This Story Has No End

I admit that this time I may have outdone myself. It has been over 365 days since I lined the walls of this blog with a post. You must be tired of me by now. I am too. What did I not try? I wrote a couple of drafts here and there, gave myself deadlines and even resorted to self deprecation and calling myself names.

I had finally given in to the forces that be, wallowing in self-pity and self-loathing, until some days ago, when a brown eyed boy asked me when I planned to write a blog post. I told him I didn’t know, and he proceeded to rain insults on my head, telling me to put an end to the pity party I had thrown myself and continue writing. Overcome with guilt, I finally picked up a broom and chased out the spirits of procrastination, self doubt and indecision, telling them that the owner of the house had moved back in.

First things first: thanks for staying with my overly inconsistent self for 2 years. The world is a better place because of people like you. Also, happy new year, because it’s never too late.

This post is dedicated to the last 18 months of my life. It was quite the roller coaster.

In The Beginning: All Things Bright and Beautiful

I started preclinical school in February last year. It’s the phase of medical school where students take the foundational courses: Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry. After about 12 months of classes, we would take the Part 1 Medical Board exam, which we had to pass before we could proceed to the promised land: clinical school, a land of milk and honey. My seniors had already told me tales of how strenuous and challenging it had been for them. So I knew what I was getting into. Or at least, I thought I did . We started and I tried to enjoy it. I really did. I experienced the 3 courses in different ways.

Anatomy

This was the broadest of the courses, with branches that had branches. My least favorite part of Anatomy was the dissection practical that involved cutting up dead bodies, in medical lingo, cadavers. The hall where we performed dissections always had an horrible stench, but that wasn’t the source of my aversion. I disliked it because of how it showed me things about myself I didn’t want to know. I shocked myself with how swiftly I acclimatized with the dissection conditions, how irreverent I became. I remember my first day in the dissection hall, as I looked at the cadavers in reverence, thinking of how sacred that moment, and life in general, was. I could barely tolerate the stench, and I walked in and out of the hall several times. But by the second week, I didn’t mind taking in a cold drink or a bottle of water to soothe my parched throat. By the third week, I was shamelessly taking in my phone charger and earphones so I could watch the latest episode of Scandal in peace and solitude. I searched everywhere for the reverent girl that had walked into the hall few weeks ago and couldn’t find her.

Physiology

This was my favorite and kept me sane through it all. It reminded me of what medicine was about, why I had chosen it and why it had chosen me.

Biochemistry

BIC, as it is fondly called, was the greatest scam of all. We mostly learnt about compounds, their chemical structures and various chemical pathways. For an average biochemistry class of an hour, I would start out all bright and attentive, which would last for about 20 minutes, and then I would drift away for the remaining 40 minutes, trying and failing to connect the dots on how the topic was useful in my journey to being a doctor. When I wasn’t trying to figure out the relevance of my knowledge of phosphatidyletholanmine’s chemical structure to my medical practice, I was usually dozing, because I had read through most of the last night, barely getting enough sleep. (Yes, I did some reading too.)

Soon enough, I wrote my first set of tests. The results came out and I saw that I had barely passed. It was a rude awakening, for I believed I had studied hard for them. I got the message crystal clear: I could read myself to death and still not do excellently well. Reading was not enough. How delightful.

At an Anatomy Practical: Do not let this smile deceive you, I was crying on the inside.

The Middle

Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months. Pages piled into chapters, chapters piled into books.

In my head, I knew that my Part 1 exams were fast approaching but my heart wasn’t ready to accept it yet.

Winter is Coming

In July, the exam timetable was released and we were scheduled to write the exam that same month.

The days after that were the most terrifying. Every now and then I was calculating how many marks I needed to make the cut. Several times while reading I would stop to think about how unprepared I was for the exams and how impossible it was for me to study everything I needed to. I imagined what it would feel like to pass and what it would like if I failed. I had never felt so vulnerable.

This is a picture of me looking at my approaching exams, seeing how unprepared I was, wondering what I had been doing with all the free time I had had, and wondering if this was how it was going to end for me.

Winter is Here

The first exam day arrived with clear blue skies and a golden sun. I had hoped for a red sun and a red sky, for dramatic flair. My first paper was Biochemistry and it was a good paper, but that wasn’t enough to allay the fears that besieged my soul. The other exams followed in quick succession and in the space of one week, I was done with my Part 1 MB exams.

Then came the waiting. It wasn’t as agonizing as the pre-exam period but my blood pressure wasn’t back to normal either.

The results were released on a cool Friday evening, 3 weeks after the exams. I checked the list of candidates who had passed for my number, and there it was, black figures on a white sheet. Before I did my victory dance, I double checked to ascertain that the number was mine, that my eyes weren’t playing a trick on me.

