Friday, January 28, 2005

Shaka and then

Somiotic Domains are those interpretations that we give to a specific thing or word. I personally have to admit that I have moved from one Semiotic domain to another changing my perspective of what it means to me and to others.
So I look around my room and I spot Shaka Zulu the best movie that was ever made, that is in my opinion. I consider myself an insider as far as African history is concerned, and this movie basically shows a lot about African history. It based on true life events and the setting is so real, drawing you in as the scenes go by. I have to say that I am very impressed by the distrubution companies in America that have made it available to the general public. This movie focus on Shaka, one of the most respected military leaders in African history and the people of influence in his life. This movie has a lot of meanings carried around over the years as it has been shown to different communities.
He was a Zulu, therefore, the meaning of this movie is going to be very personal in South Africa where the Zulu still exist. Compared to them, I am not much of an insider since they know the history pretty much more that I do. It is more personally and it is more part of their heritage I would claim it to be. As the years have gone by the name Shaka has not lost it's meaning. Although, to our forefathers Shaka meant a world or hope, presently, the mention of Shaka means pride and reminiscing the past struggles in their history.
The meaning even changes as we move to broader zones. Shaka Zulu used to be one of the most watched episodes in Africa. I remember coming from school every Wednesday and posting myself infront of the television tube and waiting for Shaka to come on. What is now a movie used to be a few episodes of Tv. Then it was entertainment for me. Every respectable African child at my age knew who Shaka was. It was written in our history books and every possible book had been written about him. I did not love history and still do not enjoy seating through history classes, but this historical movie made history easier for me. It became my interpretation of mindless entertainment.
That was then but now things have changed. Although I knew history and could recite all the lines and dates of famous African I was not "inside" yet. I did not really appreciate this whole aspect of African history.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Books, Music and more Books

When I think of what Media has influenced me most, my mind directly goes to books and then music. These two texts go hand in hand in my book. I have had a long history with both. I started singing when I was very little. My father had just started a church and a children's choir was founded. Off course that was my first place to go. As years went by, I started singing solos and even leading worship when I was like ten years old. These times were the hightlight of my life. Music was the first thing I ran to when i was sad or having a bad day. That's where I also ran when I was facing a good day. Music was and is still my life. When war started in Burundi, music became my refuge, I ran to it and it calmed me tremendously. I think the first thing I asked for from my dad when we arrived in kenya was a Radio. Although my siblings hated it, I would take the radio and plug it in beside the bed and sleep listening to music, a habit I haven't stopped doing. I rarely sleep without my music. It's not so much the words but the calming spirit behind the music, that is why I love classical music. Music has gotten me through a lot of life struggles. I sing my way through prayer, and through the day. I can't see myself without music, especially worship and classical music.
Music however did not become one of the greatest influence. Books became an important part of my life, when the war started. To escape it all, I read to my heart's content. My mother being very supportive kept giving me books to read. I had a wide range of books that I read when I was young. But mostly I was so fascinated by fiction, not just any fiction romance fiction. Thankfully, I restricted myself to reading only inspirational fiction, which helped me develop a healthy habit of my selection. Soon books became my obsession and my addiction later on. I could literally read two or three books a day depending on the size of the book. During the summers, there were times that I would not eat at all because I was in my room reading for the whole day. When I wanted to fast, instead of giving up food, I gave up reading books. If anybody was going to threaten me in anyway, they would use my books as a weapon. I loved my books and still do. Lately, my frequent visit with my books as my time is being consumed by school work. Therefore, my addiction to books is lessening but not quiet enough to stop me from taking a day to spend time reading. I would take the time to read a Lori Wick, John Piper, Joyce Meyer or Francine River's book when I see one.

