movies


I just bought a new set of books and my reading list is getting crazy. My wife is starting to comment on when will I get time to read all these books I’ve been buying, especially with a baby on the way in August. I’ve been spending a lot of time blogging over at AfroSpear and have neglected my reading and posting on this site.

As you can see I have transformed the look and feel of this page. It’s almost like a cleansing. I am now committing some time and effort to get into my reading list and post here more often. Here is my planned reading list:

Religious

  1. The God Delusion.  Richard Dawkins
  2. Epicenter.  Joel C. Rosenberg
  3. The Jesus I Never Knew.  Philip Yancey

 Psychology

  1. Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion.  Robert Cialdini
  2. Social Intelligence.  Daniel Goldman

 Afrocentric

  1. The Bluest Eyes.  Toni Morrison
  2. A Long Way Home.  Ishmael Beah
  3. Slave.  Mende Nazer
  4. The Narrative of Sojourner Truth
  5. Infidel.  Ayaan Hirsi Ali
  6. An Ordinary Man.  Paul Rusesabagina
  7. The Assassination of the Black Male Image.  Earl O. Hutchinson
  8. The Slave Community.  John W. Blassingame.

What are you currently reading and what do you plan to read in the next while?

Asa.    

I received this comment from a blogger from Nigeria, obyno, in response to my post on “The Prophets of Negrology“. I found it very interesting and wanted to share it by posting it. Here it is:  

Two of the issues you raised in this post, namely, the Don Imus brouhaha and the Duke Lacrosse players comedy show, are threads that have been leading me to the bolstering of a theory that I have had for a long time. It is one I consider to be utterly horrible and whose entertaintment really qualifies one to go on and be cut, drawn, quartered and if possible set ablaze.

It goes like this. All races are definitely not equal. Some are truly more equal than others. Equality however is not a function of certain ineluctable, genetic differentiation, but a result of the development or lack of a habit of intellectual introspection. Intellectual introspection in this case is dimensioned into levels whose effect is measurable by:

1)All phenomena is measurable by their effect on you and you alone.
2)Its inclusion of your fellow beings in the evaluation of phenomena.
3)The consideration of your fellow beings and other less animate beings such as are found in your biological environment in the evaluation of phenomena.

All three taken together, in my view, work to establish an individual’s position on the ladder of progress. Enlarging the set, they can point to a people’s position on this same ladder and therefore become a measure of racial progress. However I have taken certain liberties in setting these measures. Because the theory is still largely that, a theory, and hardly anything better than a series of observations looking for an overcoat, I have elected to suggest that at any point in time, arising from an alteration of perspective and attitude, a person, and indeed a people can hop up or down from one level to the other as the case may be. Sometimes I fear that I have introduced this caveat as pressure valve to prevent the attacks which such a theory probably deserves, by people who might consider themselves victimised by it. So here goes:

As a fact it is a non sequitor to infer that a group of people have the capacity to think together in a certain direction. Having established this, it is then only true to indicate that they therefore cannot all be lumped together for any measurement on the level of their thinking. Rather it is safest to generalise on this by focusing on trends and seeming trends which their opinions when trolled for appear to be revealing. Even the aftermath of this does not yield the toga of truth to whatever ideas appear to be in prevalence.

However there are some affects which if taken altogether might put hands together to reveal an objective that one might say is generalized, and not necessarily in statistical terms. It is this objective that when used as a prism can yield treasures about how they regard themselves, their environment and their place in that ecosystem. The almost palpable sound of a sigh of accomplishment rippling through African-america as evidenced in its blogs, newspaper columns, radio/tv interviews given, before and after the Don Imus firing proper, left me confused about the evolutionary stage of much of our intellectualising as a people. All through the farce (I use the word, farce, without disrespect to the women in America who were the recipients of the Imus’ radio slur), Pillars of African-american opinion like the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson attempted to negotiate Don Imus surrender with their backs turned, all the while, to the fifth columnists, the enemies within, who had afterall given Don Imus the go-ahead to violate those women – I mean the purveyors and arch-angels of hip-hop culture.

