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Tag Archives: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

MADE OF BLACK

Black keeps trying until it makes it or drops… It never gives up!

Identities clash all the time because life is so full of them. One person can be a hundred different things and balancing all of them isn’t a walk in the park. Another problem with social identity is that it creates stereotypes. Most times, people make assumptions about who you are, your lack or presence of abilities because you fall into some social category. One of my earliest post titled, mother of complexity talks about this.

However, in the words of Chimamanda Adichie, the problem with stereotypes isn’t that they are {always} untrue but that they tell a single story. Over the years, I believe that a single story has been told about what it means to be BLACK. Black has been synonymous with underprivileged and primitiveness and if it happens to be African Black, the list gets longer; Poverty, Dying children, AIDS etc. I find it interesting how the children in advertorials about poverty are always black. I make no illusion that there aren’t many black people who suffer from these disadvantages but I am also very aware that it isn’t our ‘single story’. Our true story lies in what we are made of and that is; MADE OF BLACK! Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on October 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Life is Messy…

‘Your standardised ideologies will not always fit your life; because life is messy’

–  Chimamanda Adichie

The above quote was cut from Wellesley Commencement Address given by my girl crush, Chimamanda Adichie. Immediately she said those words, it jumped at me because it felt like she had looked into my mind and taken a thought I had been trying to eloquently express for a while and there it was, perfectly phrased, finally! Not entirely sure if we meant it in the same context but the phrase fitted my thoughts perfectly.

Our stance, opinions, even our beliefs are constantly being challenged by the reality of life. Every now and then, even more often than we like to admit, we find ourselves taking actions that are contrary to our proclaimed ideologies. Sometimes, not even because we have stopped believing in what we believe but just because of a thousand different reasons and other times, because real experiences has shifted our stance until we have become ‘less sure’. It’s easy to say something should be this or that until you are stuck in that situation and you just may find yourself doing the exact opposite; the high road all of a sudden has become too high, the very action you criticized has become your choice, your firm proclaimed ideology no longer firm enough to dominate the situation, your feminist view is out the window and yes, you have compromised. It’s no longer black or white, it has become grey. Many would say that the term for this is hypocrisy, maybe it is or maybe it isn’t. But I think a fairer term is Life! Ideologically, life is straight-forward but realistically, it is messy and at the end of the day, the life we have now, is life, in its truest definition to us.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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HALF OF A YELLOW SUN… FINALLY!

There is no doubt that ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ is one of the most meaningful narratives that has come out of Nigeria, maybe Africa so far. In my opinion, it lines up with the iconic books of ‘Things Fall Apart’, ‘Lion and the Jewel’ and other great narratives written by great writers. It is excellently written such that it commands different emotions in almost everyone who reads it. Personally, I laughed, cried, got both excited and sad, even days after it was finished. I marketed it to as many people as possible, convincing them to read it too. Simply put, it both entertained and educated me.

By now, you already know, I loved the book (Let me spell it out, just in case you didn’t cue in, in the first paragraph). So you can only imagine my excitement when I heard a film was going to be made out of it. I couldn’t wait! I followed every step and news, waiting for it to be released. I was rather irritated when its release was stalled in Nigeria, and excited when it was finally showing. Long story, short, I finally watched it and my first comment; it should never have been done!

The film; Half of a Yellow Sun was disappointing!!!!! I felt (still feel) like an excellent book has been defiled. First things first, the acting and production was really good and if you haven’t read the book, you probably will be impressed. But if you have read the book and it impacted you like it did me, you would be left, disappointed. Way too much was lost! Just way too much!!! Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The New Cool #Hashtag

There is no question that the internet gives everyone in the world, with at least a smartphone and data connection, a voice. The presence of social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and all others, makes it almost impossible for your cause to be ignored.It has helped the world celebrate victories for causes and nations. It has helped businesses with promotions, created more employment opportunities etc. The internet, primarily social media has turned the world into a global village and through it, millions of support has been won in forcing the governments, around the world, to pay attention as well as ensuring transparency and accountability. Social media is, in truth, the new era and the voice, we, the people, have always needed.

