© 2017 by Biraa Creative Initiative (BCI). All Rights Reserved. Proudly created with Wix.com

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn Social Icon

Picks - Read, Watch & Listen!

Destiny Ekaragha's (2013) "Gone Too Far" is so London, so Naijia, so Jamaica, and just so hilarious to boot. It had me in stitches, laughing so hard until those stitches opened. Loved the movie's fast paced story-line, catchy sound tracks, brilliant cast, talented actors (especially Golda John as Mum), and the right on point dialogue such as:

 

"I want everyone to text immigration and say, give sunshine a stake in London." 

 

"But is he really African though? His parents are African, but is he African?"

 

"What does an African look like?"     "I don't know, an African innit."

 

"A Yoruba accent is the sexiest accent in the whole wide world. Ask anyone with sense."

 

"You need to let them know you're an African, bruv... Let them know the Afs, we're here: big Afs, small Afs, round Afs, Japanese Afs. We are here!

 

What an excellent movie, with Radio DJ running commentaries and tracks that make the movie reminiscent of  Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing".  Basically,  "Gone Too Far" is a cultural studies keeper! Watched it thrice, plus bought me a copy too. 

Season 3, episode 13 of “Queen Sugar” is really some kind of the wonderful—the lines, the Love, and the storytelling. You cannot make up the power that pushes out of this episode, as we view the triumphs (through so many trials) of an extended family—filled with Black lives that Love and matter—in their capacity of being both a cohesive and communal collective, as well as a group within which individuals are challenged by existence and a familial tough-love, which also nurtures their growth into self-determination and resounding autonomy. I just love me this show. It gives so much hope and reminds us all of our individual purpose and collective strength.

Below is a bit of the dialogue, much of which is well worth recording. I wonder where I can get my hands on the script, because it’s a keeper.

“I have been a black woman for a hell of a long time. So, the devil I know, the devil I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. I’ll conquer them all!” 

 

--Charley Bordelon (Dawn-Lyen Gardner)

 

 

“My mother would always say love grows from humble hearts.”

 

--Dr. Romero (Walter Perez)

 

 

Aunt Vye (Tina Lifford): “Oh, Hollywood, this is a lot to give somebody.”

 

Hollywood (Omar Dorsey): “Oh, first off my love, you ain’t some body, not today, not in every day of the world. I deserve to give you whatever I want.”

 

 

Aunt Vye: Hollingsworth Desonier, I love you, from a well so deep that I can dig a dozen years and not get to the mystery of you. Our love just feels good. But it’s also a love that defies every bit of common sense that I have spent a lifetime learning. But here is where I want to be. You are good, kind, safe and so perfectly flawed that even your jagged parts fit mine just right. On your worst day, your spirit flies so high that it makes everything around you better. So I commit to you, to us. And I have learnt the difference between a love that liberates and a love that feels like its always been free. I choose freedom. I choose love. I choose you.

 

Hollywood: Violet Bordelon. You know I never tell you this, but the day I met you, I was feeling real low. So I went fishing. When I was going back to my truck. I tripped and fell into some bushes. But it wasn’t no bushes. Nah, it was a bunch of pretty flowers, pretty purple African violets. And they made me smile. Later that day, I met you. You remember that day at the High Yellow. You said “Hi, my name is Violet. And how can I make you happy today?” Just like that, my whole life changed. Because I found what I had been looking for, since the day that I was born. I found the woman my soul was meant to love. Vye I want to be your soft place in this here hard world. I want to cheer you on every day, and I want to let you know how beautiful you are, every night. And I love you.

In “The Shift”, Mo Issa (2017) takes us through his personal journey toward awakening. Not only does he share the painful reasons that lead to his turning point—into a life in which he more spiritually and fully exists, but he also gives us solid pointers on how we too could become our own life’s purpose in very conscious and practical ways. This is definitely an important good-read.

