Introducing a new Series: Taking the Negative dedicated to Chinua Achebe

This series is an Homage to Chinua Achebe, reading his works has always been special treat to me 

My History of Taking the Negative

This has nothing to do with negativity or cynicism. It’s a simple exercise really. I always wanted to be a photographer and eventually when I get enough time out of work and a good camera I will  take the road. But before that my dears, I would like to share with you all a simple parlor trick.

I remember having 35 mm camera it let me know that I was off mentally. After I would take my roll of film that I spent 3 hours turning in the camera to roll up, to the pharmacy I would wait in anticipation to get back not so much the picture but the negatives. The negatives of those photos destroyed my world conceptually. They were to me like an alcoholics first few sips, or a virgin first time. The negative perplexed me.  You see the negatives exposed subtle nuances to the world i was a part of but could see. How did I not see the play of light and shadows on the kitchen table. Why does my uncles face show a slight irritation that I could see in real life but I could in the negatives. I used to think that most people threw away the negatives and kept the pictures because they were too afraid of what they would find if they look at the world with another pair of eyes. I was a precocious child and quite odd at least that’s what the older kids said when they threw rocks at me.

The Negative

I wanted to do that same thing with reality, can I change something and expose something that was there but we take for granted. I think i found a way. Let me show you


The point behind this exercises is that things are just black and white there are many shades of grey, many subtle meanings. Take for example Caucasian Celebrities who adopt African babies. No harm in adopting. It saves lives, it gives someone a future supposedly. There are many reasons for someone to adopt, especially if one looks at the LIVESTRONG webpage entitled:


  1. Many people find that adoption is a good option when faced with infertility
  2. Some couples desire children but have serious genetic or medical complications that could make natural pregnancy very challenging, which makes adoption a good alternative.
  3. The idea of rescuing a child who would otherwise grow up without the benefits of having a supportive and loving family is also a good reason to adopt. Religious, ethical and even emotional feelings coupled with the desire to make the world a better place are good reasons to adopt children, particularly from developing countries or those born to single teenage mothers domestically.
  4. Another reason you should adopt a child is if you lack an appropriate heterosexual partner to have children with. If you are either single or homosexual and desire children, it is a good idea to adopt rather than have to deal with all the complications of using a surrogate mother or sperm donor to create a natural child.

So I said to myself

I said what would the negative of that look, what if Samuel L. Jackson or Don Cheedle or  Djimon Gaston Hounsou and other famous black stars and also couples started adopting blonde hair blue eyed babies and/or red headed gingers ?  Would that image, would the negative  be as lauded and as acceptable as the pictures we are presented. What if after adoption on of these black couples read the first stanza of a famous Rudyard Kipling poem , written as a response to the American take over of the Phillipines after the Spanish-American War.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
Send forth the best ye breed–
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild–
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

What I am not saying

I’m not judging the image or saying its right on wrong. I’m just taking ‘the negative’.Nothing good or bad just painting an image and looking as always for responses not so much a flame war. This is a novel way of deconstruction of social commentary. Like Imagine when the news media talked about women wearing veils being oppressed we should an image of Mary Mother of Christ depicted with a veil. Or imagine  if instead of DMX rapping and saying “What this Bitches Want from a Nigga!”, it was Newt Gingrich saying that, as he contemplates a fourth marriage. I’m not again targeting any one, just switching some things around , taking the negative and seeing if I can learn something about our culture , about our culture. I quote some lines from Hafiz because his lines speak volumes, and because this is about an exploration together with you the reader, and there is something cool bout that

This is not a courtroom anymore!

The time of judging
who’s drunk or sober,
        who’s right or wrong,
                 who’s closer to God or farther away,

all that’s over.

This caravan is led instead
by a great Delight, the simple
joy that sits with us now,

                 that is the grace.


Why this is dedicated to Chinua Achebe

I don’t Know Mr. Achebe, but i remember I was an avid readers and bibliophile. I remember one summer I read many books even for me before I stumbled upon Achebe: Moliere, Shakespeare, Camus, Sartre, Dylan Thomas, James Joyce,  Hemingway, T.S.Eliot. Then I read  Achebe. I picked up the seminal Things Fall Apart, I didn’t even noticed the authors name but it was the first time I read a story where the narrator was clearly African, African African not J.M Coetzee African. it was my first experience with taking a negative and deconstruction of what passes for social norm. I talked about this with my Caucasian friend Mike and we had a great talk about it, it deepened both our appreciations and understandings of literature and the role that the identity of the narrators plays in conflict creation and resolution in the novel, in both the Canon and in  Post colonial literature .

And there you have it!!!!

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