Showing posts from June, 2017

'The wildness of color and fantasy of design of these cotton prints is the most striking thing' - Ernie Pyle (1943) on Ghanian Fashion

A while back I came across an incomplete reference to an article in the US American Negro Digest about, allegedly, a Nigerian student in that country being astonished that not all Americans are cowboys. Of course, I had to follow up on that. The other day, the relevant volumes of the magazine finally arrived at my local library. Unfortunately, they came on microfiche.

'[H]undred miles an hour ... only speed a self-respecting Nigerian considers worthy of him' - Theodore Dalrymple on his Travels in West Africa

I can't focus today. So, I have abandoned the more academic literature I was to read today and, instead, settled down with a travelogue. This one was written by Anthony Daniels under his alias Theodore Dalrymple (no relation of that other travel writer, William Dalrymple, as far as I can gather), a doctor, psychiatrist and journalist. After two years of working in Tanzania, Dalrymple decided to cross Africa from Zanzibar to Mali by public transport, by bus, lorry, train, boat and canoe. His account lacks the historical and analytical depths of William Dalrymple's From the Holy Mountain, another travelogue I have recently read and enjoyed. Nevertheless, the book contains some gems – and, indeed, some rather lovely accounts of busses and lorries.

Cowboy Snippets: Biodun Olamosu (2000) Crisis of Education in Nigeria

Another day, another mug of tea - and another reference to cowboys in Nigeria.

Now, in recent months I've read plenty of literature that discusses the impact of Hollywood and Italian Westerns and their notoriously ambiguous heroe, 'the Cowboy,' in Nigeria. I have recently found a reference to these films in an interesting context, Biodun Olamosu's (2000) book Crisis of Education in Nigeria. Olamosu shares with many other Nigerian commentators that I have come across a disdain for cowboy movies and in particular their alleged subversive effects on Nigerian youths. – I say 'alleged' because I am instinctively doubtful of argument that claim to identify singular causes of what may be described as anti-social or disorderly behaviour or, indeed, crime among young people, in fact, among any social group. And, this response is even more pronounced if the blame is almost exclusively put on any one medium (video games, music, films, books – over here it's currently fashionable to blame the Qur'an-, social media), foreign or otherwise. I can't help it. From where I stand that looks like a suspiciously convenient argument to absolve oneself and one's own society of all blame and to instead scapegoat someone or something else. Preferably something that wasn't around when 'we' were their age so that we can conviently blame 'today's youths.'

New Blog Design (With Apologies for Formatting Blips)

The other day I was talking with my writing group. Somehow we drifted onto the topic of blogs and took a close look at a few of them. This was when I realised that by comparison mine was rather cluttered. So, I resolved to change its design.

Wanlov: Tribute to Ghanaian Trotros

It's finally summer here in Germany and I am enjoying the sun in my parents' backyard a train ride outside Berlin. So, let's have some music! And its even topical, well, kind off.

Do you, dear reader, know of any musical tributes to Nigerian motivator bikes, tricycles, cars and lorries transporting passengers or goods? Or their drivers for that matter? - Other than Bobby Benson's Taxi Driver that is. Even I already knew this one.

Ken Saro-Wiwa's (1985) Sozaboy: 'I can buy my own lorry and then I will be big man like any lawyer or doctor'

I am currently reading/re-reading some classics of Nigerian literature in the search for references to lorries, lorry art and possibly cowboys. – I have to confess that I enjoy plenty of them better the second time around now that I am reading at my own pace rather than to the schedule of a university course. The latest I have read was Ken Saro-Wiwa's Sozaboy (and, for once, I actually do like the German translation I accidentally ordered). The book's strangely topical with the anniversary of Biafra last week, the pro-Biafra rallies in recent months and the proclamations of certain self-proclaimed (and promptly and widely disowned) northern youth leaders. For my own purpose, however, the fact that the novel's protagonist, the eponymous Sozaboy, starts out as an apprentice driver is of greater interest at the moment. This was one of the details that didn't mean much to me back at university but that get me excited now.

BBC Radio 4 featuring Yinka Shonibare & David Adjaye

It's already been a while since they went online, 19 April and 26 April 2017 respectively, and that I listened to them. Nevertheless, I think they still bear highlighting here:

As part of its series Only Artists, BCC Radio 4 has published two interviews with (British) Nigerian artists: In the first, double bass player Chi-chi Nwanoku interviews Yinka Shonibare and, in the second, the latter interviews David Adjaye.

These interviews aren't too long (28 minutes each) and rather pleasant to listen to. They are also still available as podcasts on the BBC's Iplayer. So, if you haven't yet, do go and give them a listen!