Needless to say, I was ecstatic but most of all, I was grateful because I knew I was undeserving.

It’s been over a month since I passed my exams and my perception of the promised land has changed. Months ago, I saw the promised land as the end to all my struggles, the place where it would all make sense, where the good life would start: my happy place. But now I’ve learnt that the promised land is a continuous journey, not a destination. I see now that my happy place is wherever I pitch my tent, be it in Egypt or right at the bottom of the Red Sea. I see that the sad story doesn’t end, or the happy story start, when I get to the Promised Land, for it is here and now. I see now that my story, like all true stories, has no ending.

Thanks for reading and once again, for staying with me. Feel free to comment and share as you like!

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The Curious Case of The Okada Man

       I type this secretly in the confines of my bathroom walls, for I fear that if I dare go back into my room and see the unnerving pile of books I have to read, guilt and fear will overwhelm me and I will stop typing this and it becomes yet another unfinished draft.
       Hello everyone. It’s been more than a while and as usual, I apologise for choosing to disappear, leaving a lot of people hanging, including myself. I also feel bad for all the potential stories that could have been developed into a post that I let slide: the one that still lingers on my mind would be the one of the national budget that went missing in my country and how it all looked like an amusing story acted out by a bunch of clueless, uninformed schoolchildren.
       Now however, I have reached a point where I cannot hold it all in any longer. Like pregnant women with babies in their wombs waiting to be born, we all carry stories in our bodies waiting to be released. Everyone has a story and in the end we must all write, we must all tell our stories.
         So if anyone asked me what my story is, I’d tell them mine is one of a young African girl coming of age in a city of brown roofs and golden sand, a story of a daughter as she treads the path her society has laid out for daughters of the land, a story still in writing, a story about stories.
       Now to one of such stories. I am not a psychopath, but from time to time, I carry around a knife in my bag. On a certain evening during the semester, I packed my books and set out to spend the night in the school library; it’s quite a distance from where I stay, and in the absence of a taxi I took a bike. Now it was quite dark and I couldn’t see the face of the bikeman so clearly, but I noticed he wore an oversized jacket bikemen are associated with, the one that swells up with air as they speed by. Nothing seemed wrong as we were on our way to the library until this bike man started asking me an array for calculated and premeditated questions.
“So you’re going to read in school eh?” “Yes”
“So you’ve started exams” “No we’ve not started exams.”
“Ehnehn.” “So are you going to read alone or for group study?”
“Group study”
       By now I was starting to wonder why this man was so interested in the details of where I was going. And then he slowed down his bike as if to make a stop or a turn. “Why are you stopping?” He kept quiet for a while before answering “Err, I’m thinking of passing this Biochemistry shortcut, its faster.” “No don’t pass there, pass the normal side”, I said, hoping my voice didn’t sound as turbulent as I felt on the inside, because as far as my student self knew, there was nothing Biochemistry down his intended route. He agreed and continued to down the normal road.
      It was as we approached the library and he then took a turn in another direction that I knew this man had other things in mind. As I asked him where he was going, I remembered stories of young girls who went out and were never found, and images of the ones whose mutilated bodies had been found flashed in my head. And right there and then, I smiled. I smiled because I knew I wasn’t going to be another victim added to the list, just another body, just another girl. I smiled because I knew if he tried to make a move, only one of us would come out alive or complete at least. I smiled because this man wasn’t going to take anything away from me, unless I gave it to him. I smiled because this was this man’s day to die.
        Amidst my murderous resolutions, the bike man had stopped, and I tried one last peaceful attempt to change his mind. “Excuse me sir, please turn back, I think you’ve passed the library. Turn back. Turn back.” “Are you serious?” “Yes. Please turn back.” And he did turn back.
       As soon as we got to the library I flew off the bike(Yes, I did fly) and gave him the most condescending look I could muster. As I took slow, deliberate steps away from him, I turned back with a smile and gave him a dramatic wave of my knife; I was very much satisfied with the look of terror and confusion in his eyes.  I remained angry still, long after he was gone, because I realized in those few, dark moments he had stopped seeing me as a person, human like him. I had become a thing in his eyes, an object that served a purpose. I was angry because I knew I was much more than a pretty face or body, I was much more than a means to an end. This was a body that carried around fire in it, but never got burned. I knew this was a tiny young woman, whose broken spirit could crush mountains. I was like a caged singing little black bird, caged, but still singing.            

     This is for all the daughters who walk this path, and for the sons who walk it with us. We are much more.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment, like or share.

P.S: I have a Guest Post Page too.

Amaka.