But like every good thing, it also has its problems such as lack of privacy and if you are paranoid, an effective tool for the government to spy on us (what can I say, I have watched too many intelligence movies) and many more others but that is a topic for another day.

Most people, who use the internet know that the use of tags is one of the most effective (if not the most effective) way of getting wide readership and attention for whatever it is you put out on the internet. I, for one, have enjoyed good success with it (And hopefully, still am).

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Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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MY GIRL CRUSH ROCKS!

At this rate, I probably should rename my blog as ‘The unauthorised chronicles of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’ (hahaha), seeing as I have become one of those avid fans/followers.

I read a recent short story written by the lady. It was at its simplest, captivating.  Right from the first sentence, you get drawn into the story and by the time it ends, you still want more. It reminded me of why I started reading and always hoped I would write.

Like every true Chimamanda style, it is not void of deeper societal meaning and its fair dose of truth and life realities. I have a lot more to say about this story but since I hope you would read it and I hate spoilers,I wouldn’t  say much.

But I will say this; Chimamanda has said, she couldn’t right children’s books because of her writing style (Trying really hard not to give out spoilers), I totally agree.

Nevertheless, she is a brilliant writer and I can boldly declare; My Girl Crush rocks!

Oh!!! I have copied and pasted the story below (I know a lot of us can’t be bothered with clicking on a hyperlink *winks*) Please do read and share your views. Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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OKAY! WE HAVE GOT TO TALK ABOUT THIS

Alright, let’s talk about hair! Don’t worry, I am not going to go all Chimamanda on you, even though to a large extent, I agree with her perspective (Chimamanda Adichie, since her last novel, Americanah, has been very vocal on her stand; saying that hair is political and how black women chose to wear their hair is very important). As much as I agree with her, I cannot exert my stand because even though I think natural is commendable, I also believe that for some of us (especially women), our natural forms just isn’t sufficient. In our natural forms, we are conscious of all our physical flaws; our eyebrows and eyelashes just aren’t full enough, so we add eyeliners and mascara or even artificial eyelashes. Our face lacks colour, so we add a little lipstick, lip liner, eye shadow or blush.  Our hair not full or long enough, so we add extensions. Modern medicine has even provided more options on enhancing and changing our physical features on a more permanent scale with nose jobs, breast and butt implants, just to mention a few. I am a girl who understands her physical flaws, hence, loves her makeup, so I haven’t earned the right to say I am an all-round pro-natural (Even though I wish I were and respect those who are comfortable with themselves enough to be all natural; no enhancement or filters). Nevertheless, I do agree that hair is a different issue, i.e, from Chimamanda’s racial-political perspective where a black woman could describe herself in her natural kinky hair as having a ‘bad hair day’. I am inclined to agree that such view is controlled by an underlining thought that says natural kinky hair isn’t beautiful.

Over the years, since I grew up and began to exercise my own rights on how I choose to wear my hair (that is my way of saying, since I rescued my hair from my mother *haha*), I have exploited a lot of options. I have gone long, short and medium length. I have also coloured my hair, red, brown, wine-red etc. I didn’t have enough patience for my hair; hence, it was more of a burden than anything else and I was constantly trying different styles/colours to make me appreciate it better.  I have always believed that a woman’s hair is a very important aspect of herself , after all, the bible does say, it is a woman’s glory. If you really want to think about it, reflect on a woman getting dressed up. She has her hair all covered in a towel or a hair cover of some sort, she’s done with the facial makeup but still feels odd. Once her hair is all made up, viola! The difference is clear; her facial look comes out better. Simple English, your hair can make or break your appearance.

About two years ago, I decided to try something different with my hair; I decided to go on dreadlocks. So I cut my hair and turned it into dreads. It was a rigorous, relatively expensive process, but I am happy to say that my hair has grown into full-blown dreads and is still growing. Even happier to declare, I love my hair!!!!!!! I now have a shameless love affair with my hair and I am loving every minute of it. My hair has stopped being a burden and is now my glory!!! Yes I said it.

