It’s going to be okay, right?

THE PERFECT (1)

I left childhood many years ago, followed paths that I thought were meant to bring me success and work satisfaction, and learned skilled that were supposed to bring some kind of fulfillment.

My lifelong quest has been a frantic chasing of the perfect balance between creativity and responsibility. Having someone take care of my bills while I chase creativity is a little distasteful, which always thrusts me towards responsibility. Except it is spiritually draining to sit in a room with stodgy authoritarians who perform tasks that high school drop-outs could easily complete, or managing clashing personalities who enjoy office/corporate drama. When faced with that, I am an optimist with soaring ambitions, whose inventiveness and creativity in this – brand new – field is going to change the World and finally change my life.

my youth was completely wasted on a lack of focus because of this teeter tottering between office stiff and frenzied creative energy, never settling comfortably in either one

On the other hand creativity on a growling stomach, with bills stacking into teetering piles on my desk, and the anxiety of looming failure and defeat, does not translate into success. My frazzled state of mind is unable to create anything that I enjoy, and the sparkle of optimism fades, slowly at first as I struggle with taming despair, then plummeting like a rock, into darkness, and a good old fashioned Netflix binge.

By the standard of many, my youth was completely wasted on a lack of focus because of this teeter tottering between office stiff and frenzied creative energy, never settling comfortably in either one. I’ve watched people build lives around children, husbands, careers, and never envied their lives, but I have envied their seeming satisfaction at having “arrived” in a comfortable place.

I’m still lost and trying to find my way to the thing I love most, creating something out of raw ideas in my mind and collecting skills that will make that happen. Maybe my personality can never be properly satisfied, so that I will be locked in this cycle for the rest of my life. Maybe that final push to stay hungry for a little while longer, is just over the horizon and will lead me to success.

However, right now I’ll finish packing my lunch and race for the huffing red and white bus that will transport me to the birthplace of Zombies, where a little bit of my soul will be sucked out.

Have a nice day folks!

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No more new music

Have you heard of musicxray?

It is a website powered by AI (machine learning for those who want to get technical). Musicians upload their music, which is analysed and sorted using mathematical algorithms. With a huge database of over 3 million songs, it has identified the characteristics of the ones that became hits and organized them into clusters. If the musician’s song is placed in one of those clusters, then it is deemed a hit and an eager music producer will be in touch to help you sell it to the World.

Click this link to see how one lady got chosen.

So, what happens when AI chooses what music we’re supposed to listen to based on “hits” criteria? Will we ever find something new? Something that challenges us into appreciating things that are different from ourselves.

I bet you inuit throat singing is not in that database.

 

Empathy as a virtue

Is this a virtue? Can we honestly say that because we care about the welfare of others, that it makes us better people?

In the case where the person is of less character than we think they should have, for instance, a thieving drug addict who just stole your phone, or politician who  embezzled millions to fill their own coffers. Does it count as caring if we have minimum requirements for the person?

If I am unable to empathize with you because we are so different, do you deserve to suffer- (1)

What does it mean to care about other people? Empathy/sympathy for the situations in which we find them? Monetary assistance? Exert political influence? Pay more taxes?

What are we expecting in return?

The notion of caring about other people has been bastardized to such an extent that we no longer have a meaningful definition ofthe phrase. But this is the political atmosphere in which we find ourselves, engaging with people to make them understand why being concerned about the welfare of others is important.

Is that a worthy cause?

Should I talk to you?

It is impossible to dialogue with a mouth that stays agape and a mind that is locked up.It is a beautiful World we live in. If someone says something I disagree with, I can change the channel, look for a different website, unsubscribe from a newsletter, leave a Facebook or WhatsApp group, or even set the place on fire. I have options.

Someone told me that I’m thin skinned and needed to be in a place where different views are being held to either strengthen my arguments or allow different kinds of information (that I may not have) to change my mind about my stance.

This is difficult. Am I supposed to engage with:

  1. Flat Earthers?
  2. Misogynists?
  3. NAMBLA (North American Men/Boy Love Association?
  4. Racists?
  5. Homophobes?
  6. Slave owners?
  7. Climate change deniers?
  8. Science deniers?
  9. Religious nuttery?

The list is a mile long. But here is my response,

No thank you.

