoon on radio, I will be talking about Maya Angelou and how she affected a Nigerian girl from Ibadan. Author of Thread of Gold Beads, Nike Campbell Fatoki will be joining me to discuss the Maya’s legacy. I never met Maya, but many days, I found strength in her poems, her spirituality, her wisdom and the hope she passed on so many times. Here are some of my best poems and videos on Maya. RIP Maya. I will always remember you.

This are some of my favorite poems and videos.

I know why caged birds sing

The free bird leaps
on the backhttp://blackandoutspoken.influencer.biz/files/2014/05/arrow-10x10.png of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orangehttp://blackandoutspoken.influencer.biz/files/2014/05/arrow-10x10.png sun rays
and dares to claimhttp://blackandoutspoken.influencer.biz/files/2014/05/arrow-10x10.png the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his barshttp://blackandoutspoken.influencer.biz/files/2014/05/arrow-10x10.png of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknownhttp://blackandoutspoken.influencer.biz/files/2014/05/arrow-10x10.png
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade http://blackandoutspoken.influencer.biz/files/2014/05/arrow-10x10.png winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom. 














As a single girl, this poem as special meaning, because it means I dont need to be validated by any man. I dont need to be in a relationship or marriage to find contentment and fulfillment. I am all beautiful just the way I am. I dont want to be anybody else. I am happy being me, living in my own skin, in my own world, writing a  blog that reflects the best in me. I think every girl ought to read this poem. Everyday. Whether or not you have a man. I am a phenomenal woman and so are you. Enjoy reading.



Phenomenal Woman

BY MAYA ANGELOU

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size   
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,   
The stride of my step,   
The curl of my lips.   
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,   
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,   
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.   
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.   
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,   
And the flash of my teeth,   
The swing in my waist,   
And the joy in my feet.   
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered   
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,   
They say they still can’t see.   
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,   
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.   
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.   
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,   
The bend of my hair,   
the palm of my hand,   
The need for my care.   
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Advertisements

A Poem Every Few Days

A Picture of Words

I want to stay here
Thinking about words
Which have no meaning
But you know me
I am crazy in love with
Words like
#I like you very much
And even more recently
‘Ultimately, we have nothing in common’.
Words?
You know how best to inflict pain:(

So I have decided that
I am going to take apart those
Words
For without attaching feelings
To them
They mean nothing
Honestly!
Perhaps, they are not just words
They are a reflection of a moment
Or moments of prolonged anger
And darkness
See what I have to deal with?
Here we go!

I am going to stay here
Reading other words like
The poems we wrote together
The emails shared
The texts written
The songs we enjoyed
The tweets retweeted
I will always be here for you.
You know I am yours.
Words ‘ Why didnt you call me all day?’

I am going to stay here
Waiting for you to take back
Those words…..
I know you wont
So, I will wait forever
Here in my nightie on a Friday morning
Waiting for the kettle to boil
And for the cat to make his way back
Or for the noisy neighbours to leave
Or for my alarm to wake me up
Or for taxi to arrive
Or for the postman to ring the bell
I will be waiting right here
Making up more words
So when you dont have to
Run out of beautiful things
To say to me.

Ps: A beautiful poem has come out of words you didnt mean. Sweet!.

Tundun Adeyemo

Is there an end to Nigeria's troubles?

Nigeria is on fire

 Its been 36 days since over 200 girls were kidnapped in Chibok. Yesterday there was a bomb attack in Kano. Today, CNN is reporting  118 were killed in a market in Jos, Plateau. My heart goes out to these communities, and especially  families who have lost loved ones in one way or the other to Nigeria. My prayers tonight are for Nigeria and these communities.

In other news, here is Ikenna at his best.

