Bring Back Our Girls ( I Can Hear Their Cry)

Ladies and Gentlemen, she needs no introduction its Theresa Lola

Bring Back Our Girls (I Can Hear Their Cry)

I can hear their cry
I can hear their cry
It sounds louder when i watch the news every night at 9
And I am reminded that the youngest girl was about nine.

I can hear the sound of bombs,
Just before they deafen my ears
and all that is left of innocent people is tyres and pieces of destroyed homes.
Flyers with their faces on it begging them to come home.

A country extremely divided
A country extremists divided
People are now afraid to pray
unsure if its their church that will be bombed today
Fear found its way to lock up churches on Sundays.

A group hiding behind religion, forcing it down our throats
A group hiding behind religion to use humans as scapegoats.

Simply using violence as a way to gain power.

As I read this poem, body parts are flying somewhere in Nigeria.
Theresa Lola 1
As I read this poem
richmen are sitting comfortably in their chair claiming to be concerned about Nigeria.

I can hear their cry.
Sounds like the voices of almost 300 girls
stolen from their families and paying for their freedom of choice with bondage.
I looked up the definition of westernization.
I guess i was lucky to escape them.
But i am not too far away
Because i can hear their cry
I can hear their cry
it sounds louder when i watch the news every day at 9
And i am reminded that the youngest girl was about nine.
Who will be sold into the hands of a man that will teach her love is born out of hate.
Or that power is bondage.
Or that her beauty
Is measured by a ransom of money from rich men
Or that religion
can be found in the mouth of a gun.
Or that freedom
Is a synonym for slavery
Or that tears Theresa lola 4
are simply droplets of water that have no meaning.
Sold into the hands of a man
who will teach her these things
While i sit here and pray that she will someday unlearn these things

I hope you know that you are a lighthouse,
And this wave will not swallow you.
I hope you know that you are a lighthouse,
And this wave will not swallow you.
I pray that violence
will no longer tear a country into bones and blood.
Breaking down houses
into stones and mud.
I can only hope that peace that wins this battle
I hope you know that you are a lighthouse,
And this wave will not swallow you.
-Theresa Lola

Source: creativeshot on Tumblr

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Stories which take you back: Terra Cotta Beauty

I have just finished reading Jola Naibi’s Terra Cotta BeautyJola Naibi. It is  a collection of short stories about life in Lagos Nigeria under the Nigerian military era. Even though those years are behind us, Naibi’s book draws the reader  compellingly, into an era of imprisonments, riots, clandestine meetings, political activism, bravery, survival  and much more. Her portrayal of Lagos life strikes a cord with me and I am sure other readers will agree as well.

Naibi uses her stories to reflect on issues like erratic power supply, life in retirement, teenage pregnancy, security, lack of adequate medical facilities in Nigeria, this is sublime. I have to say, no one can do a better job at weaving stories which span a generation better than Jola Naibi.

I particularly enjoyed how she was able to relate to every day life in Lagos. From  the first story where she meticulously  described an armed robbery experience, she had me hooked from start to finish. Having experienced one of such myself in my hometown of Ibadan, Naibi had me turning the pages till I finished reading her book. Terra Cotta Beauty is a book that vividly describes what life is like for every day Lagosians. I wonder how much of the book is biographical?

So, I hope you buy the book. I hope you give it to friends for Christmas. I know I will be sending a copy to my mum.  This is how the back cover reads:

‘My mother died when I was four years old. I remember few things about her, but I do remember that in the mornings when she woke me up and carried me, she often smelled of the earth. It was the same matinal smell that my grandmother had. I found out the secret of that smell just before I turned twelve.

Follow the daily lives, loves, and hopes of an entire community in Jola Naibi’s moving debut, Terra Cotta Beauty.

A carefully crafted selection of short stories, this collection examines life in Lagos, Nigeria, during the era of military rule. It reveals the terracota beautystruggles, loves, and hopes of a disparate group of people whose lives always manage to intersect-sometimes in the most devastating of ways.

With each brief conversation and split-second decision containing consequences that reach further than anyone could ever imagine, each of the book’s seven tales is a delicate thread that helps form the social fabric of a nation divided.

From a woman whose journalist husband is jailed for criticizing the government to a man’s reluctant descent into crime, Terra Cotta Beauty acts as a carefully crafted ode to the essence of Lagos itself: its people’.

Here is what people are saying about the book:

‘Just finished reading Terra Cotta Beauty. I am a native of Lagos and Jola describes Lagos as it used to be so beautifully. The images as I read were so vivid and without giving any bit of it away, she captures a truth, everything in Lagos is linked in some way or the other. A good effort for a first novel. I absolutely love the authenticity in the reporting even though the characters are fictitious, we all know people or situations like the ones described in the book. I loved it! Well done x     Maya

Captivating read!! Took me back to my roots 🙂 found myself laughing to myself and in some cases holding my breath on the train and getting funny looks from fellow passengers. Beautifully done…  Miss O. Sule.Terracota beauty 2

In Terra Cotta Beauty, Author Jola Naibi has penned captivating tales expertly woven together and steeped in Nigerian culture. As I traveled from story to story, I found it hard to put this book down as the undeniable connections of humanity unfolded before my eyes. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about a different culture and human experience. Naibi has a way with words and is a wonderful storyteller. (I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.) Adrienne Thompson.

