Hair Goals

Hair takes a long time to get done, thankful for Podcasts!

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Things I am discovering about myself and my hair:

1. I am determined to complete this transition to natural hair.

2. I look up to the hills, from whence doth my willpower come? (Number 1 above is due to the fact that I have announced it to the world through my blog, that I am transitioning to natchee.)

3. Finger-Detangling hair is so good for the muscles of the upper limb, talk about tone!

4. I am not a hair person: I’d rather have another person do my hair than do it by myself. (Hair takes a long time to get done, thankful for Podcasts!)

5. Why am I not a hair person?

6. Going natural is cost effective in the long run. Realistically, a clarifying shampoo, cheap conditioner, water and shea butter/coconut oil are all the ingredients I will need to maintain a healthy head of hair.

7. Don’t touch your hair when you are not in a good mood: this is a cardinal rule.

8. Sticks and stones may break my bones but twists will never hurt me.

9. I must continue to do everything in my power to keep my hair stretched out at all times.

10. Trim: what is dead needs to be cut off and discarded.

Happy Birthday Bro

It was Nnanna’s birthday yesterday, you see, he is my favourite person in this world. We grew up together in the same houses. Nnanna and I are siblings: Brother and Sister. Over the years I have learnt so much from my brother, one day he tweeted “I am not your role model” and it got me thinking about the way we live our lives as model children, poster children for good upbringing, home training and manners especially in our social media world. That tweet made me recoil, at first it was “what is this boy saying?! Doesn’t he know that he is expected to be a good kid? That being a good kid must mean that he is a role model?” Later it was, “This role model banter is really stifling, ‘Big Brother’ is watching kind of stifling. One cannot simply drink water and drop cup because one KNOWS that the world is watching. Which kind of Orwellian wahala?” So I came to see where my brother was coming from when he made the tweet and my heart opened up to the option of a new alternative.

Let me talk a little bit about privilege: Due to the way my parents and role models brought me up, I think anybody who has any kind of privilege e.g. Good education, etc. has a responsibility to use their privilege-given access to help out in some way, even if it means simply showing a good example by living an honest life, you know, just to demonstrate to others that having privilege means that you must live an honest life. You follow? So this my perspective on how a privileged life must be led, albeit naive, is what I tried to practice and even standardized for others like Nnanna to live by, hence my initial reaction.

A bit of background: My family is Nigerian, Christian, and Educated. The Holy Book has codified the way we as Christians should live our lives and an important aspect of this is excellence. Bible says we are heirs of the father, we are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, we are wonderfully and fearfully made, we have been called by the father etc. For my Nigerian Christian family, this means that in the lives we live we must portray the word of God as a way of evangelism which can also be seen as being role models to others that are not yet saved. In practice, we must do well in school, always show respect to everyone, don’t fight, don’t fornicate, clubbing? What is a club? Smoking? If you must smoke do it secretly because it is not a good look as a child from a Christian background and the list goes on and on. It is what I will call Church Culture: this is a consciousness that is cultivated in the minds of Christian children from a very young age, to live by example. I don’t think these rules are bad, instead I think they help to breed adults that end up living in a bubble at best and at worst, being extremely judgmental of everybody else that strays from Church Culture.

My brother has taught me that being who you are by just living your life is the way to go. It is better to be your modest, humble, brilliant self than to be all these things just for the approval. It is best to live your life and know that you are attracting the people who really like you for who you are, than to live in the gaze of those watching out for when you make a mistake. Nnanna showed me that it shouldn’t be that difficult to occupy my space in this world, people will eventually be fine. More importantly, I am accepting that it is ill advised to change with the weather ever so often, for the sake of pleasing people. We are young, intelligent, beautiful and handsome individuals, we are also prone to making mistakes and we mustn’t always judge ourselves harshly. I hope this post makes you think about image and lifestyle and all that good stuff!

John 14:15  “If you love me you will keep my commandments”.



 

Confession

I am sharing this with you because I want to hear back from you. I hope that after reading this, you will be able to offer your thoughts and some advice if need be, in the comments section below. I am one of those women that want women to have equal opportunities with men, I detest oppression in every shape, manner or form and especially from the opposite sex. I am also generally amused whenever a woman proclaims that she is not a Feminist. Amused because I do not have the patience nor range with which to examine why any woman would want to remain disenfranchised in this life, compared to men folk. I take it that a lot of men in Nigeria are yet to accept that Feminism or Gender Equality is something of a phenomenon that does not care for their thoughts and feelings rather, it is centered around all women, their rights and freedoms, their education and health, their bodies, and all the spaces they should occupy in the world.

In Nigeria, heterosexual relationships are the norm, our culture as a country, is popular for upholding the celebration of marriage between man and woman in very high esteem. Marriage is the fulcrum of Nigerian Society, it is the singular most unifying force that cuts across religion, tribe or tongue. Our National football team used to be number one but then Weddings came along. The coming together of a man and woman to start a family is considered as a defining milestone and every self-respecting young Nigerian is in fact expected to aspire towards marriage. Considering the influence of the various religious practices inherent in the country, Nigerian ethnic groups have diverse views on the celebration of marriage or what a wedding ceremony should look like. Common elements of wedding ceremonies that exist across the country are payment of dowry, music and dance, a large gathering of family and well wishers, lots of food and drinks, the compulsory parental blessings and the beautiful attires worn by bride and groom on their special day.

There’s a blossoming Nigerian Weddings market in the country, from catering, MC, DJ, Comedian, events planning, decorating, make-up to photography an industry has emerged organically from our collective obsession with marriage and wedding ceremonies. Within a decade we have seen the exponential growth of these businesses that service the Nigerian Weddings industry, young entrepreneurs abound and our economy is benefiting from it, we are eating the fruits of our marriage obsession. The feedback is indeed very encouraging, every weekend there’s a big wedding ceremony taking place somewhere in towns and villages all over the country. Our wedding vendors are very creative, the Comedians never run out of jokes, Nigerian parents who have unmarried adult children are asking their heirs, “when will you introduce him/her to us?” Not minding whether or not there’s a him or her at all. Aunties and Uncles are not left out, they’re all in the business of matchmaking nowadays, on a very low key even neighbours, friends of the family and well-meaning mommies in church have taken up Ẹlẹgbẹ as their side-hustle. Nigerians love a good party and wedding ceremonies are our final form of partying. There’s no party like a Nigerian wedding party. A movie on Nigerian wedding parties is the highest grossing movie in the history of Nollywood at 500 million Naira.

I have no problems whatsoever with the institution of marriage. I expect that it is clear to any keen observer of Nigerian society that our marriage culture is heavily gendered, it is essentially a ‘woman issue’. Some argue that there’s a biological clock ticking off and therefore young women should be seen to be actively working hard to beat their innate clocks. A lot of people attribute marriage to be the zenith of every woman’s social growth and development, it is evident in the way we compliment our young girls, we are quick to drop “wife material” or “wifey of life”, and in the way we bless them when they do seemingly mundane tasks around the house, “you will marry a good husband”, all these are unsolicited approval of marriageability and if anything, a subtle assertion that a woman’s purpose in life is to end up with a man who will eventually complete her because she is incomplete. The resultant effect of this kind of incessant obsessive hinting and reasoning is we are feeding the idea into their subconsciousness, that the ultimate prize is marriage and it must be achieved by all means. Sometimes we even attach an age cap to our statement of expectations, “Your mates are getting married”, as though there is a specified time appointed for marriage, some uncouth individuals go further to insult women using the appropriate-age-for-marriage social construct, “You are forming shakara, see you in Shiloh when you’re 30” when these women don’t give in to their unwanted advances.

The crossroads that is the social commentary surrounding marriage culture in Nigeria leaves me feeling like the purpose of a Nigerian marriage is to tie a woman up and I will explain. Please ignore the stereotyped nature of what I’m about to tell you and take away the message instead. We hear a lot of stories, about our mothers’ generation and their conquests in cooking for their husbands, cherubic docility and expert child-rearing skills. We also hear a lot of stories about the current rise in the rate of divorce, and we have read those harsh comments on popular blogs, about Feminists like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that want to sink the ship of culture and tradition by preaching to young women about their rights as human beings to be able to lead the kind of lives they want to, especially away from the smoke of the kerosene stove. These Feminists are seen as bad eggs, no kidding. Since the beginning of the Feminism movement in Nigeria, the proponents of marriage culture have waged a line of attack against young female feminists, claiming that it is their right to marry young maidens and bestow respect upon them by giving these maidens their last names, determine how these maidens work to earn a living or IF they even work at all, and most importantly ensure that these maidens cook for them. I have never seen where men are so adamant on being fed and nourished by women before. Nigerian men have very strong opinions about their nutrition coming from the labour of their wives’ hands.

