Sunday, 3 December 2017

#YOULEAD17: PROUDLY ASSOCIATED WITH TAYE BALOGUN—TALENT IS GENIUS.




Photo Credit : Taye Balogun
I am proudly associated with Mr. Taye Balogun.  He is a Producer, Lecturer, Photographer, social developer, Activist, Pan Africanist and he is “woke” among many things. Taye Balogun is without doubt one of Africa’s finest brains in the world of Art and certainly his name stands out on the global scene, too.   Taye is a Success; being friends with him promises a future of great inspiration and catching on the spark of ultimate sophiscation, because that is who he is: working with you was and still is something I will live to appreciate my brother, let’s rock on!

Taye is an intelligent, hardworking, kind and honest man; he will not just sit idly by and see talent go to waste, just like he can’t fail to speak up on social justice issues. Under “Music is our Weapon” Project, a documentary that tells of Sarabi, Taye Balogun passionately pushes for recognizing the unsung hero in Mandela —he says; “As a filmmaker, their back story was compelling and I could see that it was a good story. I never revealed to him that I wanted to make their film but in the middle of the conversation, I declared that, ‘You have a fantastic story and I want the world to hear your story”.—and to this; Mandela responded, “We just want to change the world, our environment and use this music to give a voice to the voiceless”.

As I earlier wrote in the Sanity in get writing, this is what we talk about when we talk about owning your voice; “I am a stubborn person at times; I don’t “fight small wars” or react [see; respond] to things that are so small, in most of the social media expletives and blogs I have written through the years (even in real life). If one thing, above the all motivates me, it is “the pride in me”. Yes, pride is a motivator, as is written: Prove people wrong. They say it can’t be done? Do it. They tell you it is a waste of time? Waste away. Never let anyone define for you how to be, how to use your time, or what you or anyone is capable of. Turn the naysayer into a competitive guidepost, recasting every doubting Thomas into a secret twisted cheerleader. However, be careful not to cop out into spite: don’t center on them, they are just ammunition. Take their judgment, harness it into your next pride, and ride them past the fools over the hills, and towards a dream. When I thought writing this piece, I told myself one thing, I was going to commit the writer’s chief sin: recommend it as my “babyfor my readers—read on.

The world needs men and women of courage, resilient souls; grace-filled brothers and sisters: a universe of personhood and human decency. Sometimes the most disturbing question isn’t whether I am doing enough to please the world but rather, whether I am doing extra-ordinary things. At times, the extra ordinary isn’t about doing much, it is doing a little but with a purpose of lightening someone’s burden, and in the end that is what is reflected unto the world. Save for the present-day social media melodrama, where “idiots” are making a “change”. In a world where there is hopelessness, the extra-ordinary is giving someone a glimmer of hope—that tomorrow, no matter how blurry it is today, is going to be better. In a world of lack, providence is the real hero. That is extra ordinary stuff, don’t look any further.

At EAC.L-R & R-L; Fahad, Grace, Taye. Sahlim, Gael & Kefa
At the East African Youth Summit 2017; where I was one of the bloggers, Taye eloquently told the youth solid truths; he said, “Talk is cheap; what have you done? Don’t wait for someone else; Do it. ” Precisely—become who you really are

As author and biologist, Bruce Lipton, so passionately explains, during the first six years of our lives, our brains exist in a hypnotic, trance-like state, such that we passively absorb, record and believe the things that are impressed upon us from the outside world.
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And no matter which perspective appeals to you, it all boils down to this: authentic happiness and total wellness are your natural birthrights.

You have a unique purpose to fulfill in this lifetime, even when your role seems small. So, your second key to transforming your dreams into reality is to love who you are. From there you can revive the true self, rewrite your self-description, and rebuild the living temple of your authentic self.

Brother Taye; we got a whole lot of unfinished business but one step at a time; we are going to continue radiating to others what we find. Love you brother; I am at your service whenever you need me. Blessings!

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

SANDRA CREASON IS A FRIEND INDEED-THANKS FOR THE POTRAIT!



PC- Sandra Creason
Sandra, I don’t know the perfect words to express how much I love this portrait; it is the most beautiful gift I have ever received from anyone in this world, after my son Shane. I can imagine the time and carefulness you have invested in reproducing it this way—as beautiful as the original.  “Talent is genius,”- you are proof positive.