#Bring Back Our Girls

The #Bringbackourgirls has become the new battlefront for war on Twitter as the hashtag has generated an international outcry; one that possibly jolted Nigeria’s political leadership into action. The twitter hashtag cannot be undermined as the story it symbolises make it impossible to stay indifferent.  234 (or whatever the number) girls in the hands of wicked, blood sucking, demented men who have no regard for life or limb. Their ordeal, unimaginable at the hands of these horrible men.  These girls are future mothers, future scientists, future leaders an entire generation of young ladies held against their will in a forest makes us all uncomfortable.  The kidnapping of these girls is not an issue for feminists only as well. It concerns everybody in our Nigerian community, for what if those girls were your sisters or daughters?
Unfortunately, hashtag or not, the situation remains the same. A little back ground here for anyone who is oblivious to the story: 200 or so girls were abducted from their school dormitory in Chibok community in Borno State on April 14th as they were about to write their General Certificate of Education exams.  Borno State has been under a state of emergency for about a year now.  It is home to the notorious Sambisa forest where Boko Haram terrorists have their headquarters.                                
Here in England, like it is across the world, #Bringbackourgirls has generated quite a furore at the work place of the writer. A non-Nigerian colleague had made pasted posters on the Chibok girls around the work community.  They- most workers- found it hard to believe that the Presidential position on the kidnap was that the kidnap was a stunt engineered to cause maximum embarrassment to the Peoples’ Democratic Party.  Likewise, Mrs Patience Jonathan’s high profile involvement was hard to explain away. A video showing the Mrs Jonathan crying as she held a stake holders meeting with mothers and parties involved in Borno State was unfortunately ridiculed  and viewed in bad taste. But, it is Patience Jonathan: a market woman who is also the President’s wife. We can pardon her ignorance whilst we wonder why her husband allowed her to turn such a sensitive issue into a circus. The concurring view was that she was a distraction and a poor surrogate for the missing girls. The situation at hand is frankly not about the PDP neither is it about the APC, it is about the safety and security of all
Nigerians, especially vulnerable ones like the soft targets taken.
Many international figures like Tinie Tempah, Chris Brown, Mary J. Blige, Dr Mike Murdoch and numerous others supported the noble cause, even more actively than the Nigerian government.  The American government has since offered to help with the intelligence side of things. We hope they would not be too disgusted with the Nigerians by the time all is said and done. The British government has a team on standby ready to help sort out the Boko Haram terrorists.
https://youtube.googleapis.com/v/JIzrvtaOjyM&source=udsFrankly, one cannot say the Nigerian government has satisfied its duties on this matter. The lukewarm ness of Aso Rock until a couple of days ago has been most disconcerting. It is unthinkable what the Boko Haram terrorists would be doing or have done to those girls. In a country where education is the way out of generational poverty, those girls were not caught in their boyfriends’ houses or in a night club. They were kidnapped in school. It is curious why parents would let their daughters sleep vulnerable in an area known for the activities of the Boko Haram terrorists. The school should have been closed. Period. Having said that, apportioning blame is not the way forward. The best thing to do at this time is hope that under the leadership of the Nigerian government, the girls would be released. But, the recent Presidential chat revealed that even the President  was clueless as to the whereabouts of the girls.. His best shot was inaugurating a committee to help secure their release and ordering security chiefs to do all that is possible is to release those girls. We all know that command like others before it,  is a Presidential rubber stamp stand on absolutely nothing. Also, committees are usually a clear sign that the situation is hopeless.
Nigeria is in a cycle of self-destruction, this year has been an exceptionally bad year . Two bomb blasts in Nyanya, chronic unemployment, lack of adequate health care and myriad of other problems. Nigeria is struggling to keep it all together. Whilst the Nigerian government battle to make sense of Boko Haram and the country’s numerous problems, Boko Haram always seem a step ahead. Recently, it took responsibility for the kidnap threatening to  sell the girls. As if that was not enough, 8 more girls have been kidnapped from the nation’s capital.
The answers to our national problems lies not in the Presidency nor his team but in the power of ordinary Nigerians who are able to galvanise talking points from their Twitter handle and new media fronts.  Every angle you look in Nigeria, there is a moral deficit and a widening gap in equality. The Vice President’s loss was more important at a stage than the missing girls, retaining the Minister of Immigration’s portfolio has been more important than the death of the Nigerians who died during the Immigration recruitment fiasco, the Nigerians who died at Nyanja was not an excuse for the twerking dance of the President in Kano the day after the blasts.  The seeming inequality between Federal workers and ordinary Nigerians is a new low this government has taken. The truth is no longer spoken as it is sacrificed for the pay packet. Most people associated with the administration have to tow the official lines: ‘all is well with the country’.
Hopefully, the girls will be returned eventually and life hopefully will return to normal. Our prayers remain with the families of the girls and with the entire Chibok community. Hopefully, we can learn lessons from this saga in our collective journey as Nigerians with a voice.  The level of participation given to #bringbackourgirls should develop around the moribund areas of our social polity.



