Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Swish For Kenya - Thank You!

Hey friends,

Will try and keep this quick.

I would just like to say a huge thank you to the few lovely ladies who came to my swish with great stuff to donate/swap. A big thank you to those who offered to and have donated clothes, especially baby clothes and a massive thank you to those who have donated money and those who are yet to but intend to. May God reward/bless you for your acts of kindness and selflessness.

Honestly it means a lot.

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Anywho...I will only be sending one 23kg bag over to Kenya. Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances (my fault) I won't be able to send more than that to Kenya so I have arranged with my contact that it will go to an orphanage as its not enough to send to the two schools also.

However, I still have a huge suitcase and some black bags full of other items. I will therefore be sending 2 23kg bags to Nigeria by God's grace next month and donating a bag of coats to a British charity. And by His grace I would love to make "Swish For" a yearly event as I now have a better idea of how to execute it all effectively.

While I was out in Kenya I met a lovely young woman named Rahab. She had two young children and was about a year older than me. She grew quite fond of myself and my fellow volunteer Eunice. One day she came to our hostel to do Eunice's hair (near the end of our 10 week stay) and upon her departure we gave her money for the hair do and a bag of old clothes we thought she'd like. Out of nowhere she began to cry and embraced us. That was one of the highlights of my trip.

Something that may not even seem essential to us for them to have can mean so much to young women like Rahab. I know for sure I love shopping and I also have had no problem taking hand me downs when I couldn't afford otherwise. People living in poverty want to dress up too! So while it may not seem as valuable as regular food, paying for schooling etc., the love that is implied when you send someone something is immense. And I for one want to spread love.

Anywho dear friends, I shall report back once the pack has been delivered.

If anyone would like to donate more, fell free to contact me as I have a garage to store such things and I have every intention of ensuring the items arrive at the prospective destinations.

Thanks so very much for helping with this guys. Together we can #makepovertyhistory

Still smiling :)

Update - I'm off to Greece tomorrow so just want to add that I have given the bag to my friend Mariam and the gifts will reach Kenya next week!!! I'm sooo very happy so thank you so much!!

Here's a few pics of the Swish b4 and after and Steven and his family with me in Kenya back in 2010.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Swish For Kenya

Hey peeps!!

It's unusual for me to promote an event or something I'm doing via my blog but I felt the need to on this occasion. I would like to invite you to come swish with me......

A few of my friends are travelling to Kenya next month to do some work with churches and the community in Kibera - the slum in Nairobi which I wrote about in a blog some time ago after my emotional visit to Kibera. It is home to 1.4 million people living in extreme poverty. When we visited I believe we were told there were just 5 schools or so or something as unfortunate as that.

So...A swishing party is basically where you bring some or all of your unworn old or new clothes, shoes, bags, books and anything else useful and swap with others. One persons trash is another persons treasure as they say!!

I believe as we are all living in the west - the capital of mass consumerism that a swishing party is a great way for us to not only share our possessions with each other but to share them with people who need and want them more than we do...

I don't want the momentum to leave me so I would like to ensure that this swishing party and the subsequent shipment of the goods to Kenya goes down well. I have spoken to my contact in Kenya who said "I'm sure they will celebrate the package". That really made me feel warm inside.

So...I will be hosting this swishing party at my house on Sunday 1st April. From 2pm to 7pm.

At this party all proceeds (from the £5 entrance fee charged) will go to the shipment of all the remaining and donated goods to various places in the village of Thigio where I stayed. This will include two public schools - Kanyanjara and Gatora and potentially an orphanage and a youth group and a few families if I manage to get in touch with them in time. Any left over funds, which I hope there will be, will go towards buying things like sanitary towels and toiletries for my three friends who are travelling to Kenya to give out in Kibera.

It would mean so much to me and the people of Thigio if you supported in some way!!!It would also be great if you could bring along some male clothes, baby clothes and shoes to donate.

Tell a friend, tell your mum, tell your uncle, tell your cousin...though I don't have a massive house so you can just drop off that gear!!!

Please holla at me if you would like further information!!

Lets get swishing for Kenya!!

