The UNIVERSALITY Project | Coming soon…..

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*COMING SOON*

Hello beautiful people. I hope you’re all well.

I’m excited to share with you this project that I have been working on for some time now (but due to fear, I have been holding myself back. NO MORE!) namely, the Universality Project.

The aim of it is to explore the variety of the human experience and journey through mediums such as articles, interviews, short films and more. Taking inspiration from the saying ‘walk a mile in someone else’s shoes’, the idea of it is that through reading and viewing content in the site, people can ‘swap shoes’ with one another and come to an appreciation and acknowledgement of different life experiences and pathways.

To compliment the website, I have created and will be selling these funky T-shirts you see above, along with tote bags (which I will update you all on, soon). So keep your eyes peeled for when they will go on sale within the next month :).

You can find out more here: http://universalityproject.com/about

…..and here, on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFEN_2NSi4I

I would really appreciate you stopping by, and I am grateful for any support and contributions…..

….talking about contributing, I am always on the lookout for artwork, short films, interviews and articles which tell of your life experience/ journey/ your identity/ the work you do for your community and much, much more. If you are interested in contributing, or would like me to interview you, then please email me at universalityproject@gmail.com, and we’ll go from there. You can also send submissions directly to this address. I would love to hear from you!

I have posted it before, but this is a film to get the project started: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6fEpDRiTkg

Thank you for reading this, and I look forward to your contributions!

Love,
Isabel.

 

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Taiye Selasi on the Louisiana Channel

I first encountered Taiye a couple of years ago on BBCs ‘Newsnight’ (I think), which prompted me to order her then new book, ‘Ghana Must Go’. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to read it, thanks to my sister who intercepted it from me, before I could even unwrap it from the Amazon packaging. However, it seems my chance has been recovered! Having being reminded of it by this video, I will start reading tonight.

Anywho, in the same way that I was inspired by her term ‘Afropolitan’ the first time I saw her (a term to which I relate), I have been inspired once again. Here, she discusses the difficulties she faced during her writing process, her take on the characters in the book, and how she defines herself as a ‘multi-local’ person. I love the way she expresses herself so elegantly and humanly at the same time. A recommended watch :).

Puzzle Pieces

Do you ever find yourself in those moments that feel instrumental to your journey? Moments that feel like a breakthrough?

Well lately, I feel as though I have, and I hope this continues!

Meeting and talking to lots of different people about their lives and paths is really satisfying, among other things. If i have learned anything over the past few weeks, it is the importance of going with the flow, while also paying being in tune with my surroundings. I am learning that life (at the moment) is not one clear, visible line with a predictable destination in sight. This leads me to adopt a relatively unconventional attitude towards my work and my current position: that is, to relax.

Trying to focus on creating mental and physical space to fully think things through and consider my next steps is vital, and it also helps me to tune in to my true motivations.

However when I say relax, I don’t mean that I am slacking. I simply realise the importance of eliminating unnecessary pressure. Especially that which I put on myself.

Uganda’s Anti-Gay Laws Are An Affront To African Values, Not A Part Of Them

The anti-gay law passed by the Ugandan president Yoseweri Museveni is just what it says on the tin: homophobic. However, embedded in illogical arguments for his signing of the bill, David Bahati – a Ugandan politician who was present at the signing of the bill – attempted to justify for the reason that it is a transgression to ‘African Values’. All of this unfolded on a recent episode of Al Jazeera’s ‘Inside Story’.

What emerged as problematic – and for two main reasons –  was his adoption of the phrase ‘African Values’ to legitimise his stance and policy. As it stands, homosexuality is considered taboo across many parts of the continent however it is certainly not illegal in all African states, including Cote D’Ivoire, Benin and Niger. Across the continent, views surrounding LGBT rights cannot be said to reflect the same legal or social and cultural positions. For this reason, I failed to understand exactly what Bahati referred to as African values in relation to homosexuality.

The first issue presented itself in the way that Mr Bahati painted the entire continent as a homogenous and bounded space, standing directly in opposition to ‘western’ values. He further justified his claim of homosexuality as unafrican in claiming that ‘it is a threat to our values of a family between a man and a woman’.

Secondly he further justified his position in forwarding the notion that homosexuality in Africa was and is a product of western influence, branding it a ‘new form of colonialism and social imperialism’. Indeed, as it later emerged, Bahati was shown to be historically inaccurate and ignorant.

The input of Bisi Alimi, a Nigerian gay rights activist who fled from the country due to death threats, fuelled the debate. A crucial point that was raised was the question of priority: in what capacity is homosexuality harmful, and are there not more pressing issues for the Ugandan state to tend to? Is this not a ploy to appear as though the state is in control and able to ward off threats in order to shift the spotlight from state misconduct? The anti-gay law appears to be a populist one, no doubt due to the widespread transmission of homophobic values across Uganda, resulting in public opinion becoming dominated by this discourse.

Another of his claims lay in the idea that homosexuality is a negative influence on young boys, however Bahati’s belief that being gay is a choice is again, inaccurate. Exploration into ones own sexuality is an aspect of growing up, and in a society where the free expression of sexuality is repressed and attenuated, this part of self-discovery appears misconstrued and offensive to the values of Bahati and his allies. Indeed, homosexuality is not new to Africa, nor is it a western influence.

Prior to the colonial encounter, same-sex activity and third sex groups existed across the continent, and were criminalised as a result of the homophobia embedded in Victorian beliefs. Among numerous and often untold examples, the 20th century anthropologist Evans-Pritchard observed the existence of ‘boy wives’ among the Zande of Zaire, while the existence of transgender and third-sex individuals in South Asia were not regarded as threatening to social values.

Ultimately, the notion that homosexuality is ‘unafrican’ is invalid: the principle reason being that human sexuality is inherent and transcends regional and cultural norms. One last point I would like to make is the importance of recognising that this very notion of Africa as bounded, isolated and diametrically opposed to other societies, especially western ones, is in itself a construct of colonial thought and reasoning. Cultural norms exist, but the extent to which they dictate individual cases should be questioned. African values also exist and are based in ideals of unity, integrity and respect – but these are also ideals shared in many other parts of the world – and it is for this main reason that I believe Mr Bahati’s misuse of the term to be an affront.

On the eve of the start of adulthood: 20 thoughts, lessons and hopes for the past, present and future

I am ready to continue going and growing.

I am ready to explore.

I am looking forward to the future. It is no longer a distant imagining; it is becoming increasingly tangible.

I am thankful for where I am presently, and for past experiences.

I love my family and wider support network.

I have learned the importance of surrounding myself with quality company.

I am feeling optimistic.

Simultaneously, I am feeling vulnerable.

I am still trying to find out what God means to me, although I think I am getting there.

I am filled with love for myself and those around me.

I hope to travel more.

I hope I continue to love learning and acquiring knowledge, as much as I currently do.

I hope to meet more incredibly inspiring, true-to-self, loving people.

I am excited to continue exploring my creativity.

My wellbeing and that of those close to me comes first.

Opportunities abound, you and I must reach out for them.

Take that step in faith.

Do not take seemingly small and insignificant comforts and joys for granted.

Be assertive.

At every stage, seek joy and fulfillment.

P.S. Happy Independence Day to my fellow Ghanaians!