Nevertheless, I appreciate the influence books have had on my life. I was inspired to write mainly because most of the endings in the fiction books were not satisfying. Therefore I wanted to create my own endings to stories. That's how I became a writer. Not are books and music my safe haven, but writing has also become my escape.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Contemporary myth: Chronicles of Narnia

C.S Lewis is one of the excellent authors, but even he couldn't escape the contemporary myth. The Chronicles of Narnia is one of the best loved collection I have ever read. Although each book is it's own story, the whole collection just begs for more reading. The main myth found is the coming of the Messiah. In every one of the books there is always some conflict going on in the beginning. Then one of the characters who usually is one of the children comes and rescues them only to find that Aslan is the one who ultimately rescues. In the first book, The Magician Nephew, the evil queen Jadis comes back to this world and everything turns into a ruckus. Ofcourse Uncle Andrew saves the day and takes the witch back to where she belongs which turns out to be trouble for the Narnians as we see in The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe. This time Digory has grown old and the Pevensie children are taken back to the Wood between Worlds. This time the witch has taken over Narnia and has braught snow to reign over the lands. Knowing the prophecies, the Witch knows that her reign is coming to an end so she seeks to destroy the children and anyone who seeks to stop her. The possibility of success kicks in here when the childrens seek to destroy the witch and the children with the help of the talking animals go on a quest to rescue their brother Edmund and to destroy the queen. Off course in the end, Aslan comes to the rescue and helps them out.
The next book takes a different twist. In the Horse and His Boy, there are no many mention of the children from the outside world but Aslan is there to be the one to come to the rescue for Shasta. On the other hand there is a little bit of the possibility of success with shasta. He is determined to get away from his evil master no matter what the cost. Even after stealing the horse, he is thinking that he will have the opportunity to return the horse. In the process he find that the horse, Bree is a Narnian Warhorse stolen. Anyway, Shasta ends up rescuing Narnia from a terrible tragedy.

There is a lot of gaps found in the books of Narnia year wise. It is very rare that you will find a prince mentioned more than once, in the exception of Prince Caspian. The fourth book of the Narnia series, Prince Caspian, takes the Pevensie Children back to Narnia, but this time, in order for Narnia to be what it used to be, the rightful king needs to be on the throne. Caspian in trouble sermons the children from the past to come to his rescue. The same thing happens in the Last battle, which is the last book of the series. The last of the Kings of Narnian, King Tarian is caught in a scandal and clever plan of an ape, Shift. To be able to save the whole Narnia, King Tirian seeks the help from the past kings who came from the other world. Things get worse before they get better, but Jill and Eustance in order to rescue the remnant, they go back to see what the really Aslan is and what he has been like in the past.
Maybe the reason I love these books is because they are just a work of genious. Everybody can read them without feeling like they are being preached to. The beauty of the books is found when you see all the symbolism found in the whole series. It's funny but I never thought I would be criticizing the books according to what kind of myth the books contained. Everytime I read the books I would look for what each character represents from a christian perspective. For example, Aslan presenting the character of Jesus. Then there is a whole lot of allegory, but when I thought of them as a myth, I saw them as just stories with a feeling of a whole lot of stretch

