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 🙂

Summering

Halter Summer Dress

gathered summer dress

Hi Guys!!!

So if you guessed this would be my next post you was right! (go ahead you can pat yourself on the back)

I made this super simple dress at the start of summer and it fast became a wardrobe fave for me. For difficulty, I would rate this a 5/10 mainly because of the braided strap but even at that, this was a pretty basic project.Vingt-Un Enang

I started off with a large rectangular piece for the front and two smaller rectangles for the back. I hemmed the bottom edge and sewed down a one inch loop on the top edge. With all raw edges hemmed, I attached the front piece to the back pieces and stopped 8 inches short of the top for arm holes and so I would be able to get into the dress.

back of summer dress

The next step was making the strap. I made two thin strips, tied them up on one end and twisted all the way down. I say this now and it sounds pretty easy but turning the strips inside out was a lot harder than I though it would be. After about 30 minutes of struggling I finally finished and put the strap through my one inch loop and gathered my dress till I was comfortable with the fit and look.

braided straps

Finally I sewed down the ends of the gathered points so it wouldn’t move around and ta da!!

mini dress for warm weather

I wonder if there is a way to transition this dress into the colder months. Do you guys have any pieces that you wear no matter the season? Also I might have a post coming up on these scrunchies in my hair 🙂

Pictures by Willyverse

Violets are blue…

Making a Matching Shorts and Crop Set

matching set- ibegan

Its been ages, just ages since I’ve posted anything! Not that I haven’t written anything, I have a few drafts that can testify to my being here but I wanted my first post after my hiatus to be so clutch you would feel it was sooo worth the wait. Now with this outfit I don’t think I could have been anymore clutch. Not to toot my own horn but *toot toot*.

DSCF3536

This baby was a real piece of work!! I completed the entire outfit in three days spanned over a week. I did the shorts first and while they weren’t easy they weren’t the hardest part of this look. Making this top was one of the most frustrating sewing experiences I’ve had in a while, mainly because it always looked perfect before I put it on. After attempting to adjust it and failing horribly, I just took it apart and started over. The great thing about difficult projects though is how amazing you feel when you finally get it right.

Powder blue 2 piece Enang Ukoh

Overall I would rate the difficulty of this project an 8.5/10. It could be easier for someone with a lot more skill but I wouldn’t recommend this for a beginner project. The entire outfit was based on Withwendy tutorials. If you’re just getting into sewing definitely check her channel out on YouTube. I was particularly pleased with how the split back turned out because I’ve never tried anything like this before.

split back top Enang Ukoh- Ibegan

Oh and check me out adding pockets and cuffs and zippers and sleeves like I own the place :D. I feel like I really applied many of the skills I’ve gathered over the past year and a half/ two years.

split-back top-begin

With Spring hanging in there are Summer being just a heartbeat away I felt this would be the perfect two-piece. I can split them up for very different looks and I’m perfectly content wearing them together. Basically I’m very thrilled. Speaking of being thrilled, I have officially completed my undergrad!!!! I have a post coming up about my favorite memories from my last year but yea, your girl can finally breathe a little and just live! 🙂

summer outfit- Enang-Begin

pictures by: Willyverse

‘fro Tales: As seen on youtube

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

2 and a half years natural and all I can say is…natural hair is not easy! Forget what you heard.

I think when people big chop and they are dealing with about an inch of kink they assume that natural hair is easier to manage but alas that is but a phase in the never ending hair journey and it gets more difficult as time goes on. Now this is not to discourage anybody who is thinking of going natural because as annoying as my hair is sometimes I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve had way more fun with my curls than I ever did with straight hair. Anyhow, in the course of my natural journey, I have had many mishaps that are fairly amusing to look back on. Today, I shall tell the tale of my very first flexi rod set 🙂

I would start by saying I never big-chopped so at some point in my super long transition, I had to get creative with blending my two textures. Bantu knot outs had always worked for me but I was craving a change. Of course as most naturals would do, I skipped off to youtube for guidance and after many videos I was certain that flexi rods were the bees-knees!

I painstakingly prepped my hair the night before, spritzing with water, coating with shea butter and rolling like my youtubers were doing. Two hours and incredibly sore arms later I found my way to bed. Now all this suffering might have been better if I at least had a good night’s sleep. Alas, what they forgot to mention in all the videos I had watched was that those flexi-rods will stick painfully into my scalp and they would make me toss and turn all night. I just remember lying in bed trying to convince myself that beauty is pain and it would all be worthwhile when I have lush, bouncy curls in the morning.

I got out of bed (Can’t say I woke up because I never really slept) and took my precious time getting ready because I wanted to give my hair as much time a possible to set. Finally the moment of truth came. As I unrolled my first rod, it took everything in me not to cry. The one thing I have learned to fear the most about styling my natural hair happened…it did not dry. I stared at that section as it was slowly shrinking, willing it to magically transform into what I had seen on youtube. I slowly unraveled the rest of my hair and sat miserably staring at my reflection and trying to convince myself that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. Some pieces had dried more than others so my hair was unevenly stretched not to mention the odd straight pieces that just didn’t know what to do with themselves. In hindsight, I should just have pulled it into a bun and wrapped it but I was still clinging to what could have been.

I stuck a flower in it and carried my hot mess out, albeit a little self-conscious. I managed to convince myself that it wasn’t so bad and a few of my friends (bless them) boosted my confidence with very careful compliments…”I love how you put the flower in, it really brings out your features”. Alas my delusion could only last so long, I was forced to come to terms with my hot mess when one of my friends thought it fitting to ask why I hadn’t done anything to my hair that day. I stared at him not really knowing what to say. If only he knew just how much I had actually done.

Moral of the story? I don’t know, It was just a really bad hair day :p