Still smiling

Friday, 2 December 2011

Worlds AIDS Day...Stigma Under the Lens...and my poem :)

So yesterday was World Aids Day for those of you who do not know. To me the day signifies the world recognising what AIDS is, how it affects those who have it, the stigma attached to it, the reality of it as opposed to the myths surrounding it and more importantly how we can educate ourselves about it so we not only protect ourselves from infection but also understand its reality so we might help those who suffer in silence.

Christian Aid held an event, Stigma Under the Lens, last night in Shoreditch. Basically a short evening of spoken word, speeches from HIV positive people and short picture slide show videos documenting the struggle many people around the world face with regards to both living with the virus in an unforgiving society and how they are able to survive with it.

I was asked to write and read a poem about HIV/AIDS after my poetry reading at the Platform2 Poetry book launch. I was very privilaged to have been asked because I did have a poem lingering in the back of my mind that I had not recorded on paper...this was the perfect opportunity to put pen to paper...

So the poem is about an amazing woman I met in Kenya and my kind of interpretation of her struggle. It encapsulates the struggle of people in her community rather than just hers and tells a short kind of story with some imagery to make it a bit more real...

I was really inspired by this event and it has reminded me of where my passion lies...that is with people, poverty and hardship...now I'm working in the corporate world, its often easy to neglect the world at large...we often forget to look behind the walls of the big glass office we walk into...

Here's to raising awareness and the possibilities of doing more to help...

Here's...She Walks Alone

She walks alone

As the sun creeps through the crack in her mud moulded abode
She wonders whether he'll allow her to witness another sunrise
Her on going battle with him

She walks a strong walk
A mile long a day
And when he tries to interfere
She prostrates down and prays

But sometimes the pain he brings is immense
Like a pound of bricks dropped on layers of cement
Its intense
Heavy on her heart
Burden to her body
Yet she rises over his might
Gets set, ready to continue her fight

She marathons along
No knowing whether the end is in sight
Prepared to sow some seeds at the shambers today
Fighting the urge to give in to him and stay
In the hope God will pave a way
For her crops to harvest this May

She ignores the whales, hollers and screams that plague her nights when she sleeps
The sounds of those considered weak
Tarnished by his presence in their homes, in their bed
Disgraced by the blame, embarrassed and ashamed
She walks that long walk
Bearing the burden his act caused him to give her

As she smashes through the driest mud in the peak of the May heat
She looks down at the deep lines in her aging hands
The cracks in her once wide feet
Roasted by sunlight
Hardened by labour
Her plight
Her ongoing battle with him
The end, never quite in sight

As she nurses her blisters, wrapping them up like she conceals her emotions
She kisses the heads of grandchildren she inherited
She sings them that song they love to hear
She forgets her woes
She shows no fear
If only for but a second

As she pastes the widest smile across her lips
Its almost like their mother is in their mist
A memory of the pillar who left her behind
To deal with him alone against time

She lays her head down to sleep and she cries the loudest cry inside
Through her bloodshot eyes
She wonders when their next rainfall might come
When her salvation from his curse will appear
When her life sentence will end
When she will no longer have to pretend

Her name is Margaret
His name is HIV.

By Alimah Sitta

Please check out http://www.christianaid.org.uk/HIV/ to find out more about the campaign and more about HIV.

Massive shout out to my girls Ola, Mary and Chennara who came out for the event n really rooted me on!!! Thanks so much...I appreciate n lurvve you!!! <3

Still smiling

Saturday, 17 September 2011

So you made it...Be humble about it!!!

I'm really supposed to be studying right now but I think its about time I replace my breaks to do online shopping to write something interesting like I used to.

So I guess a lot of these posts will reflect things I've thought about at work as that the season I'm currently in...though work isn't really a season as we'll do it for longer than a season...but as this is not my permanent abode I can still refer to it as that...

So trawling back to my first week at my current work place back in March, I went with a good friend of mine, Crystal Debrah who is also now a authoress - She wrote her own book 'What they don't tell you about University - amazing right - back to our old sixth form, Christ The King (toot toot, bang bang lol) to speak to a law class about the reality of university, the torture that is law, the fight that is a career in law etc. It meant a lot to me as its something I'm really passionate about sharing. Crystal and I and many of our friends are enjoying great and different levels of success. We all graduated with our 2:1's from top 30 universities and we are all now either working full time in the city or working full time/part time and studying part time (LPC's and Master's).

