‘How to Write About Africa’: A Tribute to Binyavanga Wainaina

I started reading at a time when many will consider late, but I can say that I fell in love with African fiction harder than many others. One of the first books I read then was written by this brilliant author. The book title ‘One day I will write about this place’ is a memoir. I love reading books that give me an experience and this one, I can promise, does just that.  One of my favorites parts of the book is in the first chapter where the authors describes water. I can say I have never been more thirstier!

The first knowledge I had of his death was from a post made by Chimamada Ngozi Adiche announcing his death. I am sure my heart broke into pieces at the time as I really looked forward to another book from him. Immediately, I went to check if he wrote anything else since his memoir. I came across this article titled ‘How to Write About Africa’ and honestly, it was the most intriguing thing since…..since! To introduce you lovely readers to my literary hero, I decided to do a summary of this piece of perfection below.

How to write about Africa

biny

1. A cover with only prominent Africans. Or if you must, include a picture of one ina a Masai or Zulu or Drogon dress

2. The modern African is a fat man who steals or works in the Visa office refusing to give work permits to qualified westerners………an enemy of development who makes it difficult for the good hearted expats to set up NGOs or Legal Conservation Areas

3. The starving African must be included with your hero a beautiful tragic international celebrity/aristocrat who bathes, feeds and can teach them.

4.You must describe in detail mutilated genitals, naked breasts, dead bodies, the real Africa – suffering filthy people, and finally no dead/suffering white people

5.Describe Africa as bright with big and red sunsets, and big sky.

 

Book review: Chika Unigwe’s On black sisters’ street

Rating: 8.5/10

I discovered this book about 2 years ago on Amazon, and unfortunately for me then, I got a taste of something good that kept me wanting more. At the time, it was unavailable for purchase on Amazon and the same was the case with Jazzhole – the best book store in Lagos, scouts honor. One day one day, I was talking to someone at work about my love for African, particularly Nigerian, literature, and he told me about this Nigerian book that he had but he did not remember the title. I was completely oblivious to the fact that this mystery book will be on that ranks high on my to read list. Lo and behold, the following day, he presents me with a copy of ‘On black sister’s street’ and I could not help but scream in joy.

The book tells the story of 4 black ladies, united in prostitution to become sisters. The main character Chisom turned Sisi, is a jobless university graduate who the fear of poverty pushed her to seek help from Oga Dele, who sex trafficked her to Antwerp. Efe, a teenage mother working as a cleaner at Oga Dele’s office, who upon a death in her family, is saddled with responsibilities that force her to drop out of school to fend her siblings. Alek turned Joyce, who unlike the other girls, is originally from war-torn Sudan, where her entire family was killed and where she finds love to an Ibo Nigerian man who brings her to Nigeria to marry her, but upon refusal by his family,  takes her to Oga Dele to organise her travel. The fourth girl Ama, a victim of child abuse perpetrated by her step-father, who met Oga Dele whilst working at a restaurant owned by her aunt in Lagos. Suddenly, a death occurs, and this causes the ladies to pen up about their stories for the first time, bringing to light the fact that Oga Dele and his phrase “Belgium next to London” was a common denominator.

I will some up my entire reading experience with the word ‘captivating’. I say this because, even in moments where I had to stop reading, I could not stop thinking, speculating, and on certain occasions, discussing the book. It will be a crime to do this review with touching on Chika’s impeccable ability to accurately and intensely describe scenarios, leaving you living in the book. But, guys I must say this book was a twister. Not a twister in the Chimamanda fashion of leaving readers to make their own conclusions, but in the sense that what you expect to happen at the end, is totally not what happens – and I mean this in a good way. Most of all, this book was very real guys – with realistic characters and a realistic ending, and this is not only because of its twisted nature. For a story with characters with such sad stories, a lot of authors can be tempted to lead readers on a happily ever after trail, but this story was not one of such, it was simply real. More often than not,  authors are tempted to make book unnecessarily long thereby meandering the story and character development, Chika kept it simply captivating in 258 straight-to the-point pages – good for those who do not like very long reads.

I find it hard to pick something I did not like about the boo, but for the sake of being picky I will give one.

  • I did not like the way she broke the characters stories into scattered paragraphs…..but I guess that was to sort of put some mystery to the stories without giving it all away at once.

 

Shoboroko says: Let’s be real, you’re a tiff (thief)

This is a rant! yes, a rant! A rant on the excessive, somewhat, unreasonable demands that (some) women place on men when they start to itemise what they call the 10 yards of husband material but what I call the 55 yards of madness material

“I don’t want a daddy’s boy, I want #gbogboteamself-mademen, but my ideal man must not be more than 4 years older than you because he needs to be current, trendy and to understand all the inside jokes you make with your friends”………*raised eyebrows* How this is possible? How can a man that joined the work force 3-5 years ahead of to have gathered enough experience to build a company that makes Uber-level returns?

