Narcissus

Outrospection is working

in making you shallow

and you can’t see past the surface.

Reflection was designed

to keep you there.

-Akotowaa

 

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Introducing…Tronomie!

If you follow VI Music, you probably know Tronomie. Like, even if you don’t know who he is, you know him. He has a number of recognizable identifiers, but the subtlest one is that he has been on nearly every VI song. Mostly as a backing vocalist or as a partial producer and arranger. Remember the male voice in the background of Adomaa’s Traffic Jam? Can you hear the backing vocals of Robin-Huws’ A Fading Dream? He’s even in the band FRA’s Dumsor. And of course, the very famous “Oh OH!” shouts in my own song, IWITP. (He also made the beat – with an instrument I had never previously heard of, called the cajon – for IWITP.)

As it stands now, the greatest dose anyone has probably had of Tronomie’s singing voice is from the Gospel group, Crossfire, started a few years back, and seemingly dormant for a while. (But hopefully not for much longer.)

However, if like the stereotypical adult, your most relevant identifiers are not accomplishments but rather genealogy, then you might be interested to know that he is in fact Adomaa’s (yes, the Butterfly) brother; a part of the Adjeman family. I legit have his name saved on my phone as Tronomie Adjeman.

For some reason I cannot fathom though, most people choose to call him Joshua. They claim some strange nonsense about what is actually on his birth certificate or something. What is a birth certificate or passport, even? Who needs a birth name when Akotowaa is there to nickname you when you are newly in your twenties? 🙂

This is my favourite (and also least favourite) part: How Joshua became Tronomie. Well, you see, when Tronomie and I first met, as I had just joined the VI family, he gave me an absurd nickname which I refuse to disclose, which rapidly spread throughout VI – so now they basically all call me that. And it sucks. So I decided that as payback, I’d give this boy a nickname just as absurd. There weren’t many ways I could think of to play with the name Joshua itself. So I moved to the literal next best thing: the book right beside Joshua. (Judges would never have worked.) So Deuteronomy it had to be! Branding expert that I am, shortening and stylizing it was never a problem. And it’s great that it’s such a unique name, because no one else seems to be insane enough to go around calling themselves “Tronomie”! =D

connfudwiaazrsf

If I had to describe Tronomie in two words, I’d choose “quiet beast”. It is not that he is necessarily quiet, but more like he is quiet about how much of a beast he is. It’s like he’s not comfortable accepting that he’s mad, crazy talented. Hence my self-appointed role of hype-girl.

Tronomie is here to shatter standards in the name of Jesus. If anything, he knows his focus, direction, goal, mission – whatever you want to call it. From him, don’t expect what you would usually expect from any ordinary Ghanaian Christian who makes music; expect more.

And the first thing you get from him is his debut, Breaking Bars!

Listen here:

 

cooepdmxgaayh2f
-Akotowaa

Disconnecting…

I remember phone calls
I was too bothered to pick up
because five minutes would turn
fifteen would turn two hours
and I thought drag lacked purpose
Now I crave it.
I let the phone ring like I wasn’t there,
surprised when you continued to call
like you believed through Faith
I was never out of coverage area.
Radio silence dissolved us, and it was
partly the network, partly the intent
But you kept finding ways to stay in touch,
holding on to the hem of my robe
if only a single thread
was enough to keep you connected.
Maybe you clung so tight
because you knew already that
you were losing me.
-Akotowaa

These Are Not Questions

Have you felt like you are pumping
debris into a vacuum.
Yelling through a gramophone
into an empty room.
And outside,
Everyone is talking at once.
Have you felt like putting it all down.
and rebellion rebelling against itself.
Have you felt the war.
The put the pen down.
The put the voice down.
The never pick it up again.
The why try. The overload. The can’t stop.
Have you known how to share
fragments of you, without
breaking into pieces yourself.
Have you found answers.
Because these are not questions.
-Akotowaa

My Thoughts On Self-Love, Righteous Arrogance, and Prideful Humility

Incidentally I found this tweet today and I couldn’t think of a more perfect time to have found it. LOL!

“Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility; I chose arrogance.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

Note: I, the writer, identify with Christianity, and use this as the ultimate lens through which my views come.

All I want to do is share some musings from my mind and basically organize my thoughts so that I myself can understand what I believe.

The increasing volume of material about self-love, be they books, articles, tweets or whatever, is beginning to get to me, perhaps specifically because of my own identity. I suspect nearly everything I say henceforth is going to be largely controversial, but bear with me. (Actually, nobody is forcing anybody else to read this, so…)

I fear that all our 21st-century promotion of self-love is turning us into insensitive, callous, narcissistic beasts who are more or less empty and searching for fulfilment in the wrong places. That was a heavy sentence. However, in no way am I encouraging self-hate. That would be silly.

