Saturday, May 06, 2006

My people be saying the darnedest things sometimes

mp3 of the day: Ocote Soul Sounds and Adrian Quesada - Divinorum

So day before yesterday night I happened to check out Ronke Apampa's website and see this on the front page:

Being well familiar with the somewhat puritanical ways of my Nigerian brethren and sistren, I immediately made the rounds of a few Nigerian-oriented websites to gauge the reaction. And (surprise!) it was a shitstorm. Opinions varied but I think this, uh... colorfully worded post here (snatched from an unnamed message board) is fairly indicative of the general tenor:

"Hugh hefner or what is the plaboy mans name. Nigeria has a dum-dum playmate for you in the name of Agbani Darego. I think she should be expecting his call. As far as I am concern any female that let her body become an object of entertainment, belong to the gutter. Even down here in the world capital of sinful entertainment U.S.A, Such action from so called decent girls raise eyebrows. such as Nicole smith and Latoya Jackson for a few. Is of our woman Role model. I dont think so Anybody from a decent upbringing will no agree to. Great woman dont become great by selling their body.She is just going to be a good pinup for male restroom."

Well, to be fair, most of them were a lot more articulate than this one but what was almost universal to the responses (almost I say!) was the sense of outrage and shame, and possibly straight up haterade. Most of the negative respondents were women (surprise again!) who vacillated between the high moral ground of "oh, she's supposed to be a classy role model as the first black African Miss World yadda yadda yadda" and catty shit like "why she gonna even go show off those slipper-like boobies with the ugly big areolas?" - sometimes within the same post.

(By the way, ladies... Dunno if you knew this, but the big areolae look is actually what's hot on the street)

What I found most confounding though was the recurring refrain of "This is so immoral... It's not our culture." It's funny because it's something that Denis and I were talking about just last week. We originally had some nudity written into the movie (male and female, yo... We're equal-opportunity like that) but I ended up writing it out because I think it's gonna be too much of a headache finding actresses comfortable enough to drop trou. And I feel like a real sleazebag being the one trying to convince a reluctant chick to take off her clothes (remember Q.T. in Girl 6? By the way, that movie gets a bum rap as the worst Spike Lee joint when you consider it against barely watchable crap like She Hate Me and Bamboozled).

Hell, even getting a Nigerian girl to allow herself be photographed semi-nude (and by "semi-nude" here, I mean like, in a bikini) is like trying to broker peace in the Middle East. I know; I've tried it. The firm response I got from all candidates was "It is un-African."


Denis pointed out to me how bizarre it is the extent to which Christianity and Islam have warped Africans' perception of what our own culture is. The European concept of modesty didn't even exist in Africa until relatively not long ago. I mean, let's be real - young girls walked around virtually naked until they got married and seeing the bosoms of even a grown woman was an occurrence neither uncommon nor particularly special. Fast forward to one short century later we're blanching like a bunch of Quaker schoolmarms at the sight of some minor nipplage.

All of a sudden I really understand why Fela gave his albums defiant covers like this:

Anyway, Agbani... If you're reading this, just shrug off the haters. I got your back... So go ahead and show your front all you want to.

Denis and Koko are really putting in serious work back in Lagos. While I'm quite grateful and extremely motivated by their efforts, they're starting to really sound like producers... which can be distressing to a sensitive-ass ar-teest like myself. They're talking about cutting out parts of my deathless prose, changing my exquisitely-rendered scenes and pitch-perfect dialogue. How dare they suggest that we might not be able to execute the 500-piece musical tribute to Busby Berkeley and perhaps might have to lose the recreation of the Charge of the Light Brigade, as well? Philistines, I tell you!

It stings a bit, but it's all good, though... I think a certain degree of frisson is necessary for projects like this. If everybody is too reverent towards the material - or each other - the end result is usually bland (I think I nicked that from The Kid Stays in the Picture). Besides, I welcome challenges like this. Limitations and restrictions are the true test of creativity and I relish opportunities to apply my powers of invention to solve practical problems. Otherwise it's just art for art's sake, right?

And believe me: That is very un-African.


lauren alyse belle said...

Very interesting read. I've come to some similar conclusions myself, especially when Africans comment on my tattoos, saying anything from "Women should be more conservative" to "Why would you destroy your skin that way?". It baffles me when I hear that sort of thing from people from Africa, whose culture is so rich with body modifications.

oh well.

EKENYERENGOZI Michael Chima said...

I have made my point as you know on Nairaland!

But, I don't like the way Agbani's boobs are dangling.

Who manhandled them!

