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 »
At first I used to regard claims of Ivorian music being superior in entertainment value to Congolese music as absurd, but now…well I still do :-D. It’s just that more than ever before you West Africans out there truly believe the hype. When I speak of music I’m referring of course to Soukous and Coupé-Décalé (C-D), musical genres born in DR Congo and Cote D’Ivoire respectively. Although C-D is a lot younger than Soukous, it has grown in popularity as quickly as it took the Spurs to handle the Cavs (can you tell I’m a NBA fan:-D). Ok you get it, in just a few years it has spread like the plague, to the point where you can now hear shouts of “travaillement”, “pan pan saute-mouton”, “Saga-citer” – and other cries typical to a C-D tune – in Soukous songs. Despite its rise in popularity (there’s even a Coupé-Décalé work-out DVD out there!), I maintain that it is absurd to think that it is taking over from Soukous since the former heavily borrows in style from the latter. In fact you can often hear some Lingala phrases in C-D! I’m not hating though, it is very fun to dance although I must admit to my initial reluctance to catch the fever. Perhaps what makes C-D fun is the fact that there so many variants out there such as Décalé Chinois (Chinese Décalé), grippe aviaire (bird flu), Drogba-citer (after the Ivoirian footballer) etc. much more ways to express yourself than just Ndombolo for instance:-D. Today at almost every African party, it is a must for DJs to have a Soukous and a C-D play list. It’s just not an African party without those 2. Still, my loyalty remains with Soukous. Ok…maybe I’m a little biased being Congolese and all, but what do you think?
You can watch clips of Coupé-Décalé and Soukous here.
First off, let me say that I have nothing against Nigerians; in fact I believe they’re perhaps the most intelligent and resourceful of all Africans (and I have lots of them as friends). I mean, everywhere I’ve lived in Africa, if you needed to be ‘hooked up’ with bootleg cable service or any tech related service (on the low-low:-D), Nigerians are who you would turn to. This is just to show you how entrepreneurial they are; although I believe they could use their skills towards a more positive purpose. Sadly, it seems a few around the globe have earned Nigerians an infamous reputation as con artists, crooks and all sorts of criminal denominations, such that one cannot help but think of the stereotype whenever Nigeria is mentioned. It is unfortunate that with all the positive things happening to the country lately (democratic elections, Nollywood etc.) that the image of Nigeria be tarnished by a few low-life scammers and con artists. And did you see some time ago that special 20/20 on ABC about Nigerian scammers? It basically denounced to a nationwide audience the confidence trick known as 419 and some of its variations. Some of the perpetrators were even caught on camera and confessed to their crime in a dramatic display worthy of any Nollywood flick. All I kept thinking while watching was “Gosh! What is America going to think of us now?”
As for the reason for the rise of confidence tricks in Nigeria, it’s been suggested that the phenomenon was a result of a declining economy in the 90’s. Many who found themselves unemployed resorted to scam wealthy western visitors for easy money. The rest as they say is history…
Photo source: joyoftech.com
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!)…
One not so absurd idea has been lingering in my mind for some time now, and it’s that of a once-in-a lifetime pilgrimage to Africa for all persons of African descent. I believe this would be a great opportunity for all to acknowledge their roots. Even hip-hop superstar Jay-Z – who visited the continent last year during his Water for Life Tour – was quoted as saying that “you have to go and understand what’s going on and embrace your people”. A pilgrimage would also be beneficial in that it could help see things in perspective and familiarize the pilgrims to the realities of Africa. You’ll agree with me that most Americans know very little about the Africa (no wonder it’s called the forgotten continent), fine but see, that ignorance is kind of hurtful coming from a Black American. I suppose being of the same skin color and all, lots of us Africans make the mistake of assuming that we share the same connection to the Motherland, but the truth is we do not always. I’ve had my share of silly questions as I am sure you did also (by the way we find that stuff on National Geographic equally f@%#ing amazing as did you! I mean I never knew there were so many pygmies running around the bushes in DR Congo for instance:-D). I suppose it’s like Bob Marley said “If you knew your history, you would know where you’re coming from” (from the song Buffalo Soldiers), and what’s better than a trip Home for a refresher course of history. It will be entirely a personal decision to do this but I hope that one day Black Americans (anybody of African descent really) see this once-in-a lifetime trip with the same religious importance that Muslims or Christians accord to the pilgrimage in their Holy Lands. I can’t wait to see some Black activist pushing this idea;-D.
Photo source: Africaspeaks.com
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…
This post has moved HERE. Thanks for visiting ;-D