A week and a half ago, I met Hakeem Kae Kazim. It was surreal. I didn't know what I should do or what I should say or how I should look. He said, "hello young man"and my voice ceased in my throat. I could barely croak a voiceless hey back at him. He was unfazed by me. His hollywood smile was big, in spite of the awkwardness that hung about the room. His teeth were too white. His voice was too self assured. He was working, and I was pretending and failing. I tried to put up the mask of professionalism that I would need to; the mask of professionalism that he'd be accustomed to; the mask of professionalism that lets you work beside Michael Bay, and Thandie Newton, and Mila Jochovich and, Don Cheadle without flinching. I could only laugh at myself, for that very morning I'd gone to the Ikeja Local Government office in my green and white uniform. I left there in a hurry, my heart aflutter, worried that I'd miss it. I didn't know why I was in such a hurry to leave Community Development to attend, but these opportunities throw me into such a frenzy that it is difficult for me to think clearly.
|The expression on my face is laughable! I couldn't quite believe it. Me, Afam, with the Etisalat man himself! Who'd have thunk it. Yes, that's my NYSC Community Development uniform.|
The bit of the interview that I found most interesting was the bit about stories. I know it's a little unfair that I haven't provided a link, or that you won't get to watch it until later but when they come out, I swear, I'll put the link up. He said that it was important that we tell our stories for us and this resonated with me. No Nigerian told me about growing up. There aren't many stories like that here. We're still fixated on love, and black magic, and God knows what else. I don't really watch Nollywood, so I can't quite say exactly. But I do know that I can watch Africa Magic for one day and not find anything that applies to me, or anything that could have applied to me for the last ten years. There's no meat to them. The characters have no depth, and so they have no power. I am not moved by them. I'm often amused by them, but when someone dies, I'm more happy than sad and I shouldn't be. Death is one of the most powerful instruments that story tellers possess, because there's nothing else that stirs up emotion like it. The thing about death is that it is more powerful than a single event. The inevitability of it is more painful than the finality of it. In the curious case of Benjamin Button, I started crying when it dawned on me that they could never really be together, because they'd outgrow each other. The death there was the death of their relationship and it was as beautiful as it was painful.
Somewhere in Nigeria, there are a thousand someones like me. They're old, and young, and male, and female. They aren't exactly like me, no one can be... but maybe they'll see themselves in me. It needn't be much. It could only be a glimmer, but even that is enough. The blog, it's for me, it's for you, it's for us, it's for free.