Woman Phenomenal: Maya Angelou

Speedy Thoughts

I have known about Maya Angelou. Seen her in movies and how she has been honored around the world. However and with my head hung low in shame, that was really most of what I knew of her. Until I realized some time back that she wrote the poem “Phenomenal Woman”. It’s really funny how I got to know the poem. It was recited by Alfre Woodward’s character,”Ms. Josephine” in the movie The Beauty Shop” and I thought “oh, that is an awesome thing she said.” Only for google to correct me later. It is one poem that I enjoy. Even with all that she went through in her life, the struggles she faced, the titles she carried, she still had that sense of self worth and value in which she could call herself  phenomenal.

Although it is a piece that gives strength, it is also a piece that reminds that I still have a long way to go before I can even consider myself a writer. It is kind of pathetic that I haven’t exposed myself to more of her works being that I have a blog and to blog is to write and to write is to have expose yourself to many brilliant works of others who have been ahead of you, who have seen it all before you and have made an impact in the world of ink for you.

So, in my own little way of honoring her and keeping my ink flowing, here is “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou:

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.dr-maya-angelou-2
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

 

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.

 

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

 

Men themselves have wondered   103146-maya_angelou_
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

 

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
1928-2014

She is, After-all, Mine…

Speedy Thoughts, Talking Pictures

On a very short trip to Gombe, I caught up with an old friend. Though I never knew that I had a connection with her. As a kid, I always wondered why she had such a funny look. And those pods of fruit. Nothing would make me take that again…well, maybe not that extreme. But I did fall sick after trying out the seedlings inside the pod. They were small, white and had a velvety feel to them. It had a sour-sweet taste to it but melts in your mouth. It was nice but I don’t think I would be that adventurous anymore. Really because missing out in the fun in Yankari was not fun. But I digress.

I didn’t really understand that she fed and nourished me. She still does. Kukah soup made from the leaves has and will always be my best soup. it’s earthy taste and even the icky green look the soup has which sadly, turns a lot of people off it.
Anyway, the older I grew, the more she intrigued me. The way she looks, normally trees don’t look like that. I guess that is why she was christened the ‘Upside Down Tree’. Kinda fits because she does look like she was doing a hand-stand and totally forgot how to get back on her feet again.

Round and huge at the bottom that finally narrows up to scanty branches that I have always seen naked. I don’t think I have seen her in her glory, covered in leaves. I hear that she blossoms once in a really long time.

I got the chance to say hello. Majestic as ever, towering over other trees like an ancient elder of old. It was the reverence of meeting an old friend again but this time, with new found respect for this figure that has been in my life for so long. Many places call her the tree of life and I can see why. Every part of her provides shelter, nourishment, solace to all who seek her. From animals to humans, she is always there.

She knows I will go back one day to really give her the attention she wants from me. She is always waiting for me and I hope this time, she greets me with the biggest welcome of all…a long awaited blossom. She is after-all, my Baobab.

Visions of a Man, Cries of The Heart…

Speedy Thoughts

This was written by Fela Durotoye, motivational speaker, author, consultant. A man of deep words. And as I read what he wrote, my good friend, Laolu Senbanjo sent me his version of all that went on in Nigeria these past 2 weeks. Hopefully, I won’t get into trouble from both of them but I felt they complimented each other and had to share it the way I saw it. Read, share but most importantly, understand and use all that is here…

As I watched the events of the last 36hours unfold, I have had to explain to my wife and children why I am so silent, so angry and so sad at the same time?

My silence comes from being in awe as I witness the unprecedented yet amazing collaboration of MILITARY and MILITANTS in accomplishing a common goal… to silence the voice of the people.

I am so angry that precious lives have been lost as ordinary citizens protested against an unjust policy that was clearly not thought-through and yet, our President describes these fallen heroes as the “adverse effects” of the protest.

I am angry that our President made so many open-ended promises without clear deliverables or deadlines and thought we would be gullible and simple-minded enough to say OK.

I am so angry that in a hard-earned democratic dispensation, our elected officials went into the barracks and cantonments to invite the very same soldiers (who we fought to return to the barracks) unto the streets against unarmed protesters while armed bandits, militants and terrorists express themselves

freely without being muzzled by the military might of our government.

But then I am also very sad because I’ve watched this charade play out itself many times before (without the novelty of the military and the militants.)

Like I articulated in my facebook message (of January 5, 2012,) on this issue of fuel subsidy removal, this script has been acted out too many times for us to have forgotten how the charade ends.

Act 1 Scene 1:
Government (hints but) suddenly announces the increase in the pump price of petroleum products.

Act 1 Scene 2:
The people are angry about Government feeble excuses and explanations asking people to pay more because they can’t confront the corrupt system that makes it unsustainable to keep fuel prices low .

Act 2 Scene 1:
Organised labour and trade union sense that it is time to bring out the capes and harken to the people’s cry for super-heroes.

You know the rest of the story… don’t you?

Government gets a court injuction restraining labour from embarking on a strike.

Labour disobeys the unjust injunctions and go out to exercise their constitutional rights to call an unemployed populace to mass action.

The youth, the homeless, the poor and the unemployed come out en-mass and protest.

Labour makes public declarations of the position of the people.

Government invites labour to closed door meetings. Something (we call negotiation) happens behind the closed doors.

Labour emerges from closed door meetings and declares a deadlock.

Govt goes ahead to REDUCE but NOT REVERSE pump price.

Labour suspends strike. Employers are happy to get their staff back to work. Everybody gets back on the Rat Race (All motion, No Movement…I think the better way to put it is win-win!!!

The only people that lose and suffer are the poor and unemployed who we all said would lose more if we continue the struggle against pump price increments.

We never go ‘backward’ to collect our stolen funds from the corrupt officials and the cabals well known to the government.
Rather, we choose to go ‘forward’ to rob our poor, feeble and voiceless forever and forget them until its time to bring them out to ‘negotiate’ another unjust policy.

So we are back to where it all began…

ASUU continues its strike and no one notices the degenerating young minds wasting away in our homes and on our streets.

LASU school fees still increased by 900% and admission now costing 250,000 Naira for newly admitted students seeking an education to prepare their minds for the future.

The Nigerian Medical Association and doctors must now return back to their death centers (oops.. I meant health centers) and continue to watch helplessly as hopeless patients die from preventable systemic decay rather than the diseases that brought them to the hospital.

Some of us will now go back to the LEKKI TOLL GATES and continue to pay toll, since we now have protest-fatigue. In any case, no one remembers why we were fighting against the unjust tolling of a road that was built by LKJakande with tax payers money and now refurbished by concessionaires. What’s the big deal? Let the government continue to collect our taxes to build other roads and we continue to pay tolls to drive on our own (sorry…LCC’s) road.

Really…I am sad and angry because after all said and done, nothing has changed… Except for the price of fuel from 65 to 97Naira per liter.
Still no refineries, no good roads, no power, no portable water, corrupt officials still in office as they continue ‘partnering’ with their cabals.
Investigations without conclusion. Accusations without prosecution. And the world keeps going round and round.

So when is real change going to come?

As I stated in my earlier message on Jan 5, 2012, the change we need is not just policy. It is in the quality of mind and persons at policy making positions.

Without a doubt, our change will come the day our Brightest and Best minds silently RESOLVE that Enough is Enough of mediocrity in policy-making positions and begin to prepare to occupy positions (and not just parks) through the electoral process.

So how will we effectively deliver sustainable desired-change?

WE NEED A CRITICAL MASS OF NEW NIGERIANS TO TAKE HOLD OF EVERY LEVEL OF POLICY MAKING POSITIONS BY 2015. Not a few good men and women whose voices will get drowned in the cacophony of mediocrity.

Let our brightest and best brains begin serious preparations NOW. Don’t wait till 2014 to decide you want to make a change by running for office in 2015. It will be too late if you don’t start NOW!!!!

As we keep up the pressure for good governance, let another set of emerging leaders (with a heart for the nation and a love for the people) arise and begin to prepare for 2015. We must encourage, train, mentor and empower the right people to go where few dare.

I have committed my life to raise and prepare as many exemplary leaders of excellence to take over the various policy making positions at all levels of governance (federal, state and local)- executive and legislative.

This is only the beginning of a long and arduous journey. The real Nigerian spring is going to be in April 2015.

Until we change the quality of people in policy-making positions, we won’t yet have real and lasting victory.

Don’t get it twisted… The 2015 elections is going to be the opportunity for the real Nigerian Spring.

The real question is …Will we be ready to bring the real change we’ve always desired with the same zeal and fervor as we show now?

Gift and Curse

Please don’t let today’s passion die tomorrow.
The struggle continues today, tomorrow and forever. We WILL deliver the future!

God bless you and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
FD

www.feladurotoye.org

www.laolusenbanjo.com

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Artist:laolu Senbanjo
Medium: charcoal