Have a nice day and God bless.

twinstaiye said...

Are you people blind or something, that is not the picture of Agbani Darego. Look again.

Decent Nigerian said...

Agbani is a big disgrace.Those who say the picture is not hers are just deceiving themselves. The event where she bared those uninviting breasts was a public one in Lagos widely reported in the media. She herself has not even tried to deny it. It is just good that Nigerians have risen in condemnation of her shameful act (see the link below). She should go back to school and stop this foolish of trying to be a model. She has debased herself enough: - 28k

Decent Nigerian said...

Agbani is a big disgrace.Those who say the picture is not hers are just deceiving themselves. The event where she bared those uninviting breasts was a public one in Lagos widely reported in the media. She herself has not even tried to deny it. It is just good that Nigerians have risen in condemnation of her shameful act (see the link below). She should go back to school and stop this foolish of trying to be a model. She has debased herself enough: - 28k


Decent Nigerian said...

Agbani is a big disgrace.Those who say the picture is not hers are just deceiving themselves. The event where she bared those uninviting breasts was a public one in Lagos widely reported in the media. She herself has not even tried to deny it. It is just good that Nigerians have risen in condemnation of her shameful act (see the link below). She should go back to school and stop this foolish of trying to be a model. She has debased herself enough: - 28k


kashim said...

looks disgusting to me. this is 20th century and we ain't some jungle illiterates anymore. even in the western world, the world and press frowns when a list celebrities go nude for playboy or others. if it was so cool why the huge outburst over Janet Jackson's supposedly wardrobe malfunction? Just imagine Beyonce going topless...

Ohcee said...

One of the principles of Economics is that "People react to Incintives", so for the right price, trust me any part of the body will be flashed. Now I am not sure how much she is being paid but its not gonna be much. The girl has been down on her luck for a while now and after the 2001 hype she has crashed right back down to earth like all beauties before her. So if she is trying to get a few bills paid by taking it off, who are you to judge.

Ohcee said...

I hate to be a kittle canal here, but those boobs dont look attractive by any strecth of imagination. There is a significant appearance of gravitational pull and unaugumentation. Shouldnt a good boob job be prequisite for flashing the boobs. See what I mean? This girl is broke and needed the money. So lay off her people. Fire down girl, dont flash for anything cheap. Word gets around fast, if they here you are cheap, you're done.

Anonymous said...

unbelievably dissapointing!!! i can't believe this!

Anonymous said...

Miss Agbani Darego should seek redemption by apologising to Nigerians for her disgraceful act which prompted the well commended article by top Nigerian journalist and influential columnist, Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye (available on these links: ;

Please, let no one tell me the trash about this unbendable runway rule that prescribes that a model must complete the course even if her dress (skirt or blouse) slips and leaves her stark naked before the audience, b/c sometime ago in Australia, a model ran backstage when her cloth slipped. It is all a matter of one's deep concern for decency and, of course, fear of losing money if one attempted saving one's honour.

Who is even sure that the the so-called 'wardrobe malfunction' was not intentionally arranged so the designer could feast the voyeuristic taste of her prurient audience? The whole thing stands condemnable no matter what caused it. NO EXCUSE can justify that raw advertisement of her breasts. NONE!! It was such an obscene sight...

Comb & Razor said...

oh PLEASE, dude... i respect anybody who expresses an opinion (even when i don't agree with it) but i think you probably need to shut up.

or, at the very least, have the courage to affix a NAME to said opinion, hmm?

ugwu allen chidiebere said...

Mr anonymous as well as Mr decent, i hope you all remember that before "our lands were traded to the missionaries for christainity"-(as people tend to say, while we prayed), our ancestors took it as tradition to bear their breasts- they even considered it a sign of beauty. so lets quite with this hipocritical approach to the matter on hand and we should not applaude Mr. Ejikonye for his vehement attack on Agbani...he could have been more subtle with his expressions of his belifes.
thanks nonetheless for having given us a means to preach to people on the evil of judging others...i knw from experence that it doesnt pay.

Anonymous said...

