Hello God

 

I have decided to title my post today Hello God!

Driving to work yesterday, I listened to  Hello God! Dolly Parton. The song got me thinking, hence this. Since my last article, I have been inundated with calls of people trying to help. This is sweet.

Naked is not auto biographical. This is just me trying to write. So please don’t send e-chocolates, flowers, texts or GIFs. I am -believe it or not- actually good. All I want is for you to read and maybe even like the article. Leaving a comment would be amazing.

Hello God

Are you seeing the suffering all around? Much of it cannot be put into words. Brexit and Trump dwarf the national conversations, yet a lot is going on that is not making the evening news.

Blacks, Africans, Asians, people who don’t look the part feel small and smaller as the rhetoric hardens. It is getting easier for head teachers, managers, recruitment managers to undermine people like me.

Racism had been repressed under the Labour government. Now, it seems, people are not ashamed to say that they don’t want your services because you are black. Add the fact that you are African, you stand no chance. Had you been a Brit with a funky accent, perhaps that could have helped. But, you are African. No one cares. Do you?

Hello God

It took me twenty years to get my Indefinite leave to remain in this country. Yet, ‘they’  make me feel as though I don’t belong.

I don’t belong.

After twenty years.Twenty years of residence. Twenty years of PAYE, twenty years of NI contributions. Twenty years.

Hello God

Unless accountants find a creative way around IR 35, many of us will return  back to where we came from.Slowly, our hard earned income will be exploited by greedy umbrella companies  executives who chill in luxury offices  drinking black coffee. Faceless  executives who will become wealthy on my labour and then they spit in my face.

Hello God

My babysitter is in Lagos. She   looked after my toddler so I could work nights. She had gone to visit her man in Barking. The Metropolitan Police and Immigration sniffed her out. She had ‘Deport me’ written all over her fore head. What do I do? I promise you I didn’t know she was illegal. You don’t ask these questions. Do you?

Hello God

Tina’s text message took away my sleep over night. She had just returned from a trip to see her father, only to be told that he passed away this morning. It was a text message that needed a reply, but none was forthcoming. She needs to tell me how to support her. Facebook messages mean nothing. This is hard. He  was like a father to me. Back in the day, his financial support kept my family going.

 

Hello God

I need to say this, if you were real, there would be less turmoil and upset in my world today. You know about my skepticisms about your reality, my secret fears, the sleepless nights, my unexpressed anguish, disguised disappointments, repetitious frustrations, deep regrets, pain, silent tears and helplessness at my situation. Yet, you do nothing.

I dont mean to be disrespectful ….but You do nothing.

Did I say God? Some comfort in choosing not the believe that You are who you say you are. 

Regrets, upon regrets. Living with the in laws, had I known  it was going to end like this, I would not have married him. Saliu wont let me work after  ten years of marriage. My days are idly spent. My worth as a woman is determined by the kind of day he has had at work.

After the school run, I am stuck in the house. A prisoner in my home, a stranger to my neighbours, a door mat to my husband. I live in a free country, but I am chained to the cultural yoke of my people, my inability to speak the common language represses me. I am in chains.  A prisoner in the UK, allowed by the religion and culture I choose to profess.  My mother says, I will get used to it. She survived it loosing her soul in the process.

I died ten years ago. I die every day.

Hello God

The bitch dad had sex  wants me dead.

Hello God

This is our third attempt trying for a baby.

Hello God

I need a JOB!!!!

Hello God

I got rid of the baby so we could have a life together. He broke up with me last night.

Hello God

It took me seven years to get out of debt. Slowly. Yet, my mortgage application has been denied nine times. I can’t get  credit of any kind.

Hello God

My son is on drugs. It is out of control. One day, I know the police will call me to tell me he is dead or he is victim of knife crime. I just know it. I need to get out of this neighbourhood. Years of trashy living and I am paying for it.

Hello God

If you are reading this, please give me the grace to believe that you work all things together for my good.

 

 

I have been Naked!

T

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The Right Person!

BREIS (breeze) is one of the most exciting rap artists out of London via Nigeria and is back with an incredible single, ‘The Right Person’ produced by Nigerian producer Dr. Frabz.

