Category: culture

unlearn

To Unlearn: What I No Longer Believe to be True

unlearn <un·learn>

ˌənˈlərn/verb
discard (something learned, especially a bad habit or false or outdated information) from one’s memory.
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  1. College is the only or surest way to succeed in the modern world. We know no examples. Bill Gates. Oprah.
  2. Smart people always make good decisions. If you are smart, you cannot be wrong. Ever. Duh.
  3. No one will ever truly look out for you, with the exemption of your family. Family members – the ones you do not choose – are the only people you can trust. Surely, everyone is ultimately out to get you in the long run. If people leave, even when their appointed season in your life is over, that is the zenith of betrayal. Off with their heads! Every institution – even the most blessed, pure, and loving – has its limitations. That can’t possibly be ok.
  4. You cannot set boundaries with family. “I love you, mother… Thanks for calling the third time today… Yes, yeah… I’m on the look out for my future husband. Of course!…. Yes, a medical doctor, yes, medical… I have the criteria list seared into my mind… I’ll review the scroll right before I head out to work… Oh yeah… yeah, it’s morning here – kinda early….”
  5. Life is not meant to be enjoyed. What is happiness? Struggle is life. Struggle defines life. Despite the fact that you only get one chance at living, why would you actually enjoy any part of it? This is not a game. #struggleislife
  6. Men are on the fuckboy spectrum. Therefore, can they really ever be a partner and ally? Not one man is worth the time of day. They’re all such good men, and yet leave behind throngs of broken women in their wake. I mean, why expect respect and harmony in a relationship when all he really needs from you is a warm, cooked meal and a warmer body? I mean, really, #NotAllMen, amirite?
  7. True love eludes women who are decisive, inquisitive, and have at least one degree. The more degrees you attain, ladies, and the more you desire out of life and people, the worse off you are in the love department. Facks on facks. And you’re over 30?! We all know you tuck your degrees and diplomas and career under your pillow, bitter, lonely woman. I mean, can you even cook?
  8. The goal in life is perfection. Live up to everyone’s expectations at all times. This is the true measure of perfection. If no one complains about you, and you’re worn ragged as a result, who can fault you for being exactly what is expected? At this point, you’re perfect!
  9. People’s opinions of who you are and what you do matters immensely. Again, it’s amount molding yourself to the pleasure of others. You’re a humanitarian, after all. The only life you’re gifted cannot possibly be lived according to the terms of the personality gifted the body. Benevolence is cute, but my opinion of who you are and what you ought to be matters more than the love you ought to generously dole yourself.
ramadan

Call to Prayers: The End of Ramadan

I wrote this piece in May 2011, as I watched Muslim faithfuls convene to pray in Abuja.  It was inspiring to observe, be caught in the middle of, and document.  The post has also been featured in Pamay Bassey’s My 52 Weeks of Worship Project. Every time I revisit this piece, I am aggressively attempting to edit it. I begin to, but I don’t. I wrote this in a very particular voice; it might be just what it is to keep it this way. Nevertheless – 
Eid Mubarak!

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The Yoruba Orishas

Way back in February for Black History Month, I completed a blog study on the Yoruba orishas, as depicted by Atlanta-based photographer James C. Lewis at Noire3000 Studios. In the event you missed it, please take some time to educate yourself.

The orisha (also spelled orisa, orichá; or orixá in Latin America) are spirits believed to reflect one of the manifestations of God in the Yoruba religion. The orishas have made their way from West Africa throughout the so-called New World via the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The Yoruba religion itself is housed specifically in present-day southwestern Nigeria, as well as the adjoining parts of Benin and Togo. This area is commonly known as Yorubaland. However, the diverse traditions that make up Yoruba religion can be found all over the African diaspora, influencing belief systems such as Santería (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic), Umbanda (Brasil, Argentina, Uruguay), Loa/Vodou (Haiti and the U.S.), Oyotunji (the U.S.), Trinidad Orisha (Trinidad and Tobago) and Candomblé (Brasil, Argentina, Uruguay).

Appreciation for the orishas has finally caught on! Recently, I caught wind that there is a short film out there in the ether: an African superhero movie, as produced by written, directed as produced by Nigerian filmmaker Nosa Igbinedion. According to Igbinedion, he made the short film in order to prove that there is a market out there for sci-fi based on African characters and storylines. Yes! The whole 12 minute film is below. Now that it’s lunch break….

The orishas I featured for my online study are as follows. If you click on the orishas tag at the end of this post, it’ll take you straight to the appropriate place. Ciao!

aganju orishababaluaye orishaErinle Orisha
esu OrishaIbeji OrishaOba Orisha
obatala Orishaogun Orishaoko orisha
olokun Orishaolorun Orishaori Orisha
orunmila Orishaosanyin Orishaosoosi Orisha
osun Orishaosumare Orishaoya Orisha
sango Orishayemoja Orisha
page silhouette

Mkay.