It takes me back to how we met four years ago—over there on twitter—and then facebook. I met a very talented writer; writing her musings under her ‘conspiracy theories blog’, her ink drew me to her. I discovered she was multi-talented. After a good number of twitter interactions, I asked her to be friends on facebook; she accepted and has since been in my corner. She has been the big sister I never had; the mother I no longer had and a strong confidant—she knows my “shit”. Two years ago—it was April 16th 2015—here on facebook, I asked a question of guidance on how I was going to roll with my career life (after a year without a job post- graduation); Sandra gave me the kindest, real and most influential piece of advice—it has pushed me through the worst adversaries since—my appreciation knows no bounds! 

Why limit yourself? You are young, kind, articulate, talented and handsome; you have plenty of time to explore the world and see both what you have to offer it and what it has to offer to you. Many successful people in the world have more than one passion. I say, take on the world like a child; explore, learn, be ambitious but be happy about things that matter to you. Eventually, you will find all the pieces that make you well-rounded and whole, and you will not get stuck in a rut of any single thing. Maybe you are meant to do and be many things,” Sandra commented.

I captured this in my first college degree story (on the blog) and will still share more about it in my book—a work in progress—and now that I have an official portrait for the book cover, I am game. Sandra, your kindness, maturity and unconditional love through the years has been a great learning curve for me; thank you for being all this to a stranger—now family. Thing is , If you are a loving, caring soul—like Sandra—it is hard to just not go unrecognized. The author and social activist Bell Hooks once said: “our culture doesn’t recognize passion because real passion has the power to disrupt boundaries. I want there to be a place in the world where people can engage in another’s differences in a way that is redemptive, full of hope and possibility. Not ‘in order to love you, I must make you something else.’ That is what domination is all about, that in order to be close to you, I must possess you, remake and recast you.” Sandra, thank you for being the friend who lets me dial in my own essence and be unapologetically me. 

I believe in a very simple notion ; we are more than just a single story; we are a vast compilation, composition, composites of a consortium of fantasy, fury, fascination, faith, trust, distrust, fear, pain, discomfort, comfort, joy, happiness, laughter, generosity, selfishness, greatness, failure, humility, pride, insecurities, boldness, confidence, unity, division, helpfulness, helplessness, optimism, pessimism, the list is too enormous for our brains; even the most intricately beautifully mind to conceive, at what moment, during which time, an unintentional, unrehearsed story will unravel, during the course of our schematically designed lives—we always gotta embrace it ; knowing it is not our defining moment; the story that has residence inside me is enough reason to love  every single story I have, whether expected or unexpected, it’s all a part of me.  God bless you and your dear family—and thanks again for this lovely portrait.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

The falcon cannot hear the falconer; the centre cannot hold but Togikwatako resounds!




Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. Source: New Vision
“If you don’t act, the danger becomes stronger,” Ai Wei Wei once eloquently noted. Some say that once Museveni is gone, things will get worse but this is a reminder that the door swings both ways—what if he stays and things get worse and worse? The bull ragging from Museveni and his sleazy associates is hidden in the guise of “savior and friend” but I am here to say that as a sane youth, I am tired of those old- age scores he sings and has sung since 1986. What has happened in our country in the last couple of weeks is the living proof of this statement—that the more ‘unconcerned’ we seem to our very own plight, the more messed our social and political arena continues to be. Suffering and bowing to the plunges of the undemocratic administration of the current Museveni government— where force, bribery [and not] dialogue are a dominant note.
As we are in this mess, we certainly need real leaders and not cowards (or double standard holders) in the fight for restoring the trust in one of the most important metrics of a democratic society—our beloved constitution—article 102(b) to be specific; “the age limit article.” More often than not, the Museveni government has selfishly made amends to our beloved constitution, hiding in plain sight that they are doing it for the citizens of this country, something overly untrue: but only a bubble of hypocrisy at its best.

While so many of the people who should be making comment are keeping silent and pretending like they are in a different country—where everyone is at peace—some have taken it upon themselves to say the brute facts as they are, especially on the ongoing togikwatako campaign. Of the names I very much admire those who have firmly stood against the injustice in our country; been honest and kept the truth rolling when the ruling government peddles fiction and bends the rules just to suit their narrative. On this togikwatako frenzy, too, they aren’t mincing words; they say it without holding back that it is time for the old man to go. I celebrate them because their voice matters, like so many of us, that is a respect of a shared humanity. When I thought about sharing my last political article for the year, I thought of one beautiful way to set the tone in regard to what’s gone wrong. Here is.

