Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Serendipity on my mind.....

Today I woke up curious.

Serendipity well what does that mean?

My mate Wiki put it like this: “propensity for making accidental fortuitous discoveries”.

Finally, this religious atheist has something to believe in.

Human equal but some are more equal than others. Equal human what a goal to go for in this South African World Cup year of 2010.

So let me write you a poem and put down my thoughts to pick myself up.


Tears running down my cheeks
and ears and eyes are not
seeing or hearing my words.

But all is OK!

It is not our time to be together.
As readers and writers we are all lost.
You are not ready to receive my words.
My words are not ready to receive your eyes.

I write some more and with my pen and
sorrow I write what is written in front of you NOW…

and I am still. Still. So very STILL…
Still writing. Writing away saying nothing but playing
with the letters and words that have become my only friends.

That is right. That is real.
Real sad!! Pity me and say you are sorry.
Give me comfort in my time of need.

That is right. That is real.
Tell me you are so sorry that you have
not read my words written as you were not ready to receive
or to read a word that I have written out so clearly.

I write some more and with my pen and
sorrow I write what is written in front of you NOW…

But all is OK!

Time belongs to you and you have been on your time, not mine.
We reach for the words in times of crisis but you have been too happy
and needed not the words that I am writing for these are words of
comfort. Words to ease you through the darkest hours and say…
"The power of the word is with you!" It has always been inside you.
Your voice is so important, so speak. Speak out. Say something too.
Worry Not! Shout it out, shout it out!
Stamp it out at the top of you voice. Stamp it OUT!

Scream the house down with the power of your voice.
Scream in the streets and tell all your thoughts as they are
so very important to you and to me too, yes me too!
I am with you and you are with me and we are now together.
And together at last we can busy ourselves.
Busy ourselves; together at last; starting at last to scream.

Scream of the unjust world we are living in. Just living in.
Scream of the lies told by others that we listened to. So seriously.
Scream of the words we have read that were unworthy of our attention.
Scream of the inequality of those without quality have forced upon us.
To believe. To believe, to believe in ourselves and our ability to be.
Let us rewrite the lies in his and her stories.

A…B….C are our new found friends and we are now controlling them.
We want to rewrite the books so badly written by liars and bruised egos.
Control freaks of every Nation bragging about sometime or other.
Stories the size of the Canyon in the States full of lies.
States of confusion, the words of the liars that you and I have read.
We are now together at last. We are together as writer and reader.
Finally, we have found each other and finally we have found ourselves.

JP | 19th May 2010

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Will I Get To Africa?

Well I cannot go to Africa as an Iceland Volcano keeps me at bay.
Here to stay on the island of England in her cold gardens
for the next 20 years, I hear.

What to say now?

Nothing Doing, Doing Nothing.

I'll tell you what we can do.
We don't do. 
We don't do nothing. 
Nothing to no-one. 
Say nothing to no-one so loudly..
say something to some-one so quietly. 
Say nothing to no-one no more.

Write as if a drum. Beats. 
The goat and human skin drum. Beats. 
Write it out like a drum...beat:

Drumbeat in the wilderness BANG! 
Drumbeat in the cities BANG! 
Drumbeat in the rivers BANG! 
Drum, drum it out of your system.


Drum it out and say nothing, for nothing can be said no more. 
The past has failed us all.
Lied such sweet lies upon more juicy lies. 
Lied all day, lied away and yesterday and today
maybe they will lie to us tomorrow again.

Joe Pollitt | 18th May 2010

Monday, 17 May 2010

Voodoo Series 2003 | Joe Pollitt

Voodoo Series 2003 | Joe Pollitt

Here are a series of images I took in the Republic of Benin in West Africa. The work was created in 2003 on a trip to the source of the origins of Voodoo with the artist, Charly D'Almeida who lives and works in the Port of Cotonou. The meaning of the word Cotonou is "The Mouth of River of Death". Charly is moving his family out of Paris and back to Cotonou for good this month and so I have posted up these images as a reminder of a trip taken a few years back and hopefully it will encourage me to go again.

The Garden of England has become overgrown, full of weeds and the landscape seems so dreary and dull. The weather is creeping under my skin like a filthy virus; like herpes, genital warts or HIV and Aids. I want red soil under foot and the smell of sea air, coconut water....good for me-daughter....Fufu, peanut soup and red plantains and gary, yams splashed down with warm Palm-wine drunk out of a bamboo pole and Apapa-teche to build me an appetite for living again. I want to be cut with razor-blades from strangers on my arms, waist and back. Cut me 15 times or more and watch my blood slowly drip down my fat hairy pink body and seal the wounds with chickens blood, gin and the spit of the Voodooman, "Le Vieux Homme".