There is nothing as sweet as this melody: “Part of Me” sung by Tula and Mel Semé on their album “Skyland” (2016). Tula’s sound is reminiscent of the sweet melancholic vocals of Astrid Gilberto, as she harmonizes gently with the raspy-husky tones of Mel Semé. Both their voices just take you sky high. And I just Love, Love, Love this tune.

“Milk and Honey” is a succinct experience of Rupi Kaur’s (2015) love and pain, expressed so simply and with much grace. For as she herself says—

 

my heart woke me crying last night

how can i help i begged

my heart said

write the book

 

And indeed, she did write an oh-so-beautiful-must-read book of pure poetry for both me and you.

I Am Not Your Negro - A film and book by Raoul Peck

Wow! Wow! Wow! What a movie! Raoul Peck has done it again; this time partnering with James Baldwin’s powerful and past witnessing of several ‘American’ truths. Baldwin’s own voice merges so seamlessly with Samuel L. Jackson’s narration of his historic testimony, that the audience forgets the fact that s/he is listening to two different voices. The sheer poetry of Baldwin’s language bobs effortlessly over and within the many poignant images, leaving us with real politics enhanced by cinematic delight. Peck’s documentary is definitely one to own, watch, and teach with – so do go get it, if only to be educated by statements such as this one:

I know very well that my ancestors
had no desire to come to this place.
But neither did the ancestors of the people
who became white and who require
of my captivity a song.
They require of a song of me
less to celebrate my captivity
than to justify their own.
I have always been struck, in America,
by an emotional poverty so bottomless,
and a terror of human life, of human touch, so deep,
that virtually no American appears able to achieve
any viable, organic connection
between his public stance and his private life.
This failure of the private life
has always had the most devastating effect
on American public conduct,
and on black-white relations.
If Americans were not so terrified
of their private selves,
they would never have become so dependent
on what they call “the Negro problem.”

James Baldwin (2017) “I Am Not Your Negro” (film and book, pages 55-56).

I cannot begin to tell you the significance of J. Krishnamurti’s (1971/2014) book “Flight of the Eagle”, especially for anyone who seeks to become beyond the confines of everyday taken-for-granted reality about the self in relation to others and the world. With each of his philosophical interrogations of spiritual themes such as freedom, change, peace and violence, he reminds us that there is in-deed no non-self and the way to reach such comprehension lies in not seeking to understand at all. That I was often lost in his purposeful unraveling of existence is an understatement, yet at the same time I experienced the familiarity inherent in the surety of my place within the unknown vastness of no-one in no-thing. I cannot wait to read more of his work.

Marley: Inspiration in the Flesh & Spirit

It is a real privilege to look into Bob Marley's manifestation, as revealed cinematically in Kevin Macdonald’s (2012) documentary “Marley.” What a spiritually phenomenal man (flaws and all)! What a music! What a hardship beginning! What a life fully lived! What an organic intellectual! What an inspiration! And oh Lawd, what a ting!!

 

Notes on Why We Love Fela

Below is an excerpt from Carlos Moore’s (1982) “Introduction: The Ultimate Social Rebel”, which is in “Fela: This Bitch of Life” (pages 25-26) - a biography on the musical genius Fela Ransome Kuti also written by Carlos Moore. The excerpt says it all.

 

Why we loved him!

Fela embodied a tragic reality – a tearing, scattering and re-assembling of the disparate parts of the African continent; the shattered collective memory that stands as the distinctive mark of a singular experience: that of the Black World in modern times. Since the days of the Arab slave trade in the eight century, the African body had been hacked into pieces and dispersed to the four corners of the earth. With the sixteenth-century Atlantic-European slave trade, Africa was further broken up and scattered to other continents, before being brutally colonised and reassembled into a mass of inchoate realities that were inherently dysfunctional.

Fela aimed at recomposing the dissonant voices of that multi-continental, transnational, global Africa. He too had had to piece himself together through the supreme act of irreverent free will. He had been forced to recast himself from many discordant pieces moulded into an armoured entity. Afrobeat emerged as a necessary synthesis – the cry, the shout, the lament: the call-and-response to all the earlier, chaotic centuries of blood and violence, and their cacophonous legacy.

