This Christmas, I can’t stop thinking about how Christianity in Africa is gradually morphing into a hybrid religion spiced with local traditions, just as it did in pagan Europe. One strong indicator of its future is visible in Legio Maria. I first heard of them in my childhood, after a neighbor’s child fell off a tree and died (apparently). A group of Legio Maria prayed for him and he resurrected. A few years later, we planted a moringa tree in our home. They have something against that tree, so one day they showed up at our fence and said prayers to curse the tree, and the tree grew so big that it threatened the house and we had to cut it down. In spite of these strange happening, I never bothered to find out about them until I visited Western Kenya in March of this year.
My New Year resolution is to make a short film every month. I started very early, with this scifi/horror, What Happened to Jilted Lovers, and I hope to carry the momentum into the new year. I had this same ambition way back in 2008, the year I quit a salaried job to focus on writing and filmmaking. Back then, I didn’t achieve it because I had no equipment, filmmaking was way too expensive, and there was no market. Today, I have no excuse. Only motivation. And each film I make will be strictly for direct-to-consumer distribution online.
Me, somewhere in Nothern Uganda,
making a documentary.
Travel Blues - Abandoned at midnight on the roadside - Corruption at OR Tambo Airport - Racism at Charles De Gaulle Airport
Sometimes, when travelling, you pray for something to go slightly wrong, not to derail your holiday or make it a horror, but just wrong enough to provide excitement and thrill on a very long and boring trip. For me, I’ve encountered all kinds of wrong. There were times when the journey was more exciting than the destination, and times when the journey was such a pain that I wished they could invent teleportation machines.
|The call of the road. Here I was in Saptari district, eastern Nepal|
I've been to a few caves before, some that human ancestors inhabited two million years ago, but the caves in Olumo rock blew me away. Historically, it's similar to Lamogi Hills in Gulu, which locals used as a base to fight British colonialists, and the locals were only defeated after the British poisoned their drinking water. In Olumo rock, locals found a refuge against enemy attacks, but they went a step further and built mud walls to create rooms within the caves, thus turning the caves into homes. To this day, caretaker families live in these caves, and some chambers are still used for ritual worship, which makes it much more than just a tourist site, the kind of place I like to visit.
|One of the caretakers, and spiritual priestess, who lives in Olumo rock|
It’s not what lies at the end of the road that makes travel irresistible, but the road itself. When I returned to Nigeria last November, I needed an excuse to trek around the country, a reason to get from point A to point B, and in between I expected to see things, to encounter interesting characters, and maybe to get an insight into the Nigerian way of life. I told you about some of this in the last post, and I promised to tell you about my escapades with security men.
When I made my second visit to Nigeria last November, I thought I’d find nothing new. I certainly did not expect trouble with security men who thought I was a Boko Haram agent, but I’ll tell you about that in a later post. Yet, that is not strange, given the terror situation in the world today. What I totally did not expect however was trouble with toilet paper. It’s something I never thought about much before, but after it hit me, I begun to question the meaning of life. Toilet paper!
|A traveler enjoys the view on Olumo rock, Abeokuta|
About two years ago I went to Europe for the first time. I visited Berlin. Being an enthusiast for old buildings, I thought I’d quench my thirst for architectural tourism, but I never enjoyed ancient buildings in Berlin, and I could never figure out why until last year when I visited the ancient towns of Vence and St. Paul de Vence in France. At first I thought the buildings in Berlin were not old in the strict sense of the word, since the city was obliterated during WWII and many sites had to be reconstructed, or rebuilt from scratch, but I did not feel any thrill while exploring Vence and St. Paul de Vence.
|Travelers admire Belvedere auf dem Klausberg,|
in Sanssouci park, Potsdam, Germany
2015 was such a busy year for me. I started it with producing a TV series, which got me deep in debts, but which finally paid off :-)), and I ended it by producing a feature film, a scifi that I wrote and started making on a whim. Maybe this year you'll get to see it. In between those two projects, I worked on the Disney film, Queen of Katwe, directing 'the making of' documentary, I traveled twice to South Africa, twice to France, twice to Kenya, and once to Nigeria, attending five festivals (thanks to the success of my book, A Killing in the Sun). I wrote several short stories and a novella, some of which appeared in The Apex Book of World SF 4, African Monsters, Imagine Africa 500 (coming this year), and AfroSF v2. I completed a radio script, and nearly finished my novel. Yet, I found time to date a few girls, though non got stuck on me, thankfully, and above that, I managed to read, maybe fifteen books, and a countless number of short stories. I set out to read diverse books, but really I read anything that I came upon. Still, of those I read, here are books by, or featuring, people of color that I enjoyed the most.