So am at the petrol station the other day, an attendant asks me, ‘is that all your hair?’ and I say yes. He goes ‘It’s lovely’. I know how to take a compliment plus I get that a lot from dread lovers *winks*, so I say ‘thank you’. However, I sense this is more of an opening than a compliment and being my natural curious self I ask, ‘but?’ and he says ‘but it (dreads) doesn’t make you look responsible’ (For some reason he thinks that by declaring this profound thought, he has just imparted a great wisdom). I take no offense because I also get this stereotypical view a lot. Not really in the mood nor having the time for a debate, I just laugh and say ‘ummm’

This is where the controversy lies; some people (am refraining from saying most Nigerians) have an opinion on how I carry my hair i.e dreadlocks. Most of these opinions are drawn from the stereotypical view of watching too many reggae musicians, hence they believe that dread is an irresponsible hairstyle (another way of saying, it says, you are high on something). Some other people just assume that to dread your hair, you have to an extrovert, a bold and adventurous person. All these assumptions from just a hairstyle; impressive! *haha*. I have had someone (She knows herself) actually tell me that I would have to do away with my dreads if I want a job in the corporate world in Nigeria *ridiculous*!

Okay, let’s analyse this for a minute; with dreads, my hair is all my hair; no extensions, nothing artificial, no weaves. It is sectioned into strands just like braids and has the look of braids, only difference is that, it is in its authentic kinky form. So question: if my hair is natural; in its true kinky form and it can be packed altogether for a professional setup or styled professionally, why then is it not suitable for the corporate world? Oh! And this same view isn’t expressed for those who have artificial dreads fixed on their hair!!! Am I then to assume that wearing artificial hair is more recommendable? Again, ridiculous! Need I emphasize, that I have nothing against weaves and extensions; I just don’t get the logic that would recommend weaves, permed hair (chemically induced hair) against dreads and natural African hair, in its true form. With this view sub-consciously ruling this sort of opinion, its no wonder that Chimamanda’s view on hair has pointed out its political implications; where weaves and straight hair are the accepted definition of beauty (Consciously or subconsciously). Oh well, I promised not to go all Chimamanda on you.

Bottom line, I love my hair with its locks and in its natural kinky form (and no, I am not an artist of any sort). Saying I can’t wear my hair like this in a professional setup, or even worse, tagging my hair as inappropriate or irresponsible, is not only hilarious but critically baseless.  Like I said, natural is commendable and kinky is full, rich, African and most certainly, beautiful…

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Posted by on October 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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BLACK & WHITE OR GREY

I have a couple of uncompleted posts in my draft. Often I start writing, lose my trail of thoughts, get distracted or bored and just abandon it half way. If I am being honest, I will say that about accounts for a lot of things in my life (Oh well! We all have our bad habits). I started writing a post sometime back titled, idealism versus reality, which I never got to finish. However, what I intended to write is closely related to this. So hopefully, I can combine both thoughts here.

Before I continue, it is needful to explain what I mean by Idealism in this case. The original philosophies on Idealism dates back to the early ages in the theories of great philosophers like Plato, Descartes, Berkeley, Kant, Hegel, Fichte etc. Their abstruse theories (at less to me; it’s like reading Greek and I don’t understand Greek) maintains that the real is a nature of ideas or the mind. However, latter articles (in simpler English, I may add) points out the fact that the word suggests two meanings: ‘Ideal-ism’ – the tendency to represent things in their ideal forms, and ‘Idea-lism’ – belief in ideas as the true reality. For this article, Idealism means the former – ‘ideal-ism’

Judging from my metaphors using TV personas, I guess it is no secret that I enjoy TV shows. In all honesty, you can say I am close to an addict; from 24 (I read that’s back in 2014. Yippee!!!!), ScandalRevenge to HomelandArrowGrey’s anatomy etc. It’s one of my favourite pastimes. If you do a physic evaluation of me, you will probably find deep reasons why I am drawn to TV shows, one of which would be the writing. I think it’s brilliant the way these writers create such multifarious and intriguing plots that manages to capture one’s attention for a lengthy period. I, for one, have faithfully followed some TV series for years. Most of the characters are realer to me than the individuals who play them. You find people – blogs and fans discussing them like they are real. Personally, I have cried and laughed through many of these series and more often than not, I have to consciously remind myself that they are just stories; something built out of a good writer’s mind. But that’s just the point; the writing is so brilliant and virtual, that you forget that it isn’t in actual fact, real. Most people think of Keifer Sutherland as Jack Bauer and nothing else. I was reading an excerpt from one of his interviews and he sounded just like Bauer (real or not), using ‘bauerist’ expressions like ‘make no mistake’.

