Sunday, July 20, 2008

African Pride

Three weeks ago I visited a friend at the Hospital. I had not been to this Hospital in a very long time and being there brought back so many memories. My very first job in college was at this Hospital in the Medical Library.

I was Pre-med at the time (my first of four majors in my higher education career) and I shelved every medical journal on the planet. My first check at this job was about $250 and I was so pleased with myself and knew exactly what I was going to do with my big earnings.

My parents were visiting at the time. My mother would wake up in the apartment my siblings and I shared and fuss over making me breakfast. I tried to tell her every single morning that I was not hungry but she wouldn't hear any of it. Her job as an African mother was to feed us at every given turn. We had been on our own for almost 12 months and we must have looked skinny to her or maybe we had turned too "American" and she wanted to cure us of our newly developed fast food habit.

My parents had sent us; my brother, my sisters and I to the U.S. for a better chance at an education. My sister was a sophomore in college and the rest of us were a freshman, sophomore, and senior in High School. We were teenagers living on our own and although it was liberating at first, we missed our parents dearly. To say we led sheltered lives until this apartment is a true understatement. We had to grow up real quick from the fall of 1994 until the summer of 1995 when they came back to visit.

My father took pride in driving me to work at the Hospital and picking me up later on. The day my parents picked me up after my first pay day was such a special day. I asked Dad to take me to the bank and then I split the check in half and gave them the money. In my parents world of Concords, Caprices, and the finest Italian fashion, $125 was not a lot of money but they treated it like a million dollars!

That was one of the proudest moments of my life! What I gave them that day was not much but it was my way of saying thank you to them. My mother bought a sweater and some other things and I rememer my father picked a shirt.

When I answered his call today, he told me he was wearing "my" shirt and thinking of me and that day. My heart swelled all over again. My biggest fear, and in conversations with other African children, their fear too is disappointing our parents. I didn't become Dr. Kaira like they hoped and there have been several times when I went left when they veered me right but knowing that I have made them proud is all I need.

Friday, May 23, 2008

This Breaks My Heart

I had the pleasure of meeting and spending some time with Rebecca Walker a few years ago when she was one of the writers invited to the conference I was involved in.

She was pretty cool. This was when her first book came out. I heard about her second book sometime back and it is on my 'books to get' list.

I was so saddened to hear that her and her mother Alice Walker were estranged.

And today I read the saddest thing written by Rebecca. I hate when dirty laundry is aired but I guess they both feel like they need to be heard.

Here are some excerpts:

I love the way his head nestles in the crook of my neck. I love the way his face falls into a mask of eager concentration when I help him learn the alphabet. But most of all, I simply love hearing his little voice calling: 'Mummy, Mummy.'

It reminds me of just how blessed I am. The truth is that I very nearly missed out on becoming a mother - thanks to being brought up by a rabid feminist who thought motherhood was about the worst thing that could happen to a woman.

You see, my mum taught me that children enslave women. I grew up believing that children are millstones around your neck, and the idea that motherhood can make you blissfully happy is a complete fairytale.


When Rebecca told Alice she was pregnant:

Instead, when I called her one morning in the spring of 2004, while I was at one of her homes house sitting, and told her my news and that I'd never been happier, she went very quiet. All she could say was that she was shocked. Then she asked if I could check on her garden. I put the phone down and sobbed - she had deliberately withheld her approval with the intention of hurting me. What loving mother would do that?

Worse was to follow. My mother took umbrage at an interview in which I'd mentioned that my parents didn't protect or look out for me. She sent me an e-mail, threatening to undermine my reputation as a writer. I couldn't believe she could be so hurtful - particularly when I was pregnant.

Devastated, I asked her to apologize and acknowledge how much she'd hurt me over the years with neglect, withholding affection and resenting me for things I had no control over - the fact that I am mixed-race, that I have a wealthy, white, professional father and that I was born at all.

But she wouldn't back down. Instead, she wrote me a letter saying that our relationship had been inconsequential for years and that she was no longer interested in being my mother. She even signed the letter with her first name, rather than 'Mom'.

That was a month before Tenzin's birth in December 2004, and I have had no contact with my mother since. She didn't even get in touch when he was rushed into the special care baby unit after he was born suffering breathing difficulties.

And I have since heard that my mother has cut me out of her will in favour of one of my cousins. I feel terribly sad - my mother is missing such a great opportunity to be close to her family. But I'm also relieved. Unlike most mothers, mine has never taken any pride in my achievements. She has always had a strange competitiveness that led her to undermine me at almost every turn.

You can read the entire article here.

