6 min read

Juju na lie [Ọ́gwụ̀ bụ àsị́]

Silly month pun brings a meditation on earth meds, E. Dickinson brilliance, a big publishing deal &c. Then footy bits + new music from the sisters
Juju na lie [Ọ́gwụ̀ bụ àsị́]
In one breath…magic
Answer July—
Where is the Bee—
Where is the Blush—
Where is the Hay?
Ah, said July—
Where is the Seed—
Where is the Bud—
Where is the May—
Answer Thee—Me—
Nay—said the May—
Show me the Snow—
Show me the Bells—
Show me the Jay!
Quibbled the Jay—
Where be the Maize—
Where be the Haze—
Where be the Bur?
Here—said the Year—

—Emily Dickinson - Answer July

Coming at me wrong is bad JuJu
You better not make me Soo-Woo you
So you best better go run, tell your crew
Do something new-new
And it better be habari gani, ndugu!
Don't make me fight y'all, the fully gon' bite y'all
Ears ringing like sixty gun night ball
Yeah, spray ya like Lysol, you don't wanna let night fall, light y'all!

—Tech N9ne - Bad JuJu

Truth? Stupid pun for the title came to my head first, so here we go wrapping an entire post around that wackery. It sounds like something your local Pentecostal would say, you know, the sort with digs on every Southern Nigerian street corner. "Juju na lie. JEEEEZos is de troot'" OK hombre, just turn that megaphone down a smidge, would you? So what is juju, anyway? Earth medicine, basically where the deepest mysteries of the natural world intersect the human plane. Wouldn't that be both shades of the truth, then?

Nnedi Okorafor, whom I first met as a witty, close college friend of my brother's, and came to appreciate as one of my favorite authors (I was honored when she asked me to vet the soccer passages in her final Akata Witch draft, and it was super cool to get that early glimpse at a truly remarkable book), has now basically hit the stratosphere.

Nnedi Okorafor's forthcoming novel THE AFRICANFUTURIST just just been sold to HarperCollins/William Morrow in a seven-figure deal. A well-deserved coup for the author.

When asked to describe her work, she is very clear that she does not consider it Afrofuturism, and rather prefers to coin a term, Afro-jujuism. I love it, because she brings so many African shades of truth to different varieties of speculative fiction, effectively through the lens of juju, combining the same two spheres of tradition that rule my own identity—the Igbo and the Efik/Anang/Ibibio/Umon/etc. It's been fabulous to watch her take her place among the giants. Juju no be lie oh. Happy July!

Oh no no no you're not going to have me moving on without a word on the Dickinson (yeah, also shout out to Tech N9ne slingshotting from Bloods gang slang to Swahili). The E.D. poem is a great example of why we modern poets look at her and marvel at the fragility of genius, especially when exhibited where no one is looking. It's hard to really get across what a stunning achievement of brief, playful song. The perfect meter (trochee then iamb, suggesting riddle and rumination), the careful weight of repetition, and overall the way the poem's apparent light touch belies a poignant, pastoral framework. July basically instigates a quarrel through the season, until the full year, the parent comes in at the end to settle her children. And to think: this, as with the rest of her œuvre, very nearly disappeared when she died.

June July Juju

June and July are the northerly sooth
Where the zero summer is only juju
June and July are Nigerian rain
Juju is flame, water, earth, and no shame.

❧ Uche Ogbuji, 21 July 2023


Lots going on in my favorite sport, the beautiful game, lately—and my favorite club. I did mention how excited I was to have Alessia Russo join The Arsenal, and I must say Adidas really found a way to ramp up the excitement once Declan Rice's arrival was finally released, including a cameo from Alessia. Personally I think Nketiah's offer of Mum's jolloff is what sealed the deal, even if it's the Ghanaian variety 😁.

Declan Rice ➡ Arsenal (adidas Football on Youtube)

On a quieter note Ajax showed what they're all about with their farewell vid for new Arsenal signing Jurrien Timber. Not a lot of players get farewell messages when they leave a club, so this says something about Timber, and not a lot of clubs are as classy as this touch by Ajax shows.

Jurrien Timber farewell from Ajax. "You inspired our youth; you will do the same in North London"

But of course The Big Show is the big news. The Women's World Cup has kicked off in Australia/Aotearoa and I admit a little pang not being there. So far the evenness of competition has been remarkable, and everyone is having to earn their points. Even the only goalless draw so far, Nigeria vs Canada, was an exciting, kinetic affair, and I don't just say that with my Nigerian stripe on. I'm feeling the nostalgia for last year's trip at which I took my family to watch England vs Austria in Manchester for the sold-out Women's Euros opener.

Singing sisters

In an episode of the podcast, Black Girl Songbook, Danyel Smith, editor of Vibe magazine during the period when I read it religiously, asks a question that I've asked myself a fair bit lately, as well. Whatever happened to black girl music groups? I mean the Motown groups gave way to the Disco Groups, and then the Klymaxxes and Mary Jane Girls of the 80s, and then of course the giants En Vogue. After that, things seemed to slow down, even though I do cherish the likes of SWV and TLC.

Black Girl Groups Are Always En Vogue
Danyel celebrates the magic of Black girl groups and questions why music has been missing them for so long
"Black Girl Groups Are Always En Vogue" (Podcast episode)

In the contemporary age when musicians seem more evanescent than ever, what a treat to spot a new girl group who clearly have the chops to do it right like their forebears. Ooh! The Shindellas. I came a cross "Last Night Was Good for My Soul" and that bop, what?! Taking it back to classic mid-tempo vibes, but definitely brought up-to-date, and in an all-day summer package (the song actually came out a few months ago, but really just caught my ear now). This one takes instant pride of place in my DJ crates.

The Shindellas - Last Night Was Good for My Soul (Official Music Video)

On the Hip-Hop tip, let's go with one of our favorite rapping sisters, Little Simz, whose latest single Gorilla has a wonderfully bonkers video, matching the lyrical whoop-de-whoops of the track itself.

Little Simz - Gorilla (Official Video)

Afriquesque singing sister suprema crew Zap Mama have a 2023 single out, "Day by Day", with leader Mary Daulne tapping into her savannah spiritual side with adx veritable excursion, using African polyrhythms to take the listener on a journey through les journées—a fitting follow-up to her brilliant 2022 album Odyssée.

Zap Mama - Day by Day (Spotify)

Before finishing with this section, I'll just make sure you've heard the Zap Mama classic that inspired it.

Zap Mama. Singing Sisters feat. Sabine Kabongo & Sylvie Nawasadio (Youtube)

You'll have noticed I've been sending these out a couple of days late, lately. The new venture has been taking up my energies even beyond mid-Saturdays, so Sundays have been my best bet to throw each post together and send. Hope you enjoy them nevertheless. Please do consider sharing with others, and subscribing, if you haven't (button in the lower right). Ever new sounds for the listening, new plays on the field of words, fresh takes for tech's sake, with the side sauce of odd juxtapositions. Dá àlụ́-nu!

❧ Égwú 🪘 Ókwú ✍🏿 Ígwè 📡 Ńdụ̀ ❣️