 Tundun Adeyemo


Published in TELL, this week(I think)

  

Interview with Tundun Adeyemo: Author of 'The Immigrant'

Tundun Adeyemo’s Book the Immigrant is out on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and other online retailers.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? – 

 I grew up in Ibadan, Nigeria in an household where academia was the priority  

of every child in the household. This was the same for most families we grew up with.  My mum and siblings loved reading and I remember a time when we competed for  books to read between us. I never used to win. My sisters are such voracious readers.  My sister even had a book club at a time. I left Nigeria for the UK in 2001 for a Masters education. I have studied at different universities including: Holborn College, Middlesex University where I studied for
a post graduate diploma in law and a Masters in International law. I am currently pursuing a part time Doctorate in Human Rights law.

What are your influences as a poet? What influences your writing? –

I am influenced by many things. I listen for emotions that provoke a reaction and I write from that. I am also fairly good at observing people. I tend to write about what I think they may be saying.  My book is not all about my experience, it is more collective than personal.  I have woven several stories into it as well. Songs and movies are good influences,conversations and books are also good muses. My poems  are a combination of feelings that come alive through carefully crafted words.

What draws you to writing? 
 I have always kept a diary and written poetry. Each time I need to articulate an issue, I
usually do it by writing it out first, then it becomes clear in my mind. I love writing. In an ideal world, I would read  books and write poetry/prose all day.

Do you ever experience writer’s block? 

Everybody experiences moments when they lose the inspiration to write. It
is part of the journey into writing. There are times when you don’t feel as though your words make any sense. When that happens, I leave my laptop and return to it at another season when I feel refreshed.

Which do you prefer, writing with a computer, cell Which do you prefer, writing with a computer, cell phone or old fashioned pen and paper? 
I do most of my core writing on my laptop. When I am out and about, I normally write on my iphone or a note pad which I always carry in my bag

Did you see yourself becoming a writer as a child? 

 As a child, all I wanted to do was to spend my life reading and writing. I like to think that  I prefer the introverted life given to reading and writing. In an ideal world, that’s all I would do.

What’s the best perk of having an ebook?

I suppose it the bragging rights that comes with it. I have been there and done that.

Tell us about your new book, ‘The Immigrant’. 
The Immigrant is a collection of emotionally heartfelt poems and reflections, about a girl who left her friends, loves, family and home town behind, to search for a new life abroad. The poems evoke themes of sadness, loneliness, adjusting to a new life, pleasant and unpleasant surprises as well as other issues that will be familiar to anyone who has had to travel and live beyond their country’s borders.

Do you see yourself as a ‘genre specific’ author?  

Not really, my taste is quite epileptic. I love Carol Ann Duffy’s poetry for her realism and her ability to
go into depths about issues most would rather not talk about.

What was the last book you read?

 I’ve just finished reading ‘The Racketeer’ by John Grisham. I read quite a lot of poetry  and I make it my business to read a book a week. ‘Still Alice’ by Lisa Genova made an impression. I just recently acquired ‘In Protest: 150 Poems for Human Rights’ a collection of human right poems from around the world.

 Who are your favourite authors and what books have spoken to you most?

Different books appeal to me for different reasons. The best ones I keep returning to are ‘One Minute Millionaire by Mark Victor Hansen’, Nelson  Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki and Joel Osteen ‘Become a Better You’.

What is next for you as a writer? 
I’m working on my next book which is a collection of articles written for Nigeria’s TELL magazine over the last four years. Watch this sp
ace!

