Listen Siblings, I come in peace,
“Though it creates more films than “Hollywood,” “Nollywood” doesn’t seem to exist to American Africans.” — Onitaset Kumat
In the following letter, we learn the excellence of developing more loving, knowledgeable and wise Africans. Rahe purposely develops Merilan’s mother Miss Otel into a film star using the wisdom he learned from ABS and Nollywood. Merilan sees the immediate difference in her school, so writes a letter of appreciation to me. This is why we build African Blood Siblings Community Centers. Write the ABS to see how. To wit, letter was on the television program. Subscribe, share, love.
Letter from Merilan: Why Create African Films?
By Onitaset Kumat
Writing rewards whenever it wants; but money always hides. Knowing this, it should surprise no one that despite the misfortunes exacted against us, our teeth shine with the Sun. It was only last week when I came upon a gift: a letter written by a young woman named Merilan. I never met her, but her words inspire me to word. I will reproduce her letter with minor commentary; you can judge whether this is right:
“Dearest Onitaset Kumat,
Though we have never met, you have changed my life immeasurably. These past six years have meant so much to me, my family and our race. I can not begin to describe my pride in this acquaintance; but I can begin the story thusly:
Six years ago, I was an irascible, even self-hating, seven-year-old. “Mom, when will you get better friends? Pamela wastes my time; she is late to perm my hair and I will not go to school with this mess.” It depresses me to think I behaved so, with such concerns. But before my family knew of you, that’s how we were.
“It’s your bad genes which make your hair so nappy,” would respond my mother, whom you will know as Miss Otel. “Pamela is a helpful lady. And her children are not as rude as you.” Mother never ceased to give such comparisons. At other instances, I was not as pretty, not as smart, not as brave, not as docile: I could justify my lashing outs, but you know that I do not have to. Still, I apologize for my past.
For what it’s worth, my mother is a beautiful African woman. And the lord works in mysterious ways; for though my mother slept beside no man but poverty (and she fully hated him), it was this bedfellow which allowed for Rahe to notice her.
I do not much remember Rahe, but when I think of you Onitaset Kumat, I imagine him. He is tall, smart and handsome. And in his hand, most everywhere I saw him, was a book, I now know to be yours: “Connecting Nigeria.” I adore the manuscript even for the hardships that it had cost me.
Rahe had stood on a street corner and saw my mother tossing scurrilous epithets my way. “Don’t you ever embarrass me in the Korean shop again” she shouted. Rahe in his black glasses came quick to my defense, claiming princesses ought not be so scolded. I smiled but when mother snapped “She’s no princess” I spat her way. Quick did she raise her hand and even quicker did Rahe grab it.
“Such soft hands,” he surprised us. “Queen?” he waited for my mother to say her name, “Queen Otel,” he started, then with an understanding voice, “you love your child.” It shocked us. At the moment, I felt no love from my mother, but when I looked at her, as her eyes shook with her spirits, I saw that she did and no words to the contrary could say otherwise.
“I love you, my dear.” Such words never made me smile more. I looked up to Rahe who seemed to have something further to say. My mother asked “What do you do?”
This simple question changed both of our lives. Rahe spoke for all of us when he remarked “I’m glad that you asked.” In a short hour, Rahe explained to us of an ‘opportunity’ to relocate from New York City to a small community where films will be shot and my mother, Miss Otel, will be a star. He did not explain the purposes or the reasons, and if he had, we would not have believed him, but the word ‘opportunity’ repeated enough that when he pulled out a contract for my mother’s signature, I looked to her and she signed with glee.
What belongings we packed for our relocation wouldn’t fit my closet today. Rahe proudly paid our outstanding bills, introduced us to producers, writers and actors, then disappeared, making this fantastic reality all the more a fantasy.
I do not need to explain to you what came of my mother. “Miss Otel” is a staple in African households. What I can do is quote your foresight from “Connecting Nigeria.”
“The only worthwhile lecturer is the idiom. Occidental thought contradicts the truth: Life, in fact, rapidly changes. Any honest observer in human language can see how widespread idioms become notwithstanding whether the academy endorses. More, these idioms arrive and depart so quick that it’s nearly a comedy. J.H. Rogers records in “Superman to Man” that Africans called one another “Niggers” no later than the 1960s; the progeny of this era scolds its children on using “Nigga” when its parents used “Niggers,” the children unknowing. How rapid!
. . .
“Idioms follow from the literary tradition. Yet it’s not in books that we should expect to infuse newer idioms into our people. Instead we look again to our cousins in Nigeria. Their film industry is more productive than the U.S.’ When we bear in mind that “The Goldern Era of Hollywood” had less technology than a modern cellphone has, yet arguably had better films than today, it becomes necessary that we emulate those successes to our advantage.
. . .
“The Original should construct their own “Hollywood,” with excellent writing and ‘stars.’ When the story’s place us as excellent and superior people, within a generation, Africans will hold their heads high, their language will be rich, their talents will be abounding and their communities created.”
So you wrote and so your will was done. I have returned to New York City, my mother happily married a third time in these six years and I see the schools changed almost magically. Each student could carry a wall off the straightness of their backs. The young ladies dress very moderately and each are eager to raise their hands in school; participating in a manner that would have seemed showboating when I was younger. It’s a sight to go to school. The large bundles of knotty each student wears proudly, the richly spoken phrases (“To do, see,” “Hotep is the only salutation,” and “A love punishes”), the heightened wisdom (students have seen my mother play as Queen Nanny and Pharaoh Hatshepsut), the traditional styles and languages, and the acceptance of ourselves as scientific and artistic just seems second-nature to us. Original people have not been happier in a long time.
True, this manufactured ‘star’ system as you had warned harmed my family. Artificially creating relationships to garner interests into this commune was unkind to the actors and the public. I acknowledge that you recommended against it–and my mother starred in a film on the topic of true Original love (which is why she is now happily married); yet I can’t claim you innocent [Onitaset Kumat note: I am completely innocent, I only wrote a book and warned against such a practice]. Nevertheless, I love you. I love everyone, but I especially love you. Because through your wisdom, you taught many how to love. And if there is anything that we can do for you–it’s love you. And my, I love you.
That was her letter, my favorite love letter. Rahe is a blessing. He seems to have been a part of a community which studied my literature and took it off its paper. We are excelled. The only loss is the utility of the book. Today, this bright African film industry here in America, thanks in a large part to Merilan’s mother, makes money hide more. Still, I welcome Merilan’s love. In my youth, I could not write as she. And every time that I look out my window, to the African youth, proud of their Black skin, I smile. The world does change rapidly.
Did I do this? No. We did. This collective action to our benefit explains why I love Africans. After all–who else will collectively benefit us? I sound like Miss Otis in one of her earlier films. Oh, how small this world is!
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