 
        Amaka’s spirit did not depart the day the rough looking men came to her school in their rusted brown trucks and buses, while she and the other girls were writing their final exams, spraying bullets in the air. She had thought the guns looked too sophisticated on them, such guns she saw in the American movies she loved so much. Her American-looking guns in the black, sun-burnt hands of the crude and unrefined attackers, whom she would later discover were terrorists, displeased her. It was such an unbefitting match. It was later,in one of the few buses they had squeezed her and the other girls into, that she remembered her teachers, with a sudden realization that the men hadn’t sprayed bullets into the air with their American guns. They had sprayed the bullets into her teachers.
           The men started questioning them one after the other, after they arrived at the cleared bush land where they camped them, asking for their names and the religion they practiced. Amaka’s spirit stayed with her when one of the men yelled at her to tell them her real name, threatening to shoot her if she didn’t answer. She remembered her teachers lying on the ground with the bullets from the American-looking guns riddled in them. She spoke up and when he heard her name, a fast flow of words in his native came from his mouth; ‘infidel’ was the only word he had said that she had understood. While he rambled on she imagined that his words were knives instead, going out of his mouth to slice the throats of each of the attackers and a final one taking a turn to slice his own throat. She imagined that the words were snakes, or razors or shards of metal, anything to make the men be no more.
              Amaka’s spirit didn’t leave her on the cold nights when the men came to them, to seek warmth in their bodies.  After they slipped into her, she faded into the blackness and when they left she felt more cold than warm. No. Amaka’s spirit fled on a dry Thursday afternoon when the men showed them the nation’s news on a strangely new television set. A report of their abduction was in the news, but it was amongst the other news lines; as if to say the abduction was just one of the ordinary events reported in the news for self justification, to make it seem like it mattered when it didn’t. But that wasn’t what made Amaka’s spirit run.
              Her spirit took flight when she saw on the new television set, a news report showing the nation’s leaders at a political party banquet. She saw them in their expensive white caftans and brocades, with armed bodyguards at a close distance from them; she saw them holding glasses of wine, sharing jokes, with each person trying to outlaugh the other. Amaka also saw the men watch the news with them, with a satisfying smile on their faces for a point made to the girls -that their abduction however unpleasant would soon be long forgotten. It was then she realized that it was these men on the television, laughing so heartily in their white brocades, it was them whose throats should be cut by the knives that came from the man’s mouth, who the snakes, razors or metal shards should harm. And with this realization came a loss of all the false hope she had, a death of her fighting spirit, and that little light of optimism in her went out.

Amaka’s spirit departed the day she realized who the real enemy was.

It’s been 592 days.
May we always remember.

Blogger’s note:
This isn’t a matter that concerns only those in the Northern part of Nigeria. It is not a ‘Hausa people matter’. It is a human being matter.