What are your words of advice for budding writers?
Writing is an expression of the thingsyou are passionate about. Every one is passionate about something. We only express these things differently. It makes sense to  develop yourself in the things you are passionate about. The medium of expression whether it be poetry or prose will come with time.

Twitter:@tundunadeyemo

Debut Collection of Poems, "The Immigrant" Press Release

Debut Collection of Poems, “The Immigrant” explores Life as an African in the UK 
Accomplish Press is pleased to announce the official publication of “The Immigrant – A Collection of Poems and Reflections” by Tundun Adeyemo. The debut collection of poems chart the course of a young girl who left her family, friends, loves and homeland behind to forge a new career and life in a foreign country. The main narrative of the poems reveal the struggles of a Nigerian girl trying to adapt to life in England, encountering a very different reality from what she had imagined, struggling to cope with loneliness, dealing with snobbery, racial prejudice and finding a home in a new place.                     
Tundun Adeyemo, the Nigerian born author, taps into her own experience of living as an immigrant in the UK to write these personal and heartfelt poems. “I’ve been writing poems for a long time,” she said. “I write to express my feelings and record my emotions.”
Poems of this sort that chronicle life as an immigrant in the UK are not very common. There was a need to discover this topic through the eyes of a narrator who has experienced the feelings of being far away from home. The concept of “back home” and the loneliness of missing all that is familiar is explored.
“The poems are not exactly autobiographical, but they are drawn from my experience and the experiences of people like me. People who left their homes in search of a better education, in search of the opportunities life in a first world country brings.” Tundun said.
Perhaps this collection will help us to understand better, the reasons why immigrants come to a foreign country, how they view their new world, how they adapt to the strangeness, and how they finally reach out and settle into their new place. And perhaps one day, even accept the new country as home.
The experiences of immigrants; regardless of where they are from; can be universal, and it is our hope that these poems will touch the heart of anyone, whether they have immigrated themselves, or they have friends who are immigrants – foreigners in a land that they were not born in.
“I hope to continue writing poems like these, poems that touch hearts, poems that are not afraid to explore real emotions about our current human condition,” Tundun said. “Poetry keeps me honest and I would love to publish a second volume very soon.”
“The Immigrant” is available as an eBook in various formats from Amazon Kindle Store, Smashwords and other eBook retailers. The book will be officially released on the 12th of May 2014.

The Girl from Ibadan

Dear readers
I wrote this weeks ago and it was published in TELL magazine.



I have not written in a long time and I wonder this morning, if I can still write. I hope I can. Over the time I had been away, there had been things I wanted to write about, things I wanted to share, things I wanted to complain about but each time I started to write, I would get distracted and then find myself unable to continue. It appears that season of ‘distractions’ has ended. Most writers experience seasons of ‘nothingness’, especially when writing is one of the things you do. Full time writers perhaps don’t struggle as much as people who write because they love to write. Who knows? Did that make any sense? I am back now, watch this space!                     
I had been working on a collection of poems which has been published and will be released as an ebook (titled ‘The Immigrant’) on Amazon and other online retailers in May 2014. The collection of poems is not necessarily autobiographical, but it visits my first days, weeks and months in the United Kingdom as a ‘JJC’ immigrant. The book tells a compelling, intimate and graphic story of the reality of life in the United Kingdom. The book should have been called ‘The Girl from Ibadan’ as most of the poems there are linked to the writer’s love for Ibadan, her home town. The preferred title captures all actual and wannabe immigrants in the diaspora and at home.  

Honestly, before we became citizens of our host countries carrying their passports, most of us had to pay a price. Some had to marry, others joined the Army, Navy or Air Force, others waited ten long years studying, and some were illegal immigrants for fourteen years before they were able to change their status. Now, the rules have changed. It is not quite as easy any more to acquire that home status.  Regardless of the route to citizenship in the United Kingdom, we were first lowly immigrants and some of us had to do grit work in other to earn some income in those early days. 

Nigerians in the United Kingdom have flourished. Some  are Mayors, leaders in medicine, engineering, law, business, academia, religion and indeed in every sphere of life. Unreservedly, the United Kingdom offers Nigerians an equal playing field to excel and Nigerians have taken up that opportunity. France is only two hours away on the Euro star but it is a much different ball game as black people are undermined and the stereotype is negative.

