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Hi!, I started this blog quite selfishly and yet not. I had just become a new mum and I needed a space to air out my thoughts. I’ve neve...

Nov 15, 2014

Americanah

Before baby, I could read a book in a week and be done with that.. Now given the hectic schedules of mummyhood I had to take my time with Americanah. Page by page, week by week, the chapters unfolded layers of emotional reactions which surprised me .

When I finally finished the book, I felt a strong urge to find someone to talk about it with.

So I did just that, through friends and online forums, I realized something , if felt like we all read different versions of the book based on our individual ethnic perspectives. I know that sounds odd, but there you go.. Chimamanda gave me a precious gift with this novel. I finally found a book in which I could relate 100 % with the main character.

I love books, I remember as a child my mum built us a bookcase as long as our room and filled with a variety of books. I grew up with Enid Blyton, sweet valley high , the famous five and progressed to Agatha Christie, Poirot, Steig Larsson, Dan brown.. and so on and so forth. I read anything I can find, biographies, fantasy, thrillers, history books, anything.

As I read, I often picture the world the author created which is probably why I love harry potter so much..the fantasy was brilliant.

I have read authors of afro carribean origin , books around slavery, racism, empowerment, gender,urban life. Books about African savannahs, or village life, african folk tales and royalties They all informed and motivated me, the made me develop my thoughts and my perspectives. But I never identified with any of it on a deep personal level as it was not really a lived experience.

What Americanah offers me , is a reflection of myself and my past experience. Every chapter was a world I once belong to. All the references in the book were realities in my mind. I understood Ife’s actions and reasonings as if they were my own. It was wonderful. I thought back to being a child in Lagos, with NEPA going off..I remembered not being consciously aware of bring black or thinking about ethnicities until I was almost a teenager abroad, my hair journey..something I am still struggling with today. Everything was so relevant, I just didn’t want to the book to end. I didn’t want my story to end.

I finally get it. When I was living in France a while back there as a big movement about how ethnic minorities are not reflected or represented in everyday life. For example you could sit on an entire metro journey and not see a person of African or Arabic decent represented on publicity posters . The same could generally be said for magazines, products in the hair counter etc etc.. the people of Paris as represented by popular culture were generally stripped of ethnic mélange. I felt strongly about this as an issue of equality and national identity but its only today that I realize how much it affects our self worth and emotional wellbeing.

I learnt so many valuable things in that book . Being multicultural I often feel like I’m neither in one nor the other entirely but this book showed me that there are millions of people out there who are culturally in between with similar life experiences as me, which makes me part of a rather large community. I was reminded of this when I chatted with someone and they said “it would be nice to meet over coffee or fish pepper soup, “ that made me smile long after the conversation was over.

That’s me right there, in my world crepes and fufu go perfectly together in the same afternoon ! lol,

Nov 7, 2014

My West Africa

You know when people ask that dreaded question.. Where are you from.."

well its becoming increasingly worrying to me.

My answer is normally, "before sweden i lived in London" ..confusing them even more but lately i get the question more and more so i say "my heritage is french and west african".. this is true i was born in nigeria, mums malian/french..dads gambian so there you go.

Now here lies the problem. .due to miscommunication,misinformation, media exaggeration and ignorance in general,  as soon as i say west africa. .somewhere in the response i hear that word.."ebola"

Concern is one thing..empathy excellent. .general stigma not acceptable.

Generalised statements that ive heard..when i say im from west africa are not ok..i realise the panic and fear people feel around this very serious disease but let me put it this way. .once we begin to look at all West Africans as potentially sick ..How exactly do you want me to feel.

I wanted to take my little girl to meet her great grand ma (over 90yrs old) in Mali over Christmas . There has been ONE Ebola case found in mali.  The professionals i spoke to about this trip basically told me that even though the risk of getting infected is very very slim once we come back we maybe subjected to several tests before we are allowed back into sweden.
As a teacher i may have to stay home an extra 14days to ensure that i do not contaminate others..
And my favorite. . 'People would be uncomfortable around you once you come back'

We considered going to Gambia. a place where there are NO REPORTED CASES of EBOLA . and guess what most of the flights have been cancelled. and the reponse i got was the same as going to Mali. 

Did i mention Australia and  Canada has closed its borders to West african citizens.!! ..and i quote "

In a move that puts Canada at odds with the World Health Organization, the federal government said Friday it is suspending the issuance of visas for residents and nationals of countries with "widespread and persistent-intense transmission" of Ebola virus disease. As well, work on permanent residence applications for people from the affected countries is also being suspend"

 Ive had enough to the Q&A. Coming from West Africa doesnt make me an expert or a potentially contagious person! Ive been following the news and social media feeds keenly and almost screamed when i read a conversation that went like this: "Ebola has come to America from Africa to kill us all" "Really,? is Ebola some president or what!?" Oh Dear, I feel that people need to rethink thier reponses and information before acting or speaking..as this is extremely dangerous . Educating yourself and tempering your response is crucial part of social responsibility. (Im happy to point out approriate and factual information should anyone require it.) It is begining to feel like propaganda and i know how dangerous that can be.. This feels like nothing new to me, the earliest i can remember was when i was in my teens on a school trip to the US with all my classmates i remember being pullout of the queue at immigration. When i asked why, they said i was carrying a french passport and my place of birth was Nigeria and Nigerians are notorious for fake passports so my passport may be forged!.. i have several examples accumuilated through the years.. There was a time not too long ago when a the general public in Germany where told that a certain group where inferior, thieves, prone to illness, contagious  etc etc.. and that amazing propaganda let to an extreme isolation and eventually to a War. Information and misinformation are of great importance and what we then do with the knowledge we get , even more important. I feel like the reaction to ebola professionally has been both inadequate and irrational. Take a look at the map in the link below the next time you ebola comes up http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/11/03/map-the-africa-without-ebola/

Nov 3, 2014

3 hours

3 hours..thats all i get per day with my baby girl since i started working full time.
Yes i sat and actually counted it out.
I found myself almost jogging home from work to make it home faster.
I make excuses to delay her bedtime.
I want to squeeze every minute from what ive got.
I work as a teacher in Scandinavia so i know, for sure, my hours are really great in comparison to the average mummy  , and yet still...

When i leave in the morning she is asleep.
When im done working,  we make dinner together  (maximising our time together), most of the time she is in her highchair with mini pots and pans, tasting the food mummy is putting together whilst skyping grandma or grandma, both a continent away.

Once yumyums are ready..its dinner, bathtime and then its 8pm! She has to go to sleep.

The only variations that occur are at times. .we HAVE to watch mickeys play house before bathtime because the Hot Dog dance is good for the Soul.

At times we also skype whilst shes in the bath so she can splish splash a little longer.

And then she sleeps.

Never mind that i have 100+ unanswered emails, 3 unheard voice mails f, friends i neglect, birthdays ive missed. My time in the day isnt enough.

I cant believe in an entire day i spend nurturing and teaching other children i give my daughter 3 hours of my presence and focus.