Tuesday, 31 March 2015

270th birthday of Olaudah Equiano

(Born c1745, Essaka, Igboland; dies 31 March 1797, LondonEngland)
One of the African World’s most celebrated intellectuals – sailor, explorer, expeditionist, entrepreneur, orator, versatile campaigner and activist abolitionist (during the 1780s in Britain) of African enslavement by an assemblage of European states and interests and their “successor states” in the Americas/Caribbean, begun in the 15th century, visionary of eventual African freedom, author of the classic, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1789)

(Ornette Coleman Quartet, “Proof readers” [personnel: Coleman, alto saxophone; Don Cherry, pocket trumpet; Scott LaFaro, bass; Ed Blackwell, drums; recorded: Atlantic Studios, New York, US, 31 January 1961])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

50 of the world’s most translated books


The Little Prince… Pinocchio... Andersen’s Fairy Tales... The Adventure of Tintin... The Alchemist... The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn... Sophies World... Things Fall Apart... Perfume... The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency... The Moomins... Miffy... Wolf Totem... One Hundred Years of Solitude... Anne of Green Gables... Totto-Chan, the Little Girl at the Window... The Catcher in the Rye...

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Saturday, 28 March 2015

103rd birthday of Léon-Gontram Damas

(Born 28 March 1912, Cayenne, French-occupied Guiana)
Poet, editor, philosopher, academic, co-founder, with Léopold Sédar Senghor and Aimé Césaire, of the 1930s-1940s “negritude” intellectual movement of African affirmation in Paris, France, and whose demonstrable volume of poetry, Pigments (1937), gives notice of the engaging trajectory of the movement:
… my hatred thrived on the margins of culture
the margin of theories the margin of idle talk
with which they stuffed me since birth
even though all in me aspired to be [African]
while they ransacked my Africa

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

86th birthday of Cecil Taylor

(Born 25 March 1929, New York, US)
Virtuoso pianist and one of the preeminent leaders of the free-jazz movement, beginning in the mid-1950s, prolific composer, poet, academic 
(Cecil Taylor Quartet, “Charge ’em blues” [personnel: Taylor, piano; Steve Lacy, soprano saxophone; Buel Neidlinger, bass; Dennis Charles, drums; recorded: Transition Records, Cambridge, Mass, US, 14 September 1956])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

One year on! Family and friends reading alphabetically, Tuesday 25 March 2014

This morning, my family and some friends embarked on a most exciting project: to read each and every chosen Amazon 100 books of a life time, released earlier on in the year. Some in the group have read a number of these books several times as part of their studies or leisure while others have read fewer and younger ones less…The intention now is to read and discuss and enjoy each of the 100 within the family (mama, papa, children [10/11+? – families, please make this age choice!]), couple, friend, and individual contexts. There are only 2 rules in this enterprise:
(a) No skipping! The titles have to be read alphabetically– starting from George Orwell’s 1984 and ending with Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are
 (b) The group only moves to the next text on the list when every member of the circle has completed their reading
This is not a reading competition. It is not a club. Please start the exercise whenever you choose. There is no prize outcome except of course the priceless joy of reading and discussing great books in fellowship with loved ones. There is, therefore, no timeframe in completing this journey. If someone wants to share any updates on progress, say, at the end of the year or indeed whenever, it is all left to them. This is completely voluntary. No one is expecting updates from anyone else! Please extend this venture to other families and friends if you could.
Amazon 100 books – 2014

1. 1984 by George Orwell

2. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

        3. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

4. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah

5. A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning: The Short-Lived Edition by Lemony Snicket
6. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

7. Alice Munro: Selected Stories by Alice Munro

8. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

        9. All the President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein

10. Angela's Ashes: A Memoir by Frank McCourt

11. Are You There, God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume

12. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

13. Beloved by Toni Morrison

14. Born To Run - A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
15. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat

16. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

17. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

18.Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

19. Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese

 20. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown

21. Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 1 by Jeff Kinney

22. Dune by Frank Herbert

23. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

24. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by Hunter S. Thompson

25. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

26. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

27. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

28. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared M. Diamond

29. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

30. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

31. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

32. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

33. Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware

34. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

35. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

36. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

37. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

38. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

39. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

40. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

41. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

42. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

43. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

44. Moneyball by Michael Lewis

45. Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham

46. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

47. Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen

48. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

49. Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth

50. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

51. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

52. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

53. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

54. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

   55. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

     56. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley

57. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

58. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

59. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

60. The Color of Water by James McBride

61. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

             62. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson

63. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

64. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

65. The Giver by Lois Lowry

         66. The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

67. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

68. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

69. The House At Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne

70. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

71. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

72. The Liars’ Club: A Memoir by Mary Karr

              73. The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) by Rick Riordan

74. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

75. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

76. The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright

77. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

            78. The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks

         79. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan

80. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

81. The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver

                 82. The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro

83. The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

84. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

85. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

86. The Shining by Stephen King

87. The Stranger by Albert Camus

88. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

89. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

90. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

91. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

                  92. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki Murakami

93. The World According to Garp by John Irving

94. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

95. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

96. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

                 97. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

98. Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

99. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

100. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

73rd birthday of Aretha Franklin

(Born 25 March 1942, Memphis, US)
Renowned singer, pianist, human rights artist
(Aretha Franklin and Band, “Respect” [personnel: Franklin, vocals; Caroline Franklin, background vocals; Erma Franklin, background vocals; Cornell Dupree, guitar; Willie Bridges, saxophone; Charles Chalmers, saxophone; Curtis Ousley {“King Curtis”}, saxophone; Dewey “Spooner” Oldham, keyboards, Tommy Cogbill, bass; Roger Hawkins, drums; recorded: Atlantic Records Studios, 14 February 1967])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