If I don’t stand up for the things I believe in and refuse to engage with people whose arguments flaunt the basic tenets of human rights and shun science. I’m sorry if that makes me narrow minded, but I think I’m okay with that.

Sourcing Great African Literature

African Literature.

Sigh.

People don’t want to be called African authors, Africans shun African authors, Africans fight other Africans about what African literature is and should be.

It is a complicated space to occupy, especially because those of us who write stories know what the publishing World desires from the African continent. But they cater to their audience, who are, by and large, not African people.

If you’re reading this and you claim citizenship of one of the countries of that glorious continent, here are some resources for you. Please enjoy and patronize.

  1. Jalada Africa (stories)
  2. Omenana (SciFi/Fantasy Stories)
  3. African Literature on Facebook (all fun things African Lit)
  4. James Murua’s Literature Blog (literature review/news)
  5. Kwela (sell literature written by black Africans)
  6. Baobab Prize (children’s literature)

I hope this is a great start for everyone.

Micro 0331:

Once upon a time a woman gave birth to a son, the first seed of her womb. When he was placed upon her breast, tiny and wrinkled, the weight of her hopes and dreams descended upon him. The crooning of family and friends who laid eyes upon him bolstered her hopes and she built formidable castles that gleamed in the Sun. Images of welcoming and feasting burst before her in glorious array; she the matriarch of a vast sea of sons. Maybe one beautifully lithe daughter, her splitting image, suitors lined up and clawing at each other to marry her. She envisioned adoring grandchildren racing through the corridors of her castle, their bubbly giggles rebounding off solid walls, full of the vigour of youth.
She basked in the praise showered upon her and bloomed in the validation given to her. She had a son.
She had not prepared herself for fear or desperation. She had not seen Death stealing glances at her precious bundle, it’s long greedy fingers reaching out of the veil to caress his cheek. “Mine,” it had whispered, sending a chill through the room that settled in her womb, scorching it with frozen heat so it would never bear another soul.
No one knew.
He brought a young girl home, “My wife…”
The castle gleamed, no one knew.
“You’re not welcome anymore, my wife…”
The castle dissolved into the image of a small cottage. She could not have forseen.
“You cannot see them, Mom. My wife…”
“I’m unwell, Mom. My wife…”
The cottage crumbled into dust that sailed on huge gusts of winds, scattered, and were lost.
The cold earth slips from her hands, dropping hollowly onto the cedar box. “My son,” her wreaked voice croaks.
“My son,” Death corrects, a fixed smile upon a terrible visage, a friendly hand intertwined with the woman her son had called, “My wife.”

African Literature on Facebook

A few weeks ago a dear friend asked me if I could help admin a page on Facebook.



It has taken over my life! I LOVE IT.

Our little family has grown by leaps and bounds, and the people who have joined and are actively participating in discussions surprise me with their passion every day.

Africans have long been accused of being the bane of African Literature. We are accused of not reading it, not buying it, not supporting authors, not selling it, not distributing it… we are the reason it is not as successful as literature coming from other places.

The problem is we have believed these lies about ourselves, which is a pity.

While it is true that it is difficult to sell books on the continent, the reasons are not as clear cut as everyone would make it seem.

  1. English is a difficult language. The objects and verbs come in weird places in a sentence. But imagine interpreting one book in 55 different languages for just one country!
  2. Authors understand their audience and their point of view. It is difficult to sell a story to someone from the West unless it tells of war, of poverty, that explains some strange quirk of the culture they come from. This is not interesting to audiences in Africa (generally speaking). There is a reason why Nollywood is such a huge industry. Here are stories that the local population understands. 
  3. New books are EXPENSIVE and understandably so. Turning trees into paper is an expensive project, printing can be expensive too.  By the time all the expenses are tallied, the book agent, distributor, printer and publishing house get paid (oh wait! We haven’t counted the author and illustrator) the book is too expensive to purchase.

Africans are thirsty. We want to know, to read, to understand. What is someone from Zimbabwe thinking about something we’re all concerned about in Nigeria? What about the bruhaha over the other thing that happened with president so-and-so? How is the government in Mogadishu going to deal with the minerals they just found in  Seylac? 

We want to know and it is evidenced by the sheer number of people asking to join the group on a daily basis.

I hope someday they will all know, it is my honor to serve. Come and join us!