Back//

Its been a while and I’ve missed blogging so much!! I feel like I say this after every mini hiatus but its still true 🙂

So I’m sure you’re wondering where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing with my time so I thought I should give you a brief summary and possibly a couple teasers of posts to come

  1. I was taking a class – no this isn’t one of the teasers but you know personal development and what not – in Project management. As fun as it was to kind of get back into the school vibe, I also remembered all of the things about school that stressed me out eg. late nights and group work so yea that took a chunk of my time.
  2. I made overalls…and they weren’t for me!! Yes yes, your girl is really pushing boundaries and challenging herself. Now this is one of the things I hope you will see very soon so I wouldn’t say too much about it but that has been very exciting.
  3. I’m currently learning to drive. Hoping I can get my license by February next year actually but driving has been kinda chill so far. I haven’t run over anyone or crashed into anything so I think it’s safe to say I’m doing alright. :p
  4. I might have made a wedding dress! No biggie, maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. Oh and if you were wondering, it wasn’t for me. I may have more details for you in the near future…mayyyyyyybe.
  5. Really just been working on myself. The adulting game had me feeling all kinds of overwhelmed this year but I’m trying to take things as they come and trying to make good decisions.

Yea in the most succinct way, this is what I have been up to since my last post. I’m so ready to get started with blogging again and putting out so much more ❤

To fresh starts

 

est.1994 | Birthday thoughts


Heyyyy!!

It was my birthday this month 😀 whoop ti doop! Couldn’t upload this post as early as I would have liked due to some technical issues but we move still. It truly was a happy birthday despite the rain. So grateful for my friends and family who showed up and sent lots of love my way :).

So typically I like to reflect on my past year and project for my year ahead but I think I need to give you the full gist of the day. Before I begin, lets just say I am convinced my upper back looks like Wonderwoman’s right now but hey that may just be in my head.

I decided to go indoor rock-climbing for my birthday, an activity I would recommend to anyone who may be interested. A couple things to note though are that I’m afraid of heights and well rock climbing involves going up above the ground supported by your harness, your b-layer, a few measly protrusions on the wall and God Himself.

We had a lovely instructor who took us through how to be safe and from that point on it was just climbing and living the dream.

21 was an interesting year for me. I definitely felt myself growing quite a bit and I’ve learned some important things along the way.

Being fearless is great but facing your fears is so much better

This year I have found that the more times I challenged myself to do something that I didn’t feel altogether comfortable doing, the more I saw myself improving. A major example is sewing for other people. [I have more to say on this] Sewing for others is actually terrifying to me. I just always feel like I wouldn’t get it right and I know for a fact that my skills are still rather basic so when people trust me to make things for them I have an overwhelming desire to say No! This year however, I tried it a few times. I wasn’t successful every time and I still have some projects sitting and waiting for me to revisit them but I have also learned so much more not just about sewing but about myself and how I ought to be handling failure. Failing isn’t the problem, it’s what you do when you fail that really matters

Look beyond yourself every now and again and see how you can be the joy in someone else’s life

This year I realized to a whole new degree that there is an entire world happening outside of myself. People are happy, people are hurting and everything in between. I’m still working on this one but sometimes you just need to be present and truly present for someone else even when they aren’t giving much in return. It could be a “just because” gift or sitting with someone and quietly listening to what they feel, whatever it is just find a way to make someone’s day a little better.

Starting is slow and rocky but you’ll never get anywhere if you give up there.

I am nearing my first full year of being in the working world and my business is also in its first few months. All in all this year has been a lot of firsts for me and there have been several moments of questioning what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I’ve doubted myself and my abilities a whole lot and just been generally confused about many things but its only recently hit me that this is just the start and as with all things, it will become clearer as I move forward

Trusting God is often easier said than done.

This one caught me off guard a bit. Being Christian, I’ve heard “just trust God” a thousand and one times so much so that I just agree on autopilot however when it comes to time to really let go and let God, I find myself holding back on the silliest things. To truly trust [in my opinion] is to understand that His plans are for good and when He asks me to let go of something its not to leave me empty but to make room for something better. The letting go isn’t always easy but like I said, I’m learning.