While we were at the college I remember thinking its so important that we are able to go back and tell these young people about the reality of what we had to face. Because we did not really have that. But its even more important that we come across as humble and down enough so they can fully appreciate what we were saying. I often hear people saying children need role models who mirror them so they can actually see themselves like that role model in the future. And I am understanding the wisdom behind it. Going in and being able to drop my uncle tom at times sounding voice (which I discovered recently isn't as uncle-tomish as I thought-apparently I have a strong south London accent lol) and just being real with them was important. Going in there with some "yeh I came from here and now I'm in a different world better than this one" may not work because they firstly won't vibe with what your saying if you don't break it down in a real and down to earth way but also, they are not going to want to hear some bougie sounding black woman coming in telling them how they can be as successful as her because she is not a reflection of anything they recognise and the one thing they had in common (the college attended) becomes redundant.

I believe as one becomes more successful, acquires more qualifications and earns more money you need to constantly keep yourself in check. I would be horrified if in 10 years I'm some big time lawyer, making my p, living in Dulwich (inshaAllah) but when I attend a school to give a talk no one wants to hear me because my arrogance has meant I can't speak to them in a language they are familiar with. That I'd changed so much the people I am addressing don't even believe I ever went to the same school as them. That's not to say I want to one day go in there talking like I spent the last 10 years on road with every slang word I can think of but I want to remain real enough to not get caught up in hype that is material and worldly success.

The city is home to men and women with huge ego's, a lot of arrogance and many people who have probably never even thought about humility. I often wonder why they think so highly of themselves because the questions I am asked or the discussions I hear often give me the impression that many are very ignorant of all but what they think they know. Needless to say we're all inspired and motivated by a story of struggle and its amazing to hear how people got to the top from nothing but even when your there, if your experiences haven't worked to shape you into a well rounded, humble and strong individual then the respect your due won't come your way.

Anywho...before I digress...I will hopefully be doing some more talks at CTK with SEO and back to my secondary school with one of my girls so look out for some positive posts about those...

Be successful, be real, be happy, be inspiring, be thankful and be humble!!!

Ooooh this was a short one!!

Still smiling.

Jungle Fever?!?

Wrote this a while ago but tossed it in the drafts folder...here it is anyway...

So I'm going to try and get back on my blog game!!!

Another season has begun... I fought through the tornado's of last season and entered this one fresh from my short trip to New York with a new attitude and renewed mind ready to attack the evil forces of the LPC and full time work in the city!!

So yesterday I met up with some old uni friends at a friends birthday dinner in Soho. Was a fab night and I had a lot of jokes...I think Joan reared her funny head as I was saying all kinda random silly things as I do.

While in New York...which deserves a blog post of its own I came across this little black gift shop...in the Bronx where I was staying. It was just by 174th Street subway station which we took into Manhattan everyday "on the 2 train"...so anyway I went into the store on my last day after walking past a few times and thinking it was perfect for me!! Inside I met a 'brother' who spoke to me for a while about Islam...but that story is for another post as I say...anyway I managed to get my hands on a book I had been looking for for a while...Midnight by Sister Souljah!!! Its the prequel to The Coldest Winter Ever...both set in the projects of New York (Brooklyn and Harlem) and both focused on black people, their lifestyle in the real hoods of new york and various other things...

Anywho...wanting to get to the point of this post...I brought the book out at the dinner as someone asked what I was currently reading I believe and a few funny looks and comments about the name of the author and type of book it was later we began a brief convo about inter-racial relationships...

Now I know I should tread carefully here as this is obviously a touchy subject for some and clearly issues of race should always be addressed with caution but I just want to share my thoughts on this and namely why I think SOME black women in particular have a problem or issue or chip as some may say about it.