“He should be 30 years old when we get married, no more than 31 anyway. Our first house must be a 5 bedroom house in Ikoyi; his first car, a 2016 Mercedes Benz G-wagon; his wedding present to me, a 2016 Porsche Cayenne; and our honey moon; a PJ trip to an Island he rented for two weeks. Most of all, he must run a legitimate business that got him featured on the 30 under 30 Forbes list” – but how!. Is your husband material going to be a reincarnation of Mark Zuckerberg? How does an average  30 year old come to afford all these luxuries that you have listed from a business that is not YY(yahoo yahoo) a.k.a 419 and its other variations like YY+, YY++, and YY++(squared)

“I don’t want a man that is the first born, too much responsibilities, or the last born, his mum will be too attached to him. In fact, I’ll prefer my mother-in-law to be long dead by the time we get married, to avoid all those mother-in-law drama….abeg! I’m not cut out for that life. And yes, he must be from a monogamous family – no step relatives drama, maybe the 2nd of three boys- I do not want a female sister-in-law, they can be worse the mothers, and not just any family but a real christian family where they will not have had any fetish covenants that can backfire on me and my kids – but they should not be too religious, I cannot stand a family where the whole Christmas holiday is turned into a fervent fasting and prayer galore.” You want your mother-in-law dead! So lets assume she, like most mothers in that time, got married between the age of 22 and 25 and she had your “husband” at 24, if he is 30, your mother-in-law must be about 54. And so you wish death upon your 55-year-old mother-in-law (no matter how dramatic she is)! Just start praying that you do not give birth to a male son, because if you do, your daughter-in-law is bound to wish you death at the early age of 55……….that’s all

“He must be successful. I mean he must have risen well above his peers because he is a dedicated hardworker, but he must show me 100% attention, love and care; make me feel important; be able to command me, dominate me- but not too much, that he becomes controlling or becomes a wife beater; and most of all make me his queen” Haba! so you say he should be controlling but not too controlling to the extent that he beats you i.e. when he says jump, you say how high but yet he allows you to do your own thing…….arrgggghh! Is he Jesus? How do you expect a human being like you to be guarded by such a vague line? how can you be so illogically demanding to expect a man who is a ‘dedicated hardworker’ to show you 100% attention and still be 100% dedicated to his work? Queen ko, Queen ni, keep deceiving yourself!

Are you one of those ladies expecting a man who is 55 yards of madness material? I have an important message for you, and it is that ‘you are are a grrbido, long throat, an Ole (thief), Olojukokoro, wobia, Oloshi, Olodo, and frankly, an Apoda’

It’s a Shorelicious Monday…..

Dear readers of the 365 blog,

Today is a very special day for sooooo many reasons;

1. It’s the first day in the month of May

2. It’s the first month in the second quater of this year

3. It’s a Monday when Nigerians don’t have to go to work

4. It’s is a day that celebrates all professional workers

5. It’s the second day of the GT banks food and drinks fair 2017, and……………..you all must go:)

But most importantly….

SHORELICIOUS is going to be at the GT bank food and drinks fair!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I will describe shorelicious in instagram language – #madeinNigeria #sweetbuthealthy #fitfam #soulcompanion……get it! It’s a must try!!!!!!!

Their range of products currently includes;

All of which, I 100% approve of……….So make it a shorelicious monday at the GT food and drinks fair. Kindly leave comments below on your Shorelicious experience, follow shorelicious on instagram @Shorelicious and stay tuned to the 365 blog for a review of each product.

Love,

The 365 blog…..

A dream come true….

Maa chi/Maa ha/Maa jo,

Ye fro wo sen?

Remember I answered on question 25 of  The TMI Tag, that one of the places I will like t visit is Accra, Ghana………….people of the 365 blog, it finally happened. I, your girl, finally go to visit Accra. And the best part is the trip was sponsored by a reader of the 365 blog!…….*jokes*. But people, real talk…..would it be so bad gifted your girl an all expense paid holiday trip?……lol!

You know how sometimes, things coincidentally come together to work out as if it was planned to work out that way………yeah, you sister, I know you catch my drift. Anyway, that’s how my The TMI Tag post and going to Ghana worked out. I wrote the post on a Thursday, and by Monday, an opportunity to go to Ghana had presented itself, and by Friday of the same week I was touching down in Ghana by 7:20 am.

