New Beginnings

Historically, September has always been a month of new beginnings for me, especially academically. September was when I started the new school year, it was when I moved from summer dresses to light cardigans and coats. September is the month I harvest the last of my fruits and vegetables from my garden. So, this September has also been a month that has brought positive change.

On Friday, I said goodbye to colleagues that I have worked with for the last 3 years. It was a bittersweet moment as although I was excited for my new opportunity, I was also apprehensive about leaving such a familiar place (with only a 15 minutes’ walk from my house). It was a place where I met some of the best and worst people, where I was told the most shocking revelations from my colleagues personal lives, where I booked fake meetings so that I can show my holiday pics to colleagues. It was a place where I, along with a comrade, presented to over 250 people on the wonderful black women that contributed to British society. It was a place where I got paid enough to go on multiple holidays a year. It was a place filled with socials, drinks, birthdays and team lunches. It was a place where people often forgot to flush the toilet (especially on the 2nd floor), where tea breaks always required 2 or more people, and aimless walks to Sainos was a group activity. It was a place with office crushes, but very few office romances, a place filled with so much laughter and so many wonderful people.

You’re probably wondering, why I would leave a place like that? I’m leaving because Academia has beckoned me back. Later this month, I will be starting my PhD in African Literature. I am so excited to be back in academia, to be fully immersed in something that I love and to become an expert on it. I am also very excited to get a Dr. before my name.

So here’s to new beginnings and to chasing dreams.


Thank you for reading.

The Virtual Cook

The kitchen filled with love and laughter

As we embarked on creating the batter.

The call to three countries reached

In England, Germany and South Korea each

Of us began the ritual of our Saturday bake.

We all knew what we had to make,

My Nutella-filled peanut butter cookie plate

that LaReine had seen and desperately wanted to taste.

We measured out each ingredient in no haste

And began the mixing that made our muscles ache

We scooped them up and placed them in the oven

As Jin’s first batch burnt up half a dozen

And LaReine’s firsts all merged into one

But before long all the cookies were perfectly done.

Book Review: The Joys of Motherhood

‘she had been brought up to believe that children made a woman’

The Joys of Motherhood is 65th book to be published as part of the African Writers Series. The novel, by Buchi Emecheta, follows the life of Nnu Ego, an Igbo woman raised in Ibuza village in colonial Nigeria. The novel’s title in all its irony, does nothing more than highlight the struggle and disappointment faced by Nnu Ego in her journey of motherhood. Her role as a mother is one riddled with poverty, suffering, neglect and society’s heavy expectations.

The opening chapter places the reader in the middle of the scene, as we find Nnu Ego leaving her home and running through the streets of Lagos. The reader is immediately captivated in anticipation of discovering not only what Nnu Ego is running to, but what she is running from. The chapter leaves the reader with so many questions that we have no choice but to read on in hope of finding answers.

The main theme of the novel; as showcased through the title, is one of motherhood and the joys that women are supposed to feel at entering the bondage. As the quote above states, Nnu Ego was raised to believe that a women’s purpose is to become a mother, to carry on the blood line of her husband through the birthing of sons. Daughters in the novel are seen as extra helpers until they reach the age of puberty where they are married off and their fathers are rewarded with a hefty bride price. Mothers are not only response for raising and sacrificing themselves for their children, especially their sons, but their only joy should come from their son’s success, even when those sons leave their mother in poverty.

The novel raises important questions regarding the role of motherhood not only to Nigerian women but all women. In most modern West African countries, children are seen as the mother’s wealth, her opportunity to rise above poverty. This is why women, even those in the dire poverty in Africa, still rejoice at the birth of a child. Mothers are not taught to invest in themselves but to sacrifice themselves for their children. Men are rarely given the same burdens as they have the freedom to find joy in outside of thier offsprings, such as employment, alcohol and music.

In conclusion, I will rate this novel 4 out of 5 stars, as not only is it brilliantly written, but it shines a light on issues faced by both colonial and contemporary African women. The novel demonstrates how little has changed in regard to the expectations and pressures placed on women and the need for change. The novel was also filled with African humour that reminded me of home.


Thank you for reading.

Book Review: Born a Crime

Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime tells the autobiographical story of Noah’s childhood and upbringing through apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. This novel was highly recommended and after almost a year of putting it off, I finally decided to read it.

Trevor Noah uses humour to portray the hardships and dangers of being a mixed-race child in apartheid South Africa. The title Born a Crime was the literal description of his state of being in South Africa, as it was a crime for a white man and a black woman to produce a child. He starts the novel by using humour to distract the audience from the dark themes of potential rape and murder when retelling a story of the time he had to jump out of a moving car with his mother and baby brother.

Trevor Noah attempts to tell his story in chronological order but fails to do so as we are given titbits of information before we arrive to it and are introduced to characters before formally being introduced to them. The structure confused me as I sometimes had to go back in order to move forward with full understanding.

Even though I would not call Trevor Noah a writer, I do think that he is a compelling storyteller (which is what makes him such a good comedian). Although I was left with many unanswered questions by the end of the novel, I was impressed by the story that was told.

Although Trevor Noah attempts to be the protagonist of the story, any attentive reader will know that the true protagonist is in fact Patricia Noah, Trevor Noah’s mum. Not only are we met with a powerful, humorous, brave and faithful woman, but we are given glimpses of her past and all she had to overcome to be the mother of a half white son in a country that made his existence a crime. Throughout the whole novel, my interest in the story was piqued at the mention of Patricia and her exploits in the tale. I do hope that we one day get a prequel to Born a Crime about Patricia’s life, one with the potential title of Birthed a Crime perhaps?

Overall, I will rate this novel a 3.5 out of 5 stars as I did enjoy various aspects of it and was moved by the humour that Trevor used to tell his story.


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Thank you for reading.

Krio

I recently signed up to Krio language lessons. For those of you who do not know what Krio is, it is a language spoken in Sierra Leone. The Krio language originated from Creole in the 18th century, when freed slaves were could return to Africa to a place called Freetown (capital of Sierra Leone). Since then, the language has been adapted and transformed into what it is today. Sierra Leonian Krio is not only an amalgamation of English, French and Portuguese, but also includes some of the tribal languages of Sierra Leone such as Mende and Temne.

Although I am a proficient (if not fluent) speaker of the language, I have zero knowledge of how to write and read in Krio. Learning to understand my mother tongue in the written format has been an absolute pleasure. Although I was unfamiliar with the Krio alphabet, seeing it on a page has felt like a homecoming, it was as if the language was always there inside of me, waiting for a teacher to draw it out.

I am excited for next week’s lesson and I cannot wait to master the language and begin to write my very own Krio poem.


Thank you for reading.