Now I'm all for unity and despite my pro-black ways I believe it is an absolutely beautiful thing for two completely different cultures, races and traditions to come together and become one. I love meeting people who are quarter chinese, quarter pakistani, quarter brazilian and quarter Nigerian loool ok I haven't but I'm sure you catch my drift. Imagine the amazing things you are able to pull on from those four corners of the world to help mould and shape you into who you are? And yes there may be some weird mixing in that canvas that may cause confusion, conflict and disarray but there is something amazing about having all those flavours in your blood.

BUT at the same time...as a Black British Nigerian believe we are all allowed to have our preferences. These are naturally going to sometimes be born from our surroundings and what we are used to but for some it will be the opposite as some people love what they are unfamiliar with. I adore my Nigerian culture and the older I get the more patriotic I become towards my country of origin that I have only visited once, so it strikes me as natural that my first preference is always going to be a Nigerian...yoroba at that! Not because there is anything wrong with someone from a different tribe, country, continent or race but because I love the culture of Nigerians - the humour, the fact that we will have similar stories to tell about the Saturday night parties n the funny things our relatives say, the food, the native wear, the role of a man and woman, the history of our country etc. And while its great to share in other cultures I think the reason I have a large number of Nigerian homegirls are for the same reasons I have mentioned thus it is no surprise many of us look for the same in a spouse. Nothing prejudice about that.

All that being said, what is it that rubs so many sisters the wrong way when we see brothers rolling with non sistah's? And why is it such an issue when its that way around but not as big a deal if its a sistah? If its a sister dating a non brotha she's probably gone there because he treats her better or because she's a bit of a hippy or because of whatever right? And we actually appreciate the white dude dating her because to us it means he can see the beauty in our black skin...

I personally believe the KEY reason for our sideeye and annoyed whispers when we see black brothas with non black sistas (because we are all brothers and sisters - regardless of colour) is because we are still struggling in some ways to feel beautiful in society. I think it links strongly to this whole weave and bleach epidemic. If the brothas are going for let me just say it sha - white sisters with their fair skin, long flowy hair and blue eyes - because this is also the image we see everyday as beauty in the media (for the most part) we cant accept that the brother just likes this girl because he does, it has to be deeper - I think we see it as an insult because we almost feel like if our own brothers don't see us as beautiful then we are completely lost because the world doesn't either. Get me?

This is a huge generalisation but its just one of the reasons that spring to mind. Often I think we give brothas that look without even knowing why. We havent actually thought about it deeply enough to be able to verbalise why what we are seeing warrants that eye roll but on the surface we just see it as something uncool.

There is of course the known 'they're taking all the good brothers we have left' mentality too which is interesting. And I have a small opinion about that too. I've been working full time in the city for 6 months now. Right in the heart passed London Bridge, Monument and Bank stations on my journey to Bishops Square so I see what I deem a whole different world to the world in Peckham, Brixton and Wolly Road. And one think I know is that I recognise a big handful of the black male and female faces I see in the tesco or on the bus because there are proportionately few of us compared to other races - natural of course because of the demographics of London. But that said, one thing I think we and this is something I came to learn at uni is that sometimes its not even about having a preference or liking one colour/length of hair/shade of brown over another - its simply about what's around you.

There are simply waaaay more white women out there and especially in the city than black women...and while there are more black women in Britain then black men...at the end of the day if all your colleagues are white or Asian women and the only sister there has some attitude (lol another stereotype huh) then its natural that they are going to go for the former - because there are more of them so the likelihood is just there - naturally. Does that make sense?

Anyway...I could go on about my theories for a while and I have made a whole lot of observations over the past 6 months but I can see I have made this post into an article again so I will stop here...

As I always say - At the end of the day, until we learn to see ourselves as beautiful, smart and successful - the world won't. That goes to every race that feels the struggle of being accepted by the white world we live in. Just my opinion.

BTW...I watched The History of Mixed Races (or something like that) on BBC iPlayer - if you liked this post you will love this documentary)...

Still smiling.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Sometimes I just want to hang up my armour...

It's been a loooong minute! And it's a real shame that I'm writing a whole month and 11 days since my exams ended, and with a sad post but that will hopefully be uplifting for anyone that needs to read it!!!