The Wig Years: A Tale of Three Strands

       Hey people. So I haven’t posted in a while (probably more than a while), and I have no one to blame but myself. My hiatus was for two prominent reasons: my extreme laziness and also, I had problems putting down the posts in my head into words. I found out later that this was because I had been trying to write a “nice” post, and nice here does not refer to a good, excellent and well put together post. No. I had been trying to write in a friendly and acceptable way that wouldn’t offend anyone and would be approved by everyone. School had been quite tasking and I stopped writing for a while, and there I must have lost the reason why I wrote. So when I resumed writing, I did so forgetting the purpose of my blog, that it wasn’t for giving good advice or a nice observation or a pleasant comment, that it was about me simply sharing my perspective and giving my opinion on issues that bothered me. I’m over all that now, thankfully.
           Another reason I did not include above is my accident. Close to the end of the last school semester, about 2 months ago, just as I was done crossing the road, a bike came out of nowhere and hit me; I flew up in the air and landed on the floor unconscious (according to friends who were present, whose accounts may not be devoid of extras and additions). I’ll start from the beginning. Two days after our last exams for the semester, two of my friends and I decided to go and see a movie at night, get to enjoy the whole late night movie experience. We left our hostels around 7pm and as were on our way, we got to know that the price of refreshments at the cinema was double the normal price. After we screamed out of shock, we proceeded to a kiosk to buy supplies, being drinks and popcorn, which we planned to smuggle into the cinema room. We took a cab which dropped us in front of the mall and that is as far as I can remember.
           According to one of my friends present, B, who is fair skinned, emotional and championed the cause to smuggle supplies into cinema room, we all crossed the first lane successfully but just as we were done crossing the second lane, a bike appeared out of nowhere and hit me. She claims that as the bike man sped away, l lay unconscious on the floor. She also claims to have been terrified. In the midst of everyone’s shock, a man came along and carried me with suspicious zeal and energy, shouting that there was no time and he had to get me to a hospital. She thanked him and told him not to worry, that a cab was on its way. She claims she is Ijebu, her head is clear even in the midst of a crisis, he could have been a kidnapper for all she knew, after all this is Nigeria. Not much longer, a kind cab driver stopped and helped them take me to the nearest hospital. There, the nurses stitched up a bleeding cut on my head.
            The next thing I remember after getting down from the cab is waking up at home two days later with a large bandage on my head and half of my hair gone, clean shaven. I asked my younger sisters what had happened and they related the accident tale to me, amid laughter at my bewildered look whilst they were speaking to me. They told me of how weak I was the first night I got home and how they had to tell all my friends who kept calling that I was alright. They laughed as they told me of how cranky I was the days after, screaming at anyone who came to disturb me while I lay in bed. But most of all, they laughed at my hair, or half hair as they called it, and some three strands left at the sides. I will return to the story of the three strands. After they told me all that had happened, I felt a wave of emotions. I was grateful to God that I was alive and well, for protecting tiny little me. I felt overwhelmed as my friends and classmates frequently called and visited to check if I was still breathing. Then I was angry. I was angry at the nurses who shaved half of my hair to stitch a tiny wound, but that was not the major reason for my anger. What fueled my anger were the three strands of hair the nurses had left unshaven at the now hairless side of my head, as if the nurses were trying to send me a message, that they had the power to do and undo.
         Soon enough I recovered but my hair did not, and the beginning of the new school semester was near. I decided to shave off the other half of my hair, to give my hair a uniform look as well as try out a new look. Also, I bought a wig. I resumed school and for a while I enjoyed the safety of my wig. That was until I carried out a self-examination and realized that there was no reason why I couldn’t present my hair the way it was, cut, with the three strands and all, why I needed the wig. So the next week, I did without the wig and expectedly, a lot people came to me lamenting and asking why I had cut my hair. I told most people the truth, that I did because I felt like, and sometimes when the questions started to irritate me, I told them I went to jail. It was then I realized that sometimes we choose to do things, not for general approval, but for ourselves, and its okay. I am mine before I am ever anyone else’s. I felt freer than I had in a long time, like the very existence of my cut hair was an act of rebellion. So this is for guys who want to join the choir or go to culinary school and girls who want to learn how to play drums and are worried about people saying they look too feminine or masculine. We’re human, and sometimes we’re not sure and we get scared, and it’s okay; I wore a wig. The people whose comments we’re dreading don’t know what they’re talking about half of the time, most speak just to have something to say. In the end everyone returns to drinking water and paying attention to their lives.
           As regards the accident, till this day I cannot remember what happened, even though there are cracks in my spirit and stitches on my head. Now I make jokes about going to sue the nurse and how we never got to eat our cinema supplies. But it takes me longer to cross the road now than it did before and I secretly hope I see the bike man who hit me if perhaps that would me trigger my memory to remember what happened. My greatest fear is that I will never forget.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to like, comment or share.
Till next Thursday, Dupe.

The 1am Fan

         Hello everyone. Let me start by apologizing for my disappearance. I have been lazy, and life has happened to me. Adulthood, to be precise. I have become responsible for and to myself, and it is all much too sudden. I always thought adulthood was supposed to be something you slowly transition into but apparently my friends and family don’t think so as they assume my new status as an undergraduate means I am ready for the adult world. Now, everyone involves me in conversations about a cousin that insists on getting married to a man involved in shady business, conversations that would be held in hushed tones in previous times and no one waits for days before breaking the news of an aged uncle’s demise to me because it is believed that I can handle it. Now, it’s most likely I am ready to handle all this adulthood business, but I’m not sure I am ready to lose my innocence just yet. I have been ignorant, or pretended to be, and it has been blissful.
        So presently, I am a “fresh” undergraduate, and I can’t say school is everything I expected it to be because I didn’t particularly expect anything before I resumed; I didn’t want to get my hopes too high up. But generally, I have observed that university is a place of many things, one of which is self discovery. The social confinements of family and friends are not present and we discover how far we will take our newfound freedom. It’s also a place of reinvention. People make new friends, people create new identities, while others latch on tightly to their past, as it is familiar territory.
       As a student, there are two new sets of people that I constantly have to relate with: roommates and classmates. My roommates are all sane people, at least for now. They readily listen to my lamentations and wails when I get overwhelmed and start to rant about how the toilets cause you physical and emotional damage when used, or how horrifying it is that water doesn’t run on our floor, or how poorly managed everything in the country is, butting in ‘Yes!’, ‘Nawa’ or ‘May God help us’ in the right places. My classmates at first glance appear to be annoyingly eccentric and overzealous students on the brink of insanity but on a deeper level they’re just people innocently excited about learning.
       Now here’s what my typical week in school looks like:

Sunday: Sunday is my only free day of the week as I have classes Monday through Saturday. I attend a church near my school, and I like it there. The worship is more liberal in that I don’t have to worry about looking too spiritual or ‘hip’ if I lift up my hands or jump up when I’m excited or worry about a concerned mother who calls me after service to tell me that my braids are too long. By noon, I’m back in my room at the hostel and I usually cook myself a fiesta on Sunday afternoons as it is the only true time I have to myself, so I usually go all out to treat myself. Sunday is a good day.

