The million dollar question isn’t it? It’s probably been at some point if the journey that is your life has landed you thousands of miles away from the place you call home. The question seems to be du jour among Africans young and old living in the US and Europe. Many of us have left our homeland for various reasons, education and voluntary emigration being the most common (just a guess, calm down). Whatever your reasons or circumstances for leaving, I’m pretty sure you’ve contemplated after a while living permanently in the West (if it wasn’t your initial intent to begin with). Sure you can give me a myriad of reasons why life in the West is preferable to life home but amid some positive changes that are taking place throughout Africa, I believe we must consider the possibility of going back to make our contribution. For too long I’ve been hearing from people and reading around the African blogosphere criticism of African countries, their leaders and what have you. Those are the same people who have been Read the rest of this entry »
Jazz songstress Cassandra Wilson is holding her after-Summer Stage-party at the Shrine in Harlem tonight. Come hang out if you got nothing better to do. Shoot, there’s no cover charge so what you got to lose? :-). See you tonight, if not you all have a great week-end ;-). Below is a clip of Cassandra doing a cover of Bob Marley’s Redemption song.
So you’ve heard the buzz about the Vanity Fair July 07 issue about Africa guest edited by Bono, and you’ve seen the many covers of the issue graced by those celebrities most invested in the African cause. Fine, but were you curious enough to get a copy? I know I did and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Surprised because I don’t recall when I last purchased or even read Vanity Fair (is that bad :-/), therefore I didn’t know what to expect. So I grabbed the one featuring Don Cheadle and Iman (which I dubbed “The Don & The Diva” ) a couple of days ago at Virgin in Union Square. I noticed that there many more copies still available of the one with Brad Pitt and Archbishop Desmond Tutu compared to the other ones. In any case, the articles are very informative and discuss a lot of the issues affecting the African continent (HIV/AIDS, government corruption, Darfur etc.) as well as the positives (Literature, artists, rising personalities etc.), all of it presented with a lot of optimism and hope. Some of the pieces in the magazine also feature the work of African journalists which I thought was a nice touch. My favorite article written by a Sebastian Junger was about the involvement of China (purely for economic interest it seems) in Africa (their indirect involvement in Darfur by selling weapons to the Sudanese government in return for oil among other things), mind blowing that one. I urge each and everyone with an interest in ‘all things African’ to get their hands on one!
Summer should be all about fun and I have decided to do just that this year. See, a week ago I started following Tim Ferriss now popular diet, which basically consists of eating slow carbs, vegetables and legumes etc in various combinations. I’m hoping I can shed the targeted 20 lbs (hopefully more) by the end of the summer. You can read all about it here. The coolest thing about this diet is that after almost a week of healthy eating, you get rewarded with one day off:-D. Yes 24 hours of indulging in the guiltiest of culinary pleasures, talk about an ‘all you can eat’ buffet uh lol. Although my first day off was okay (it consisted of ingurgitating crepes and home made cookies), I’ve decided from now on to use that day to experience all the African cuisine the Big Apple has to offer. That’s right, if you ever wondered what in the world they eat in Ethiopia or Zambia for instance, wonder no more:-D because by summer’s end I’ll probably give you an answer (Senegalese dish here already), at least I hope I will. Evidently I may not find an Angolan restaurant in New York for instance so I’ll do with whatever African restaurant I can find. In some cases, say Congolese cuisine, I might cook (ok maybe I’ll just ask my mother) a popular dish myself. Voila, stay tuned for my Sunday entries and bon appetit 😉
A recent visit to the Immigration offices in NYC and the hilarious video below reminded me of what a stressful process it was to come (at least try) to the US and maintain your status once admitted. I’m sure you’re heard your share of I-20 and other visa related nightmare stories so I won’t waste your time ;-). So sit back, relax and enjoy the clip (courtesy of Nollywood of course!)…
After stumbling upon some ‘top ten things’ articles here and there (and some of them were pretty retarded), I’m taking it upon myself to write yet another one (yay, aren’t you thrilled you little buggers:-D), but this time putting it in the context of Africans living in NY, or the US (where applicable), heck you don’t even have to be African really, just possess common sense. The list that follows may seriously impact you and perhaps bring upon felicity (can you hear me laugh?) in your life, so go ahead and do those things because Papa Shongo said so…
10. Play the lottery, both the New York Lottery and the Green Card Lottery that is. Getting rich and a permanent resident card? Damn, talk about getting papers!
9. Work with your own social security card (get your ‘papiers’ straight damn it)
8. Tape your wallet to your forehead if you live in a ‘hot’ neighborhood. This is so the Police can clearly distinguish between your fake Fendi wallet and a gun. Failure to do this may result in your death (ironic considering the title of this post and all :-)).
7. Find a Senegalese restaurant and order thiebou djeun, seriously.
6. Go to 28th street and Broadway (you know, that ‘underground’ spot with top notch surveillance equipment and stuff) to shop for as many imported designer goods as possible (they got crazy deals on Diesel jeans! Some argue that those might be counterfeit but they’re just jealous :-/).
5. Get a second wife: Everybody’s doing it, well at least half of the West Africans in Harlem and the Bronx. Oh please don’t act like you don’t know…just kidding but you might to read this NY Times article on polygamy.
4. Start a business. If all else fails, open a West African hair salon, send one of the ladies working for you at the train station to harass future clientèle with chants of: “hair braiding miss?” There’s gotta be money in this, have you ever visited one those salons in Harlem? Constantly packed!
3. Invest in a property: that’s right; a house is always a good asset to have, anywhere in the universe (except maybe on Pluto).
2. Get an education: make sure you do this by your 50th birthday please. There’s just something not admirable about a dude driving a taxi cab or baby sitting for 30 years. Go to school and become an astronaut or something, prove to the world that you can be much more.
1. GO BACK! I’ll let you meditate on this one…
It’s funny how things go down isn’t it? You’d been longing to come to the States so badly, to the point of resenting everything about Africa. You know, “man this place is hopeless”, “this place is not safe”, “there’s no future here” and the list of complaints goes on. But once you did get out and you were in the comfort of your parents’ brownstone (ok, more like a 10×10 studio apt, who are you kidding?) you started realizing how much you missed the little things you always took for granted. I’m sure you’ve heard of how people in the big city are colder than back home (wherever that is), that’s right nobody gives a shit in New York lol! I’ve seen a couple of times dudes get beat up in broad day light with by passers minding their biz, the second time (silly argument that escalated between a white and a black dude on the ‘A’ train) I felt compelled to intervene and stop a homicide that was about to take place in front of about 50 witnesses! In any case, let’s get back to my point about the things you start missing once you left the continent.
In my case, it was – interestingly enough – the music that I missed most. Congolese music (soukouss, rumba etc.) never particularly tickled my fancy until that point, as I was more concerned with knowing the identity of the 5 mics recipient in the next issue of The Source magazine. Well, for some reason I started buying soukouss CDs and DVDs (still courtesy of my bootleg agent in Harlem:-D), I even went with my girlfriend to a Koffi Olomide concert in 2001 for Christ sake lol. I started realizing that I was now into things that had never caught my attention when I was still in Africa and that I secretly loved I suppose. Today I might go out to Webster Hall, Jay-Z’s 40/40 etc. but my first choice would always be an African venue, be it a restaurant or a club. I mean damn, don’t you just love them African parties!!!!? ;-D