I believe that reality and fiction are so closely related and in Chimamanda Adichie words, ‘Truth is no stranger to fiction’; they play off on each other and every writer, no matter how brilliant they are, builds their fictional stories from nibs of reality. Granted, the characters are fictional, the plot could also be fictional, but some of the character’s dialogue and experiences are drawn from reality.

Now to my topic Black & White or Grey (Yes, I could swear, I have a bug bite that makes me ramble on and on), I know from personal experiences that life is a constant war between idealism and reality. We have all these standards and rules that we believe should be absolute. Most often than not, we find ourselves holding others to our idealistic views, hence, passing judgement on them based on what we believe should or shouldn’t be the accepted standard. In my opinion, I think everyone is guilty of that to some degree. We all at some point or the other, consciously or unconsciously expect people to live by our idealistic views of right and wrong. I don’t think there is anything wrong with airing our opinions (God knows I do all the time) as long as we understand and accept that it is in our opinion and everyone doesn’t have to play by our rules, plus, there are always exceptions to every rule.

Question: so do I believe that life is always black and white??? Emphatically, No!!!! I think that idealism is black and white and reality is hardly ever idealistic. Experiences and context creates complexities that most often than not, makes reality different from idealism. I believe that reality has grey areas for almost every situation. I also think that it is unreasonable and self-righteous to pass judgement unless you have experienced a situation like the other; unless you have felt same emotions like the other and, unless you understand the entire story. Don’t misinterpret me, I accept that ideal, to a degree, is important; It is a source of hope and inspiration for individual growth and a better world; it is useful in creating a lawful society. It is also useful to give people in general a model to try to live up to. However, life in itself is hardly ever straight forward; its deep complexity makes ideals just that – ideals. Even the law understands this and allows room for exploring that complexity. In my opinion, that’s the reason why we have the courts and a chance for defense as well as variations of terms to deal with such complexity. A good example is the act of killing someone and its different interpretations – Manslaughter, Murder, and Self-defense etc.

Kurt Lewin’s quote says, ‘if you want to understand something, try to change it’ but I have altered it a little to what is one of my favourite quotes ‘if you want to understand it, live it’, unless you have; unless you have experienced every aspect of it, don’t throw your ideals around. How can you truly define the ideal, if you haven’t experienced it??

Believe it or not, this thought was brought on by a TV series – Grey’s anatomy. I was watching one of the episodes and looking at one of the characters – Meredith, her marriage to another character, Derek, their history and how their relationship started when I had this epiphany. Derek and Meredith’s relationship started when Derek was still married to someone else. Idealistically, that is wrong because he was cheating on his wife, but I had watched it from the beginning, so I had an insight into their history. I understood that Derek was separated from his wife when he met Meredith; I understood that the reason for the separation was because he had found out that his wife was having an affair with his best friend. This knowledge, in my opinion, created a grey area. This knowledge, in the reality of the characters challenged the ‘ideal’ and created an exception. One might say, ‘it is fiction, don’t get carried away’; but it really isn’t about the characters in this case rather, it is about what this fictional experience teaches me about the reality of life. Also, is fiction so far from reality?? I don’t believe so.

So again, I don’t accept life is black & white. I believe that situations and human beings are complex and no matter how we try to simplify life in other to understand it, the fact is, it isn’t simple but complex. So the next time you try to judge someone else’s life and actions; stop and think. Stop and ask why, ‘what led to that’; stop and understand. Because like Chaim Potok explains, ‘everything has a past… If you don’t know the past, you can’t understand the present…’ the present is almost always a result of the past. Reality in itself is a web of events, one leads to another and another. It is so interwoven that in other to understand it, you have to follow the events; you have to understand the history.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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