In July, 2008, I, Princess Rachella, Intrepid African American Girl International Journalism Consultant, pulled up stakes once again and headed to Nairobi, Kenya. Through my various adventures, I've concluded that if I get any MORE explosively fabulous in these prequel years to "THE BIG 5-0," I will have to register myself with the Pentagon as a thermonuclear incendiary device.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Recorded for the musical Billy Elliot, Included as a bonus track on the Peachtree Road 2005 reissue
Music: Elton John Lyrics: Lee Hall Piano and vocals: Elton John
I can't really explain it, I haven't got the words
It's like that there's a music, playing in your ear
And then I feel a change, like a fire deep inside
It's a bit like being angry; it's a bit like being scared
It's like that there's some music, playing in your ear
But then I feel it move me
Electricity sparks inside of me
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
(Although I'm missing you)
I'll find a way to get through
(I'll find a way to get through)
Living without you
'Cause you were my sister, my strength, and my pride
Only God may know why, still I will get by."
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
I was there to greet Helen, who's a good friend of my good friend Deb. They're both North Carolina gals, and I got to meet Helen earlier this year, while visiting Deb and her husband Ray in their beautiful vacation home in the North Carolina mountains. Helen has this equally lovely home filled with amazing African and "outsider art," which made me bond with her instantly.
Actually, Deb called me here in Nairobi just last week--in fact, right as I was saying goodbye to Homey the Muslim Chef from Lamu!!! I felt like a teenager, giggling into the phone while whispering, "Umm, can you call me back in 15 minutes?? Do I have something to tell you or WHAT!!!"
All the way home in the taxi, I howled with laughter as Deb gasped on the other end of the line. We talked for another half hour or so, and she even called back when the line went dead, something I've had to get used to when trying to make international calls. After we said our goodbyes and "Love ya, girlfriend", I felt really warm and fuzzy for a while. But then, the loneliness set in. I realized that, DAMN, this is what I'm utterly starved for over here.
Well, that and sex. But one thing at a time. What's probably bugging me more than the traffic and the crime and the job challenges and the language barrier and the lack of really good cheese is the absence of emotional balm that I'll call "Sista-Gurl Solidarity/Solace." I got sista-girls of every flava of the rainbow, from strawberry blonde to locked and lovely to bald and beautiful, and I adore each and every one of them. When I'm with these friends, I "exhale" in ways no man could ever induce. I feel relaxed, accepted, validated and heard.
Consider the the picture up top. The lovely and talented gal in the center, who was caught squinting, is my best friend Faith. God knew what He was doing when He made us meet, 'cause this woman has been through the fire with me, and will have my back til one or both of us checks out. I met her 30 years ago at Northwestern, and besides Julie, noone in my life knows more about why I'm the way I am than she does.
We're both in "gut it out" mode this month, because both of her parents passed in October, and of course I'm thinking of Julie this time of year. Last night, standing in the airport waiting for a newer friend, I was seized by this longing to see Faith strolling through those Immigration exit doors, smiling and waving as we shrieked into each others' arms. It would have been been more healing than a new hypertension prescription and a double martini combined (that is if I could find a really good martini over here).
The other woman in the picture is my girl Jamila, who I met when she was a high school intern in Detroit and I had just started at the Free Press newspaper there. Here's the thing about Jamila as a teenager: she was convinced she was fabulous, and wondered what the hell was wrong with the rest of the world for not acknowledging it. Of course, my motherly instinct at the time was to try and temper that bodaciousness with some mentoring support, but DAMN if that child didn't go ahead and prove herself right!! She's now the Sunday Features Editor of a major metropolitan newspaper, and the closest thing to a mini-me I will ever help produce. (I say that because, take a close look at the picture. She looks a lot like I did 15 years ago, trust me.)
In this photo, the three of us were at a restaurant on Ipanema Beach in February of 2008. I was absolutely over the moon about having survived Gulu, and got my brother Peter to let me crash at his Rio condo for a week. Oh, sure, it would have been nice to have gone with a man who would, to borrow a term I actually first learned from Jamila, "rodger me senseless" several times a day. But the next best thing was being there with 2 of my best friends. We ate Jamila's spinach crepes and pain perdu with macerated peaches and all kinds of fabulous gourmet meals each day, and took long walks on the beach, and then stumbled in and out of various joints in search of the perfect caipirinha each night. After 8 months in Gulu, half of which were spent mourning Julie, it was like the gateway to heaven.