I want to bathe my body in 43 yokey runny mellow eggs and drink tepid red dove's blood and the muddy brown watery herbs directly from God's Creation. I want to slaughter some chickens, black, white, brown and yellow-mixed. I want to wash my face in a sheep's head and rub goat's milk all over my naked sweaty body. I want to murder two black cats stroke kittens and an owl for my healing black soap with Corey shells of different sizes and colours all mixed up and placed in the bulbous dirty orange Calabash for my bath. I want bucket showers and glorious natural shits, wash off with lukewarm mucky water. I want a light-blue bucket with a bumpy white plastic handle to bath with under the generous hot Summer sun. I want a sponge, one blue for my body and one white for my feet that I can see through and rub them all over until my skin turns red-raw and rips to shreds in order to peel me another. I want to brush my teeth with charcoal and sticks all day.

I want Africa to bare me a son; a red hot son with golden locks and pinky blue eyes to see me with. I want the world and all that is in it. I want to pray to the God of Creation. I want to pray in Africa and I want my prayers answered so tomorrow I will fly away to Africa; never to be seen or heard of again....

The 'Kingdom of Ife' - African Art at the British Museum

I really felt moved when reading this article written by Joy Onyejiako from the Brunei Gallery, London as she strikes right at the heart of what Chimamanda and others are writing and talking about, "The Human Equal and the Single Story Opposed to the Balanced Stories of Contemporary Africa". 

Please read what Joy has written and understand that the success of the development within Contemporary African Art desperately needs more people writing on similar lines and in a fashion or style that is as passionate and of a standard that equals that written by Joy. This is a wonderful example of a well-written article on African Art.  


The Kingdom of Ife by Joy Onyejiako


It was with great anticipation that I approached the 'Kingdom of Ife' exhibition on display in the central gallery space at the British Museum. When 'Africa: the Art of a Continent' showed at the Royal Academy in 1995, there was this huge buzz of excitement which created long, meandering queues of people stretching quite someway along the length of Piccadilly.

I distinctly remember a potent level of group euphoria, a crowd filled with an electric energy and the overriding feeling that this was an exhibition not to be missed. 'Africa' had been brought to our doorsteps and the public came out in force, with a fierce hunger to eagerly feast their eyes on unknown treasures. With the 'Kingdom of Ife' I could not help but notice that, although billed as 'This major exhibition presents exquisite examples of sculpture from West Africa in brass, copper, stone and terracotta', the response to the museum's publicity was very much low-key. There were no great crowds queuing in anticipation. The museum's inner court was teeming with visitors but the ticket desk was highly conspicuous in its isolation; the tourists and throbbing crowds were not seeking tickets for the 'Kingdom of Ife'. The vast majority seemed completely oblivious of the 'major exhibition' above their heads.

Regardless of the uninitiated throng, I headed across the Great Court and my unfettered footsteps began to grace the curving rise of Grecian steps. It was a strange feeling. I am quite unaccustomed to seeing African arts at this venue without first having to walk downstairs. Indeed, as the permanent African collection is hidden deep in the underbelly of this imperial beast we call the British Museum, the usual journey is subterranean. It might not occur to some people but the museum seems imbued with the Victorian class system of 'upstairs and downstairs' - upstairs for the wealthy and so-called enlightened, downstairs for those deemed 'less deserving'. Perhaps the curators have unwittingly established a floor plan of exhibits that reflects their internalised sense of superiority over African artistry, ensuring that visitors to the African section must navigate to the lower levels of the building, to the very bottom of the cultural enclave. Without being too facetious, unlike the regal staircases that lead up towards other regional collections, the tunnel-like stairs down to the African Collection could quite easily be assumed to be heading in the direction of the lavatorial facilities, which are clearly mapped on the visitor's architectural guide as situated on the same lower level.

So it felt like the beginning of a new experience as I made my way towards the inner quarter, an upward walk that was psychologically a purifying start. As I entered the dimly-lit gallery, I was greeted by the notion that here was something of absolute historical importance and not only a vista of exquisite beauty.

Copper heads, brass heads and terracotta heads, c1100-1400s, almost life sized, that immediately transfix one's attention. Although little information is provided other than the dates and locations of discoveries in Ife, the finesse of execution and exquisitely accentuated details evoke a feeling that one could have seen these people in real life. They are the faces of the contemporary Nigerians that one comes across in everyday modern London, and so life-like that at times with very little imagination they could quite easily seem alive.

My response to these skilfully wrought visions was not awe and disbelief, it was why - why have there been so many lies and distortions written about the African artist and the continent as a whole? Why have these great artworks, along with many other African creations held in Western museums, still effectively remained unknown by the general public?

Western art institutions seem to devour the truth and deny people honest knowledge, keeping a tight rein (and reign!) on art and artefacts, many of which were pilfered and pillaged, decade after decade hiding them from view, only occasionally throwing some light on their African collections; and, just as suddenly as they appear, they disappear back to the storeroom, along with their cultural significance before their impact on the established art history canons can be recognised.

