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Summer 2008 • www.dansikimag.com • ISSN 1940-8803
your story.
your lifestyle.
your magazine.
• First Nigerian in Antarctica?
• How a Septuagenarian was Born
• The Future of Literature in Africa • Dansiki Photography Album
your story.
your lifestyle.
your magazine.
Summer 2008 • Volume 1 • Issue 1
Marathon p.6
photo album:
weddings &
The Future of
Literature in
dansiki favorites
How a
Was Born... p.76
feature story • antarctica marathon
First Nigerian to Run 26.2 Miles on the White
by Femi Sonuga
(This is a combination of my daily journal and photographs, photographs of Tom
Hage and other runners, and some of the daily program summary prepared and
distributed to us by Marine Expeditions of Canada.)
My Chicago-bound plane left San Francisco at about midnight
and I immediately started missing my girlfriend, Kip. It later occurred to me that this journey is different. The nearest I have
ever been to the Southern Hemisphere is about 8 degrees north of the Equator—Lagos, Nigeria. Besides, this is the first time I have traveled to a new
destination without being armed with recommended restaurants, hotels or
tourist hangouts. However, I got some pretty good advice from a fellow runner, Shelley, who did this race in 1997. She said: “Femi....It’s an experience
you’ll never forget. You’ll meet all sorts of people from all over the world. The
great thing about that race is that you’re so blown away to be at the bottom
of the world running, you lose track of the distance—at least that’s how it felt
to me.” I liked all of that, then she added,
“.....no water tables or cheering spectators
in this race, my friend! ....It was freezing
with 50 mph winds ...undoubtedly tough.”
Before I could ponder on my predicament
any further, I fell asleep. It had been a hectic week of last minute preparations.
After a quick stopover in cold Chicago, I landed in West Palm Beach on a
hot, balmy day. I drove a rented car down
to Miami International airport without a
hitch. I checked in 4 hours before departure. Yes, 4 hours! (And this was pre-911
air travel.) This very early check-in was
due to the warning from my travel agency, Marathon Tours: “…South American
Airlines are notorious for overbooking,
so be early.” After years of dreaming and
months for training, I won’t be left behind
in Miami. Five hours later, I and other fellow adventurers I met at the Aerolineas Argentina Airline counter, were on our way
to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I wondered if
the myth of “anti-clockwise water drain”
in the southern hemisphere is true. Thus,
after crossing the equator, I checked the
airplane sink, expecting to see the water
drain anti-clockwise…WHOOSH…the water just got sucked straight down. Hmm,
I was amused; maybe flying at about the
speed of sound at 35,000ft above sea level is a factor here. I will try again at a lower
altitude and a lower loxodrome.
We arrived safely in the sprawling
megalopolis of Buenos Aries early Saturday morning. From the plane, the city
seemed to go on forever, as far as the eye
can see. We got bused to our surprisingly
elegant hotel—Intercontinental Hotel. After check-in, I met my roommate for the
next couple of weeks, Ken Thompson. He
is a businessman from Ohio. We clicked
right off. In late afternoon, about 40–50 of
us went for a rainy, muddy, muggy run.
That evening, we were treated to a
cocktail reception and welcome banquet, where I mingled with other crazy
kindred spirits. There were about 160
people, mostly runners, from Israel, Italy,
Germany, Spain, Argentina, Canada, New
Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Denmark,
Scotland, Vietnam, South Africa, England,
Belgium, India, Senegal, Russia, Bermuda
and USA. I represented Nigeria. We were
briefed about our departures and logistics.
The 120 people on the bigger and slower
Russian ship—Akademik Ioffe—had to
leave for Ushuaia early Sunday morning.
The 42 of us on the smaller, faster vessel—Akademik Shuleykin—got to stay in
Buenos Aries for another day.
On Sunday, we explored the suburban
neighborhoods—each with its own distinct character. We visited the “slummy”
neighborhood of La Boca—home of the
Tango. There is an alley—El Caminito—
with corrugated metal buildings painted
in bright colors.
The array of vivid colored buildings in
pinks, blues, yellows and greens made a
striking contrast against the sky. Just like
the Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, a
tourist trap. I bought a tango painting.
The Flea market was a blast! There
were sidewalk “musicals”, all kinds of
ware for sale, Tango performances, paintings and painters, lilting jazz; even free
Tango lessons were offered.
I explored the “aristocrats’ hangout” of
Distrito de Recoleta in El Barrio Norte. I
met a warm, friendly and soccer-crazed
couple. We discussed the history of World
Cup soccer, and there was an immediate connection. It is amazing how two
cultures with soccer in the forefront can
easily come together. I had a steak sandwich, potato salad and a pilsner of beer
that set me back twenty bucks! I took an
aggressive and fast cab ride to the hotel.
