Who dash monkey banana?

More on the aid to Africa issue. I can't help myself. I hear about it everywhere so now it's deep in the membrane. But in contrast to my last note on the matter, this is where I've gathered a few of my more whimsical thoughts. Speaking of the last entry, though. I forgot to mention Professor Sir Nicholas Stern's comments, which I think are very incisive regarding Africa's internal economic barriers, some of the causes, and the unfortunate effects.

The title is a pidgin expression meaning "just who do they think they are?" ("dash" means to give) That was the general response among folks I knew at school in Okigwe, Nigeria to Band Aid's "Do they know it's Christmas?"

And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmastime
The greatest gift they'll get this year is life(Oooh)
Where nothing ever grows
No rain or rivers flow
Do they know it's Christmastime at all?

Essaywhaman? Do whaaa? You what huh? Na wetin? Na who dash monkey banana? Ewu bekee think say nothing dey grow for Africa?. We figured it was worth inviting Geldof and clique to the Okigwe rain forest, where it was so fertile that you were lucky if an oil palm tree didn't shoot up under your feet and knock you off balance; where before the school administration in their infinite stupidity had chopped down almost all the foliage within the school compound boundaries, any hungry kid could climb the nearest mango, udala, icheokwu, orange or cashew (for the sweet, fleshly fruit, not the nut) tree and eat as much as they wanted. We figured it would be a worthwhile education for the Band-Aid brigade.

And sure we felt sorry for the folks suffering a local drought in Ethiopia, but our most immediate response was to feel sorry for the confused Brits. We were making our own "Do they know it's summertime" outreach long before the current version, inspired in part by Yellowman's "London cold" song ("Jamaica Nice/Take me home"). Ka anyi bute oku na obodo oyibo ("Igbo: let's take some warmth to the West").

And there won’t be any sun in England this Summertime
The biggest problems they’ll have this year are rife (Oooh) Where the sun never glows
The wind or is it snow
Do they know it’s Summertime at all

Chukwu-Emeka Chikezie of AFFORD

Heeee heee! And then Michael Jackson did his thing. Okay, so no daft lyrics about snow-deprived Decembers on the continent, and the song was actually pretty good this time (the Quincy Jones magic, I guess). Some of the press statements at the time were a hoot, though. The galling point remains that pop stars see nothing wrong with the idea of patronizing an entire continent. Who dash monkey banana?

It's 2005. Here we go again. I don't even need to call it. Sokari does the job in "We're not whales"

My prediction that the presentation of African countries during Saturday's concerts would be a negative pitiful one was correct. We were presented with Africa as the “scar of the world”, passive, starving, diseased, dying and helpless. This was a conscious decision by the organisers of the concert to make the crowd sympathetic to their cause and at the same time make them feel good, make them feel as if they had made a contribution to saving Africa.
Not only does it infantilise Africans and Europeans, it also facilitates the continued appropriation of all things African and all things in Africa including our problems and reduces the issues to cheap sound bites and meaningless nauseating rhetoric that go down well in the kindergarten playground of liberal politics.

I don't agree with everything she says in that article, but it comes close enough to my views to save me a lot of typing. And Ethan Zuckerman does more than his fair share in "Africa’s a continent. Not a crisis." (via Emeka Okafor)

If the goal of Live 8 were to help people see the African continent as a place they want to visit, a place they want to open businesses in, a place they want to engage with, as opposed to a place they want to save, I’d be more likely to share Brian’s (of Black Star Journal) hopes.
But that would be a very different concert. It would be one that celebrated the cultural richness of the continent by putting African artists on stage, rather than inviting them - after Geldof was shamed by Peter Gabriel - to perform at a parallel event a hundred miles away from the main action. It would be one that put African leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators on stage, rather than using a silent young Ethiopian woman as a stage prop for Madonna and Geldof. It would be one that was more focused on changing the global image of Africa than on somehow changing the minds of the eight guys sitting around a table in Scotland..."