There are institutional prejudices towards the art of Africa that favour moneymaking blockbusters that exploit so-called 'primitive' arts and pander to the perceived exoticism that distorts Western understanding of this great continent. The 'Kingdom of Ife' exhibition has not encouraged crowds of viewers perhaps because these superb naturalistic artworks challenge Westerners' concepts of Africa and because buried deep in their consciousness they cannot totally believe or honestly celebrate the superior level of technical skill developed within Africa long before and on par with European antiquities.

This historically challenging evidence remains largely ignored in the art history textbooks, which offer just minimal reference in passing, dropping great art such as these Ife sculptures in a gap between 'crafts' and 'curios'. This exhibition with all its positive write-ups, hailed as 'exceptional', 'unmissable', 'extraordinary', should in 2010 be the sanction for a systematic annihilation of the once accepted anthropological debasement of African art and African artists. This should be the wake-up call to rewrite the history books and re-educate the masses, which includes many in Africa and those in the Diaspora, too long denied - culturally, socially and historically - the truth, as so many great works have been destroyed, sabotaged and falsely claimed.

Whilst walking amongst the Ife sculptures, I was privy to the quiet whispers of surprise that escaped from the mouths of Western visitors. On occasion I would catch small conversations revealing astonishment at the technical ability and craftsmanship; but, just in case the visitor succumbed to this new-found appreciation and engaged understanding, there were the intervening, obligatory images to reinforce and cement existing preconceptions: The familiar representation of the half-naked African. Among the most evidently posed black and white photos was one showing the bare chest and grimacing face of an elderly Olokun priest standing in front of a terracotta-crowned head of 'Olokun', set rather regally on a white sheet for a backdrop (the head is one of a group found by the German ethnographer Leo Frobenius at the grove of the Yoruba God, Olokun). Another photo, which seems a perfect match for the stereotyped images that have captured the imagination of the Europeans and their fascination with the dark nakedness of African peoples, shows, yet again, a half-naked man, wearing only a badly fitting wrapper more like a loin cloth, with bare feet and arched back, poised over a granite palm-wine vessel. Influenced by its grainy black and white quality I initially thought it was from the 1800s, but alas, it is a modern image, taken in 1977. This signifies to me that a subtle undermining by reinforcing the stereotype of the primeval African artisan is still very much alive.

And what kept hitting me as I read the exhibition texts was the relentless paraphrasing of the fact that leading European anthropologists, academic experts and cultural historians felt secure in the knowledge that the Ife artworks could not have been produced by Africans, that they must have had some European influence. In their view, naturalistic creations were simply not possible or within the realms of African artistry. From the Portuguese who went to West Africa in the 1400s and 'discovered' great works of art, to the relatively contemporary archaeologists and historians who defined the Ife heads in 1910 and again in 1938, all remained adamant that such works could not have been created by the 'primitive' African. For centuries this European notion insisted that refined art was way beyond Africans' skill and imagination, and copious amounts of research were published, all denigrating the African. In 1910 Leo Frobenuis proclaimed that the magnificent and mysterious Ife bronze heads were in fact from Plato's lost city of Atlantis and that the 'Olokun' head, which the people of Ife identified as one of the wives of Odunduma, was, in his opinion, to be identified with the Greek god Poseidon.

Thankfully, science has been useful in dispelling some falsehoods. For example, carbon dating proves that Ife artisans made their own glass using local raw materials and confirms that the glass beads, which were once believed to have been imported from Europe or the Middle East, were in fact made in Ife, not to mention the intricately designed pavements and courtyards filled with life-sized sculptures.

As has been known amongst the African intelligentsia, and has now been scientifically and irrefutably proved, the Ife artists developed their own highly sophisticated 'movement' or 'school' of naturalistic expression well before any Western influence. For too long African intellectual knowledge and opinion has been ignored or devalued, with only the opinion of the Westerner being taken seriously; the Westerner being the 'expert', the one who has 'studied' African culture, albeit from a Eurocentric angle. And countless historical journals and published academic studies have indoctrinated generations into accepting these false versions of reality.

At the British Museum, the mistaken 'expert opinions' refuting the African origin of the Ife works, instead of being consigned to the dustbin where they belong, are again abundantly on display, as is the clarity with which they denigrate African abilities. Visitors reading these texts and the ideology expressed might perhaps just think how politically incorrect they are - but despite that, the falsehood has been needlessly repeated. Will this exhibition change the average visitor's overall perception of African art? Leaving the exhibition will people now view the African artists of Ife and their work as equal to if not more sophisticated than their contemporaries in Europe c1100-1400?

