Tag Archives: poet

Osekre: Poetry, Hustling, and Musical Genre-Bending

In 2014, I stumbled upon a song unlike any I had heard at the time: “Why Are You Here,” by Osekre and the Lucky Bastards. The combination of horns, highlife sound, and energy like a punch in the gut was thrilling, and I immediately had to listen to it again, tweet about it, etc.

In the spring, the band came to Boston for its edition of the Aputumpu Music Festival, where I watched them and a diverse set of other bands. Later, I sat down to chat with the band’s lead singer, the musician, poet, and entrepreneur Osekre. In addition to creating two albums with his band, “No Turning Back From Here,” released in 2009, and the EP “Why Are You Here,” released in 2014, he’s also the founder of the Aputumpu Music Festival and the associated blog.

My notes from the conversation:

  • how having a talent and being willing to share it with others can get you quite far
  • the fascination of a certain subset of Ghanaians for Ivy League schools
  • the ways that people can make surprising shows of generosity, yet you still have to ask or put yourself out there in order to be in a position to receive, which takes courage
  • how you often feel like your creation is telling you what it wants to be
  • how your attitude toward an art form can change over time
  • physical proximity to other artists be an important influence on your work, despite internet-fueled location-independence
  • the new often comes from mixing existing things in new ways and how outsiders are often in the best place to see those possibilities
  • creating things for yourself can lead to things that help others, like a music festival (maybe all creation is ultimately selfish)

To find Osekre on the internet:
Website: osekre.com (website)
On twitter: @oskere
On Facebook: osekreandtheluckybastards
On Bandcamp: osekre.bandcamp.com
Aputumpu Music Festival and blog

Questions, comments, or guest suggestions? Send them to feedback@africantakeover.com.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Nigerian novelist and writer, b. 1977

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie tells stories. Stories about war, stories about post-colonial life, stories about life in a new country, and more.

Her books include two novels, Purple Hibiscus (2003), which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, and Half of a Yellow Sun (2007), which won the Orange Prize in 2007, and has been made into a film that will be released later this year. She has also published many short stories, several of which are in her collection The Thing Around Your Neck (2009). In 2008, she was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, a.k.a., “genius grant.”

The thing you notice about her prose is how hands-off it is. She puts you deep into an individual point of view, whether her own or that of a fictional character, describing perception and reactions without judgment. Things just are.

That suspension of judgment is in part a recognition that events and situations can always be seen from multiple perspectives. Many stories can be told about a single event. She discusses this in her TED talk, “The Danger of a Single Story.”

Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.[1]

Without many stories, it is easy to fall back on stereotypes, mistaking them for reality, the whole truth. It becomes inconceivable that those people in that other place could be anything like you.

But having many stories requires both that people are willing to tell their own stories, and that people are able to find these stories. Adichie’s prominence in the modern literary world is because she has seized the opportunity to tell her stories, and their truth cuts through the vague generalizations of the news to present complex human experience.

She uses that influence to help others to tell their own stories. She is a trustee of the Farafina Trust, a non-profit organization “established to promote reading, writing, and a culture of social introspection and engagement through the literary arts.”[2]

The organization’s goals and activities include writing workshops, donating books to public schools in Nigeria, helping editors in Nigeria develop their skills through an exchange program, creating an online community for African writers to discuss their art and industry, and the publication of a magazine.

For more:
Official site
Farafina Trust
The Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Website
TED talk “The Danger of a Single Story.”
“Why Are You Here?” in Guernica Magazine

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. TED.com, “The Danger of a Single Story.”
  2. Farafina Trust : About Us