Did you know Nigeria is an hour away from Ghana? Anyway after the hassle of Nigerian airport procedures *eyes rolling*  and  35 minutes of a mouth-watering club sandwich at the Oasis Lounge in MMM 1, we boarded our Air peace flight, and arrived in Ghana at 7:20 amI only spent a day in Ghana. The actual program I went for was done by 10:00 am but my return ticket was not 6:00 pm Ghana time, so there was soooo much time to spare. I had not really planned any fun activities to do during the day because I expected the program to run much longer than it did.

After the program, we ordered an uber taxi that took us round town for about an hour, and I must say “Accra is clean and pretty”. After that, we headed to the famous Accra mall for lunch. I would have opted to have the famous Wache…..remember from Runtown’s Mad over you, “I know say she sabi cook wache”, but we were told the best place to find those are in mama put kind of places not fancy restaurants. Anyway, we settled for pizza at pizza hut and then went on to watch beauty and the beast in the cinema, to while away time. Desperation for free wi-fi led us to settle for at a coffee shop, in the mall, called Second Cup where I had an amazing drink called “a Berry Tea Chiller” and from there we went back to the airport. 

Berry Tea chiller
365 Blog – Second cup Berry Tea chiller

So, people……as expected, our flight got delayed. Must Nigerian Airlines always disappoint! can you believe that at 6pm, the plane that was supposed to take us back to lagos had not arrived in Ghana? I mean the one time I need you to be on time you are two hours late. And when the plane finally arrived, we were being passed from one gate to another like headless chickens, because the airport officials were also confused about where the gate was. The harrowing 3 hours spent waiting was not all bad……it came with the opportunity to have really amazing wheat croissants among other nice snacks at the Sanbra lounge……real talk guys, I really recommend this lounge for any persons who plans to visit Ghana, especially is you plan to go with a Nigerian airline, because they may just disappoint.

I have some random things I also want to tell you but I just can’t find an appropriate title for it….so, I will just list them below

  1. Nigeria, what the hell is wrong with us! Once I stepped into Ghana, I became embarrassed for Nigeria. How Ghana, which is not the so-called ‘Economic giant of Africa’ can have better airport than Nigeria still baffles me. Guys the whole airport was so organised…..and guess what they had more than one gate for departure! The whole process of departing the airport and arriving at the airport was hassle free…..I mean you did not have 50 million people checking your passport at every corner, so why Nigeria?
  2. Why is it that in Nigeria, at departures; there is one person to check your passport at the door, someone to write and check your details in front of the check in desk, another check at the check-in desk, another person to check when you about to get to the immigration queue, two people at the immigration queue, another immigration officer right after the immigration desk, another checker at the after the immigration, and another as you are about to board the plane……see I just don’t get it. Particularly with all the gbeborun immigration officers, who always want to associate your last name with a famous/wealthy Nigerian, and on occasions where they successfully make a link, intend to ask for ‘something for the weekend’…….*deep sigh* . I wonder, is it a lack of competence in one immigration officer that has caused the need for 4 different immigration officer to have to cross-check passports? and is the solution increasing the quantity or improving the quality.
  3. A guy at the mall was wearing a Zenith Bank printed fabric, a group of school kids wore uniform trad for school trip to the mall, and an airport official was wearing the national airport service fabric. From the airport till I arrived at the destination for my appointment, I kept seeing Ghanaians representing in their traditional attire. Thinking about it, Ghana is well-known for the high standards of its tailors. We were told that Fridays are an unofficial national traditional days, and that’s why people were dressed that way.

 

Mee da si for reading!

Debras grace – A wonderful shopping experience

Dear fashionistas in Nigeria,

First of all (don’t go down low), one fashion lover to another,………………………………..this is NOT a sponsored post.

Like a lot of you, I was as clueless as a some men are when it comes to distinguishing between Brazilian hair and  Funmi hair , but now my eyes are clear and I am here to rid you of your clueless-ness too.

So I spent a while searching for a place to shop for work appropriate clothes online. In the cause of my search, I came across a lot of websites that sell female clothes but it was either they did not deliver to the very remote location I have recently found myself, their website looked too shady to be trusted or their sizing at times was confusing and other times non-existent. I was discussing this with my cousin, who then suggested I go to Instagram and there I found bliss with DGL.

I had gone through several clothing retailer but every time I am about to place an order, my friends bad experience (the photo of the outfit on Instagram and the what she got delivered could not have been more different…Lol!) with such vendors changed my mind. Then one day I found DGL. I did not know they had a website but the originality and quality of the photo’s of the products in their instagram posts was enough to convince me to give them a call. When I called, I reached a very pleasant customer service representative who informed me about their website and I was very excited.