Another Ghanaian blogger with a different sort of quotable on the matter is Koranteng Ofosu-Amaah, probably familiar to Copia readers, who recently got to air his thoughts on the African aid buzz on the radio. To seize upon an aside:

I didn't mention the other statistic that underlies my point about Nigeria moving: the installation of 1 million cell phone lines in Nigeria in the past year. And anyone who has had to deal with the acumen of Nigerians in whatever sphere knows that if that society decides to advance, it will change in very short order. It will still be difficult, unwieldy and disorderly, but it will move and possibly even faster than India or China will.

Well, there's a bit of modesty going on here. Given that my own life was saved by a Ghanaian doctor in Nigeria after one British and one Nigerian doctor had given up treating me (long story), and given my other experiences with Ghanaian professionals, the nation of Black Stars has a whole heap of a lot to work with. And there is the object lesson about internal trade in the continent. The mutual respect of professionals will show the road to the achievements of China and India, if our leadership allows it.

But what about those leaders? They're off having to be lectured on dignity and the realities of aid by The Colonel. And check it out. The Nigerian government, singing that Johnny Kemp: "Just got paid, Friday night...", starts by tipping the back pocket at those world champion runner-up Flying Eagles. Maybe they should also buy a pair of glasses for the punk ass referee who gift-wrapped the championship game for Argentina. No, for real, maybe they should just pay Siasia, the over-achieving coach. I guess the expression "Who dash monkey banana" slices in multiple ways.

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia

The problem with aid to Africa

Talk of the Nation had a show on debt to Africa. It was hosted by Lynn Neary, whom I do not like as hostess (she is too impatient and abrupt), but the topic was well worth it. James Shikwati, director of the Inter-Region Economic Network in Nairobi was the first guest, and he started with an overview of his reasons, as an African, for despising aid to Africa.

[Shikwati]: I'm concerned about the aspect of beggar mentality that aid creates. And then there is also the aspect of aid killing Africa's creativity and entrepreneurship. And also the aspect of aid destroying ownership of the African problem, by transferring it to developed countries.

[Neary]: What are the alternatives

[Shikwati]: The alternative is to get Africans learning how to do business, and to get African governments facilitating an environment that will make it easier for Africans to do business.

The first clause here surprised me. Africa is again a very diverse continent, but speaking for Nigerians at least, I don't think anyone needs to teach business. Nigerians are the second most ruggedly entrepreneurial people I think I know as a class (Lebanese being the most). The biggest problem has been the opposite of what Shikwati says: the public sector treating the public interest too much as an extension of the business interest of those in power.

[Neary]: Do you think African countries need help getting such entrepreneurial ideas off the ground

[Shikwati]: The African leadership should look inward to the causes of the African problem. The first one being artificial barriers that make it so difficult for Africans to trade among themselves. Africa is a market of 800 million people. In that case before someone from outside can come to help us, we can help each other by opening ourselves up.

There was also an American guest, Steven Radelet, but Shikwati really set the tone of the discussion. I have been very happy to hear more intelligent African voices weigh in on these important topics. It's not that such folks are a new phenomenon by any means, but it's only lately that the media seems to be ready to give voice to those Africans who do not speak in terms that Westerners have come to expect. It feels to me that we have a nugget of opportunity for breaking down some of the oh so tiresome stereotypes.

Shikwati expressed the view that short term pain that would come from curtailing aid would be worth the long term benefit. He also pointed out that a lot of the "aid" really comes in the form of loans, which even when directed to such important causes as malaria treatment and primary school education, adds yet more long-term burden to the receiving countries. Radelet did point out that there is a recent trend towards subsidized loans and even outright grants.

The first caller was another Uchenna (of the countless so named). He suggested that if the main problem has been that corrupt regimes steal aid money, why don't organizations provide aid in terms of actual (presumably illiquid) resources for projects rather than cash. Shikwati responded that what is really needed is a "radical shake-up" of the economics that drive Africa, and that such a tinkering measure is really not enough. Radelet did point out some examples of modest success stories from countries receiving aid, but I agree with Shikwati that most African countries need things to happen at a much larger scale, and that even successfully targeted aid will not achieve such scale.

