Sunday, October 6, 2013

Finding Inspiration

The writer's lot is sometimes a hard, lonely, fun, tiring and fulfilling experience - not necessarily in that order and often felt at different points rather than all at once.

Learning the craft is a combination of honing skills through practise, studying the writing of others and reading for pleasure. Also, it might be a good idea to learn how to stand out rather than trying to blend in.

If there is anything that has been learnt thus far, it is that writing is a very personal journey requiring commitment, patience and the ruthless annihilation of the irrelevant.
One really must remove those adjectives - those ones which add absolutely nothing to the text as a whole or independently.

See that?

Well enough said. Am off to practise rather than preach...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Locarno Film Festival

Tessin in the summertime is indeed a pretty place to visit and in many respects, the perfect setting for the Locarno Film Festival.

I attended this year's festival because it was something I had been meaning to do for a long time. As part of the Open Doors event, festival goers got to see films from the francophone Sub-Saharan region of the African continent.

The whole thing left me with a mixed bag of impressions. For one thing, it was the first time I had travelled so far to take part in a film festival and it was not quite what I expected. Without a doubt, LFF is a huge monster of a machine to organise and pull off. There are films from more continents than God made and there are different styles of film to match different tastes.

If you live outside from the canton of Tessin, it is far from being the most convenient place to visit and it also happens to be a very expensive festival to attend.

On their roster is the usual slew of celebrities to give the event the extra oomph! the organisers feel the festival needs. I refer in particular to Kylie Minogue who was presenting, along with the filmmaker, Leos Carax, their film "Holy Motors". On the night (3rd August), Carax won an award, le Leopard d'honneur (the Golden Leopard) in recognition for his work as a filmmaker.

On the plus side, the LFF offered a unique opportunity to both budding and established African filmmakers a platform to showcase their work to a different, Western and rather unsuspecting audience.
It is a given that African films have much to offer but to advance more fully onto the worldwide stage (pun intended) it needs more distributorship and investment.

One film worthy of note in this category is the award-winning, gun-toting Viva Riva!

The film offers a real departure from stereotypical expectations of African films. The French-speaking Director call it a "polar" while I would in this context, translate this to mean "thriller".
It has all the graphic violence and (even more graphic) sex, romance and tragedy wrapped into one explosive package than you could expect. It also captures the heart of Kinshasa and leaves you burning for more. Yes, very err...thrilling.

Check out the LFF website: for more information.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Summer Events

The Book Fair provided a hectic week of social interraction. Paulo Coelho reminded everyone why he was such a fammous and wonderful writer (in case you didn't already know) and said he was only responsible for writing the books and not for the reader's interpretation.

Douglas Kennedy was more laid back and humble and his accented French was charming.

We will just have to see what next year offers. Maybe it will be James Patterson or John Grisham.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Arise...oh compatriots

Just got back from my Lagos trip. I was fortunate enough to cover the Arise Fashion show, better known as the AMFW (thank you very much!) at the Federal Palace Hotel in V.I.
How to describe it? Well, it was many things; colourful, creative, hectic (mad!) and unexpected are some of the better qualifiers. In spite of incredible challenges, the designers worked hard to produce shows good to rival anything you will see in London or New York. Kudos to them all!

My personal take is that it was worth seeing (very much so in fact). Spread over four days, models dripping with attitude trampled across a silvery, sometimes wonky catwalk to showcase designs of not only Africa's best and most promising but also international designers like Gavin Rajah and Petrou/Man.

Most of the designers were Nigerians but their collections were very international, perhaps a reflection of the dichotomy between the realities of living in the country and the outward focus of its upwardly mobile populace. Times are changing. Silk tops, brocade and velvets gowns, transparent lace and chainmail took dominace over the more traditional ankara fabrics.

Oswald Boateng's presence gave the ceremony a sensationalist gloss. It is quite a coup that he should close the show and it says a lot about the importance of showmanship in Nigeria's commercial capital.

Vive la mode!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Looking towards the future

In recent weeks, art has taken over a large percentage of my time. I am trying to prepare for an exhibition which will be taking place in a couple of months. This has led to a sort of tug-of-war with the writing. Both are demanding taskmasters as they both require a great deal of time and energy.
Don't ask which is winning!
I have decided to start off my first blog of the year with a group of photos that have interested me for various reasons including their political importance as well as their social relevance.  The image above happened two days ago in Paris. The Presidential hopeful, Monsieur F. Hollande, was doused in flour by a female protester. I thought the picture was beautiful for three reasons. First, the way the flour surrounds him is almost biblical, second, the expression on his face and third, the motivation behind the act.
France is struggling to come to terms with its future without first healing past disgruntlement.

This second picture is of Ukraine's former Prime Minister, Ms. Yulia Tymoshenko and her daughter. It dates back a few months. She was put on trial and though many observers have been scandalised by the whole process, she has not had a stronger support than her daughter's. The image is both poignant and affirming. The mother offers comfort to the daughter while the daughter leans in to let her mother know she is there for her.

This third image was also culled from the internet. Its's a pellican collecting its meal.
Well, the survival of any species is about the ability to adapt and keep moving. You have to keep on keeping on.

This for me pretty much sums up the other two pictures. This year is going to be a battle to survive, to come out victorious in spite of the odds against you.

Have a good year!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Interests and interesting acmes

Dear blog readers and chummy chums!

So much has happened in the past few months it is hard to believe how time has flown by. Cliché but true. Now autumn is upon us in a profusion of yellows, reds and browns.

Well, instead of going into a long explanation filled with whats, whens and hows, I have decided to be concise and surf over the highlights.

In the summer, I interviewed three filmmakers from different countries and with varying filmatographic backgrounds. It was fascinating to discover how hard it is, yet how rewarding, filmmaking as an experience is.

- Offshoots 11 published one of my short stories "The Letter" - Hoorah! I did a reading in the city in early October. That was very nerve wracking as I kept accelerating and slowing down reading - mainly because I forgot to breathe. The book is beautiful (layout, stories and writers) and more definitely worth the read.

 - My poem "Away from Home" was accepted for publication in America. Then when and how are unknown as yet.

I also spent the summer taking pictures of the city and the construction work and tried to find purpose in change and readaptation. The global economic crisis, the famine, and the natural diasters have taken centre stage in our general consciousness and hopefully reminded us of just how changeable and fragile our world as well as our lives truly are.

Vive la planete!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Afrobeat mania

After interviewing and writing an article about Tony Allen in the recent past, I was rather fascinated to discover this blog.

Viva Afrobeat!!!

In the pantheon of Nigerian music history, Afrobeat stands heads above for me because of the political message Fela carried with it and the way it changed cultural entertainment to something that had political power. Afterall, those in power felt what Fela was saying through his music was annoying enough to warrant reprisals.