". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Monday, August 18, 2014

An African City -- Anyone Who Hasn't Watched

Anyone who hasn't yet watched An African City, should do so immediately.

It is a series of 10 episodes, generally around 14 minutes long, made for the web, featuring 5 young, ambitious, highly educated, upper class, privileged, well-off, diasporic women who grew up in Europe or the U.S., who have for various reasons returned home to Accra and their families, in Ghana.

The clothes alone are worth putting in the time.  But there's more to it than that.  Dialog is snappy, things can get very funny, the women are beautiful.

Some have objected to An African City being called the African Sex and the City, but it is Sex in the City in Accra, intentionally so, complete with the voice-over. However, I am not certain that certain elements are intentional, such as in all or nearly all episodes, short as they are, one of the women will at least verbally 'mean girl' it over a class 'inferior.' On Sex and the City, any character who behaved that way would be recognizable as a Bad Person, not a heroine or protagonist.  If this is intentional, this is presenting a modern African city as a real place, not an exotic fairy tale location, and I applaud the producers, director and writer.

It's interesting from several different directions, not only those of women's friendships, romance, sex, and fashion.  In some ways the most interesting aspect is that the central character, the voice-over narrator is, in the series, the daughter of Ghana's newly appointed Minister of Energy. Think about that .... It's quite like having Dick Cheney, your father, and you too are in the oil business, appointed Vice President in charge of regulating oil sales and military actions. Ghana has lots of oil ....

That's the class level of these women, the sort of class out of which comes Lupita Nyong'o, who played Patsy, in 12 Years a Slave.

They are not like thee and me ....

This is something I find very interesting about this series: how the international obscenely wealthy, no matter what religion, skin color, etc., have far more in common with each other than with thee and me.

I'm not quite sure the series intends to show us this.
Accra, and increasingly in cities like London, NYC, etc., the divide of the citizens are those at the level of wealth of these women, those who serve them, and nothing in-between, with a huge class of starving at the bottom. Lessons for us in the U.S. from this series.

The women in Sex and the City were never anywhere close to the level these women exist on -- but Mr. Big was, and that was the huge attraction of him for Carrie Bradshaw.  Equally telling, for the SatC friends, as for the An African City friends, going to Dubai, that arbitrarily constructed city-size shopping mall-playground for the international wealthy, is one of their criteria of Best Times Evah -- and puleeze, have somebody else pay for the trip and the acquisitions!

The first five episodes are on Free Hulu, and all ten are on YouTube.

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