Drink your water, Mind ya business!

Finally, at 21 I learned that I need to take care of my body and take care of my mind. This means being a bit more conscious of what I consume and how my behavior impacts the world that I live in. Now as wholesome as this sounds, note that this is still a work in progress. Battling the 5pm chocolate cravings and the indulgence in some really juicy gossip but still we move 🙂

So excited for 22 and I am seriously hoping to sustain this positivity all year long

Becoming Black

Thoughts on Race and Racial Injustice.

Huey_Black Lives

My heart is heavy. It seems like every season there is a new hashtag and a new black body being violated and paraded. Videos of brutality being shared, beautiful quotes and deep passion and then silence. The silence only lasts so long until we have another video, a fresh wound, another tragedy and the cycle resumes. I am exhausted as like many others. Tired of fighting the battles of ignorance every time someone opens the gateway to their gut to utter “All Lives Matter”. Throwing that statement around like I am too stupid to see the reality of that statement. Every thing about that phrase is an intentional decision to remain clothed in the steaming warmth of your ignorance. It is an unyielding weapon used to scar and irritate the wounds that have been inflicted on us repeatedly.

I believe that Black is something you become and I can say this knowing that I have not always had to be Black. Growing up in a predominantly racially homogeneous setting, my race was always secondary, it was something that existed on the screen but not in my daily life. Imagine my surprise when I moved to Canada and suddenly Blackness was no longer an option. It was a mantle that was thrust on me with every interaction. If you started in this setting, it is easy to think that Black is how you were born. I had a professor who told me once that Blackness as a construction is simply something that exists in contrast to Whiteness. At the time I was deeply offended by this but slowly I came to understand that Blackness is not birth, it is history. A deep and complex history that is often over simplified. I say all of this to say that when someone makes the statement that BLACK lives matter, this is not a light and witty comment. This is not as basic as the colour of one’s skin, it is not as simple as stats even though statistics often help to buttress this point. It is a statement that speaks to historical pain. It refers specifically to the consistent systemic disregard for the humanity and well being of a specific group.

The media is quick to isolate the incident and the individual. “Black man shot by police”, “Black man with criminal record shot by the police” “Black man with criminal record who may have been armed shot by the police”. The use of his Black identity constantly feeding into this historical brand that distances him from his humanity. He may have been a father, a community leader, an innovator or as has now been made relevant; a great swimmer, nonetheless his Blackness takes precedence over his humanity. The search for reasons why he deserved to be killed begins; did he protest? was he armed? did the Officer perceive him to be a threat? how Black was his Blackness? At this point I am shaking.

I recently had a little old white woman ask me or rather tell me that she doesn’t understand why people have to bring race into everything. She felt comfortable to tell me this “because I sounded so educated” (Yes I had to pause and talk myself off the ledge of clawing at her face). I proceeded to let her know that there is a reason she doesn’t understand, but in her lack of understanding she CAN NOT tell a person of color where they can or can not bring up their race because race was not something that they decided on. No one asked them whether it was convenient to kill their people or to deny them of employment or to disrespect their families and their cultures or to enslave them. Race was not a choice that we made so when someone makes the decision to speak to you about how their race impacts them you have no right to silence them.

Ignorance is a decision. There is a wealth of rhetoric explaining why Black lives matter so before you decide to spew garbage, educate yourself. The importance of Black lives, or Indigenous lives or Latin lives does not diminish the relevance of anyone else. This needs no explanation.

And to the individuals in Dallas who thought it was wise to also commit murder, who you epp?! No, really, who sent you? Anger is justified, murder is not. Don’t be so consumed by fury that you become the very thing you hate.

Rest in Power!

Drip

Thoughts I have in the shower

If I go back to bed right now what would happen?

Why do we cry when we poop?

Is there ever an hour in the day when everyone in the world shares the same date (given time difference)?

What kind of parent would I be?

How do we know what we like?

