Monday, May 26, 2008

“I live his life and memories... in reverse?”

It is not many a time that you read a book and have a narrative. I am just entering Denver from Seattle, on a fly by night vacation through the memorial day holiday weekend and true to the timeline coincidences I am just finishing off the last chapter of the first book of the presumptive democratic nominee: Dreams of My Father, by Barack Obama. Not many books I had read have been so marked with the bends, surprises- the emotions and the dips of a life so vast, so rich yet so complicated. Indeed, not so many authors could better describe and could better have lived it than the man that did.

Speaking of timelines and experiences, I had bought the book after being thoroughly impressed by the now much acclaimed speech by Barack at the 2004 convention. His rising profile at the Senate as a shining star in the spring of 2005 spurred me on to make that purchase. The book lay fallow in my bulging library shelves much until later in the fall of 2006 when I was to make my first trip back home after I had left. There of course was also a personal story: one not verily as complicated as Barack’s, but in itself as personal and perhaps as memorable. Much of this personal story I will speak properly of in subsequent paragraphs. On my flight between Houston and I could only consume the first part of the book that dealt with his life in Hawaii and growing up pains of a young man lost between two worlds of racial struggle and a society unready for his like. This was before the agitation, hope and excitement of going home after six years seized me on my flight back between Amsterdam and Lagos. I abandoned the book hoping to pick it off soon after I got home to Lagos, Warri, Ibadan or Ikole-Ekiti. But that was not going to be. Like hands full my family members are, the joys of those moments captured and the bonding that took place in the little time I spent with them snatched away those precious moments I could have used in thumbing through this piece of discovery. Not like I was complaining, my elder sister Dolapo whose wedding ceremony will take me back home this summer was readily available to scrounge the book away from me and squeeze the living daylight out of its pages in her familiar book wormy manner.

During this same period, Barack himself was ensconced somewhere in Hawaii contemplating a presidential run after the load of positive press the second book after the first, Audacity of Hope, had gotten. In my mind, I knew Barack was made for greater things but I was not too sure if his decision to get into the race that January was not one that came a little too early. But I was not someone to declare, hence I assumed the role of observer of the nomination as my blog roll from Spring 2007 to Fall reveals. In this same period, I fell in and out of the book. Reading his organizing years, inspired by his permutations on race and race relations but albeit hardly off the fence on his new found ambition. But sometime in November 2007, I became a convert. Something lighted up. In the eyes of the portraits of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela that hung on the wall that led to my room, I could read the clear unmistakable message: Hope, dream and do not fear. In the next months, I along with other Barackites will make millions of calls, I volunteered, organized and cheered our way to a Texas narrow primary loss, but a caucus triumph by such a large margins he got the highest number of delegates out of Texas and the biuggest margin in the county where I was precinct captain. In this period I had not been able to pick up the book to finish off the intriguing story of his years organizing on the South side of Chicago.

It was from the point I picked up the book as I departed for Seattle on the pacific North west for a memorial day vacation (post coming shortly) and it is even more befitting that I read the last lines of the book as we stopped over on our way back from Seattle to Houston at Denver. Yes, Denver the same place where history will be made in August at the democratic convention. Everything about Barack and his book oozes fate and destiny. He is a man made for great things. The chapter I most thoroughly enjoyed was the Part 3 on his return to Kenya. In it we find a man whose colliding universe is realigned, one in which the magnanimity of his character and maturing of his mind bore out to his readers. In his entire writing his brilliance, introspection and thoughtfulness is shown in more ways than one. His forgiving, near heroic equanimity is also worthy of mention. Indeed that core abilities of leaders to be firm, yet being able to change their minds in the light of new evidence came out as the book went from that of struggle, loss, reinvention and finally discovery. The discovery of himself, his roots and his people. In all, he more than made up for it at the end.

