My cousin, Marie-Therese Belisle Nweke, is presently in Wales visiting with one of her daughters, and also checking with her ophthalmologist.
Sam Nweke, an Igbo Nigerian, was a magistrate in Belize in the early 1970s, and he and Marie-Therese fell in love and got married. Sam died a year or two ago. Marie-Therese has basically been living in Nigeria since 1974, but travels to Britain frequently.
She is a very strong and very brilliant woman. A couple days ago, we made telephone contact for the first time (I am a telephone novice), and her knowledge just overwhelmed me.
Anyway, we had made e-mail contact some years ago, as I’m sure most of our readers are aware, and she had told me of an instance (or instances) where she and Sam’s Igbo relatives had had furious clashes because of the family’s traditions coming into conflict with her personal, Belizean positions.
Well, she phone “messaged” me recently to detail the controversy which had erupted when her daughter was to be married. African and Igbo tradition has it that this has to be a huge, extravagant event. Marie-Therese insisted that the couple-to-be tone down the event and use the money saved to buy a home in Britain, where they both lived.
I thought of the African in us Belizeans. We have to do things in a big way. We cannot afford to look “geechy” to our own people. Marie-Therese argues that Africans have to learn to control their “biggity” and extravagance if we are to raise our level of economic stability and power.
In NORTH AMERIKKKAN BLUES, I made an anti-Semitic comment because of my frustration at the time (1971). But, leaving the Palestinian issue aside (and how hard that is to do), I give big respect to the Jewish people, because they raised their economic stability and power in the European context to the point where kings and rulers had to come to them to borrow money to wage their wars. Check the history of the incredible Rothschild family. Along the way, read Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice.”
We African people see money as something made for one thing and one thing only — to spend. The Jews, on the other hand, used money to rise from the “ghettos,” where the various European states had basically imprisoned them, to positions of power in Europe and all over the world. Bankers rule: the Jews accumulated the bank.
Christmas in The Jewel, of course, involves the usual spending frenzy and insanity. There is really nothing to do about this, because it is our Belizean tradition. Well, in Nigeria, Marie-Therese fought the Igbo tradition, and won. I salute her.
Cuz, you are phenomenal.