‘The Right Person’ is arguably the best love song you’ll hear this year about finding that special someone, amidst pressure from family members to get married and is absolutely hilarious. BREIS’ storytelling skills, seasoned flow and wordplay shines over this dance inducing Afro Hip Hop groove. The cool vocals of Mide and singer songwriter Ebisan add to the flavor of the song.

Kenny Brandmuse: on life and living

You know him. His story literally went viral on Monday.  He is Kehinde Bademosi, he is also known as Kenny Brandmuse.  On the 1st of December, 2014, he revealed to the world that he has been living with the damn HIV virus for 15 years. His courage, his story has moved the world. I have him here as my Man of the week. His book:  The Exodus by Kenny Brandmuse -A Journey Within will be released in 2015. When that happens, Black and Outspoken will have it right here to review, analyse and dissect. Dont you worry:).

I have written a lengthier column on inspired by Kenny, but for now,  I wanted to add that HIV is rampant here in the UK within Black African communities because people are still not wearing condoms. In  Nigeria, HIV is prevalent among st women and girls because they are allowing men to have sex without using condoms. If we must take any solace or comfort from Kenny’s story, it is that every one should carry a pack of condoms in their wallets or bags. Have one. Keep it there.  Next to your Bibles, should be your condoms. Nothing to be ashamed of. Using a condom means you are choosing life. You are not ignorant or stupid. Please dont listen to men when they say they cannot feel anything. Tell the idiot to jog on.

If there is a chance that you might be having sex, buy a pack of it. And another one. kenny 2

The use  of a combination drugs and the fact that since 2008, people with HIV are living longer and healthier  is no reason to get the virus because of stupidity.

Get tested and stay safe. Kenny is right, there is no reason to be afraid of HIV anymore.  What is his advise to life and living? Love yourself, tell compelling stories, lift people up, fight the oppression around. Have a read of what he said on his Facebook Post: it would inspire you to find your real self. YOu must have read it already.

If you havent, here it is.

 

Today, Monday December 1st, is World AIDS day, and I’m celebrating my resolve to live with this damn virus all these many years without letting it define who I am. Every journey I take, every picture of me you see, and every new challenge I take on are all huge reminders that I must never stop living my best life. So, I decided to share my journey with you today. Honestly, I don’t know what exactly you are dealing with but I’m writing you this to hold tight to your dream. Here’s a quick sketch of my journey from the first day I tested positive, some 15 years ago. My upcoming book tells the full story.kenny 4

1999. After three years of different pains and minor illnesses, I was encouraged by my best friend and Professor Soyinka, an HIV specialist, to go get tested so I could face my fear. I had just resumed work as a Copywriter at McCann. I’d rather not know. I was working on Coca Cola, and I would rather live in the joy of that dream. It was that point when you assured yourself this was only a lie from the pit of hell. I had not been a ‘bad boy,’ I would assure myself.

1999. I tested, and it came back positive. I blamed everyone but myself. I wanted to end my life immediately. Trust me, I did try a few things. Then I called on God. I told God to change the status because it didn’t look good on him. I sang. I fasted. I gave offerings. Prophet offerings. I died several times, but I didn’t die. I was always back to myself. I came up with a few pseudo coping skills, but I was always depressed. The picture of HIV back then was very gory, and I was wasting away.

2004. I realized I didn’t die yet. My flesh had not fallen off. My heart was still beating. I still liked rice and pepper stew. I still had early morning erections – and not just in the early mornings. Shouldn’t I be dead by now? I began to question everything I ever knew.kenny 6

2006. I had a local operation for tonsillitis, and it brought my immune system to level zero. I was infected by everything you could name. But I was so happy that I was going to die finally. Wouldn’t it be nice to die just like that? Unfortunately, I did not die. I was bedridden for four months and was forced to live by myself. It was there that my Exodus happened. I realized for the 1st time that the real death is when we refuse to live out our full potential. Death is not a physical thing. It is an emotional thing. When we stop living. When we stop laughing. When we stop learning. When we stop crying. Or feeling. So I couldn’t wait to get out of the hospital. There, I started the anti-HIV medication. (Trust me, it doesn’t kill as I had feared)

2007. I started living and loving myself. As a creative person, I created Orange Academy to start teaching people how to find their creative self. Love themselves. Tell compelling stories. I put all my life into it. Then, I started to undo all my pseudo coping skills. Oh, I had tons of them. Like getting married, wanting people to accept me, being the ‘yes’ man to Ministers of God – something I did in times past to assure myself I was doing ‘God’s will.’ I stopped sending my money to Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and started investing it on people I could see around me. Little did I realize that God didn’t send me to do anything to gain his favor or search for him. God had never been lost. I was meant to find myself and live my authentic life. Lift people up. Fight the oppression around me. I started spending time with myself. I started working out at the gym. I started to travel to enjoy the universe.

