Archive for Nigeria

Television…what a great invention!

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2010 by prekosifa

I was having a pretty enjoyable Bank holiday today. I  had my son for the weekend, which meant Playstation, play fighting and lots of snacks and it was my mum’s birthday so that meant chocolate cake, fizzy drinks and checking out her latest electronic gadgets, (bit of a techno geek my dear old mum!); and I was looking forward to an evening of quality television, courtesy of whichever channel could produce the goods. I have always enjoyed Bank Holiday programming, a bit of the old with a bit of the new, and films I would never dream of seeing at the cinema, suddenly became something to look forward to seeing with a barrel of popcorn and some fizzy pop!

So, after watching Steve Martin in Cheaper by the Dozen Two, yes they did make another one! I cooked and ate some dinner and then sat down to watch Eastenders, a guilty pleasure of mine. (For you guys overseas think of it like any regular American soap opera minus the model like men, uber beautiful women and fantastical storylines!). .But it was the programme that came on afterwards that really caught my attention. ‘Joanna Lumley tracing the Nile’, was exactly what it said on the tin, Joanna Lumley, that amazing sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties and noughties TV actress, famous for her roles in the Avengers, (tight catsuit), and Absolutely Fabulous (boozy floozy!), travelling the length of the Nile, and giving her opinions, thoughts and observations along the way. It was beautifully filmed, wonderful to watch and a real learning experience for many out there who have never travelled to the ‘Dark Continent’, and I use that term, as full of as much sarcasm as I can muster on this one dimensional computer generated page. You see there was no difference between this show and the historical accounts of the rich, ignorant white male explorers of the 18th century.

As I watched I heard of places named after the white people who had found them. Lake Victoria, Lake Albert, lots of other European names in a place that, last time I looked, was still in Africa! I often wondered what the local people of these regions thought about that. Should I not be offended that my family’s continent of origin is ridiculed in such a way? Whatever happened to respect? At one point, the lovely and oh so very British Ms Lumley, was in Uganda and blamed the mass poaching of the wild animals on Idi Amin, who apparently made it hunting season all the time when he was in power, (no question though of the thousands of white poachers who capitalised at the same time).

Highly Dubious or Heavily Distorted?

Look, I am not saying that there is a racial bias here, I am SHOUTING IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS! Fair enough, I understand where I am located, but is it too much to ask for just a little bit of balance. Yes Africa is the land of wild animals, exotic rivers and people dress like something out of a Tarzan film, but there are also thousands of cities and towns that are as modern as any place in the UK or the US. I get angry because children like my son, will see this kind of programme, and automatically will form an opinion in his malleable mind, as will his schoolfriends. Children can be heartless little fuckas at the best of times and many of them in this country are given the ammunition to be just that froma  bvery young age. Kids believe what they see on the television as do most Sun, Daily Star and Daily Mail reading adults! Do we really think that portraying certain countries in specific lights has no effect ar all on anybody? Yes I am bitching right about now, but this is serious!

Another programme I saw last week was about Nigeria, the country where my father is from. What we got, again from the BBC I guess still doing its bit for ‘Britannia’, was an image of a country full of thieves, poverty and slums. Now I am not saying that these people did not have a valid reason to be in front of the camera, I just think, in fact, I know that there is a hell of a lot more to that country than was depicted on my 32 inch high definition screen. Lagos is a city; people live in houses and apartments, go to night clubs, museums and even take afternoon tea! I am all for an image of any country as long as it is balanced, and when it comes to places in Africa especially, I am calling for fairness across all media. Tell it like it really is and balance the fuckin picture for once because I am sick and tired of seeing and paying for this shit, and then having to explain to my son that things are not really like that.

Phew! Okay rant over for now. I think maybe it was due to a combination of seeing Avatar…again, Pocahontas 2 and Atlantis The Lost City in quick succession. Three Disney films that, I might add, had exactly the same plot and premise. Finally I know Disney’s secret, tell the same old story again and again by simply changing the main characters. Hmmm! now that sounds like a familiar tactic, I wonder where I have come across it before…

Equal opportunity clothing…anyone?