I sound like a broken record but mothering and parenting are so, so important and everything affects children for a lifetime. This scares me so much.

I hope these phenomenal women, each in their own right can find their way back to each other and find peace.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Kinda sorta spooky

I wrote 2 short stories.

I enjoyed writing them and letting my mind just go free.

I tried to think of what I'd do in the situations my characters found themsleves in and then wrote the complete opposite to challenge myself. I liked the end result of both. I got some good feedback.

How come both made up situations actually happened in my life recently!?

It felt kinda sorta spooky. Did I put these situations out in the universe and then they happened?

I'm not spooked enough to stop but it did make me think. I did go in depth with my characters and thought of how they would feel so in that regard, writing did help me get through the situations in some way when they happened.

The life of a writer *sigh*

Thursday, March 13, 2008

You know when it is right

Recognize this guy? If you're a fan of African movies then you will. His name is Van Vicker and I recently interviewed him.

I called him and it was a bad time so we made plans to speak at another time. After a series of emails we finally talked and it was such a wonderful experience.

I love when people show their humanity with no difficulty. Van was one of these special people who you enjoy getting to know about. He was so giving and he left such an impression on me.

I don't respond well to individuals who overrate themselves. I vibe better with people who are just themselves.

Van is HUGE in the African movie industry and I loved how apologetic he was whenever he had to take a call while I was interviweing him. I loved how he spoke of his beautiful wife and children.

Something happened as I was interviweing him. I very much FELT like a writer. Yes, yes I'm a writer but there is a difference with actually feeling it. Everything about that fingers touching my keyboard, my questions, his responses were just.right.

I love that I was born to do this! My life would be so grey without words.

I am a writer!
I am a writer!
I am a writer!

So here it is....the was published over there too.

Exclusive Interview with Sexy Leading Man, Van Vicker
by Mwabi Kaira-Murdock

Van Vicker is one busy man. Trying to catch up with him was like playing musical chairs. One minute we’d be on and the next he’d have one phone call after another to answer. It may sound like the life of all these celebrity divas we often hear about, but it was far from it. He apologized each time he was pulled away and when we finally got going, Van gave me his full attention. Can you believe that I had to convince him that he is sexy and a movie star?!
Van is so humble. He also showed me his sensitive side when we talked about his parents, wife, and daughters. I caught up with Van on the set of a movie he is currently filming in Nigeria with Desmond, Stephanie, Rita, Mercy and Ramzy. I have so much respect for Van, he talked to me till 3 am when he had to be up and back on the movie set by 7 am! Did you know that Van has a love for directing and is now directing his own movies? You may think you know all about this movie star but you don’t. Listen in and let Van fill you in on everything you didn’t know and always wanted to know……

How did you get into acting? Did you always know you wanted to be an actor?

It was not planned for. I guess because I had been a TV personality doing an entertainment program, the producer of the first film I played a lead in sort of believed I could do it and approached me. I agreed since I thought it was another challenge for me. I mean I’d already been on TV and on the radio I thought it was cool.

So you were well known in Ghana already. Did it surprise you when you found that people all over the world were watching your movies and knew your name?

Yeah I was very surprised. I had no idea that was the case. You see I know I was doing the movies and all but I did not think I would make an impact on so many people. Not that I thought I was a bad actor but it just did not strike. I guess I just saw it as one of my numerous jobs.

When did you realize that you were a movie star? Was there one particular moment?

I still don’t think I am such a big movie star like that but I think I got a taste of that when I started getting calls from around the world. I was thinking to myself, “Ok hold up, what is happening to me, my life?’” The taste of stardom became more real when I visited the USA. It was amazing to see people down the streets of Manhattan as busy as New York is, stopping me for autographs and to take photos. I was blown away but I TRY NOT TO LET IT GET TO MY HEAD! I think it is a blessing for me and I thank the people who have made me what I am.

Your female fans really love you! What was the craziest thing a fan did in your presence?

Hmm, I am trying to think. I remember a lady in Minnesota started crying after she walked in the room I was to be in and they told her I was gone, she broke down in tears. And again in New York this lady just ran straight to me passing security and jumped in my arms. Another lady in New Jersey saw me at the post office and could not believe it and was just touching me all over to be sure and it was so funny. In Maryland, this lady would not come close to me because she did not want to spoil the moment of having to give me a hug so she just stayed away and breathing real hard until she could not hold it any more and then she sprung forward! All these moments I cherish and I want them all to know that whenever I see them I am confused myself and holding my breath as well.

You’re a sex symbol. How do you handle that title?