In 1948, the Illustrated London News headline declared: 'Donatellas of Medieval Africa. African Art worthy to rank with the finest works of Italy and Greece.' In 2010, articles in The Telegraph, Times and Independent are all in agreement on the superior quality of the art of Ife. But it is still too easy today, as a visitor to museums and art galleries, to accept images and academic theory from a European perspective, even if our intuition tells us that we ought to challenge them, that there is something intrinsically wrong in their evaluation.

Africans are gradually learning to disassociate themselves from the negative European images of Africa and to make their own assessment of European art historians' analyses that attempt to box African art into pre-conceived categories. Is the European analysis done with no real understanding of the cultural impact and societal damage to African peoples or to the global perception of a people? The visibly African Ife heads, with full rich lips, softly sculpted African noses and the beautifully braided hair of African heritage, were not only physically pillaged but also blatantly intellectually 'pillaged' in the European historical evaluation of who and what they signified. It is the same such evaluation of Egyptian antiquities that has resulted in defining Africans in Egypt only as slaves and the complete denial of the existence of African pharaohs. Just take a look in the Egyptian section of the British Museum and see those huge sculptures, many with noses visibly chipped, not erased by the grinding sand thrown around by the wind; the outline of the tip of a chisel can be seen in many. African images defaced, blatant historical brutality used with intent to destroy any notion that the African face was represented and that the African held power and influence in Egyptian culture.

So, what has this exhibition really achieved? Has it reshaped the distorted concept of African art at the core of European thinking? Has it altered the deeply embedded notion of African art as essentially primitive, naive, crude, the product of a society only capable of curios and fetishes? Has it encouraged the notion of a truly contemporary African artist?

Artists constantly battle to break free from perceived cultural limitations. Until very recently the predominant thinking in the European art world was that African artists should not be influenced by 'modernity' and if they are, then it is not 'African' art. Thus 'African' and 'modern/contemporary' were deemed mutually exclusive, enslaving creators to their 'African-ness' and denying them the ability to create a new art movement amongst contemporaries. Recent years have seen some recognition for Africa's art, but if this 'Kingdom of Ife' exhibition is shown again in 2030, will it simply elicit the same comments of disbelief about past judgements on Africa's arts, with nothing really having changed in outlook? Or will the art world have surpassed these deeply rooted internalised doubts? Will tomorrow's arts graduates be truthfully informed and taught about Africa's past and present artistic achievements?

I would wish that by 2030 African art historians, academics and teachers will have ripped out the pages of distortion in existing art history texts and will have written unbiased analysis to present in the art history lectures held in the art schools and academic institutions of the world, with full reference to the great achievements of African arts, not by simply a few paragraphs or the occasional image, but chapters, books and full-scale lectures, dispelling forever the notion of Africa as primitive.

Very little African knowledge is left as to the meaning and lives of the peoples of Ife. How did the Kingdom find its demise? Perhaps civil war in part, but I think it is possibly down to the mass enslavement of generations of people to the New World, the trade in human beings that included the artists and craftsmen, dissipating the knowledge and power of a once great kingdom.

Left behind in Ife were some of the greatest of human works of art, made with techniques developed by these magnificent people. The works more than equal those of the renaissance period in Europe, magnificent in their realistic portrayal of the human form. In addition there are ceramics, medals, quartz stools, equestrian figures, and jewellery that configures intricate links, with precisely carved pendants.

The Kingdom of Ife had an established community. This is not just an exhibition of art, but a wake-up call about the destruction of a society that wrenched the very heart and identity of a people. It opens the door of finding oneself; for all those in the Diaspora, more than lost works, more than colonial lies and untruths, this is the very picture of one's identity of self. The lost Kingdom of Ife and many other African kingdoms, lost generations of artisans, mathematicians, chemists, physicists, lost in their chains bound for the New World; such a mass transportation of a people would no doubt leave unanswered questions, such as pertain to the Kingdom of Ife.

This exhibition does not just show the exquisite skill of a people, it also redefines the racist theories on Africa's intellectual development and cultural sophistication.

Author: Joy Onyejiako is galleries and exhibitions assistant at the Brunei Gallery.

Museum for African Art Announces April 2011 Opening

Museum for African Art, looking south along Fifth Avenue . 
Rendering by Neoscape.

Source: Art Daily |

NEW YORK, NY.- Elsie McCabe Thompson, President, the Museum for African Art, announced that the Museum—one of the country’s premier gateways to the arts and cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora—will reopen to the public in its major new facility in April 2011. Designed by the renowned New York City firm Robert A.M. Stern Architects, LLP, the new building is located at 1280 Fifth Avenue, at East 110th Street, in Manhattan. There it will join “Museum Mile,” linking this prestigious row of museums with Harlem, one of the country’s most important centers of historic and contemporary African-American culture. (The Museum is currently closed to the public, and is operating out of temporary quarters in Queens, New York.)

