That time is now

Time-Tracking-Software

There comes a time when

there is no more planning

or waiting

or visualizing

or strategising

or budgetting

or getting everything just so

 

There comes a time when

you realise that all of that is great

and can be necessary

but unless you just do something

it will all be for

nothing

 

There comes a time when

the time is now

 

That time is now

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Theatre Review: The Colour Purple

This review can be seen on Afridiziak

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The Color Purple is the Broadway remake of the famous Pulitzer prize-winning Alice Walker novel of the same name. The book was turned into an Oscar winning/ nominated film, 30 years ago by Steven Spielberg and made famous by well-known actors such as Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey, one of the producers of the Broadway theatre production.

It was with anticipation and a barely constrained attempt to manage my expectations that I attended British director John Doyle’s production of The Color Purple in New York on Broadway. The cast caused me great excitement particularly the presence of Jennifer Hudson as Shug Avery, her voice alone made me want to up sticks and cross an ocean to go and watch…which I did!

It was however the talent both vocally and as a strong evocative actor that the lead Cynthia Erivo as Celie stole the show. Her voice is truly awe inspiring, with an extensive range both musically and emotionally making it hard for any audience member to leave unaffected (as we found out from a fellow theatre goer who had been to see the show four times…it only opened officially in December 2015). Cynthia played the role of Celie in the UK at the Menier Chocolate Factory theatre in London where The Color Purple ran and one can’t help wondering what would it have been like to see Erivo there on home soil, if you like, as Cynthia is British with Nigerian heritage.

The production exhibited an excellent use of theatre space and well thought out retelling of the original story so it translated well onto to the stage. This production carries a strong cast, however if in the first half Jennifer Hudson’s character seemed to be lacking a certain degree of presence her voice didn’t and in the second half the audience was treated to a much stronger and humorous Shug Avery.

Danielle Brookes of Orange is the New Black fame in the role Oprah made famous as Sophia was strong, sassy and a pleasure to watch. Her strong bluesy/ gospel inspired voice was unexpected but suited the character and personality of Sophia as a no nonsense woman who was constantly doing battle to assert her right to just be safe, be respected, be treated like a human being. In the period the play is set just to achieve these things we often take for granted today as a woman was a major struggle and still is for many.

The Color Purple was a complete production with a strong cast, vibrant score with two particular songs that struck a chord ‘The Color Purple’ sung by Cynthia Erivo and ‘What About Love?’ a duet between Jennifer Hudson and Cynthia Erivo. The set was intriguing with its backdrop of wooden chairs (a staple of any circa 1900 farming home) and a strong script that combined the nostalgia of memorable lines from the film yet maintaining its own voice and personality which brings the audience a new pathway into Alice Walker’s phenomenal story of self-discovery, faith, growth and love.

This musical is a must see whether you purposely hop on a plane for a cultural New York break or take it in while there for other reasons. Moving, funny, dramatic and incredibly entertaining The Color Purple is a winner.

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Theatre Review: I See You

This review can be found on the Afridiziak website.

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I See You by Mongiwekhaya at the Royal Court is a play I was excited about seeing due to first time director  whose acting triumphs have had me curious about her. Having seen the thoughtful and innovative direction of I See You it is clear she is multi-talented.

I See You takes place in post-Apartheid South Africa on what should have been a normal Friday night out, but spirals into a series of poignant life lessons for university student Ben played by Bayo Gbadamosi, when he is arrested for a crime he did not commit.

This is a powerful play with a strong and talented cast that tackles face on the issues of human struggle, race, class, pain, identity and so much more. During the course of this night these themes are explored with Ben, ‘Cheese Boy’ being the middle class young black male, with no real idea of what South Africa was like under Apartheid, no real perception of the struggle blacks went through to achieve change and a personal pain that makes him wish to reject his culture through the loss of his mother tongue.

Ben encounters Jordan Baker’s Skinn in the club, a sassy street-smart white girl, who bounces between English and Afrikaans. There are a number of moments where various South African languages are spoken with no translation, yet rather than isolate the audience it helps the non-understanding audience member empathise with the confusion of Ben who also doesn’t understand, a situation that is used against him, viciously.

Through officer Buthelezi we are able to see the impact of the aftermath of fighting for and achieving something so big and meaningful it can’t help but leave scars. Scars that keep you awake at night, scars that throb leading to lashing out violently, scars that can leave a person angry, isolated and in pain even though the battle was won. Desmond Dube’s Buthelezi has us thinking at what cost and is it worth it?

The production begins with the characters breathing heavily, as the production goes on the breathing becomes significant as we question what did it mean? Trying to catch breath after exertion, trying to breathe though you feel restricted, trying to find peace to breathe easy? We have all been there and as we journey through each characters own challenges and demons we recognise the struggle of trying to keep your head above water, of trying to just keep breathing, keep living though the pain of doing so can be its own struggle.