“Indivisibility”? “Indissolubility”? “Indestructibility”? Read: Genocide

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

The right to self-determination is for every people. It is inalienable and is guaranteed by the United Nations. No people is exempt from exercising this right. This is why the slogan that proclaims such gibberish as “indivisibility”/indissolubility”/“indestructibility” of a state, any state, is not really worth the paper it is written on except of course it is an embedded code by a slaughtering horde for the plot of the next genocide or the reinforcement of an ongoing genocide – as indeed the world has witnessed most tragically across several regions in Africa since Nigeria’s launch of the Igbo genocide on 29 May 1966. A grisly total of 15.1 million Africans have been murdered by a number of these states and their allies in the genocides of the Igbo (29 May 1966-12 January 1970), Rwanda (1994), Zaïre/Democratic Republic of the Congo (variously since 2003) and Darfur/Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan (all in the Sudan  since 2003), and in other wars in west, north, northcentral, east and southern Africa during the epoch.

Support for British conquest and occupation of Nigeria indefinitely

FOR THE RECORD, it mustn’t be forgotten that the Hausa-Fulani/islamist-led leadership in Nigeria which ritually trumpets the “ind”-threesome slogan (above) to preface its next planned massacre of the Igbo in occupied Biafra or in Nigeria supported continuing British occupation of the conquest-state called Nigeria during the course of 30 momentous years (1930s-October 1960) by opposing the Igbo-led restoration-of-independence movement for the freeing of the constituent African nations and peoples from the British occupation. Britain duly “rewarded” the islamist leadership perpetual control of Nigeria as a prop to transfer the latter’s retrograde view of this conquest-state to some  “post”-conquest variation on the theme which, in itself, guarantees British suzerainty over Nigeria indefinitely. This is a cardinal feature that constitutes the tragedy called Nigeria today.

As everyone probably knows, the states that Europe created in Africa, in the aftermath of its November 1884-February 1885 Berlin conqueror-conference on the latter, cannot provide the fundamental needs of Africans.  This “Berlin-state”, with its bumbling ahistorical name (NigeriaNiger, Guinea, the SudanChad, whatever!), cannot lead Africans to the reconstructive changes they deeply yearn for after the tragic history of centuries of catastrophic occupation. Such change was and never is the mission of this state but an instrument to expropriate and despoil Africa by the conquest. Essentially, the “Berlin-state” still serves the interests of its creators and those of the ruthless cabal of African-overseers which polices the dire straits of existence that is the lot of Africans currently.


AS IN BERLIN, the state is not a gift from the gods. On the contrary, the state is a relationship painstakingly formulated and constructed by groups of human beings on our planet earth to pursue aspirations and interests envisioned by these same human beings within a shared historical and geographical articulation. The African humanity is presently gripped in a grave crisis for survival. Surely, it is aware of this emergency and it is now time that it abandoned the contrived “Berlin-state” in order to survive. This state is a bane of African existence. African nations, namely the Igbo, Ijo, Acholi, Wolof, Yao, Ibibio, Asante, Tonga, Baganda, Mende, Bakongo, Gĩkũyũ, Bambara, Luba, Luo, etc., etc, remain the basis for the regeneration of Africa’s development. These nations are the sites of the continent’s intellectual and other cultural creativity.

Peoples endure; states are indeed transient

States, in the end, are transient as the following attests... Whatever happened to Czarist Russia, Austro-Hungarian empire, the Ottoman empire, the British empire, French Indo-China, Portuguese empire, Spanish empire and, more latterly, the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Treaty states, Josip Broz Tito’s Yugoslavia? Each and everyone of these no longer exists. Gone! Each of them collapsed, somewhere, along their march in history… 

What happened to the constituent peoples in these states that no longer exist? These constituent peoples exist in innumerable new states with names beginning with and from “A” to “Z”. Why did the Polish state disappear from the world map for 123 years (yes, one hundred and twenty-three years!) until its reappearance in 1918? Answer: Gobbled up by predator states, chiefly Czarist Russia. What happened to the Polish people during this century and twenty-three years of varying conquest and occupation? The Poles survived, bidding their time for the restoration of their independence. What would happen to the United Kingdom if the Scots vote “Yes” in another referendum for independence? The United Kingdom would cease to exist as the world has known it as a “union” incorporating Scotland since 1707 if a simple majority of the 5 million Scottish people decides on such an outcome. In the event, if a similar process didn’t occur sooner elsewhere in Europe, an independent Scotland would be the 25th new state to emerge in Europe since 1991. The last one, in 2008, is Kosovo, with a population of 1.8 million which is less than that of the Fegge district of Onicha, the great market town on the Oshimili River of southwest Biafra. 

IN HISTORY, therefore, states have actually been transient formations. It is to human beings that survival belongs, provided no genocidist hotchpotch plans to wipe out a targeted group of them as Nigeria is geared, presently, in its long-stretched campaign against Igbo people…
(John Coltrane & Don Cherry,“Focus on sanity” [personnel: Coltrane, tenor saxophone; Cherry, pocket trumpet; Percy Heath, bass; Ed Blackwell, drums; recorded: Atlantic Studios, New York, US, 28 June/8 July 1960])
Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

Monday, 23 March 2015

73rd birthday of Walter Rodney

(Born 23 March 1942, Georgetown, Guyana)
One of Africa’s preeminent historians whose A History of the Upper Guinea Coast, 1545-1800 (1970) and How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (1972) are compulsory references in the study of Africa and African peoples worldwide of the past 500 years

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

75th birthday of Ama Ata Aidoo

(Born 23 March 1940, Saltpond, Ghana)
Distinguished poet, novelist, playwright, academic

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe