Tuesday, 20 April 2021

The selfless and vicarious LGBT activism of Uche Maduagwu

Act 1 Seen Enough

It was not a few months ago that Uche Maduagwu who I do not know from Adam came out as ‘proudly gay’. He is apparently a Nigerian actor and so probably well known in Nigeria. Now, I am completely unconcerned about Uche Maduagwu’s sexuality, but when viewed in the context of Nigeria, the fact that an ordinary but albeit influential person, who is just ordinary first and whatever else and then happens to be gay, can be interesting, yet should be insignificant. [Gay Times: Nigerian actor Uche Maduagwu comes out as “proudly gay”]

In a recent Instagram post, Mr. Maduagwu now claims he is not gay, he was just fighting for LGBT rights that appear to have cost him movie roles, endorsements, and his relationship with his girlfriend. I sympathise. Now, Mr. Maduagwu may choose to be gay or not at any time of his convenience like he is assuming a movie role; many LGBT+ Nigerians do not have that luxury, it is not a fad, it is their lives.

Instagram post of Uche Maduagwu
This is our lives

LGBT+ Nigerians are also not fair-weather activists of causes that look expedient until they are at risk of losing jobs, status, relationships, or even their lives. We all have to live with our reality, the dangers and experiences, too numerous to relate, and for all the treasures in the world, we do not deny ourselves but live our truth.

Mr. Maduagwu, God bless him, can be a chameleon or an impostor, by providence or talent, he is an actor and maybe we should thank him for his selfless activism and as if we do not have enough occupying our minds for our safety and survival in Nigeria and elsewhere, his plight is an unnecessary distraction.

We wish him well, but whether he will be forgiven for earning notoriety at our expense, time will tell. Sometime in the future, he might have an epiphany that he is a proud person, and not soon after denying his personhood to be something yet undefined but even more interesting that we cannot ignore his method, his acting and the genius we will never believe he was.

Monday, 19 April 2021

The eyes have it all

Life returns to Manchester

Yesterday, marked the first full week of the easing of lockdown measures with the opening of non-essential goods shops. Returning from church, the town centre was busy, tables and chairs outside for alfresco dining, crowds milling around as if the memories of a pandemic had long been forgotten.

Our penchant for queuing had opened up to a new order, with specific entrance and exit door, walking routes laid out in the shopping centre to help with social distancing, even though some just ignored the signs.

I first visited the public conveniences before going to the opticians. I last had an eye test 3 years ago and the right arm of my lens frame was beginning to disintegrate. The composite 3 layers were coming apart and when I tried to glue the bits together, I had more bonding of my fingertips than the object of repairs.

Fast-tracked on choice

They offered a 4:00 PM appointment which did not sound convenient if I had to return to the city centre to attend, so, I chose an early morning slot for Saturday. Then, I decided to look at the frames display, in the hope that something might catch my eye. Now, literally, all eyeglass frames are made by manufacturers in Italy, we are mostly paying exorbitant rates for brand names, the design aesthetic hardly having much diversity.

I found an O’Neill frame and asked a member of staff about setting it aside for my Saturday appointment, but before I knew it, I was fast-tracked into a consulting room where a whole battery of tests began, reading charts, blurred and clear dots, air blasted at my eyeballs, lights shone into the recesses of my eyes with pictures of blood vessels vivid to be scary, peripheral and field vision, my eyes were so tired after then workout short of popping the eye out and giving it a cold rinse before tossing it in a frying pan of hot oil and sticking it back in the socket.

Seeing everything anew

By the time we were done a good 90 minutes later, I had ordered two pairs of glasses with lenses exhibiting every quality of sight improvement except X-ray vision. The second cheaper pair offered at half-price and to be delivered to my home in about a fortnight. The eye test came free because there is a history of glaucoma somewhere in the family, which requires I return for eye tests annually rather than leave it until when my glasses or frames are falling apart.

I hope I made the right choice, in more convenient settings, I would have sought the advice of Brian before my selection. In the end, he might like them after taunting me about needed two pairs of glasses because there was a time, I forgot I had a pair on and donned another pair, I have never lived that down. Obviously, my comeback is just as embarrassing for him.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Unfinished musings of incomplete thoughts

Missive arrive

On good authority, you will live,
If the wire you touched is not live,
You can be a driver,
Far away from the river,
If you had a fiver,
Please, spend it in Iver,
The surname of Gulliver,
Is definitely not McGiver,
For in English we always do strive,
With sounds and words that don’t forgive.

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Essential Snobbery 101: Mistakenly conferring pedigree on strays

Social media hit-and-runs

It is always fascinating what a presence on social media opens you to, random encounters of significance and insignificance, then ones that leave you checking on your temperament as to whether you should engage them at all to the point that you are dispensing a piece of your mind that you will rather you never had.

On Twitter or elsewhere, someone reads your profile or a status and forms a presumably comprehensive idea of who you are, what you are, your personality traits, and much else. Nothing could be further from the truth, but that is how they deal with you and that brief encounter could be both bruising and unedifying.

Without getting into any detail about some of those recent engagements with such people; the busybodies that cannot seem to mind their own business, you offer a response if you are that inclined and park their sorry arses into oblivion where they belonged all along, but for the chance that brought stray dogs to crumbs that fell under the table, for a moment pedigree fell on them like pearls cast before swine.

Friday, 16 April 2021

Thought Picnic: Not to be taken for granted

Good custom brings returns

After work, I stepped out in my exercise garb to visit my favourite sports shop where I have bought a few trainers that make my walking a comfortable experience. From the first day I visited, Up & Running Manchester, I have always met friendly, professional, attentive, and helpful staff, from the manager and all his colleagues.

I had gone shopping for a back support brace and probably another pair of trainers when I found myself telling a beautiful story. As I was looking through the Brooks brand of trainers, I told the lady helping me out that I bought a pair for my boyfriend and he, Brian said they were the most comfortable pair of trainers he has ever worn.

A sweet story told

Checking out the other pairs, she went into the storeroom to get my size and it all came flowing out, how I met Brian, where we met, how love blossomed, places we visited, the interesting things we’ve shared and learnt together, our plans to get married and much more in between. I believe the other staff in the store were listening too as there was no other customer to serve until when I was leaving.

Whilst I did not shed a tear and I probably would have out of joy, the freedom with which one could share a story of love, the liberal and accepting attitude of celebrating with you and urging you on, the positive feeling of happiness I felt in myself and the goodwill towards us was first gratifying even as it can be taken for granted, knowing the difficulties in some African countries; it informs our desire to make South Africa our shared new home. Just the stuff of dreams come true.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

The malign state of cultural programming

The random in Uber rides

I was not going to walk back home with my shopping after visiting the hospital yesterday, so, I called Uber cab to take me home. The name of the driver appeared to be a Christian forename and a Muslim surname; it would have been an interesting conversation point.

When he arrived, the phonetical sounds I heard as he was conversing with someone on his mobile phone was unmistakably Yoruba, so, I engaged him with greetings and a sense of familiarity almost to my regret. The first I have had of a Yoruba person, probably the last I would want if this situation is repeated.

Patriarchy is the default

We seem to have this cultural programming to be first intrusive and probably judgemental. His first inquiry was whether my wife was too busy to do the shopping. There is no accounting for how long our people have lived in the west, some patriarchal views die hard. Even if I were married, nothing regardless of my status stops me from shopping.

So, I answered, I was just returning from the hospital nearby and that presented an opportunity to do some shopping. However, he would not let go, he wanted to know about my wife and my kids. An apparently essential demonstration of my whatever it might be. Wisely, this was not the time to introduce a radically implausible issue as sexuality, but some matters needed addressing all the same.

Moving on to other things

No, I do not have my own children, I cannot have children by reason of many issues including the consequences of chemotherapy. Then indeed I do have children in my nieces and nephews. Knowing I cannot have children I am pragmatic enough not to involve a woman in my complicated situation leaving her attached and yet bereft of issue.

Then, the matter of issue is one of contentment in terms of whether you do require them or not and whether you have made peace with your circumstances. Whether with issue or not, someone would take up that responsibility for interment when you are gone, the more important thing is to have impacted lives enough to be relevant in life and the hereafter.

That being said, we got to the matter of how frequently I visit home. Home to him is different from home to me, but I humoured him, I have not been to Nigeria in over 30 years. There began another inquisition. I volunteered I am English, though it did not tweak that my grasp of the Yoruba language and completed sentences without interspersing with English was probably commendable. I had committed infractions I should be answerable for.

Coming up for air

Obviously, whereupon that kind of situation within the Yoruba construct might well be considered unfortunate, on wife, on children, and on visits, the fact is to be consumed by circumstances over which you have little control or are not persuaded of will distract you from fulfilling other aspects of life and purpose. I reckon my message was clear from our interaction, I neither castigated nor excoriated him, I just provided another perspective to things.

That he was taking me into the centre of town elicited another comment about me being quite wealthy, to which I responded in Yoruba, the blessing is there to be shared to all. Yet, that cultural programming impervious to review does grate. I bet he has never done any domestic shopping before, but that is none of my business, I just want to get home.

It seems good from the results

Discussions and arrangements

I was scheduled to have my biannual consultation yesterday, but the call came in on Monday where we reviewed my blood test results from October and arranged to refill my drug prescription, well, why don’t we add a visit to the phlebotomist too?

So, we agreed on Wednesday for the visit to the hospital and the pharmacy beside it, not knowing what how much time it would all entail, I took the day off. The day started with my morning walk at the usual time before I prepared for my 11:30 AM appointment, leaving home with enough time to spare, I first checked that my prescription was ready because the last time, it was not filed and my blood work was not ready.

Thankfully, all that was in place, I got my prescription for 6 months and then went up to the outpatients to have blood drawn for tests.

All that blood

Whilst I arrived quite early, the phlebotomist was available and I was ushered into a consulting room where I saw my initials and hospital number on the list and pointed it out that I was from Alcoholics Anonymous.

We had an easy banter full of laughs and guffaws, as she found a vein and began a vampire’s convention that took 8 vials and then a urine sample of the 1965 vintage with a compliment that I am a good bleeder, just as I was about to pass out from seeing my apparently voluntary exsanguination.

I should have returned home after that, but I called at the ethnic shops before making it home to get some well-needed rest. From the results discussed on Monday, the only issue was my cholesterol, it had improved from last April to October and there is the hope it would be better this time. All other indicators were good and I guess that is all to be thankful for.