2008 – 2010. I looked in the mirror, and I saw a better me. A younger me. A healthier me. No more lies. At Orange Academy, we started the ART OF POSITIVE THINKING and started to use our arts and money to assist people living with debilitating diseases or social conditions. I took those layers of lies off my soul. I started writing my memoir – my full story as a preacher boy trying to find God who arkenny 7t in heaven! [ THE EXODUS coming out next year ]

2014. November. I had an appointment with my doctor in Maryland, USA, and he asked me:
‘What’s your secret?’ All your medical tests are amazing. We tested for everything possible. No new infections or conditions. Blood work is excellent. Nothing at all to worry about. Perfect health. Just that you are still HIV+.’
‘Oh really?’ I said. ‘I thought that had disappeared.’
‘ Well, it’s still there, sadly. I hope Science gets the cure someday soon.’

We both laughed and then I fought back a little tear in my eyes. This dude doesn’t know how grateful I am for HIV. Thank God for HIV. I wish I never had it, but Lord I did! It made me run after myself. Maybe I would never have understood myself; that no one can save us but us. Maybe I would never know the refreshing power that loneliness can bring when we embrace our broken self.

Here’s what I want you to take away: don’t end your dreams just because you are presented with bad news along the way. Remember, HIV doesn’t kill anymore; it’s ignorance that kills. Use that bad news to ride onto your next phase. It will be tough. I won’t lie. Don’t be afraid to live vulnerably. It’s empowering. Empower yourself by loving yourself. Find yourself. Give yourself to people without expecting anything in return. If you are a Faith person, keep living your Faith in love for humankind. Empty yourself and accept to be filled with kindness from others. Believe me, there are still angels out there to lift you up.

*NOTE: Potentially I cannot infect anyone with HIV since my viral load went to undetectable since 2008. Nevertheless, I still advise that you take precaution with sexual partners as an HIV+ person, so they don’t infect you with STDs. If you have not tested, know your status. It’s liberating. Starting an HIV medication now doesn’t only protect your loved ones but can make you live even longer than people without HIV. Want to chat? Send me an email at kennybrandmuse@gmail.com

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.

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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'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

' I dont think UK based African authors are celebrated enough' Irenosen Okojie

Irenosen Okojie is a freelance arts project manager, writer and author of Butterfly Fish (a book which will be published in 2015) and a collection of short stories. She is currently Writer in Residence for TEDxEAST END. A risk taker, she quit the study of law to explore her passion for the arts and literature. She is a regular contributor to the Guardian and the Observer, where she lends her support to writers from ethnic backgrounds. Okojie was selected for the Flight mentorship scheme for young writers run by Spread the Word.  Her work has been published in Kwani literary magazine, Ether Books, Arcadia Books, Fiction Uncovered and Flipped Eye. Until recently, she was the Prize Advocate for the 2014, SI Leeds Prize She is represented by Ellise Dillsworth Agency. She took some time to speak to Tundun Adeyemo from www.blackandoutspoken.com.

 

What project are you working on?

I am working on my novel and a short story collection.

>Is there anything you have done in the past to prepare you for where you are now?

 

Just reading voraciously and writing as much as possible!

 

Tell us how it felt to have been published by guardian.co.uk or won an award?irene 2

 

It’s a lovely thing, you get to reach a broad audience writing on topics you’re passionate about.

 

You write in defence of black and ethnic minority groups often is there a personal reason for this drive.

 

There’s an affinity there since I am from one of these groups. There are lots of talented black and Asian writers just waiting to be given a break. Of course, writing and getting a book published is difficult no matter your race anyway. Not only can producing the work be quite arduous but when so few people in the industry who look like you are picked up, you wonder why that is. The publishing industry can be very slow to change. It’s an unfair playing field, not just racially but class wise too and that’s why I’ve spoken about it.

Does your sense of justice lie in a passion for equality or in an ideal?