You cannot compare former bread seller turned model Oluchi to Agbani. Agbani has no excuse for exposing herself in such a manner, many finicially secure males would have gladly supported her in any way rather she chose to stoop to a level to degrade black women everywhere. If someone like Oluchi can find a husband , so the beautiful Agbani can't find a common responsible boyfriend? To top it off, this girl came from a much better financially stable background than the likes of Oluchi. If she was truely as educated as she claims, she should have realized that they may very well try to turn her into a modern day Sarah "Saartjie" Baartman. FOOLISH GIRL, disgracing us all. ASHAWO! To think I was once proud of you...maybe if your mother was alive she would have adviced you better... and for those supporting her nonsense with excuses such as we african women are nake in some parts of Nigeria, I reply, SHUT UP YOU FOOLS! The fact is its about status, Agbani is (or at least was) a respected figure for intelligent modern African beauties everywhere, and for her to allow herself to be digraced to a depth that demeans her race in this day and age is too much to are her supporters saying that just because we were once cavemen/slaves that we should continue so? I blame ourselves for upholding the WEAK such as michael Jackson and now Agbani. COWARD AGBANI, GOD FORBIDE I TURN OUT LIKE YOU IN ANY WAY. We should have all know what we were in for when they picked a "white woman look a-like" like this desperate whore that hides behind her pretencious decency. Obviously she wants to continue her path as a professional stripper because she chose to major in psycology in the U.S. of all things.

Comb & Razor said...

Anonymous -

Thanks a lot for your comments, though I must say that I do wish that if you are going to come to MY blog to call me a fool and other insults, that you would at least have the courage and decency to sign your name.

(Ironically you call Agbani a "coward" when in fact YOU are the coward.)

My impulse is to go through your posts and refute your weak and self-contradictory rant sentence by sentence, but seriously... I'm not going to waste time arguing with some nameless, faceless troll on the Internet.

Identify yourself, and then I will engage you. Until then, I guess that just as you anticipated, my only response to you is "whatever."

You seem to be aploplectic with rage over a blog entry I wrote 4 year ago. If my views anger you so much, you have the option to stay the hell away from my blog.

I welcome all dissenting views, though... But until you are brave enough to attach a name to the insults you have chosen to hurl to me, you're not even worth my time.


Comb & Razor said...

Oh... I just realized that you deleted your comment. (GOOD!)

But I'm going to re-post it just to show the lack of couth and intelligence that I was respnding to:

[b]The fool that wrote this article proudly revealed himself as one of those America-worshipping monkeys who are shaming the Nigerian so-called movie industry by thinking that advancement in the art of making movies is simply about how much you can imitate Hollywood immorality and even out-do them at it rather than improving on your production techniques, directing, acting and script-creativity, all of which are sorely lacking in the silly movies being produced by these morons. He even shamelessly brags “I know; I’ve tried it” in reference to getting Nigerian females to go nude and do Hollywood-style sex scenes in the disgraceful movies being pandered by people like him. I couldn’t help but notice how our good friend has even adopted the speech mannerisms of his white masters with his “I got your back” and “ooooooooookay”, not to mention the “darnedest” in the title. I’m sure that in response to my comments he will say:


Anyway, our friend did show some redeeming qualities when he rightfully noted that female top-nudity is native to African culture, given our hot climate, and our aversion to such things in Nigeria today may be a sign of our mentally colonized state, although he noted it for the wrong reasons. I have no problem with African women showing themselves as true daughters of the soil by baring their breasts openly in a culturally conservative context. Likewise, I have no problem with the cover of that Fela album the writer of the article showed us. The album cover fills my heart with African pride and I love it and thank Fela for it. Agbani Darego’s stunt, however, is a totally different issue. And who does the writer think he is fooling by presenting those two pictures as if they are equally valid and excusable?

By the way, didn’t Agbani once claim that she was a born-again Christian? I am not necessarily endorsing the mindless patronage of imported religions by African people but I still have to wonder: Isn’t it funny how people suddenly loose their born-againism once they have discovered fame and fortune?

Finally, to respond to kashim’s comment:

“the world and press frowns when a list celebrities go nude for playboy or others. if it was so cool why the huge outburst over Janet Jackson's supposedly wardrobe malfunction? Just imagine Beyonce going topless... “

Actually, the western world –white America in particular- has no problem with white celebrities posing nude for playboy or engaging in immoral displays in public. They only have a problem when it is black people that do it (like the Janet Jackson and Beyonce that you mentioned). Contrast the behavior of the white American public/media when the Janet Jackson incident happened, after which they went on a hypocritical rage-fest at Janet (not their beloved white bastard Justin Timberlake), to their behavior after the Britney Spears-Madonna disgusting tonguing in front of millions of viewers (including children) at the grammy awards. The white media celebrated the latter rather than condemn it. Likewise, they celebrated Paris Hilton after her obscene home-video rather than condemn her. You see the double standard I am talking about? So my main point is that the “world press” (the white American press) is anything but chaste or moral as long as it is their own people doing the dirty work.[/b]

^^Reads like the words of a lunatic, does it not?^^

Anonymous said...