In Nigeria, it is a thing of joy and pride to brag about going abroad either for leisure, work or business. But sadly, when Nigerians encounter hard times over seas, there is less sympathy back home for them. About the prostitution in Italy, we abuse the girls and families of the girls for willingly given themselves up for the financial gains from prostitution. We encourage the government to deport them all. Once in Nigeria, we vilify them as HIV carriers. We berate those stuck in Libya’s prisons on their way to Europe.   We ridicule those studying in Malaysia, Indonesia and India wondering how those countries are better than Nigeria? Yet, anywhere outside Nigeria is perhaps better than Nigeria today. The recent National Immigration Service scandal and the mayhem that describes Nigeria tell us
that exactly.

Nigerians travel overseas for greener pastures. Nigeria is hard. For those who cannot make it to the Americas, Asia or Europe, the African continent offers our people immense opportunities. In Ghana, there are over 1 million of us studying, working or doing business. East Africa and South Africa are our favorites. We are selling Nollywood, our charismatic Christianity (healing and miracle services included), fashion, culture, motor spare parts, and our music which includes Psquare, Dbanj and 2face. No doubt, Nollywood has created millions of opportunities and income for Nigerians and Africans in general but there are still millions of Nigerians who are not into Nollywood, who have skills and expertise but lack meaningful opportunities for employment.
The underlying point is that Nigeria’s harsh economic is hard for everybody except those who make huge amounts of money without doing much work like our colleagues at the House of Representative and the Senate. Ordinary Nigerians who routinely collect kickbacks from contracts are also part of this crowd. Regardless of how our GDP has been debased, the average Nigerian finds it hard to get meaningful pay for meaningful work. Many men who should be bread winners are crumbling to blood pressure problems as they watch –with their manhoods eviscerated- their wives struggle to bring in the real income. For those who can afford travelling overseas, going abroad to find  to study, to work provides a life line. Even that option is not cheap either.

Immigration has its positives and negatives. Sometimes, the negatives of immigration are louder than the positives. Nigerians suffer untold hardship in foreign and unfriendly terrain when things can go horribly wrong. For instance, in South Africa low class Nigerians are fighting a losing battle with xenophobia and a rather nasty image of Nigerians as ‘druggies’. In Malaysia, our students are harassed and victimized by the police and authorities for all sorts of curious reasons whilst the Nigerian Embassy has its hands tied with ribbons. Mrs Abike Dabiri’ who leds the House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Matters  was told by the Director General of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Mr Femi Ajayi, last year   that there are over 6,000 Nigerians in jails around the world.  Tragically, Nigeria had more of its nationals in prisons outside the country than any other African country. Ajayi listed some of the countries as Iran 4,000, Brazil 500, Thailand 500, Malaysia 300.
The writer has just recently been to Paris where she met a Nigerian girl from Delta State who has decided she would remain in Paris against all odds. The problems she faces are financial: it is hard to find work other than as a cleaner in hotels, the pay is little but the work is hard. Secondly, her Delta accent obvious, it will take her a while to get fully immersed in the culture and language in Paris. This girl will face a long battle no doubt as she is only nine months into her Parisian experience. Immigration is not an easy decision at any time. New immigrants face loneliness, deprivation depending on their financial stability and most times they spend years moving in circles. Returning home is not an option. The shame of returning home with nothing to show for it is traumatizing enough.

 ‘The Immigrant’ unfortunately is not the sum total of all these outlandish negative experiences, perhaps other volumes would look into the general experience of Nigerians in the diaspora. The book looks rather narrowly at one experience which tells the story of the positives of immigration. This is the story of the hundreds of thousands of students who have some-how become successful immigrants in the United Kingdom. You will love to read it.
Tundun Adeyemo

Laugh away your sorrows @African Comedy Show…Doors Open at 6pm


African Comedy Show on May 9


Get ready for the biggest comedy show featuring 6 great talents from the continent of Africa; Wayne (Zimbabwe), Gandoki (Nigeria), Chris Forest (South-Africa), Daliso (Malawi), Prince Abdi (somali) Njambi (Kenya) and your Host (David Balogun) on the 9th of May, 2014. 

