For Your Daily Dose of MbA

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"Culture is the heritage of us all. some may be more interested than others in the treasures of the past, but no one can fail to take a pride in his country's participation in the story of mankind, as represented in carvings, sculpture, music, paintings and the other arts. And there is a personal commitment to this, for no man can really say he is alone: we are all joined through our identity, with the cultures which are part of the mainstream of life"
- Simon Kapwepwe, Zambian Independence Freedom Fighter

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm" - Winston Churchill

"Try to be the rainbow in someone else's cloud" - Maya Angelou

"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinion drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition" - Steve Jobs

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Art and Football

In keeping with my arty theme this week, I am continuing to post about beautiful things. Art is beautiful. Football is beautiful. And when they come together they make for a good post ;}.

Firstly, Drogba and Kalou have picked pictures taken by BBC World Service listeners and BBC journalists for the BBC's Africa Kicks.  You can watch a video on their thoughts about football's impact on Africa and you can also view the pictures they picked for the Africa Kicks Exhibition here: Gallery 1 - which aims to capture Africa's vibrancy , Gallery 2  - that conveys how football can be a life-changing and Gallery 3 -showcases how to Africa, football is more than just a sport.  I think football is where African's find the freedom to just be because perhaps we take Art a little for granted as  we produce so much in so many different forms so naturally that is has a mundane quality.  Football ignites the senses while simultaneously pacifying the soul.  It really brings us together. The photographs selected really capture our love of football.

While we are on the subject of football, BBC's African Footballer of the year shortlist has been revealed: Gyan and Ayew of Ghana, Eto'o, Yaya Toure and Drogba.  I have voted for Gyan. He was just absolutely wonderful at the World Cup. Awesome to the possum. He lead Ghana and represented the continent first class first class he he he. You can cast your vote here.

Also, FIFA is giving $100K to the injured Togolese goalkeeper who was shot during the unfortunate events preceding the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year. I think this is an absolutely lovely gesture :).

I will leave you with a hilarious video of Gyan doing a celebratory dance and one of his Sunderland teammates joining in.  Classic ;)

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Art Is The Theme It seems

It seems that all that I am seeing right now pertains to Art.  Maybe like Angola, I am looking to heal with creativity as I keep seeing horrible headlines about fighting between Marocco and Western Sahara, of violence after the polls in Guinea, a couple killed on their honeymoon in South Africa and something going on in Egypt! If it bleeds it leads is really being applied to Africa this week :(.

So I am going to focus on more happy things.  Catching up on blog reading exposed me to more Angolan art and also alerted me to a huge art exhibition in New York at the Museum of Arts and Design called The Global Africa Project that starts tomorrow. All facets of African creativity are showcased in both old and traditional forms and new hybrid ones.  The exhibition seeks to show the varied dimensions of work that Africans worldwide have produced and have organised The Global Africa project "around several thematic ideas.  These include: the phenomenon of intersecting cultures and cultural fusion; the branding and co-opting of cultural references; how art and design is promoted in the international market and the creative global scene; the use of local materials; and the impact of art-making on the economic and social condition of local communities.  In addition to providing a broad framework for the exhibition's organisation, these themes will encourage audiences to discern how global African artists grapple with the commodification of art production and the meaning and value of art in society - an increasingly significant issue for nations in a rapidly changing global context."
For a better and more knowledgeable analysis of the exhibition, as well as images of the exhibits, read Afri-Love's post and the Museum's blog. I am happy to see our creativity being showcased both in Africa and around the world :)

Art's Healing Power

I am finally keeping to my word and writing a post I promised to write ages ago.  When I was flying home I read about this wonderful art festival happening in Luanda right now.  Il Trienal de Luanda is a triennial arts exhibition started by one of Angola's sons, Fernando Alvim.  It is the most renowned of its kind in Africa and features outdoor billboard paintings, formal exhibitions, television and radio debates, educational programmes, theatrical performances and more, with the proceeds from these events financing the finale in December. This celebration of art started on the 12th of September and goes on till December 19th so you still have time to catch it if you happen to be going to Angola any time soon. The point of the Triennial is to celebrate Angolan history and heritage, but also to help heal the wounds suffered from years of fighting.  I think this is a great way to attract people to Angola, just as with them holding the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year

Fernando Alvim is also curator of the Sindika Dokolo Collection, which is the largest collection of contemporary African Art in the world.  Artists from Algeria, Angola, Benin, Cameroun, Congo, Cote D'Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Marocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia and Zimbabwe are showcased, as well as artists from around the world.  I am particulary taken with this set of prints and this photo is so eerily involving. And I can't get over the fact that there is an artist called Nastio Mosquito ha ha ha ha ha ;}.