 

Probably more so for equality as ideals are subjective, also because sometimes the reality of a situation can be quite far removed from the ideal, so what you try to do is go for middle ground and address that imbalance however small or large your contribution might be.

 

Your sense of political fairness covers a lot of your work. Is this the trend you think other authors should take?

irene 4

 

I think you have to take the path that feels honest and authentic to you. There’s no set way of doing it and that’s part of the beauty of it.  Authors should write and talk about subjects they are passionate about.  Hopefully things will fall into place. These are some of the issues I care about and have discussed with other writers and friends. It has happened organically.

 

 

You have had a colourful and varied professional career how would you describe your success: luck or hard work?

 

 

I’d say a combination of both. Sometimes, you’re lucky enough to be in a position where everything just aligned at the right time. But I’ve also had my fair share of turmoil and disappointments too. There was a period for a few years where I just had job after job I didn’t enjoy. I had quit pretty quickly if something wasn’t for me too. Then, I accidentally fell into working in the arts. Something clicked and made sense, plus people in the arts are a different kind of breed. They’re laid back, open and they generally work very hard. Being around the creativity was inspiring and exciting to me.

 

 

Visibility is the key for black writers….can more established writers support new writers in anyway?irene 5

 

Definitely. I think if you’re a generous writer, you’ll find ways of supporting others, either by using platforms you’re connected to or creating opportunities yourself. You could start a writer’s group, join a mentoring programme, and give feedback and advice to emerging writers. There are lots of things people can do.

 

How did you get into writing? If you were not a writer, what else would you be?

 

 

I’ve always loved books. I read avidly as a kid so writing felt like a natural progression even though it was in the background. I kept diaries and wrote poems a lot. I joined a writing development programme and that really helped kick start my journey. I studied law at university for a bit but then quit that because the books were too expensive and I kept falling asleep during lectures!  If I wasn’t a writer I’d have loved to be an editor of some experimental magazine with global perspectives, like Trace magazine http://www.trace212.com/ or maybe a location hunter for films.

 

Are ebooks the future?

 

I think ebooks are definitely part of the future, more publishers have started to recognise that and are incorporating it into their models.

 

What books are you reading now?

 

Sometimes, I have this habit of reading several books at the same time. I’m currently reading Alex Wheatle’s Liccle Bit, Cupcake Brown’s A Piece  Of Cake and Margaret Atwood’s The Edible Woman.

 

What books are you expecting to buy this Christmas?

 

I tend to buy my books from charity shops. That way I have no set author in mind. It’s fun to rummage and discover books randomly.

Irene 8

Who is your favourite author and why ?

 

Too many! There are just too many to pick one favourite but I do love  Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Chinua Achibe, Buchi Emecheta, Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison, Alice Hoffman, Walter Mosley and many others.

 

 

Is there a profound reason behind your work?

 

Like many writers I love stories. There’s something magical about literature. It’s transformative and allows you to express yourself, to have a voice. It’s really powerful.

 

Could you describe a lesson you have learnt from any book you have read?

 

 

I picked up Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings in my teens.

Her life story blew my mind but also the honesty of her voice. There was something really sexy about her creative power, that she used it to forge her own path and that her experiences made her interesting, even the bad ones. It unlocked something in me.

 

Are African authors celebrated enough in your own opinion in the UK?

 

International African authors are celebrated but I don’t think UK based African authors are celebrated enough.

 

Is there a message for black emerging writers out there?

 

Just keep writing if you’re passionate, consistency does pay off even if it doesn’t feel like it is for a while.  Find those support networks to keep you going, they make a big difference. Go out and meet other writers,get feedback and most importantly, keep going. There is a space for diverse voices.

 

Where is the best place for our readers to find you?

 

I am on irenosenokojie.com. You can also find me on Twitter at @IrenosenOkojie

 

Tundun Adeyemo

 

 

 

 

 

I do not feel safe: Yemisi Ilesanmi

October is Black History/Lesbian Gays Bisexual Transsexual Month. In parts of London and the UK, people have been marking this in various ways. To help us give that some perspective  author Yemisi Ilesanmi, author of  ‘Freedom to love for all, Homosexuality is not un-African’ sent the text version of the interview she did with me on Aukradio.  She talks about why homosexuality is not just an European concept and much more. Enjoy reading.men7

 

 

 Why did you write this book?