No I did not "delete" the comment. Why would I do that? Write all that just to delete it. Again, you are showing what a brainless monkey you are. I haven't even posted it. I merely pressed "review" and you went ahead and posted it for me just to slander the post. Why do you feel so threatened?

It is interesting that the only "response" you have is just to throw empty insults without actually addressing what was said. I guess this proves that the saying that "once a fool, always a fool"

Comb & Razor said...

First of all: I have not insulted you. YOU came to my blog and called me an idiot and a monkey simply because you happen to disagree with me on a certain issue.

Let me tell you something, son: You don't know me. You don't know my life and you don't know my history. You don't know why I may hold certain views or why I express myself a certain way... So I feel no need to apologize or explain myself to you. Especially since you don't even have the testicular fortitude to sign your name to your insults.

What "empty insults" did I throw at you? I said that you sound like a lunatic (because you do... only a mad person walks into someone's house and starts calling them a monkey because they don't like the way the person has painted his room.)

I called you a coward... because you are.

Sign your name, my friend... I LOVE a spirited debate, but I am not going to sit here arguing with someone called "Anonymous." If you want me to engage you on this issue, just have the balls to say who you are before you call me an idiot and a monkey.

I'm pretty sure you wouldn't have the liver to say any of that stuff to my face, so yes... You ARE a coward, empowered by the anonymity granted by the Internet.

And as such, you are not even worth a more substantive response from me.

Comb & Razor said...

Mr. Anonymous -

I don't know what you're doing, why your comments keep coming to my email and not showing up on the page here... But I'm going to respond to you here anyway.

If you were so interested in "justice," you would sign your name to your insults.

And since you have persistently failed to do this, I still view you as a massive coward.

Comb & Razor said...

...and you have some nerve telling "don't interfere" ON MY OWN BLOG!!!

LOL The entitlement is hilarious... As is the notion that I'd ever be "threatened" by an incoherent coward such as yourself.

"Once a slave, always a slave"... My ass!

Anonymous said...

Although you are not really worth my time, I will make one last comment just for the sake of it.

Calling someone a lunatic and a fool without even backing it up with reasoning is not an insult?

And according to your logic, anyone who uses unflattering (but truthful) language to describe someone on the internet while choosing to remain "anonymous" is a "coward"?

And it also means the person is physically weaker in life than the person he is addressing?

I don't need to know the details of your life. Your writing tells an observant person quite a bit about your state of being. That was what I commented on. However, I will apologize if anything I said about you may have been untrue. Unfortunately, your article, and subsequent comments, strongly suggests otherwise. Good day sir.

Comb & Razor said...

If I'm not worth your time, then why did you waste the past hour writing comment after comment on my blog?

Look here, dude... It appears that reading comprehension is not your strong suit, but I am going to try to explain something to you here.

I GAVE you a reason for calling you a coward: I don't know what kind of home training you received, but it would be a damn shame if your father failed to teach you that part of being a man (assuming you ARE a man, no matter... the same principle applies to women) is to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR WORDS AND ACTIONS.

If you feel tough enough to come on here and call me a fool and a monkey, then you should be strong enough to say your name instead of hiding behind the mask of anonymity.

It's a simple concept, but clearly you lack the civility to understand it.

Yes, my friend... You are a HUGE coward.

Secondly: I never called you a fool. You called ME a fool.

I said your rant sounds like the words of a lunatic. And let me explain why.

Because you contradict yourself. You make no sense.

You call me a brainless monkey because I'm not scandalized by a woman's breasts. Then you turn around and say that I am right that traditional African culture has never been afraid of exposed breasts and you are proud of that.

You say you love the Fela album, which was not in fact constructed based on any notion of "cultural conservatism" but as a very carefully contrived display to provoke the more conservative powers that be (like yourself).

And then you say that Agbani's display is different and I am dishonest to compare them.

Mind you, you NEVER offer a shred of reasoning to explain what makes Agbani's situation so different from Fela's.

And then you brig up Christianity. In the next sentence, you admit that Christianity is foreign to our culture.

As you can see, you contradict yourself back and forth and you never successfully present a unified argument. You make no sense. You sound like you are foaming at the mouth as you rant aimlessly.

So yes... You sound like a lunatic.

Any rational person who reads your comments and then reads mine will see that you're the one who sounds crazy here. And while I should probably delete your pointless comments if I had sense, I'm going to leave them here just so everybody can see how silly you sound.

And yes... Just in case it didn't sink in the first fifty times I said it: You're a coward.

Now get the hell out of here... you bother me.