I See You intertwines humour with serious themes that no matter how uncomfortable need to be addressed. The challenges class and privilege raise between people of colour who are supposed to be part of the same struggle, too often this is not the case as Buthelezi says to Ben ‘You know white people think we are the same? We both look black. But only one of us is black…Speak to me in your mother tongue and I will let you go.’

I See You intertwines humour with serious themes that no matter how uncomfortable need to be addressed. The interaction between Ben and Buthelezi highlights how human interaction is often based on misconstrued perceptions, you see a person and fill in the blanks of what you believe to be their life story. Some parts may be correct but if you look deeper you discover you and the one before you are not so different. First we must recognise as Buthelezi says to Ben ‘we are agreed you know nothing’ and then do the work of trying to understand another no matter how distasteful, alien, painful and scary this endeavour may be for us we must do it until you get to that point where you reach the core of the person, you reach the place where you can understand and love that person. That point where you can genuinely look the person in the eye and say I See You.

I See You is an excellent production based on a real encounter, there are a number of messages to take away but perhaps the one I shall be reflecting on is to see others clearly we have to look within and see ourselves for who we are and begin the work there.

 

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Theatre Review: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

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It was with excitement and anticipation I went to see Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. I love a musical, I love big diva voices and I love black theatre (well I love all theatre but particular interest in black stories).

The theatre was packed, the staging imaginative and the stage was set for a great evening, unfortunately for me the great evening just didn’t really come in the way I had hoped. The play just never took off for me and then it was finished. I understand that the conversations taking place on the stage while the characters are waiting for the great Ma Rainey to arrive to her studio recording session is where the essence of the play lies. However I was not grabbed thoroughly enough by these conversations to get rid of the feeling of waiting for…well…more.

That is not to say when Ma Rainey did put in an appearance the play shifted gears, because it didn’t I still felt like I was waiting for something.

The performance by the session band characters was good, my all time favourite Lucian Msamati was very good but not as great as I have seen him be. The other cast members were new to me, I was captivated by the voices of Giles Terera as Slow Drag and Ma Rainey herself Sharon D. Clarke but I have to say those were my highlights.

There are strong messages within the play surrounding, jealousy, discrimmination, self-belief and self worth, it even mixes in a bit of same sex relations to keep you on your toes. Yet still there was something missing that made it difficult for me to connect. I did not lose myself in the performance I was aware of every use of the n-word (of which there was plenty), perhaps there was discomfort in the use of the word by the actors and this came through as it is not my first time seeing a production based around this era.

I am glad I saw Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, but I wouldn’t say it would be added to my must see again list.

 

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Theatre Review: Red Velvet

Red Velvet

May I introduce Mr Ira Aldridge presented through the artistic flair of one Mr Adrian Lester with words provided by Lolita Chakrahbati. Red Velvet provides the stage to facilitate this most valuable and entertaining meeting.

For those who have not heard of Ira Aldridge he was a 18th Century actor born in New York a freeman in 1807. He had a penchant for acting and would perform with a group in New York called the African Grove Theatre where their performances were so popular they drew audiences away from the white productions. So much so that Aldridge nearly died in a fire, arson which burnt down the ‘theatre’.

In 1824 Aldridge made his way to the UK in the hopes of finding something better. Apparently he created a new persona for himself as a Prince from Senegal, he managed to slowly but surely turn his dream of theatre success into a reality around the cities of the UK surrounding London. This tale takes us through his London experience and how it had an impact on the rest of his life and career.

Adrian Lester’s performance of Ira Aldridge is thought provoking, while the production, though focused upon a particular actor at a pivotal moment in history resonates very strongly with what is currently taking place on the stage and silver screen.

There is an excellent scene that vividly brings to the fore the types of conversations that take place when race and representation or under representation try to happen. The play captures beautifully the challenges discomfort and self-reflection that transformatory change causes for all involved.

It would be easy to say well that was then look how far we have come. I need only look at my program advertising upcoming plays to the West End to see that the stage has not really changed its players. A well meaning conversation with a fellow theatre goer, who happened to be caucasian, who also enjoyed the show immensely shows the colour lens that people perhaps do not realise they are regarding the world. The theatre goer shared with me ‘He’s very good, Adrian. Idris Elba is also very good isn’t he?’

Chakrahbati has taken an historical moment and as all good pieces it is as relevant now and speaks to us as it did in it’s time. I look forward to a time when productions with themes like the ones presented here won’t speak so directly to modern times.

Excellent performance well worth putting in your diary!

 

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Walking the path God has laid out for me

I have a few minutes left of my first day of Lent and I am happy to report it went pretty well. I am approaching my Lent as a period of internal and external cleansing, rejuvenation and focus. To this end I shall be giving up some good stuff like the good Catholic girl I was brought up to be. I shall also, however, be taking some stuff on. So you guys out there I am sharing this with you so now you can hold me accountable, in 40 days we can observe what I have achieved.

