The power of words

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New Orleans, July 2019

They say that women love what they hear and men love what they see. Well, I like hearing and seeing beautiful words. (Also, may we take a moment of silence for Toni Morrison who died yesterday on August 5th and who will forever be remembered as a great writer.) I will admit that I am yet to read her book but have seen the numerous quotes of hers shared on social media in the advent of her death. She was clearly great with words as you would expect. But what does being great with words actually mean?

To me, being great with words means being able to paint a picture so that other senses besides hearing can be awakened. It means being able to argue a point in an articulate manner. It means being able to be efficient with your use of words because most often, less is more. There is no need to be verbose unless you are complimenting a woman (in that case, keep the words coming). Men, on the other hand, seem to prefer fewer words maybe because their mind wanders or maybe because their cavemen prototypes were busy hunting wooly mammoths (an activity that probably requires absolute silence). To add some possible evidence to this, baby girls generally say their first words and sentences before baby boys. But we get carried away into a battle of sexes, let’s return to “the power of words”.

Words can make or break you. Literally, what a person grows up hearing whether from others and especially from themselves can affect his or her quality of life. Someone cue the classic scene from The Help: “You is kind, You is smart, You is important” where the nanny is having to part ways with her employer’s child. When the black nanny (played beautifully by Viola Davis) is telling the white child these empowering words, she is also empowering herself and anyone who hears or reads those words. Those nine words spread like wildfire throughout the internet because words are powerful.

Men, in case you thought I forgot about you, there are some theories out there that a woman knows whether she would date/entertain you within the first 30 seconds of interacting you. I cannot speak for all women but I will say that during the times that I tried online dating, a horrible bio section with mis-spellings was an absolute turn-off.   Also, my top pet peeve from guys is when they text “hey” like they did not spend 12 years being educated on how to write a complete sentence. If a man is really that scared that writing a bit more will make him look desperate, then I have some words of advice: “ if you are going to shoot your shot, at least make sure you shoot a 3 pointer”. In other words, go big or go home. Women can smell fear from a mile away with those 1 point shots.

And when you are speaking nicely to others, do not forget to speak positively to yourself. You are the person you live the longest with so remind yourself often that “You is kind, You is smart, You is important”.  Thanks for reading. 🙂 ❤

Lion King Movie Review ft East African Music

 

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July 2019

I know most of us have already watched the original lion king so there will be no spoilers from this review. The story from the first movie released in 1994 is pretty much the same in the 2019 release. Thankfully James Earl Jones is still alive to do the voice of Mufasa yet again because I cannot imagine anyone else doing it. Above all, the visuals were ridiculously amazing as they used images of real animals instead of cartoons. Beyoncé as Nala’s voice has been a source of frenzy among her wide fan base including me. She has even blessed us with a musical Lion King themed album entitled The Gift. However, there has been a bit of backlash from East Africans who felt that the album that Beyoncé released only featured West African artists while there are many solid East African artists who could have contributed to the album. This is especially controversial considering that Swahili, the second language used in the film, is an East African language. For example, mufasa means king while simba means lion in Swahili. And yes, “No worries” is actually “Hakuna Matata” in Swahili. As such, I will highlight 5 East African musicians who could have been featured on the album.

  1. Sauti Sol. 

Sauti Sol is a Kenyan band made up of four guys who have amazing vocal chords. This video is of an acapella performance that they did for the song “Kuliko Jana” which means “than yesterday”, as to say that today is better than yesterday. I think this song could have actually been a good background song for the movie especially in the beautiful ending of the Lion King story.

    2. Eddy Kenzo. 

Eddy Kenzo popularized the so called “ghetto dancing kids” from Uganda who were even featured in French Montana’s music video for the song “Unforgettable” with Swae Lee. I have seen him perform live in Dallas at a Kenyan event and he was amazing with so much energy.