One of the callers asked from the point of view of a business owner asking essentially "if Africa is a mess, why should I invest there?" To me, this just underscored the importance of Shikwati's points. Even though I personally dislike Africa's sloth in shedding dependence on aid, I do not agree with the typical Western economist who says "make it easy for Westerners to make money in Africa and it will be worth all the aid imaginable". They can keep that trickle-down bullshit on their classroom chalkboards. I'm perfectly happy not to have any Western investors in Africa. I don't think we need them. Between ther very large and very successful body of Africans in diaspora and the 800 million still on the continent Shikwati mentions, there is plenty of resource for a completely indigenous African marketplace. The barriers we need to remove in Africa are not barriers for Westerners to invest but rather all the unfortunate barriers to professional achievement even among natives. If lowering these barriers also draws some Westerners, that's all very well—I don't advocate protectionism, which is after all the way in which the West sabotages African development at the same time they offer aid— but Western investment should be understood as a very secondary matter.

Despite my worries about the practicalities of business based on merit in Nigeria right now, I've started to look into how I can use my professional profile and entrepreneurial experience in ways that take advantage of my local knowledge in Nigeria, which is not enormous, by any means (I've been away too long), but is not insignificant. I've come to the point where I can't avoid doing so because my parents are very seriously talking about moving back to Nigeria in their retirement.

There is the thread that for me connects the continental-scale macroeconomics of the Live 8 and G8 hullaballo to the microeconomics of personal entrepreneurial interest. The only thing a liquid dole from the West can do is distract the ruling African class from the important task of engaging their professional class, much of which is dispersed because of the starkness of this very class distinction throughout so much of the continent. Western aid in the large can really do very little more than provide indirect discouragement to my own ambitions in my native country, and that of my peers. What I and my peers have to offer is hard work and professionalism over a steady period of time, but we're stymied because there is so much more more superficial attraction in greased megabucks from Western coffers.


"Quotīdiē" 26 June 2005
"Africa and business on Talk of the Nation"
"Those despicable gas flares"

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia


We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The United States Constitution (See also the Amendments to the Constitution)

The country that has kindly granted me a second and very valuable citizenship deserves some moments of reflection outside the details of the days politics (no mean responsibility considering how worrisome politics have become lately).

The foundation of the U.S.A. is a remarkably sensible and prescient document which has endured through tremendous changes in every aspect of the country. But what is most remarkable to me is the fact that the constitution has endured so well in the face of changing mores. It is extraordinary for any national code in history to survive changes in mores, and yet this Constitution has been a steady guide, requiring no revolution through women's suffrage, the emancipation of slaves, the establishment of civil rights, the shift from insular to geopolitical tendency, the shift from agrarian to industrial and from industrial to service economy, and even all the explosive demographic changes since the turn of the 20th century. I think that this is ample proof that the principles enshrined in the constitution should inform the development of all sovereign nations, including my own native Nigeria. I know that the universality of these principles is a controversial idea, and for now I'll just say that it's practicality rather than idealism that makes me think so.

Here's looking forward to another 229 years of life for the U.S. constitution, and indeed, many more beyond that.

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia

Flickr, creative commons and "borrowing" works

I happened to stumble across a very interesting thread on the Flickr board: "HELP: Somebody's using MY pictures in HIS Photostream!!!". The thread opens up all sorts of pitfalls I'd never even thought of with Weblogging, shared photos, Creative Commons, etc.

As best I can summarize the situation, the most salient facts are:

  1. UserA complained that UserB uploaded a couple of UserA's photos into UserB's account ("photostream") without UserA's permission.
  2. UserA has placed the photos under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs
  3. UserB did not provide attribution to UserA
  4. UserA does not want UserB to host these pictures under UserB's account regardless of attribution
  5. If UserB were to provide attribution, because of the many ways people can link to or embed Flickr photos, it's possible that the attribution will not be apparent in certain normal usage

Some less salient, but interesting facts:

  • 10) UserA is distressed and asked for help, officially and unofficially, in part how to deal with the unwanted usage, and for better understanding of policy and convention
  • 11) UserA says that English is not his first language, and he doesn't necessarily understand everything that's going on
  • 12) UserA feels that UserB is being "a bit of a jerk" about the entire situation but UserB has consented to update with attribution [Note drifting from fact to characterization: based on UserB's own comments (he appears in the thread later on), I think the problem is misunderstanding followed by standard flame war social dynamics]

The most striking thing here is the contradiction between Fact (3) and (4). It seems that UserA does not understand that in using this particular CC license, he loses control over (4), providing that licensees adhere to terms (which according to (12) should be the case by now). Is there a problem with licensors nonchalantly choosing CC licenses without considering or understanding all the ramifications of thee licenses? (I'm sure there is always going to be some degree of such problems, but how widespread are they among the many people who are not used to thinking in terms of Copyright licensing?)

Is there a problem with the fact that Flickr makes it easy to tag with attribution-required licenses, even though the way the service is structured cannot really enforce or ensure attribution (5)?

To what extent are CC licenses applied using technological metadata tagging means legally trumped by separately and explicitly stated means of the licensor? In this case, UserA has tagged his photos with a license, but has also informally expressed a desire for more stringent restrictions than those expressed in the tags. What restrictions are legally enforceable in this case?

One matter that came up is pretty much an entirely separate discussion on its own. It seems that Flickr purposely does not allow people to specify photos as public domain, for reasons that really seem a bit fuzzy to me.

Based on reading Flickr staff responses in this thread, they really don't know answers to such questions any more than I do. Some seemed remarkably muddled in their responses, and some gave responses that I think are plain wrong. Most of these discrepancies do get hashed out in the thread, though, and I hasten to add that Flickr staff seem to be genuinely concerned about sorting this all out based on what I read. I suspect that the entire situation just dredges up a ton of issues regarding the intellectual commons that no one really fully understands yet.

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia


Il avait des richess de cœur,
L'est né pour jouer son accordéon
L'a donné la chemis' de son dos
C'était un grand bonhomm', monsieur [Buckwheat Zydeco]

—Michael Doucet (final flourish mine)—from "Freeman's Zydeco". Original "grand bonhomm'" is "Freeman Fontenot". My translation:

He has riches of the heart
He was born to play his accordion
He's given away the shirt on his back
He's a great free spirit, Mr. Buckwheat Zydeco

Hé toi! (that's Cajun, not French, y'all)

Last night Lori and I went to Buckwheat Zydeco at the Boulder Theater. Yes yes Lori is over eight months pregnant, but when did that sort of thing ever stop her from doing anything? As soon as we got to the theater, we were a bit dismayed. I've never had a problem with the mass of Boulder's grey hippies, but it was immediately apparent that there wouldn't be all that much atmosphere with the crowd we saw. Buckwheat was one of the first concert Lori and I went to, in Milwaukee, (after Digable Planets, though) and we danced our ever-loving asses off. Catching him at New Orleans Jazz Fest in 1996 was also a big treat (you gotta love it when Wayne Toups and the ZydeCajuns are the opening act). Boulder 2005 was clearly not going to be epic. A much smaller and older crowd than, say, Zap Mama at the same venue. It didn't help that I'd played soccer twice yesterday and I was feeling a bit fagged.

Things did quite look up when I went to get Lori some water and ran into our friend Lynette. Lynette, you see, is all Cajun, and you don't have to know her last name's Hebert to figure that out. In earlier encounters she taught me a few variations on the Zydeco two-step. I'd already learned the basics by watching the very impressively two-stepping crowd at N.O. Jazz Fest. (You don't get far in the social graces of a Nigerian university without being able to pick up even fairly complex dance steps fairly quickly). Anyway, Lynette and her friend joined us at the front, and that added considerably to the energy as Lori, Lynette and I threw out some two-step variations (OK, really Lynette and I: Lori was dancing as best one can bien enceinte) and responded loudly to Buckwheat's Cajun muttering.

Ça marche! ça marche!
Yeah! Ça roule, Buckwheat! Bien sûr!
Nous sommes partis!
Avec vous! Au Bayou!

The set was heavy on songs from the band's newest CD Jackpot!. The new songs are very good, but It's too bad he didn't get to play some of his classic repertoire such as "Ya Ya", "Hey Good Looking" and especially the Chenier classic "Hot Tamale Baby". Still, it was fun in the end. Buckwheat, as always, played the accordion as if he had twenty fingers. If you haven't gone to a Buckwheat concert, I highly recommend it, while you can—the great man is not getting any younger by any means (though Lori tells me the man on the frottoir (washboard and spoons) is his son, and Lynette surmised that the drummer might be, as well—p'raps breeding will out?). Everyone can do with a little glimpse of the Bayou in their life.

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia


The substance of her sex
Follows gravity, not groove
But flank: Gauguin goggle
Swell to the current's remove.
Persuasion for closed eyes, close
Quarters, alert fingertips, clutch class.

Syrup sussurus of
sweat-wick winding sarong—
Tremors from rhythmic, spasmed
Slap-clap of bare heel on thong
Hips, immediate, broadly surpass
All science worked into ogled pose.

—Uche Ogbuji—from "Hips"

I've noticed that Madison Ave might have their own idea of female beauty, but on the streets, within the generation currently in their sexual prime, there is a very different convention, whether in Boulder, San Francisco, Amsterdam or London (sorry, haven't traveled all that broadly lately). A convention that, surprisingly, I as an African can quite appreciate. Hips aren't the only thing, but they do master several forms of impression.

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia


...I've stood at Auschwitz, where millions were massacred. Then I read about in Darfur, where hundreds of thousands are dying in the Sudan.... ...I look at civilizations that have collapsed: Rome, Greece, China, the Aztecs, the Mayas. And then I look around at our pretensions and our beliefs -- that we are somehow permanent -- and I am reminded that it is the quality of leaders, the courage of a people, the ability to solve problems that enables us to continue for one more year, and then one more year, until our children and our grandchildren have had this freedom, this safety, this health and this prosperity.....

Newt Gingrich on "This I believe" (All Things Considered)

I've long since come to believe that Newt Gingrich as virulent reagent was never more than political affectation. No one ever doubted he was brilliant, but since his tumble from political grace, he has surprised me with an unexpected level of discernment and sensibility in his commentary. Yesterday's audio file on NPR takes the cake for me, though. He brought me up full short. I heard the creed of a man who is genuinely concerned for his civilization, and considers solutions based in humanity and humility, rather than bluster and belligerence. Apparently Gingrich extemporized the entire comment, and I was impressed by its coherence, but much more so by its tenor.

It's too bad that Gingrich decided against such equanimity at the time he was in a position to actually make a difference. Then again, if he had done at that time, his colleagues would likely never have allowed him to ascend to such a position. Such is realpolitik today, and especially so in the cartoon halls of American government.

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia

Hip-hop slanguistics

Mark Liberman responded to my earlier ribbing. He says:

His conclusion: "My personal theory is that hip-hop slang is far too rich and fast-moving for linguists to easily keep up".

Well, I'll defend my profession by claiming that a linguist who tried to keep up with it -- and there probably are some in that category -- could do as well as anyone else.

Mark is right, of course. I was mostly teasing. But as I responded in e-mail to him:

I do wonder where such linguists may be hiding. I mentioned some of the claimed Wolof origins of common urban slang, and I'm never entirely sure what to believe along those lines because often the chain of citation is not as rigorous as what I've come to expect from linguistics. Yes, I know that it's hard to figure out the record through the dark ages of slavery and all that, but I do wonder whether there is enough linguistic attention to what (hip-hop slang English) I think is the richest dialect of any language in common usage (and I know quite a few dialects, non-linguist though I may be).