I would like to formally acknowledge that I do indeed believe self-hate is a real and serious problem, entirely worthy of being tackled immediately and necessarily, in all its different forms. Anxiety, self-hatred and especially low self-esteem are not foreign things to me. I honestly believe that I have insulted myself and had more bad thoughts against myself, up to nearly twice the amount that others have had towards me. I know for a fact that there are people who grew up hating their hair, skin, race, facial features, bodies, sexes, sexual orientations and more. I know that there are people who are insecure without makeup, bleach their skin, can’t stand their curly/nappy hair, self-harm, and/or do the strangest things when nobody is looking. And I believe that of course, they deserve to love themselves as much as anyone does.

But if I may put it this way, I don’t see how the solution to a problem could very well be the problem itself. And no, this is not a scenario where the vaccine analogy is applicable. This is more like – when there are parasites in you, the solution is not to replace them with a different kind of parasite.

It bothers me that the responses to a lot of kinds of prejudice on social media/the internet seems to be avalanches of selfies. Something oppressive happens to a minority society? Everyone else somehow starts posting selfies. Something oppressive happens to someone who belongs to a discriminated-against sexual orientation? Suddenly everyone with a queer sexuality starts posting selfies. I don’t…I don’t know. I just…don’t know.

I see a lot of rhetoric circulating – most of which involve taking plenty selfies, putting yourself above everything and everyone else for no-one’s sake but yours, an expensive kind of self-indulgence, and at other times, lots of nothing said in many ways. I think we’re missing the mark.

Treating ourselves as supreme beings in our own lives isn’t healthy – especially when we are wont to fall short so many times. If I were a god, I shouldn’t be so fallible. And, in times when I am genuinely lost and don’t know what to do, I don’t want to think that I should be the only one who knows what to do in my life – because then I would be a serious let-down to myself. I don’t want to turn vain, addicted to mirrors as Narcissus was addicted to reflecting water. I don’t want to have my Instagram or Snapchat overloaded with selfies – a strange attempt to convince myself that I am entirely in love with myself (and perhaps lowkey be seeking validation from others about this).

If I am awesome, I want to be entirely comfortable in the fact that I am awesome, because it is an established fact. It’s not an extraordinary discovery. It’s not something controversial that needs to be proved and proved again. It is a thing which just is. Just like I wouldn’t go around trying to prove to myself from time to time that on most days, there is sunrise and sunset, I don’t think I should have to continuously prove to myself that I am a wonderful creature.

However, in trying to run away from self-absorption, I have found another type of toxicity in the form of prideful “humility” – as well as harmful “humility”; and there’s a reason why humility is in quotation marks.

Christians have quite a reputation for turning holy things into toxic things. If you aren’t careful and, like me, you are a Christian, you might take all the preachings and teachings about selflessness and twist them around into self-negligence, and land yourself right back in a pit of self-loathing. But think about it carefully. If we are commanded by Jesus himself to love our neighbours as ourselves, that cannot possibly be a calling to hate ourselves. And yes, many times, we are admonished not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought (narcissism). But here’s the flipside: prideful humility may be just as harmful.

The call to humility is not equal (AT ALL) to a battle to see who can think of, or speak of themselves more lowly than they ought to. Humility is knowing and accepting your place; neither a place higher than your place nor a place lower than your place. To lie about yourself is not humble. It is prideful.

When you have, for example, done a good job of something, and you insist to yourself that you haven’t – even if you could do better – you are not really being humble. The God we are called to be like takes satisfaction in the work He does, when what He does is good.

Imagine if, during the creation, God created the moon and the stars or whatever, and instead of seeing that “it was good”, He tortured himself with thoughts of, “Oh, what’s this terrible mess? For goodness’ sake, I could do better – after all, I’m God,” and then proceeded to incessantly create and destroy even just light. He’d have never moved on to Day Two of creation, would He? Being satisfied in a good thing is super important.

I believe in righteous arrogance, as is worthy of Children of the Most High God. And we have the right to feel extremely good about ourselves all the time, just because of what and whose we are. Not just who we are, but whose.

Psalm 139:13-16

“For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you

when I was made in the secret place,

when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in your book

before one of them came to be.”

For each of us, our creation was deliberate; and if you read carefully, our wonder comes from both our physical existence and beyond it; our “inmost being”.

Righteous arrogance means being arrogant enough to claim what you know is true about yourself. And I daresay Jesus had it. I imagine the Pharisees thinking this impudent man had some nerve saying that he, a mere man, and the Father God, were “one”. But…what would have been the point of “humbly” shying away and saying, “Oh, who, me? One with God? No, I couldn’t possibly…” Yeah, that’s nonsense. It would have been no lesson to us, for Jesus not to claim to be what he truly was.

As further examples of righteously arrogant, don’t-give-a-damn kind of Christians, I shall quote two of my favourite song lyrics, from two guys I honestly believe are geniuses in their fields.

“God made me a full-blown genius, what the fuck I need coke for?” – Jon Bellion [Pre-Occupied]

For various reasons, this is one of my absolute favourite songs.

“And if another mother- try to tell you dumb it down, do the Heisman on ‘em. Let ‘em know your mind is elevated and it’s celebrated and no time for clones…” – John Givez [Dumb It Down]

And this is one that I love to remember whenever I am creating art.

Fin.