So this year has been a real tuffy for me. Hence the lack of blogging despite the million and one thoughts that have run through my mind. Anyone who knows me knows I try and graft pretty hard. I'm a bit of a busyaholic in that I think I somewhat revel in the fact that I am constantly very busy with all kinds of things. This year its been the LPC which is the hardest most suckiest course I've ever done, working part-time and volunterring part-time alongside this sucky course (till March), then working full time in financial services (thank God, best job I've ever had) which is a alien field to me(after packing in my crappy pt gig); weddings, hen nights, birthdays, a holiday and only God knows what else.

As a woman I think I try and take on so much because I anticipate this is what my life is going to be like when I finally qualify as a solicitor, God willing! But I also wonder if I'm shooting myself in the foot by over exherting myself while I'm in my prime thus exposing myself to stress related illness and health issues which have also added to my portfolio for 2011!!!

This weekend I worked for the first time since I started this new job four months ago. It was weird being in a city office in normal clothes on the weekend. Empty, black screens, coffee machine switched off and only IT guys around. And while I'm fairly exhausted now, come Friday I will have worked 12 days straight and will probably be experiencing extreme fatigue.

So given that I have TRIED to do all this and keep up with my social calender which I both thank God for because its always full of life but resent because I think I go out way too much and enjoy doing so a bit too much; I occasionally get knocked down down pretty hard in ways I seldom anticipate which begs the question; should I just hang my armour up now? A soldier (as I call myself when I work like a dog then go to the library) will either win or loose a battle right? So I wonder when we should sit down and accept defeat. Is it when we black out alone on a public bus? When we fail an exam we were sure we passed? Or when we loose a loved one out of the blue?

God tells us, in fact promises that 'with hardship comes ease' and He repeats this just to enthasise His promise to us but its so easy to wonder how much hardship one is supposed to face before this ease comes into play. Islam teaches that God tests the ones he loves most. And these tests are never easy. But I wonder whether we should give in and accept failure because surely we can't pass every test?

So while I sit here (in the office) whining in my head about a situations I do not believe I should be in considering all I do in attempt to work hard, study, make money, please people and build on my experience, I realise that though struggle is relative to ones situation; thankfully I will never face a famine(like our dear brothers in East Africa are, I do have an education as extortionate and sucky as it may be currently, I have a well paid job, food on the table, shelter, a family and friends so perhaps the thought of hanging up my armour is an insult to all I have been blessed with.

Most battles are fought with armies of men. But only the strongest survive. Some people will never have to go to war but their demons will be ones another will never have to face. But in this life everyone's battle is different. Everyone has a different shine on their armour. Mine is gold at times but at times it gets awfully rusty and it takes a whole lot to spit shine that bad boy suit to its original state. Often that process can be physically, mentally and emotionally draining but each time I shine that metalic armour its coated with another level of thickness. In the hope that the next time I get hit, I feel but a scratch.

So though right now I'm really wanting to hang up my armour. But when I think about the battle I am facing and the war that is to come,I realise I want my armour to be thick and shiny enough to fight this war we call life so I keep pressing on, fighting through till I attain successs. Because soldiers never give up and I sure know how to fight!

...Still smiling...though a little injured! ;)

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

For Coloured Girls


Haven't written in a long time and oh am I so happy that I took a break from studying after a long day at law school to watch the film For Coloured Girls...

Anything I write won't do the praise I feel is due for this film justice but I just couldn't lay my head down to sleep till I shared my thoughts...

Wow...subhanallah...I haven't watched a film of that depth, literary genius and structure in so long.

It tells the story of several coloured women who each go through some of the deepest of struggles of not only many black or coloured women but women in general...

One is raped.

One watches her alcoholic partner murder their children by dropping them from their apartment.

One suffers from deep issues which causes her to give her body to men in search of love.

Another, the youngest has a back-alley abortion.

Another, the most successful of them all has what seems to be an empty life amongst all her material success and is married to a lie. Her husband is gay and passes the HIV virus to her.


And another...

It was deep and no doubt a tear-jerker but it makes you think.

