Words from a Year Ago

I've come a long way as a woman. I used to hate the way I looked. I hated my skin color, my hair, my slimness. My lips. I did not like these things about myself because people pointed them out to me as out of the ordinary and I like to be ordinary.

Then I'm less. I know nothing. Therefore I am less. right?

For a great percentage of my self-awareness. I've looked at myself as less. Someone may say "well that explains why she was depressed". Nah let's not get into that lol.

There was a day I looked at myself in the mirror and I wondered, why am I not good enough? I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in high school. I stared at myself and I asked “what's wrong with me?” “I think I’m pretty. ““So why am I less? and why am I not good enough.”

One thing I want to focus on is value.

As a young individual, you always want to place your worth and value in the hands of others because others see the you your reflection does not tell you about. When I stopped caring, I stopped placing my worth and value on what others said to and about me.

I've had people come up to me to ask, "Why are you so skinny?," or "Why'd you cut your hair like that?" And now my response is "because it's normal. And I like it”.

It's crazy really, because I remember when I was a teenager, my sister would tell me, "Sewa, there's nothing wrong with you being skinny. There are women that would kill to be slim like you".

I remember a day like it was yesterday. I came home enraged about what someone said about me and she asked "You don't think you're pretty?"

And when she said that I got irritated like "what do you mean?" What I did not know was that she was trying to help me to start thinking about how I perceived my beauty rather than others perception.

I began to stare at myself in the mirror and say "You good shorty. You're enough." Until I did not have to say it anymore.

Photo by Shae' Blount
Odabó,
Oluwanitori

8 UPDATES ON OLUWANITORI!

It has been a really long time. Hasn't it, dear Oluwanitori reader? I've missed you as much as you have missed me. It's been a tough and trying semester for me, mentally, spiritually and academically. This day, I'd love to share with you some updates on little aspects/changes in my life that may be of interest to you!

I completely cut my hair off in April 2016. (Transitioned for a couple of months) *see this post*
Cutting my hair was the most controversial thing I've done this 2016 LOL(but then again). I just woke up one day and decided to stop postponing rash decisions like this and just do it and my sister was totally up for it!

I spent time constantly reminding male friends and counterparts that my mere existence and purpose in life is not for their pleasure and/or survival.
No, I will not cook jollof rice for you and no, I didn't dress up today because I wanted to look good for you and/or your homeboy.

I stopped obsessing about my weight and size.
I think I'm tired of talking about it lol. If you believe my size or weight is not healthy, then please by all means, buy me that box of chicken you've been yelling at me to eat. And if not, then please embrace this pie:
Eat it
I've been doing leadership stuff.
Holding multiple leadership positions is a struggle! But I am a woman. An African woman at that. I'm holding myself to high standards while humbling myself enough to learn from those who learn from me.
Me in all my Glory

Another of me in all my Glory
Melanin is finally a norm!
Well in some parts of the world and I am totally taking advantage of it.
Dance Dance Dance


Rather than arguing about name calling and cultural differences between Africans and African-Americans
I'm dropkicking the hyphen and teaching others about my culture; sharing Nigerian jollof recipes, cultural beliefs and standards, music, etc., while I'm learning about American perspectives and the way of life. I'm trying out Mac N Cheese (with old-bay spice and seafood ONLY) and trying to figure out who runDMC is.. (Just kidding.. not kidding)
Mark Zuckerberg eating Ugali and Fish

I sang outside my comfort zone(the church) for the first time in history. I sang in my mother tongue Yoruba and it was empowering realizing that my voice sounds best when I sing in such a language that is native to me.
too lit

I've been writing poetry, but I have not been sharing. I'm sorry. I will share them soon. Or maybe I should create a poetry book/collection. Would you like that?
Picture of me doing spoken word

In all I have shared with you, I hope you've been able to see the little, but significant growths in my life. I aim to inspire, but my only competitor is myself. I believe we as individuals can be the main stumbling blocks to our own success. I'm learning everyday to tell myself to get up and take action (I mean, how else does world domination become possible? Mwahahahaha).

This day I would love to remind you, that if love can be real, then God is not dead. Seek him everyday and don't forget to pray for yourself, but also, don't forget to add me to your prayer list.