This book totally captivated me…the interweaving of the stories and the vitality of the characters; the challenges encountered and the opportunities for redemption; the need to congregate and the difference a place can make. Jola Naibi opened my eyes to a new culture and a new set of realities. I can’t wait for her next book to be published!  MB Ward

 

What are you waiting for? Buy yours here:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Terra-Cotta-Beauty-Jola-Naibi/dp/1491271671

Jola Naibi joins me tonight on AUK Radio from 645pm

Do Children need Jesus?

Do children need Jesus is a controversial  question.Even though Jesus explicitly calls little children to come to Him. Some people say religion must not be forced on children. They argue that children will seek for God should they need Him, after all, what good has religion done in the world? They also believe that religion is an unnecessary evil for weak and timid minds.

For evangelical Christians  and indeed all Christians, these view points are far  from the truth. For the Bible teaches that children must be shown the way to God in their youth, so when they grow up, they would not depart from it.Front Cover Shola

Children wont stumble to Jesus, they must be shown the Cross, they must be taught how to read the Bible, they must be taken to church, they must be taught how to pray, their parents/carers must model Christianity. In a world that  gets darker with each passing day, a country more agnostic than theistic, a country where Christianity is stifled, Omosola Fibersima has undertaken the task of bringing Jesus to children.  She does this by writing a child friendly book titled ‘Bible Treasures Explored‘ with children in mind.

The  back cover of the book reads:

‘ Treasures Explored presents questions every child asks about Christianity. This book is written with simplicity without loosing the authenticity of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It contains real answers from children, supported by Sunday school teachers. There are over 30 BPicture for Sis Tundunible treasures explored and explained with great illustrations to bring this message to life. Find out what young Christians have a say about identity, love, relationships, Sunday school, salvation, faith, new life, church and much more Find out what inspired Anthonia to become a Sunday school teacher at the age of thirteen; what made Boma embrace this new life at eight and why Grace aged four enjoys Sunday School. Parents also share the importance of Sunday school from their personal experience. This book is a must read if you want to apply its “Bible Treasures” to your every day life. If you are curious about this amazing relationship with Jesus this is the book for you. Great reading to babies, interesting reading for children up to the age of 13 years.’

Children need Jesus. Period. Fullstop. The question is how can you get your children connected with the Lord? Bible Treasures Explored provides an answer.

If you struggle to make Jesus real to your children, Omosola’s book will help you make the connection.Parents who neglect this duty, may have failed ultimately as parents. This is a book every family needs. This is a book every child needs to read and understand. This is a book that could make a difference.

Do children need Jesus? Yes. Buy the book  on Amazon and other online retailers.

See for yourself.  It is not difficult to bring faith alive. Buy it here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bible-Treasures-Explored-Firm-Foundation/dp/1502531585

The way it unfolded:African Literary Evening

 

The African Literary Evening – on the 8th of November -was my idea even though  I cannot take all the credit for its success. The idea came about from the culmination of several conversations with people over a period of time.  I remember  speaking to Tolu Popoola about it. After words, I called Abidemi Sanusi and she was  encouraging. I must publicly acknowledge Tolu’s hard work  and our collaboration on this event. The evening was the result of the hard work we both put into it.

The African Literary Evening was an evening of spoken word, poetry recitations, book readings and networking. It was also an evening designed to bring together emerging and successful authors under the same platform to share ideas and interact. There are many events across London that bring men and women in print together, but not many that gather African authors.

We had two panels discuss certain topics and it was a coincidence that the panellists where all Nigerian and female. The topics included IMG_3126‘making money from writing: is it possible to make a living as a writer?, the future of publishing in the UK: is it traditional publishing?, self-publishing and collaborative publishing or hybrid publishing?, beyond print, moving with the digital revolution: ebooks, podcasts, audio books and short films, genres and moving beyond expectations placed on African writing.

Our panellists included Nuzo Onoh- a celebrated author of African horror novels, Abidemi Sanusi, Ireneson Okojie- columnist for the Observer and Independent,  Abimbola Dare, Ola Nubi,  Kiru Taye,  Kemi Oguniyi,  Amanda Epe, Tolu Popoola and Tundun Adeyemo. Our panellists are experienced writers who have earned their recognition in the world of writing. Sade Adeniran was the Common wealth Writers award winner for her book Imagine This in 2008 .  Abidemi Sanusi  was shortlisted for the same award for her book ‘Eyo’.

Abidemi was able to discuss how she is able to work as a full time writer. She combines life as an author with her company ‘Ready Writer’. Kiru Taye is the number one writer of African romance in the UK. Kiru Taye writes full time and she makes a living from it. Kiru has written twelve books in four years. It is hard to keep up with her. Abimbola Dare, a Christian romance author, is another very influential and powerful writer, even with a young baby, she told the audience that she writes on her laptop whilst breast feeding her three month old baby- Life as a mummy author eh?African pic 1

Sade Adeniran who runs Sade’s World of Podcasting now makes short films and documentaries. A true artiste, Sade is eying some of the converted awards in the industry.  A lot of the panellists had things to contribute on whether it was possible to make a living in writing. Abimbola Dare was of the opinion that it could happen over time, but in the meantime, keep your day job. Adura Ojo, a poet, who was unable to join us at the event, also contributed that earning an income from writing is possible but the writer needs to be creative in creating streams of income. Streams of income available to authors include public speaking, workshops and seminars, events and commission writing.