I don’t think I am a sex symbol. What makes one a sex symbol?

Are you serious? YES you are a sex symbol. The way women respond to you says you are a sex symbol. Women think you are sexy – women aren’t crying and jumping into just anyone’s arms.

Okay let’s see, I try to keep in shape at all times so I stay fit. I try to look as presentable as possible. I mean if they like what they see then I MUST nurture what they see.

You have a wife and 2 kids. How have they adjusted to your success?

Yes I do have a wife and 2 kids and adjusting to my way of life has been a struggle, especially lately. I am here today and tomorrow I am there, talking to them on the phone and all. As for my wife, Adjoa, I think she is going through a lot but I can see she is a strong woman. I mean she has been used to me always being around and more like overnight everything changed. She is very understanding and it is amazing. I mean there are times where I get to Ghana today and I am on another flight the same day or the next day. God knew my destiny and just gave me the perfect one.

You have a good woman.

Thank you.

You have 2 daughters?

Yes, J’dyl is 4 years old and J-ian is going on 2 years.

Are you a tough Dad or do they just give you those puppy dog eyes and you say yes to everything?

I don’t think I am a tough Dad but I don’t spare the rod. Whenever they get naughty and I spank them for any reason I feel like crying myself. It hurts me so much so see them cry even when it is not my fault. I want to be to them the Dad I never had. Not that I was brought up bad, actually my Mother is the best in the whole world for raising me the way she did, a single mother trying to make ends meet, making all the sacrifices so I could get good education. I just want my kids to have their Dad around because sometimes I feel I missed a part of growing up because my Dad was not there. He died when I was 6 years old.

Where was your Dad from?

My Dad was Dutch from Holland. My mother is from Ghana and Liberia.

Would you like to act in Hollywood?

A 13 year old boy he will tell you YYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSS! I mean it would be the height of my career. I am certain all actors over the world would want to be a part of Hollywood, for me it would be a dream come true and that will be a blessing to count everyday of my life. Can you make it happen? lol

Sure…I can do anything! lol. It WILL happen, I know it!


The African movie industry has grown to be global in the last few years and you have played a part in it…who doesn’t know about Raj, Ciara and Beyonce? lol What are your thoughts on the African movie industry?

My thoughts on the African movie industry are that WE ARE GETTING THERE. It’s taken us a while but only time can tell and I am glad to be a part of the revolution of African movies attaining that height. I think if we had the kind of sophisticated logistics to achieve some of the things we would want to do we would be good as gold.

You’ve added Director and Producer to your resume. Can you tell me about the first movie you directed coming out in April?

Sure, Friday Night is my first ever produced movie. I directed it myself. I have a passion for directing. The movie will be released in April in the U.S. followed by releases in Ghana, Liberia, and then Nigeria. Nana Ama McBrown co-starred in it. It’s about four married men who do mischievous things on their traditional Friday nights outing. My character Pape has a hard time coming to terms with what goes on at these outings but when he finally decides to get mischievous, he ends up in a lot of trouble, including being on national television. This is the first of my many movies to come, by his grace I intend to produce at least 7 or 8 this year. Good stories, great acting.

Congratulations on that! Do you have a favorite role in any of your movies that you have been in so far?

I can’t point out any particular one but I love a movie that brings a challenge with it.

We’ve covered a lot but are there things about you that your fans may not know or that you would like them to know?

My website is under construction now and will be completed soon. The address is People can find all they will need to know, drop me an email, preview upcoming movies, premieres, when I will be in their city, and everything else. I also want people to know that the production house that is producing my movies is called Sky + Orange and the Marketer in the U.S. is called Black Star Entertainment. I want to urge all African movie distributors around the world to contact me at my website to get their share of [the]Van Vicker film collection.

I run a foundation called Van Vicker Foundation. I am trying to reach out to up and coming talents and the less fortunate with regards to movies. That website is under construction as well.

Is the foundation in Ghana only?

Well two of the recipients were competitive and three honoree. For now it is registered in Ghana but I have intentions to register it in the U.S. and Liberia as well.

Ignore me for a minute and talk to your fans.

Without you there would be no me. I appreciate all the love and I wish I could get all your autographs someday.

Thank you so much Van for your time and for being so gracious. It was a true pleasure speaking with you. I wish you all the success in the world.

