I WANT SO DESPERATELY TO BE PROUD OF NIGERIA

I want so desperately to be proud of Nigeria – The country, the society, space, mentality.

I want so desperately to comfortably invite people to visit Port Harcourt without being so overly concerned for their safety.

I want so desperately to not be overcome by fear at the mere thought of visiting home. That when I land at Mohamed Omotala international airport in Ikeja, I am not overcome with shame.I want so desperately to not have to carry a roll of toilet paper when I’m traveling to Nigeria because if I am pressed there might not be any in the airport bathrooms and if there were, that I would not have to bribe the bathroom attendants to give me enough for a clean wipe.

I want so desperately to give my family my exact itinerary. I have not done this since 2008. The fear that they will be overjoyed and share the news which in return endangers me will not let me.

I want so desperately to take a walk in my neighborhood- to be sure that in the raining season I am stepping into a puddle and not a gutter. I want so desperately to never see the sea of maggots that line the tops of rotten gutters in places where children play- images that crawl into your skin and fester.

I want so desperately to take a selfie in Port Harcourt with a background that is not framed in rot and despair.

I want so desperately to not fear to take my camera out and comfortably take a photo of an object I find beautiful without be harrassed by an impoverished police officer or a frustrated unemployed youth, or worse beaten and accused of witchcraft.

I want so desperately a Nigeria without churches on every corner like liquors stores in Brooklyn b.c 2005. Preying on the frail hopes of poor, desperate, dying souls who simply want a Nigeria that they too can be proud of.

I want so desperately to travel around my country. To visit Owerri, and Calabar, and Sokoto and Benue, Ahoada and benni. Places it now seems I will never see due to safety issues. I want so desperately that my Nigeria does not begin and end with Lagos.

I want so desperately to create in Nigeria. But I need light. Not the light from gas flaring that light up villages at night. Not the light from kerosene filled lanterns or the light of white candles waxed on cement floors or loud generators and spiked petrol.

I want so desperately to know my cousin will be ok. She’s traveling from the village to see me but will enter a local bus with non-functioning brakes or headlights, windows that will not roll up or down, doors that that only open from the outside and only by the bus conductor at a full stop.

A bus that is meant to only carry 10 but will carry 22 – That will be driven by an unlicensed bus driver who has not eaten that day operating solely on a high from bitter kolas and the local gin. Who will speed on bad, gallopy roads in an attempt to make multiple trips to cover the cost of renting his bus and the bribes he will make throughout the day from expired and fraudulent driving papers. No, the police will not check to see if the car has a brake or if the windows work or that the bus is over-crowed or if there is a pregnant cousin who will be squeezed thin like sardines in a can.

I want so desperately to tell people that I’m Nigerian without their eyes moving this, that way, and that way before looking back at me. That every time I want to put the Nigerian flag on my Ig bio, I do not take a deep knowing sigh and ax the thought.

I just want a Nigeria I can be proud of. A country, society, space, mentality, and behaviour that I am not constantly running away from.

FLOWERS FOR ANSWERS

My title is a nod to a guy I once knew , Tim, who once said that I wrote and spoke in a flowery manner.

It stayed with me.

Here are flowers for answers to some of the most poignant questions that arose from my previous essay.

1. I do have regrets. I also hate feeling like I’m starting from scratch. Sometimes I look at old photos to remind myself I’ve done something whether it was in the past. And that I am doing something even now even if the steps are small, new or unrecognized.

2. I could not answer when asked what my purpose was. The results and experiences have moved too far away from the intent. Though for the most part, all I’ve only sought is to move past the limitations. To live and move past the limitations of my skin color, my stature, past the tensions of being poly-cultured, my own fears, the incredible sadness of my childhood and upbringing, past my mother’s mistakes, past all I internalized because of it, all that it projected and demanded of me and to move past it’s karma. To live and move past everything that was wrong about the life I was born into. I’ve only sought to make a place for myself in this contemporary life. One of my own design and control. That is really all.