And so the list….

Giving up

  • Junk food/ Fast food (Take out/ microwave/ oven meals etc)
  • Processed foods (Bacon, Sausages, ham sniff sniff SOB)
  • Sweets, cakes, biscuits and their family members
  • Procrastination
  • Self doubt

Taking on

  • Definite action
  • Writing something everyday and publishing it here (Like this!)
  • Following opportunities God puts in my path with faith and not doubt/ insecurity
  • Excercise 30 mins a day (Gym, a walk, dance, Pilates)

In 40n days I don’t want to be this brand new unrecognisable person. In 40 days I want to recognise myself because I am the me who has been living in my head for the last 37 years. A me who is doing me happily, not that is a life worth living!

If you are going through a period of transformation in whatever form tell me about it and let’s support each other!

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Goals, Resolutions, Ambitions Oh My!

This year I am approaching the obligatory resolution writing and goal setting with care. I started 2015 with a good list of ambitious and life transforming resolutions. I also created my goals and, because I am serious about these things, discussed them with my support system to ensure my goals were Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed. Yes I had a fine set of SMART goals, a list of eloquent resolutions and I was ready to show 2015 a thing or two (well six).

So a year later as I look back I have my beautiful, structured goals and resolutions, I also have a year of reflections  that I still have to shake my head and revisit because life most definitely did not go to plan.

What does that mean? Do I throw away my goals and not bother with resolutions? What is the take away here? Ok so my lesson learnt was to steer away from narrow specifics that hedge you in and narrow your sight to new or alternative routes and possibilities. Rather, target the essence of what you want to achieve. What do I mean? Here is an example from my own experience.

At the beginning of the year I knew I wanted to work in more African countries so I could learn more and develop my knowledge and expertise in diaspora issues . I narrowed in on the job and the company I wanted, they approached me, it all seemed so perfect until it just fell apart and I still have no idea why.

In its place I was offered another job that on the face of it was good but not quite the initial role. In the end I took the second offer and six months on it is more than I wanted when I had my grand plan. Not perfect and not in the form I had thought it would happen but exactly what I needed. I reached that particular journeys end but the route was not as I would have chosen.

Have your end journey in mind but don’t tie yourself rigidly to the route, in the end doing that can make the journey harder or take you completely off your course. So as we are here at another burgeoning new beginning, think about where you would love to be on the 31st December 2016. Imagine you are looking back at 2016 in wonder at how the year turned out for you. No limits, no boundaries – the how will open itself up to you as long as you are brave enough to follow. What you need to be clear about is WHAT you want, be clear on that and then start your journey to making it happen!

I wish you all the best for your 2016. I advise you to

  • Take yourself seriously
  • Research and pay for assistance/ advice
  • Believe that what you want will happen for you…eventually (Patience + Focus = Success)
  • Be as happy and positive at every point as you possibly can, every challenge is teaching you something – take the lesson and keep moving

These steps will make your challenges surmountable and the good outcomes rewarding. Get in touch if you need any pointers and may the force be with you (I couldn’t resist!)

 

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Take it easy on yourself

What am I doing? As the year 2015 is drawing to a close and my own first year back in the UK does the same I am wondering where am I now? I know I am definitely not where I thought I would be, I am trying to get my head around the multiple opportunities laid out before me and worried that I may screw them up. And there lies my problem.

I am so worried about messing it up, causing disappointment and basically not succeeding that I am a little stuck…or a lot stuck. Some would say the first part of the battle is acknowledging this. Ok, it is acknowledged now what. I can say it so seemingly lightly because I am pretty self-aware and so have identified my faults but remain in a place where I am not fixing them and moving forward.

I hate the feeling it leaves me with, but I obviously don’t hate it enough to make the necessary changes and this fills me with frustration and a sense of foreboding. But most of all it fills me with guilt. Guilt that I am letting myself down, God down and everyone who could benefit from the gifts God has given me down as well. Yes it is an increasingly heavy emotional load to carry and so I am feeling perpetually tired and no amount of sleep helps. No surprise, what will relieve the tiredness funnily enough is action not rest.

I know the steps to take, I know the direction I need to be going in and yet I stand here taking the odd baby step forward and then stopping unsure and worried about what comes next. I’m not going to say 1st January ALL CHANGE, because that is not true.

Actually as I read back over what I wrote above which was about two weeks ago I realise my problem. I can’t just ‘fix it’ like a broken shoe that just needs glue. It took me years to cultivate this element of my personality and so now I have to learn a new way of being, this will take time. So rather than have a ‘Fix it’ attitude I need to look at addressing the elements of myself I can see need adjustment or all out eradication. This already feels realistic to me, not so harsh on my mental being.

