Monday, August 13, 2007

Zulu art by the Thames, tasty tomatoes, McEwan's Amsterdam and failed DNA tests

The weather continues to be distinctly more summery although there was a brief shower yesterday. I was walking along the Thames at the time and as I was umbrella-less I sought refuge in the Oxo Tower Gallery attracted by the stunning display of hand embroidered colourful umbrellas in the window. In the event they were way beyond what I could afford with a price tag of over a hundred pounds, but I was able to feast my eyes on Best of African Design: 100 % Zulu, an exhibition of Zulu arts and crafts currently running at the gallery….

To supper with English friends on Sunday who served a distinctly summery meal of slices of ham, tomato salad and potato salad which reminded me of reading Enid Blyton’s descriptions of the Famous Five feasting on picnics of ham and tomato. I often wondered then if the tomatoes were different from our Nigerian tomatoes, based on the heavenly way in which they were described. Now I find that if anything Nigerian tomatoes are more flavourful than the often insipid specimens that one finds here.…

Having stalked Ian Mc Ewan’s On Chesil Beach at the library for a few weeks now without any luck, I thought I might as well start on another of his books. And so I took out Amsterdam which won the Booker Prize in 1998. I was not disappointed, it’s a slim book, easily finished but packed a powerful punch. It had most of what I like in a book- a mixture of beautiful prose, a strong storyline that keeps me guessing what happens next and moral discussions that I can engage with. If On Chesil Beach is anything like it, it’ll probably earn him his next Booker….

Another discovery this weekend was The Red Carpet, a collection of short stories set mostly in contemporary Bangalore, by Lavanya Sankaran. As she explored the clash of cultures between a younger more American-influenced generation and an older more English colonial generation, she could have been writing I felt about Nigeria. Ditto for her story of the relationship between a driver and his young, modern Madam and another story about the fraught relationship between a young girl and her nurse. It’s been a while since I read a collection of short stories but so far, this is proving well worth it.

Helping a friend move yesterday, I spied in one corner of his emptying drawers a white plastic band which I soon recognized as a relic of the Make Poverty History campaign. In 2005 you could not turn your head without seeing this on nearly every wrist. As we cleared out the debris I wondered when and why people stopped wearing them. I mean it’s not like poverty’s been made history or anything…..

I remember arguing with friends a few years ago about the stipulation in MKO Abiola’s will asking most of his children to undergo a DNA test before they could benefit from the will. My argument was that Abiola was wrong in visiting the sins of the mothers on the children. Why did he not insist on the DNA tests at the time of birth? He was happy to fund lavish naming ceremonies and bankroll expensive educations and to act as father only for him to issue the killer punch so late in the day. Now that 25 of his children have “failed” the DNA test, the Nigerian media is agog. But to all those sneering, I would ask them to save their sneers as there’s no telling what conducting similar tests in their families might yield…

22 comments:

Invader said...

You know I used to imagine having those picnics that the Famous Five were having in those books!

Ekoakete said...

Hehehe, you're very correct. I remember the first time I saw the bananas here bright yellow and twice the size of the piddly variety we get back home. However, upon tasting it I was most dissapointed...

Re: the Abiola DNA tests, it is obvious he wasn't entirely convinced when presented with some of these conceptions but he must thought to indulge the women, seeing he could afford to... however I agree it is unfair on the kids as they are being punished now for the sins of the mother.

Anonymous said...

"there’s no telling what conducting similar tests in their families might yield…

Hehehe! You had me laughing but thinking. How about I tell you all 8 of my mother's children look exactly like my father. And no, it couldn't have been my uncles. They were too young. Does that convince you? Or you think it could it have been my grandfather? Hehehe!

Abuja Walkabout said...

Interesting...about how I get to read about Nigeria (the MKO Story) from someone in London.

Ham, tomato salad, potato salad...hmmm. Could do with some of those.

Waffarian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Waffarian said...

Ah!Uknaija, you forgot to mention "scones", "jam tarts" and the ever present "lemonade"! As a child I imagined different "pastries" as scones.... I had no idea what they were...the closest I got to them were home-made puffpuffs with plenty sugar on top!

Jaja said...

My feelings about those Campaings are very ambialent... But its a good thing.. when these things happen.

I havnt read Amsterdam... i ve read Atonement though. heavy stuff..Mcewan secured my respect there, for his clean and concise prose...he can be quite mean too...
On Cheils's Beach. lets keep if for next months budget.. what did u say about that card to your Private Library

Jaja said...

Your walk by the Thames sounds so idyllic...
(while I dodge bullets here in PH. I might as well remind u the rain comes in a storm or a deluge..)

Supper-ing with English friends on Sunday...
(everything seems rich with association and society..)

I shldnt be envious???

Jaja said...

Ok.. let me not go on needling you.... am in a rather chatty mood tonight.. But How many wives does MKO have? tell me? can one man successsful serice several women even when hes married to them...
what are people thing?

Snuffleupagus said...

You make me wanna go home...

uknaija said...

@invader- glad to know it wasn't just me
@ekoakete- I've only eaten a banana once in the five or so years I've been here, it was so tasteless I haven't tried again. Abiola should have thrashed out his wahala with the women at the time jo
@anonymous- "look exactly like your father"- really?
@abuja walkabout- you know Abuja is not really part of Naija now. Or more realistically you're interested in higher things than tittle tattle
@waffarian- scones I got thanks to my English missionary educated mother, but ah yes, Blyton's desription of lemonade...
@jaja- we can discuss the private library if you promise to drop some of the ransom money you guys are jolloffing in Porrakot, and yes McEwan rocks!
@jaja again- envious, no. There is no fish pepper soup here
@jaja- Dunno and dont care how many wives the man has and how they decided to conduct their affairs as adults- it's dragging the kids into the wahala that upsets me
@Come home, snuffy, we miss you

uknaija said...
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A Kel called Wonder ...... said...

Yea i read the Abiola story and i know i can't imagine all those kids that have probably bragged or gone about with stiff upper lips feeling like Abiolas. I wonder why he would subject some very obvious one's to the test.

You know what maybe it's good am not his child cos if i was i would say damn him, the property and the test. I mean whats the point! you dont need his property to survive after getting the best education to forge ahead wouldnt really require much. Nonsense its annoying really!

catwalq said...

MY SWEET BOBO, HOW BODI?

1. UR COMMENT ON MY PAGE: ME I ONLY ASKED FOR ADVICE. ANY THOUGHTS U HAVE ARE YOURS IN THE MAKING

2. ENID BLYTON: THAT HEIFFER MESSED ME UP SO MUCH I ALMOST NEEDED THERAPY. SEE ME THINKING QUEEN'S COLLEGE BOARDING HOUSE WOULD BE LIKE MALLORY TOWERS AND ST CLAIRS. CHEI, THE TEARS I CRIED EHN. I DIDN'T STOP FEELING HOMESICK TILL SS1 WHEN THE BULLYING LESSENED. ALL THOSE AUNTY AGBAYAS

3. BABA ABIOLA: I AM NOT SURPRISED. LIKE U SAID, HE SHOULD HAVE DENIED THE DENY-ABLES FROM THE BEGINNING AND HE SHOULD HAVE KEPT HIS PECKER ZIPPED. OLOJUKOKORO

4. JAJA: YOU JUST GO ABOUT LEAVING LIKE FOUR COMMENTS ON EACH PERSON'S BLOG BUT I HAVE TO THREATEN YOU WITH BODILY HARM BEFORE YOU UPDATE. MSTSSSHHW!

Atutupoyoyo said...

Ah Ah Catwalq. Are you trying to say that you didn't have any midnight feasts in QC boarding house? That is absolutely "horrid".

UK that stroll down the Thames had me humming "Singing in the Rain" as I read it. "Doo-doo-doo-doo-Doo-doo-doo-doo"

Very anxious to hear your thoughts on On Chesil Beach in relation to Amsterdam. Two different animals but the latter just edges it for me. Will compare notes when you have read it.

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

i wonder how many others will resort to dna testing. what a scandal to have the whole world know your business. ..

Snuffleupagus said...

You inspired my current post with your description of yourself as a 'wet liberal'. Have a look. I'm interested to hear what you might think.

uknaija said...

@a kel- I would be pissed too if I were in that position
@catwalq- hmm, sweet bobo ke? Passing on the torch? :-)A beg no fighting on my blog o! Don't harass Jaja here
@atutu- will do if I ever get to read it
@solomonsydelle-I know!
@snuffy will drop by

UndaCovaSista said...

DNA tests are something that will, in my mind, forever be linked to trashy tv shows like Trisha and Jerry Springer. Eeugh!

Saturday by Ian McEwan is another good read. Beautifully written, very, very introspective, but nonetheless, brilliant! Got to finish Atonement before the movie comes out on Sept 7th

Jaja said...

@undercova.. Atonement... hmm that book put fear inside my heart

UndaCovaSista said...

No, Jaja. I am not going to take the bait and ask you why!

Ok if you insist, go on...(lol)

Emz said...

Apparently, the proportions of people, whose fathers are not the men who raise them, are more shocking than most people think. The numbers are supposed to be something like 60%, and even the erstwhile fathers have no clue. I was shocked when I read this, had no idea it was so high. But you're right. It's unfair to cut out the 'failed DNA' kids now, after all this time. They didn't ask to be born on the wrong side of the benevolence line. Whatever portions they recieved in his life should be extended to them in his death...does that make me sound really niave?