Sigmund Freud in the Totem and Taboo tells of a story of how men dwelt in small hordes, dominated by a tyrannical patriarch who had exclusive access to the females of the horde. As each son became a potential sexual rival, the primal father murdered, castrated or exiled him. Driven by the same common sexual need, the exiled sons finally overwhelmed and murdered their father. Their objective was to displace him and gain sexual possession of his females.
According to Freud, their victory was to prove bitter and ironic. Once the sons murdered their father, they were not guilt-ridden to acknowledge their own deed. They did what men do too often. They denied their crime and tried to suppress their conscious memory of the dead. Once dead, the father proved an infinitely greater source of terror than when alive. Because the sons attempted to suppress the memory, they conducted themselves as if their father were still alive. Remember, the sons murdered the primal father to possess his females. They soon learned that that they have unlimited sexual access to the females, as had the father, without killing each other out of envy or rivalry. They quickly realized that some instrumentality had to be devised whereby sexual desire would not disrupt social structure. According toFreud, the sons instituted a law of exogamy at this point, to restrain themselves from doing to each other what they had done to their father.
A quick reminder about Museveni (on his way to power; the gospel according to Museveni) — “the problem of Africa is leaders who stay long in power,” he said it accurately then, still accurate to date but because it doesn’t suit his narrative, he chooses to hide in plain sight. Sad and annoying as it is, the boys from Freud’s story would be the real life equivalent of Museveni, only that he doesn’t want to learn from his mistakes, he is now eating his own; [and] our constitution , too. As a parent, and I hope as every parent knows, the most certain way to destroy a child is to permit him to do as he pleases. Insightful norms don’t impede realistic freedom, they it possible. So do I need to say it again that we just can’t let Museveni change the constitution whenever he pleases?
 
At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Michelle Obama told the crowd, “Being president doesn’t change who you are. It reveals who you are.” Growing up, Michelle said, she and Barack learned important lessons from their families about “dignity and decency” and gratitude and humility.” “At the end of the day,” she said, “when it comes to make that decision, as president, all you have to guide you are your values, and your vision and the life experiences that make you who you are.”

As an air of finality, here is the rub, Museveni and his sleazy associates just run out of the clock when it is time to discuss politics and that in itself gives them what they want. This is lack of Progress. The only way around this tactic is to make it clear those of us trying to create change will never stop and will never back off. We will never give you refuge from our ideas. Why is it that Museveni and the cohort want to tell us when it is and isn’t appropriate to discuss politics? Because they are always wrong when it comes to issues pertaining a shared humanity—they are buried in selfishness—they look at their own mouth at the expense of the rest of us. It is important to note though, this isn’t an us vs them game, if politics is going to be better we need better myths, unifying ones that are built on social equality:togikwatako!

Monday, 16 October 2017

#Raw—Seeing the year through the ‘lens of a Camera.'




“Through Photography I learn to appreciate life as it is right now, instead of wishing better days ahead. I am so thankful for the way my camera offers me gentle reminders to have patience, slow down, and enjoy life’s moments as they happen.”

I write from a lens of truth. In the words of Lao Tzu, “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power,” –there is no in-between, successful people don’t grow by accident, they grow by design.The road of truth-telling is not an easy one for many but I will still be here to smack you awake. Most of the pieces I have written through the years intersect with real life—life as it is, not as we think it should be or wish it was—this one is going to be reflective, about 2017. This year has been tough. It has at times beaten my ingrained discipline of fidelity to resilience (sometimes I have logged out of hope). I have learned though; that resilience isn’t an end in itself—it is surely a muscle one can always reach and pick the strength to carry on—that’s life for you and I .I am tired. Tired of having to keep problematic people in my circle, just for breathing. Keeping people who in their convoluted mind think that just because they area round, I am privileged.I am going to put it cut and dry, playing a fool doesn’t mean I am naïve. This might not sit well on your nose but I am out of fucks to give, let’s shake the honest nest.

Consider these words from Justice Scalia: “Devout Christians are destined to be regarded as fools in modern society. We are fools for Christ’s sake. We must pray for Courage to endure the scorn of the sophiscated world…Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophiscated world.” 
           
We all have friends—make friends in life—but what is the hardest thing is keeping the true kindred spirit of friendship (call it personhood and human decency , as I often love to say).Friendship is so watered down to materialism; to deception, to go-getting and to keeping up appearances—real friendship has dwindled down to nothingness. For people like me, that truly look for and hope for the best in people( not double standards and wearing facets), people like me that trust not because of naivety but rather in belief in the goodness of people often get terribly hurt. It is at times timely to have songs like Look what you made me do (by Taylor Swift) on the iPod or as favorite on your playlist. Sometimes, society has treated us so bad and so hypocritically that you don’t know who to share your fears with, hopes and plans anymore: that is what this year has taught me more than anything.