I have followed the careers of Imus and the other so called shock jocks in america’s radio journalism and have come to marvel at the fact that they have created a profession and in so many cases, fabulous fortunes out of stealing popular elements of American culture, sharpening them by adding a layering of their own particular inimitable talent and personality, and then returning same to the American people. The fact is that their success is original only as much as they have excelled at looking at everyday things in a sharply new way. There is probably no word more everyday in popular American English grammar than the word “Nigga” or “Ho”. Together of course, with all the neccessary verbal paraphernalia, that go with being able to add tragic and monumentally heartbreaking meaning to those words.

That is why I took painful issue with people like Russel Simmons, (who by the way I have always respected and admired for the symbolism I always believed they represented by their ability to break out of the cycle of poverty that for centuries have imprisoned and ground to death hundreds of millions of other African-anericans), whose best defence seemed to be that since a rapper was born into violence and crime and hate and so much disrespect, then we should expect them to afflict all of us with the fruits of their antecedents and no more from us all. In the racial progress theory I am working on, that equates only to the first level. Obsession with how your behaviour is limited only by your own limitations. 

I haven’t read or heard anything faintly suggesting to me that Don Imus is racist. He took words out of the lips of the hip-hop cultural vanguard, at least in the music genre, and flung it right back at America. That Mr. Sharpton et al did not see this (or if they had, was announcing that vision by only just now, going after Don Imus) was for me the real tragedy of the whole thing. Don Imus has completed his hand-wringing and been busted for his mistakes. That he apologized equates to a hoping around on my ladder of progress, albeit in an upward more rewarding direction, something the Russel Simmonses and Jay Zs and Snoops and The Games are not doing yet. And about being busted…well his perspective, if not his attitude has suffered alteration. It would be a travesty to now not go ahead and engage all the other bastions whose inspiration pushed Don Imus to what in effect has been his waterloo. If not the objective of the whole exercise would have been to smoke out Don Imus while the supply lines to the other Imus{es} remained vibrant, waiting for the next time another fire would flare up.

And as long as this continues to be the objective towards which all of our arguments and  observations about ourselves and the world around us, for and against, propel us, then that manic hopping back and forth up and down the ladder of racial progress would continue to enervate us.

Sick, right? But it was only you who got me thinking.

Well Imus got his azzz canned! Hip Hop Hooray!… Ho!… Hey!…. Ho! (Did I just say: “Ho?!”). The Prophets of Negrology can now pat themselves on the back cause they showed the white man! They mobilized their power and influence to bring down a powerful rich white media icon over his insensitive…. no racist, misogynist remarks against our sisters, the queens of our race. But yet….sniff….sniff…. I can’t help feeling that “something stinks in Negrodia”. Does anyone else smell it!?

 

At first the whole Imus thing was a non-issue to me. Just history, recent history mind you, repeating itself. I figured he would apologize, appear on one of the Prophets of Negrology radio programs, get admonished, act contrite and ask forgiveness, claim sheepishly that “I am not a racist… I got Black friends and I do lots for under-privilege youths…”, go for therapy to understand how he picked up this demon (“the devil made me do it!”), wait for a couple days or so until something more juicy comes up for the media to latch onto, (like…. Anna Nicole Smith gave birth to a baby while being deceased and now they have to go on another intensive dna search to identify the baby daddy… is it Christ’s?…. or Mohammed’s?…. or maybe even Lucifer’s?), then go back to making money for CBS and being a category on “Jeopardy”. But alas…. Imus got fired and the Prophets of Negrology are content and smug once again.

 

However, I have two issues. One is, well… when are the Prophets of Negrology going to take issue with the rappers, comedians and other Black entertainers over their insensitive…. no racist, misogynist remarks against our sisters, the queens of our race? When are they going to “name names” and call for “our” community and society at large to boycott these so-called artists? Yes, I’m talking about R. Kelly, Jay-Z, Ludacris, Snoop, and Dave Chappelle! When are they going to call for demonstrations against the media moguls (BET included), record companies, record stores, radio stations, as well as the actual cd’s and t.v shows, which produce, distribute and perform this filth? This quote is too true: “A man who doesn’t respect himself wastes his breath demanding that others respect him.” I have heard our sisters, the queens of our race, referred to by derogatory names by Black men, WORSE than what was stated by Imus. And these same Black men were gladly gettin’ PAID for saying it! So please tell me, how is Imus suppose to know or behave any better? 