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2010 by prekosifa

I had been thinking about doing some further academic studying when a friend suggested I should consider a Masters Degree. She made it sound so simple, all I would need would be a worthwhile area of study and something original that interested me and dealt with a burning question. As a writer I wanted it to be something that had some artistic merit as well. A day out shopping gave me all I needed and perhaps a little bit more than I bargained for.

Is it just me or is the fashion world a little bit one sided in the West. I say this because when I look at adverts on TV I notice that very few of them are geared towards non white people, marketed specifically for me. Now I am not getting on a band wagon and I am not going to start crying out for equality across the board in everything because I don’t think this is realistic or indeed possible. But as an observation, I realised that some black people in particular, suffer in mostly minor ways every time they purchase certain items of clothing.

So what started this?

I went to the Dagenham market this morning, in East London. Now East London is probably the most multi cultural place on this planet and I say that with some confidence. As I watched the diversely back grounded people on the market, two African women stood out in particular. They were shapely, over weight by the European modelling industry standard, and were squeezed into tight fitting jeans. I could see the look they were going for and at first thought that they simply had the wrong sizes on. Then it occurred to me that perhaps they didn’t and maybe the problem was their shape, they had good back sides! And it would seem that ‘good’ back sides were not the industry norm! If a jean doesn’t fit your shape it doesn’t matter what size you get, but how do you get jeans that are made for your own racially unique shape? And what effect does not being able to do so have on you? Right there, with a hot dog in my mouth and a new duvet cover under my arm, the idea for my PhD thesis was born, the title? Western Jeans Fashion, and its visual effects on a non conformist customer base – A Psycho Social perspective.

Perfect. But where was the proof?

A few years ago a friend of my second cousin’s, who worked in the car industry told me that all cars built were based around a standard driver’s height of 5ft 9 inches. Obviously I understand that as a car manufacturer, you have to pick a height and go with it but when you think about the number of women who now drive, (compared to how many did when the car, and the standards, first came about), coupled with their average size, you quickly realise that most women, and short men for that matter, suffer driving vehicles that are not really made for them.

Fashion is the same thing. I believe that most clothes are based on a standard European body size and shape, probably five foot 6 with no discernible additional material for the back side and this makes sense given the way the Western world is. Unfortunately it also means that anybody not fitting this ideal, this racially biased norm, is wearing clothes not made for them that will ultimately fail in doing their job of fitting properly.

As an alternative example, in Nigeria, in West Africa, fashion for women is based on a different shape. The clothes that are worn complement the wearer and are for that bigger fuller woman, aka the ‘Aunty’ look. Browsing through a Nigerian fashion magazine you would be hard pushed to find a small model, it just isn’t the norm and is a joy to see, (not that I’m a chubby chaser), it’s just refreshing to see something…real!

So what is my argumentative issue?

My issue is that the West has enormous pulling power on every single race on the planet. The influence of America and Britain on the rest of the world is overwhelming and with cities like London, that are now a beacon when it comes to a multicultural society living and sharing together, the disparities that develop are there for us all to see, if we look close enough. But surely it is time to recognise and move past this. It seems that we as a people are trying our hardest to fit into something that isn’t made for us. Now I am not saying to abandon jeans and other useful garments, I am just saying that if we are not being catered for then perhaps we should look elsewhere, or maybe just ask the companies in question to spare us a thought and adjust those age old sizes to ones that take into account the vast array of ‘Benetton’ people now wearing their products. As individuals perhaps we should ‘vote with our Western credit cards’ and demand something a little more ‘fitting’. It’s not too much to ask for is it?

With the world changing the problem I suppose will eventually die out, leaving things to change naturally, over time.

Then again, maybe I am completely wrong and those two women were wearing tight jeans because they thought they actually looked good! Maybe they just had bad taste and a completely different view to mine as to what works and what doesn’t work in the public arena. Could it have just been that?

If it is, then I guess what my title should be is possibly, Western Jeans Fashion – and how it shows the disillusionment and short sightedness of its non conformist customers – A Psycho Social perspective.

Yes, this could work.

Perhaps that doctorate may not be too far away after all.