Unbeknownst to many the British Royal Family is not as stuffy as we would like to think because Queen Victoria who is Prince Harry’s great great great great grandmother had an African god daughter who was Sarah Forbes Bonetta.
Millions of royal watchers were waiting with bated breath for the 19th of May to watch as Harry and Meghan took their vows , when they did on what was a glorious bright May Saturday morning,millions were smiling through out the ceremony and the world would not be the same again.
When we though we would not see another earth shifting moment after Barrack Obama became the first African American president of the US,we were here witnessing a person of color being welcomed into the British Royal family with all the pomp,color,good cheer and pageantry that the Brits are well know for.
Something you may have missed which for me takes the picture of the day was Prince Charles ever the gentleman walking down the 22 steps of St Georges chapel after the wedding with Meghan Merkel’s mother on one arm and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall on the other .
Being a huge fan of the Royal family and having followed them closely over the years , I was quite excited when their nuptials were announced and was looking forward to watching the Royal wedding.Contrary to what we read in the press many people in Britain are in favor of . the monarchy being retained as it is seen as being good for the country
Of all the things that took place on that day , the most enduring memory of the Royal wedding of the now Duke and Duchess of Sussex has to be the sermon that was delivered by the Most Reverend Michael Curry of Chicago.His sermon that lasted 13 minutes and 36 seconds minutes was titled the Power of Love and was a based on text from the Song of Solomon.
This is a sermon that was watched and discussed by millions that watched the wedding and will continue to be a conversation piece in many homes and social places for days to come.
The Reverend Curry is the first African American Bishop of the American Episcopal Church and he was presiding over a wedding where the bride boasted of an African heritage , getting married into the British Royal Family,something a lot of people alive today did not expect to see in their life time.
The sermon delivered to 600 invited guests of the couple in a packed 1000 year old St Georges chapel at Windsor Castle was also watched by an estimated 1.9 billion people across the world.And what a timely sermon that was at a time where we are seeing heart breaking events across the world.
A significant thing about this wedding that took place at the burial place of many British monarchs in a place steeped in history by an African American clergy man a descendant of slaves , where the Kingdom choir, a gospel choir of people of color from South East London sang a beautiful rendition of Stand by Me is that is was precedent setting.As Reverend Michael Curry quipped,two young people fell in love and we all showed up.People from all walks of life ,varying skin shades showed up at the chapel or watched the event were aware time had stood still,we were witnessing the power of love,of what it can do when it brings people together.
We were witnesses to history being made and the world hopefully will become a better place,a more tolerant place where we all experience the redemptive power of love no matter where we come from or what history we carry.
Love has been likened to an energy like fire and we know that when we harness energy we can use it to move from place to place,change the form of things ,bring warmth,color,give life,love like all forms of energy is powerful and if harnessed it it can change the world for the good of everyone.
You can watch the whole sermon here.
Also of interest was that the dress Meghan Merkle wore,designed by the first female Art Director of Givenchy British born Claire Waight Keller had a silk tulle veil that was 5 meters long ,embroidered with flowers from each of the 53 commonwealth countries,19 of which are from Africa.
With the royal wedding over and with Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex now a couple,I hope we all realize where we are headed to in the world, we are living in a world where the color of our skin should not define how we treat other people.We can use the power of love ,the redemptive power of love to change the world into a place where the earth can become a sanctuary of God’s love.
At Maridadi,we want to send our best wishes to the couple and wish them the best as they start a new life together!
When I walked into the Den at the DusitD2 which is the new location of the Pop Art Gallery I immediately knew it would be a treat,the exhibition had changed locations and anyone who drives into the cul de sac that is 14 River Side cannot miss it.,it is held every last Saturday of the month from 11am-6pm. During these 7 hours you get to meet some amazing Kenyan artists,see their work and hopefully I hope you can engage them on their work which is something I do every time.
The Den’s over head and natural lighting make it perfect for displaying art work and can accommodate more artists and art work.Immediately I walked in I was drawn to the far left side of the room by what I thought looked like photos..wait I thought this was an art exhibition…I would soon be pleasantly surprised when I met Lee Gitahi a hyper realist.
Lee Gitahi is a student at Kenyatta University he is exceptionally talented and the art form he has taken, hyper realism is extremely rare in Kenya and only goes to underline his talent.Hyper realism is defined as an art form that mimics high definition photography.
He started out doing pencil work and was really good at it till his lecturer took them out on a trip and challenged him to try painting and see how it would go.He did and 6 months later it is hard to tell that he has not been painting for longer than that.