 Being the honest person, I have had a lot of trouble with people who keep up appearances albeit I have sometimes with the benefit of the doubt been played the ugly card over and over again—yes, I have lived a lie through another—at times from the same person( people).I have not just felt like drawing the curtain on these souls; I have been buried in anger, disappointment and the ultimate feeling of betrayal—you sure know what I am talking about if you have ever been let down, lied to and taken a fool by people you least expect to treat you like shit (some of them respectable  and others common place vultures) .

It was Aristotle who noted expansively on friendship: Not a few things about friendship are matters of debate. Some define it as the kind of likeness and say like people are friends, whence come the sayings ‘like to like’, ‘birds of a feather flock together’, and so on; others on a contrary say ‘two of a trade never agree’. On this very question they inquire for deeper and more physical causes, Euripides saying that ‘parched earth loves the rain, and stately heaven when filled with rain loves to fall to earth’, and Heraclitus that ‘it is what opposes that helps’ and ‘from different tones comes the fairest tune’ and ‘all things are produced through strife’; while Empedocles, as well as others, expresses the opposite view like aims at like. The physical problems we may have alone (for they do not belong to the present inquiry); let us examine those which are human and involve character and feeling e.g whether friendship can arise between two people or people cannot be friends if they are wicked , and whether there is one species of friendship or more than one. 

There is more than one way to reach out to someone who is struggling but one thing stands out—let us remember not to ask anything of someone who is drowning. Have you been wretched out that you feel everything is conspiring against you? Well, pain is an invaluable thing (ironically true)—‘Richard Rohr says, ‘The only things strong enough to break our heart are things like pain, mistakes, unjust suffering, tragedy, failure and the general absurdity of life. I wish it were not so, but it clearly is. Fortunately, life will lead us to the edge of our own resources through such events. We must be led to an experience or situation that we cannot fix or control or understand. That’s where faith begins.’
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It seems that it’s only when our former ways of understanding , coping with , and controlling our own lives break down—through loss, crisis, failure, upheaval, or pain—that we are open enough to receive new life.
-If we experience this enough times and recognize the pattern, we begin to be less afraid of it and may learn to embrace it. On our best days, we may be able to look at the storm clouds gathering in the distance and say, ‘bring it. Let the storm come because I like what it made me last time.”

In my recent article –the sanity I get writing—I write, ‘the world needs men and women of courage, resilient souls; grace-filled brothers and sisters: a universe of personhood and human decency. Sometimes the most disturbing question isn’t whether I am doing enough to please the world but rather, whether I am doing extra-ordinary things. ‘I want to emphasize today that as a writer; a truth-teller, nothing overjoys me if someone is lifted because of my work, whether it brings an extra penny to my pocket or not. 

At she writes, I am in agreement with what they say about how much readership feels enough, that–‘Maybe most of us, satisfaction doesn’t stem from numbers at all. But if not, what does keep us going? How do we measure success?  For some of us, what matters is the quality of our readers. Panelist Chad Simpson, for example, aspires to “a small but devoted cult following.” For Kellie, too, it is not how many readers but the depth of connection that counts. “Who is my ideal reader?” she asked. “It’s the reader who finds my work compelling.” The readers who sustain us are those who let us know they understand what we have written, who show that they are moved by our works, who take our ideas to new places of their own. Even if these readers are small in number, they are large in impact.”

There is a beautiful friend of mine, Vera. We meet a few months ago ‘on the internet’, a few days ago; she wrote something about me that moved me. Yes I have had praise from very many people across the globe but I will talk about in particular, for purposes of this article. She wrote, ‘I met a friend. On here. He has a name-Grace Abaho. He is a native of an Eastern Country—Uganda. He can be described with many adjectives and adverbs even without meeting him yet- honest. Ambitious. Great Writer. He Writes. And more.’ She goes on to say, ‘Thank you, Grace Abaho (He Writes); I appreciate who you are and your distinct voice in the affairs of your nation and humanity.’

For this special soul up there (Vera), I don’t know how to express the gratitude I have for her being a point of light. I am glad I met her and if the future permits, I want to have a human moment with her: ‘human moments require energy. Often, that’s what makes them easy to avoid. The human moment may be seen as yet another tax on our overextended lives. But a human moment doesn’t have to be emotionally draining or personally revealing. In fact, the human moment can be risk, businesslike, and brief. A five-minute conversation can be a perfectly meaningful human moment. To make the human moment work, you have to set aside what you are doing, put down the memo you were reading, disengage from the laptop, abandon your daydream, and of course focus on the person you are with. Usually when you do that, the other person will feel the energy and respond in kind. Together, you quickly create a force field of exceptional power.” We both haven’t met but we have had a virtual human moment, at least she calls me and gives me attention when I am feeling lowly-for that I am thankful.