“Surviving driving down here is to give
everyone else on the road priority—even
in your lane!” We zipped past the Casa
Rosada, Theatro Colon, Palermo and El
Centro. The architecture was quite diverse
—rococo and baroque, Spanish Colonial,
Italian detailing, French Classicism and a
hint of Greek and Romanesque architectural influences. I fell in love with Buenos
Aires and Portenos. With its European
flair—Paris-like cafes, brassieres, wide
boulevards, towering Obelisk—and well
attired Portenos (residents of Buenos Aires) that are not afraid to show and share
their Latin heat, Buenos Aires is definitely
my kind of city. What a colorful, vibrant
town with panache!
Early Monday morning, we departed
for Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, the world’s
& Lanre
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
Ama Pecku &
Sylvanus Vortia
Baltimore, Maryland
Ola Oyewopo &
Kehinde Ali
Chicago, Illinois
Yetunde Osikomaiya
& Yinka Olawale
Oakland, California
Lara Sonuga &
Tunde Akintokun
Kenny Aderibigbe
Atlanta, Georgia
feature story • The Future of Literature in Africa
The Future of Literature in Africa
Igún’s Burden (Igún, in Yorubaland, is the name we call the Vulture.
And the story of the writer, in today’s Africa, has become very similar, in
my opinion, to that of the Vulture in one of our folktales.)
by Femi Osofisan
A-a-a-lo o!
A-a-a-lo o!
Ni igba kan lai lai…
Once upon a time, long ago, the
Earth was undergoing one of its most difficult moments. The problem, this time,
was drought, a prolonged drought that
lasted several months. The heat had eaten
everything up, and everywhere, the air
was dry, acrid, and swirling with dust. All
the animals, all the human beings, suffered badly from thirst and sunburn. The
ponds and streams, the mighty rivers as
well as the secret waterholes, all had dried
up, and where the water used to be, only
the cracked beds of mud showed in the
sun like broken ribs. Many were dying;
the trees and grasses were withering; the
air burned the skin; the sands scorched
the feet. But still the sun shone down relentlessly, and the rain refused to fall.
At last, a meeting was summoned, of
the whole community. Everyone was present, men and women and children, animals and birds. They met to discuss the
situation, and were informed, after due
consultations with the babalawos present, that the cause of the unusual drought
was a quarrel between the Sky God and
his former hunting partner, the Earth God.
So a decision was taken. They would send
a sacrifice to the Sky God up there in heaven and beg him to forgive whatever sins
his friend might have committed, and
urge him to release the rain.
The priests knew how to prepare the
sacrifice. A couple of snails, a lamb’s head,
some palm oil and wine, and a pot of fire.
All these necessary items were quickly assembled, and put in a big basket. Then the
next problem came up. Who would carry
the basket to heaven? Surely, it could only
be a creature with the knowledge and capability of flying? But, to everyone’s surprise, not one of the birds would agree to
go on the errand. Each had a pressing excuse; none could be compelled to go.
Yet the drought burned harder still, and
more continued to die. The community
tried all the prayers it could muster, all its
remonstrations, but the birds would not
budge. The frightening question in their
minds, but which they could not voice
out, was—Suppose the messenger did not
return from such a dangerous journey?
Then suddenly, just as everybody was
about to give up in despair, they heard the
Vulture speak up. “I will go,” he said.
The people cheered lustily. And then,
before he could change his mind, they
quickly loaded the sacrifice on his head
and bade him farewell, wishing him the
best of luck. But if they had asked, he
would have told them simply that it was
because he had witnessed the quarrel between the Sky and the Earth Gods, and
felt that he would be in a good position to
mediate, and bring them together again.
As soon as the appropriate ceremonies
were concluded, Igún carried the sacrifice
with his powerful legs, spread his wings,
and lifted up. A terrible pain shot through
his entire body as the flames of the fire
burned his head and his neck, but he ignored it, and rose superbly into the air.
Soon he was far up there, just a tiny
spot in the clouds. And then even that
spot was gone. The community cheered
in collective relief and dispersed.
Then the waiting game began. One
week, another week, and then a third! Still
the people waited, and nothing changed.
Could Igún have missed his way? Or had
he been crushed on the way? Their hearts
filled with apprehension and foreboding.
Then—one day, on the first morning of
the last page • quotes, facts, & tidbits
On this page, anything goes...share your thoughts, life lessons, quotable quotes, poems, notable numbers,
the imponderables, and other things that make you want to scream or go ...hmmm. We would even pay you
for your submission, if used. Enjoy.
YOU GO…Ahaa!
In the 1500s, most people got married in June
because they took their yearly bath in May,
and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell,
so brides carried a bouquet of
flowers to hide the body odor.
Hence, the custom today of
carrying a bouquet when
getting married.
The Nigerian city of Kano in 1851
produced an estimated 10 million
pairs of sandals and 5 million hides
for export.
The Songhai Empire of 16th century
West Africa had a government position called Minister for Etiquette and
What age were you when you got
married? Email your response to
[email protected]
The beauty of being an African
(-American) in America is that you
never melt into the ‘melting pot’
of America…you and everyone
else always know where you came
— Unknown
Do fish sleep
Carat Gold means pure
Zeros in a septillion
Ribs in the human body
Hours in a day
Atomic number of Chromium
Hours it takes the Earth to travel
24,000 miles
the detail matters
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