We discussed the future of publishing in the United Kingdom, we considered whether it was best to go collaborative, self or hybrid and moving beyond the expectations placed on African writers in the UK. There was no common consensus as many in the audience were self-publishers who found fame through their own labour. Ireneson Okojie, a columnist for the Independent and Observer decried the fact that it was hard for publishing houses to take on African authors. Nuzo Onoh also commented on the fact that African writers are often categorised under multicultural and race headings in public libraries. She and Irene agreed that African writers had to think outside the box in terms of their content and publicity if they wanted to sell their books.African pic 2

Members of the audience were not left out, someone wanted to ask how to combine writing with single motherhood to four children. Another wanted to find out if there were other authors who wrote only for African children in the UK? Another person wanted to introduce her new book: a Christian bible book for children. It was a solid event to all intents and purposes, many people even came from outside and the bar downstairs to see what was happening at the library where we were.Highlights of the evening included Theresa Lola, a spoken word artiste who thrilled the audience with her very passionate poem on the abducted Chibok girls and another poem about the essence of womanhood.  Ola Nubi read an excerpt of her book ‘Love’s Persuasion. Sade Adeniran read a short story that reflected the drama associated with being dismissed from her job on the first day of working. Tundun Adeyemo read a poem from her collection ‘The Immigrant’. Tundun tried to portray the scene of a departure at the Murtala Muhammed airport about 13 years ago when she left Nigeria for England. Many people enjoyed the last line ‘I was going to England, not to see the Queen’. Tolulope Popoola read two of her flash fiction stories. One was from a collection titled ‘Fertile Imagination; and the other was ‘the Alibi’.African pic 3

The evening ended with networking over warm and cold drinks, book sales and signings.

After the event, we didn’t have to wait long to read and watch what people said about it.  The Battabox spin to the event (video available on youtube) is humorous. Should Nigerian parents allow their children to be writers? Obi and Lola, Christopher Ejugbo and Adeola Akintoye all wrote different accounts of the evening. Adeola Akintoye called the event an evening extraordinaire. Christoger Ejugbo considered the fact whether or not Africans read in a thumbs up account of his Saturday evening with the event.african pic 5

All in all, the African Literary Evening worked because of a successful collaboration with Accomplish Press. The question everyone is asking is will there be more events. The organisers are yet to decide.

 

Tundun Adeyemo

I want to thank Tolu Popoola, publisher Accomplish Press for the pictures. I have borrowed them from her facebook page:)

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British Airways: An Insider Experience by Amanda Epe

The United Kingdom has gone a long way to eradicate racism in the work place, but unfortunately Africans know too well, that it is still there. Your accent, the colour of your skin stand you out and in certain cases, make it hard for you to fit in. Laws cannot prevent work place cynicism and the silent slurs targeted at you for being the color  you are. Racism is very sensitive to discuss mainly because it is hard to prove. Yet it happens every day in offices, hospitals and in business places up and down our country. Amanda has begun the conversation with her thrilling book ‘A Fly Girl’.

A Fly Girl is Amanda Epe’s debut book, an inspirational memoir of her days working with British Airways; travel tales through the lens of a black African woman. Her readers’ journey with her from Las Vegas to India, as she explores the world whilst working for possibly the best airline in the world.

Epe’s well documented and interesting book is the first narrative of its kind as she is the first seminal storyteller on the narrative of being black Cabin crew with British Airways. Amanda Epe writes articles, essays, poetry, fiction and self help; her work has been featured in publications and anthologies in the United Kingdom, United States and in Nigeria. She spoke to Tundun Adeyemo from www.blackandoutspoken.com recently.

amanda epe-14 (1)

Why did you write this book?

I was obliged to write this for my spirit and I didn’t want to take this story unpublished to the grave.

What is your favorite part of your story?

If I had to put a bookmark in one place it would be the active, funny, bright and sunny story in Miami.

At what time or point did you feel the need to write this story? It was strongly felt in 2013, a time of writing in my serene state and being fully inspired. It was the starting point anyway, at least I put a pen to paper and wrote the first paragraph, most of the work continued the following year.

Racism occurs in different ways to different people, and many people talk about this every day. What more are you adding to the conversation? My angle has some insight into the in-depth thoughts of being black and wearing the union jack.

Is there a place for the woman in the business community? During my life in the air, I worked with business savvy women and I reflect on one in particular that eendeavoredto become a grand entrepreneur through trade and travel, she was an inspiration. Woman are not just in business but are on top. I admired a recent report of a Black British woman Karen Blackett who is the first businesswoman to top the Powerlist 100, and also Folorunsho Alakija on the billionaire list, the latter an example of how times have advanced with women working and trading in oil.

When you talk to women across the world, what is the one thing they tell you? We are all singing the same song but with various tunes, in the western world equality is still sought, and across the globe we are coming out, stepping up or striving to make our mark.

Is it a question really that black people are not well integrated into the community? In comparison to other western nations I feel that black community are somewhat integrated, until we are fully empowered economically there will always be marginalization.

You have a very British accent, is this book personal then? How can you suffer racism when you are British? My Britishness has a prefix, readers can learn more about this concept in reading some chapters in the book.flygirlfullcover17112014

Returning home to Nigeria… is that an option? Good question, and to run from racism is just running, if I had ran away as a new recruit I wouldn’t be telling this story, how long must one fight is another story. In the play Pandora’s Box by playwright Ade Solanke this issue of returning to Nigeria was discussed, one of the characters the uncle was telling the diaspora his niece and her friend to “stay there” (U.K) and fight. The friend who had decided to make a new life in Nigeria (the character Bev whose parents migrated to Britain from the Caribbean) argued against him speaking about England saying ” Uncle, I’d love to contribute to my country. I’ve tried to. But do they want my contribution? Well, I refuse to be wasted!” She goes on to say that we are more than English and wanting to discover another part of her. I agree with the character, and Nigeria is certainly an option. Look at the statistics of Black British actors and entertainers who cross the pond heading to USA.