The Museum for African Art’s new home comprises four floors (one below grade) of a nineteen-story residential tower and encompasses approximately 75,000 square feet of space. With a dramatic increase in public space, the new location will make possible significant growth in the number and scope of exhibitions, public programs, and educational initiatives, enabling the Museum to serve larger audiences than previously possible.

Ms. McCabe Thompson states, “The Museum for African Art is thrilled to be in the final stages of construction before moving into its new home. The Museum is eager to assume its role as both a thriving neighborhood resource—a place where people of all ages and backgrounds can feel a sense of excitement and belonging—and an important national and international destination for art lovers and those interested in the cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora.”

New Facility
Since opening to the public in 1984, the Museum for African Art has operated from three different locations in New York City: on the Upper East Side (1984–92), in the SoHo district (1992–2002), and in Long Island City, Queens (2002 to the present). In 2002, the Museum moved to temporary quarters in Long Island City, Queens, and in late 2005 it closed its gallery space there in order to focus on developing its plans for a new, larger facility that it would own. In the meantime, it continues to present an active roster of major exhibitions and public programs at a diversity of national and international venues.

The new Museum, which faces Central Park to the west, is distinguished on its north and west facades by trapezoidal windows with bronze-finished aluminum mullions that create a dynamic allover pattern. While the Museum thus maintains a distinct identity within the larger structure, the rhythm of its façade carries upward to the residences above.

Visitors will enter the new Museum through a soaring glass atrium. This will lead to a forty-five-foot-high lobby in which curving expanses of African etimoe wood form one of the walls and the ceiling. The lobby, which provides 5,000 square feet of informal exhibition space, will contain the Museum’s ticketing and information services, and will lead to a shop and a restaurant, as well as to a 245-seat theater and a multi-media education center. A grand staircase near the east end of the lobby will lead to the galleries and other public spaces above.

The Museum’s second floor will provide some 15,000 square feet of flexible gallery space. This will typically be configured as three rotating exhibition galleries that may be installed individually or as a group.

The third floor of the Museum will house the library, offices, and a gracious event space with a roof terrace overlooking Central Park. Future plans for this floor include the Mandela Center for Memory and Dialogue, devoted to programs exploring social justice and humanitarian issues.

Space for storage, conservation, and documentation will be located on the below-grade level.

Inaugural Exhibitions
The Museum will inaugurate its new space with three special exhibitions, all of which it has organized or co-organized. El Anatsui: When Last I Wrote to You About Africa is the first career-retrospective of this important contemporary artist. It brings together the full range of Anatsui’s work, from wood trays referring to traditional symbols of the Akan people of Ghana; to early ceramics from the artist’s Broken Pots series of driftwood assemblages and his wooden sculptures carved with a chainsaw; to the luminous metal wall-hangings of recent years that have brought the artist international acclaim. Prior to its presentation at the Museum for African Art, El Anatsui: When Last I Wrote to You About Africa will be on view at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, from October 2, 2010, through January 2, 2011.

Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art examines the intertwined histories of the coiled basket in Africa and the southeastern United States. The exhibition demonstrates how this object—once a simple farm tool used for processing rice—became a work of art and an important symbol of African-American identity. It comprises more than 200 objects, including baskets made in Africa and the American South, African sculptures, paintings from the Charleston Renaissance, historic photography, and new video. Organized by the Museum for African Art with the cooperation of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston and the McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina, the exhibition has been on tour in the United States.

In addition to El Anatsui and Grass Roots, the Museum will present New Premises: Three Decades of Exhibitions at the Museum for African Art, which explores the evolution in the Museum’s exhibition program. In the 1990s, following a decade in which it exhibited only traditional African art, the Museum began to show the work of contemporary African artists who worked both within and outside of the continent. Drawn in part from the Museum’s own collection, and including objects from past Museum exhibitions, New Premises suggests commonalities between artworks new and old, canonical and non-canonical, questioning the existence of an impermeable boundary between contemporary and traditional African art.

Also opening in the Museum’s inaugural year is Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria, which, with support from Banco Santander, will conclude its European and U.S. tours at the Museum in late 2011. The exhibition has been co-organized by the Museum for African Art and the Fundación Marcelino Botín, in Santander, Spain, in collaboration with the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments. Devoted to the extraordinary art of Ife, the ancient city-state of the Yoruba people of West Africa (in present-day southwestern Nigeria), it features more than 100 extraordinary bronze, terra-cotta, and stone sculptures, ranging in date from the ninth to the fifteenth centuries, many of which have never been on display outside of Nigeria. It is currently on view at the British Museum, London, where it has received great critical acclaim. 

