Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Working As A Journo

It is proven by statistics that most people end up not working in the area of what they studied. As a child, my dream was to become a lawyer. Not for a minute did I think I would end up in England let alone study Journalism but today, that's what I am doing. Its hard work and you have to be ready to knock on every door. Sometimes you get a break and bam, you are on your way, for others the story is a little different. To date, I have learnt you must be versatile to survive in the Media Industry, it changes every day and you have to be up to date. Know your market, your audience and above all, endeavour to be the best at your craft, not easy but work at it. It's like a manufacturer; they know their product more than anyone else. A Journalist has to know what he or she is talking about, we are not perfect and mistakes are possible but at all cost aim to avoid them. Saves you a lot of trouble.

Since I embarked on this journey, I have learnt valuable lessons and met people who are willing to help you get better at your craft. I have had the opportunity of working with those who have been in the industry for years.

Sometimes I ask myself, what I was thinking when I filled out the forms for university and picked Journalism but to date, it's been good and I am looking forward to tomorrow. It makes me happy when my friend calls me up to tell me, she did a search on me on Google and materials I wrote in the past came up. That would make any one proud and I am proud of me. So I did a search on myself and my world was I surprised.

These are links to features I wrote in the past and had no knowledge it was online with the exception of NUJ Student ADM.

This I co- wrote with the gentleman whose name is also on the article. He is the editor of Crux magazine and I would like to use this opportunity to say thank you.

A feature I wrote while at The Voice Newspaper in June 2005 but found it on a different website

This was the ultimate for me, just absolutely fantastic. Finding my article in full on the Voice website - Thanks Vic, you're a star

There will be many more and I am more determined today to work hard and make my dream a reality.

Student Life

The decision to go to university was easy to make. It would change my life but I also knew it would be hard work. Dedication, enthusiasm and determination were part and parcel of the recipe for my success. So far my theory has been right, what I didn't anticipate was having a messed up sleeping pattern. While others can stay up at night to study and go back to bed when they want to, I can't. I have been awake since 11pm Tuesday night and its now 10:56am Wednesday morning and I can't sleep. Yes I did some work but I also want to sleep, so I can study some more later today. Unfortunately, I can't. If there's any one out there who has a good idea of what I can do to help me have a balanced sleep pattern and study time for my own good, do let me know. Yes I need to study but my body also needs to rest. Falling ill due to exhaustion is not a good idea and I certainly don't want that.

Help somebody!

Thursday, April 20, 2006


The Opinion piece, "Black Sexual, Sensual and Spiritual" was written last year for a project at Uni. I had no idea what to do and time was running against me, so I thought to myself, why not write about something I had a strong view point on. My aim was not to tell anyone off, I was simply pressing my point of view against the fabric of the page. It worked because my lecturer told me afterwards, "Quite an interesting piece." Read and lemme know what you think

Black, Sexual, Sensual and Spiritual

“Black women, dating back to slavery have always been depicted by this society as sexually loose, as whores, as objects to be used, then discarded” – Kevin Powell, author and activist.

Imagine coming home to your two year old toddler, still in her diapers, gyrating sexually in front of your mirror and turning to you to say, “Mummy, dip it low make your man say oh.” Unaware of her actions, her understanding is that she is imitating a form of art. That’s because it’s all she has been watching on the box known as a television, which you spent your hard earned cash to buy. What’s she imitating? The scantily clad, half naked women she saw in the rap video titled “Dip It Low.”

The excessive exposure of half dressed naked black women in rap videos has raised a serious debate across the Atlantic in America. Led by the leading Black lifestyle magazine Essence with its year long campaign, “Take Back The Music.” After years of letting rap videos define her feminine identity, as skin revealing sexpot and booty shaking sister, the African American woman is finally speaking out and fighting with a vengeance to take her rightful place as a woman of class, dignity and integrity. She is tired of being portrayed as a sex kitten, a sexual object and as something that can be traded back and forth between men in rap videos beamed globally across the globe on MTV, BET and other major music channels, giving the impression that booty shaking and being naked in music videos is all there is to an African American woman.

Hip hop as a culture is 25years old. My question is, why did we keep quiet for so long and let the artist, all in the name of being creative, sell us out as if we were for sale in an auction? Were we so afraid of being criticised as starting another “Hate the black man campaign” because, regardless of the time and stance we take as sisters, we will get criticised by those whose opinion differs to our point of view. We make excuses for them in the name of art and protecting our own because we don’t want to rattle or sell out our black brothers, though they sold out on us.

We are not sex objects to be looked upon with disdain. This is promoted by the Record labels, who claim it’s what the public wants, and the high demand for it explains the extensive production of rap videos with lewd and obscene acts been performed by black women. Record companies say that the public wants these videos and “as long as they keep buying, we are going to keep making them.”