Friday, January 21, 2005


Watching the video for the second time hasn't lessened the original shock of just what media can do. There was a time that I used to love 7th Heaven, infact it was a little bit more than a year ago. It was cute and I couldn't wait to watch it. I even taped almost all the episodes. Being a PK, I kinda of identified with some of the things that the kids went through. Some times it was even funny just thinking that some of those things they did would be totally a PK"s way of dealing with situations. ANyway, the point is that I don't like the show anymore. What used to be a family show has become like all the other shows out there. I just realized that the innocence persay that the show used to have is gone. I can't help but wonder why there is all this need for being cool... call me sheltered or something but what media is selling to the teens today is just disgusting and pitful. I found what Andrew said today in class today interesting. Things haven't gone from worse to worst, instead, they are getting worse at a steady rate as before. Just think about it, Cool is whatever everybody is doing, whatever is unique at a particular time. When the cool things blows out of proportion, then a new item comes in. So it doesn't get worse, it just goes from one cycle to another. You know from a Christian point of view, you would think that something has to be done...and I would agree. But what? what can be done that hasn't been done already? I have heard people trying to compare this generation, with all the other past generations. Then those teens did not have what the teens of today have. With advancement in technology, there came both advantages and disadvantages. We have access to so many things than any other generation. It's shocking to how many commercials that a person can see a day and by the time 18 years have passed. I mean, it's not only in broadcast media but also on print media. There are a lot of books that have so much 'garbage' that teens are exposed to everyday.It's amazing how my perspective of both America and Africa has changed. if I might say so, in my mind, America was like the demon and Africa was the course I would feel this way...that is my origin. As years have passed by, I am the first one to readily admit that American media has extended it's hand to Africa and even other continents. Maybe Africa has not gone to the xtremes yet, but I suppose it is because of how people take the media in.I can remember my eight grade year when Britney Spears came out with her song "baby one more time", I loved it and I saw nothing to it. In fact I watched a lot of other music videos by what in America is called "the bad girls". Then I never thought anything of it...but now, I don't really watch or listen to too much of Britney. So why the difference? Culture. I don't think that I gave much thought to these videos or songs. Neither do many people who were around me. Television was a way to just amuse ourselves and since our culture never really allowed mid reefs or mooks ( even though there are places where these kinds of people are to be found). It would be very unusual to see any nude scenes on that doesn't mean that there are no pornographic video because there are plenty. It's funny when I think back on my TV watching habits. I used to watch soap operas with my brothers and sisters, even my parents and off course we would make fun of people but we never gave a second thought of what we were watching. Coming here however, the story was different. I found out about the songs not to listen to, the TV stations not to turn to and offcourse, the programs/movies not to watch.
But this "cool" aspect is creeping itself inside the jungles of Africa, where supposedly media has no much influence on the society. I never thought I would say this, but the african culture is getting to be materialistic inspite of the poverty...funny.
So when will this all end? When will there be an end to trying to look cool or trying to go with the mainstream? Those who rebel against the mainstream are as bad as the mainstream. Because in their own way, they have shaped their "cool" So will the cycle really stop? The media will watch the teens, sell them what they think the teens want and the teens will buy it offcourse and the cycle will go on again. So I pose a there anyway to stop the cycle?

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Situated Cognition

In class there was that discussion on how our situations affect how we view or interprete media. This is so that I think about it. A reference back to the video games, I don't think that I was so opposed to the video games so much for it's content as much as the time it took to play them. I'm from a place where, if you wanted to play, you gathered your friends and went outside to play. Television and computet was not a very important aspect in that particular society. Video games were definately unheard of and spending more than two hours watching TV was considered to be lazy. There was no room for anything other than playing with friends, school and church. So coming in America was a little too tough to adjust to. I expected to see kids playing outside or something but instead, they spent their hours infront of the TV or computer screen. Maybe my loving to read had a little to do with it. I couldn't imagine anybody spending so much time in "mindless entertainment" while you could use your imagination more by reading.
As Dr. Rudd said, a picture of the beach is not the same for everyone. I have found this to be true especially with books turned into movies. I am a book worm..especially when it comes to romances, although I enjoy a massive amount of other Christian fiction and non-fiction. When I read a book, I have a setting in my mind which influences my liking or dislike of the book. Mostly, it involves a neighborhood that I have been to before or sometimes I just use my imagination. However, when this book is turned into a movie, there is potential for disappointment since the setting is different from what I imagined. There are some instances however, where the movie setting is more interesting than mine. A good example is Nicholas Spark's "A Walk to Remember". I applaud the author cause he did a wonderful job in his describtion. The scenery and everything just appealed to my senses. When I read the book, I imagined a quiet Southern town where everything was rusty and with dusty roads everywhere. WHen the movie came out, I was a little disappointed. ALthough, the town was southern, I had imagined it differently. The characters were all so different from what i had imagined. Nevertheless, I like the twist the ending had.
All this being said, there is a lot of our lives that goes in our reading and how we perceive things. Pieces of us come out in our view of thigs and they way we approach certain ideas or issues.
That's all for today
God bless

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


This is a test. This is going to be a fun class...I won't be feeling guilty for reading too many books or listening to lots of music. That sounds like a good deal to me.
Anyway...the first reading about video games got me out of my little shell. By shell, I mean that view point of "video games are a waste of time". I am used to giving lectures to my brother who spends quite an amount of time playing video games. The idea of video games being educational seemed preposterous. This might be so due to my lack of understanding of what video games are. I have never taken the time to understand why my brother who is super smart spends time in what I called mindless games, but I think I am beginning to understand these video games. Wow, I don't believe I am actually saying that especially considering my close minded view about this games. Hopefully, by the end of this chapter, i will be able to keep an open mind about these games. I also hope to be more appreciative of my brother's long hours on the computer or Tv screen.