Thank you for joining me today,

Odabó,
Oluwanitori

My 'MeettheBlogger' interview with Writing Rambling

Recently, I had a 'Meettheblogger' interview with Writing Rambling and I had the opportunity of sharing why I blog. If you are just dying to know more about me, you may click the picture below to read the interview. Don't forget to share!


Source - WritingRambling.co.uk

BUBBLE

By Rhett Maxwell (bubble shot) licensed by CC 2.0


As you all know, I've lived less than half of my life in another continent, a completely different culture. One thing I noticed about the new culture I now live in was the concept of the "personal bubble space".

It was the 1st day of my internship. I walked in for my orientation and took my position next to a wall as I waited for the orientation leader. There were other orientees in the room, so I had no space to stand or sit, except for the wall, in order to not inconvenience anyone. As I stood, waiting, I glanced at my phone multi-tasking and passing time. Suddenly a thought came into my mind. "Why am I even standing sef?" I wish I can just sit on the table or on the corner of the chair next to someone" I looked around and I noticed how much space everyone gave one another. It was as if each and everyone of us had some form of disease that could be caught by physical contact or breathing the same air.

I looked at myself and noticed that I also stayed away from everyone. It's funny because I'd never thought about it like that, except for a certain time I was forced to. It was on one of my visits to Nigeria. It was my 1st Okada(public transportation on a motor bike) ride. I sat on the bike behind this stranger and thought of it to be the most uncomfortable and awkward thing I have ever done in my life. How can I be so close to a stranger, sitting this way, grasping the back of his shirt in order not to fall off? In the mind of the "Okadaman" this was just another customer helping him make money. To me, it wasn't. I told myself I'd never do that again.

On my next trip to Nigeria, I did it again. I had somewhere to go. By this time, I learnt that the concept of the "personal bubble space" was not a thing in my culture. It was a thing for me because it was a learned behaviour I acquired while spending the other half of my life in another continent/culture that indirectly teaches you to keep distance from people for a sense of personal safety, security and comfort.

Photo by Ryan Baptiste (Shout-out Images)
Odabó,
OLUWANITORI

Orange Cake


I was 11. I wrote in my diary about my 10th birthday. About how my family didn't really care enough to celebrate it with me and how all I got was a egg-roll (Nigerian). Then I wrote about my 11th birthday, about how we didn't celebrate that either because we were still fresh off the boat and about how it wasn't important. I can't remember how much pain I depicted in that journal entry, but I can imagine it was a lot of deep stuff coming from an 11 year old.

My dad got hold of my journal and read that entry. He didn't tell me that he read it.

One day, he came home and asked me and my brother to get some groceries from the car and that he has a surprise for me. When I saw the cake, I said hmm. Still couldn't guess what was going on. When we brought the orange cake in, my dad called me and told me that he read my diary. I was pissed, but in an African home, privacy does not exist for 11 year olds, but I'm sure you already know that. He said that he didn't know that it hurt me that much and that this cake is meant to celebrate those birthdays.

Today, a decade later, I can remember the taste of that cake. It tastes like love.

Odabó,
OLUWANITORI


There's something about definitions

that sends me to a place of discomfort

What does it mean 

To be perfectly defined?


I keep staring at this sea of puffs on my head

And as they stare back at me


I can imagine them asking

"What else do you want?


We're not perfectly defined for you.

You want us to make you look good

So you massage us with oils and water


You fold our arms and legs up overnight

Tie us up with satin ropes

Threatening us to make you look good for tomorrow

You want us defined

But yet we've tried to show you


In our coming together we are defined

In our separation, we are defined.

What more do you ask?

Have you not noticed that we

Always come back to ourselves?


When we shrink,

We are only going back to safety

It's all we know.


We are only cringing at the thought of you

Expecting us to form shapes or stretch our limbs for you.


That simply is not who we are

We are defined

We just ask that you accept us the same way when we are not bound."

Odabó,
Oluwanitori

Life in the African Diaspora


Recently, I began writing for Parallel Magazine. My focus is "Life in the African Diaspora". There, I share and will be sharing part of my most intimate experiences as a woman and/or individual living outside my home continent through poetry.... well i think it's poetry.


There are so many topics to choose from!



Check it out at Victoria Ṣọngònùga | Parallel Magazine | or click the links below for specific poems I have written...



  



Odabó,
Oluwanitori

Guess Who Just Became a Tapered Babe!


I cut my hair!

I had been speculating for years now. So I finally did it!