Hyper realism is extremely painstaking , very detailed , involving and at first Lee faced disbelief when he put out his work ,no one believed that the work was his and not a very good digital copy.I also could not get over the fact that his paintings look surreal,I had to touch them and repeatedly I had to catch myself ,touch my fingers to the painting to confirm that indeed it was an oil painting on canvas.
My favorite work of his which unfortunately was sold already was of this elderly Maasai lady in some really swanky sunglasses.The detail in that work as well in another similar photo of an elderly man in his beaded earrings is simply stunning,he has captured all the lines of age and the stories their faces tell exceptionally well.
Hyper realists are extremely rare and a piece could take anywhere from 2 or 3 months to complete which makes pieces by artist like Lee carry a high price tag . If you are an art collector ,pieces like these are worth every cent you spend and once you have them up on your wall they will from great conversation pieces at your dinner parties.
The mix of artist at the exhibition was eclectic and among them was Otto Gohole who was exhibiting for the first time , from his work you can see his obsession with the palette knife,lines,structure and vehicles.He was exhibiting for the first time and is a student as well in his second year at the University.He uses a palette knife for all of his work and I was taken in by his Beach scene painting that used just blue and red which I thought was a very clever use of complementary colors.
It is interesting to see the revolution taking place in the Kenyan art space and it is quite intriguing as well to see the fascination as well as the increase by artists in not just painting wildlife but in people as well as in life around them.
Lee Gitahi’s detailed work of the elderly Maasai man and woman which I would dare say are exceptional pieces of work I hope will open doors for artists to see the richness and diversity of our culture and to use them as sources of inspiration for their work.
If we go and watch Black Panther only because it is a story about an African nation ,with a African super hero and because finally we get to watch people that look like us starring in what has to be one of the most phenomenally successful movies of our times,we miss what I think is the whole point of the movie.
Black Panther is predominantly a movie about redemption.
My feelings about the movie Black Panther are similar to the feelings I got after reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book Americanah or Ijeoma Umebinyuo’s book Questions for Ada.
It is a feeling and a state of being I cannot describe because those two books and this movie took me back to a place, a place that as a woman of African origin I had long forgotten.A place of power.A place of hope.A place of new beginnings about how I am going to look at and understood myself from now on.
To be honest,I do not think that Jack Kirby and Stan Lee,who were among the 3 co-creators of the Marvel comics series which enjoyed phenomenal success from the late 1950’s to 1970 . These two men both with Jewish roots I bet had no idea what they started when they first published the first Black Panther comic book,issue #52 in July of 1966.
They had no idea that with the birth of Black Panther,millions of Africans and people of African heritage would be proudly flocking to movie theaters to see people who looked like them starring in one of the most highly acclaimed action movies of our times.
It is safe to guess that Jack Kirby and Stan Lee whose parents were immigrants to the US both had an idea of what it felt like to belong to a place which was home but not really home. Ijeoma Umebinyuo in her book Questions for Ada writes:
“So, here you are too foreign for home too foreign for here. Never enough for both.”
Both of them may have listened to the stories their parents told of their lives ,how difficult and hard it was when they first stepped onto the shores of the United States to make a new life for themselves(America is not kind to immigrants).These stories of fighting the odds to be a success must have inspired these series that the two men created where super heroes fight to ensure “good” wins against “evil”.
At a time when there was no black super hero to speak of,they introduced an African super hero to a readership of Marvel Comics that was 100 % white at a period in time when the the superhero genre of comic books was enjoying commercial success.
Years later, Wesley Snipes would make valiant efforts to bring Black Panther to life many times , his vision and goal in trying to bring Wakanda to life which he stated in an interview with Slate magazine was because it he felt it was ,”a fantastic way to help address some of the stereo types about Africa and the Africans glory,the African history,the African people of the day and of the time.”
But Snipes dream was not to be,it was not the right time .That was until Marvel which is owned by Disney studios started releasing action block busters like CaptainAmerica:Civil War and Chadwick Boseman made his first appearance as Black Panther in 2016.
The rest became history because when Ryan Coogler(writer/director) and Joe Robert Vole (screen writer) were paired up and together they have made Black Panther into an action packed adventure worth the one hundred and thirty five minutes you spend on your seat.On the way to grossing over $1Billion this weekend, the pair who are both African Americans have turned what was previously an overlooked classic into a “relatable and relevant movie” of the times we are living in.
Through out the more than two hours of action that has only just one rude gesture, we are living in a fantasy world that oddly is rooted in a real world that is in turmoil and Wakanda nation as a nation is trying to evolve as a country as it goes through a transition in leadership and a leader of a new generation takes up the title of the Black Panther .
