Briefly recapping my night out in Lagos, Nigeria and watching the interaction between a Nigerian prostitute and a foreigner. It’s not an uncommon sight, but I suppose having interacted with the man first hand (he works for my friend’s father) and him revealing his viewpoint as a white man clearly still feeling superior in a black man’s land; it was just left a very bitter taste in my mouth to watch this beautiful, young black woman be handled by him….
Similarly in the Port Harcourt area where there are a lot of oil refineries and where there are white expat enclaves, this is standard. Many young girls are sadly trying to land a rich white man so they can be taken care of. There are also some who become housegirls, cooks or cleaners for them, but there is a sexual arrangement in exchange for providing them with employment, food and shelter. It’s desperation and crippling poverty. School fees are expensive, and you know in Nigeria, some parents can’t afford to send all their children to school, so it’s usually the oldest who gets an education. If it’s between a boy and a girl, then the boy will be the one sent to school. With the girl, they figure she will find someone to marry her.
It’s a double whammy really. The multinationals these white expats work for like Shell, Chevron, Agip etc have destroyed the Niger Delta with oil exploration. The way many supported and sustained themselves is gone because of pollution. People are desperate, and desperate people will do anything. So after the employers of these expats have decimated these places after decades of exploitation, they now come for cheap sex. No matter what the sex workers are getting paid in Naira, it is cheap when compared to the Euros and Dollars expat workers get paid in. The rate for sex is always affordable for a white expat. This is why they are there.
Most of these girls start out young. Some places are worse than others. I’m sure you know that Calabar is pretty popular with white tourists. They love talking about the scenery, the culture and beaches. The new thing is the Calabar Carnival. Yes, that’s it, old white men are coming to Nigeria for Carnival. I hope no one believes that. If anyone believes old white men are flocking to Calabar for beaches, resorts, nature’s wonders and to take in the culture, then I don’t know what to tell you. Many are there for young girls. If they are sent there for employment, then the cheap sex is a bonus. It’s a well known thing that people don’t like to discuss openly, in part because many parents are complicit. Some sex workers got their start by being coerced by their parents and guardians, but again, it’s a thing that is taboo to discuss. They will deny it, and Nigerians don’t openly like to discuss anything relating to sex. Here Nigeria is, the largest black population in the world, but they like to pretend that sex isn’t happening. Everyone is “pious” and “moral”. In Nigeria, they knack like rabbits, but it’s always in secret.
A lot of press has been given to places like Thailand and the Philippines with regards to sex tourism in the last decade. African countries are slowly becoming a destination for many Europeans because of the lack of scrutiny and the way people turn a blind eye. These white guys are pretty open and brazen about it because Nigerians treat oyinbo people with respect, and are generally deferential towards foreigners because of their economic situation. In turn, these expats have free reign to run wild and do whatever they like, and they are doing just that.
Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers performing live at Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, November 14 and 15 1959 (photos by Herbert Behrens)
"Nigga is a slang word for Nigerian" shaeroden you have to me the most brainless person I have ever seen my God! You didn’t even try
What are you talking about? They shot this video in Lagos. “My Nigerians, My Nigerians.”
Thanks for setting us straight shaeroden.
The Governor vs King Joffrey
Having a debate about what character was most loathsome. The Governor from The Walking Dead or King Joffrey from Game of Thrones?
Annoying Things About Record Coverage in the Media
Inspired by this post on NPR’s A Blog Supreme, I’ve decided to come up with the annoying things about record coverage in the media. These things are usually front and center whenever there is an article about the “vinyl revival”.
1. The crackly sound. You can substitute scratchy for this one. This talking point just won’t die. Many people seem to think that records by default are supposed to be dingy, scratchy, dusty and archaic sounding things. Provided that a record is mastered properly, it will sound great. Of course, this assumes that the person playing the record is using a clean, properly aligned cartridge, a decent turntable and stores their records well. Preferably sleeved in an upright position on a sturdy shelf or rack. Unfortunately, with the way I’ve witnessed many people handle records (usually like frisbees, with their fingers all over the LP), it’s understandable why many people think records sound like shit. They handle and store them like shit. Usually stacked on the floor, not in an upright position, but on top of each other. The records will become warped when they are stored in this fashion.
If not stored haphazardly on the floor, then they are stored unsleeved in milk crates. Usually in a dank, humid basement or attic. The records are then played on crappy turntables with cartridges that are old as shit. Naturally, it will sound like shit. Somehow, this sound is purported to be charming. I wish more people realized that what they are hearing isn’t charm, but the sound of defects and flaws. Sorry to piss on the parade. Records aren’t meant to sound like that when everything is done properly. Those memories you had of grandpa’s scratchy records just means grandpa took terrible care of his records. He probably had an old, dirty cartridge to boot. That’s a surefire way to get dirt in the grooves and damage records for good. Once you get dirt in the grooves of a record, it’s a wrap.