On my sister’s birthday earlier on 30th September, while telling my resilience story through hers, I wrote about hope being a function of struggle as I was agreement on being. I wrote, ‘hope is not an emotion. Hope is a cognitive, behavioral process that we learn when we experience adversity, when we have relationships that are trustworthy, when people have faith in our ability to get out of a jam. Which is different from this pattern of having faith in our children, which means telling them that everything they do is wonderful and shielding them as long as we can. But girl we know this, don’t we, this desire to create a beautiful world for the people we love? ” 

In a world where wealth and not wisdom is the most desired quality; where the top is rotten so you have to be rotten to get to the top. Where money generates the largest within us, those who speak about self-development that is not financially relevant are deemed unpractical. It is easy for those who wake up to realize there is something wrong with this world. The alarm has gone off in their soul to go and ask questions. In a world where the church rocks the cradle, when as many children ask adults questions, they are told to shut up or that they need more faith, the facts are not relevant. If they do not want to go to “hell” they need to keep quiet. This message is all that some need however there are those questions inside them that will not remain silent.

In one of my favorite works of C. S. Lewis (Weight of Glory), he writes about the inner ring, and he warns; ‘Of all passions, the passion for the inner ring is more skillful in making a man who is not yet a very bad man do very bad things. Once the first novelty is worn off, the members of this circle will be no more interesting than your old friends. Why should they be? You were not looking for virtue or kindness or loyalty or humor or learning or wit or any of those things that can be really enjoyed. You merely wanted to be “in”. And that is a pleasure that cannot last. The momentary part of being part of the world, or the cliché is never worth the compromise. It only leads to a loss of integrity and an endless search for acceptance.’

Your fears will manifest if you allow them to be the primary focus that drives you. Be driven by unfettered view of what is possible for your life. Remember that you will attract an equal energy you allow to penetrate inward and radiate outward.Do nOt free yourself then, simply be the self that is free. Embrace the misunderstood “orphan” in the loving arms of awareness. Much of what we do in life is shaped by our values. Some people have the character of perseverance in the face of difficulty, while others give up when the going is tough. People who persevere have grit, they don’t give up when the times are tough, they don’t take shortcuts, they don’t compromise and they see things through to the end. If you can’t master this, going through tough times will be the real life equivalent of an ambition of pulling the sun out of the sky—embrace the darkness—as I wrote earlier

There have been a few times when I have deactivated my social media accounts( especially facebook, for a break from the noises in the background).I do a lot of “pro bono” (for half a decade now, I post free political commentary, play the fair arbiter and all you can think of ) , I share insights and I defend people who instead of being there for me when I am in the ruts, they watch in the selfsame silence as the very ones I can’t call friends—this , I have seen on many occasions—at one point I almost got imprisoned. I learned that I need to give myself space; I started to do troubleshooting on my social media platforms, using the block and unfriend buttons. Interestingly, some will still say that I am censoring them. I just can’t withstand draining myself. I keep my peace and ‘troubleshoot’ when I have to, regardless of who you are. All this I have learned isn’t far removed from reframing your darkside. In retrospect,our goal in this coming year shouldn’t just be about happiness, our goal should be meaningfulness. Instead of picking projects, hobbies and relationships based on how happy they will make us, let’s focus on things that will make our lives more significant and worthwhile.

Finally, as the years go by, my theme into the next months and the New Year will be, “it’s not about all the good you can do—it’s about the bad you can prevent. That’s less inspiring but it’s true.” As I wrote earlier, speak life. I need help at times; just like you and all else—help if you can—the fragrance always stays in the hand that gives. As I wrote on facebook recently, ascribing ones success to individual effort while ignoring all the support from society that made your opportunities possible is first degree conversation narcissism; we all have someone who has pitched in for us—be it your parents, your friends or whoever you are afraid to tell the world. Yes it is a ‘feel-good-thing’ to give yourself all the credit but it is not true that your intelligence, resilience or special tactics have mapped your way; someone always comes through the equation. What I am saying is that “I am because we all are”: Ubuntu. If only we can attune our minds to this thought perspective, maybe the world would be a better place. He chastens who loves well. Blessings