As a personal story, I couldn’t have finished reading the book in a better time. Now that I once again go back to a country I left as a child, the book showed in our dual lives -what we left behind and the internal struggle we all live. One man, his family and his community. It is the heritage of journeymen that the father of BO lived; one with twist and turns that confounds the minds of those of his generation like my father who lived through it. Who like the senior Barack had a near melodramatic situation righted much earlier when my half brother came home in 2000 to discover a family, father and country he always heard but never saw. The difference being of course that the nearly perpetual story of distance to their children that marked the Obamas was a diametric opposite of my family where men showed their strength by bonding with their children. With their wives, now that is a whole different matter. I owe dad the book, so also my brother –Olu, whom I will see the second time this July as we give Dolapo away in marriage. Now I feel his pain, now I feel some sense of duty to show him everything he needs to see. The one I know and the ones I don’t: from Ibadan to Odo-Oro Ekiti. The book in itself have now spurred a determination to now record my own family history- a video project I hope to accomplish in my three weeks at home in August. With Dad retiring, and everyone around it couldn’t be a better fitting time to get the roots to come all round. I hope you are all ready for the hard questions. Maybe I will share, maybe. In all, we all in some way lived the life of our fathers; perhaps in reverse. In as much as we share those genes, we carry with us the burdens of history, of heritage and the blessings (and perhaps curses) that comes with it. So long.

P.S: Happy Retirement Dad. You sure deserve it. You are retired but definitely not tired. Am loving Asa..enjoy!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

What's Cooking..What 're we Watching & ..?

There is a bunch of lame shows on TV and there has always been. As someone who hardly grew around TVs (my parents were ardent advocates of the no TV upbringing and am grateful), I appreciate the level of trashiness contemporary TV offers. Thanks to the Internet, viewers are having more choices and choice is steadily creeping its way into TV. One of such concept TV is Current TV owned by Al Gore, former VP and Nobel laureate- the TV is unique in the sense that viewers send in the programming; clips, educative documentaries and even news-pods dominate their schedule. It has since retained a regular feature on my favorite dial since I discovered it much to the chagrin of CNN; my once favorite channel now dumped (while trying so much to Fox, sorry Fix News (Noose rather).

Speaking of programming, I have been following two shows that I'd recommend lately. i guess the downtime the summer offers allow more time to catch up on such leisures and am making the most of it. Run's House on MTV and The Office have prime place on my record to watch later menu. After a good bowl of fufu and efo, I settle down on the weekend evenings to enjoy my menu of 4-5hrs recording..I can't be asked. After 2-3 hrs, give and take for skipping Ads I'd be through. Run's house is a terrific show in my opinion. Rev Run got a good thing going on, and his family reminds me the effervescently sumptuous laughter, joy and presence of mine. The Office is one hell of a funny show, that I got introduced to by a Business professor I took last fall. The raw comedy and shades of character make up for a good relaxing evening for me and some friends who drop by. Don't be buzzing my phone on weekend evenings bozo. lol

Speaking of my fufu (or what goes for it in Yankee), I have devised a novel and simpler method to get my beef stew done. I have been able to cut the work down from my traditional 2 hrs to something close to 30 mins..I am pleased. Cooking for me however has always been somewhat cathartic i.e. when am lethargic (my sis says allergic) to every thing else; it is what I'd imagine to be an equivalent of going to the gym for an exercise aficionados. The soothing aroma of a meal cooking...the fresh taste of a home cooked meal? hmm..unbeatable. Stop day dreaming my friend

I will hit the road this memorial day to Seattle and possibly Vancouver, Canada beginning my round of summer travels that will take me from Seattle to San Antonio, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Atlanta , Nigeria (Ibadan, Lagos, Ekiti, Warri, Abuja) and Denver...yeah I gotta be at the acceptance speech by my main man- Barack Obama. Saw the way he smacked McSame and McBush around? LOL...that was funny. I realize the GOP machine is running out of option, but they'd better be prepared for the oncoming onslaught cos its gonna be warfare. And you think you've seen it all, the fervent yearnings of the 75 000 that came out to see him on Oregon is just the beginning..see picture is breathtaking

For the summer am settling on the following for my reading list: The History of the Yorubas by Samuel Johnson the rare book that documents the early history of the Yoruba people of Western Nigeria that I have longed to read, the Art of War by Sun Tzu a classic on military thoughts and strategy suggested for would be leaders, Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi D. suggested by DQ- thanks chica, Half of a Yellow Sun by the bright star of African literature C. Adichie, and Cronies a book on Texas, Oil, Bushes and Republican hypocrisy written by Robert Bryce. Last of the Pirates a book on the most dangerous mercenary of African Bush wars and a thumb thru of Barack's Audacity of Hope (hopefully b4 Denver) should keep me company on my numerous dash across the continent and the world this summer. The Mrs Club - Ekene Onu is only looking good. I have been lazying about with Bill Cosby's Come on People, and Freakonomics...those should come first. Can't wait. See ya on the flip side.


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