 

Two, when are these Prophets of Negrology, the more noteworthy of whom attach the moniker “Reverend” at the beginning of their names to signify that they are ambassadors of Christ…. which by association, automatically clokes them in the robes and collars of credibility, and hence the keepers of the flame against the darkness of social injustice…. when are they going to apologize to the Duke lacrosse players who were so falsely accused and politically charged, based on a obviously non-credible and incredible complaint? Imus, whether sincere or not, apologized for his error. These Prophets were front and center, playing to the cameras, calling for the head (or was it the balls?), of these young men. Or was the injustice they went through acceptable due to the color of their skin, as well as their economic and social class? (hmmmm… sounds strangely familiar….) Well, I may be in the visible minority on this one (as opposed to being just a “visible minority”), but I believe that if you know better, you do better. My Granny always used to remark: “those who knows it, feels it.” AND we have felt this kind of injustice before! So when we innocently and/or even through our best intentions, get caught up in the frenzy (media frenzy for some) of adding to this injustice, we need to address it, apologize and ask for forgiveness. Call me naïve, crazy or even a sell-out, but that would be the “Christian” thing to do, especially for a “Reverend”. 

 

Now to reality. The Prophets of Negrology need to wake up and realize that they have no real power. They are stooges. They are a distraction from the real issues. They are the “Sanjayas” of the moment, until American Idol resumes next Tuesday night. They had no direct influence in getting Imus fired! The ONLY reason Imus got fired was that it was no longer profitable for the networks to keep him! Sponsors were pulling out of his show. He then became a financial liability. The NCAA made this call to networks: “You know the BILLIONS of dollars you make during March Madness and Football Bowl Season? Well… that is now in jeopardy because of Imus’s remarks.” The next call was made to Imus: “You’re fired!…. and no…. this is not Donald Trump.” In the same light of reality: when racist and misogynist rap music, music videos, t.v. shows, comedians, movies etc., are no longer profitable, then the Prophets of Negrology will be permitted to wail and rally against it. Let’s not get it twisted! Until then, we will continue to live out this truth from the song, “Shut em down” by The Prophets of Rage, Public Enemy:

 

“Howdy ‘all, this is Bernie Cross house, yours truly of the KKK! I’d like to express our deepest gratitude at the destruction of the inferior nigger race, and I’m especially pleased to report it’s destroying itself without our help! To all you gangs, hoodlums, drug pushers and users, and other worthless niggers killing each other, we’d like to thank you all, for saving us the time, trouble and legality, for the final chapter of riddin’ y’all off the face of the earth! Your solution to our problem is greatly appreciated! So keep sellin’ us your soul. Thank yah!”

 

I have to end with this excerpt from Jason Whitlock, a Black sports columnist. It’s just too good not to share:

 

“We have more important issues to deal with than Imus. If we are unwilling to clean up the filth and disrespect we heap on each other, nothing will change with our condition. You can fire every Don Imus in the country, and our incarceration rate, fatherless-child rate, illiteracy rate and murder rate will still continue to skyrocket. A man who doesn’t respect himself wastes his breath demanding that others respect him. We don’t respect ourselves right now. If we did, we wouldn’t call each other the N-word. If we did, we wouldn’t let people with prison values define who we are in music and videos. If we did, we wouldn’t call black women bitches and hos and abandon them when they have our babies. If we had the proper level of self-respect, we wouldn’t act like it’s only a crime when a white man disrespects us. We hold Imus to a higher standard than we hold ourselves. That’s a (freaking) shame. We need leadership that is interested in fixing the culture we’ve adopted. We need leadership that makes all of us take tremendous pride in educating ourselves. We need leadership that can reach professional athletes and entertainers and get them to understand that they’re ambassadors and play an important role in defining who we are and what values our culture will embrace.”

                                                                                                                      

I say we need AfroSpear!

I have been wanting to do this post for some time now and emerging out of Passion Week, there has been a renewed urgency within my spirit to “drop it like it’s hot!”