Monday: I’m usually very angry on Monday mornings. I wake up and discover that my fan has been mysteriously tilted up in my bunk mate’s direction during the night. I realize that I have slacked; I have forgotten that this is war and I am on a battlefield. On Mondays I’m angry at how tiny the ‘moin-moin’ I buy at the cafeteria is. I’m also angry on behalf of the cats in my hostel because the rats eat almost everything and leave them with nothing to live on. I have tutorials on Monday and I’m usually angry that my tutorial teacher is sexist and does not have a potbelly. I feel like he should get some sort of judgment for saying things such as: “These questions are too feminine, we’re not going to solve them” or “a boy that wears pink is not a real man” or how someone should speak in a baritone voice if they want to ask a question.

Tuesday: On Tuesday I am prepared for battle. Usually, I set an alarm for 1am and find the fan tilted up in my bunk mate’s direction. I tilt it downwards back in my direction and with a peaceful smile, I return to sleep. My fan is back in my control. It is a great day already.

Wednesday: Wednesday I’m usually too busy to be angry at anything or anyone.

Thursday: On Thursday I wake up earlier in order to sit near the air-conditioners because I have noticed that people faint the most on Thursdays. There is a probability that someone faints any other day of the week, but the probability increases on Thursdays. On a certain Thursday, someone fainted, and I was overwhelmed with shame when for a fraction of a second I felt like the lecturer should continue with the class, since it was a recurrence.

Friday: Friday is hardly different from any day of the week because I have classes the next day.

Saturday: I unconsciously find myself looking forward to Saturday classes because matters such as female condoms and adolescent behavior are discussed which are a welcome respite from tales and observations of a chemist who studied 200 pea plants for 50 years.

Sunday: Once again I forget that war is going on and drop all my weapons. Chances are that I wake up on Monday an angry young woman.

Truly, school is stressful, but I just might be getting attached to the life. The semester is nearly over and I promise to pay more attention to this space. Thanks to everyone who kept asking what happened to my blog. Thanks for reading.

I still wake up by 1am to check up on my fan.

This is Africa: We Need New Names

     If you haven’t guessed it yet, I am pro-black. I am all for the empowerment of the African race. I know that the words “black”, “African-American” and “American-African” all have different meanings, I know that the word “nigger” is derived from the word “negro; so in a way I am racially conscious. But being pro-black does not mean I am a crazy intellectual with the sort of radicalism that makes one go off the deep end. No, I also tend to do teenage things like spending a lot of my time on movies. Hollywood movies. And I have noticed the stereotype way in which Africa and Africans are portrayed in Western television.
       In Hollywood, Africa is not a continent, it is a country. Africa is a place of small children running about with swollen bellies, surrounded by flies, of people living in huts. A place of war, AIDS, genocide and corrupt soldiers. Africa could also be the suffering and war-mangled country waiting for their foreign heroes to free them from the throes of oppression and poverty. Africa is also the place to go for family trips and safaris, the place scientists go to discover hidden crypts, tombs and treasures. Africa is usually shown as a place with rich culture and traditions, but in the end, this attribute is lost on the audience as it is the image of a primitive people, of women walking about with bare breasts, and men watching a fight between a mongoose and a snake that is left in the mind of the audience.
        In Hollywood, African men are violent soldiers shooting their machine guns from trucks and boats, men obsessed with violence, soldiers who readily place guns in the hands of small boys,  commanders who never smile. Then there is no shortage of black thugs in these movies too,  pimps, drug dealers or gang members. There is usually a thug who gets arrested, thrown in jail, finds God in prison and comes out a new man. Then there is the magical Negro who isn’t from Kenya but has a Kenyan accent and a Kenyan name like Kamau Kemei or Mwangangi or Njenga. He provides spiritual or magical help to the white protagonist when things get tough.
        Black women are also constantly portrayed on television as sassy, bitter, brash women with attitudes, “Angela” in Tyler Perry’s ‘Why Did I Get Married’ is a representative of these angry black women. Then there’s the Mammy, the black mother figure in white homes. She is maternal, obese, religious and unattractive, hence posing no threat to the wife in the house. (Gone With the Wind and The Help provide more sordid details). Another infamous stereotype of black women is the promiscuous female with a demanding sexual appetite, usually a drug addict and prostituting in the streets.
        These stereotypes aren’t restricted to movies only. Most books by Africans or about Africa are usually given covers with orange skies and acacia trees on them. Ironically, I have stayed in Africa all my life and I have never seen an acacia tree. Maybe a baobab tree, once, and it was at the botanical garden. A reader put together the picture below to point out that no matter where you’re from, if you write a book about Africa, you’re likely to get the acacia tree treatment. If you’re lucky you might get a few animals on the cover.