Ticket/RSVP or booking information: 
Food / Drink – African food and drink sold at the venue Tickets from (in advance ) – £12.50 VIP table or Birthday bookings, email – info@africancomedyshowtv.com Website (24hrs) – http://www.africancomedyshow.com Enquires (24hrs) – info@africancomedyshow.com Ticket hotline (24hrs) – 07404115228

For more information click here: Africancomedy Show

Come and laugh away your sorrows.

On Outspoken this Saturday: Nike Campbell Fatoki, Author Thread of Gold Beads.

I feel very special to have Nike Campbell Fatoki this Saturday on my radio show. This is probably  because we share a lot in common: particularly, the drive to make things happen.  So, I am excited to say  that the  conversation with the indefatigable  Nike Campbell Fatoki  would be simply awesome. If you have never heard me on radio before, this Saturday would be the best time to listen to what we are trying to do. Honest! You will love it!
Nike and I will talk about everything from her book, blog,  #bringbackthegirls  and  her upcoming theater production. To listen, click this link AfricaukRadio not now- but  from 1730 GMT on Saturday 10th May, 2014.

Nike Campbell Fatoki is an author, blogger and consummate woman who believes passionately in life. She was born in Ukraine, grew  up in Lagos where she studied at the University of Lagos, before relocating to Howard University  in the United States to complete her undergraduate studies. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in Economics, pursued her Master’s degree in International Development at the American University, graduating in 2001. She  lives in Maryland with her husband and three children.  Her book Thread of Gold Beads was in the top 15 Nigerian books in 2013. 

Nike and I have been friends on Twitter for a while, but we spoke for the first time a couple of nights ago and it felt like we have known each other all our lives. We spoke for close to an hour, we had lots of things to share and say.

 A remarkable woman who seeks to make the most of her life, time and abilities, Nike’s warmth would endear you to her. A woman’s woman, she seeks to bring her book on to American Theaters. The interview will rock…… Dont miss it!.

#Bringbackourgirls: A Poem

It cannot be business as usual
Perhaps it is
We have been gone for over 21 days
And 21 nights
Unspeakable
Nasty
Frightening
Uncomfortable
Terrifying
We cannot describe the nightmare that
has refused to end
Dont forget us
We are your sisters, daughters, nieces
and mothers of tomorrow
#bringusback

We know for some it is business as usual
You will read this and resume your dinner
Or move on to happier news

But we are still here
Enslaved
Kidnapped
Against our will
We know the sun will soon rise
It will be morning soon
This will be over
#bringusbackhome

For us, our lives have been changed forever
Our voices will be heard in Chibok
And around the world
We are the girls
Who dream of a better Nigeria
Where students can write their exams in peace
Where girls and boys are safe to be they want to be
and more
Where our communities are safe from violence and attacks
Where our lives are regarded as precious
Thats the Nigeria we Believe in
That is the Nigeria fighting for our release
This is not propaganda
We just want to come home
#bringusback

 

Promoting Africa in Paris…. Aset Malanda: 'I want to change the negative image ..about Africa'

Amongst other things, Aset Malanda is a writer, thinker and a leader in shaping African thought  in Paris. Her book ‘Black Stars of Nollywood’ is a glossy print master piece which celebrates the best things within the African movie industry. She took some of her time to talk to Tundun Adeyemo on her book.
     
Why did you write the book?

I wrote this book to promote Nigerian and Ghanaian movies because in
France people do not really know Nollywood, Ghallywood or even African movies. I think that all these African films should be known in the French speaking diaspora. Besides
, in France, things coming from Africa are usually bad so I wanted to correct misconceptions  by offering a book with beautiful pictures inside. My book also shows the brilliant and talented people who live in Africa, work in Africa, make money in Africa as they are a beautiful example for the African youth in France and around the world. I think people in France need to know these  African icons. They need to respect African people and hopefully, change their negative view of Africa and Africans.