That same day, I went on the website to check it out and it was like shopping on the Topshop or Mango website – with a cart and a list of sizes, that were actually available, to pick from. On this same fateful day I order the following three items;

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7 days later, I added a pair of trousers, a dress and a skirt to my closet.

I will start by answering the biggest question I had which was about delivery? They deliver outside Lagos, in a reasonable time span and at a reasonable cost. The total cost of getting my items shipped was 3000 Naira and it came within 5 working days to a location about 4 hours outside Lagos.

The next big thing that crossed my mind when I was searching in affordability of the clothes? Yes they are very affordable. Considering our current economic situation, I most certainly expected the clothes to be more expensive – I wonder if they will be much cheaper when things get better. Anyway the cost of clothing item range from about 4,000 naira to 8,000 naira which is really just between £10.00 and £20.00! How great is that?

Affordability is one thing and quality is another thing, I know! But at DGL, they are one and the same. The items look like they are of very good quality in their photos and that’s exactly what they are. I did not order any item that looked a different color or form from what it was on the website you get exactly what you see, no jokes!

In conclusion (because this is very essential in letter writing according to my junior secondary school English teacher), DGL is the place for affordable, good quality clothes with affordable speedy nationwide delivery. So get shopping!

P.S. – I will like to shout out to Yetunde, the nice customer service personnel I spoke to when I called! and all the other DGL team members that helped to get me my order in time.

Yours sincerely,

A fashion lover!

The cure for HOMESICKNESS – 8 West African YouTube series

Anyone else like free, good quality and interesting West African series?

Watching Nigeria or African web series was something I started off as panacea to my homesickness. Every time I found myself reminiscing about life at home, I watched  the TV series that I will be talking about in this blog post.

If you ever find yourself in the longing for some African drama, then its worth watching some or all the TV series that are on this list

8. Shuga (Nigeria and Kenya): This soap opera is created with the intention to create awareness about contracting and living with HIV and AIDS – honestly, this alone already makes me love it!. The best the series is that each it was shot on different countries in Africa – the first two season were shot in Kenya and featured the award-winning Lupita Nyong’o,  whilst the third and fourth seasons were shot in the beautiful city of Lagos, Nigeria and featured some of the biggest names in the Nigerian music and acting industries e.g. Tiwa Savage and Chris Attoh. The best part is the series has been renewed for a fifth season, so start watching. All the episodes(season 1-4) are available in a playlist here

7. Our best friend’s wedding (Nigeria): I don’t think I have ever seen a fictional character more desperate to get married since Katherine Heigl in the 27 dresses LOL! Charles finds out some shocking news and this has driven him to want to get married ASAP. He decides the best place to start is with his ex-girlfriends, but his past as a play boy makes finding ‘the one’ amongst them very difficult and hilarious. His best friends, Jade and Kemi, have made a list of rules to guide his actions on his tryst, but will he follow them? They have only just started the first season, so find out here.

6. Gidi up (Lagos, Nigeria): The show follows the lives of four friends, Eki – the talented photographer, Tokunbo- the tech start-up guy, Yvonne-the struggling fashion designer and Obi – the budding radio presenter and wanna be Lagos big boy. it covers everything from their relationships to their careers and how the young adults are getting through life in the city of Lagos. Although the show suffered a change of cast in between its first and second season, the twist and turns of the plots remained indulgent. After a long 3 year break, Tokunbo and the gang are back in a new season, with more interesting cast e.g. Odunlade Adekola and snapchat sensation, Bobrisky.

5. Love Games (Lusaka, Zambia): Another HIV and AIDS awareness TV series, sponsored by USAID, love games follows the lives of five women, Mimi , Carol, Womba, Tamara and Tasheni, who live in the city of Lusaka. The reason I have put this show above Shuga is because I found it more informative about its subject matter than its counter part. It has only two season, so go check it out here and be informed.

4. This is it (Lagos, Nigeria): All I can say is thumbs up Lowladee, the show literally screamed drama. The show follows the life of a couple, Dide and Tomide(tee) in the first couple of months in their marriage. Tomide, played by Nick Mutuma (you know if you know), is a loving caring Nigerian-Kenyan husband to Dide, a paranoid stay at home wife. In the last episode Dide has to make tough decision between Tee and another important part of her life. Find out what she chooses here!