Do we like things because we think we should?

What would the world be like if money never existed?

I wonder how thick my hair is

What if Obama called and I didn’t pick up because it was a US number and you know, long distance charges (nahh it was probably a spam call).

Why do I keep getting spam texts any way?

What would I do if somebody harassed me on the street car today. I’d probably yell at them and threaten to punch them if they talk to me. Lol! no.

What if I’m stronger than I think.

Is baby talk a real language?

Why do people always talk to babies in that weird voice.

Do babies think grownups are kinda silly? Is that why they laugh?

Who came up with folk tales like “why the tortoise has a cracked shell” and why didn’t they just say “I don’t know” as opposed to the elaborate narrative.

What if the tortoise was actually pushed from the sky because of his greed.

Nahhh that doesn’t explain why they all have cracked shells.

Mmm I wonder how much its costing me to stay in here and think.

 

 

The Nigerian Woman | Rooted

Yosola Paul-Olaleye

Hi Guys!!

YossiePaul

Back again with another amazing Nigerian woman! I remember growing up how the instant rebuke for doing less than your peers was “do they have two heads?!”. I am however convinced that Yossie does! 😀 How else do you describe someone who is a published author, working on her Masters degree and gearing up for a PhD. and of course maintaining the daunting responsibility of being entertaining on social media!! Always true to her Yoruba roots and an all round pleasure to talk to and learn from, I know you would enjoy reading about this Nigerian Woman just as much as I did!

Who are you (What are the things that make up your identity, likes, interests, quirks)

You’d think people would be comfortable with this question given that we are supposedly self-obsessed, but I still struggle with it. In any case, I’m a 22-year old wearer of many hats – at least, I try to be. I feel it’s my duty to be able to do many things for myself, and this is probably to my detriment.

At the moment, I am studying for a master’s degree in Communication Governance at LSE. In my spare time, which is technically no spare time at all, I work on an online publication with friends and I try to build platforms that will potentially change the way we discuss issues concerning Africa and ‘development’.

I am also an aspiring writer, and I published my first book in September 2015. It is a collection of essays and poetry about home and various experiences of womanhood. It is dedicated to my grandfather, the man whose influence shaped my life and work.

Two things make up my identity, really, and those are books (by which I mean words and everything about them) and Nigeria. This is because everything I do finds its way back to my love for words, language, and literature; and whenever I think about my work and my goals, I think about ‘home’.

What do you feel being a Nigerian woman means?

On a very simple level, I think of it merely in terms of our places of origin, our names, our histories. But I am also interested in how the above shape our identities and influence our character.

Being a Nigerian woman for me is about knowing where I have come from – which I understand as my name and my family’s lineage – and leading a life that glorifies that history. I come from a long line of women who have changed their environments and the lives of the people around them, and I feel it’s important for me to follow that path and do something meaningful for Nigeria/Nigerians, especially girls, perhaps in education.

Maybe being a Nigerian woman, for me, is about contributing positively to the growth of our home?

Has your identity as a Nigerian ever been questioned? Why and how did you respond?

No, it hasn’t. If anything, my identity as a Yoruba woman has been questioned, but that’s because I don’t like pepper (read: hot food). Sometime last year, a friend generously went out in the night to find some food for me. He came back with Nando’s and I didn’t think much of it because I figured we couldn’t go wrong with chicken. Wrong. At some point, I realised my mouth was burning and so I asked him if he got extra hot. He turned his face away from me and said, “You have a Yoruba mother.” I was like: Yes, and so? That I have a Yoruba mother doesn’t mean I eat pepper, please. So I had this dramatic moment of, “Please don’t kill me o!”

It was quite hilarious. I actually love the look on people’s faces when I say I don’t like super hot food. It’s like, “ah ahn. You sure sey you be omo Naija like this?” Yes, I’m sure. I don’t understand what people enjoy about tapping their heads while eating because of pepper.

When did you become conscious of your identity as a Nigerian woman?

I think this happened sometime last year – I think I fully came into myself in 2015. I had always known that I was ‘Nigerian’, insofar as I was born and raised in Lagos. I had always known my full name, and I had always been aware of the influence my childhood experiences had on my person. But, last year, I started to think about my childhood, and my relationship with my grandfather, who, in many ways, tried to make us all aware of where we came from, of our names, of our history. This is why I dedicated my book to him and why I wrote the short essay about home and my grandfather.

I started to think about what my name means, and how to make sure it drives me, and that’s when I started to feel strongly ‘Nigerian’. That said, being away from home makes me feel somewhat removed from the reality of Nigerian living.

What are you most proud of when you think of Nigerian women?

Ooh, the fighting spirit! I mean, it could also be described as shakara (especially if you’re Yoruba), but I think it’s wonderful. And it’s also not restricted to Nigerian women. I think African women all over the world share this, and it’s what makes us – our grandmothers, our mothers, all of us – remarkable. Don’t worry, no feminist propaganda here (although that wouldn’t be amiss). 😉

Where can people find you and your work?

All over the web, literally. I have placed all my digital footprints in a central place for ease: www.about.me/yossiepaul

 

 

The Nigerian Woman|Unafraid

Gender Parity and the Prohibition of Violence against Women

African woman

Hi Guys!

I had planned a completely different post for today but well this happened and I just had to voice my opinions. As some of you may be aware, the Nigerian senate- consisting mostly of old men-recently opposed a bill aimed at protecting the rights of women in marriage, employment and education. I am in no way surprised at this and I don’t know anyone who is frankly, but I am utterly disgusted.

Checking my privilege: I can not speak for all women and I certainly cannot speak for all Nigerian women. Some of the people who may have been most affected by this bill may have varied views on it’s relevance. I have been privileged thus far in the family I was born into. I have been heavily shielded from a lot of the realities of being female in Nigeria. I have been taught repeatedly to see myself as a leader, as someone with much to bring to the table. This is not a reality for all (many) Nigerian women.  This is not to imply that I am oblivious to the realities of being female in Nigeria, patriarchy and frankly misogyny seeps into even the most mundane conversations. I however feel it is important to acknowledge the ways in which I may be distanced from a full understanding of what is at stake.

Several articles have highlighted a few of the senators who were opposed to the bill and of course Senator Yerima felt it was his duty to oppose this bill on the basis of his religious beliefs. Now I respect anyone’s right to assert their beliefs, however there comes a point where you need to stop using religion as a medium to serve your heinous desires. Can we just stop to think about how after we all hash-tagged #childnotbride on social media, wrote articles and protested, this man still sits comfortably in the house of senate without a care. No accountability. No repercussion. And to think all it took was to cite religion and our uproar became a silent grumble.

Nigeria for all its patriarchy does a huge disservice to men because if a room full of decision makers whose sole purpose is to serve their country still cannot stretch their perspective enough to consider how protecting women against the constant violence that is inflicted on them could be necessary then you my friends are enduring the greatest torture. To be so enraptured by your privilege that you fail to see how you are setting yourself up for failure, I truly pity you.

Nigerian women are phenomenal! As evidenced by the few women I have featured in this series and those who I will feature in the months to come, they are barrier breakers, leaders, innovators, creatives! How is it that in 2016 we are still reducing a conversation about violence against women to the institutions under which they marry? How is this relevant to protecting their basic human rights? We pretend that the only context that women are abused is within marriage when in fact at every phase of a Nigerian woman’s life she must face some form of abuse. You can’t play this way, You can’t dress this way, You can’t speak this way, You can’t earn this much, You can’t advance this fast. We are constantly saying, limit yourself, do the bare minimum, wait for a man, don’t shame us by your brazenness. I felt it was important to state my privilege at the beginning of this post because as much as violence against women tears at my soul, there are women who wholeheartedly believe that their husbands can “discipline” them physically, that there is no such thing as a man raping his wife and that they deserve less in life simply on account of their genitalia. I can not speak for anyone other than myself and I cannot present anything other than my own moral stance and I say Nigeria you are failing your women!