Nowadays, when I'm chillin' in the Oasis, I realize that even peace and quiet in gracious surroundings just isn't enough to really nurture my soul. Oh, I'm always aware of how lucky I am to have a job, and a nice, clean, safe place to live, with enough to eat and clean water and electricity every day, especially in this challenged country at this extraordinarily challenging time. I'm also constantly reminded that nobody held a gun to my head and made me come here. I further acknowledge that that there is definite endpoint to this gig, and if I can hang on for 15 months, 9 more won't kill me. And I even realize that, given the right circumstances, I could probably develop friendships as strong as the ones I have back home, if I really wanted to.
But right now, all I really want to do is get in my Saab and drive to North Carolina, where I'd stop first in the mountains and watch hilarious movies and drink great wine with Deb and Ray, as steaks sizzled on the grill out on their fabulous new deck. Next stop would be Raleigh and my friend Joyce's house, to get hugs and kisses from her and her cherubim, my godson Ty and his baby doll sister Talia. In fact, that's where Jamila flew in from Atlanta earlier this month, recreating a weekend we'd all had back in April, last time I was in the States. And then I'd drive 3 hours south to Charlotte and spend endless hours laughing and crying and gabbing my head off with my best friend Faith.
But that's just a dream for now. Still, "In my mind, I'm goin' to Carolina," more and more these days. In fact, last night I called and left a long, rambling voicemail message for Faith while I was at the airport, waiting to see a face I recognized coming through those Immigration exit doors. I realized it was a lot cheaper than just calling the whole thing off and heading straight to the ticket counter.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
While chilling like a stone cold villain on a breezy Sunday evening at the Oasis of Graciousness, I'm finding it necessary to spend a few minutes reviewing the fantastic events of the past week.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Wow, what a wild ride! I spent half of yesterday exhilarated about President Obama winning the Nobel Peace Price, and then the rest of the day processing some of the wildly disparate reactions worldwide.
Applauding the ‘second Kenyan’ to win the prize
Last November, after I described what Barack H. Obama’s election to the US Presidency meant to me as an African American, one of my Daily Nation colleagues posed a provocative question: “Why is it that whenever African Americans reflect on a major accomplishment, they always evoke their history of oppression?”
Well, on the day after the first African American president was also awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, I would like to pose an equally intriguing query: Why is President Obama being called the second Kenyan to win a Nobel Prize? I am not raising this issue to pick a fight, or suggest that it dampens my extraordinarily joyous emotion.
Rather, I am inquiring about that Kenyan label for President Obama because over the past year, I’ve been at turns delighted and puzzled by Kenya’s relationship with him. I felt unusually lucky to experience Election Day on his ancestral soil, but I also spent a lot of time cautioning that his Kenyan link would be tenuous at best.
Sure enough, when America’s Kenya policy began focusing less on blood ties than on post-election blood-letting, the bloom fell off the rose. When his first visit to the continent did NOT include a trip to the Kenyan Mamaland, that rose withered considerably.
And when the meddlesome nexus of Ranneberger, Clinton, Ocampo, and Annan became too much for proud Kenyans to bear, I considered booking my safe passage to JKIA before the forced deportation of Americans began.
But for now, I breathe a bit easier, because a “second Kenyan” has been awarded one of the highest honours known to humankind. I find it both funny and touching, this desire for a largely oppressed people to claim a global success story as their own.
To me, it embodies an innate craving for recognition by a group of people who endured extraordinary challenges and disenfranchisement, and who may still face considerable trials. They want the world’s acknowledgement that “one of our own” has done us proud. Perhaps Africans and African Americans are not so different, after all!
Granted, I still wish I were in Washington, DC, just for the next week. If I were in America, it would be more than appropriate for me to cry openly, because other black Americans would likely be teary-eyed too.
When President Obama and I were toddlers, Americans of African descent were still being lynched and beaten and cruelly discriminated against throughout the American South. And yes, 40 years later, a new day has dawned.
Perhaps we should just “get over it” and focus on the way forward, instead of peering over our shoulders at the past. So, let’s just applaud this African American, or Kenyan — or maybe we just settle on “extraordinary human being of African descent” — whose bright gleam is being cast around the globe.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Technical difficulties prevented me from posting this in a more timely manner. But before I reveal the fateful events of the evening of October 6, 2009, I must be clear about one thing....
Monday, October 5, 2009
Saturday, October 3, 2009
It is a doggone shame that the first order of business on my birthday has to be updating my crazy readers on yesterday's post! (I'm praying for ALL of y'all, okay???)