 
Do you think your book will change the way the African is viewed/portrayed in Paris?

 I don’t want to be pretentious but I think my book will sooner or later change the negative image that most people in France have about Africa . When I say that people have a bad image of the African continent I  include Black people or Africans who firmly believe that Africa has not emerged.  

 It is important to increase publications like mine  because we need to positively influence people. My book has 293 pages in which we find beautiful pictures. I honor people like Jason Njoku, the founder of the iRokoTv platform in London, Peace Osigwe the founder of AMAA award in Nigeria, Chioma Ude, the creator of Afriff festival in Nigeria, Victor Olatoye, the founder of Nafca African Oscar in Hollywood. I also honor key actors like Omotola Jalade, one of the most influential people in the world according to Forbes Magazine, Genevieve Nnaji the most famous actress in Nigeria, Mercy Johnson, Desmont Elliot, Uche Jombo, Funke Akindele, Rita Dominic, Yvonne Nelson, Van Vicker, Ramsey Nouah, Jim Iyke, directors like Tunde Kelani, Mahmood Ali Balogun, Tony Abulu, Jeta Amata, Kunle Afolayan, Obi Emelonye, Leila Djansi from Ghana, Chineze Anyane etc.  To me, they are examples of Africans in the world nowadays and in the world in general.
How does the average African view himself in Paris ?

 I do not talk in terms of average, but I would say that an African majority in France thinks that, to be integrat
ed into French society, they should simply forget about their African origins. France is a country of assimilation towards foreigners who live here. In other words you have to be ” French ”  like a white person, think, eat, get dressed , talk like a person and then make no reference to your original culture.


I think we can live in a host country respecting and accepting its fundamental principles without forgetting from where you come. France has a great influence in the French part of the African continent because of historical reasons . We all know that slavery and colonization totally destroyed Black Africa on  human, psychological and material levels. 


Unfortunately this trauma in the French-speaking Black countries is still very present, so we more easily understand internalized self-hatred , self depreciation , fear to denounce what is wrong with the Black ” French ” or African in this country. In England and the U.S. African or Black people do not have this self depreciation. There is still great hope in France as more and more young Africans become aware that it is important not to forget where they come from thanks to many actions led by African activists’ organisations and some African economic agents.

Where has the self depreciation come from?

 In fact I had some difficulties before writing my book, as many data sources were in English. It was a bit hard as my English is rough. It was particularly hard when I was called by friends who speak perfect English. These small difficulties did not discourage me at all. I took it as an opportunity to improve my English. I really love Nollywood and Ghallywood, this has completely fascinated me. My fascination about Nollywood is due to the fact that this industry is growing quickly even though it grows without major financial assistance. This industry is driven by young men, young women, old people and its stories reflect the reality of Nigerian and African lives. What really touched me is the dynamism of this African new generation who wants to create their own business to boost the African cinema industry. My link with Nollywood started when I met some Nigerian filmmakers during four days at the NollywoodWeek Paris Festival last year. It was amazing to discuss with my role models.

How long did it take you to write the book?


 It took me five months to write my book, I also produced and self published it. Two Nigerian friends co-produced the book (YKProjects) who also are two former co-founders of the NollywoodWeek Paris Festival. Things like translating the book into English, correcting both French and English versions, the layout, think about the design of the book, the communication strategy, the launch party for the release of the book took me much time. Working in self publishing is hard work, you must be a passionate person, be patient because I work with a team of friends. I was paid but I spent a lot of money without an immediate return. However, the most important thing to me is that I experienced something great through my first production.

You have written about Nollywood … is it that popular in Paris?

 Indeed Nollywood is not popular in Paris, the aim of my book is exactly to promote it and promote what is done in Ghana and Nigeria in the movie industry. Now there is the NollywoodWeek Paris Festival, NollywoodTv channel, my book, the Black Stars of Nollywood (the english version coming soon), so I hope that Nollywood will be massively known in Paris.

If you could address a million Parisiens, what would be your message to them.

The message that I can give to a Parisian is just: Be open minded, be aware of what is being well done in Africa. That’s it.

Tundun Adeyemo