Monday, 20 October 2014

The Classics

Old is gold. It’s a phrase I heard for a long time by many people but never really appreciated or understood. I spent most of my life trying to defy it till one day I woke up and it looked me point blank in the face, old is gold. This isn’t just because gold is old though I’m sure it is, the meaning goes deeper than this. Allow me to give you, my one reader, my view on “Old is gold”.

My need to write about this started around 5 43pm today, I know because I  looked at my phone checking for the time around that time but that is not the place to start a good story so I will begin with my afternoon class. The class was some Landscaping class and I was not ready for it, sorry mum if you stumble across this but it happened. Anyhoo, we were supposed to show the lecturers our Site Analysis’, it was a group project, but thanks to poor time management we had the pieces but no cake. So the job started, to get cake together, we managed to do so and using my “gift of the gab” we made it across the finish line just fine. Then the lecs, short for lecturers, asked us to begin work on our concepts.

I pulled out my little sketch book and started to draw, this was after my afternoon coke, but realised I had nothing on me mind. So I picked up me phone and googled “outdoor recreational spaces” I came across this picture of a park that was simple but it took me. I did my math, adding my analysis of the site and the picture I saw and my mind saw the idea, I just had to run with it. The image was clear, I could see the place, see the people using the place. I could see it at 4pm with the school kids walking home through it, the young mothers looking out on it from their balconies while their babies fell asleep in their arms, I could see the old guys having a smoke playing backgammon in it. I could see a young couple on a picnic blanket enjoying the moment. I saw it, I smelt it and I felt it. And I sketched.

My sketching was ended with the lecturers inviting us to the official opening of the Faculty of Fine Arts in the main Amfi Theatre on Campus. It was actually under duress because the attendance could only be signed after the event, I wasn’t even mad, I got to kill two birds with one stone. We went in, they had the usual speeches, I won’t bore you with the details and then there was a music session. That was the time I looked at me phone, I thought the launch had begun to end too soon. I soon forgot all about that as two ladies stepped up, one on the Piano and one on the violin. They were Turkish ladies, both lecturers but from a different University. They had their degrees in music which I thought fascinating but I was even more impressed when they played. They took me to a time and place, it was a transcendent experience.

That's where the took me, A time and place

All else faded away, the noise of the room. The guys doodling on small pieces of paper at my side. My body aching from all the sitting I had done. The bag by my leg that would not stay still. All was forgotten as I was immersed, carried by the music. It was music by George Frederick Handel, commonly known as the celebrated Saxon. The levels of mastery involved in the playing of the piece on both their parts. The movement and grace that they showed, the poise, the accents and the rests; it was picturesque. As they played I thought of my little sketches and in that moment I knew what I wanted to design. I wanted to design that. That space, that time, that moment.

Old is gold. Modern art forms of all kinds are great and their evolution mind blowing on so many levels but there is a lot and I mean a lot of beauty that can be seen from the root of it. Old is gold implies the value of that which has seen its time. As a young person I have grown up seeing techniques and styles and have grown accustomed to doing things a certain way because of technology etc. but old stuff makes you appreciate how people achieved so much with so little. Especially in art. How words thought and feeling can be transmitted through an art form that had yet to realise as much of what it was doing as can. We are studying now to appreciate and learn to use what came before because the achievements of those that came before are just great.

It all comes down to that

Old is gold speaks of us learning from a bygone time and period lessons that can be applied today in every aspect and not just the arts but I will give an example of the arts, cos that’s what I do. A lot of design in the minds of my contemporaries starts and ends digital but the ability to represent what you think and feel at a moment’s notice on paper with pencil/pen/marker cannot be matched. That form of “thinking on paper” is really old but its relevance stays true and once you begin to use it and see the depths of it, you see that old is gold.

Old is gold speaks of the value of age, not in that old is better than new. I don’t think it means that in the least. I think old is gold speaks of remembering the old and learning from it, cherishing it. So much can be taken from the old, so many lessons that are relevant today whether in part or as a whole. Whether directly or improved on. But even more Old is gold puts pressure on me, that when the time comes for people to look back on my time, they too may see it and say “You know what man, old is gold.”

Sunday, 19 October 2014

“Bring back our girls”, A letter to the other guys

About five months a group of three hundred girls were kidnapped from their school in Nigeria by a terrorist group called Boko Haram, if you haven’t heard of them by now you must either be totally immersed in all things Syria/Iraq or living under a rock. I didn’t hear about the kidnapping for a day or two myself as my interest in the news is like the tide on a sandy beach, with it being absent more than it is present. I heard of it for the first time through twitter, a Nigerian friend of mine had tweeted a number of things with the now famous Hash Tag #BringBackOurGirls. I initially let it slide but after five of these my curiosity gave way and I finally checked what the hype was all about. Now I am usually anti hype and try to stay away from all things hype, a friend refers to my tendency to do this as me being an old soul. When I saw the news I was appalled. It annoyed me to no end as it did millions around the world, to good effect too.

Now with all things that gain hype, after a couple days there was some backlash from people criticising the use but more the abuse of the Hash Tag. The main concern was that there were a lot of attention seeking people who latched onto the Hash Tag but had no real love or interest in the things happening on the ground. I was not one of the people who used the Hash Tag a lot in my Tweets but I regularly checked it to get news on what was going on on the ground. I have to admit that I was one of those who was against the attention seeking users of the Hash Tag, I was especially against those who used it as a joke. All this has been a disorganised back drop to what I actually want to address.

So a day or two ago I came across a conversation on Facebook concerning the disappearance of the Hash Tag and a guy kicked in criticising the use of the Hash Tag and these where his reasons. One, that Boko Haram are not on Twitter and so they would not see the Hash Tag Trending and think to themselves “Man, people are really getting behind this, let’s take these kids back”, my words not his exactly. And two, that the people who were using it were only in it for face time and an opportunity to make relevant their otherwise boring existence, once again my words not his. Now I am sure you have come across these arguments before. I think they are flawed and should be binned the moment they rear their ugly heads.

One of the first responses to the anti Hash Tag movement

First and foremost I would like to say that the idea behind these arguments is not completely wrong in that there are people who are attention seekers and latching onto the movement to get themselves face time. But my problem lies in a self-righteous standing back and putting asunder all the good work that is being done. There are people like me who knew about the kidnapped girls through the use of the #BringBackOurGirls Hash Tag and it was a source of information in a lot of regards as to who the culprits were, where they came from, and their reasons for the kidnapping etc. The gathering of information on such an important matter affecting our fellow men is in no way a bad thing.

A lot of aid was made available through the awareness brought about by the Hash Tag. I can imagine some level of comfort as well for the families that were in crisis that there was some level of support from the outside world and they are not alone. The purpose of people coming to comfort you in a funeral setup, especially on the African continent is not because people know the right thing to say to make it all better but the very presence of people either in person or through some form of communication makes the bereaved feel less alone. There is some nonsense that came from the use of the Hash Tag but there is a baby in the bath water and we best not throw the baby out with the bath water.

Critics and self professed professionals risk throwing out the good with the bad

But this issue does not just end with Boko Haram and the Kidnapped girls. It is easy to sit back and criticise the efforts of people and speak of how their plans will not work. People who do that are called scoffers by the Bible, David in Psalm 1 goes as far as describing scoffing as an action performed whilst seated. Scoffing at a problem and the attempts of people happens when you your self are doing nothing and that is a common trait amongst humans, I am guilty of it a lot and so could the one other person who is reading the rants of this moron named Mwansa. But if we can see a problem why not go as far as solving the problem or helping to solve it, bring something more to the table than just pointless complaints about people’s inadequacy.

I wrote something about this before and the fire and passion for it still grows strong in me for it. The need for people to bring something more to the table than complaints and grumbles. I see bigger, I see better, I see a world in which the use of #BringBackOurGirls by men like Erasmus Mweene does not allow us to forget what is still a major problem for our Nigerian counterparts. And now with news of the potential release of the girls, as much as I hope the Hash Tag may never be used again in that there should be no more kidnapping, whether mass or otherwise, I do hope that causes like it can unite people around a cause bigger than themselves for the good of people other than themselves. I see a future, a bright one, sue me