You are a very busy woman campaigning for women and their issues, is this another empowering tool? It is simply my writing journey although it is part of empowering if a woman reader feels inspired in her journey by relating to my writing/storytelling, then that is a success for me.

What next? The mission continues, I must follow the call to write and to work, to do the things that give me joy, the works that are creative and that can be shared.

Why should I buy your book? Two words, I guarantee you’ll engage and enjoy it.

What will our readers hear about your book that they haven’t heard elsewhere? This author shares her experiences and thoughts from her travels, and discusses taboo topics and issues not easily for conversation in our and the wider community.

If you were me right now, what sort of questions should you I be asking? O.K I would like to tell you about the euphoric feeling of delivering my debut, and that it was created for people like me, but also beyond that target group. If you ask about my readership I feel that outside of Black women in diaspora and at home, this book relates and can be read by an international audience of men and women.

How long did it take you to write this book? About nine months flat

Is there a part 2 coming on? My journey and travels continue, a travel series perhaps.

Two thoughts before you go. Many people are afraid to fly, my thoughts on this analogy is to feel the fear and still take off. I have overcome that fear of writing and sharing so please do share your stuff!

Where can we find more about your book?

Her book is available on Amazon Kindle now. A Fly Girl will be available in print from Amazon, Waterstones and all good retailers by January 2015.  For deluxe and author signed copies for people in the UK, you may order from Blossom Books at mail@msroseblossom.org. Connect with her on social media facebook.com/msroseblossom and twitter@msroseblossom

 

Amanda Epe joins Tundun Adeyemo on http://www.aukradio.com tonight from 6pm.

 

Obi and Titi: Adventures into race and more

I was delighted to have  the author of  the Adventures of Obi and Titi, the Hidden Temple of Ogiso  Oyehmi Begho on my  Radio show yesterday. It was phenomenal. We had an enlightened and informative conversation about the role of multiculturalism and identity in the psyche of children in the UK. The conversation moved into the uncomfortable depths of race and why African children need an identity that is defined and different from the  common culture. It was the Outspoken radio show where else can you talk so freely?Obi and titi 1

Every body is talking about this book and when you read it, you will understand why. You will wonder  where Obi and Titi have been all your life. Why did it take Oyemi so long to get this book out ? Better late than never.  The potential of this book is incredible and exciting, I am just  happy to be a small part of this.

More than anything else, the book adds to the African narrative that great things are yet to come out of Africa and that Africans are the ones who can set the tone and narrative about Africa.

Suited for eight and nine year old children of all races, Oyemi was very keen to point out that his book should do for African children what Dora the Explorer, Go Diego Go, do for children of the world.  Whilst we are yet to have our own African version of both Dora and Go Diego Go, Obi and Titi will do for children  what Tales by Moonlight did for us in the nineties growing up in Nigeria. Infact, we now have Obi and Titi. We now need to make sure they are successful  and that they last for as long as we have children watch Dora and Peppa pig on tv. In other words, may Obi and Titi soar to great heights.

 

Obi and titi 2

It is certain that the team behind Obi and Titi will achieve great success as they sell their books and characters to schools, libraries, community centers and all other places. as their creation. We hope and pray that very soon Obi and Titi will appear on Disney, Sky,  ITV  and all  other networks.  Our work is now clear cut: we must make this happen.

Undoubtedly, it is the hope that this book will start and sustain the conversation that there is a lack of African role models in the public sphere.  Of course,  there are Nigerian  doctors and lawyers scattered around, but  they are not in the media  and certainly, not in the news.  In this sense, having African literature will help spread the message that there is so much more out there for us to achieve. Our children will learn that they can be more than firemen and dinner ladies. And I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with being that, I am only saying that ethnic children (all children) need to aspire to achieve more in schools and in our communities. Perhaps, this would inspire a kid or two.

Obi and Titi have shone the light and begun the adventure.

To buy the book, please visit http://www.obiandtiti.com.

Mine forever

Feeling a little nostlagic this morning, I am going republishing another classic. I really really love this piece. I cannot tell you how much. I wrote this when I was pregnant with my little girl  (Femi) and my sister had just had her son. Its nearly five years now and I wish I could still write like this.  Originally titled Ire and I, I have changed that to ‘Mine Forever’.

I can tell you one thing though, I am not this girl anymore. I am bona fide mum (warts and all):)

If this doesnt make you smile, nothing will.

Ire 1

Ire and I

 

This is for my nephew Ire Oyetade who is going to read this in a couple of years and smile (hopefully).

The Ancient Book of Jeremiah records ‘before I formed thee in the belly,I knew thee’.

Before Ire, I was a non- domesticated young woman. I had prided myself on the strength to focus on the things that matter in life: my job, my writings, the need to change my car and the urgency to get with the program and the need to get a mortgage. Babies and everything in that department were on number 10 on every life list made.

As a rule, I don’t do babies, children, diapers, milk, kitchen etc. I cook, but I wont describe myself as a gourmet goddess. I enjoy good food and I have every respect for those who have mastered the skills of doing magic with vegetables, beans, turkey or rice. My strength, I think, lies away from the domestics. I have friends who have the softer things in their lives planned. I am simply not that type. I take it you now know what I mean!

Till I met Iretomide.