We can not continue to lean so heavily on principles that have systematically diminished the worth of our own people. This should not be a tousle between man and woman. If truly all a woman is to you is your property then the least you can do is protect what is yours but even in your own logic you fail. I am thoroughly unimpressed with the light that this casts the majority of the Nigerian senate in.

I am a Nigerian woman and I am not afraid to say that I expect more.

I expect more from my country’s decision makers.

I expect more from Nigerian men.

I expect more from Nigeria.

 

 

Fits and Starts

Rediscovering my blog’s purpose

willyverse image

Hi Guys!

Today I thought I’d go to my about page and try to refresh myself on why I started blogging in the first place. If you’ve never read it before here’s what it says :

Its all about that very first step. The fear of trying and failing should never be enough to keep you from the amazing experiences life has to offer. This is my first step, my beginning if you will, of taking hold of these experiences. I hope this blog inspires someone to think in technicolor. To try something they never thought they could do. Follow me as I share my thoughts on my ongoing projects, baking recipes and a few colorful musings.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Peace, Love and Respect,

E.

Now as far as recipes go I think I’ve posted like one in the entire history of my blog (LOL!) but over all I still feel like this statement resonates with me.

I still want to inspire people to try things that they would ordinarily not do because frankly if I can do it anyone can! I don’t say that to dump on myself; I think I’m a pretty cool person :p but I knew nothing about sewing when I started this blog and now I’m over here crafting bomber jackets and what not.

I thought I would be too scared to write what I truly felt when I first started. It all felt a bit vulnerable and soul-baring hence why I didn’t tell many people about it at first. I still feel that way sometimes; when thing feel too new or too bold, I like to sit with them quietly and get comfortable with them before showing them to the world.

So on the topic of starting, there would be a few things in my life that would be starting this year. One of which would be my business with a dear friend :). We are creating handmade pillows and when things advance a bit more I would be sharing pictures and details and all that jazz, but yea 😀 I’m pretty excited and very nervous.

I’m glad I re-read my about page today. It made me feel all warm and content on the inside. I’ve thought about re-branding my blog many times because frankly if you googled “Begin” you’re probably just going to get the definition of the word but until I find something that still speaks this message, I think I’ll stay put.

Well this ended up being a lot more conversational than I anticipated 😛

Hope you’re all having a great week!

Picture by Willyverse

 

Love Lessons

Thoughts before Valentine’s Day

Hey Guys!

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

So Valentine’s day has crept up on us yet again and the overwhelming feeling of despair is setting in…what cute and affordable thing can I get this person (cause to be real Christmas wasn’t so long ago and gifts ain’t cheap), is there somewhere I can build-a-bae? cause I’m not trying to be alone for yet another year, and of course the people who are gearing up to declare their undying love to an unsuspecting crush on this one special day.

Now I was prepared to give some kind of love advice, you know; get her flowers, write her letters, brush her hair and feed her grapes but the truth is, I know nothing!

Last year I got all deep and spoke about the meaning of love and everything I said there still stands so if you’re trying to decide if you love someone feel free to check that out :).

But yes, I have come to terms with the fact that I know next to nothing on the “affairs of the heart”. It’s funny because in high school I considered myself to be the “dear Dolly” of my peers. I had advice on deck for every relationship question known to my teenage mind. Boyfriend not answering your texts? Want him to ask you out? Feeling pressured to stay? I had a response for EVERYTHING! The only problem was that people just never seemed to listen.

I would spend hours advising a friend on why she should leave the toxic relationship that she’s in and she would agree with me only to call me a few days later to tell me that they made up -_-.

I have come to realize however that I wasn’t giving any revolutionary advice. 9 times out of 10 she probably knew exactly what was right and she also knew she wasn’t ready to do what was right. This is the part that baffles me till today, especially when I see myself following the exact same patterns (*gasp!*).

Maybe we’re not really looking for advice but just speaking so we can hear it out loud or maybe we’re really all just a little bit crazy and we don’t want to do what we know would be best.