Makes you hate men for a minute. Until you take the time to note that one of the men in the film isn't a low life. It makes you realise our struggles and how careful we have to be to protect our hearts, our minds, our bodies and our honour.

It made me love my hijab a little bit more. And it made me want to guard my chastity a little longer.

It made me think of the women I met in Kenya. Whose men openly slept around and openly beat them and their children to a pulp. And lived with it day in and day out because of the fear of being alone. It made me think of those women in Kenya who I met who told me that they contracted HIV from their husbands. And later bore the brute of the virus when their men openly blamed them for it. Calling them whores and witches. And it made me think of the struggle of mankind.

Sometimes when you think about all the darkness in reality you almost want to hide away from it. Stay in the shelter of the light you keep in your protected place.

Sometimes when your heart is broken by someone you loved, or when you see the deceit in someone you trusted your heart becomes so guarded that you never let another person in.

And sometimes the pain you feel from all the different avenues of heartache are such that make you forget yourself. Who are are. What your here for. So much so that you are just cold. Heartless. Loveless.

Watching that film has made me think of a whole lot of things. Aside from realising how much more I need to do to protect myself it reminds me of what I wrote about in a previous blog. We all have issues. Men and women. And if we took the time to talk to one another about those issues rather than hurting each other thorough the ignorance of not knowing those issues; We might begin to heal the wounds that survive like fleshy open grazes in our broken hearts.

The poetry in this film is so real...I haven't heard work that amazing in forever. Wish I could write like that...

Tyler Perry you da man for this one yo!!! So deep, so compelling, so heart-wrenching, and so uplifting.

To all my coloured girls-no matter what colour-I love you!!!

Still smiling

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

'My Perfect Day'...Poetry Book Launch n Thoughts...

Some seasons are a little warmer…

I’m really good at bigging myself up and even better at bigging others up but before I begin yapping I just want to take a second to state that this, and when I write about poverty, race any issue of substance isn’t about me. It’s really lovely to get people sending me messages and stuff saying well done and that they enjoy it (I want you to enjoy reading) and I won’t act like there isn’t an element of vanity involved in writing a blog, poetry and even sharing pictures on Facebook. But I want it to be less about Alimah doing something goodor writing something interesting, look past that and just think about the message I am trying to relay, independent of them being my thoughts? Get me? I say this because I feel its so easy for one to get gassed up in their own hype and I for one don’t want to be that kind of person. And more so because I find that people tell me they like certain posts about certain things but rarely ask me how they can get involved.

Anywho…moving on…I remembered something this morning as I smiled when I woke up bright and early for the library. When I was 11 years old, in my final year at Primary School my teacher had me read out a piece I wrote in our end of year performance (I did a dance and wrote a play for it too!! Good times!!). I still have the piece as it’s in my personal profile gathering dust in my Memories Box. I remember I said…something like…”My perfect day would be for me to wake up in the morning and see that there are no nettles in my garden. And I would see on the news that there is no poverty or crime in the world”. I didn’t even watch the news back then! I kinda want to hug my 11 year old self because even though between then and about 3 years ago that wasn’t what I was always thinking about, I love that things haven’t changed so much. And I really want to tell my 11 year old self ‘Oyinkan (what I went by back then) we are making poverty history so you will get your perfect day’. And I’d tell her we have concrete in the garden now too ;). To be aware of such a huge problem at such a young age reminds me of how vital it is that we do really take notice.

So one of my poems Open Your Eyes was published along side many others in the Platform 2 I Am The Change poem book and the launch was yesterday!!! It was really wonderful to meet some other returnees and to see my poem printed (mines the first poem too (gosh I’m lame)). I wrote it after express I think and I posted it on this here blog in June!! Though I sent in a slightly edited (more P.C) version! Now seeing it in print I wish I had edited it a bit more – I am allowed to critique my work, it could do with some serious tweekage!! Ah well!!

Anywho, it was really about my thoughts on a whole buncha things all in one piece and just about the need to be open to receiving knowledge about things that actually affect us. And being aware of the things they don’t want you to know! And yesterday, though I hadn’t read it for months, I read it aloud to the warm audience at the event!! I actually quite enjoyed that!! 11 year old Limz wanted to be a singer/actress so hey…lol…maybe I’m meant for the stage! Not!!