3. In response to my fleeting ways; Please do not judge me for my mystery, for the frequent changes I make, for the sadness in my tone or for the side of the street I walk on. I am but merely responding to life as it comes at me. And sometimes share only that which I’ve come to understand or that which I think you can stomach.

5. In regards to the competitive nature of black women in the creative space – To compete, fight against, try to defeat or hurt someone like me in any capacity is like a being a well fed, well prepared and advantaged athlete fighting someone on a wheelchair who’s barely surviving, who simply wakes up everyday and gives life another try. Because I’m clothed in fighting gear does not mean I am fighting with you. I am simply fighting for my life.

in all, it boils down to making the choices that are right for you.

Oroma

I’M NOT FINE, THANK YOU

An old acquaintance, Bart Deweer, wrote me today on LinkedIn inquiring about my whereabouts. Bart and I have known each since the early days of Facebook.

He had adopted a simpler life now and seemed rather pleased.

He wondered if I had done the same.

I contemplated answering honestly, I wondered if he really wanted to know or if it were all for formality sakes and only called for the simple – I’m fine, Thank you.

But I’m not fine so I decided to answer honestly.

I told him the simple life is good as long as it isn’t filled with resentment of an unfulfilled complicated life, like mine. Continue Reading “I’M NOT FINE, THANK YOU”

Pop’Africana


Pop’Africana Magazine(2009-2014)
[FOUNDER & FORMER FORMER EDITOR-IN-CHIEF]
Pop’Africana Magazine was a quarterly fashion and art print magazine aimed at delivering a rejuvenated image of Africa and Africans worldwide.

Pop’Africana Magazine was focused on conveying and expanding contemporary African ideas and stories.

Pop’Africana Magazine first emerged in 2009 as the definitive magazine delivering a reinspired perspective on all aspects of the arte Africano. African creatives, industry insiders and culture enthusiasts alike found a medium in Pop’Africana Magazine that spoke to an aesthetic sensibility and visual dialogue that was not trite or cliché.

In fashion and the arts, Pop’Africana Magazine was the only publication of its kind voicing a new paradigm of what it meant to be African today, it lead the way and engaged a market that had been severely ill-served. The pages of its magazine served as a reference point on what was current, innovative, visually stunning and forward thinking in African achievement and endeavor worldwide.From fashion and art to literature and style, Pop’Africana Magazine deftly examined and presented new ways to understand genuine African ideas of beauty and style.

Highlights include a full coverage of the first New York fashion presentation from renowned designer, Duro Olowu, exclusive interviews and conversations with Renowned photographer, Jackie Nikerson, Caine Prize winner, Olufemi Terry, decorated chef, Marcus Samuelsson, esteemed scholar, Judith Byfield, and celebrated hairstylist, Jimo Salako. Collaborations with gallerist and curator, Bisi Silva, and the studio of celebrated photographer, J.D. Okhai Ojeikere. Featured essays on jazz and the Pan African festival in Algeria, Sapology-Congolese style since 1920 and Hiplife in Ghana.

SELECT PRESS

AFRICA IS A COUNTRY
THE INDEPENDENT
PURPLE
FADER
DAZED DIGITAL
SUNDANCE
MODElS.COM
COOL HUNTING
MOTTO
VOGUE
VOGUE ITALIA
SUPERFUTURE

The Ways We Plait


‘The Ways We Plait’ is inspired the culture and experiences of hair making in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. I’ve always been drawn to the presence of hair and its capacity for structure. In this story, I looked to the details that go into the preparation process such as which hairdresser to employ, their plaiting techniques and expertise the painfulness of their hand in relation to the sensitivity of one’s scalp. I also considered mannerisms and other subtleties of being in a hair maker’s place of operation – the waiting process, negotiations, how money is paid and handled. And then there are the rituals of care-taking that provoked memories of village women holding cocoyam leaves over their heads to protect their hair and hairstyles from the rain. I incorporated these finer points into a story that also paid homage
the late Nigerian photographer, J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere (1930-2014).