This generation of young women are already on their way to heading big corporations, many of them have started their own businesses, those of them that are still in school are studying hard to become professionals and so many more are learning skills by the weekend to supplement their income. The Young Nigerian Woman ecosystem is fast changing and superstars emerge everyday from within. Nigerian girls are not smiling in Engineering, Arts, Business, Academia, Finance, Aviation, Theology, Media, Law, Health, Tourism, Environmental Sciences, Economics, etc. They are on a mission to take over. The gospel of feminism is not only talking the talk but walking the walk in our neck of the woods. All their lives, these young women have been taught and socialized to WANT to end up married (not that there’s anything wrong with wanting to get married). They are on Bellanaija in the middle of the night ooh-ing and aah-ing at pictures, choosing colours and dreaming of their Cinderella dresses. This same group of women are getting more informed in the daytime, they are the ones heavily involved in the feminist conversations going on in social media forums, arguing for women’s rights on Twitter, reading Woolf, writing about their lived experiences on Facebook, and basking in affirming poetry by Shire and Umebinyuo alike, the literary heroines of their time. They are inspired and as a result, making bolder choices, taking every opportunity available to them, the complete opposite of their mothers’ generation.

Now, my confession is that I am disillusioned by the marriage culture in my country and each time I see THE post on social media, you know the standard announcement post, a picture of her left hand with beautifully manicured fingers and a shiny rock sitting on that precious middle finger, and how can I forget the attendant “OMG! I’m so happy for you dear! Congratulations!!!” or the “You deserve it! Congratulations!!!” comments from her friends and well wishers (oozing of a mixture of surprise, jealousy/envy, sadness, forced cheeriness and hope), any previous interest I might have had dips a little more.

It is the blatant desperation in those comments that gets to me the most. I wish everyone would calm down and know that they are doing okay sweetie!

The End

Ẹlẹgbẹ – (n) Yoruba : Matchmaker.

Nollywood – Nigeria’s movie industry

Shakara – (v) Pidgin Yoruba : Pretending

Shiloh – (n) A prayer meeting held in South Western Nigeria organized by a Big Church.

Featured Image: A beautiful wedding ceremony curated by Bellanaija

How to become a Childhood Friend

There is no such thing as a perfectly written eulogy. – Ijeoma Wogu 2016

Coming up with the title of this short, I had Prof. Wole Soyinka and Mr. Okey Ndibe in mind
Re: The man died. Foreign gods Inc.

I have a gazillion Childhood Friends. I pray for them everyday, I love them and wish for nothing but the best for them, all the time.


Ifunanya and I went to Secondary School together where we hardly said ten words to ourselves for the entire period of three years we spent in the same confinements. We got into the same University and became inseparable. We were familiar in an unfamiliar place, so we became a team (makes you wonder about the beauty of biology doesn’t it?) helping each other through our individual life battles and culture shock. She is the only person in the world that has asked me to be her ‘birthday maid’, as in a maid of honour but for her birthday and not her wedding. She recently came down with malaria and she reacted to her treatment, the following conversation ensued:


IFUNANYA:
Had drip yesterday.
And injections.
Was reacting to a malaria drug
So they had to suppress it
 JAYJEYSTIC:
Ndo o
What drug?
IFUNANYA:
Serious tremors tho, weakness and loss of appetite
Lol
I have try
I’m a survivor
 JAYJEYSTIC:
Malaria na bastard Sha
 IFUNANYA:
Camosunate
 JAYJEYSTIC:
The stuff sounds like something they use to fight Boko haram
Camo
 IFUNANYA:
Looool
This geh


Tayo is the one friend to whom I have reported all my major life events since we were teenagers, since the early Facebook and BBM days. When I passed my SSCE, when I got into university, when I failed a course in university, when I was in an accident, when I moved continents, when I had that existential crisis on virginity and what not, when I had to go to different embassies by myself I hatched an elaborate plan and ran it by him. That time I tweeted about how much I appreciate all my friends that look out for me, I was referring to Tayo because he had asked:


TAYO:
How e dey go
JAYJEYSTIC:
E get as e be [ long chat where I pour out my frustrations, which I was unaware were gathered at the brim of my mind, waiting to come out]
Thanks for asking.
TAYO:
*one strength emoji* I like your spirit though. Keep up the ‘fight’ and don’t be discouraged.
JAYJEYSTIC:
Thanks. Same to you.
TAYO:
*one kiss emoji*
JAYJEYSTIC:
Aww *four kiss emojis*


Chisom walked down the corridor of Manuwa Hall with her freshly braided head of hair that made her hang her neck at an angle to help reduce the pain, she looked a bit puffy, and ready to take on Monday morning simultaneously. We didn’t notice her until she started taking off her slippers by the door, She exclaimed in her peculiar way when she finally entered the room “Ah! You guys are eating Plantain and you didn’t invite me!“. The first thing that struck me about her was her complexion. She was the fairest person I had ever seen, Omalicha. The second thing was that she wore socks indoors, like me. Ours was predestined. In the following weeks, we shared our stories, zoomed in on our similarities and there was no stopping us. By the time it was the Student Union Government election season, we had formed our own version of the cool kids subculture in school. Once, during the campaigns, an aspirant came to the hostel to talk to Chisom and when he left she said to me smiling “I feel like we’re the Kingmakers, we are important in this election, we decide who wins…“. Chisom taught me how to acknowledge my privilege in life and how to use it. To an extent, she taught me how to be human. When I won a beauty pageant it was Chisom behind the scenes, literally. Before I left Nigeria she invited me to her parents’ house in Abuja, twice. We sat down and talked about this and that and it was that week it got real for me: I was leaving my friends behind, I even said to myself “I’m not going to make new friends abroad“.


Kingsley and I met in 2014, he doesn’t know this but the very first time I met him, he was teaching a tutorial. I was listening to him teach and that was when I saw him through the eyes I imagine Simon Cowell uses to judge Got-Talent shows, and by the time we were done with the tutorial, I was Simon hitting the Golden Buzzer for him to move on to the “live shows”. That night, when I got back to my room I made a tweet about him. I said how he was full of promise and how he was a great teacher. Time did it’s thing and sooner than I had expected, we actually became sort of friends. I think he also  came to see me with the “Simon Cowell googles” but I’m not sure, you can never be sure when it comes to that boy. Kingsley recently entered into a short story competition called #JollofRice by Okadabooks and he won the first round, (by getting the highest number of votes/reads from the general internet public). His story was unique, very very well written, funny, Nigerian and relevant to the time it was written. Today I woke up to a Whatsapp from Kingsley:


KINGSLEY:
I lost * three crying emojis*
JAYJEYSTIC:
You won.
Don’t say that.
KINGSLEY:
Lol. Don’t worry I am over the loss now.
JAYJEYSTIC:
Okay.

I think I reacted to the message in the way he expected. To a large section of the people I have come to befriend, I am that friend who believes in your dreams fiercely, as if they were mine. The grounded one, you know, the one that scolds. The one that hands out tough love cookies without batting an eyelid, also the one you can rely on to reassure you. Kinda like my version of what Tayo is to me.


Bunie was my sister’s next door neighbour at her place off campus, He was also her classmate. I found him annoying in the way you find a tall, handsome, light-skinned boy that goes to your Teenagers Church annoying and the feeling was mutual. We got along despite each other, I was staying with my sister that semester and Bunie’s Chess board worked its magic to bring us together. It was our common ground. As usual there was no light/power that night in my sister’s room. We played two sets by candle light and he won both so I lost interest in the game. Sore loser that I am. We bickered and bantered, I started playing with the matchbox.  I lit a matchstick and blew it out, put it in my mouth and instantly felt like smoking something, anything. My sister’s room was on the second floor, I got up from my position on the floor and opened the window, sat on the window stool with half my upper body leaning outside, there was neither burglary proof nor mosquito net standing guard so it was just human, window, and night breeze. There was a piece of paper on her table, I reached for and took it, rolled it, not minding what was written on it. Bunie was carried away with the business of arranging the board for another round, he looked up at me when he sensed burning paper and shouted in horror

“what are you doing?!”

His voice was laced with concern and panic? I laughed and coughed. Bunie warned me to stop playing with fire and in that moment, he too became my Childhood Friend, for life.


For: Kayode (Sir Kassanova) Adeniji.
1994-2016
Sun re o, ore mi atata

My Last Love

My journals flew in the skies,
The lightening made love to its pages.