 

A few weeks ago I had seen the movie “300”, about the exploits of the 300 Spartan warriors who faced the enormous Persian army of Xerxes in his conquest of Greece. Their bravery and ultimate sacrifice against insurmountable odds was premised by me in a post by thefreeslave called: “The Only Politics That Is Relevant Is The Politics of Revolution”. I utilized the dynamics of Spartan society as an example of the mindset we as an African/Black community should emulate, if we want to start a revolution of renewed thought and practice to successfully combat against the oppression and injustice of the eurocentric/western society. Here is the section of the post in which I referred to this: 

 

“… well let me suggest that we employ the mindset of the Spartans…. as seen in the movie “300”. Let’s have a real revolution of thought and practice. Let us create a community of Black/African men and women who from birth are trained to be warriors, and by this I mean have a warrior mentality where their only… I repeat and emphasize, ONLY commitment is to this community. Two very difficult choices will have to be made for this to work. First, those who can’t or don’t measure up physically, emotionally, spiritually and/or make a real contribution to the community… we cut them loose. So those who are chronic substance abusers, societal and moral deviants (i.e murderers, abusers of women and children, etc.), those who are unteachable, those who cannot/will not develop a community first attitude, those who are weak willed and/or weak minded, and anything else that is an anchor to our progress…. we turn them out. Second, we don’t get hooked into other peoples/groups struggles. Let white women (feminists) fend for themselves. Let the homosexuals fight their own battles for their civil rights. Let the Native Indians (who owned slaves and are more than willing to disentangle themselves from that history) engage the white man in their own struggle. Let the poor white trailer trash agitate for their own political/economic empowerment. F*CK THE RAINBOW COALITION! It’s a burden on our advancement! It should be all about us and ONLY us. I contend that ONLY by this type of revolution, can even START to develop a strong and progressive Black/African community. Purification of community values. Single-mindedness of community purpose. Revolution of community focus.” 

 

Not long after I dropped this comment, God and I had an ongoing conversation which I will summarize. He asked me if it is better to utilize the example of those who have been successful or those who has failed in their efforts, as the basis of what we should do to be successful ourselves. That was an easy answer for me: “the example of those one who have been successful….” I said. He then took me to the story of Gideon and the 300 men who were victorious in their conflict against, what on the surface would also be considered “insurmountable odds”. 

 

The biblical saga of Gideon goes from Judges, chapters 6-8. Long story short, the children of Israel for 7 years were being oppressed by the Midianites and other eastern peoples, to the point where they had to live in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. Their crops and livestock were destroyed. The invaders were so numerous that they were like swarms of locust and it was impossible to count their men and camels. Through various events God called Gideon to fight against these invaders and drive them out of Israel with 300 men, from an original army of 32,000! These 300 men purposely attacked, pursued and defeated 135,000 men! 

 

As I meditated on this story, God revealed certain truths to me. First, Gideon had to transform his way of thinking by committing to change his relationship with God. By doing this, he built and strengthened his faith in God and thus had the confidence that he could achieve victory against these “insurmountable odds”, with only 300 men. Second, the fight against oppression and injustice for Gideon was not for personal glory, or the glory of his 300 men or even for the glory of Israel. It was for the glory of God (Judges 7:2). Third, this reflected the mindset that although “many are called, few are indeed chosen.” AND that “chosen few” can, not only overcome “insurmountable odds” when attacked, but more importantly, can confidently devise plans and develop strategies to fearlessly initiate the attacking, pursuing and defeating of their enemy! Finally, this 300 were not “trained” warriors, however they were fearless and yet, humble! Gideon himself was a farmer. I found it interesting and revealing the process God used to choose the 300. First, He reduced their number from 32,000 to 10,000 by removing those who were afraid (Judges 7:3). Then he separated the most humble 300 from the 10,000 that were left (Judges 7: 4-7). 

 

So now back to the mindset to create “a revolution of renewed thought and practice within the African/Black community to successfully combat against the oppression and injustice of the eurocentric/western society.” I don’t have all the answers but I do see a different premise to all this. I had stated: “Let us create a community of Black/African men and women who from birth are trained to be warriors, and by this I mean have a warrior mentality where their only… I repeat and emphasize, ONLY commitment is to this community.” I conclude now that to successfully attack, pursue and defeat those forces that would oppress us, it is better to bring together a “chosen few” who are fearless and humble, AND who’s ONLY commitment is to glorify God. Would everything or anything else follow as I had described above; would it still be relevant or would it all get thrown out. I honestly don’t know. I still believe however that there is a definite process to identify the “chosen few”, represented by Gideon’ victorious 300, who will be the “warriors” to lead this struggle. I just saw the film “Amazing Grace”, on the life and struggles of William Wilberforce in his quest to get the African slave trade abolished by the British parliament. I am also reminded of the life and struggle of Dr. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. These were the Gideons’ of their generation. There were and are many more “Gideons” throughout history, and today no doubt. They were and are the “chosen few” who rallied others around them to fight the oppression and injustice of their time, not just because it was the right thing to do. They faced and overcame “insurmountable odds”, for the glory of God.

“If God be for us, who can be against us.” Romans 8:31.

Asabagna.

I always had an idea, a vision really, to create a diasporic-wide think tank type blog. I envisioned that it would focus on discussing issues, exchanging ideas and creating strategies, with the objective of developing concrete and viable solutions to tackle the concerns relating to those of us of African descent worldwide. 

 

shared this vision over at thefreeslave blog page and I was overwhelmed by how enthusiastically it was received. It is not necessarily an original idea on my part and others have previously either engaged in similar discussions or have created such a venue. However it garnered much discussion, offers of assistance and words of encouragement.

 

I would like to acknowledge two brothers who have taken hold of the vision and ran with it. Francis L. Holland and Exodus Mentality have been engaged in the type of discussions that I had hoped would be initiated through the vision of AfroSpear. These brothers are an inspiration. Below I linked 2 recent discussions from their pages, which are an example of the think tank based discussions that I hope to be engaged in through AfroSpear, once we get the site launched.

 

“Can the AfroSpear Help Reduce Urban Violence?”

“Open Thread: What’s number 1”

 

 

Humbly,

Asabagna

Whatever in the world can be done, will be done. The question is whether it will be done by you or to you?

Coming soon to the AfroSphere.

“GOD IS GOOD!”

“ALL THE TIME!”

I started blogging about a year ago after the 2005 Oscars. My first post ever was on some thoughts I had about Three 6 Mafia winning the Oscar for Best Song, George Clooney’s acceptance speech for winning best supporting actor for “Syriana”, and on the winner of the best picture… who can remember? “CRASH”. (first post) I was new to the blogging game and wanted to see where my voice would take me out into the blogosphere.

 

John Smulo

 

This week, I have been featured in a 2-part interview on the blog page of John Smulo, called SmuloSpace. John is a Christian blogger whose page I read frequently because he expands my thinking and brought a different perspective to the “Christian” experience for me. He is one of very few bloggers from the “Christosphere”, that I link to my page. The others are Gruntled Center, Imitatio Christi, The Church Boy and God’s Politics (which is a site of “white” progressive Christian bloggers developed by Jim Wallis). This is not to say that there aren’t others linked to this page who consider themselves Christians. However these specific blogs primarily discuss religious themes and look at other topics from a “Christian” perspective, whatever that may mean to the authors, which is why I refer to them as the “Christosphere”.

 

I found it very difficult finding Christian bloggers to read. It wasn’t due to there not being many of them out in the blogosphere, but I prefer to become engaged in discussions that will challenge my thinking and beliefs, that will expand my knowledge and not spew the same “ole time religion”. These blogs do that to some extent and SmuloSpace is my favourite. I cannot remember how I found his page but I started reading it in January 2007. What attracted me most is that I found John to be a sincere listener…. and that is a rare quality in a person. I started reading and commenting on his page and visa versa. A couple weeks ago he asked if he could interview me for his page. I was pleasantly surprised! He was primarily interested in the process I went through to adopt my African/Spiritual name: “Asabagna Alatentou” and my self-definition as an “Afrocentric Pentecostal”. I felt honored and gladly said “yes”. Here are the links to both interviews:

It is my hope that those of you who frequent this page may not just read the interviews, but will also read some of John’s other posts, and be inspired to become engaged in conversations and be regular commentators there. I also hope that those who frequent John’s page, through the interviews, may discover our community and engage with us also. Isn’t that the beauty of the internet? To discover, communicate and learn from those of other countries, cultures and beliefs. To transcend borders, barriers and build bridges of understanding through dialogue, discussion and debate. To make friends. It’s not a “pipe dream”. It’s possible. I’ve done it with all of you.

 

I wish you heaven.

Asa.

Friday (03-23-07), I’m at the gym doing my “cardio thing” and watching the news, when I see a story concerning a polar bear cub by the name of “KNUT” in Berlin Germany. Apparently this cub, which was born about 4 months ago, was rejected by it’s mother, a circus bear. The Berlin Zoo decided to raise it and a national furor was caused when an animal rights activist stated that the cub should be put to death rather than be raised in captivity. According to a variety of news reports (see one here), school children took to the streets chanting “Knut must live”; news headlines read “ The Polar Bear of our Hearts”; t-shirts were printed; websites were launched, including his own personal one (see here); soccer fans chanted for him instead of their teams and a CD of songs about him was produced. He has been adopted by the German Environment Minister and is now a symbol of the effects of global climate change. The cub had made it’s public debut on Friday amid hundreds of reporters from around the world as well as thousands of supporters.

Friday, I also read a story on the blog page of Francis L. Holland on the case of Shaquanda Cotton in Paris, Texas (see here). This 14 year-old African-American girl was sentenced in March 2006, to 7 years in a Texas juvenile correctional center for pushing a 58 year old teacher’s aid. As I read the story, I thought there was no way this could be true! This must be some sort of internet hoax. I did a little internet research myself and read some news accounts of this situation. The more I read, the more I became stupefied and enraged as the truth of this injustice crystallized in my psyche (see here). The accounts of the blatant separate and unequal treatment of the Black community to the obvious targeting and retaliation against Shaquanda because her mother frequently accused school officials of racism.

 

 

BUT what enraged me the most was that I had not heard of this before. Had I really missed this? AND if I had: Where is the national furor? Where are the other school children taking to the streets for her cause? Where are the news reports and headlines? Where are the t-shirts? She does have a blog page (see here) but where are the other blog posts heating up the Afrosphere for her cause? Where are the sport fans chanting her name? Where is the national political and/or government official, regardless of party affiliation, who has adopted her cause as a symbol of the fight against the continual racial discrimination and judicial injustice faced by those of African descent in America? AND when I ask all these questions of “where?”, I am not asking society at large! I am asking the Black/African community itself!

 

Or am I asking the wrong questions. Maybe I should be asking: are we so caught up in who will be dismissed from this week’s episode of American Idol and Survivor to care? Has our desire for justice and equality been replaced by a craving for the new Three 6 Mafia “joint”, the latest dance craze and the next McDeath “Happy Meal”? Have we become so bamboozled by the media, that our attention has been captivated by who is the “baby daddy” of a dead, white, fat, drug and alcohol addicted slut, to even see the injustices that are visited upon our young? Are we so entranced by the circus performances of Obama, Hillary and John that real life wrongs pass under our radar? Have we completely sold out the birthright of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for our children, to feast on the pottage provided at the back door of the white women empowerment movement (feminism), gay marriage and other gay rights issues?  Have we become so mis-educated as a community that our time and energy is focused on rallying against the plight of illegal immigrants, the atrocities perpetrated by the Iraqis against themselves and the empowerment of Afghani women while our own young are dehumanized?

 

There is a call for the Black community to write and/or telephone the Judge and Governor of Texas to “voice” our displeasure and disappointment at the treatment of Shaquanda Cotton. Hmmmm. ‘nuff said.

 

My sister Aulelia recently pondered: “Perhaps celluloid exposure is needed for more people to care about Africa?” Along with the numerous movies featuring Africa, Africans and African-Americans that we have been recently exposed to, there has also been a deluge of cartoon or digital animated films featuring animals. The animals are portrayed more like humans. The Blacks/Africans are represented as less than animals. Ironically, I think we now have an answer to her question.

 

Asabagna                   

 

I found Aulelia’s comments on my previous post, “A Tale of Two Black Brothers” to be insightful, particularly her views on the film, The Last King of Scotland. Her statement: Perhaps celluloid exposure is needed for more people to care about Africa?”, really got me thinking…. going deep into reflecting and meditating on the mass media portrayals of Africa.  