Record care is something that is sorely lacking outside of the audiophile community. I’ll never forget when a friend saw my record cleaning machine for the first time. She acted like I just stepped off the Star Trek Enterprise. The next time I go over to someone’s house, I will act surprised when I see clean plates. You mean you can wash plates? I thought you were supposed to keep eating off dirty plates. What kind of sorcery is this?
2. Vinyls. This word really grinds my gears. Why is vinyls becoming an acceptable word? It’s completely unacceptable. Why is there a need to pluralize vinyl? Why don’t people know that the plural for vinyl is vinyl? Avoid it all together and just call them records.
3. DJs. Not DJs as people, but the inclusion of DJs in the narrative. Nothing against them, but it seems like every “vinyl revival” story has some DJ scratching an LP. They have little to do with the resurgence of vinyl today. What do they have to do with consumers of music who buy records solely for listening? Absolutely nothing. Despite this, DJs seem to be the central figure in many of these stories. Most DJs today don’t even spin records, they use Serato, or they plugin their iPods or use laptops. Yes, people with iPods are now “disc jockeys”. Funny.
The few that still spin records certainly don’t buy new records. That would be pointless and cost prohibitive since the art of DJing is essentially damaging a record. Most go crate digging. The sales figures for the “vinyl revival” uses SoundScan data. That data only counts sales for new records. This pretty much excludes DJs. Nevertheless, whenever you see a report about the “vinyl revival” on the news, it will no doubt show some DJ scratching records, as if DJs today are why there is a resurgence of vinyl, or as if most of the people buying new records are DJs.
4. The “warm” sound. The word “warm” means different things to different people. Unfortunately, most of the people saying it couldn’t tell you what they mean when they say it. It would be one thing if an audiophile said LP playback on their system sounded warm after adding a McIntosh tube amplifier. It’s quite another to hear someone describe a present day rap record made with pro tools, being played on a USB turntable connected to a computer describe their system as “warm”. It’s clear that they have no idea what they are talking about. They heard someone say “warm” and they ran with it. Unfortunately, the news media always finds this person to quote anytime they need an article. They’re always around to spread misinformation and overall vagueness.
These are the four biggest offenders in my opinion. Anyway, it’s time for me to hop off the soapbox.
Little girl dancing
Ethnomusicologist Frances Densmore recording the music of a Blackfoot chief onto a phonograph, 1916.
That’s not just “a” chief. He’s not just some random nameless Niitsitapi. His name is Ninastoko. He was a warrior in his younger days and died in 1942. He was frequently in DC as a representative and negotiator of the entire Blackfoot Confederacy. Though he was born in Alberta, he lived on the Blackfeet (Amskaapipikani) reservation in Montana and lived near Browning.
In this picture, he is not recording music, but rather interpreting traditional songs into Plains Indian Sign Language (although the caption that usually accompanies this picture says otherwise). It’s because of him that we have Glacier National Park (if he hadn’t negotiated that land for a National Park, the government would have taken it from us and let White settle it)
Fela Kuti, shortly after his release from Nigerian prison. Los Angeles, CA. June 1986.
photo by Roger Steffens
My Nigeria So Far
Snippets of finally living back home after 9 years. Captured among family and friends between Lagos, Aba and Umuahia. There’s the heat, the traffic and no electricity, but all that fades for the better moments- Yagazie Emezi
Many of my photographs are now incredibly mundane - pictures of black people lounging, relaxing, doing nothing but existing in real time. But I have not lost the desire to portray a spectacle, to get lost in the flattening stereotypes that persist in representations of black women but I also love to enact and perform. Old habits die hard.
Today, this piece is Keïta and Sherman Had a Baby (2014). Other titles considered include the following:
Passing for a Leopard
You can’t see me, fool
Imitation of Life
The Domestication Effect
Dionysius, the Dying God
For My Grandma Who Passed for White, then Stopped
Living a Lie is a Poor Substitute
Jeremiah 13:23: Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.
I’ve posted this before, but these are my parents getting married circa 1965. They were young and full of dreams.
Our parents were fashionistas
Looking at old pictures of my parents in Nigeria, I’ve come to appreciate how stylish they were in the 60s. They were looking fresh at every occasion. Apparently at Nsukka, people used to dress up to go to class. Even just a regular get together meant dressing up and looking presentable. It’s a bit odd to see them looking young and fly like that because I don’t know those people. I just know them as my parents, not those hip, fashionable young people in old photos. Apparently, after my sisters and I arrived, their hipness and fashion sense vanished. That’s what happens when you have children. See what children do? Do you see? haha
Scenes of Brazilian-born Ivorian designer’s life chronicled through her instagram page are sure to fill you with copious amounts of envy.