New York | Museum for African Art | Elsie McCabe Thompson |

Sunday, 16 May 2010

The Human Equal

Last night I listened to a talk that really inspired me on the Nigerian based Blog - Art Speak Africa - run by the Curator, Bisi Silva.

I heard, for the first time ever, this phrase: "The Human Equal", from a talk given by Chimamanda Adichie, the Nigerian novelist; who was speaking at a conference in October of last year for TED
Words Worth Spreading. You can find the speech on the ArtSpeakAfrican Blog and listen to her strong words on the subject of the Single Story, which I found so interesting and quite brilliant.

Here is the link, for please copy and paste this link to view to the talk.

I think the ideal of "The Human Equal" is an ideal certainly worth fighting for and if necessary dying for. The way in which Chimamanda spoke at the Conference was truly groundbreaking. With great humour and humanity to all she opened up the flood gates for all those interested in the subject of Africa and the perception of Africans seen inside and outside of the Continent to take their part in building a better and brighter future. She quietly encouraged all those interested in the delicate issues of an extremely complex culturally diverse subject to take their place if they wished but on the understanding that they were sensitive and respectful enough to recognise the enormity of the task ahead. She spoke with great diplomacy of a "Coming of Age" of sorts for the Continent of Africa but more specifically Nigeria. She spoke of the development going on within the Continent itself and stood up to declare that many parts of the Continent of Africa were beginning to successfully culturally develop themselves without the assistance of foreign influences. There are still so many barriers to break down before the gates fully open to the concept of "The Human Equal". So many doors that still need to be opened and kept open.

I was so delighted to hear a woman speak so eloquently on the subject of trying to achieve “the Human Equal”, and delivering a talk with such intelligence and grace. This concept of ‘the Single Story’ opposed to ‘the Balance of Stories’ is a refreshingly sophisticated philosophical approach to modern Nigerian thought. These views are coming for some of the greatest creative minds on earth and there is an obvious sea-change happening in our world as woman such as Chimamanda from Nigeria and Tracey Rose of South Africa and others across the Continent are beginning to address the real issues of contemporary Africa. They are actively attacking and trying to dispel the preconceived ideas of the way in which Africa and Africans have previously been judged; trying to disperse the notion of “the African Exotic” and move ever closer towards the intellectual elite of the rest of the world. Alongside writers such as Chinua Achebe, Sefi Atta, Aminatta Forna, Jack Mapanje and others, Chimamanda is taking on the global mind-set that has been instilled into the black and white middle-classes across the entire world and ambitiously trying to decode the stereotype that artists from the Continent are in some way intellectually inferior to their Western counterparts. I do sincerely hope that this wave of change turns into a full blown Tsunami.

© Joe Pollitt | 2010

The Tail of the Buffalion, Part 5.... :-)

Where shall we take our story today? Maybe to bed or out for a nice hot cup of tea; one healthy lump of sugar and easy on the milk…Where shall we take our story today? Where indeed…we are stuck in a Buffalion. Stuck in a giant Buffalion peering out behind her left eye and seeing a rather strange world so clearly. We have oxygen to breathe from her lungs, we have the power of sight from her huge majestic eyes and we have a cool breeze coming in from her lovely flat nose. We have a heart to play with and ribs to tickle. We have a liver to work with and hopefully drink with and a pair of twin kidneys to filter all our unnecessary poisons. We have two ears to hear and we are listening acutely to what is being said on the outside but on the inside things are looking stranger than ever.

The Buffalion has made her demands and her demands are as clear as mustard. She has asked us only to raw or to grunt, just like she does, if we must. Inside the belly of the beast it is forbidden to speak in English to anybody as only Buffalion is understood or spoken. We are to take classes immediately down in her guts at 12 o’clock sharp, failure to attend will result in brisk expulsion through the Tradesman's entrance.

It seems almost perverse never to speak again. Never to say nothing to no-one, no more. No more words to speak of again. Never again to speak a word to anybody anywhere, what a loss that would be to loose your language overnight. A loss of language is really beastly and I must think on this some more…..I seem to be busy writing myself out of this that will never do..must think on this again and be back in Part 6 because every story should have a point but I just can't find mine here. I'm writing a story without a point, what was the point of that? Maybe that is the point, for God sake please, will somebody point me in the right direction to make a point or have a point at all. Has anybody seen my point? Writer looking for a point to continue writing his story needing some assistance in finding a point to continue writing at all. Do I have a point or not?! :-)

The Tail of the Buffalion, Part 4.... :-)

My world is crazy. Spinning out of control, too much to handle, too much to try and understand, too late mate, madness, silly billy world that I exist in. I am far from alone in my thinking here as I bet you're feeling the same way too! But let us make no sense and nonsense and make sense or some sense of what we are all trying to say. Dear Miss Communication are you reading me? Say something or say nothing...delete me or eat me. Make no sense at all. If you can make sense of nonsense then you can read on McDuff. They read you loud and clear. You think they can’t read? But they can read and they are reading: you are writing. They are watching, watching your making up a story in front of their very eyes. Wide shut yet again seeing nothing but beauty all around me. They are watching...they are watching you writing, writing the story of the century, 'The Tail of the Buffalion'. Let us see what she sees and tell our dear reader what is being seen so violently....