Fela was correct to contend that Afrobeat was modern, African classical music with an urgent message for the planet’s denizens. This imperishable music (created out of a cross-breeding of Funk, Jazz, Salsa and Calypso with Juju, Highlife and African percussive patterns), is about social, political and cultural literacy; a music that calls for change. Fela’s masterly compositions are a sort of people’s dictionary, translating into accessible art the complex ills afflicting society. It is a political weapon with which Fela strove to break down the architecture of fear into which the various repressive systems – since the days of the slave trade and colonisation to the times of their despotic post-independence successor regimes – had walled up African societies. It is a music that confronts the geography of world complacency, greed, racism and fear, and calls for a transformative insubordination.

Fela was a Promethean spirit. We loved him for his daring transgressive deviation from conformity; for his exposure of our social hypocrisy. We loved him for his willingness to pay a heavy price for defending freedom – his own and ours. We loved him for his commitment to the world of underdogs, his defence of the underclass, and his passionate love for Africa.

Everything considered, Fela’s was certainly one of the most remarkable voices of libertarian protest heard on the African continent – and in the world – in the twentieth century. That political voice, and the music that is inseparable from it, is our common legacy in the twenty-first. But its ultimate transformative impact will depend exclusively on what the real underdogs of history – the oppressed, discriminated and exploited – will have made of it.

The Lady is Definitely Not for Turning

Very nicely done! Phyllida Lloyd’s (2012) “The Iron Lady” takes you peering deep into Margaret Thatcher's humanity; so much so, that I even began to question my negative impression of Thatcher in the midst of the continued fallout from her legacy of liberalization and privatization. Lloyd teases out Thatcher’s raison d’etre, by showing us that even if the Lady did rule with a (despised) iron fist, she did so with an integrity and focus that can only be admired for its honesty. For after all, as Thatcher herself would say:

 

"Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny. What we think, we become."

Love, Marilyn? Then Watch This...

Liz Garbus' (2012) documentary "Love Marilyn" is an excellent piece of story-telling that shares aspects of Marilyn Monroe's experiences in her own words; all thanks to the discovery of her personal papers, letters and diaries, found in some storage facility. The result is a bittersweet account of this dedicated, talented and beautiful woman's life, snapshots of which can be garnered by Marilyn Monroe's below entries, as presented in this documentary.

 

"Maybe I'll never be able to do what I hope to, but at least I have hope."

 

"Alone. I am alone. I am always alone, no matter what."

 

"I think to love bravely, is the best and to accept as much as one can bear."

 

"Don't kiss me. Don't fool me. I'm a dancer, who cannot dance."

 

"Help! Help! Help! Help! Help! Help! Help! I feel life coming closer, when all I want to do is die. Scream: you began and ended in the middle, but where was the breath?"

 

"I guess I've always been deeply terrified to really be someone's wife, since I know from life that one cannot love another, ever, really."

 

"As far as I'm concerned, the happiest time of my life is now: there's a future and I can't wait to get to it."

 

"The more I think about it, the more I realize there are no answers. Life is to be lived. And since it is comparatively so short, maybe too short, maybe too long; the only thing I know for sure, it isn't easy."

 

"Now that I want to live, and I feel - suddenly - not old, not concerned about previous things, except to protect myself, my life, and to desperately pray: tell the universe, I trust it."

 

This is definitely one of many movies on Ms. Marilyn that's well worth watching.

Ecumenical Humor

Denis M’Passou’s (1985) “Murder in the interest of the Church” is a real page turner, which will have you chuckling at the ridiculous and immoral lengths a so-called man of the cloth can go to, while in the throes of pious-conviction. M’Passou does well in showing us how logic (even when warped) is exactly that—logical, even when it leads you to what can only be described as crazy antics. You must definitely read this little book, so you can really laugh out loud!

Please reload