The rap artists themselves defend their form of art, claiming its just art. Nelly, one of the foremost rap artists embroiled at the centre this debate, whose video “Tip Drill”, in which he swipes a credit card down a woman’s thong clad backside, says “I respect women and I am not a misogynist, I am an artist. Hip-hop videos are art and entertainment. Videos tell stories, some are violent, some are sexy, some are fun, and some are serious. As for how women are shown in the videos, I don’t have a problem with it because it is entertainment and women are in the videos by choice.”

That’s the reason we must first start with our own sisters, who make these decisions that gives us all a general identity. We are not asking for a moral code of conduct for us to lives by, nor are we asking for censorship on our brothers’ form of artistry. All we ask is a balance of different images to the ones that currently filtrate our television screens 24/7, because there are black sisters in “Different lights, different body types and different venues.” There’s more to a black woman than the scantily dressed half naked woman that invades our screens.

Where are our Maya Angelous, Terry McMillans, Alice Walkers, Toni Morrisons, Iyanla Vanzants and Oprah Winferys? Where are the images of our black sisters who fought for us, so we could be free to lift our heads and say “I am black, sexual, sensual and I’m spiritual too”? We need more images of our achievers on our television screens to give our coming generation a positive image of black women, a sense of identity and of how a woman should be treated. You may wonder, why argue about the way a woman ought to be treated? According to a group of Emory University Professors in Atlanta, who carried out research on the effects of rap videos on teenagers. “The answer therein, lies in the knowledge that long term exposure to rap music, which is explicit about sex, violence and rarely shows the potentially long term adverse effect of risky behaviours, may influence adolescents by modelling the unhealthy practices.”

What now worries my sisters is not just the impact of the lewd videos or the obscene sexual depiction of African American women on the minds of young girls but on the young boys also, who have been raised by the television they have grown up watching and the music they listen to. It is believed that young men of color derive their idea of masculinity from the media and these videos are showing young men how to treat young women.

It is a conflicting issue deep in the heart of African American women but over here in the United Kingdom, the young generation are beginning to have their debate also. Mina, 15 and a street dancer, said “I don’t like the way women in skimpy clothes dance around men in hip-hop videos. It makes all women seem ho-ish.” Chris, 18, disagrees, saying, “Rap artists are only referring to a certain group of women, the ones they come across,” but when asked how he would feel if the lyrics were about a female member of his family, his response was “Vexed and upset.” Fumi, 19, simply tells them to “Pull their pants up.”

No one wants a female member of their family portrayed as whorish and that’s why this debate centres on the choices we as women make. The rap artists are right to say the women are in their videos by choice and, yes, they were not forced with a gun to their heads to appear in the videos with no clothes on. The question is how we now rectify the problem because it has become a cancerous epidemic in the world of hip hop. Black is beautiful and there’s no crime showing off a black woman as a sensual being but when her identity changes to that of a sexual object with no other positive image to counteract it, then we have a problem.

Jill Scott, an artist in her own right, tells it like it is: “The focus is based on a certain kind of woman’s sexuality,” and that kind of sexuality as far she is concerned seems “more nasty than sexy”. This is a woman whom the rap artists themselves might well not consider to use in their videos because she would not fit into their image of a sexy Cinderella scantily dressed in a bikini but she believes “sexuality is not so obvious, it’s coy. It’s sly. It’s sweet.”

It’s time we taught our daughters and took responsibility for our children, sisters and every young woman around us. It’s time the woman of color challenges herself to do better and stop being an object, subjecting herself to be demeaned. It’s time we change our strategy and take on fame, so we can re-write our history, as I’m a woman and I’m black, sexual, sensual, and I’m spiritual too.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

I Changed My Mind

I was waiting for the right time to give my blog page my 'undivided attention' but sometimes; there is never a right time to do anything. Time does not make itself available to you and tells you, "Today you must do this." You have to decide and say to yourself, "I have to do this today." April 12th, I went to the cinema and it's still fresh in my memory even as I sit here, in front of my keys typing away. I couldn't keep my emotions bottled up but as a writer, I decided to put my thoughts into words. My thoughts and emotions gave birth to "When Did We become Desensitised."

When Did We Become DESENSITISED?

The plan was set in stone and nothing was going to deter me. I had a purpose and was on a mission. Armed with a vague idea of what the movie was about but with an exception. I was not ready for what I was about to see or the truth that would confront me afterwards.

Interesting title, outstanding reviews, “Shooting Dogs” is latest attempt by a filmmaker to educate us about the Rwandan genocide that played on our television screens a decade ago and the world is hoping such a thing never happens again. “Hotel Rwanda” reduced me to tears because I couldn’t understand what would possess a human being to commit such atrocities. With numerous articles and television documentaries about the country and people of Rwanda, “Hotel Rwanda” and “Shooting Dogs” are only surface materials because when you look in-depth, there are those, whose stories we have never heard and may never hear about and they have to suffer their memories in silence.