So we make our way to her eyes. She watches us, watching you, watching what we all watch and what we would want to watch when we want to watch it. Watch it, I am losing the plot here. So we are seeing. wWhat aAre we sSeeing Hhere? Ssomething tTotally DdDifferent? I see what she sees but dare not tell you, as the sight is so unspeakable to speak about. I saw fire, and looked for ages into the flames and in the distance I could see a school of Firebacks; rude and carefree, saying something interesting again, those Fireback fiends are great with their long-short hairs with matching coat and tails. Skipping and singing in the midnight glow of the hot Safari Desert. Look, look over there in the coldness; I see a lone Camel-Toad-Tiger fast asleep in the Boobam tree. I see Quirells and Mudpacks, green and blue Mackenzie tartan birds flying overhead. The colours are like an orchestra of sound in full bloom. The sight is almost blinding and yet I see clearer than ever before. I see purple waterfalls and the very rare pink Humpback Rhinos. I see chocolate raindrops on the horizon making their way towards us to be tasted later in the afternoon. I see coffee trees with orange fruits and tea trees with lemon groves and olive branches waving, saving us today. I see kettle fish dancing in the nearby steaming frozen volcanic lake...and a mountain like a policeman's helmet, pointing up to the sky like an enormous unbalanced left breast on a shy and retiring Nanny Goat lying on her back...I see it all so clearly now…to be continued..

The Tail of the Buffalion, Part 3.... :-)

So where have we gone? And where are we going with this merry tale of ours, of the Buffalion and her tail of tales. So we have started again and again from the beginning to the end. It is all about the fingers happily tapping away on the keys. We started again and what we need to do is grab our Buffalion’s attention. How can we possibly survive in the belly of this beast?

There is food a plenty and ample to eat we will never again go hungry. We will feast for years to come inside the belly of this beautiful beast. What happens if we tickle her rids, will she laugh or will she bite? Look we can move, we can now move, move from the stomach to the ribs and start to tickle and tickle her hard to make her smile. To make her laugh out loud. We reach up with our fingertips and start to tickle and tickle away we go. We tickle her rids on the right side then tickle her ribs on the wrong side and she bursts out laughing, laughing to every tickle, we tickle, she chuckles, we tickle some more.

We are running out of oxygen, breathless and hot in the belly of this strange but beautiful beast. We can’t breathe. We need air, oxygen or air. Do you care? Buffalion we need to breathe care for us. Care for us p l e a s e!!

To our surprise she raws, “Jump into my lungs dear boys. Jump into my lungs.” This Buffalion can talk? This Buffalion talks the talk and walks the walk, what can’t this Buffalion do? So we jump into her lungs and take our fill of air, oxygen and air. Do you care? We can breathe again and again once more again.

How do we thank her for giving us air, oxygen and air, do you care?  We must stroke her heart as a thankyou. Thank you for being you. Thank you for being our best Buffalion ever. Give thanks and praise to the Buffalion, give thanks and praise. She feels our praise and winks. Winks on the right side then winks on the left side. The light is broken twice in order for us to know she has felt our thanks and praise.

The views are dark in the belly of the beast. We want to see so much more than the darkness we see all around us. Let us make our way to her eyes. Make way, make way. We are coming to see what you see. To see what the Buffalion sees on a regular basis. What wonderment and beauty does the beast see on a day to day basis, what could she be watching? What could she be seeing from her wide-eyed Buffalion vision? What me thinks….to be continued..

Saturday, 15 May 2010

The Tail of the Buffalion Continued...

The Tail of the Buffalion (Part 2...)