So why did I cut it??

To be honest, I just woke up one day and decide against relaxing my new growth. I haven't relaxed my hair in 5 months and the hair really grew!!
What really made me choose to cut it was just the thought of having short hair and being able to enjoy it.

Past experiences with short natural hair:

Childhood
When I was a child in Nigeria, I'm sure my hair was cut short, and it was probably because my mom was over it, but I SURE didn't mind. I remember the teeny tiny puff which grew into 2 giant puff balls. I remember the rubber thread used to make my hair, separated in sections. They hurt so much and I really hated them. Actually, anything involving an African woman touching my head brings headache and face-lift memories. I happen to have a very sensitive scalp and I have learned that beauty hurts. (But not all the time)
High School
I cut my hair twice. And when I say cut, I mean a REALLY low cut. One lower than the ones in the pictures below. I cut it once in my freshman year and the other in my junior year. Back then, it wasn't okay to be natural and proud. I loved my curls and I made sure it was always soft, shiny and curly. Others didn't like it and I got bullied a lot for it. People would take pictures or try to touch my hair.
As my hair grew longer I decided to relax it due to the horrible treatment faced in high school and because being natural was not yet accepted as a norm, even in the black community. I'd wonder why it was okay for me to wear someone else's hair instead of my own or why it just had to be straight. When I relaxed my hair, it was like the pressure came off. People were actually surprised that my hair was as long as it was. I remember a classmate walking up to me and shoving his hand into my hair feeling for my scalp to see whether or not my hair was real or an attached weave. Guess they've never heard of shrinkage.
College
My edges were natural... While the rest of my hair was relaxed. Until now.


This is a horrible picture of my previous hair length and it's from last year (Which is way shorter than the hair cut from just a few days ago), but this was probably the last time my hair was straightened before I began crocheting for the winter!

How did the cut go??

My mom and sister referred me to their hairstylist and to be honest, I haven't been to a hair stylist since my last trip to Nigeria in 2014. The reason is because I had the opportunity to be slain by a VERY talented woman who did my hair for more than N 1000 which was equivalent to $7 when I Googled the exchange rate to dollars. When she told me the price I'd pay, I was overwhelmed with guilt because I know how much we pay in America. I gave her more than she asked for and she was grateful, but I was still shocked.

Back to the cut

I showed my hair stylist, Je’nel Scott, the style I wanted and she showed enthusiasm which made me feel extremely comfortable with her cutting the hair.
First snip.
I gasped. My mouth was wide open. Tears welled up, but did not fall. My head felt like it was being released from some weight.
Second snip.
My mouth was still open. No more tears. “Woman up Victoria.” I was amazed by how lighter I felt.
By the time she was done, I felt BALD. But I wasn't. I had a decent amount of hair on my head.
Yes, I asked for a tapered cut, which involves chopping off all the relaxed hair behind and leaving just a bit at the top of my head to achieve the look.
I truly hate dryers

By the end of the entire cutting and curling experience, I was aching and itching to see the new me. When I saw myself, I said “yuss boo”. Miss Je’nel did EXACTLY what I asked for. It is always great to have a hair stylist who listens and checks frequently for your comfort. SHE'S A KEEPER!!

Left Side

So yes, I am now “team natural”. And I just realized that this was a big chop. I guess you could describe my laziness and refusal to relax my new growth as “transitioning”.
Right Side

My thoughts on the whole Process:
I've got to say. It's great to be natural, even though it's a bit odd that I had to wait until being dark skinned with nappy hair became a trend to do this. But let me be truthful here. I did not cut my hair to be a part of a trend. It came with age. I may even relax this thing next week. I don't care about shrinkage, heat or Cantu products. It's natural hair and I am not expecting anything outrageous from it. It is already showing me its curl pattern (which is whatever I wake up to). So no, I'm not going to stick my head in a bowl of hair custard or pudding to force it to do what it clearly does not want to do. I'm not pulling, tugging or stretching it. Instead, I am going to enjoy the journey because it is always more enjoyable than being discontented and only focusing on a future that might never even come. What am I even talking about?

Having long hair got boring for me. I didn't cut it to regrow it into a huge natural Afro (...because that would be pointless lol). I plan to keep it short. When it's short, my head feels lighter, which I happen to enjoy a lot lol. I have a lot of experience with my natural hair so I already know how to care for it. I'm excited for this new change and I'm glad my sister was there to cheer me on.
Officially Tapered!!