I have a love/ hate relationship with contemporary art. Some of it just seems so self-involved and important. I visited LACMA earlier in the year and the collection they had showing had me thinking: really??!!! Some of it you could put together yourself but as they say that is not the point, it's all about the experience. Whatever. I expect to be wowed by something I couldn't do myself.  I need to see creativity and ability that I cannot produce to appreciate.  A pile of boxes just doesn't do it for me I'm afraid...

Friday, 12 November 2010

Il pleut...

Everyday like clockwork it rains when I leave work to head home.  I don't really mind the rain, so long as I have my umbrella and boots on I'm good to go.  And if I am walking briskly then the cold isn't so bad too, in fact it's welcome as it means that I get nice and warm and not too hot from the exercise.  However, Western rain is not like home rain, as me and my sister discussed recently.

I was lucky enough, due to a series of unfortunate events, to get to experience the first rains at home.  A welcome change from the heat. Well in relative terms bringing down the temperature to around 40C is better than around 50C ;}.  What I love about the rain at home is all the pomp and circumstance that precedes it.  You you may see some lightning in the distance, you'll definitely hear some thunder announcing the impending rain and then you smell it in the moments before it decides to grace us with its presence.  And that is really the essence of African rain, the smell. The potent, earthy, natural smell that I have only ever experienced on the African continent and particularly in Zambia.  Before the sheets of rain that cause everything to come to a standstill, there is such an aroma of growth, renewal and cleansing that is intoxicating.  The rain itself is awesome too.  Awesome in its authority and sometimes terrifying too when it wakes you in the middle of the night. Also terrifying when you have to pull over because you can't see anything but white. Or brown when you misjudge how deep a puddle on the road is and are blinded for a coupla seconds from going too fast through it...;}

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Kenya Dig it? Yes We Can!

I read this article today about how Kenya is going to try and save its largest forest, Mau, by trading carbon units to be able to reforest and in turned earn billions of dollars a year for 15 years! Reading more about how important the forest is to a third of the country's population reminded me of a program I watch while at home.  The quote "Many local people understand the value of the forest" reminded me of the episode of Great Africans I watched on DSTV about the 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner, Wangari Maathai (who if you don't know about read up on her she is AMAZING!!!) the founder of The Green Belt Movement. In the program she talked about how when she was younger she remembers how she was taught which trees were to be cut for firewood and which were to be left like the Fig tree due to its long roots that keep the soil intact during the rains.  We Africans had such knowledge of our ecosystems and lived at one with the land but we have lost a lot of that.

I came across this quote today too from Mzee Jomo Kenyatta: "When the missionaries came to Africa, they had the Bible and we had the land.  They taught us to pray with our eyes closed. when we opened them, we had the Bible in our hand and they had the land." 

The above program talked about how the English came and cleared a lot of the land without thought due to the fertility of the land caused by the unique qualities of the Rift Valley and how this, as well as locals following suit, has caused Kenya to increasingly suffer from more and more droughts due to the fact that trees no longer form trapment areas for rain water. Even though Kenyatta made an crudely astute observation about how religion was used as a facilitator for colonialism, we need to start having faith in our own knowledge and make the decisions to revert back to some of our old practices while also embracing the knowledge we have also adopted.

What Kenya is trying to do is something that all African countries need to be doing. We need to exploit our resources in a productive not destructive manner.  And we need to be in control, especially with green issues as we are suffering from the brunt of the adverse effects climate change.  Which sucks really because we are not the main culprits.  But such is life, what can we do? What Kenya's doing that's what! :)

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Interesting Debate

Yesterday one of my lovely followers posted this link on Facebook about African development from the Zambian perspective that sparked and interesting debate. I must confess I have yet to read Dead Aid even though I purchased the book earlier this year.  Unfortunately my brain is still recovering from Masters overload and I have not touched a book since I graduated. I am only able to read in short bursts, so the Internet is my only source of reading at the mo...Anyhoo back to what I was saying. It got me thinking about the direction Africa is taking and what needs to be done to finally move from receiving Aid to actually being able to stand on our own two feet.

It seems consensus was on benevolent dictatorship, where someone takes the reigns and makes decisions that ultimately lift our countries to economic stability that is enjoyed by the majority.  The educated need to be at the forefront and actually put their knowledge to good use rather than using it solely in the developed world.  However for this to occur, the continent has to be friendlier in terms of its rules, regulations and its people need to be as inviting to their own as they are to foreigners!

My view is that of a conservative liberal.  I believe in the right for people to do as they choose and live as they like but not with such abandon that one is not aware of their community which is how I feel pure liberals seem to be.  I also don't believe in the didactic maxims of the conservatives who make rules that benefit the elite under the guise of doing what's best for the people.  I think that Africa needs to be a little like China, selfish in its quest to succeed on its own terms and stop trying to please everyone by bending to be able to receive Aid or just letting anyone invest because the newest belief is that Foreign Direct Investment is the key to alleviating poverty.  However, I do not believe that Human Rights should be compromised and it is paramount that the environment should be respected at all times. I think Africa is in the position to show the world how development can occur without all the pitfalls that other countries have faced such as child labour and serious environmental damage.