I have to write this because I’m fairly sure my sanity is shattering into a million pieces.

I’m turning 30. 30. 30! I’m turning 30 in a few days. In fact, this week will end and I’ll be 30 and I’ll start Monday morning as a 30 year old. This doesn’t yet mean I’ll be ticking a new age bracket in those online surveys (that will happen in five years), but this does mean I will be formally exiting my 20s. For Pete, Matthew, James and Moses’ sake! YIKES!

My 20s have been a warm blanket. A growing blanket, a 10 year blanket. One that I have learned to appreciate in all its imperfections. My 20s were hot in the spring and comforting in the autumn – annoying when I was expected to share it; clearly something I’m having trouble giving away. Growing pains, man. I can still remember when I was 21, down to exactly who I was. I was in college and constantly uncertain of the space surrounding me. However, I was always present: in class ensuring I was on someone’s honor roll list; at college parties learning how to Dutty Wine ’round all these Jamaicans (thanks Kanye!) and discovering vodka (uh…ew); coasting South Beach with friends who stopped being friends in heels I couldn’t stand in and in dresses I no longer have interest in wearing …yet, constantly wondering whether I actually belonged there. I was there in a body, navigating an environment that was familiar and foreign at the same time. To provide context, like everyone else, this was my first time away from home, and my first time in the United States. I had just began to appreciate the difficulty folks had with pronouncing my name and to realise I was not the only young person out there dealing with juvenile diabetes.

I’m fairly sure I spent my entire first semester terrified of everything.

Twenty-one turned into twenty-five and my blanket had learned to wrap itself around me much tighter, replacing tumultuous fights with a friendlier, more adventurous hold: I moved back to Nigeria for the first time as an adult, learned how to drive the mean streets of Abuja in my beloved Scarlet, discovered more comfortable heels and fashion that spoke more to my sensibility, began to love the fearlessness, acceptance and power of female friends, realised what a dope relationship with a man would be like and what I truly found irreplaceably attractive about men, and learned how to be tactical and appropriately vocal at job and professional spaces.

…and then twenty-five turned into twenty-eight and then twenty-nine et voilà! Decades of work in progress, stupid mistakes, failed relationships, new relationships, harrowing moments of anticipation, immigration, stellar successes, tighter camaraderie with my siblings and parents, discovering the joys of make-up, body oil, and a consistent work out routine has created this beast of a woman. This woman, who in a few quick days will be formally entering her Year of Beyoncé. Whew!

I have always been one for the journey; the destination na jara*, really. I have always been one for balance and growth, despite the journey’s imbalance. I have always been one for celebration, even when my feet are unsteady and my heart still yet races. I want to shout, “onward, young one, you young tender-hearted Superwoman!” But really I’m apprehensive and frankly, scared. I’m giving away my 20s blanket to be suited up with a cape (much like Solange’s wedding attire, I imagine). Will the cape fit? Will it be the colour I like, especially seeing as I don’t really have a favourite colour? Will it comfort me when I need a really good cry? Will it allow me soar more meaningfully than I actually budget out? Will it keep my credit score high and my credit card debt low? Will it attract the kind of attention I need and want and desire? Will it hide my scars, when I need a little more time to lick my wounded ego?

Ugh, so many fucking questions… but lemme tell you about the stillness in my heart as I type this…

It’s been nothing more than a pleasure to inhabit the spaces I do and have. I belong there. I belong here. I’m turning 30 in a few days. And by gawd, let it be great!

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na jara = When you’re in Naija (the context to which I am familiar) and you go to the marketplace to price out uncooked rice or beans or garri and whatever and the market lady apportions out your desired quantity. You ask her to add jara, to add something extra on top of what you’ve requested, for free. It builds customer-seller relationship, it builds personal character in your ability to bargain wares… shit, it also ensures that you’re getting your damn money’s worth!

strawberry

How To Pretend It Doesn’t Hurt | by Ashe Vernon

How To Pretend It Doesn’t Hurt by Ashe Vernon
When he says
He doesn’t love you anymore,
Roll your shoulders back
And look him in the eye
Even when it feels like your ribs
Are breaking inward, like spider legs.
When he digs up old aches
That he swore he forgave you for,
Smile
And ask him why he didn’t leave you sooner.
Ignore the way the words feel like sandpaper
Running all the way up your throat to your mouth.
When he blames you
For mistakes that wear his face,
Do not scream.
Do not cry.
Tell him that there are boys
Who would be proud to say they’d love you.
Tell him that in two years
You won’t even remember his name
And don’t let him see the way you can taste your own lie.
When he leaves
Ignore the howling in your blood
And do not get up after him.
Not even to lock the door.
Do not, do not
Do not.
Smell his shirts when you box them up
To give them back.
Not one.
Swear off dating when your realize
You’re chasing ghosts that wear his smile.
It’s okay to cry over him.
It’s even okay to forgive him.
But do not go back to him.
If he did not know how to love you the first time,
He won’t know how to do it the next.