image

      So this is a cry for help from a black female to the media, to those with the power to present Africa to the world because she is angry and tired. She is angry because Africa has been portrayed as many things, and its not that these things are untrue, but it is that this is the only side of Africa the world gets to see, repeatedly, and slowly that is what Africa has become. Her anger has worn her out, so now she’s just tired. Unlike my last post, I am on your side this time Mama Africa.
       Like all others, these African stereotypes can only be changed by showing the world that there’s another side to Africa. So Hollywood, Africa is not a country, there is no African flag or African language, and not all Africans look the same. Africa is a continent, with numerous countries in her. Not all women wander about with their chests bare, we don’t all live in trees and not all men are oppressive rulers and bloodthirsty soldiers. Not all black men are gangsters or pimps, and not all black women are sex addicts. Africa is also home to great intellectuals and Nobel Laureates. There are museums and medical schools in Africa, and there are African men who play rugby and are on Facebook. There are other trees in Africa apart from the acacia and it snows in some African countries. Not all Africans have Kenyan accents and there are other names in Africa apart from Shaka Zulu or Commander Nyengi. So give us new names Hollywood, we need new names. Once again, this is Africa.
image

Thanks for reading, comments are welcome and feel free to share!

Apparently, I have no HR skills according to my “agents”, as I should have done this a long time ago. Here are my social media accounts:
Twitter- @theinkbender
Instagram- tuttuh_ade
BBM- 7F561638

     

This is Africa: Adults, Lipsticks and Afros

       I am African and I love Africa. A place rich with diverse cultures, languages and traditions. A continent of resilient people who have experienced some of the greatest travails like The Slave Trade and have still emerged victorious. Wounded, but still victorious. There seems to be this spirit of brotherhood which bonds all Africans together, that tough spirit the western world calls the “African Spirit”. Africa is seen as a close-knit society. There is respect in Africa: young and old people know their places.
       As important as respect is, there are some things which these “adults” do and say to young people, which are outrightly unacceptable. And by “adults”, I mean that stern sister in the choir who scrutinizes the dressing of every young lady in the church, determining who is sleeping around and who isn’t. Or that man who used to work with your mom and now believes that that provides sufficient basis of familiarity for him to address you on how the ‘Afro’ you’re keeping will someday destroy your life. Yes, those are the ‘adults’ I refer to, not family members or friends.
         And so it happened that last week I went to my sister’s school, which is also my alma mater, with a friend who is also an ex-student himself. As expected, we saw our former teachers, most of whom we greeted with automatic bows and plastered smiles. We moved on as quickly as possible, as we knew if we loitered a second longer, they would ask in that high-pitched tone, as if the question had just popped into their head, saying, “Ehnehn! So what are doing now?” (This, of course means ‘Have you gained admission or is your life currently being destroyed?’. There is no in-between).
         As we moved on, I spotted a ‘familiar’ teacher. This woman used to be a member of my church until she had to leave because her husband was ordained as the pastor of a new church which elevated her to the role of a ‘pastor’s wife’. Now, I do not know if it was her new position or the fact that we used to be former church members, but throughout my stay in school, she always had something to say about how I looked, how my new hairstyle showed the kind of friends I was keeping or how I should clean off that lip gloss I was wearing. She always made me feel like I had something to apologize for, like I had to seek her consent to be who I was. Being a free-spirited child, I always wondered why she never asked about my schoolwork.  I was a child, vulnerable and impressionable, capable of being psychologically bruised.
         Now as we drew nearer to this woman to greet her, I smiled in my mind as I could see her already assessing me, taking note of my jeans, lipstick and hair. On cue, she said, “Dupe you know I will complain about your dress ehn. I don’t like this. Don’t let your nakedness be exposed o!. You know I’m always telling you.”  I could already feel steam coming out of my ears.  My friend being the good friend that he is tried to hold back his laughter and I being the cultured child I am, bowed and smiled, and we went on our way.
        This is just one of many occurrences to show how rude these people can be, and not in creative ways. If I could address this woman, this is how I would describe her comment.  RUDE. “Rude” in Africa is a one-way thing.  Only the young can be rude to the elderly. But we forget that we are human first before being old or young or African. So this woman was rude to me as a human being to a fellow human being. It is rude to try and impose your beliefs or ways of thinking on someone else.  INSULTING. It is insulting to my mother’s sense of judgment as a parent.  It is implying that she does not know what is best for me. It is undermining a parent’s role to try and decide what is best for another man’s child. PRETENTIOUS AND INTRUSIVE. A lot of people need to learn how to mind their businesses in this part of the world. People use “godly advice” as an excuse to poke their noses into other people’s businesses. I do not support indecent dressing; I support people edifying other people, but I also believe that a line should be drawn between brotherly advice and making a child apologize for who they are. For, in the end, these people end up ignoring what’s on the inside, the actual build-up of the person.
          I cannot address this woman this way because like I said when I started, this is Africa.  We have cultures and traditions; ancient things you do not mess with. But who knows what the future holds ;things might change. We may be given the permission to address adults that way. But if I do not want my future to ‘hold’ slaps from a concerned mother and calls from worried family members, I will keep my mouth shut and smile dutifully when people complain about my dressing. This is Africa.