I'm especially suspicious of the grandness of some of the claims, for example that the term "OK", notorious for its etymological coyness, derived from Wolof expressions. I don't believe this derivation is generally accepted in linguistics. I know I'm in danger of being called a House Negrah who is too keen on seeing authority in white professors, but the reality is that I can't imagine any possible motivation for linguists to deny such etymology, if it's plausible. Linguists already accept all sorts of derivations in English from cultures that are not fashionable to Eurocentrists.

I'm also a bit skeptical because I understand that Igbos made up a large proportion of slaves, which should allow me, as a decent Igbo speaker, to recognize some corruptions of Igbo into Black American slang, but I've tried and can't find any examples that make much sense. Maybe Wolof folks were more determined to clutch to their language than Igbos, but I do wonder.

One site I did find is this one, which attempts to classify the morphology of hip-hop slang. It's probably not rigorous linguistics, because I can comprehend the terminology, but I'd still love to find other such resources.

For my part I keep up with hip-hop slang by listening to the music and hanging out on hip-hop boards such as Okayplayer. I've never lived in the hood (another rear end slang), pumped a gauge, smoked dro nor boosted any lo, and I don't expect a linguist would need to either. They would, however, have to sort out the various slangs of New York, Atlanta, LA, The Bay Area, St. Louis, New Orleans, London, Kingston, and so on. It would be a big task.

One side note on Liberman's entry. He quotes Kanye West:

I drink a boost for breakfast, and ensure for dizzert
Somebody ordered pancakes I just sip the sizzurp
That right there could drive a sane man bizzerk
Not to worry y'll Mr. H 2 the Izzo's back to wizzerk

On line 2, Kanyeezee is making a joke. He doesn't mean codeine syrup (which "sizzurp" almost always means). He means plain old maple syrup. Liberman says:

Exercise for the reader: in the the last line, what did Kanye actually say, and what did he mean?

Solution: Hip Hop icon Jay Z is nicknamed "HOVA", and in one of his hit songs the chorus went: "Aitch to the izzo, vee to the izzay", basically spelling his nick name. Jay Z is the one who gave Kanye West his break, and Jay Z is also known for retiring, unretiring, retiring again, and then becoming president of Def Jam records. Kanye is just paying homage by mentioning the unretirement ("back to work").

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia


The big elephant in the room is African governments. Africa has been totally mismanaged and misruled in the past decade, but nobody wants to talk about that because of political correctness. Africa's begging bowl leaks horribly. As a matter of fact, the African Union itself estimated that every year corruption alone costs Africa $148 billion. If African leaders could cut that in half, they'll find more money than what Tony Blair is trying to raise for them. —George Ayittey on Jim Lehrer's NewsHour

Good stuff as usual from Emeka Okafor recently. In a few recent entries he has been talking about books with a variety of perspectives on African development.

In "Ayittey vs Sachs" he links to a debate between the two authors on PBS. Interesting stuff, but I'm left wondering whether Jeffrey Sachs is deluded, or in someone's pocket. He seems to be very optimistic about the probity of African governments in using Western aid. He wants Western governments to throw more money at Africa's problems.

It's not chauvinism to simply admit that most of Africa's problems can't be solved by throwing money at them. African has amply proved that it can be a bottomless pit of inefficiency and corruption, and I find it a bit patronizing for Sachs to go on as if only the hand of Western largesse will save Africa from itself. My attitude is a lot more along the lines of Ayittey, as I suppose is that of a lot of the professional class.

Sure, our problems of governance originate in actual colonialism and the essentially colonial manipulations of the cold war, but we're not going to do anything about it pointing fingers for the next 50 years. We have plenty of resources, including, most importantly, a huge and largely untapped pool of human resource. Our governments are a bit less arbitrary and kleptocratic than they used to be (though we have a long way to go), and I see a decent hope of Africa's bootstrapping itself successful region by successful region, and largely independently of foreign aid. As Ayittey says it will have to be the private sector leading the way.