The cinema was not packed, just the way I wanted it, no distractions and the chair was very comfortable. I was ready and so the film started rolling, half way through I knew I would leave the cinema a different person; not because I felt or believed I was going out to change the world but because I would be in a somber mood when thoughts about my place of birth came up. We are not different from Rwanda. I come from a place where one tribe deems itself superior to the other and the government is controlled by a mixed group of disgruntled members of a populous ethnic group. I'm afraid when I think about what the future holds, more so when I remember stories I was told about the civil war before I was born.

Rwanda is still fresh in my memory because I just saw history as it was on the big screen, the tears started rolling down my face when a mother and her new born baby were slaughtered. I couldn’t comprehend why one man would dismember another in pieces with a metal object. I call it cutlass but it is mostly known as machete and 12 years ago was the last time I used one. It was Labour Day, I was in boarding school and it was my task was to cut down grass that had grown beyond its boundary. That’s the main purpose it’s for, farming, slaughtering of animals and keeping one’s living environment tidy. This was not the case 10 years ago. It became a “Weapon of mass destruction.” How ironic that, we think it’s only nuclear, chemical and biological weapons that deserve to be categorised as “Weapons of mass of destruction.” Rwanda tells me different. The hands of a man can become the destructive element in society. Give him an object and he will turn it into a weapon, give him a weapon he knows how to use and he will show you how creatively he can use it.

Genocide is a word I have heard over and over but never bothered to find out what it meant because it became synonymous with murder to me. Today was different, I checked for the meaning and the realisation that it is a systematic and planned extermination of an ethnic, political or racial group sent chills down my spine. I know that you don’t need me to define the word for you because we all know what it means but I would have to question that belief. If we did, then why did it go on deaf ears for so long and we kept quite and watched 800,000 people perish like a freight of tomatoes.

Reading the stories of the victims had an effect on me I did not expect. Floral Mukampore for example who lived among the dead in order to survive said, “Can you imagine, people died on the 15 April and I lived among them until May 15.” So much has been written about Rwanda and for years to come, more will be written. We will keep talking about it just like we still talk about the Jewish Holocust. The question is have we learnt our lessons? Have we now become sensitive enough to learn from the past? It takes a man who doesn’t feel to carry out actions that are beyond comprehension, then again, who knows what goes on in the mind of such a man. Perhaps he does feel, so much that his actions begin to resemble those of ours who don’t but how can we tell?

The notion of being sensitive, sensitive to what goes on around us, maybe that’s all it is, a notion. Because on my way home, a group of teenage boys were on the bus and one of them was beating up the other and no one stepped in to help this teenage boy. His eyes were red, his face swollen and he kept using his jacket to wipe his tears. My heart went out to him and I felt angry that no one stood up to do anything and neither did I. Why? I cannot answer but do I feel ashamed? It felt more like guilt because when I got off the bus I wasn’t sure what would happen to him. The teenage boy who beat him up earlier was still threatening to beat him up some more. People are afraid of stepping in for fear of getting hurt. The horror stories of those who stepped in and got killed makes you think about yourself before anyone else. We have become so desensitised that we are afraid of doing what is right. This fear has led to selfishness. If we are okay, then we shut everything else out.

Makes me think about Rwanda again, when Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire, the UN Canadian officer, pleaded for International help but his plea was in vain and his troops were rather reduced in numbers. March 2004, a decade to the ills of the Rwandan genocide, the Canadian foreign minister Bill Graham told the United Nations, “We lack the political will to achieve the necessary agreement on how to put in place the type of measures that will prevent a future Rwanda from happening.” That is what scares me the most, the lack of responsibility both individually and collectively. When no one steps in to help a crying teenage boy, not even myself, makes me wonder, who will help a nation?

It all takes me back home, where the stench of tribalism is worse than that of a sewer. March 2006, I received an email that got me curious and so I decided to find out and in the process stumbled on a story. According to the email, one denomination of the Christian community in Nigeria have been warned and told to pray vigilantly for the nation. For this particular Christian community, they were also told to go and watch the movie Hotel Rwanda and pray it doesn’t become the fate of the nation. The writings are on the wall, the signs are there for all to see, tribal wars, religious battles and gradually, men are turning into robots with no feelings.

This isn’t just about a nation or an ethnic community nor is it just about the ethnic cleansing of Tutsis by Hutus for superiority. It is about us as a society and the realisation that so often, we manage to distance ourselves from the situation before us. Thinking as long as it does not affect me, I am okay. We have become desensitised to the point where we no longer feel the pain of a teenage boy, crying like a baby on the bus while grown men and women watch as he is violently beaten up by another teenager without remorse. When did we loose our ability to be our brother’s keeper?

Monday, April 10, 2006

I'll Be Back

Creating a blog requires dedication. I am yet to post anything meaningful because I am busy with my university coursework but as soon as I get that out of the way, I will give this page my undivided attention. In the mean time, enjoy the student ADM blog page and it contains some of my postings as well as interesting postings from other students present at the conference. Rest assured, I'll be back with my creative juices flowing.
Student ADM blogpage -