We need to stop sucking up to anyone who has money because even though China may not have tried to handcuff us the way the US did with their push for abstinence campaigns before signing off on Aid, their lack of rules has them thinking they can do whatever they want because of their perceived benevolence.  The recent shooting of Zambian miners asking for better work conditions is a case in point.

Africa produces many educated sons and daughters and this is evident in the fact that despite appearances, they are the most educated immigrant group in America and despite their stereotypical bad reputation, Nigerians are leading the pack. What we need to do is go back home our at least start ventures there remotely and use our knowledge to better our nations.  We need to suck it up and suffer a bit to plant the seeds and stick it out long enough for the rains to come and go and for the sun to shine so that we can eventually see the fruits of our labour.  What is also needed is a conducive environment on the homefront.  When I went back home recently and was looking to stay and start something I was told very bluntly that it would be better if I left as what I wanted to do was not possible in Zambia.  Anything is possible if you allow it to be.  So now I'm in Switzerland.  At least I tried. And I will try again soon :)

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

World Pneumonia Day

There seems to be a day for everything these days but I think that the 12th of November is particularly important to highlight as pneumonia is one of those diseases that slips through the cracks, and yet most of the deaths from this disease are in developing countries.  When I found this out at work today I was quite shocked as I have never really heard that before though I have known people who have had it.  I think a lot of the times, especially in hot countries, pneumonia seems counterintuitive.  Even though it is an oxymoron, it occurs nonetheless. We need to pay even more attention to it as it is linked to diseases like HIV/AIDS and TB.

Check out the site for Word Pneumonia Day.  What I love about it is that it features the people working on the ground to fight the disease rather than just pictures of helpless faces.  Not only that, but the people from Africa are highlighted positively and are not just the face of the disease but also the face of the help being given already. Showcased are a Doctor from Nigeria and two female Doctors, one from Uganda the other from Pakistan.  I like the fact that it shows that we from the developing world are not solely problems but are actively part of solutions.

Here is an article about how Pneumonia in the African context.

Also check out the GAVI Alliance, an organisation that is striving to introduce pneumococcal (yes that is a real word) vaccines to over 40 countries by 2015.

I will leave you with this very silly and refreshing video from GAVI highlighting the day and calling for action.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Picture Of The Week: Flower Power

Frangipani - Zimbabwe October 2010

Had my first day of work today and I'm absolutely pooped so I thought I'd start a new post series: Picture of the Week. I am a very amateur photographer and like Africa I'd like to think my photos capture beauty in its purest form and yet are rough around the edges ;}. I am too frazzled to do anything seeing as I have battled the elements - cold and rain while carrying groceries and getting lost in the dark just a minute from home because everything looked the damned same - small pokey roads with wooden houses that could be where I live.  It didn't help that on the way a dog barked at me and being an African one is always afraid of dogs on the road as they could have rabies.  Have to get used to people leaving their gates open and things...I am also a little annoyed that my google searches and my blogger page come up in German! At least French I can fudge my way through :(.

I will not end the post on a bad note.  Life is an adventure and despite the craziness I am having a great time.  Very excited about my job as one of my tasks is to find an inventive way to get people at work to get more involved in recognising World Aids Day on the 1st of December :).

Sunday, 7 November 2010

MBA Haitus Is Over: I'm Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack :)

I apologise profusely for my sudden disappearance without so much as an "hasta la vista baby".  In my defense it was facilitated by lack of constant computer internet access coupled with very annoyingly small keys on my Blackberry (hence my poor mobile posting) and the fact I was enjoying my regeneration at home under the African sun :}.

Luckily I have survived the scorching 50C weather and have not melted although I may now freeze into a brown icicle having made a really cold sojourn to Switzerland.  There is something wrong when the plane is so cold that when you get out at Heathrow it feels warm!!!! Was sick the whole first leg - the 10 hour journey from home to London due to the sudden change in temperature.  And unfortunately today it was gloomy and rainy and cold :(. Thank God for my winter coat although it is indicating to me that I have been rather lazy and is a bit tight. In my defense you try and move in ridiculous heat.  Being a couch potato and falling asleep becomes inevitable no matter how hard you try at certain times of the day.  However, the house in which I am renting a room is so charming, you know the way you would think Switzerland is.  It's made of wood, the garden is full of trees, and I can see a mountain located in France out of my bedroom window :)))))))). ABSOLUTELY AWESOME POSSUM!

Blogging is therapeutic for me and leaving home has definitely got me back into my "away from home routine" so will be making up for promised posts and getting back to my usual self :). Internet in my room helps...