Anywhoooo, the event was headlined by the AMAZING and INSPIRATIONAL Poetic Pilgrimage!!! I really have love for these sisters! They are Muslim spoken word/rappers who happen to also be reverts to Islam! MashaAllah their words were deep and I felt so much of what they were saying. There album is out so google search em!! My friend Shivon then blessed up the stage with her soulful voice and sang a heavy song that is on the Platform2 EP!!! I hadn’t heard it before and it really was moving in some ways! There were some other amazing poets too!!

So to end…

Platform 2 has created a platform for us returnees to spread our messages in whatever way we can and I am so happy to have been apart of that book! And I am eternally thankful to God and Platform2 for my Kenyan experience.

It’s not about us, but them. And by the power of every poem in that book – We will MAKE POVERTY HISTORY!!!

Shout out to any other returnees in the book who I don’t know. Proud to have a page alongside yours!!!

So check out the poem Open Your Eyes (posted in June) and also look at what I think is almost the preamble to it On Reflection. Would love to hear your thoughts!

Still smiling.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Why Do You Look Away When I Speak About Poverty?

Picture - Kibera Slum, Kenya, home to 1.4 million of Kenyans poorest people.

It has dawned on me. As hard as I seem to find it to write about poverty and development, mainly because its so deep that I only ever want to do it justice, it's probably spurred on by the fact that it's one of those things people don't like to talk about too much.

People don't want to be made to feel guilty about something that is in many ways out of their control. People don't want to take responsibilty for what they fail to know. And people don't want to take the time to truly think about the possibility...the tiny but massive possibilty that we could actually do something to end poverty. For good.

Where to start?

It's a tricky one poverty and development. There is such a huge need that its normal for one not to be able to fathum the possibilty of change but let me just shed some light on why there needs to be change...how better then a few hard hitting statistics ay!

1.4 Billion people live in extreme poverty right now. That's not including the millions who live in poverty. When I say extreme poverty I mean they live off less than 85p a day - according to the World Bank. And this figure is adjusted to buying power so dont think ooh 85p into naira is like 170 naira which can buy enough food for a day...coz the equiivilent I mean is not.

884 million people don't have access to safe drinking water and around a Billion people don't have a toilet. May seem hard to believe but I have used a pit latrine and if there is no water around they are highly unhygienic and extremely unpleasant. The result of this is that 2.2 million people die from diarrhoea related diseases EVERY YEAR!!! Here in the UK people make jokes about diarrhoea because its nothing to us. Get a pill and its cleared. Completely different story over there.

EVERY DAY 22,000 people die from hunger and diseases we easily cure here. Die from hunger? Seriously. We see it in the news and in adverts but can you really imagine being so hungry you die? I can't, that makes me shudder. That is one child every 3.9 seconds people. SubhanAllah.

72 million children are missing out on an education and there are still 759 million adults who never went to school. So where are their prospects of making a living? There are a not enough jobs so these uneducated people will do menial labour for menial pay - probably not even amounting to that 85p.

These are just a few reasons why we must act. We all talk about Peace, Love and Unity but if we don't do what I see as one of the clearest and most needed acts of love to the people who need us most, what are we doing?

I always think, if I were in their shoes, sitting in my village trying to figure out what I'm going to feed my family today knowing there were people thousands of miles away with money they use to splash out on gucci, prada and versace (not that I'd know or care what that was), I'd be praying that they would help. Especially if my own country were not doing or could not do enough.

The world is unjust. It just is. God made it that way. He also gave us free will. Most of that is abused because the worst things in the world have happened through mans desire to use free will for bad rather than good. But we, as God feering slaves and children of God, whether your Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh or Rastafarian, know what love is. And love is kind. It is caring and giving and it is unconditional. If not for any other reason we should be pushing for the end of suffering for these reasons alone.

But also, and this is a lesson I took from Kenya and will always apply to my life. We have the ability to live in balance. So when you splash out on that bag or coat, spa weekend or holiday in the bahamas give a little more that month. Sponsor another child. Volunteer during that holiday. We should always strive to make the world better.


