Minnesota! Minnesota! MINNESOTA OOOO! How many times have I shouted your name?!!! Minnesota will not kill me. Sorry folks, a good week to everyone. I was just lamen- sorry haling the weather here, after it just hailed me. Yes hailed; I thought I had seen every kind of weather until I came here. Would you believe that in just a space of the two hours I went out jogging in the park near my hotel this morning it snowed, then rained before falling as sleet? Yes my friends, I watched incredulously as first the snowflakes fluttered down from the sky, the delicate icy lattice settling onto my jacket with the uncertainty of a newborn kitten, and then fall into heavier drops of water, melting through the fabric in ghostly shapes, before bouncing angrily off it in little icy pellets! What was a sweltering 72F/22C – yes, it is for Minnesota, go suck a lemon! – the day before, plummeted to 34F/1C the very next day at 8am in spring! My total respect in all these goes to the original owners of the land, the natives that lived the land for hundreds of years. Those guys must have been extremely resourceful to have raised families in conditions where boiling water thrown into the air instantly freezes, or where a banana could be used to hammer nails into wood. I hail you guys.
Just got back from Atlanta, the city of woods as far as I’m concerned, for the premiere of my lovely sis Blessing Egbe’s movie Two Brides and a Baby and it was glorious! There are trees everywhere! Tall green majestic friendly looking trees, a world apart from the wintry serial killer looking tree havens you find up here in Minnesota. Yes, you guessed it, I do love trees; they give us fresh air, absorb unnecessary noise, absorb air pollutants and maintain our earth’s surface integrity. Mmm, trees… Atlanta has become one of my best cities in the world; it’s very accommodating, is vibrant; one has the feeling that everyone there is young and moving in the right direction. Even the not so young still have a strong zest for life. As a young African man, I felt quite at home there; I noticed there was in the city a strong black and vibrant community, where people did not seem to be apologetic for their aspirations to being successful in whatever ambitions they had, and for having a zest for life. In the short time I was there I felt the vibe of many cultures interspersed with one another, each with a willingness to learn from the others; Nigerian, Jamaican, Ghanaian, African American, White to mention but a few. It was nice.
Drat! I was supposed to talk about the premiere I came to the city for and got carried away. Everything carried me away, even the premiere and the wonderful people who made it happen. Even though we were two, Blessing Effiom Egbe and I – Stella Damasus and O C Ukeje, the other stars in the movie couldn’t make it – we more than made up for the absence of the others. We were like a bag of lit firecrackers, so full of energy and feeding off one another at press conferences, radio and television interviews and photo shoots. Our hosts, Deji and Jide, owners of Snapflix and their crew were phenomenal. Even though we were caught up in a whirlwind of activities and business meetings the minute we hit the ground, that team never for a moment failed to cater to our every need, however ‘whimsical’ –“y’all know I ain’t no diva”.
What I really want to say is I see a new lease of life being breathed into our entertainment industry, not from governments or from large corporations who want to dole out huge sums of money to make great big movies, but from a crop of young Africans, at home and abroad, who genuinely want to affect our world and the rest of the world around us. Africans who want to tell our own stories genuinely, what makes us laugh, what makes us cry. Why we love our pounded yam and egusi soup, fufu and palm butter soup, dodo and agoyin beans. Why a friendly banter between us might prompt a white lady to call 911 or why we fear our parents more than the child services agency and the police combined. I see a departure from the visionless insipid mush to which our movies have degenerated, to a budding industry that takes itself seriously as both a business and a drive to stamp our own Africaness, rich and vibrant, spicy and exotic, proud and irresistibly different, on the global cultural map. I want to be a part of that industry, even if my only contribution to it is by scribbling these measly lines as an ode to it, I want to be part of it if it is clean and genuine. Have a great week everyone!