Thanks for reading. See you next week Friday.

12 Seconds of Dozing and The Sex Scene

There are different kinds of females.
       There are females who are insecure and need the attention of men to validate their feminity . They lack assurance in themselves and cover up their insecurities with cheap talk and endless ridicule of others.
     There are females who don’t want others to have better lives than them; females who see another progressing, look for flaws and attack. They seem to intend no harm in their ranting, but deep down, their plan is to poison the mind of their listeners.
        Then there are the clingy and dependent ones. Girls who laugh nervously when with boys, who wait on their every word. Those who text their ‘guys’ once in every five minutes during the day, and call for two hours before bed. They are quite sensitive, the ones who cry oceans of tears after they are jilted.
    I am not any of these ladies mentioned above. I am the serious and ambitious type. The one who is able to give opinions to almost anything, and spends her free time reading novels.  I’m usually kind, but my studies come first – anything else comes second. I tend to have grand dreams, so I  prioritize and to some people, I might be the obnoxious type who is selfish and self-centered. I work hard, too hard perhaps, that I end up having few true friends. I keep high standards and so I tend to expect the same from other people too. I am the teenage girl’s hero, the type who is able to keep her ahead above the murky waters of dating, infatuation or even love.
      But life has surprises for everyone. On a dry harmattan morning, Cupid’s arrow nearly hit me, I nearly caught feelings, and here’s the abridged version of how it happened.
NB:  Names, characters, places and incidents may or may not be entirely the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead,  events may be entirely coincidental.
      So I’m at this meeting,  it’s an interactive session, with people giving their opinions about the subject. And as I like to do, I keep quiet, observing and analyzing every answer. Then this guy speaks, and I’m impressed because he says the kind of thing I would say. I don’t look at him while he’s talking, while everyone’s looking at him. I wait for him to finish, then I look up, and he’s looking at me. Okay. His gaze is fearless and unwavering, this guy is openly looking at me, with the hint of a smile and this isn’t The Fault in Our Stars.
      On a normal day I would be slightly enraged, going on and on in my mind about males and their inability to control their eyes, and then I would stare back. But this is no normal day, because I am not enraged and I cannot hold his gaze. In fact, I am a bit flustered. I feel like I’m in a Telemundo soap opera. After the meeting, a friend introduces him, we’re shaking hands and he says,
‘Hi, I’m Michael’
‘Hi, I’m Dupe’, I reply.
Then he says to me, ‘You have a very captivating personality. I was staring at you the whole time.’
(Its been almost half a minute, and we are still shaking hands.)
‘You have insufficient Vitamin D’, I say’.
He raises his eyebrows with amusement.
‘You have cold hands. It’s caused by insufficient Vitamin D’, I explain
‘Oh’.
‘Yeah’.
And for the next 12 seconds, we say nothing,  we’re literally gazing at each other, with a bit of wonder and amusement. And for these 12 seconds, I am not slightly flustered. I am fully flustered. I am blushing. Me, who talks sense into her friends, when they rant about how they were attracted to someone at first sight, and laughs, while asking, “How do I catch feelings?”. I was flushed. And then someone(sent by the Lord) comes and snatches me away, and the jinx is broken. (Till this day I believe there were some supernatural forces behind this occurrence).
      When I recovered, I was overwhelmed with fright and fury. It was the fright that came with experiencing something new, yet not so unfamiliar. But most of what I felt was fury. I was furious because strong, assertive and driven females do not ‘catch feelings’. I was furious because I am the girl who gives her friends speeches about how they should never be pressured by their environment into relationships, about how they should only date when they’re ready to; so I do not catch feelings.
    And so after, I was looking for something to blame for these feelings that I had ‘caught’. And I found an easy target. Sex scenes. Love scenes. Not the cute scenes from ‘Boys Before Flowers’ or ‘My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox’. Not the watery, open-mouthed kissing scenes from ‘Destiny River’ or ‘La Patrona’ or any other Spanish movie with their improbable plots. No, I knew those weren’t real. I blamed all the regular movies with love scenes from Abduction to Divergent to Vampire Diaries to The 100. I blamed them for dropping these love vibes slowly into my subconscious. They were supposed to be wonderful action movies. They had no business opening my heart up, making me feel like there had to be some sort of love activity in my life leaving my heart vulnerable and defenseless.
     In my rage, I had a point against these movies and their unjustified scenes, but the truth remains that I saw it coming. I ignored all flashing signs and warning lights. I gave myself the permission to catch feelings for those 12 seconds. I dozed off, I lost consciousness for those 12 seconds.
Stay awake people.