Ire is my sister Dupe’s baby. He was born December 3 and he is arguably the most beautiful baby I have ever seen.

After I had washed my hands, I held him in my arms. He was sleeping. I am not sure he was aware I carried him. That experience for me was surreal. I had not felt that warmth of love for humanity in a long time. I carried him softly, cuddled him, and started to do what any woman would do intuitively, I took a walk around the house with him. The mother in me had woken up and I couldn’t help it.

I would spend the next days just hovering around when he was being breast fed, sleeping, playing and being washed. I just wanted to carry him all the time.

Ire is my first experience with babies and he made it worth my while. He wasn’t accusing or questioning. He was simply trusting. He loved me just the way I was. I needed no qualifications to love, hold, comfort or care for him. Ire didnt care I have spots on the right side of my face or that I am ambidextrous.

I started to observe his hand movements when he sucked his mother’s breasts, when he wanted to sleep, when he was satisfied, angry, impatient, soiled, distressed etc. I found that if you really look and observe, babies do communicate with us in a very speciaIre 2l way. Ire did!

I now know why my mum loves me unconditionally. I know why God does not mess around when I am involved. I know why when I call out to God he answers. I am like Ire to him. I know why Jesus wanted all the little children to come to him.

The desire to protect one’s family, to stand with a child in any circumstances is unexplainable. I simply became resolved to make Ire happy. Ire wont need to ask for anything. I will always be there for him.
I noticed when he started to turn his head, his preference for his mum and the way he takes to sleep when his father carries him. I noticed his partiality for soul music. His father would often play him Christian tunes: music from his phone and Ire would gently begin to sleep. I noticed with his grandmother, he enjoyed the ‘Ekusa song’.

Ire has come into our lives to show us all that God is in the details. God made men perfect without blemish. Ire has come to remind us that the hand of God is in all we do. Ire entered into his 4th week on Thursday, he still doesn’t know he has touched a place in my heart I never even knew existed.
If I am this inspired by Ire I wonder how elated his parents must be each time they look at him or hold him in their arms.

I am not sure when it happened. Ire and I made a bond. He let me carry him and he didn’t cry. When he smiled, it was like the heavens opened. It was beautiful. I cannot even begin to describe how beautiful it feels to hold Ire. He opens his fingers in an analytical way when he is being carried, about to cry, eating. We can begin to tell what he wants (almost) by following the opening of his hands. When he cries, it hurts.

Holding Ire in my arms showed me that being a mother has simply got to be one of the most special and amazing l experiences in life . If you have a child, you are blessed. If you don’t have children yet, open your heart to some of the things we can learn from little babies. Before Ire I was just there, Ire opened me up to this world of opportunities and possibilities.

Ire gave me hope. I cannot put my hands on. Hope in the sense that this is what matters. Life is on many levels. The level with Ire would seem to be the highest there is. Now I know why my friends with children say their children remain the best thing in life to them. There is something exquisite about Ire: a purity, an innocence.

God uses the stupid things of the world to teach us wisdom. God used Ire to show me life was not in the glamour and sophistication of London, Lagos and New York. Ire is life. Perfect. Ideal.
I know I will always be there for Ire. He wont need to call. I will always come running.

I am back on the beat. I miss Ire, his mum and dad terribly. They made Ire possible. I felt their love and devotion to each other and Ire. I think I bonded even more with my sister than I have ever done in my entire life. Ire brought us closer.

I left Ire with deeply convinced that life without children was not an option for me. Its a journey I must make. Soon.

Tundun Adeyemo

 

To Lagos with Love: the Afriqiyah Experience

I wrote this years ago when I just started my column Reflections with TELL Magazine.

Over the weekend, I took my mum to the airport and I noticed  that there were no African airlines at that time (6am) flying to Lagos, Nigeria.  It is a shame what the West has done to Libya isnt it? Fond memories now of the Afriqiyah Airlines. Air France seems to be the preferred airline and these days unlike before, you do not need a transit visa.afriquiyah 1

The Afriqiyah Experience

Afriqiyah is Libya’s official airline with red, green, yellow and black colours and the numbers 9999  embossed on every aircraft. The numbers 9999 is of course the birth date of the African Union.  The entire Afriqiyah Airways consists of modern Airbus 320 – 200 , A319-111 & A330-200 aircrafts.  With primary objective of linking Africa to Africans, Afriqiyah is quite popular amongst Nigerians for its affordability and baggage allowance generosity.  The airline tells a different story when it comes to reliability and often times, customer/ cabin service. With a chequered history of running at ‘African time’, Afriqiyah’s punctuality is notoriously tardy. I was about to find out just how behind schedule the airline can be.

The promise of spending Christmas in the warmth of my native Ibadan propelled me at the last minute to book my flight home with Afriqiyah. Afriqiyah was the only airline that would put me up within my budget. Whilst other airlines were charging £1200 -£1500, Afriqiyah was charging half of these amounts.

I left home (Luton) at 545am on Saturday the 19th of December.  From there, I caught the Gatwick Airport service which was delayed for 38 minutes because of signal failure a little further down the line in the Bedford area. On the platform, we were continuously updated about the whereabouts of the train we were waiting for. By the time it showed up, my hands had lost all feeling. England was experiencing severe wintry weather conditions. The day before (18th), Luton experienced 5 inches of snow. I was counting on a wish and a prayer that Gatwick airport would remain open as was advertised online.Afriquiyah 3

My cold numb hands warmed down on the train. Nothing ever prepares you for the cold: clothes and length of time in the UK does not get you ready for the harshness of the weather. I was wearing two pairs of gloves each on both hands, yet my hands were ice frozen.

