Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I finally finished up my MA, now it is time for some impromptu choreographed dancing on the street!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Random Ish

My wife is ridiculously awesome.

Last night, as my professor came to pick up the papers I had graded (Which involves another story about the anguish I felt as to whether to give a female student a check mark or not on her creative paper for having their female protagonist get beaten by their husband...), I insisted that he come into my humble abode and chill a little.

Which he did.

The Wife Woman, who had been watching her current favorite TV show (which is some sort of Chinese CSI, as near as I can tell), left her fairly comfortable lounging position and bounced to the kitchen so she could chat along with me (and not appear rude to the guest). After some idle exchanges, she launched into a speech, telling my professor that I am really lazy and I need a severe beating to get me to do anything (which is completely false, a mild beating will suffice), and then both of them starting talking about the best way to handle me. Eventually they agreed that he needed to be more strict with me, if not violent, and after some more banter, the professor left. This story is not about how the Wife Woman emasculated me in front of my boss, because A) I have no masculinity to lose and B) I could care less if my professor thinks less of me(which I doubt cause he is my dude), but rather to show how absolutely unpredictable she can be, how absolutely salty she can be, and why I love her for it. Yes, I like my women how I like my coffee; unpredictable and salty.

Then, just today she tasked me with watching her 'bread' (more like a crepe) fry in a pan while she hurried to the toilet. "Watching" involved me standing motionless with my plate full of half-eaten snacks until she finished her business. When she came out and saw that I had done nothing, she flipped over her 'bread' and told me that I should have done the same while she was gone. I told her that I just thought I was supposed to watch it literally. After I realized how stupid my words were, her eyes grew wide, a smile spread across her face, and she gave me the ol' "ni zenme zenme ke ai! [you're so cute]" and hugged me (instead of wacking me over the head with said frying pan). Less salty, more unpredictable.

Always awesome.


Why Nigeria Rocks #1

“Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographic expression. There are no ‘Nigerians’ in the sense that there are ‘English,’ ‘Welsh,’ or ‘French.’ The word ‘Nigerian is merely a distinctive appellation to distinguish those who live within the boundaries of Nigeria from those who do not.”

Obafemi Awolowo, Path to Nigerian Freedom, (London: Faber and Faber, 1947)

What I find fascinating about this quote is not that (Chief, not just a mere man) Awolowo was unaware of the long and arduous process by which English or French governments had to actually create an 'England' or 'France'. Indeed, I am completely guilty of this, and I remember the shock I experienced the first time I learned that the French government was terrified of sending bureaucrats to the countryside in the mid-nineteenth century (!!!) because nobody there spoke French nor wanted the government to interfere in their lives. There is nothing natural about a nation or a state. Before that, I thought there was always some sort of French common culture and language. Yet, to this day people bemoan the 'artificial borders' of colonial African states while ignoring the 'artificial borders' of European 'nation-states', and though one might make the case that the colonial powers should have inculcated a deeper sense of nationalism (a complaint I often come across in my research and in my everyday conversations), this is still problematic to me. What Awolowo said is applicable to most any government that believes in a national project, and I wish his writings (amongst others) got more respect in the political canon.

Of course, he completely served in both the precolonial and independent Nigerian government, "geographic expression" be damned! Not only have Nigerians produced some of the most astute political observations in the past century, but they succeed in having their cake and eating it too!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

This just had to be said

In the course of scrambling to finish up my MA, I have had the pleasure of reading some bomb-ass primary documents that, alas, have no direct bearing on my research but simply must be shared with you, the reader.

And I quote:


Regarding the question of hanging the portraits of our leaders, the Central Authorities made a clear ruling as early as March 29, 1960 (Reference No. [60] 289): "In the organizations for the Party, the People's Liberation Army and the people's associations of various kinds, it is permitted to hang the portrait of Mao Tse-tung [Mao Zedong] alone; it is also permitted to hang the portrait of Mao Tse-tung, Liu Shao-chi [Liu Shaoqi], Chou En-lai [Zhou Enlai], Chu Te [Zhu De], Chen Yun, Lin Piao [Lin Biao], Teng Hsiao-ping [Deng Xiaoping], seven persons." The manner of hanging these portraits is: if it is desirable to hang the seven portraits of Mao, Liu, Chou, Chu, Chen, Lin, Teng together, the port art of Mao Tse-tung can be placed in the center and the others on the two sides. It is also suitable to put the portrait of Mao Tse-tung in the first place and the others in order as indicated, and from left to right. According to our understanding there are now not a few units, especially the primary level units, which have not hung the portraits as described above. We are asking these units to inspect carefully the way in which these instructions have been carried out so that we may have a unified system according to the regulations of the Central Authorities.
General Political Department
March 14, 1961

Courtesy of J. Chester Cheng's The Politics of the Red Army (Stanford: Hoover Institute Publications, 1966) 360.

PS Damn that Wade-Giles is hard to figure out sometimes. Chinese historians have to learn that, pinyin, traditional characters, simplified characters, and then some foreign languages. Thank god I do not have to do that.

PPS Do any of you have any similar funny ass things you have found while doing research? I cannot wait until the State Department documents declassify in twenty-five years and I have to read about just how many inches apart Bush and Cheney pictures must be hung.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What I wish my blog was like

This just puts me to shame...

I wish he threw more salt at Mazrui though. Ayittey, who I disagree with a bunch, is a far more interesting thinker. Of course, that might just be my bias towards Ghanaians...