Time for baby steps into my next phase, good luck with yours.

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‘See things as you want them to be, not as they appear to be’ Message of the day

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This has been a very emotional year to date. A year of immense life changes for so many, completely transformative. The number of people who I know who have had babies, or are due to have babies indicates to me last year was a very amorous year for many. It’s a beautiful thing.

The new life in my world isn’t in the form of a gorgeous bundle of joy, but is rather the realisation that the new life that I have been nurturing, supporting, feeding is actually my own. I wonder if new parents feel as I do, a mixture of excitement and a fear of the complete change you are stepping into?

I suppose I am in a luckier position as I do not have the responsibility of a gorgeous vulnerable little thing that is completely dependent on me. I just have me, actually on reflection I don’t think it is lucky. Many, like me, have spent their life not looking out for their own best interests so what is going to be so different this time?

I guess the difference for me this time is that I am very uncomfortable with my current situation and though it may scare me I need to make a change, I need to give birth and life to the changes begging to be let breathe and grow.

Also the opportunitities this new life wishes to offer are laid out before me begging me to come and help them grow, help me grow really.

So chin up girl (or guy) and keep it moving, brilliant is just around the corner!

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Life in the Chrysalis

Sometimes there is a sadness, an emptiness inside that I look to fill with, something. Initially it was food. I ate like each bite was to be my last and even when I was uncomfortably full, the kind of full when you wake up the next day and your body is saying ‘please no more’ but the emptiness is stronger and so more eating.

Thankfully that phase ended, my body won. Food wasn’t the answer anymore, actually it never was. So then came activities I guess, an attitude of focus and let’s get this life game back on track. Fake it till you make it. I am beginning to make it, a shift is taking place and I am feeling part of my world rather than apart and outside it. I am glad because standing apart and watching your life is an uncomfortable feeling, helps give you some perspective though.

I’m lucky. I have amazing friends and family who love and look out for me. They have helped turn back the waves of depression and overwhelm that have threatened to take me persistently over (or under) the last few months. A friend recently told me there are three major moments in life, shifts really, that cause extreme disruption to a person mentally and physically

  1. Moving
  2. Breaking up in a relationship
  3. New job

I have had all three happen simultaneously, her wise words which were and continue to be so helpful ‘you are doing really well, be kind to yourself’. That doesn’t mean get that M and S chocolate fudge cake which is the biggest hug in edible form (ahem) and eat it all to ‘treat’ yourself. It means when you feel low don’t beat yourself up, feel low for a little while, acknowledge why and then move on to doing something to pick you up. A long hot bath, funny film, see friends or family, even exercise – yep you almost definitely won’t feel like it but it is so effective.

Most of the time when feeling low I just wanted to be left alone and lie still, but that was the depression’s desire, a little part of me would say go for a walk, now go and see mummy or call someone. Or answer that call and have a conversation. It is easy to feel lonely and isolated, it’s even easier to exacerbate that feeling by our own actions. Cutting people off, choosing to turn down invites for the false comfort of my sofa and a bag of popcorn (that posh one with the salt and sweet mix).

I am actively forcing myself now to say no to my sofa, as much as I love it and the comfort its cushiony goodness and proximity to the TV gives me. I moved essentially to enhance my life and where possible that of others. I moved back to see if my relationship had a future, it didn’t and at my core I am grateful for that knowledge. That wisdom doesn’t stop the disappointment and hurt, but pragmatic as I try to be I am taking my learning from this experience. I am giving myself time, I am not rushing into dating and I am not going to over compromise just so I can have a man.

I want to be married and have a family but I realise not at any cost or on any terms. Which leads to my new job and business opportunities. It’s funny, in that way life can be, when I came back I thought I was going into this new job which was loads of money and finally the possibility of flying business class when travelling for work. The thing is I had, had a conversation with God before leaving Ghana and told God what I wanted out of this move. God listens to the core of your request not the surface level stuff we think we want.

So the loadsa money job fell through and behind it came my current job. Which, though when I said yes, I didn’t fully comprehend that it so completely fulfils my request to God. It’s like my Mary Poppins list in career developing form.

Also my own business interests are starting to bud as well, so life is starting to reflect the image of life I had started to form when I decided to make my move.

I am definitely on my way to happy. The life changes happening in my sisters lives is bringing us closer. The birth of my niece has been like some magic restorative medicine. I’m learning or re-learning that life has a way of working out, perhaps not in the way I had pictured or planned it, but it works out.

If you are having one of these transitional, transformational, challenging times share your story, open up your feelings and let them out. Keeping them inside is not good or healthy for you and when you share it and hear responses from people who really love and care about you, you realise they appear bigger or are maladjustments of the truth of the situation. You are not alone and you are doing great. I’m off now to go and get love and hugs from my Godson, be well and have a great day! Drop me a line if you want to share your story, happy to listen.

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