Getting to Gatwick, the queue on the Afriqiyah route progressively reached the doors which borders on the North and South Terminals. Somehow, I was assured that there were So many Nigerians were like me, who were flying budget. I was given a £5 voucher at check- in and informed that the plane was running 2 hours late.  Departure had been moved from 1130am to 1330pm. I was pleased to have the opportunity to do some more last minute Christmas shopping.

After a while, I got bored monitoring the departure boards, 1330 became 1515, till they eventually announced we were boarding at about 1700. Once we were all sat in the airplane with seat belts done, the plane did not take off until 1800. The flight captain informed us eventually that the plane wings needed to be de-iced. This was the first official information we were given as to why we were running about 5 hours late. Honestly, I think the Captain was forced to make an in-flight announcement as a couple of militant passengers who were hungry and frustrated threatened to get off the plane.

We got to Tripoli the capital city of Libya some 5 hrs later. The time at Tripoli was 1245am. We were processed through immigration and airport security.  We were sat in a poorly lit corner waiting room which had no toilets. There was a toilet, apparently, but, it was not lit and one could not lock it from the inside. We were not offered water or refreshments.

As we waited, the crowd grew tense, irritable and anxious. A baby or two were crying. A mother was arguing with her husband about something he said. The militants in the group were at the door of the waiting room having a go at the Libyan officials who were nervously dodging questions. A lot was happening between the passengers. The most curious conversation was between a young lady and her boyfriend. It had started in the processing line getting off the plane. It was gradually increasing in excitement and tempo. Apparently, the girl had caught her man sending some questionable text messages to an ex girl friend. The nameless girl, beautiful enough, seemed frustrated that she was  having to deal with such drama when her man was taking her home to meet his parents. After a while, her outburst exacerbated and some passengers had to wade in. There was no place for the boyfriend to have gone, so we all just glared at him whilst he looked at his Dunlop slippers. The lady eventually held her peace after an older woman waded in and severely reprimanded the man.

In another part of the room, a woman hysterically walked to the door and demanded information as to how long we were going to be at Tripoli for. She was just yelling.  I am not sure how the scenes in the Tripoli waiting room would have played out in any European airport. We were all Africans. We were in Africa and as such behaving like Africans. To be candid, I wondered if we would have been treated differently if we were Caucasians.afriqiyah 5

The poorly ventilated waiting room (lacked air conditioning) was getting claustrophobic and I was beginning to fight mosquitoes (imaginary and otherwise). I was armed with a blue plastic fan which seemed to do justice to getting the mosquitoes away from me. I didn’t have to battle for long. 45 minutes passed idly and then we were loaded in buses to a waiting plane.  It later emerged that Afriqiyah might have wanted us to spend the night in the waiting room to give the pilot and his crew some time to rest and clean the plane.  We were lucky to have left that night as we were told by another contingent of Nigerians that they had been waiting in Tripoli for 3 days!

Afriqiyah Airlines Flight Number 8U913 touched Muritala Mohammed International Airport at 0530 on Sunday the 20th of December.  By 0700am I was in our car been driven home. The journey for me had taken over 24 hours. To be honest, I just glad to be home. I had seen a lot on this trip. I had seen a Priest from Warri loose his cool and decorum in the final tumble. I had seen a mother beg for water for her thirsty children. I had seen a father search frantically for his daughter in distraught as we scrambled to enter the plane from Tripoli. I had witnessed cabin crew and passengers exchange angry words, I had observed people queue for over 20 minutes to use the small lavatory on the aircraft. It was just a terrible journey that tried the patience of people. Crucially, I had seen Nigerians who were orderly in Gatwick, become disorderly in Tripoli and loose every cool as we approached Nigeria.

Perhaps, Afriqiyah could have helped the situation if the in-flight food tasted better or if they had provided more information about what was going on to us. Who knows? I was just pleased I had left the bitter cold behind. I was  home in Nigeria and I was going to enjoy my holiday.

 

Tundun Adeyemo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering Fallen Heroes

Last Tuesday, the United Kingdom, UK, observed a two-minute silence at the 11th hour, on the 11th day in the 11th month to commemorate the exact day and time when hostilities of the First World War, WW1, (1914–1918) formally ended. The two-minute silence was obpoppy 1served across the country in schools, train stations, banks and places of business as a sign of respect.

This year also marked the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the war. In London and other parts of the country, services were held to remember the dead. People bought what had become the symbol of the WW1, the Poppy: a red flower that ssymbolizes powerfully the meaning of life in the face of death. We wore our poppy and wrist bands with honor and pride remembering that the freedom came at the expense of a price paid.

A million more people bought the Poppy this year than last year. You can get the Poppy for free, but you need to make a donation to the British Legion. There were different types of Poppies, as people have adapted to make the Poppy individualized and personal. The Poppy here has great meaning and depth and hugely symbolic. Very often, white folk would have a story to tell about the WW1. A colleague lost his grandfather and great uncle to the Great War. I never met them, but the pain still filters through when he talks about it. Millions of people in the UK  are able to pay their respects, salute the courage and pass on a great history to their children every year at this time.  My mother’s father fought in the Second World War. I remember his uniform and some of the pictures he took hanging in his home in Oke Aremo, Ibadan. Mum does not talk often about what her dad told her about the war, but I remember grand pa’s pictures with some pride.