African countries are struggling in a similar manner,some more than others to try and find a seat at the global table and not just lean in into the conversation on global trade but become active players in a world that has had trade and economic policies skewed more in the favour of Western countries.Some of the turmoil that we are seeing in African countries is as a result of this generational struggle of an identity and the result has been often times tragic.
In Black Panther,Wakanda is not a single tribe but a group of tribes that together form the kingdom of Wakanda ,one of the worlds most technologically advanced countries of whom the Black Panther is a hereditary title.In the film we see the struggle that transition brings when the King T’Chaka is tragically killed in a United Nations bombing and his son T’Challa has to fight many enemies to be worthy of this title .T’Challa has to struggle to define himself as a King and in one of the scenes we have Nakia played by our very beautiful Lupita Nyong’o say ,“You cant let your father’s mistakes define who you are.You get to decide what kind of King you are going to be.”
Many African countries are living through the consequences of mistakes that were done by previous presidents/kings/prime ministers and for some countries ,they seem stuck in a time warp that they think they cannot get out of.
Black panther is a reminder that there is always opportunity for rebirth or redemption at any point in time ,that is what life is,life is change.To be stuck in the same place,with the same mindsets is death.
We are living in a world that is constantly testing how we see ourselves and our place in the world as Africans.We cannot keep hiding behind the fact that we have always been the recipients of aid or that we were once colonized and have suffered through bad leadership.
Why,despite the many natural resources we have,do Africa countries expect bail outs from foreign donors ?
Why,despite the fact that we have some of the brightest minds on the continent at this moment in time do we keep making bad political choices when it comes to our leaders ?
Is it not time that we looked at ourselves anew ?
Is this not the time that we are reminded,thanks to the interest in African literature and increasing acclaim and commercial success of African writers and culture that we see this as our time of redemption ?
It is my hope that as many head of states from Africa see these film for what it is and hopefully pricks their consciences and that they decide to do better for their countries and the people who they lead.
The movie is a timely reminder to Africans and people of African origin or with African roots that there is everything to be proud about who we are,everything from our hair,art,fashion and culture was on display on Black panther.
Let us celebrate who we are without forgetting where we have come from or where we are going for at one point in time #WeWereKings ,we still are we just have to remind ourselves of the these things we have forgotten.
Let us take the responsibility of making the world a better place, “we have the tools to liberate ourselves and the people in the world that look like us.We cannot turn our backs on the truth our fore fathers were too afraid to face,the truth they hid.We cannot turn our backs on that truth,we must right their wrongs.”
Our redemption as Africans ,as people with a role and a place in the world begins when we start looking at ourselves anew and using the tools(natural and human resources) we have to redeem ourselves .
And the best part about Black Panther,definitely the women because characters had depth and they were given an opportunity to give a bad-ass performance.This very simple fact of allowing women to be themselves has made women who would not ordinarily walk into a movie theater to watch a high action movie flocking to buy tickets to watch Black Panther.
Three of my girl friends and I went to watch this movie and could not stop talking about it afterwards,I have talked to a lot of other women who went to watch it too who would not ordinarily watch an action movie and they loved it as well.
A unanimous conclusion from the women that have watched the movie is the admiration they expressed for both General Okoye,Nakia and Shuri.In an interview carried on Vanity Fair,Lupita Nyong’o says of the women in the cast ,“Women are allowed to realize their full potential and that’s what Ryan [Coogler] wanted to show and he committed to having that number of women around him.”
The women in Wakanda are not afraid to confront men when they make bad decisions or to challenge them either.
One of my most memorable scenes from the movie is when General Okoye head of Wakanda’s armed forces and Intel confronts W’Kabi who is Wakanda’s head of security and they have this exchange.
W’Kabi to Ooye : “Would you kill me, my love ?”
Okoye to W’Kabi: “For Wakanda ,without question!I would die protecting1”
That scene right there,shook me and I am still thinking about it.
Danai Gurira who plays General Okoye and whose home country happens to be Zimbabwe gives a sterling performance through out the movie and the car chase they have with Lupita Nyong’o while on a mission is among the most thrilling scenes in the whole movie.Seeing her in action together with the Dora Milajes you realize how we have undervalued ourselves as women and the contribution we can make to our communities and countries.
Women are the steady ,strong and powerful players of our societies,African culture recognized this and great honor was accorded to them. Wakanda is a better country because it values its women and we need to learn from the high cost we have had to pay of maintaining the lie that only men should and can lead.
Our redemption as a communities,as countries begins with this simple truth “that to redeem ourselves we have to go back to the beginning..to our ancestral plains and origins,to where we “lost” our home and find ourselves.Only then can we right the wrongs we have had to live with.”
What were your favourite parts of Black Panther ?We would love to hear from you.