Apart from my families I want to appreciate a few people, Edward Nyarko (Mr. T), Diana Morris, African Queen (USA), Rabui (Sanga Entertainment) Mr. CNN, Mrs. Mary Cobblah (Coca Cola - Ghana), Yaw Nsarkor (Unilever), Talal Fattal (CEO, Metropolitan Television, Ghana), Salam (Venus Films, Ghana), Samuel (Miracle Films, Ghana) Joe (AA Production, Ghana), Kingsly (Divine Touch Production-Nigeria), TV3 - Ghana, Vibe fm - Ghana, Lintas Ghana Ltd, Chris Warlo (Liberia), Kojo Mensah (UN, Liberia), Celltel - Liberia, and all those who believe in me, I love you all.

Thank you and cheers. God bless and peace out!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Gurl, STOP!

I got my weekly email from The New York Times Book Review last Friday and a book kinda caught my eye. I wasn't going to read it but it made me go hmmm. The book was the one above.

From what I got from a quick skim of the review, this white chick was a gang banger who grew up cared for by an older black woman. So I thought hmmm, she's really going for 2 different angles huh? How many white female gang bangers have books? And how many white kids are raised by black folks? Yes, yes I know Tommy Davidson was raised by white people and I knew this one white guy who adopted 6 or 7 mixed kids and I'm sure there are some black people out there raising white kids but I sure haven't seen them unless you count Steve Martin in the movie The Jerk.

Well word comes today that homegirl made it all up! Yup, a fragment of her imagination. Nothing wrong with that hun but when you say your memoir, shit usually has to be stuff you actually experienced.

What is it about the black experience that people are so in love with? You'd rather portray yourself as poor and struggling and desolute than a life of priveledge in the valley? I just don't get it.

What really surprises me is that girlfriend did all this AFTER the James Frey incident. Talk about brave! Honestly in this day and age of google did she really think no one would figure it out? I love to find out more about people....and I admit, sometimes I get a lil Nancy Drew'ish' in my research. I mean damn! Did she really not think one of her classmates from the private school would see her face in the paper or an interview and say, "wait a minute?"

Once again, if she had just called it fiction it wouldn't be a problem. Oh well...I'm sure she'll be on somebody's couch crying her heart out and in less than a year she'll have a book about surviving when the whole world turns on you or something.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I interviewed the most amazing person ever!

I’ve loved Crystal Wilkinson since the second I met her.

She is the coolest, amazing, most beautiful, amazing human being ever and I want to be just like her when I grow up…..I’m on my way.
It was such an honor when Amanda asked me to interview her for her publication.

So here it is, the interview…..ENJOY!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Knowing Your Roots

I am GRATEFUL that I know my entire family tree going back several generations on both sides.

I remember my dear friend naming her son a whole new last name different from hers and his father just so he could start his own tribe. I know many people think about this on a daily basis and I am thankful that I don't have to.

My husband never had the pleasure of meeting his grandparents. His maternal grandmother died only months before his birth. The good news is that she dreamed of him and described him all the way down to his sparkling eyes that change color depending on the season shortly before she died. So in a special small way they did meet. He now relies on family memories from his parents and siblings about his grandparents.

I have had the pleasure in my life of knowing both my paternal and maternal grandparents. Every Christmas my family and I would make the 10 hour drive to Muyombe, my paternal grandparents village and enjoy the season with them. Samuel Waluza Kaira was my heart. Different people say he was born in 1904 but in reality that is the first year that came to mind. He could have been born earlier. My grandfather and I had a remarkable bond. We would sit and talk for hours and he would tell me about his remarkable life. About how he was a postman in his younger days and how he would ride a horse for days just to deliver mail.

He lost his sight in the early 90's. He requested that I put his eye drops in his eyes whenever I was home on vacation. His death was the very first one to affect me so deeply. I miss him all the time but he is around me all the time and I have amazing memories. I try to live my life to the fullest and not have regrets but I do regret the one time I threw something at him because I was in a hurry. To be young and dumb I tell you.

His wife who my sister is named after is a whole other story. We'll just leave it at that. She did birth my father so Lord bless her for that.

I did not meet my maternal grandfather until my 10th birthday in 1987. My mother had not seen him in twenty some odd years. He left Malawi to go fight in a war in Zimbabwe in the 1950s and never came back. He settled in Zimbabwe and even had another family. My mother brought him to Zambia in 1987. I remember standing at the train station with my mother waiting for him. It was an amazing reunion and my grandfather, Win White Kanyingi was so tall and dashing. The man was such a sharp dresser. Again, I'll always have that memory.

Win White sent us a video last summer telling us about his life. He was a boxer in his young days. Birthdays in Africa back in the day were not recorded so it is not known when Win White was born. We guess that he is currently in his 90's. My mother sent me pictures of my grandparents today. They make me proud.