 

Thanks. I wrote this book to counter the erroneous impression that homosexuality is Un-African. This is a rhetoric that many African politicians keep sprouting in their bid to defend the discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and Transsexuals. With the upsurge of anti-gay bills springing up in many African countries, it became imperative to provide necessary information and create awareness on the issues of sexual orientation especially homosexuality and bisexuality. Information is power and education is key to human development.  In this digital age, where information is easily accessible, it is sad to know that many people especially Africans still fall for the homophobic, biphobic and transphobic rhetoric that sexual orientation is a matter of choice.

In the book Freedom to Love For All; Homosexuality is not Un-African, I put together a collection of my essays debunking the myths that Homosexuality is Un-African. First, I started by clarifying the meaning of sexual orientation and providing accepted definition of the different kinds of sexual orientation and gender identity that we have. The first three chapters delved into known history of homosexuality and bisexuality in Africa. Noteworthy is the wall paintings in ancient Egypt of two black men kissing.

 

They were named khnumhotep and Niankhknum. They were ancient Egyptian royal servants, they are believed to be the first recorded same-sex couples in history. It is the only tomb in the necropolis where men are displayed embracing and holding hands. In addition, their names form a linguistic reference to their closeness. Niankhknum means joined to life and khnumhotep means joined to the blessed state of the dead, together the names can be translated as ‘Joined in life and joined in death’.

 

Also, there are other cultural practices in Africa that indicates not just the existence but acceptance of homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality in Africa.men 6

For example, in Uganda some members of the Buganda royal family suggest that homosexuality was existent and tolerated before colonial rule. To this day, it is said that many members of the Buganda royal family are gay.

 

Also, until the practice died out in the early 20th century, male Azande warriors in the northern Congo routinely married male youths who functioned as temporary wives.

 

Matriarchy was and is still strong in Calabar, Nigeria. In the absence of a male child, the eldest daughter in the family is allowed to marry another woman and have children together to carry on the family name.

Some African cultures viewed transgender persons as gods. They were revered before imported, intolerant religions started making waves in Africa. It was the advent of colonisation and the import of foreign laws like sodomy law, which brought homophobia and intolerance into many African societies.

 

For example, Sango the Yoruba god of thunder was often described as a beautiful woman who dressed like a woman, had his hair braided and accessorised like a woman. Sango priests all men, still dress in clothing traditional associated with women when performing rituals. Homosexuality, bisexuality, and transsexuality are not concepts alien to Africa, Sexual orientation is not just a cultural thing, it is a biological.

 

It is 2014 and you would think most people are more accommodating? Is that your experience?

Sadly, that is not my experience in 2014 Africa. In civilized, western countries, the laws and people are tending towards tolerance, better understanding of diversity however, most African countries seem to be doing the opposite. Bills and laws criminalizing gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transexual are now the order of the day. Homophobia is celebrated as a godly thing. Since when is oppressing your fellow human being a thing to celebrate, especially when the person does not pose any threat to you or the society.  I do hope with the right information, education, and awareness, we will overcome this tide of hate that Africans are projecting towards LGBTs. As you said, it is 2014; human relations should be getting better not worse

 

In your book, a lot of Nigerians have very myopic views to homosexuality. Could our generation change things?

I believe every generation has a responsibility to leave the world a better place than we met it. The generations before us fought slavery, fought for the right to be treated as full members of the human society, women got the right to vote, inter-racial marriage was decriminalized and accepted as a normal thing, this generation is a beneficiary of the dividends of these civil rights movements struggles. It therefore lies on this generation to fight the good fight for equal right for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transsexuals. We hold in our power to effect a positive change and I know we can. We have access to information; we just have to let go of our myopic views and embrace rationality. Learn to love not germinate or spread hate.

men 8

What annoys me is the hypocrisy with which Nigerian leaders deal with homosexuality. Are they capable of rational thought?

 

Unfortunately, rational thought and Nigerian leaders do not belong in the same sentence.