Thanks to Murewa A. and Ayotola O. for keeping me awake.(Literally)
 

Women in Buses, Fire in Bellies

Hi! Welcome to my blog!
I am a storyteller. I love the charm in words, the magical worlds they have the ability to create. Since my primary schooldays, I have been identified with writing. So growing up, I was a cultured African child who loved to write stories and wanted to be a surgeon. Things changed in my Senior Secondary School years. I had a change in my perception of things. I found God and I also found a different genre of literature. Books, writings, articles on past and contemporary  events. Historical books. I began to know about the Berlin Conference, the Biafran War, Malcolm X, Camara Laye, John Wesley; and slowly a fire started in my belly. I began to understand the meaning of some movements, protests and the stories behind them. I started this blog because I am an African, Christian girl, a die-hard fan of Teen Wolf and Harvey Specter, and I still want to be able to connect to the world. So this is a lifestyle blog. I’ll be writing about life-issues; I will be writing about things that I’ve come across, people, events. I will be writing about things that haunt me, things I can’t forget, things I think that no one should keep quiet about. I will be writing about love and crushes, grief and loss, hope, fear and disappointment, the simple world and its  complex human beings.                                  
        So this blog is for people like me: people carrying stories in their bodies waiting to be released feelings that need to be expressed, words that need to be written. This blog is for females like me who want it all and are done with settling. This blog is for males that are letting go of their egos and are admitting that every human is entitled to a little vulnerability. There are a lot of issues that prick my heart, that set me on fire, issues like racism,preferential treatment, exploitation…that sort of injustice.
        Speaking of injustice , something happened to me a while ago that made me see how passionate I was about some of these issues. Injustice sets my blood on fire. Literally. I was in one of these large public transport buses sometime ago and it was filled up such that some people had to stand. Luckily for me, I got a seat beside a very young boy. So  the breeze is in my hair, I’m listening to Bastille’s Pompeii, pretending to be in the music video; you know, it’s a good day. Until I see her. Early 30s, light-skinned, with the faux enlightened look of those women higher up in the unenlightened pyramid. And she’s looking at the young boy sitting beside me, with the calculating look of a predator, of one about to do wrong and planning to make it look right.
        So this woman walks up to the young boy, raises her hand(and I’m hoping it’s to scratch some unattractive part of her body), taps him and says brusquely  in the native, “Oya, stand up for me”. This woman who wasn’t even nearly the oldest person standing. This woman who didn’t pay(since  standing in the bus is free of charge ) was ‘bouncing’ a small boy who had paid the bus fare. THE NERVE. As if on cue, Asa’s ‘Satan Be Gone’ played next on my phone. Well,well, what better sign from the universe. Amidst the boy’s puzzled look, the evasive look of other passengers, I replied,  in the native, “He cannot stand up because he paid for the seat and you didn’t. Don’t hide under the auspices of seniority to cheat a young boy. And it’s not like you plan to refund his money to him” Or something like that. Well,well,  Martin Luther Jr. would be proud. Of course I don’t know the word for ‘auspices’ or ‘refund’ in Yoruba but I made my point clear: injustice of any kind is still what it is: injustice.
        And ranting about it here has helped me re-affirm that belief. And so this blog is also to encourage people like me with fire in their bellies to give expression to it, through writing, drawing, making songs, whatever means suits you. I chose blogging because writing is the best way I express myself. And this, is my first blog post.
Thanks to Abiodun.O and Idris.S for pushing me to do this without knowing it.
P.S: I have an ‘About Me’ page too.

Thanks.