First let me say that I did enjoy the film and I agree that Forest Whitaker’s performance was superb. I have no problem with him winning the Oscar. Who we believe should win is subjective, and it’s the majority of subjective opinions that determine who wins. I am also not so naïve that I don’t realize that Hollywood, and the movie-making industry at large, is a business…. and a business is all about making money. As such, they are concerned about what stories the public will pay money to see. Whether they are only catering to this demand or creating the demand is a worthy discussion to reflect and debate on in another post. However, Aulelia’s question got me asking: what are the celluloid exposures that we are getting of Africa? And do they lead “us” to care more about the continent? 

 

I made a mental list of all the movies about Africa I have seen recently. Let’s see: Blood Diamond, The Last King of Scotland, Tsotsi, The Lord of War, The Constant Gardener, Hotel Rwanda, Tears of the Sun, Black Hawk Down, In My Country… these are the ones that comes to mind. Now I found them all to a varying degree, for different reasons, very good or at least interesting. But as I reflect, none of these storylines showed a positive image of Africa the continent, or African people. Savagery, brutality, murderous behaviour, ignorance, poverty, dishonesty, corruption, chaos and disease ran amok. In most of these films, the central hero, or the most dynamic anti-hero was a “white” male. Now there may be films that do show Africa in a positive light. I just haven’t seen or heard of them. So please enlighten me if anyone can recommend some.

 

I started wondering if these movies of Africa have replaced the blaxploitation “gangsta” films that were churned out by Hollywood in the late 80’s to early 2000. Do you remember Colors, Juice, New Jack City, Boyz N da Hood, Menace II Society, Above the Rim, Dead Presidents, Set it Off, Baby Boy, as well as the award winning Training Day and Hustle & Flow. As I also reflected on the themes of these movies, a pattern emerged in how Black people, particularly Black men were being portrayed: Savagery, brutality, murderous behaviour, ignorance, poverty, dishonesty, corruption, chaos and disease ran amok. Even Spike Lee’s acclaimed “Do the Right Thing”, dealt with Black rage which culminated in righteous Black violence.

 

Now since these movies are not being made in the same quantity as before, I can only surmise that they are no longer the moneymakers they used to be. So it begs the following questions: did this celluloid exposure of Black America cause more people to care for them? Or did it become passé, familiar and therefore boring? Is Black on Black murder in America no longer a thrill? But big business always finds new resources to meet the demands of their markets. So to Africa! The Dark Continent! Virgin territory once again to exploit familiar evils for an unfamiliar audience. Celluloid exposure to fill the theatre seats, sell popcorn and Coca-Cola, and get the cash registers ringing. 

 

Then I got to thinking…. you know what? Maybe I am being too pessimistic! Maybe these celluloid images of Africa are providing the impetus for the promised influx of money and medicine to fight AIDS and other diseases in the continent. Maybe these celluloid images of Africa are getting people in the Western world to tackle the issue of child soldiers and child poverty. Maybe these celluloid images of Africa will prevent another genocide such as what occurred in Rwanda. Maybe these celluloid images of Africa in some way led to the Western nations caring more about the continent and was instrumental in the decision to forgive their burdening debt. 

Then I remember that most Africans cannot afford the drugs to combat AIDS, even if they could get them. Then I remember the U.N. reports that malaria and lack of clean drinking water is killing most Africans. Then I remember that children in the Congo have to work in mines from “can’t see sun up to can’t see sundown” to make a barely subsistent living. Then I remember the child soldiers of the Lord Resistance Army in Northern Uganda. Then I remember Darfur. Then I remember the issue of vulture funds, where companies buy up the debt of these poor African nations cheaply from the Western nations when it is about to be written off, then SUE for the full value of the debt plus interest. (See post Into the Heart of Darkness.) AND I look around and have to conclude that Western society, like most of the rest of the world, just does not care. Is it because of the celluloid exposures? Or in spite of them?

Finally I reflect and wonder if there is a direct relationship…. a linear linkage from the images we saw of Africa in the past and today in movies, in the news, in mass media…. to the images we see today of Black America in movies, in the news and on televison (Cops, BET)…. to the recent execution of a 92 year old Grandmother during a police raid in Atlanta, for being a suspected drug dealer.  

Heaven help us.

Asabagna.

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