Gentle Soul

Gentle Soul by Veronica Nkwocha

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The sun sets on our youth and old friends fall like a pack of cards in slow motion
Memories swell and rise clouding today with the sweet scent of yesterday
Gone not forgotten
Youth fragile like embers in a fading fire
I rest my head on the bosom of Day
While Night steals our strength
slowly
carefully
Painfully

My Thoughts on ‘Selma’

 

My Thoughts on ‘Selma’

By Veronica Nkwocha

Selma (Historical Drama on the 1965 voting rights marches)

The Selma girls…giggling, pressed hair, church best, the memory of sweet candy tickling the nostrils and the faint perfume of mama and the mark of papa’s bristle grazing the cheek in a kiss lingers…they own the world, the flowery summer out there waiting to be explored and the joy of tomorrow…

Their lives cut short, a violent pause on a normal day, an explosion ripples through, cuts short what had been cut an overly long time prior, with a sharp tongue…words fanning the flames of fear and hate for the other.

The staccato rain of race being the lowest common denominator in describing the antagonists and protagonists hits the viewer, it tells the basic element that underlines the interactions, there are no grey areas.

Going against the tide is always an arduous task even more so when death is the price for challenging the status quo. White, black, passionate men and women, ordinary folk…and fiery preachers with their retinue of activists pulling here and there, a difference in opinion on how best to tackle the monster in the room, flawed men and dignified women chipping at the edges, fraying the seams of entrenched walls standing resolute, near timeless, final.

A tribute to Oprah Winfrey (Annie Lee Cooper) whose portrayal of the lone woman walking the lonely path trying to register a right to vote was an emphatic, poignant line in the sand.

Hats off to David Oyelowo (starring as Martin Luther King – MLK); he was the beacon on whom all eyes turned to hold this all important story, he filled the shoes, and more, oh one could see his restraint as he brought out his all, anymore and it would be too much.

He struck that delicate balance between the gift that hindsight brings, and the reality of that time not so long ago. The privilege to be alive in a time when the majority aligns with the battled for position, a sure footedness which we take for granted in today’s world on the rightness of this particular cause, absent at the time MLK walked the earth.

He and the stellar cast let us ‘see’ that world as though someone had rewound the reel and allowed us peer in, a ring side seat. Tom Wilkinson (as President Lyndon Johnson) Carmen Ejogo (as Coretta Scott King), Tim Roth (as George Wallace), Common (as Bevel).

It was interesting to see the story of a time in MLK’S life separate from the well know speech ‘I have a dream’.

Selma (Directed by Ava DuVernay) gave life to the story of a people whose lives had come to be interwoven by a bitter bent in history, clouded by race, nuanced by their common humanity. And the resolve in the face of great odds that they must see it together…step by step…mile by mile on that march from Selma, across the now iconic Edmund Pettus Bridge, to Montgomery and on to the steps of the State Capitol, an appeal to the conscience of the Nation on the very bastion of the words;

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…”

Related Posts

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/act-four/wp/2015/01/12/selma-is-a-horror-movie/

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/feb/08/selma-observer-film-review

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/12/24/selma_fact_vs_fiction_how_true_ava_duvernay_s_new_movie_is_to_the_1965_marches.html

What I did last night

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What I did last night 

By Veronica Nkwocha

Nestled on the grounds of the Guildford Castle is a gazebo framed by an oak tree. It is summer and hanging plants with pretty flowers lend colour to the evening. Garden furniture sit quietly awaiting their host. A lone bird whizzed past trees high above near empty chairs. They are set out on the lawn in a slight ‘U’, a cheeky smile withholding a secret; they have seen what is about to unfold many times before. There’s time for a quick picnic and then music lures guests to their seats.

We are here to watch ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ by Oscar Wilde staged by the Guildford Shakespeare Company and directed by Anna Ledwich.

The veneer of social ‘propriety’ is circumvented by friends, John (“Jack”) Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff by their creation of fictitious characters. The muddle that came out of their pretense at being Ernest brought to the fore some of the double standards that ran like an undercurrent in conversations typically clothed with etiquette.