I am going to miss the crochet hairstyles. If you want free scrunchies, by all means, please come and get them because I tear up when I see them.. Unless you are interested in seeing me with a man-bun. Yes... I can work it lol.

I'll be sharing updates about how it's going.
Check back for more and thank you for receiving my story!

Please, do comment what you think and I'll be sure to get back to you!!

Information on my NEW hairstylist! (She's a KEEPER):

Revamp BEAUTY SUITE (Inside Charm City Clipper Co.)
By Je’nel Scott
8511 Liberty Road
Randallstown MD
21133
410.622.8124
Facebook Instagram Twitter
Top - Feeling myself

Odabó,
Oluwanitori

PS!! I forgot to ask the hairstylist about my hair type!! But wait.. I don't care!! Just kidding.. It might be a good 4Z tops..

A Rant on Single Stories


About a week ago, my class commenced by watching a ted talk video of Chimamanda Adichie’s “The Danger of a Single Story”. She happens to be one of the most inspiring writers whose work I have always had the pleasure of indulging my frontal lobe. When I watched this video, I felt myself remembering and reliving my childhood. It was like she was telling my story, except for that Mariah Carey album lol. Although, I have had experience in a similar situation where people would ask me if I understood the African artist who featured on Beyoncé’s song, “Grown Woman”. I didn’t, but when I researched the artist, I found out that he, Ismael Kouyate, is an artist from Guinea. Well Guinea, is not exactly Nigeria, where I happen to hail from, but at least they got the continent right... right?

Well, whenever people would ask me if I understood or could translate what the artist was saying, I told them that it’s not my language. I didn’t really catch offense because, people have not really gotten to know that Africa has at least three thousand distinct ethnic groups. Some individuals are not even aware of what an ethnic group is, talk less of expecting them to know the difference between one African and the other.

It is not really possible for every African to speak the same language, which that brings me back to “The Danger of a Single Story”. Chimamanda talked about the time when she visited Mexico and the shock she received when she realized that her perception of them is not exactly accurate. Seeing them as regular people living regular lives WAS the shocker.

To be honest we are all guilty of some “Single Story”, whether it’d be having one perception of a certain group of people, or an ENTIRE continent. We’re all guilty in some way, shape, or form.

“So that is how to create a single story, show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.”
- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Like Chimamanda, I grew up reading European and American novels. Luckily for me, I also read African books. I had more than a single story about my culture and the cultures abroad. I watched American movies and I watched African movies. It was when I moved to the United States that I was shocked by how little people knew about Africa and Africans. Just like Chimamanda, I had not identified myself as an African until I came to America.  One thing I had to learn to identify myself as, but had trouble with, was identifying myself as black. I didn’t get why I had to identify myself as a color and if you read my poem, “Why I Check Other”, you may have an idea of what I mean.

You may have heard an African complaining about how people from other cultures ask stupid questions about Africa, which makes it very frustrating since Africa is not one culture. What most of us have come to realize is that a lot of us in America have that single story about Africa. The “every 60 seconds, a minute passes by” commercials, the sick kid looking for food, the fact that when I tell some people that I came to America at a young age, they automatically assume I am a refugee or that when I was in middle school, my classmates thought that I was an orphan brought to America to be adopted. I am not saying poverty does not exist in Africa, that every African speaks English or that we don’t have refugees from Africa. I am saying that these are one of the only single stories about Africa. We’re considered the ones who don’t speak English, and the ones who are waiting to be saved. It was when I moved to America that I found out that Africans play poker with monkeys and live in houses made out of wood. When I speak to some of my African American friends about going to Africa and seeing what it really is, some complain about catching a disease, being eaten by a lion, not knowing which country to go to (which is understandable), the hot weather and not having food. When they say that, I can’t help but marvel at such imagination. If this was the case in Africa, we wouldn’t have more than a billion people living there right now.

All of these stories make me who I am, but to insist on only these negative stories is to flatten my experience and to overlook the many other stories that formed me. The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.
- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


Questioning things that need answers:

If you are active on social media, you may have come across this meme:

   
                             
Is it that the only way to get to Africa is by boat because there are no airports in any of the 57 countries? Or is this an allusion to how the ancestors may have gotten to America?


Odabọ (bye for now),

Oluwanitori