One of the biggest events to mark the 100th year anniversary was at the Tower of London – where a sea of ceramic poppies that make up the number of people who died during the First World War – was laid. About five million people from across the UK and the world went to view the 888,246 handmade poppies that were planted. It was a sight to behold and never in British history has there been such a powerful commemoration.

The Poppy means different things to different people. As an African, I bought the Poppy to make a statement, as it has become a very British thing to wear the Poppy. It gave me things to talk about with people who wore it. It made me feel like part of the society I live in. The black British artiste Jamelia got herself into a lot of trouble with her fans for refusing to wear the Poppy on a television programme. In many ways, wearing the Poppy has become a civic duty and you earn the respect of your peers when you do that. Perhaps not.poppy 2

School children up and down the country are also taught the meaning of the Poppy in their history and citizenship lessons, and you find them wearing it too. It is the best thing to teach children here about their past. The only exception to this is that children from Black heritage may feel alienated, as this is not their history. I stand to be corrected. Our history is not taught in schools. It is not discussed as widely as the Poppy. Even in Nigeria, unfortunately, some of the best schools pattern their curriculum after the English syllabus, missing vital opportunity to teach African children about their history. We need to say this as multi-culturalism and identity is a significant part of a person’s make-up.

The month of October is Black History Month and it is the time when many minority ethnic groups salute the works of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Mahatma Gandhi and so on. That’s great, but what about African history? Is there any such thing as African history? Why are we not telling it? I tell my little daughter most mornings that she is first a Yoruba girl whose mother grew up in Ibadan, then British. I tell her when she grows up or as soon as I can organize it, she will go to Yoruba school. Yoruba school is an idea I am working on- an after school facility where children born in England can learn about their language and roots. I digress. My daughter wont be taught in school African history, it is my duty to make the connections for her, it is my job to teach her the history of the Yoruba people. What ever she makes of it is her business, but she would learn our culture, our values and our language.

All the money collected on the Poppy goes to the Royal British Legion whose work includes encouraging everyone to support the Poppy Appeal for “the memory of the fallen and the future of the living.” The British Legion helps families cope with bereavement, living with disability or finding suitable work. The British Legion website states that money collected goes directly “to welfare work providing life carepoppy 3 to anyone who is currently serving in the British Armed Forces, and those who have previously served and their families.”

Whilst the UK remembers its dead and formally thanks them every year, Nigeria does a similar thing for its fallen soldiers. Every January 15th is Nigeria’s Armed Forces Day, where we hold parades and fill up stadiums to remember our dead although one wonders what happens to the families of soldiers who died in the Civil War and soldiers killed every day in the ongoing insurgency in the North. It is exciting to remember these fallen heroes while taking good care of those still alive as they put their lives on the line to prevent the country from disintegrating.

In Britain, November 11 has come and gone, they will always be remembered.  The welfare of our men and women in uniform must be a priority for Nigerian leaders. It is in looking after their families that we truly remember them.

 

Tundun Adeyemo

What Battabox made of it: Our Literary Evening

Its been a little over a week since hosted our event the African Literary Evening and by now you must have seen this video by Battabox.

I have watched it several times.

Would Nigerians let their child be a writer? I can only speak for myself. In an ideal world, I would write full time. But, thats the way it is for most writers. I will support my child to discover all that God has deposited inside of her. If it includes painting and writing, so be it. She would need to get an education first though. What do you think? Let the conversation continue below…

Interesting twist and questions, amazing views from our audience. Its Battabox doing what they do best!

A huge thank you to Ruona and Christain for this:)

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Lynkmii: the app for business people

Lkymii image

The LynkMii   app enables business owners to publish details of their products and services to mobile customers based on their geographic location. It is an amazing app, that is backed up by its website component. With customers from around the world increasing every day, Lynkmii is definitely here to stay. With help available 24 hours, 7 days a week the Lynkmii is a beautiful app and a welcome development for all businesses (big or small).

The  ‘About’ page on the Lynkmii website reads’In this technological age, businesses need to be able to reach their customers in a friendly and effective way. LynkMii allows businesses and Customers to come together using the most effective medium of our times through Smart Phones, Tablets and the world wide web. The LynkMii portal enables Business owners to publish details of their Products and Services to these mobile customers based on their geographic location. This enables prospective customers to review any business within their local area offering specific services or any special offers that may be available’.

This app sounds like music to the ears of any one who owns a business or who wants to promote a brand. Absolutely free to sign up, a trial would convince you.

Testimonials

I have tried Lynkmii and it works. Absolutely brilliant app. Easy to use, more people just need to be aware that they can promote their businesses and  brands for free. Every little helps:).

Tundun Adeyemo, Founder Black and Outspoken

 

Discovering My Purpose with Adeola Akintoye

Discovering my Purpose is a book that empowers men, women to move onto the next level of their lives. Author Adeola Akintoye writes passionately with love and from experience. With the heart of a minister, Adeola show you how to embrace your future with confidence and faith. Very rarely do you read a book that stirs up something deep within you. This is that book. Written with you in mind, have a read today and share here what you think about ‘Discovering my Purpose’. Life is too short to do otherwise.

The Blurb

One woman’s account of how she took time off to connect with God and the effects that it has on her outlook moving forward. The author’s motives will touch the readers, who will probably be able to identify with feeling stressed, burned out or unhappy with their work environments.

The author asks profound questions that are unique and thought provoking. The market is saturated with books about God, but it is not very often that an author asks things like whether or not we can ever love God enough or self-reflection questions like “Do I really give God the chance to share His heart with me?”