“Black or white?”is a question increasingly being asked when you walk into a restaurant and ask for tea.
Black is what it sounds like black tea while white is if you would like a dash or two or three of milk.
Tea holds a special place in Kenyan households and hearts,it is the drink of choice that we give to welcome visitors into our homes and is a sign of the high esteem with which we hold them .
Tea is the preferred beverage o choice in most Kenyan households and many people will swear that their mothers way of preparing tea is the best.There have been broken hearts where tea was involved and it was brewed not quite up to perfection.
Some people do take their tea up a notch by adding spices like tea masala,cardamons,cinnamon or fresh ginger or rosemary.Al little while back I had a recipe for Chai Tea .
Tea drinking is embraced across many cultures in Africa,Europe,Asia the middle East and in the Americas.
Countries like China,Japan,Russia,England,India,Turkey,Egypt and Morocco have tea drinking traditions spanning hundreds of years.You have not really enjoyed tea until you have attended a Chinese or Japanese tea ceremony where in both of of these cultures tea holds a special seat of honor .
The tradition of tea drinking as a way to maintain a healthy lifestyle goes back hundred of years .According to early Buddhist texts,tea was described as a potent medicine for promoting good health,aiding digestion and relieving the symptoms that accompanied the common cold.
There are many varieties of tea available apart form the black tea,there is green ,white ,herbal and more recently we have been hearing of purple tea and its benefits.
For a country of tea drinkers like Kenya as well as for anyone who enjoys their tea,are there any benefits to a daily cup of your favorite hot beverage?
Apart from the effects tea has of refreshing and restoring us (I am sure you know a few people who cannot function without their favorite hot beverage),science is just now discovering the health benefits that accompany tea drinking.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,the biggest evidence in support of tea drinking has been attributed to the antioxidants it contains that have been found to improve heart health.
The work of antioxidants is to look for free radicals roaming around your body and to get rid of them.These free radicals are the cause of many degenerative diseases and also occur as a result of aging.
Antioxidants work by detoxifying the body of these free agents so that they do not cause disease through the damage of body cells.
Countries like Japan and China that have a tea drinking culture reportedly have less incidences of heart disease and some cancers according to John Weisburger, PhD, senior researcher at the Institute for Cancer Prevention in Valhalla, N.Y.
Caffeine is the stimulant found in tea as well as coffee is a mental booster ,elevates our moods and gets us started in the morning .Like all good things to be able to enjoy the benefits of tea it should be taken in moderation.
Drinking more than 3 tea cups(not mugs) of tea is advisable and it should not be given to young children and adolescents as it hinders the absorption of iron which young and growing bodies need lots of in order to grow.
Just out of curiosity I would love to know just how many cups anyone reading this takes of tea and how best they like it,brewed or instant though I must say instant tea has nothing on brewed tea(I might be biased).
As always we love reading your comments and suggestions,looking forward to seeing you in the comments later.
It was exciting to see the many peple who read the posts and one of the top favourites from readers all over the world was thenjahi or black beans recipe.
So Kenyans……. Africa and the rest of the world are ready to hear stories from its writers,just ask Chimamanda Adichie who has had roaring success with her books .
In the beginning it was agonizing ,i kept on checking the statistics to see just how many people read my posts,i wanted to hit 5000 views with my first post.
But it does not happen that way,like all writers know….. but you write anyway.
If you are an aspiring writer with something to say…write…not for the money but because you want to be part of the exciting changes happening on the african continent and in your country.
Which brings me to my 2nd point….
Social media has changed the way we consume information,how we share it and how we communicate with each other.
Just look at the Facebook groups that are bringing together individuals from all the 5 continents sharing a common interest(s).
We are filtering out information already and creators of content need to recognize that we cannot be everything to everyone,find your niche audience then go for it,write ,create and share your it.
You will only be great at what you do if you love what you do.
Your blog will turn into a rich,vibrant space where people can share ideas when they see the love you have for what you do.
When Mozilla released a report on a study they did last year on how technology and design approaches can help grow the creation of local content, they found some interesting things about Kenya.
Here are a few findings from the study
Beyond Whatsapp and other social media platforms many Kenyans have very little use of the internet.
There is a very glaring lack of local content especially for non English speakers.
Gossip and entertainment news form a very large proportion of local content that is available
With these findings in mind,i am on a mission to campaign for more local content on the web,i would love to see a Swahili blog up and running in addition to reading more content from Kenyans and other Africans.
Do you have any ideas to share of how we can make this happen,leave comment.
And if you are a blogger or writer and would like to share your writing with the readers who read Maridadi,leave a link of your blog in the comments section.