All is not lost dear reader for we are now inside the belly of the beast. The Buffalion has gobbled us up and we lie in her belly ready to be reborn, broken and ready to be reawoken and awake to face another day standing. A jigsaw can always be rebuilt. So let us build ourselves up from the ground. Let us build up from the bottom to the top. Let us grow into ourselves once more. Let us feel the way we where when we were whole. Let us grow back into ourselves and piece-by-piece we start to put ourselves together again. Toes meeting feet meeting knees, meeting thighs meeting pelvis. We start again. Start building ourselves up from nothing. From pieces of meat we glue ourselves back together again. Back to the way we were. Back to a time remembered, a happier time forgotten. Back to when we were young, fun and frivolous. Back to a yesterday remembered. Suddenly I feel myself again. My fingers tingling and hands are changing from purple, to blue to red, filling my veins with warm pumping blood once more. The jigsaw is nearly done. A few pieces to go but the picture is being rebuilt inside the belly of the Buffalion. I punch my hand to feel. To feel as I felt before. To have that sense of self once more. The torso is back to the way it was and my chest is still to inflate and my belly is bloating as it did on the other side of the jaws of the Buffalion. I can feel myself again building up like blocks of multicoloured Legoland Meccano sets, I begin to build up and out of nothing I put the pieces back into place to start to live again, to be reborn in the belly. My facial features are in tatters but perfectly workable but visibly revolting as they were before the Buffalion broke me into pieces and chomped me all up and placed me inside the belly of a strange but beautiful beast. Now I am busy building, building myself up to continue this story ……this marvellous jackanory story….to be continued…

Wednesday, 12 May 2010


Enough of the personal life stuff...writing more.

The Tail of the Buffalion (Part 1....)

We are berry-pickers and hunter gathers. Pioneers, engineers and builders. Building blocks of high-rise thoughts with goodness found. Finding nature and answering her call, and out of her mud, cowpats, sticks, sweat and our own piss-to-bind, we build. Doing whatever it takes to build our comfy home. Using all the raw materials Creation has charitably bestowed. Beware my beautiful buck-and-ears for danger lies at the end of every single silhouette. As we walk through the valley of the shadow of life we will surely meet our maker. We will see birds of every colour twittering away azziz their will. Flapping and singing their merry songs as they fly-on-the-wall of the air. Twitting away to all those listening to the sounds they are making. Making their own way, making their sounds and making their noise and being heard, naturally. Feathered flying birds are the world’s natural-born twits. Twittering away tweet, tweet. The sounds of nature are calling and our telephones are all broken. Smashed to smithereens with the ravens in the ravines. The valley has them now. Away: Out of sight of our children. Away: Out of mind of our grow-ups. We have put them all in the valley of the shadow and there they should stay, forever and a day. Pity poor valley for she knows not what she has!

May I lead you into temptation and forgive of you, all your sins as they are forgotten. So forget them and read on. Chinese whispers: sins forgiven and forgotten: Move on, move on. Live another day. Live a better way. Yesterday is behind us and let-us-look forward to-today and to-tomorrow. To gather together; for our thoughts are gathering so silently. The power and the glory have gone. The power and the glory sent us a confused note of their leaving but we need their notes no more. We never need to hear from them again. We need their notes no more for the sun will shine on our coal-like, blue, red and golden skins. As we sweat to rehydrate so we glow in the dark and walk for miles through the darkest of nights. We throb in the distance with electric energy glowing and flowing  all around us to keep heat in and the lights on throughout the darkest hours.

Looking into the distance and she is there. She has always been there lurking in the wings. Ready to pounce at any given moment like a love-in-a-box crackerjack pencil and pen. Invisible to the naked eye she lies flat on the Savannah grasslands and blends in like a massive Grasschopper or a doubled up Sandbeast. She'll give you no warning of her coming, no mention of her presence but the feeling never leaves. It is omnipresent and fills the air with constant dread and fear. The first sight of her will be her jaws as they grab your attention and come in for the kill like a flying Crainsaw seeing her prey busy working on his kitchen table. These are the characteristics of the silent Buffalion. The female Buffalion is far more deadlier than the male. You will smell her very-heavy-breathe. Warm at first, then frightening but strangely sweet to the sniff. Be warned, the aroma is highly addictive when inhaled up the nostrils. Be sure to wear a pair of wooded clothes-pegs when you walk this way. She’ll raw at you to greet you: to meet you and inevitably to eat you. She will smash you with her giant Buffalion paws and blend you into a splattered jigsaw, scattering you piece by piece but don’t be scared and let her dine. Let her feast on the fine figures you pose all laid out on the ground. She is so generous our Buffalion like a Gruffo, Bettleduck, Fireback or a Camel-Toad-Tiger. Generous without fail. So let her eat you all up. You will see her jaws as they open. Your eyes will dilate and magnify in amazement of her razor sharp teeth and fat red sandpapered tongue becomes visible like an angry Killaguerka quietly screaming for bodyparts. Watch with wonderment as she squints and winks as she licks her left front tooth smoothing her molar with her rough disproportionate tongue. See her flat nose spreading as her crane-like jaws unlock. Her coarse fury tongue is moat-like wet as it flops out of her mouth like a slab of meat at the butchers. Her mouth like the Castle gates opens and her drawbridge tongue quickly falls. Chains crunching as it lowers to gobble up the multicoloured jigsaw, piece by piece. The Buffalion snacks with a smile and she snacks with a wink and raised eyebrow whilst combing her hair with her immense ivory claws....