Because we can...it is possible and it has been done!

South Korea (I learnt at the 1.4 Billion presentation held by MADE) is an example of an aid recipient country becoming a aid donor today. The country has been transformed from developing to developed. From struggling to surviving. It is so possible.

In Ghana, 'following a landmark democratic election in 1992, Ghana's government helped implement policies that promoted economic growth and poverty alleviation by investing in things like health, education and infrastructure. Extreme poverty in Ghana has dropped from 49% to 30%'. Alamdullillah (Praise be to God)!!! While they still have a long way to go...that's a huge achievement and proof of what can be done internally.

And finally, for this post anyway...we must work towards and get involved in alleviating poverty because once upon a time the world thought slavery was normal. That it was something the economy couldn't live without. That it was the natural order of things. And that it couldn't ever really end. But it did. And while there is a huge difference in the two, how amazing would it be to wake up and know that no one was going to die from poverty related issues again?

Anyway, that's all for this post. Will delve a little deeper in my next one.

Just remember...

We can - see the UN Millenium Development Goals come to pass.
We should - show love, peace and unity in the greatest way.

Still smiling.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Black History Month: Black's Got Talent!!!

I am meant to be posting about poverty and development which I will but I just wanted to write a quick one about the event I went to on Sunday!

It was a BHM event - basically a showcase of talent! I hadn't been to an event like that in ages and it was so nice to be in a venue with good vibes, great entertainment and all for the celebration this great month!

There was a dance group that took me back to my school days of going to talent shows and my year of practicing a dance for the Southwark show that we never actually did perform! Would have been a fail if we did tho! Lol!

The poet, who initially I was reluctant about because she has that American style of reciting which I am starting to find defeats the meaning of some poetry performances, was amazing. The content of her poems were deep and meaningful and spoke to me on many levels. I have written alot on the things she spoke about. I appreciate the poetic art form - I may just add that one of my poems 'Open Your Eyes' is being published in the Platform 2 poetry book!!! :)

The fashion too was note worthy. I am really loving the fact that everyone seems to have some kind of fashion line out these days! I even did/do! (Liallah Vintage will return sometime soon!) The first was a African line (funnily enough I had just sketched and given designs to my tailor to make ankara dresses for me that very day!) which was on point! It's beautiful to see the commercial world appreciate our traditional cloth. And while I love the traditional ways of wearing lace and ankara I am loving the modern twists! The second line was more street fashion - very imageting! I can't say I didn't like it coz I did!

There were two acts I weren't to excited about...a singer who could really saaang but his lyrical content was too explicit for me! And then the comedian...hmmm...black comedians love to pick on 3 people if there in the crowd...white people, Somalians and Muslims if there are any!! And there's me in my bright blazer sitting at the front...I was pretty much asking for it-and he did go there! I won't repeat what he said! Silly man!

And my friend Remel who hosted the event was excellent! Its wonderful to see people you know who are going down the media route, do big things! I am a big supporter of urban talent. I have to big up my girl Abimaro on that one. She is one of the most inspirational singer/songwriters I know and the wings attached to her music continue to extend! I could list more...

Black people, through our struggles, stories, rich culture and traditions have so much to offer in the entertainment world. We are appreciated in this area but not as much as we should be. Every time I go to one of these shows, hear some original music or see some deep lined African dance I raise my fist a lil higher!

...I just think it's important we as a community continue to back eachother in anything we are trying to do. Whether that be academic, in fashion, music...whatever. We need to lift eachother up! It's only once we unite fully and support eachother that other communities will believe in us and support us too! One day it won't be classed 'urban'...it'll just be part of the mainstream!

Anyway...that's all from me!

P.S...I watched the MOBOs this year - loving where Tinie Tempah has got himself too,two awards n all -naija boy and all! And Tinchy has had my backing from day so I was happy to see his performance tho i know there were no awards there! Might aswell big up Ruff Squad...I'm like their most unlikely supporter but I listen to their tunes r'day!! Luv grime tbh...maybe it's because I'm a Londoner! ;)

Look at me biggin people up like it really counts lol!

Still smiling!