Algernon was an effervescent character and very difficult for Jack (Ernest) to put down with his witty comebacks. He contrasted with Jack’s stern but intelligent demeanour. Lady Bracknell was the very air of uppity charm dipped in a cutting wit constantly underlining the importance of an entrenched status quo.

Gwendolen Fairfax was the vivacious and ‘modern’ woman besotted with Ernest (Jack). She formed a rivalry and then a tentative friendship with beautiful Cecily Cardew over their shared obsession with Ernest, but which one? The object of Cecily’s affection was Algernon better suited to her flighty character. The butler‘s transformation in two different households was so dramatic I didn’t realise it was the same person.

The poor local vicar Dr Chasuble was doomed to racing between his parish and Jack’s home about a christening. He seemed to drift off at the thoughts of an inspiration for a sermon. Miss Prism was pinched like a lemon and it was apt that she squeezed out the answer to the secret of ‘the handbag’. How many more hints could a girl give and still the vicar carried on oblivious. And there was ‘Bunbury’, I could almost see him in my mind’s eye, hunched over a bowl of scents to ward away the chills.

From the very first opening of the play, it was a journey into laughter; the story was delivered with panache, a charmed performance by brilliant artists. They came to life with punch and the amount of humour crammed into one play made for a lively evening. There was uninhibited laughter and a sense of camaraderie began to build in the audience with the shared experience.

There were wistful looks as the play ended and we all walked to our exit. The Gazebo was empty. But a slight smile brought a spring to the step; laughter still is the best medicine.

A Tale of the Unexpected (Okene Harrison- Underwater Sailor)

North and South Atlantic Ocean

North and South Atlantic Ocean (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tale of the Unexpected – Womb of Despair 

By Veronica Nkwocha

*Update

The unborn child growing, tranquil and awaiting its birth has no concept of fear. It is in the perfect home designed especially for his needs. A cocoon of love and nurture, very different from the ‘womb of dread’ Okene Harrison found himself in.

On the 26th of May, the tugboat he had been working in along with 11 others in the Atlantic Ocean had just capsized, and he was trapped alone in a pocket of air just 1.5m by 3m. Its wreckage 30ft underwater.

“The 470-tonne boat was towing an oil tanker for oil giant Chevron when it went down 20 miles off the Escravos region of the Nigerian coast.”

Would he be rescued? How long would his stay last? Would the air be sufficient to keep him alive?

As with a birth, he wouldn’t perpetually reside in his new home. The end of his ordeal would have been something he wanted but dreaded at the same time, it could go either way.

He was rescued sixty hours later but lost his colleagues. His rescuers have been praised for their bravery. A delicate effort as his body had normalised to the pressure underwater.

According to US Navy Salvage Officer Patrick Keenan “After spending two days at 30 meters of depth, he had become saturated, meaning his body had absorbed all the pressurized gases and equalized with the surrounding water pressure. Bringing him to surface from that depth, and after having been saturated at 3 or 4 atmospheres, could easily have killed him.”

I found the story of his rescue very hear warming and tinged with sadness for those who lost loved ones. I can imagine the intricate nature of the ‘birthing’ of Okene Harrison, every care taken to ensure one of life’s happy endings.

*Update: Here’s are links to interviews with Mr. Harrison:

I was there in the water in total darkness just thinking it’s the end. I kept thinking the water was going to fill up the room but it did not,” Okene said” http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/12/nigeria-shipwreck-idUSL5N0EO20320130612

“… I was the one who touched the diver, I touched his head and he was shocked. He was searching and I just saw the light, so I jumped into the water. As he was shocked, he stretched out his hands. I touched him.” http://thenationonlineng.net/new/news/the-untold-story-of-chevron-boat-mishap/

“They told me all the others had died and I cried because I thought I was the only one who had been trapped in the boat”, his voice cracking. Despite suffering from nightmares and peeling skin, daily helpings of his favourite banga soup dish – a fish and palm fruit soup – have helped him feel much better, he said. He is planning to write a book on his experience.” http://africansweetheart.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/sailor-harrison-okene-describes-his.html#.UbmUGfnVCn8