Ben Okri’s Arrogance

Tonight I should have been at the readings in Hackney of some of Ben Okri’s work. One stinking cold gripped me. I was to have been in the audience for what would have been a clever set-up to learn about another author through her self-promotion and then would have been invited to join a reading appreciation group. The organisers never knew I was coming so never knew I didn’t make it.


“SHANTI-CHI Afrakan Storytelling and Spiritual Healing Director of Shanti-Chi Place of Residence: UK T: 07765070042 E:

Griot Chinyere is one of the directors of the first Afrakan Storytelling Festival in Britain, along with Sista Mena. Shanti-Chi Shanti-Chi is a creative healing space where individuals, families, communities and organizations come together to explore spiritual healing through Afrakan storytelling performances, workshops and retreats for personal development.

They have created a series of courses; Training Rites and Griot Journey, to prepare ones and ones for  the powerful event. All you have to do is book yourself onto one of these life enhancing programs and completion guarantees your participation in this amazing adventure.

Shanti-Chi would like to welcome you into their world. They will host The First Afrakan Storytelling Festival in Britain during July 2012!

Recently, as Kindle took over, I gave away my “The Famished Road” paperback. No-one else wanted it. I was doing a clear-out of all my reading group ‘boughts’ and my dipped in African authors library which was again unwanted by any one else I know who actually reads.

neech in RAGWORKS 2012
Ben Okri was bought up in Peckham London. We should remember that. His father arrived with his nuclear family  just on top of Nigeria’s independence from the United Kingdom when travellers were still suited in the post-colonial era. Besides that family in came the many sons of villages whose fathers and uncles had decided their fates. They were versed by the foreign office in how to dress for breakfast in an English boarding house. Their fathers would arrange the bride-prices for them to marry when they returned home.

Those early journeys to London  were the beginnings of a sharing. Nothing was planned. From the early boat trips and Nigerian Airways flights came voice-powerful fighters with nothing to lose and a fresh found freedom from compliance. They were the soul brothers with their chewing sticks and an itch. Chinua Achebe was their father. The story-tellers were unleashed and Longman’s reigned them in. From the kerosene lit huts in small-case towns, fictitious characters emerged glorious with headaches and heartaches and a way with words.
Poet and author Ben Okri did not like being called a post modern writer or whatever the publishers wanted to call him. I was intrigued that he wanted to be known or wants to be known as a writer shaped by magic.  Cherishing the folk-lore of a nation, he calls his work dream logic as he explores the rooms in his mind. I can relate to that . When I read he said that my spirit awoke. Yep I said my spirit .

Palm Oil DaughterRAGWORKS

I lived in Westray. When I wrote in fiction, safely, about people and experiences on Westray I was immersed in a culture I knew from somewhere before. There was a specific language and a vocabulary unique to the island. There were ancient ways of behaving which came naturally to me because I belonged there but wasn’t from there. When the first nations’ people came from Canada on an exchange visit in 2004  I knew their dancing steps. They were my relations through my grandfather. Nowadays the magic has gone for I am not soaked in the sunsets and snow drifts, the slyness and the friendliness, the isolation and the judgements.

At the time I lived there tourism was a dirty word and so anything attempting to record the ways of the folk was unwanted, seen as a way of exposing private people to a world they could do without. I, despite having bought my ancestors’ house and having tramped on my ancestors’ fields, was in the islanders’ eyes not worthy of writing about the island because I was a labelled “Incomer” not born of the island’s earth. Well, excuse me! The place seems timeless so therefore dream-like and all muddled up , wrapped up in a universal togetherness. A writer delves and goes deeper, looking at the people and morphing those people into one scary guardian of the culture.

So yeah I get Okri’s arrogance and respect it.

issue 8 of Up Your Street

Up Your Street   issue 8

Tues  Feb 28th  £2.50 2.30-4.30pm. Tea dance. Plumtree Centre Leyton (by Lagoon)
                        free      6pm CLR James Library, Dalston Junction. Opening ceremony.
Wed  Feb  29th   free  1-3pm Hackney Archives open afternoon (Dalston Junction)
Thur  Mar  1st   £3  7pm film “Children Of The Revolution” at Haringey Independent Film at
                                  West Green Learning Centre, Tottenham.
Sat   Mar 3rd   £1 10-noon Tapestry classes at Holden Point Waddington Rd ,Stratford.
                      £1    11.30-2.30pm Bead making with paper at Time2Craft Rokeby Community
                              Links Hub. E15.
                      £3.50 7.30pm Scouts Quiz. Scout Hall, Evesham Rd. Stratford E15.
                        Teams up to 10 people. (Please bring your own brains, food and drink).      
Tues  Mar  6th  £2.50 Matinees for seniors. Stratford east Picture House.
Sat     Mar   10th free 7.30pm Epicentre E11 with the News From Nowhere Club.
                         Murray Melvin presents a talk about the archives at Stratford east Theatre Royal.
                                                                        Take a dish to share.

A Taste Of Hackney

Yep! Tasted a bit of Hackney today. To be honest, I’m a bit saturated with Hackney as yesterday “Hackney Life ” a film project by Mosaic Films, Shacklewell Lane, Dalston, showcasing Hackney ..  again.. exposed their ways and means of getting it together via our uploaded shots on YouTube. Well, from the people I knew and loved at the introductory meeting about one eighth were computer-literate so YouTube may be a challenge. Still we remain optmistic. Then at Hackney Museum for two weeks and more,  there’s even more Love ‘Ackney (especially as it’s 2012!)  through “Homerton Voices” and artist Lucy Harrison’s “Mapping Your Manor” project.

Today, A Different Drum Productions  via “A Taste Of Hackney” treated us and the Colvestone pupils to an experience at The new Hackney Archives opposite the Peace Mural, Dalston Junction, opposite The Eastern Curve Garden where my gargoyle weathers the snow . I was quietly stunned as all the non-security staff on duty upstairs were white. Not seen that for ages.  (Seen the Mcdonald’s advert where the ante-natal nurse is black?  Well, hello strereotypes!  McDonalds could’ve paved the way and had a male nurse. Coulda,  shoulda.)

The Hackney Archives is great, state of the art and full of good stuff:- Lots of films and pictures to which the children  could relate.  Don’t know what the adults got from it as  for people who used Ridley Road Market in the past  they were pretty disorientated.

The reception/security staff are great and welcoming.

Went to Can Supermarket. Lea Bridge Road to buy my yam and spinach and home in the freezing cold on a friendly bus.  Life good.