-Akotowaa

My Thoughts: Purple Hibiscus

Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

126381Yes, I have read Half of a Yellow Sun, and I have also read Americanah. I’ve watched loads of this woman’s speeches and read some of her short stories featured in online publications. No, I have not yet read The Thing Around Your Neck, but even so, I hold fast to the belief that I now have: Purple Hibiscus is her most relevant work. (To me.)

I have been absolutely astounded to discover that mainstream media has gotten Half of a Yellow Sun to all but overshadow Purple Hibiscus to the point of near obscurity. I have tried and tried to find an article, interview, whatever, of Chimamanda, specifically in relation to this book (not Half of a Yellow Sun with Purple Hibiscus casually thrown in) and I have failed. All I seem to be getting is a bunch of websites with lesson notes. This isn’t at all what I am looking for.

[Side note: I have been holding in for so long a rant about how we have managed to reduce a lot of great things to technical academia, which sometimes renders discussion of said pieces of work nearly non-existent outside of the classroom context. But this is not the time. *upside-down smiley emoji *]

I have been looking for something more along the lines of how this book changed some teenager’s perception of African literature, shook a devout parent, dissembled an oppressive African environment… But more than that, I have been looking for an explanation, perhaps from Adichie herself, of the paradoxical nature of many of the characters.

I have to say that this book has been the most emotionally taxing book I have read all year. It is not inherently the most painful. I think the most painful so far has been A Thousand Splendid Suns. But the reason this got me in my feels so much and so hard is that I could personally recognize – like really recognize, as if I had known them in real life – just about all of the characters. Engaging with this book was intense, I can’t even lie.

I know I could never have written it, though, because of the perspective it was told through; Kambili, the quiet, the falsely indoctrinated, the academically brilliant but otherwise foolish main character, really threatened to get me to punch my Kindle multiple times. I could barely stand her thoughts and decisions, even though I knew why they were what they were. The thing is that, I’m just not that kind of person. The flame in Amaka and her fearless outspokenness is the only perspective I could have possibly told this story though Plus the ridiculous inferiority complex and all.

With this story told through Kambili, it was like a thick, translucent sheet had been placed over a raging sea. When you watched it, you didn’t get the full experience. Or maybe I should rather compare it to a bunch of words being told through a text-to-speech application, as opposed to an emotive human being reading something to you.

I really could talk about this book continuously but I want to focus on this thing that has been bothering me since: the character of Eugene. He is one of the biggest character paradoxes I have ever read, and the book still ended with him unexplained. It rather perplexed me further!

I simply could not – absolutely not – understand how a man could so thoroughly brainwash himself into becoming full of hate for anything contrary to a deity he really does seem to have made up for himself. God wasn’t his god; religion was. Religion in the sense of habitual practices, and orders followed. And it’s not like he was that much of a hypocrite too; he actually seemed to fully believe in all that he did. My brain refuses to wrap its head around a well-meaning tyrant.

For someone who frequently abused his wife and children in the name of religious discipline and implicitly encouraged perpetual silence about the matter (and just general subdued demeanours that turned his whole family into metaphorical robots), I fail to see how he was so devoted to the exposure of the scandalous truth of his country that he was the publisher of the Standard, whose content consistently got people in political trouble. It simply doesn’t add up. Especially not how protective he seemed to be of Ade Coker.

That’s another thing. I’m not entirely sure what exactly the relevance of Ade Coker was in the story. Maybe it was just to confuse me. It did cross my mind that maybe Eugene and Ade had some sort of affair, and Eugene’s tyrannical religious ways were his mechanisms of dealing with the guilt. But then if that is true, what was the point of him recounting the abomination (can’t recall the specific words he himself used) of that one time he masturbated to Kambili?

The final stroke of confusion was when he was discovered to have anonymously donated money to charities and such. But he couldn’t take care of his own father, and nearly ostracized his broke sister and her family? I swear, I don’t get it. And Adichie had the gall to end the book without explaining all this to me. Like, I’m mad. And I can’t even find a single decent interview. (But if you can find one for me, that’d be great. LOL.)

There are so many relevant themes that I know I won’t touch on now. But now that I’ve read the book, it/they will start popping up slowly in my conversations and subsequent writings.

I think everyone should read this book. I really do. Also, I may have a crush on Obiora. But that’s just by the way. J

 

This is what I felt was the single, most centrally relevant quote, by Aunty Ifeoma’s friend:

“It is what happens when you sit back and do nothing about tyranny. Your child becomes something you cannot recognize.”

-Akotowaa

Stop Waiting For Permission.

Let me tell you for a moment
about the stars:
They have been aligned for a while
wondering when you would look up
and set your soul to imitate their resplendence.

 

Stars do not know hesitation
like you do.
Unruly, their light shines,
day or night.
Never have I known them
to first inquire of the Moon
as to whether it needed any help.

 

Hovering hands
make more of your signature
than the marks themselves;
I wonder if you have asked yourself
how long you need to count before you dive.

 

Dear Greatness,
You are still sitting glumly,
Waiting for someone else to grant you
permission to be great; but
Who told you the world would wait for you?
-Akotowaa