African Poetry

This week I have been immersed in African Literature and I have been reading Poems of Black Africa, edited by Wole Soyinka. The anthology, although lengthy, is filled with beautiful African verse and I thought I’d share one of my favourites. The poem is titled African Poetry by Agostinho Neto.

Out of the horizon

there are fires

and the dark silhouette of the beaters

with arms outstretched,

in the air, the green smell of burning palms.

African poetry

In the street

a line of Bailundu bearers

tremble under the weight of their load

in the room

a mulatto girl with meek eyes

colours her face with rice powder and rouge

a woman wriggles her hips under a garish cloth

on the bed

a man, sleepless, dreams

of buying knives and forks so he can eat at table

in the sky the glow

of fires

and the silhouette of black men dancing

with arms outstretched,

in the air, the hot music of marimbas

African poetry

and in the streets the bearers

in the room the mulatto girl

on the bed the man, sleepless

The burnings consume

consume

the hot earth with horizons afire.


Agostinho Neto was born in Angola to a pastor and a professor. Neto studied medicine at the University of Lisbon and was a practicing physician. He was imprisoned on a number of occasions for his political activity with the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola. After Angola became independent in 1975, Agostinho Neto became the newly independent nation’s first president.


Thank you for reading.

PhD – Week 1

So last week was the first week of my PhD and I have been filled with so many different emotions. From joy and nostalgia at being back in academia at my previous university to stress and imposter syndrome at the amount of work I already have to do, to absolute excitement at actually doing the work and doing something that I love and enjoy.

The most important thing I’ve taken away from this week is being organised. There are so many emails, so many ‘optional’ training for PhD students and then there’s all the fanfare of freshers week for incoming students and all that is being offered to them. It can be overwhelming at times but being organised has allowed me to take a step back and take it all in one at a time.

The highlights of week one has been signing up for my advance French course which starts next week. I am so excited to start speaking French again and improving in my long-neglected skills. I also found out as a PhD student I get half price off my course, which made me even more excited. Another highlight was meeting my supervisor for our first official meeting of the term and discussing my project and the next steps. It still feels so surreal that this time last month I was still working and had no idea that I had been accepted into my PhD programme and here I am executing a project that I had only dreamed about.

The thing I’m looking forward to most in week 2 is having the official Doctoral College welcome event (online) with all the new PhD students at the university. I am so ready to make new friends and be fully immersed in university life.


Thank you for reading.

Book Review: Natives

After numerous conversations about this book, I finally took the plunge and read the book. Opening Natives, I had no idea what to expect. The book is a mixture of autobiographical tales as well as historical analysis of race and class not only in the UK but in former colonies as well as America.

The book narrates the origins of white supremacy and its implications in modern society. In a world where racism is still blooming and many individuals are quick to deny its existence, this book provides an informative composition of the root of some of the racism that black people face today in society. Not only does the book talk about racisms as an idea but explores the early the life of Akala and the poverty, racism, and gang violence that he grew up with in North London.

The most heart-breaking aspects of the book was the racist attacks that he faced as a small child of 7 years old during his primary school education by his teachers. Not only was he emotionally abused by racist teachers in the 80s but also physically abused by some of those teachers. One teacher even went so far as to move Akala to a special educations class because the teacher didn’t want Akala in his class. Reading about a 7 year old facing racism by those who were there to educate him but instead made him feel that he was a ‘know it all’ by being smart absolutely broke my heart. I could not believe that there were those who chose to take jobs in education just to treat 7 year olds with such hate and discrimination.

The novel also speaks of the class inequalities that he faced along with his white mother and biracial siblings. At the age of 13, Akala was contributing to his household and there were times he went without food as there was barely any money to pay the bills. Akala makes the argument that class inequality plays an important part in the oppression of a lot of the British population. Akala uses case studies of Ireland and Glasgow to compare crime rates with those of London boroughs to show that class oppression breathe an environment rift with violence and crime.

It is common knowledge to me, as a black women, that many black men are stopped and searched by the police for absolutely no reason. However, Akala’s experiences has beckoned me to have more conversations with the black men in my life about their experiences of stop and search.

This novel was very informative as I was able to learn so much about racism and some of the root causes of it as well as how this impacts different nations in the world. I was able to learn about racism in Brazil as well as add to my knowledge of racism in South Africa. I will give this book a 4 out of five stars as it was not only informative and historical, but it also provided anecdotes from Akala’s own life. Although the chapters were very long and I was not prepared for the amount of information that I received (my fault for not reading the blurb or reviews), I did enjoy the experience of reading the book and would recommend  to anyone who wants to further their education on racism in the UK.


Thank you for reading.

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Accomplished

My week has been filled with a lot of life admin. A weeks ago, I was gifted with a new journal that I absolutely adore so I decided to write a poem about my journal.

Two pages assigned to a day

Make my beauty very bulky

With space for dates and quote of the day

To shopping lists and expenses

With daily exercise noted

And water intake marked off

Details needed not just of breakfast

But lunch, dinner and snacks

With all these categories

Not forgetting a box for personal notes

Its easy to miss the greatest part

The lined page for Today’s Plan

Where I write not only my lists

But events and achievements

My day broken up by the hour

With each minute accounted for

What more could a girl dream of

Than to have all her life in one space

To remember all and forget nothing

To breathe easy and feel accomplished.


Thank you for reading.

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.