Well, I mean, we have to find the origin of the problem. The origin of the problem in many African countries is that you've got state bureaucracies which are too bloated. I mean, if you take Ghana, for example, Ghana has 88 ministers and deputy ministers. Take Uganda; Uganda has 70 -- for a country of 25 million people, Uganda has 70 ministers. Uganda's budget is 40 percent aid-dependent. Ghana's budget is 50 percent aid-dependent.

Even if you cancel the debt, you don't eliminate that aid dependency. This is what I mean by getting to the fundamental root causes of the problem. Government, the state sectors in many African countries need to be slashed so that, you know, you put a greater deal of reliance on the private sector. The private sector is the engine of growth. Africa's economy needs to grow but they're not growing.

Right. Nigeria went from 4 governmental regions to 19 states and then eventually to (I think) 33 states. We've built a ludicrous bantustan of petty bureaucratic divisions. Private enterprise doesn't even know where to begin navigating the unpredictable waters of the numerous layers of government. Local knowledge isn't enough for enterprise in much of Africa. You need multiple levels of local influence.

Ayittey is also right when he talks about basic civil securities as a huge obstacle to development. Nothing underscores the danger of misplaced priorities better than the AU's attitude towards Mugabe's colossal stupidity while they try to turn the topic back towards further handouts from the West.

I'll have to get a copy of Africa Unchained, Ayittey's book. Ditto Preparing Africa for the Twenty-First Century, a book Okafor brought to my attention in a later entry.

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia

Omnium gatherum macaronicorum

"Macaronics"—John Cowan

John posts on one of my favorite subjects (BTW, if you're not reading John's blog, you're in deep slumber), Macaronics. The first one he posted is probably the most oft cited example of Engligh/Latin Macaronic verse, and with good reason. It's a wicked funny rhyme by the James Appleton Morgan my the favorite Macaronic piece, (it's ): by Morgan

Prope ripam fluvii solus
A senex silently sat;
Super capitum ecce his wig,
Et wig super, ecce his hat.

Another one I really like is Skelton's wry elegy:

Sepultus est among the weeds,
God forgive him his misdeeds,
With hey ho, rumbelo,
Per omnia saecula,
Saecula saeculorum.

Beyond English/Latin there is no end of brilliant stuff in macaronics of all sorts of languages, for example Charles Leland:

In cœlis wo die götter live, non semper est sereno,
Nor de wein ash goot ash decet in each spaccio di vino.

Lessee... Latin to German to English to Latin to Italian to English to German to Latin to English to Italian. Followed all that?

Afficionados (no pun intended) of Pepys's diary will remark his macaronic use of French and Spanish in a vain attempt to dignify some of his more salacious passages.

Macaronics are named after Maccheronea, an Italian renaissance work with passages of Italian/Latin macaronics.

And lest anyone wag their heads saying "people just aren't that clever any more" (for some value of "any more": Leland is of the 19th/20th century, Morgan of the 19th), some of the most clever macaronic language comes from modern singers reaching across cultures. Take the Renaud song from the early 80s:

When I have rencontred you
You was a jeune fille au pair
And I put a spell on you,
And you roule a pelle to me.

Together we go partout
On my mob il was super
It was friday on my mind,
It was story d'amour.

It is not because you are,
I love you because I do
C'est pas parc' que you are me,
qu'I am you, qu'I am you

You was really beautiful
In the middle of the foule.
Don't let me misunderstood
Don't let me sinon I boude.

My loving, my marshmallow,
You are belle and I are beau.
You give me all what You have
I say thank you, you are bien brave.

This is really French borrowing English for its macaronics, but regardless, gotta love "My loving, my marshmallow, you are belle and I are beau." Put that in rivum and bibe, senex.

I've written a bit of Macaronic verse myself. It's a fun exercise. More fun than regular composition, that's for sure.

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia