Dirty Linens – Uche Okpa-Iroha

Posted: May 19, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Ten photographers and a writer left Lagos on a quest supposedly “to save the west coast of Africa from unnecessary divisions of geography, trade and human interaction, using photography as a platform.” The region is full of potentials both in human capital, energy and God- given natural resources, yet in self-imposed shackles.

The photographers’ mission was herculean: prodded by the confidence of their last adventure to Bamako in 2009, they sought to break all the obstacles presented by the physical borders imposed – courtesy of our colonial masters in 1884. Aware of the unseen problems along their path, they christened themselves the “INVISIBLE BORDERS TEAM”.

They travelled by road .First, the BLACK MARIA that conveyed them on their maiden voyage to Bamako. Unfortunately, poor little BLACK MARIA is still convalescing somewhere in the capital of one of the West African countries…waiting to awake from her partial coma.

Now, a new beauty named, SNOW WHITE, was commissioned for the trip. She glittered under the African sun too difficult to go unnoticed. Racing past rusty towns, fine cities and remote villages, it looked fit and sound. The beauty, initially ignorant of the characters in her belly, became agitated. The occupants rumbled, fumbled and agiter (a French word from agitate). Sick enough, SNOW WHITE had her first purge in BoboDioulasso because the dwarfs’ (as the occupants now referred to themselves) linens had become very dirty. So DIRTY LINENS comically called “Dirty LINENS “had to be washed. The dwarfs became less by one: that one couldn’t stand it, was stretched to the limits and decided to ABANDON SHIP. What a pity!!!.

The dwarfs had choked SNOW WHITE with a lot of Iyalamiyas and Gbalagbala filokes (please read our earlier blogs for enlightenment on these peculiar terms). The space became so choked, it couldn’t contain them and consequently linens had to be washed in public! Yes in public! At several intervals.

In Africa, eras and epochs come and go, rise and fall. It was now evident amongst the dwarfs that the era of washing of DIRTY LINENS had just begun. SNOW WHITES thought-pattern had now become a bit suspect and warped: “Am I having engine fatigue or malaria” She asked? The hallucinations continued as the dwarfs washed more DIRTY LINENS in her belly.

Egos clashed and tempers flared. SNOW WHITE sneezed, coughed and became feverish but still, managed to coast along her trajectory targeting the 3142km that she set for her self. If only the dwarfs would wash their LINENS privately…

The dirty linens set us thinking: Are Africa’s problems due to DIRTY LINENS that are washed by the leaders and permeated to her people? Could it be that DIRTY LINENS were planned and instituted by the WEST to put the continent in some state of disunity, or are they self-inflicted wahala ?

“DIRTY LINENS” now become an INVISIBLE BORDER for the IB 2010 team as they zoomed into Dakar. Where have respect, dignity, love and camaraderie gone? SNOW WHITE was trying to rationalize this when two particularly close dwarfs erupted again in gbalagbala after a very pleasant dinner with one of our finest hosts in Dakar. The Eyfjallalokul (the Icelandic Volcano) could not compare to it. One threat after another lead to seniority and juniority claims which were now are tabled ungracefully before the other dwarfs. MR. CHAIRMAN had an onerous task before him. Thank God, he proved his mettle.

The IB team is still young, just in its second year, and expectedly, a lot of rough edges still need to be chipped off. The Invisible Borders Project is already turning into a beautiful bride, attracting a lot of suitors. The team is becoming more cohesive and focused. LINENS are a lot cleaner now as the very dirty ones have been already washed.

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