I don’t know why we do the things we do (and I’m saying we because I feel most people have fallen into this trap of foolishness at some point).

Maybe I do have one teeny tiny piece of advice: Someone thinks you’re more than good enough, Someone wants to be the reason you smile at your phone randomly and there is definitely someone who wants to brush your hair and feed you grapes :p. So don’t sweat it…life, love and lessons happen 🙂 and you’re doing just fine!

Happy almost Valentine’s day.

5 Things I learned after Uni

Straight outta UofT

Hi Guys!

I have wanted to do this post for a while but I wanted to wait for any extra surprises life may throw my way. Anyhow I feel like I have gathered sufficient data to help the upcoming alumni. (Congrats btw 😀 you’re super close to the end!)

  1. Free Food is not a thing!
Free Food
Newp, absolutely no one has said this 😦

I know!!!! Dry your eyes dear friend but yes it’s true! There are no real life equivalents of student groups trying to lure you with free food, No meal plans (even though you technically paid for that), There are no student unions offering pancakes and movies. Simply put, if you want food you have to pay or at the very least settle for the teeny tiny samples. If you have lived on campus for the entire duration of your studies, this would probably hit you as hard as it hit me. Brace yourselves, you’re about to spend a small *cough* huge *cough* fortune feeding yourself.

2. You can’t just walk everywhere

Well of course if everything plays out exactly how you want it, this may not apply, however it is far more likely that you would have to cough up more cash on transportation than ever before. Again this is particularly true for people who never lived off campus, the rest of you may be very well versed in paying for metropasses however I almost cried as that $141.50 left my account for the first time. After my first few weeks of living off campus, this is how my life looked:

Friend: Hey! we should grab lunch

Me: Sure thing!

Metropass: Well transportation wouldn’t be an issue

Bank Account: Lol! Girl bye!

 

look aint happening
Not Happening Today Hunny

3. Jobs are not tailored for you and your minimal experience

Oh job hunting was spit-on-your-neck-fantastic! Fresh out of school and somehow when you were focusing on your studies, being involved in extra-curriculars, maintaining a social life and sleeping, you were also supposed to gaining at least 3 years worth of relevant experience. 🙂 Isn’t that just grand? Or the people that would have the guts to suggest unpaid work!!! Excuse me, I’m about $2.00 away from starving to death and you want me to arrive at your location 5 days a week for nothing? Please stop.

job experience

4. You can’t just “chill”

Yes, you just completed one of the most exhausting school years of your life. Yes, right now you just want to take naps an sip mojitos. Yes, it would be nice if you could just get a weekly stipend to fund your turn ups and vacations. But no! Everybody and their unborn child will ask you what you’re doing next. How about we all just agree that I’m being fabulous and that’s all there is to it. Sadly fabulous won’t pay your bills (unless of course you’re Kimora Lee).

Can't adult today
Not today please

5. Stay Connected

After you’ve said your goodbyes and returned your gown and hood, it would become glaring obvious that the thing that tethered you to many of the people in your life right now, has ended. (Yay for alliteration). It would be extremely easy to disconnect and start your life all over again but I can say from experience that I’m thankful for all of the friends I have kept in touch with since graduation. You all make my life feel full and fuzzy ❤

The Nigerian Woman- Diverse

Nneoma Nwankwo

Hi Guys!!

Back with another one! (Shout out to DJ Khalid still). Nneoma is one of the first friends I made in life (not nearly as dramatic as I just made it seem). She was in my age group in church so we just kinda grew up together. Needless to say we were cool kids :p. We have both evolved immensely since those days in our afro-puffs but this young woman here continues to make me so happy! She’s a true inspiration and I hope you all check out her work and see all of the amazing things she gets up to.