Neche

I used to love to write
I used to love to write because it made me free
Used to love to write because it made me me
Used to document bits of myself
Bits I’d be proud of, bits I’d be afraid of
Shameful bits, hateful bits
Then I got caught up
Shrugged it off as Writer’s block
Then the current hit me
The storms came and all hands were called to deck
The wind raged, slowly at first then all at once, like God had wept

The heavens cried on
The rains broke us
The winds tore at our hair and beards
The waters underneath made us squirm, made us sick
Sick to our stomachs
Sick of our hasty salty breaths
The earth shifted underneath us
My journals flew in the skies
The lightening made love to its pages
The firey embers will entertain the mermaids

My soul has sunk with it
It will sit prisoner in the kingdom of Atlantis
Seperated from its owner, and I
I will have nothing, not myself, not my little bits
I will have nothing, save this mirror on which I now float
This mirror, myself a pistol
The only remnants of what was once my boat

I dared to look
Dared to peep, hoping there was still a lot of me
A lot I could bring back 

There is a stranger behind me
He looks into the mirror as I do
His hair is odd, his eyes a funny colour
His heart is black, his eyes are cold
His hollow body with fear is fraught
I used to be him, but now I know him naught.

LOVE FOUND

I have woken up to listen to Asa’s lyrics on two separate occasions in the past 3 moons, When my aunt died it was Baby Gone, today Bibanke.

Pictured above is the Love Garden in UNEC (University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus). It is where young lovers go to at night to express their love, other notable things happen here but that is a story for another day. Maria photographed it on a nice day in 2014 after the flowers had been expertly manicured by the Groundskeepers.Thus goes the story of Love Found.Love did not come to Maria in the Love Garden. She was very well known for being a controversial person when she started school at UNEC, she had the temper of ten angry men and the sharpest tongue to go with it and rest assured she knew how to make perfect use of her arsenal. To cut the story short, she didn’t have many friends because the general perception of those close enough to try to befriend her was that she was a handful! Okon on the other hand, always fancied himself as an alté person, he found Maria interesting and befriended her when they were both in their first year of school. Maria and Okon became really close and he succeeded in rubbing off his coolest-young-man-in-the-room attitude on her. She adored Okon. To the ordinary eye, they appeared to be in Love! But no, what they had between themselves was sacred. Love couldn’t begin to describe it.  They called themselves best friends as many others the world over, who find themselves in similar situations, tend to do. Maria and Okon eventually had some problems in their friendship when she suspected that  he had gone on to befriend someone else. The trust she had in him, for him, and in their best-friendship dissipated before she knew what was happening. She felt betrayed by him and confronted him but he simply dismissed her feelings, he thought she was being such a babe about it, after all, they weren’t in an exclusive relationship. Okon carried on with his new friend while trying to maintain what was left of his and Maria’s relationship. Whenever they spoke about the other woman he saw it as an avenue to tease Maria about how clingy/jealous (he basically appointed himself judge and jury over their matter) she was. Months went by and they weaved a new kind of dynamic in their friendship in which Maria accommodated Okon. She did it because she still admired and valued Okon, she respected his choices and brought herself to care less and less about the effect they had on her. Maria met someone new and her world was turned on its head by the forces responsible for such events… same forces that she suspected for telling the butterflies when to start flapping their tiny wings in our tummies when we are flattered by the sheer existence of another human being. In those days she touted her dedication to her friendship with Okon but when the forces came along, it was surreal, that her, Maria, would go out there and allow herself to desecrate the same friendship which she fought countless  losing battles with Okon for. That she, Maria had gone to bring the other man. That she found Love and it was not Okon. She was subdued by the emotions. Maria took out time to evaluate the outcome of her happily ever after with the other man and she was forced to grow up in the wake of the events, and take in the lessons that came with her friendship situation, one of them was that happiness is sometimes selfish and everyone deserves to be happy. She was on the other end for the first time and it was only then that she sympathized with Okon and the other woman.

the END.

MAN IN THE MIRROR

I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
(Ooh!)
I’m Asking Him To Change
His Ways
(Ooh!)
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change)

By Paul Amayo

In memory of MICHEAL JOSEPH JACKSON
(August 29 1958 – June 25 2009) Continue reading “MAN IN THE MIRROR”