    3. Selamawit Yohannes. 

I actually discovered Selamawit from a quick youtube search of top Ethiopian music which goes to show that there’s no excuse to being ignorant in this age of the internet. I have always loved Ethiopian music but somehow I forgot the names of the musicians so I need to work on that. Nevertheless, I love Ethiopian traditional dance and how they play the flute. Without a doubt, their music is very unique and would be a great addition to the Lion King movie soundtrack.

   4. Diamond Platnumz. 

Diamond is undeniably the most successful artist in East Africa right now so I do not know why he was left off the soundtrack. Diamond is such a diversified musician as he can make soulful r&b and club music easily. Basically, every song he touches turns to gold. If there will be another Lion King movie, he should not be forgotten especially since he sings in Swahili and English.

  5. Vanessa Mdee. 

Vanessa was at Essence Fest in New Orleans this year which goes to show that she is gaining popularity outside of Tanzania. I  would venture to say that she is Tanzania’s Beyoncé as she can sing, dance, and act (triple threat baby). I think her future is bright and she should be considered for Hollywood movies and soundtracks in the future.

Despite the lack of diversity in soundtrack, I do believe that the new Lion King is a worthwhile watch. Again, the visuals are absolutely beautiful and so surreal (the hyenas are a bit scary looking though so be ready if animals are a trigger for you). I really hope that we get a second film which has a more continent inclusive sound track. Also, I would really love a good backstory on Scar because understanding the psychology of a villain kind of excites me (Criminal Minds anyone?). I also just really love looking at images of lions so I think I could sit through hours of that haha. If you happen to watch the movie, feel free to comment with your thoughts 🙂 ❤

The power of negotiation ft “You Can Negotiate Anything” book by Herb Cohen

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July 2019 -Maine

In May, I attended the graduation of a family friend and at her graduation party, her uncle gifted her with a book (namely “You Can Negotiate Anything” book by Herb Cohen). When I saw the title of the book, I immediately exclaimed that I needed to read that book as it could be useful in my personal and professional life. Without skipping a beat, her uncle retrieved his personal copy of the book and gave it to me. It turns out that he had bought himself the copy to re-read as he read it many years ago when my father gave him a copy of the book. Therefore, this book is kind of a “boomerang” as it first started with my father in Kenya, then to a family friend, and then back to me in the USA. Who knows where and to who this book will travel next. But in the meantime, let me share the top negotiation strategies I have learned from the book.

  1. Never reveal your deadline to the person you are negotiating with if you can avoid it. For example, do not tell a seller you need a car by next week as that means the seller will know that you probably will not have time to look around for a better deal. The most powerful thing in the world is time. If you have time, use it to your advantage to make sure you get the best deal possible. Also, playing the waiting game makes you look less interested in the other party so they are more willing to work with what you want.
  2. Avoid having an authoritative style. There are many strategies for negotiation. The author calls an authoritarian/unyielding strategy “the Soviet-style” because, during war, the Soviets would low ball you until you yield to their demands while they compromise nothing. This style only works if you never intend on doing business or having relations with that person ever again because the person will not like you for taking advantage of them.
  3. See compromise as an opportunity to make both you and the other person happy. Good negotiators find ways to figure out what really means the most to the other person. For example, if you are the boss and the person you are seeking to hire wants $50,000 while you are only willing to offer $40,000, find ways to make up for the other $10,000. Such examples could be offering more vacation days, season tickets to sports events, or even gym membership. Therefore, when the person looks at the $40,000 they don’t see it as a total loss of $10,000 especially since the $40,000 is taxable by the government while the additional perks are tax-free. So in negotiation, always try to find a way to get as close to what you want while still making the other happy.
  4. Avoid negotiating on the telephone unless you want an easy win or lose situation. This is because whoever imitates the call is usually at an advantage as they think about what they are going to say before they call. On the other hand, the receiver of the phone call is caught off guard and has to scramble to have good debate points in the negotiation. The author’s advice if you are the receiver is simple: make up an excuse to end the call and tell the caller that you will phone them at a later turn. Now you will be the caller and not the receiver which gives you the advantage. For example, if you have applied for a job and the interviewer calls you with a low offer which you were not expecting, simply tell the interviewer that you need time to think about it and you will call them back within 24 to 48 hours. Negotiating in person also allows you to read body language and make a better case for yourself as it is easier for someone to say “No” over the phone. In-person negotiations are more personable. Who would have guessed? haha
  5. Always seek to negotiate with the person who has true negotiating power. For instance, say that you are at an electronics store and you are looking to buy a TV as well as a sound system. Let’s also pretend that there is no sale going on but you think you should get a bundle deal since you are buying two large ticket items. Who do you think you should talk to? the clerk or the manager? If you said manager then you are correct. Usually, a clerk has no real power to give you sales outside of those already presented in the store. Therefore, you should always ask for the manager if you are wanting to negotiate something outside of what is presented. In other words, never accept no for an answer from someone who does not even have the real power to say yes.

In continuing the history of this book, I have to find someone to gift it to. I am thinking of my mother because she is very much a strategic negotiator and has a great interest in human psychology. If you end up reading this book, I hope you do the same as negotiating is a key part of life whether at school, work, or home. The best negotiations in the world get paid millions of dollars to do it so it is quite the skill to have. As you would expect, practice makes perfect and even the author admits that he botched his first negotiation project with a Japanese company because they played the waiting game against him until he only had minutes to present his case. So don’t get discouraged if you fail the first time, learn from it and apply it to your next challenge. All the best in your pursuits. 🙂 ❤

The power of love

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July 2019

This past weekend I had the pleasure of witnessing a beautiful wedding in the breathtaking location of Boothbay Harbor, Maine (Congrats again to the newly wedded couple). It feels like forever since I attended a wedding but it’s only been like 2 years haha. My first career in life was being a flower girl. In fact, some brides were begging my mom for me to be in their wedding but at some point, she had to say no because attending multiple weddings in a year can really deplete your pocket. My cousin tells me that I wasn’t very good at being a flower girl since I did not smile a lot but I guess I was cute enough to be marketable. We were both flower girls at her parents’ wedding and I can tell you she did a way better job than me. There’s photo evidence to prove that I was “stone face” instead of radiating with smiles like she was. Fast forward, years later and I am supposed to be the maid of honor in my best friend’s wedding so I guess that is kind of a promotion. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to smile from ear to ear even if I get lock-jaw.

Smiley or not, witnessing the union of two people is a blessing. Weddings are always a reminder of the power of love. Love is one of the few forces that can transcend race, class, education, and even politics. Also, it is a force that can grow exponentially. At the wedding I attended this weekend, one of the speakers remarked that how greatly the bride loves her groom now will grow even more with time. Often we love someone so much that we cannot imagine loving them more but wait until they are the mother or father to your children. My father spoke at the rehearsal dinner and revisited his tested and true theory that “love is taking care” (now that I think about it, the children’s book Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) also has this central theme). To summarize, don’t just tell someone you love them when showing them love actually means more. Other married couples, came up to my dad to show appreciation for his message so I think my dad is on to something.

To reference Le Petit Prince a little bit, love is like a flower. It is undeniably beautiful but you have to handle it with care. You cannot give it too little or too much water. You have to protect it from the elements such as wind. And people say when you talk to plants, they grow better so communication is key in gardening just like in love. Also if you do your gardening right, one plant can bloom many flowers and even help the ecosystem by helping produce pollen for the bees. Bees then pollinate the world further and increase the number of plants in the world so that we have enough oxygen being released in the air. Similarly, one love story can inspire more love in the world and I think weddings provide a great forum for just that. I am sure every married couple that goes to a wedding gets inspired to love their spouse more while every single person gets inspired to prioritize love in their life. So yes love is truly powerful. May we vow to treat it as the precious force that it has the power to be. 🙂 ❤

Half year Gratitude list

June 2019

With half a year officially gone, I would like to remind you that you are amazing for sticking through this thing we call life. Many people wanted to be here today and some did not make it so you definitely have something to be grateful for. I personally challenged myself to write 10 things that make me #blessed. Here we go:

1. That I have survived, may I say I have even thrived, in the first half of the year. All praise to the most high.

2. My niece can actually speak whole sentences now and it quite an intelligent little girl.

3. My brother has now been in the professional work force for a whole year. Congrats little bro.

4. My family has overcome challenges that life has thrown at us and it always makes us even stronger when we’re together

5. I started the year off in the motherland facing Mt. Kenya and on the equator line.

6. The tennis league that I am a part of qualified to the state championships where I won 2 matches and lost one.

7. I have been able to balance both my work and personal life.

8. I have had this blog for about 2.5 years now.

9. I got a pedicure this weekend and decided to be more adventurous so I got hot pink instead of my usual lilac color.

10. I bought some jeans online and when they came in the mail I was expecting to be disappointed. But to my surprise, they fit perfectly; even better than the ones I’ve bought in a walk-in store.

And with that, I hope my jean story inspires you to take more risk. FYI I bought a size up so in case they didn’t fit, I could gift them to my friend so maybe also karma rewards us when we think of others. Happy rest of 2019 😊❤️

My version of “waiting in vain” by Bob Marley

Displayed above is a painting I recently did of Bob Marley. In 24 hours, I will no longer own it as I am gifting it to my neighbor who recorded a live album of his original music yesterday and who also taught me how to play guitar. Displayed below is a song I wrote out loud first while driving around town and just expressing what was on my heart at that time. I hope you enjoy both displays and soon enough, a video recording of me playing the song should follow. I mixed in a bit of French just to summarize the chorus in another language – also inspired by my guitar teacher. I was listening to Bob Marley’s “waiting in vain” on repeat around the time I wrote this song so I can attribute some inspiration to that as well.

I wanna know

I am looking for that sign

That green light

That tells me go

Or that red light

That tells me no

—–

I wanna know

If this is real

If this is true

Me and you

Is this real?

Is this true?

I wanna know

——

Moi et toi

Est – ce vrais?

Je veux savoir

——-

They say time will tell

If this love is a spell

Or if we both truly fell

So hold on to those wedding bells

——

Cause I wanna know

If this is real

If this is true

Me and you

Is this real?

Is this true?

I wanna know

——

Moi et toi

Est – ce vrais?

Je veux savoir

—Thanks for reading and entertaining my creativity in all capacities. 😃❤️

How to ENRICH your LIFE: La Joie de Vivre

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In summer of 2012, I interned at the Institute of Primate Research in Nairobi, Kenya where they conduct very groundbreaking research especially on tropical diseases (and before you ask, yes they conduct ethically sound research that follows World of Health Animal Research Protocols). My favorite part of the internship was the enrichment project where select staff, such as myself, played with the monkeys, chimps, and other primates for at least an hour a day. This enrichment project was created under the reason that the primates should still have a life with some daily fun even though they were being used for research. I was reflecting upon this experience recently and I realized that even humans are primates so we have to remember to always create some joy in our lives. The word enrichment is befitting because it enhances the value and quality of our lives. Another phrase that I love is “la joie de vivre” which is French for “joy of life”.

I personally find my joie de vivre in three things: art, food, and music. I just recently had a quick vacation to Houston that encompassed those three things so let me highlight them below in picture format.

ART (all pictures taken at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX)

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FOOD

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The Savoy Restaurant is definitely a must-visit spot for Indo-Pakistani food. At the bottom left of the photo, you can see green specks in the naan which are cilantro and Jalapeno peppers. As such, this naan is called “the bullet” naan. This was my first time having it and now I am obsessed. Also, tried goat brain masala which was better than one could expect. My favorite, of course, was the goat biryani.

MUSIC

The main person that inspired my recent trip to Houston is Lauryn Hill as she had a concert lined up on Thursday, May the 9th. Despite bad weather and flash flood warning, we showed up and luckily, she did too. Her performance was amazing and she delivered considering 20 plus years have passed since the release of her album, The MisEducation of Lauryn Hill. Her guitarists and backup singers were on point too. Please watch the clip below for a morsel of her performance.

 

I hope you enjoyed this post and that you take time to reflect on how you can or will continue to ENRICH your LIFE. Thanks for reading 🙂 ❤

Boston Review: Resident & Tourist view

 

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March 2019

Some of you may know that I spent a little over half a decade (six years) in Boston, Massachusetts. So this is a review where I can delve both into being a resident and a tourist of the city. My first trip to Boston was in 2010 with my mom before the start of my senior year of high school to look at different universities in the area (Harvard, MIT, Boston University, and my alma mater of Northeastern University). The one campus that truly captured my eye and heart was Northeastern’s as it was right in the heart of Boston but still managed to be centralized; so you could feel like you were in your own world and still be in the mix of the city within less than a 5-minute walk.   I liked being in a worldly diverse school with students from all over the map and being in a city where all these cultures participated, especially in food.

Food. My favorite restaurant in Boston is actually a Senegalese restaurant called Teranga. It is a small place with a cozy vibe as the owner is super friendly and makes sure to talk to every table when he is around. One of my favorite quotes of his is “We are all African” which actually describes my experience in Boston because I made friends with Africans from other countries such as Nigeria and Somalia. I also loved the Boston Shawarma restaurant that I was on Huntington Avenue where my alma mater is located. I also loved eating really delicious Vietnamese soup called pho (thanks to my best friend’s mom for introducing this to me as her homemade pho is still the best in my book) at a restaurant called Pho & I which was also down the street from my school. I also loved samosas and biryani from an Indian restaurant called the Dosa Factory (I actually gave them my email one time to be contacted in case they were hiring). The China town in Boston is actually pretty legitimate and has very authentic Chinese food (sometimes so authentic that it doesn’t match your palette depending on which restaurant you frequent). My favorite is Gourmet Dumpling House which has a really nice pancake dish and obviously amazing dumplings. For brunch though, my favorite restaurant is Darryl’s Corner Bar and Kitchen which has a soul/jazzy vibe with live music and a buffet brunch option. On my recent one-day trip to Boston, I actually did not eat out as my friend cooked shrimp & chicken Jollof for me which filled me up for the whole day (see picture below). It was actually the best Jollof I’ve ever had so shout out to Chef Ola.

 

 

Tourist Attractions. A lot of films are actually filmed in Boston so you should already know that it is beautiful (especially in the summer because snow can become a pain after a while). My favorite spot is the Boston Gardens which are right at the end of Newbury St where you can shop from various high-end stores like Gucci and even low-end stores like Forever 21. My friend and I went there to chill before heading to Macy’s which is within walking distance. We actually ended up climbing a tree together (mainly him climbing the tree and helping me up). After Macy’s, we went to the Charles River Esplanade which is another tourist attraction where you can watch sailboat races or just a beautiful sunset. There is also a little park by the banks of the river which I love to visit from time to time mainly for the monkey bars where I like to hang upside down like the primate that I am (every so often I like to do this just to make sure that I haven’t lost this skill yet haha). If you want a great view of Boston (no upside hanging involved), the Top of the Hub Restaurant which is at the top of the Prudential Building (also known as The Pru) is a great place to go especially during a clear day. If you are a museum enthusiast like myself, both the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) and the Isabella Stewart Gardner (ISG) Museum are a must-see.

Nightlife. One of my favorite places to chill and listen to good music is the W Hotel in Boston. It never disappoints and the African City party this year was held in the hotel so I was excited to attend. My friend and I got there an hour and a half late but the party still had not started. When it did start around an hour later, it was actually a great party with a great DJ playing music from all over Africa (not just Nigerian and Ghanaian music). When he played Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s Umqombothi song that was when I knew he was the real deal. Unfortunately, clubs and bars close at 2am in Boston as it was/still is a Puritan city. This used to really frustrate me when I was in college but now that I am old, sleep is life so I do not mind the 2am curfew at all. Most of the time people have house parties afterward so there are ways to work around it which brings me to my next topic about accommodation.

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Travel & Accommodation. I won’t even try to sugarcoat it; Boston can be a little bit racist (I even talked to a white person who lived in Boston who stated this). I will say that I did experience some racism when trying to secure an Airbnb during my last year of school. For example, some prospective hosts will not even message you back based on skin color or will pretend that the dates are actually booked when they are not. Therefore, a hotel is probably the best option if you have a short stay (I guess unless you get lucky with Airbnb). If you are planning to stay in Boston long term, do bear in mind that rent is pretty expensive. You can live further out of the city for cheaper accommodation but if you do not have a car, the commute can be long by train or bus. I chose to stay close to campus because my major required long nights at the library and I wanted to be safe going home. Also, commuting during the winter can be hell with snow covered streets. In general, buy good shoes because the city of Boston requires a lot of walking and if you are a lady, the cobblestone will most likely ruin your stilettos. But one thing that makes Boston stand out from the rest is that it is a very clean city, your shoes will probably still be squeaky clean at the end of the day.

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New York City Trip Review

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March 2019, Brooklyn Bridge

I would like to start by sharing a quote that I read on a billboard while walking around New York City that stated that “NYC is like a pretty woman smoking a cigar”. It is kind of rough around the edges and definitely not everyone can survive living there. But they also say “if you can make it in NYC, you can make it everywhere”. I am fortunate to say that I have two friends who I grew up with in Alabama who are making it in NYC and I enjoyed hanging out with them. This was not my first time in NYC but 2015 was the last time I was there so a trip was long overdue. My review of the city starts with a food review because NYC is truly a melting pot where you can find cuisine from all over the world.

Food. I have never had a bad meal in NYC. This time around I was mostly looking forward to trying Peruvian food because my best friend is always talking about it. So when I saw a Peruvian restaurant in Queens called Jora, I was excited to try it out. My best friend recommended Ceviche which is raw seafood marinated with lime and onions. I am not a fan of raw fish, to be honest, but they also served a complimentary snack of banana chips with avocado/lime sauce which was so delicious that I have to try to recreate it at home. My friend also took me to a Greek restaurant called Taverna Kyclades which was great for me because I had been craving calamari that week. With calamari as the appetizer, I ordered lamb chops and lemon potatoes. The food was decent but my friend claims that the Taverna Kyclades in Queens is better than the one we went to. The best restaurant we experienced was Soco in Brooklyn which is black-owned and soul food/creole inspired. I had previously frequented this restaurant in 2015 with some college friends for brunch and I loved their fried chicken with red velvet waffles. Yes! Red Velvet waffles! My friend ordered the gumbo and we both enjoyed it. This time around I did not eat any street food but make sure to check out the halal food trucks if you’re ever in NYC.

 

Tourist attractions. NYC has a lot of tourist attractions but I am not really drawn to a lot of them such as the Statue of Liberty. My favorite attraction is the Brooklyn Bridge because the lower part of the bridge is for cars and the upper part is for pedestrians where you can walk while getting an amazing view of the NYC skyline. I also love Central Park just because it is so huge and is usually a great place to people watch. My friend and I also went to the top of the empire state building which had a great view of the skyline at night with all the lights all over the city. Surprisingly, we went on a Thursday and there were a lot of tourists there especially from France. I joked to my friend that French people view NYC the way American people view Paris: full of romance, class, and adventure. So Paris 2020 anyone?

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Night Life. On this trip, I was really looking to find a club that plays African music because that is something I do not get to experience where I live down South. I found an event in Brooklyn hosted by an African DJ in a lounge. My friend and I showed up an hour late to the event but we ended up being among the first 5 people there including the DJ. While we waited for more people to show up, I took the chance to play the DJ’s electronic drums which was actually pretty fun as you can see in the video below (sorry for the horrible quality).  By the end of the night, only 20 people had shown up but we still enjoyed as the DJ was on fire playing all the Afrobeats bangers. On my previous trips to NYC, I have gone to American clubs which are all over the place and can get really packed. That was a while back though so I won’t give any recommendations because things might have changed. But NYC still remains as the city that never sleeps so don’t sleep on it.

Accommodation & Transport. Ubers can be a pretty expensive way to travel since the city is so expansive. It is a necessary evil though mainly for airport trips and when you’ve exhausted all your energy by dancing all night. However, the train system in NYC is world class. Usually, it will take about the same travel time as a car to take the train as train stops are everywhere and the wait times are short. Also, NYC trains are known to have talented individuals displaying their talents in hopes of being discovered and making a bit of money. And of course trains and buses are much cheaper than Ubers. For accommodation, there are usually deals on Groupon especially during the offseason (Spring and Fall). I chose to stay at a hotel in Queens because LaGuardia Airport is in Queens and I did not want to be late to the airport as usual. Also, I have always wanted to stay in Queens after watching Coming to America with Eddie Murphy and Yes, I ❤ NY.

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Thanks for reading! 🙂

The boy who harnessed the wind, Movie Review

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March 2019

Let me start off by saying that I have been a big fan of Chiwetel Ejiofor’s work since his portrayal of Solomon Northup in the famous movie 12 years a Slave.  And similarly, he did not disappoint in this movie based on a story about William Kamkwamba also known as The boy who harnessed the wind as he figured out a way to make a wind powered water pump for irrigation during a dry spell in his village in Malawi. As Chiwetel Ejiofor is British-Nigerian, he had to learn Chichewa to play the role of William’s father and to be honest I would think he was a Malawian actor if I was not familiar with his background. The film which was also directed by Chiwetel has received a Sundance Film Festival award but I am sure you would rather read about my thoughts on the film (maybe just a little bit of arrogance there haha). Anyways, let me commence my review.

  1. Film quality. Even though the film is set in a remote area, it does a good job of kind of romanticizing village life and still depicting it in an honest way. The lighting is perfect for the various hues of brown faces that are part of the story. Both English and Chichewa is used in the film with English being the main language and Chichewa used for dramatic effect where it is most appropriate. The sound quality is also good and as weather is an important part of the story, the different seasons are captured beautifully.
  2. Plot/Story line. I think the story is pieced together very well. The background of William’s family dynamics is appropriately presented and all the main characters are given well rounded depictions. The main supporting character is played by Chiwetel as William’s father and we get to see so much raw emotion from him that is truly unmatched. The movie overall can be a little depressing at times but you have to remember that this is based on a true story meaning that people do go through really tough times. Therefore, I think this movie serves as a reminder to persevere despite life’s challenges.
  3. Cultural representation. I love watching foreign movies because it presents as an opportunity to discover new cultures and ways of life. This movie definitely provides this perspective especially in terms of power dynamics within the Malawian village and how education is perceived in the community. Furthermore, it also depicts local politics and how funerals are conducted. I think what touched me the most is realizing that education is not free in a lot of African countries and that this is probably holding the country back in terms of the creative thinkers that are missing out on expanding their knowledge. In the movie, the main character, William, is clearly a creative thinker and he got lucky in finding resources that could help him explore his problem-solving ideas. I wish that we could all commit ourselves to nurturing our own and others’ creative thinking.

I think when I first saw the trailer for the film, I thought it was going to be a simple moving about a young boy who became a hero. However, this film is much more than that. It has a love story, political context, depth, and a certain richness that just cannot be explained. It is rich in life because of how much well the characters are portrayed. And just before you thought it could not get any better, the local chief is portrayed by the Butler Geoffrey from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air (his real name is Joseph Marcell). Let me tell you that Mr. Marcell did a wonderful job with the Malawi accent as well even though we have not seen him acting for maybe one or two decades now since the end of Fresh Prince. I hope to see more from him, Chiwetel, and the other members of this lovely cast. In case you are wondering, the movie is on Netflix for all to view (If you don’t have membership, ask a friend). 🙂 ❤