3. Rumour has it (Lagos, Nigeria): This show follows the scandalous life of celebrity vlogger diva queen of amebo, obi obi.Some say that the shows seems to have copied the scandal in the lives of music icon Tiwa Savage, blogger Linda Ikeji and OAP Toke Makinwa. Creators of the show claim this is not the case, but I guess you’ll have to be the judge of that. I hope this show comes back for another season, but here’s for season 1

2. Skinny girl in transit (Lagos, Nigeria): Tiwa, her mother and sister, Shalewa are the biggest clowns. As a plus size woman in Lagos, Tiwa faces challenges from her relationships to her career and the show tells it all.it has both comedy and drama, see for yourself here

1. An African City (Accra, Ghana): This is the African version of Sex and the city. it follows the lives of Nana yaa, Sade, Makena, Ngozi and Zainab, five ladies who have moved back to Ghana after several years spent living abroad. Sadly, only the first episode is available on YouTube but with episodes like ‘a sexual real estate’ and ‘an african dump’ its worth it to see what’s available. Watch season 1 here.

A book review: Toke Makinwa’s On Becoming

Disclaimer: This is my opinion and although some people may feel that I am not entitled to my opinion on Toke’s marriage, I am giving it anyway. So if you one of those ‘Some people’, either you read this and eat your critique or you should probably move to the next post. But feel free to make give your own opinion of the book in the comment section below.

Rating: 8/10

She says it’s not a tell all but a must tell, I say it’s both.

I first discovered Toke Makinwa on YouTube, watching her weekly vlogs. I have since become aware of her presence in the entertainment industry and developed great admiration for her fashion sense (she kills it guys!). So naturally when I heard she wrote a book, I was both surprised and excited. When I found out the book was about her marriage, I was very curious.

On becoming, Toke Makinwa’s book, was released on Monday the 28th of November but I didn’t get around to purchasing it until Tuesday evening. On purchasing it for a sum of £4.99, I spent the next five hours reading it and I must say it was worth the read. Although the book was painted to be solely about the juice she provided on her marriage, it was so much. The underlying message of self discovery, a heart breaking loss, emotional abuse, perseverance, fear, the need for God and social stigma.

Toke tells the story of woman who was trapped in a cage, where she is surrounded by so many factors that keep her trapped. Fear is a big one of those factors. For toke fear came in different forms such as: the fear of loosing something which everyone thought was so perfect and so they envied it and something if fixed had great potential at making her happy, her relationship with Maje;  the fear of being another celebrity cliché case(the husband cheats after being married for a little over a year and then they get divorced); the fear of loosing something that in the 8 years and more that it had been, had come to define who she was; the fear of taking a decision which could potentially destroy what she had spent her life building – her career; and most for all the fear of starting over.

The second factor could have been the need to fill the void created by the devastating loss of her parents very early on in her life. This void is one that yearns for a sort of love that she was unable to receive from father due to his absence. Her love for Maje was the only thing that was able to fill this void and so she turns a blind eye to all her get out of jail (the relationship with Maje) free cards.

Another factor was society and its ability to stigmatize her if she got divorced. “What will people say?” Is a question I am sure crossed Toke’s mind several times and the negative answers she found within herself kept her jailed in her relationship with Maje. The final factor is one love, she loved Maje to a fault. I am sure if she wanted to leave at the earlier stage of their relationship, she would have been trapped because she loved him.

Some say that because this is only Toke’s point of view and there are many sides to a story, we should not judge Maje. I do not care if there are a million sides to a story, assuming all Toke said was the truth, no one deserves to be treated that way. Maje repeatedly trampled on her and her love. I am surprised she still had any love to give to him at the time they got married.

Still assuming all she said about the love triangle between herself, Maje and Anita were true, whoever coined the term ‘Yoruba demon’ must have been trying to describe the Maje from Toke’s POV. People are blaming Toke for the end of her marriage, but the only thing I blame her for was getting married to him in the first place, not ending the marriage sooner and  giving Maje another chance after she found out about Anita and her baby.

My favorite chapters were the last two; let go and let God, and healing. Those two chapters really touched me and I believe they touched other people out there. It caused a shift in my overall perception of challenges and God’s plan for us. The moral is the story is; wait on God for his direction and every challenge you face in life prepares you for the place where God has prepared for you. As Travis Greene said “God is an intentional God”, never forget that he has a plan for you.

The only critique I have for the book is that it could have been less juicy. There were so many things that did not need to be said. We live in a society where the truth is hard and the whole truth is even harder. As such when we have the whole truth, we wait for the teller of the truth to make a mistake so we can point accusing fingers at them.

Lets us give it to Toke, she really did turn lemons into lemonade with her book because not only did she make money from the sale of her book, she also touched lives. Toke, you go girl!

You know you had a good read, so please like, comment and subscribe.

Photo credit: Google Images