Nneoma-begin-Nigerian woman

Who are you (What are the things that make up your identity, likes, interests, quirks)

“Who are you” is such a difficult question! I’m Nneoma, and my name means Good mother. I’m really extroverted, so I enjoy being around people. I listen to music in African languages I don’t understand, particularly Amharic, Xhosa and Tamasheq. I can sing the songs literally word for word, but I have no clue what they mean, and I’m fine with that! But of course, I love my Nigerian music, Reggae, and Dancehall. I study Political Science, and Urban Planning, and I conduct extensive research on Menstrual Hygiene. I write poetry and fiction also, and I’m a scribbler–so I have couplets and unfinished story plots in the margins of all my Politics and Law textbooks. In my group of friends, I’m definitely the loudest, because I love making people laugh. I worry that I’m too pushy sometimes, because I’m the one in the group that’s like “Apply to this program! Send your paper to this conference!” but my friends love me anyway, so it’s fine. I have been really blessed in life: I have an amazing family, wonderful friends, and great opportunities. I can truly say that I’m immensely happy, and as much as I can, I try to ensure that people around me feel the same way.  

What do you feel being a Nigerian woman means

When I think of Nigerian women, three words instantly pop into my mind : humor, resilience and ambition. Almost every Nigerian woman I know is hilarious, we innately relate to everyone with humor and wit, and there’s always a way to ease up any mood and create a loving atmosphere with the way we talk and crack jokes. Although it’s starting to change (or get better), the Nigerian society has looked down on women as less than men for the longest time, and resilience is necessary to deal to with it. Furthermore, Nigerian women around the world are breaking down barriers, and really doing amazing in all fields, from entertainment to finance to politics. It’s amazing–I cannot imagine being anything but.

Has your identity as a Nigerian ever been questioned? Why and how did you respond?

I don’t think I ever had my identity questioned, until I started university in America. Even then, it was not so much being questioned, as being clarified by others who identified as Nigerian also. They were trying to “make sure” that I was a “real” Nigerian, you know, like “Omo, are you experiencing this culture shock? You fit cook jollof? Wetin dey happen na?” So my Nigerian-ness wasn’t so much being questioned, as it was being authenticated. I don’t think the purpose was to isolate Nigerians raised in America, or Americans of Nigerian descent, rather to find Nigerians with more similar experiences, and to build relationships with them.

When did you become conscious of your identity as a Nigerian woman?

I have always been aware of my identity as a Nigerian woman. I grew up in a household where Nigerian female icons were very celebrated, like I vividly remember the day Agbani Darego won Miss World, and I remembered it was important because she was a Nigerian woman, just like me (even though I was 6 years old at the time). I remember when Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was rising through the World Bank. My Mom actually wrote a wonderful book called “Gender Equality in Nigerian Politics,” and then became the first Nigerian woman to win an Oxford Reuters Fellowship. So even as a young girl, I was positively hyper-aware of my identity as a Nigerian woman.

What bothers you the most about Nigerian women?

I hate to make a sweeping generalization of both Nigerian men and women; but I’d have to say I hate that mentality that there are just things that men do, that a woman will have to put up with, especially in a romantic relationship. So like a man is cheating, hitting a woman or verbally abusing her, and it’s like, well, he’s a man, and that’s how they behave and just pray about it. I refuse to believe that somebody is (un)intentionally being terrible to me, and I should just sit there and take it (quietly) because he’s a man. Whether he is a boyfriend, a father figure, or just a male friend, if a man consistently mistreats me, I will permanently remove him from my life. Thanks to my parents’ marriage and my brothers and all my male Nigerian friends, I know what loving relationships between men and women should look like, and in the words of Lauryn Hill, “respect is just the minimum.”

What are you most proud of when you think of Nigerian women?

Honestly, I cannot even quantify how much I love Nigerian women. I think of my different Nigerian female friends, and they are so diverse in ethnicity and religion, but the bond is fantastic. Nigerian women have this great way of keeping our heads up, and forming beautiful relationships with each other. I think we are the most hilarious group of people–and where there is laughter, often that’s where you will find love. I am most proud of the drive that Nigerian women have–if we say we are going to accomplish something, good luck attempting to stand in the way of us and our goals.

Where can people find you and your work?

My professional Twitter: @nneomaen (!) I share there whenever my work gets published, or whenever something interesting happens in my life, which is everyday, if you ask me 🙂