25.1.12

From the bedrooms of African women

"Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women."

No, this is not a tell-all article, but the title of a blog I came across just a few days ago.

The African Woman’s Bedroom site dedicates itself to sharing information on African women’s sexuality and makes interesting reading. After perusing the list of posts and discussions you quickly notice that many of the subjects discussed are universal – and why not?

The context and content are different as many topics are affected by religion and culture and I applaud this blog for emphasising that fact. Take for instance where one blogger says, “Who is this typical African woman? Of course any fair minded person knows that there is no typical woman of any sort, but there is this myth, this pervasive stereotype of what an African woman is or should be.”

In my opinion we always return to the concept of the “African woman.” As I have discussed earlier, African is a complex and contested identity. Though the blog is Ghanaian, upon skimming through there are many similarities to many issues discussed in Zambia and many other African countries, for example concepts of fidelity.

Take for example this quote, “African men are allowed to cheat to their hearts' content, and we have a culture continent-wide in which for whatever odd reason, many African women don't bat an eye when it comes to sleeping with somebody else's husband.

While I may appreciate the point that she the point she is trying to put across, I disagree with her generalisation “continent-wide, African men.” Africa, even if we limit ourselves to Black Africa, is a myriad of different cultures and traditions, new and old and I think it benefits no one if we generalise our own experiences to be the experience of all women.

Nonetheless, I congratulate the writers of this site for recognising the dearth of discussion on African women’s sexuality by women themselves and not by Experts in the name of social and economic development. I think a crucial goal should be the normalisation of such discourse, so that it’s not strange or usual, so that we are not longer seen as strange and unusual.

I’ll elaborate this article by linking it to my own current experience of emigration, otherness and difference – all of which, to me, are terms that ask “Who is normal or the norm? Who is the African woman? For whom is Glamour magazine?

Soon, but in the meantime the Black Dagger Brotherhood by JR Ward comes recommended by a fellow blogger.

Image; Beautique Salon

23.1.12

Triumph, but not yet


The votes have been counted, the winner has been declared. The results are exactly as predicted – they have to do it all again.

Observing the machinations of the Finnish Presidential elections has been fascinating. I’ve been reliably informed “presidents don’t really matter,” by a source who would rather remain anonymous. The campaigning is peaceful, if not a little dull, but occasionally spiced up by television shows on which presidential candidates are likened to bananas (apes like them both).

Following yesterday’s elections the winner and the runner-up – Sauli Niinistö and Pekka Haavisto will proceed to the second round. This second round is made essential by the “fifty plus one” system that makes it virtually impossible to win an outright majority in the first round.

Watching the progress of the elections brings to mind the drive for fifty-plus-one system to be included in the Zambian constitution.

Could it work in Zambia? Resource implications aside, would voters willingly trudge through the heat and dust for a second round of voting.

Of course they would. Perhaps begrudgingly of course. 

In Zambia, more rides on the presidential elections than in Finland. In Finland the public face of the government will change certainly, but little else. However in Zambia a president rules, he is in power – a president is the thin line between democracy and dictatorship, between tottering at the edge of the precipice or plunging into the abyss in which nations such as Uganda and Zimbabwe are engulfed. Dictatorial tendencies are enshrined in the presidential culture. How often does our press attribute words such as “instructs,” “summons,” to the president. As such those with presidential ambitions will do whatever it takes to assume power, thus the gap between the first and second round of voting could be a time of coercion and corruption to ensure that the next round is won.

Though in favour of a change in our voting system I believe of critical concern is the degree of power vested in our presidency. I must emphasise that i don’t mean the power vested in him on paper, but that bestowed by our political culture.

Real change would be when the president and members of parliament are no longer seen as the “big man” but as supplicants to our citizens. When elections come around, it is the aspirants that should fall upon their knees begging for our votes, not standing on shaded podiums as we wilt under the sun.

The real lesson of the last Zambian elections was the need for humility; I wait to see if anyone learned it.

Art; Olmofin

22.1.12

The good, the bad and the ludicrous

Blogging. A heavy, unwieldy word for an activity that is or can be creative, inspiring and exciting.  Blogging was an addiction, trawling through the city notebook in hand, rendering people, places and events into text – much of which never makes it to the webpage.

I’ll have to admit to having fallen out of the habit, too many other goings-on have filled my time. However, despite being the proud owner of a MacBook air, nothing can supplant the sensation of pen on paper - my notebooks beckon.

The world remains unchanged, not being an optimist; I’ve never expected that it would. The Arab Spring has turned to winter without ever seeing summer, religious violence has escalated in new territories and the USA once again attacked the Internet and the world.

Nevertheless, we carry on; we exhaled as Zambia changed governments, having held our breaths for far too long; my Finnish has improved though I’m hardly it’s master and of course, winter came finally and I’m typing away in a snowy wonderland.

So I return to Every Woman For Himself, a title I will explain one day. I plan to again plunge into this habit, to return to observing the news, opinion and especially life. I’ll continue to discuss the books and films that I find memorable – the good, the bad and the ludicrous and anything else that comes to mind.

Cheers everyone…