Sunday, September 13, 2009

School starts, Almodovar's return and an exposition of clay feet

Just walking into the train station, two young boys emerge, both dressed in school uniform- black blazers, a blue shirt and a tie. The older, probably about twelve or thirteen is holding on to the hand of the younger , who is maybe ten and they are obviously brothers. The younger boy's uniform is shiny and new, obviously just bought, while the older's while neat and clean, is more of a vintage. The younger boy's face is bright and earnest and he struggles to keep up with the quick steps of his brother.

As they walk along, a larger crowd of boys in the same uniforms emerge in the distance and I notice that the older surreptitiously drops the hand of the younger, as he squares his shoulders and plunges right into the centre of the crowd of old friends. As I leave them to go into the station, I notice the younger brother, slightly bewildered on the fringe of the crowd, looking lost. I flash him what I imagine is a cheering smile and enter the station, hoping he will be alright on what is obviously his first day at big school....

On the platform, there is a little boy of maybe five, curled up on the bench, dressed again in uniform, complete with cap, cuddled up to his grandfather's chest who reads to him from a large children's book ...

To the cinema to see the new Almodovar film, Broken Embraces, as I expect, it is a sensuous feast of colours, the glorious yellows and rich reds of Spain, with shots from unusual angles and a story that grabs and hold my attention till the closing scenes. The reviews I had read had suggested that the plot was labyrinthine, with a film within a film, but to me it all appears very easy to follow. The part of the plot where the secretary becomes the mistress of her wealthy boss in order to pay for her father's treatment could have come straight from Nollywood and evokes unpleasant memories of Lagos...

I've now finished Chika Unigwe's On Black Sisters' Street. a tale of four African women working in the red-light district of Antwerp. It reflected the thorough research that she had done on the subject, and the story was engaging, if slightly implausible in parts. It is a sympathetic look at the lives of women whose voices are often not heard and well worth reading. Jonathan Cape have also recently published Ghanaian Nii Ayikwei Parkes "African whodunnit "novel, Tail of the Blue Bird and Malawian Samson Kambalu's The Jive Talker, subtitled How to Get a British Passport ( that title alone should guarantee it does well in Nigeria :-) and also published Segun Afolabi's Goodbye Lucille. I hope it means someone at Jonathan Cape is building an African writer's list....I've ordered all three to show my "moral support"

It's quite a year for new offerings from writers of Nigerian extraction, what with Chika's new book, Chimamanda's collection of short stories and new offerings from Helen Oyeyemi (White is for Witching) and Diana Evans (The Wonder)....

It's always a pleasant surprise to stumble across an established writer that I've never read, and even better when my second dip into their oeuvre is as captivating as the first. So it has been with the writer, TC Boyle, also known as T. Coraghessan Boyle. The unusual second name, captured my attention, when at a loose end one Saturday in the library. I then took out and read The Inner Circle, his novel about the sex researcher Professor Kinsey, narrated by one of his early acolytes. I enjoyed it so much that I have now just finished The Women, his account of the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright's life, again seen through the eyes of a protege. He writes beautifully and does a brilliant job of exposing the clay feet of the two "gods"...

Last night to dinner with a friend to celebrate his elevation at work, he had cooked a kedgeree- (think jollof rice with hardboiled eggs and smoked fish), served with a delicious dal and yoghurt. The kedgeree reminded me in many ways of the jollof rice my grandmother used to cook, using palm oil instead of groundnut oil and any odds and ends she found in her kitchen...

Finally, the death of acclaimed Nigerian lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi last week after a dogged fight with lung cancer was sad. Not surprisingly, acres were written about his achievements and his principled commitment to improving the lot of the Nigerian masses and yet, when the man stood for President a few years ago, very few, if any of us came out to support or vote for him...perhaps because of the joke that said even if elected as president, he would organize protests against himself...

Seriously, we are the poorer for his loss

5 comments:

chika unigwe said...

Gani was an isntitution. I admired the man. I hope the family gains some consolation from the fact that ahe never wavered in his belief and that he was widely appreciated.

On another note, very minor note, the girls in OBSS work in Antwerp (-: not Brussels.

Ore said...

Good to read you again. Co-incidentally, I just had an Almodavar binge (sort of) watching Volver, All About My Mother, and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown within a week. I hadn't heard about this new movie, but look forward to seeing it all the same.

I read a book many years ago about a Ghanian woman who travelled to Germany and ended up working as a prostitute. It stayed with me because I had never read anything like that, that spoke from this unheard of point of view. Usually we hear someone else telling thir story in a newspaper article or on the news. It had no happy ending as is usually the case. I wish I could remember who it was by.

June Olive - A Nigerian Feminist said...

very insightful writing. thanks for the comment on my blog.

uknaija said...

@chika- thanks for the correction
@Ore- welcome back :-)
@June Olive- welcome and thanks for stopping by

Anonymous said...

This probably will never reach the person intended, but Ore, I believe the book you're thinking of is Beyond the Horizon, by Amma Darko.

:o)