The book blends everyday life with deep spiritual concepts and realizations. Many books on God and spirituality tend to consist only of one spiritual teaching after another; rarely do authors present concepts about God in the context of normal events like spending time with family.

Are you a Christian?

  • Who is struggling to find the right balance between your career and your relationship with God.
  • Who knows that they are on earth for a purpose but you don’t know what that is.
  • Who is not satisfied with the current state of your relationship with Jesus.
  • Who wants to fulfill your purpose on earth.

Reading this book is for you. Adeola’s journey will help you to make a decision about your life. It would encourage you to take that bold step in fulfilling your purpose and to step out in faith for your relationship with Jesus.

 

 

 Author Bio

 Adeola Akintoye book cover

Adeola is first and foremost a born again child of God. She has dedicated her life to positively impacting her world through her writing, teachings, mentoring and coaching. Adeola is the founder of We CAN Leadership Institute. She is a Chartered Accountant (Fellow Association of Chartered Certified Accountant – ACCA) with a Masters in Business Information Technology. She has worked in various leadership roles for International Non Governmental Organization in a career spanning 20 years. As a committed Christian, her personal vision is to live a life that glorifies God, through serving and adding value into the lives of other people. She wants to make a positive impact in the lives of peopleadeola akintoye 1, particularly our youths, young people and emerging leaders, contributing to developing and transforming them into role models for our generation.

Her author website is http://www.adeolaakintoye.com. She writes regularly on her blog http://ajourneyintospiritualmaturity.blogspot.co.uk/.

Her book(s) are available on Amazon and other online retailers.

 

Book Publicity of 'A Fly Girl' on!!!!

Black and Outspoken is excited to announce our collaboration with Author Amanda Epe on the promotion of her book ‘A Fly Girl’. Her tour would start  from the 25th of November till the 5th of January 2015.
Amanda Epe picture
Amanda Epe writes articles, essays, poetry, fiction and self help; her work has been featured in publications and anthologies in the U.K, U.S and in Saraba Literary Magazine Ng.

A Fly Girl is her debut book, an inspirational memoir of her days working with BA; travel tales through the lens of a black African perspective.

She has a Masters in Education, Health Promotion and International Development and her blog focuses on promoting health and literary art for women at http://www.msroseblossom.org.

You can connect with Amanda Epe on social media

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/msroseblossom

Twitter: http://www.twitter@msroseblossom

If you are a blogger, particularly one that writes book reviews, and you would like to host her on your blog, kindly fill in the contact form.

If you are a writer and would like Black and Outspoken to organise your own virtual book tour, let us help you do that.

Online Workshop on Writing and Self Publishing

Black and Outspoken is proud to announce the creation of an online workshop for 2015.  One will focus on writing and self-publishing while the other is all about using social media to market your books.

Writing and Self Publishing Online Workshop

This workshop is ideal for bloggers, unpublished writers and people keen to take their writing to the next level. 

The ‘ Writing and Self Publishing workshop will last for 2 hours. You will be given the workshop outline and you will get an opportunity to work with other writers, as well as get your own writing reviewed.

This  interactive online workshop will include the following:

1. Finding your market
2. Who is my audience?
3. What genre am I writing in?
4. Planning my story.
5.  Writing my story
6. Peer review of my story
The session costs: £49.99.
 Date: Thursday 11th December 2014
Time: 1830 -2030pm
The second online workshop is ‘Marketing Your Books Using Social Media’.
 You will be shown how to:
 1.Publicize your book using social media.
2. Using Twitter and Facebook to promote your book.
3. Using Instagram for business.
4. Maximizing your blog posts to generate traffic.
5. You will get the opportunity of promoting your own brand in the session using techniques taught
Cost: £49.99
Duration: 2 hours
If you are interested in self-publishing and marketing your book and you book both online workshops together, you pay only £90. Think about that for 4 hours of training!
Time: 630pm to 830pm.
Venue: Online on Googlehangouts
Register your interest.
If you have any questions about any of the information included above please complete the contact form below and someone will get back to you.

'I was going to London, not to see the Queen'.

At the recently concluded African Literary Evening, I read from my book ‘The Immigrant’. Here is the poem I shared. Enjoy:)

Dedicated To Kunle Shonuga, founder http://www.urnaija.comThe Immigrant picture

 

Getting to the UK

Nearly thirteen years on

I cannot tell if I have been a success or a failure

If I had to choose

A success no doubt

Many times I have returned to the Lagos International airport

Remembering the ‘send-off’ filled with various expressions of

Prayers, hopes and aspirations

In the small party was my friend Sheni

She cried and cried

I was only going six hours away

The potential of what that meant

Was that she might never see me again

It’s a shame although she now lives in Leeds

I never see her

We hardly ever talk

 

Olasupo was the lad I would have married

He travelled all night

From Port Harcourt I suppose.

In his goodbye, a final farewell

For ours was a relationship I was too eager to break

Deluded that there were better men

Living In the land of the Queen

 

Olasupo never cried, nor did he say much

Yet I will never forget those eyes

Filled with anguish and loss

And an embrace so brisk

That I could still sense his pain

13 years on and he is neither

Unmarried nor is he single

But what we will never be

Is a couple again.

 

I remember the good-byes

The tears and the prayers

And I’ve often wondered just how many of those

Prayers God did actually hear

But those prayers did not prepare me

In any way for the land of cold winters

With bills and all sorts

One thing was definitely certain

I was going to London

Not to see the Queen!

 

Tundun Adeyemo

For more of the poems, please click here The Immigrant