Corruption, hypocrisy, Boko Haram, stolen funds, bad infrastructures, bad governance are words that belong in the same sentence with Nigerian leaders. However, as the saying goes, every follower deserves the kind of leadership they get. Maybe Nigerians deserves their leaders after all the leadership is a reflection of the followership. I do hope there will be a positive change in the mind-set of Nigerians. The kind of change that would embrace rational thought, logic and tolerance. It is difficult but it is not impossible

 

 

What is life like for people who are victims of homophobia? What more can we do to highlight the fact that my sexuality is not your business?

 

Victims of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are not allowed to be who they are because of the oppression, and discrimination, hostility expressed towards gays in Nigeria.

 

Gays can lose their life due to homophobia. Public humiliation and lynching are possibilities lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans people face. 14 years imprisonment for same sex couples is now law in Nigeria. Many are ostracized by family members and friends, loss of economic income, and loss of human rights are some of the injustice gays, lesbians, and bisexuals face in Nigeria and many African countries.

 

The law must highlight the fact that every Nigerian is entitled to inalienable human rights. The constitution asserts this, and laws that contradict the spirit and words of the constitutions should not be passed and if passed, the judiciary should step up and pronounce such laws null and void.

 

What consenting adults do on the privacy of their rooms is not the business of the law. Nigerians should stop poke nosing into the bedrooms of their neighbours. Gays, lesbians and bisexuals have the right to engage in same-sex relationships just as heterosexuals have the right to engage in opposite sex relationships. It is their right. My right, my body, my choice, not your business. As long as I am not forcing you to have a relationship with me, you should mind your own business and keep out of my lovelife and sex life.men 11

 

Homophobia is a crime in the UK isn’t it? Why do you still work so hard on the message? Are people not getting it?

 

It is a good thing that homophobia is a crime in most developed countries now, including UK. However, there are still instances of homophobia especially within the black community. Many Nigerians living in UK are still homophobic, they might not express it openly for fear of the law, but that does not mean they are tolerant towards their fellow Nigerians or even family members who come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans. Also, we are unfortunately witnessing some European countries like Russia retrogressing in terms of securing LGBT rights for their citizens. Therefore, we need to keep talking and working to make sure that the few rights that have been gained for and by LGBT people are not just taken away overnight. In addition, we need to build on these rights.

 men 4

Also, we need to keep talking and working to secure LGBT rights in Africa, especially those of us who can do the work from a safe-place like UK. We need to put a face to the many faceless persecuted African LGBTs. We also must give a voice to the many silenced African LGBTs. We must use our safe-space to secure safety, rights, tolerance, and acceptance for our fellow African LGBTs. So the work must continue because an injury to one is an injury to all.

 

You have a very clear message to people who think and say homosexuality is unAFRICAN….. is there a reason why you are passionate about this?

I am passionate about LGBT rights because first, I am an ardent believer in inalienable human rights and I believe every human being regardless of race, sex, gender or sexual orientation deserves to enjoy their inalienable human rights. I am also a bisexual, which makes me a target of the anti-lgbt laws. However, I believe fighting for equality and justice should be the responsibility of every decent and rational thinking human being , regardless of whether they are affected by atrocious laws or not. We should all be passionate about defending human rights for all.

 

If you had a message for governments in Africa who have penalized homosexuality, what would it be?men 3

My message to African leaders who have penalized or thinking of penalizing same-sex relationships is that they should pick up a science book and read, read, read! Homosexuality is not a choice, just as heterosexuality is not a choice. Homosexuality is not harmful to anyone, just like heterosexuality is not harmful to anyone. Homosexuality is not a western thing; it is a human thing. Unless you want to claim Africans are not part of the human race, you do not have any reason at all to criminalize homosexuality, bisexuality, or trans sexuality. In addition, even if homosexuality was a choice, consensual adults have the right to engage in consensual sexual and emotional relationships. What consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms is not the business of the law. Above all, African governments should concentrate on ridding the continent of corruption, poverty, and bad leadership. Homosexuality is not the problem of starving Africans; homosexuality is not a problem at all. Let African leaders think of ways to rejuvenate the economy of the continent and stay out of the bedrooms of Africans.

 

 

Could you ever live anywhere in Africa? Is there a link between homosexuality and atheism?

 

I am an African and a Nigerian, but home is where you feel safe. Unfortunately, with many African countries passing homophobic laws, I do not feel safe in some African countries including Nigeria. However, I will continue to fight for my right not to be discriminated against in my own country. Nigerian lesbians and gays deserve the same rights every other Nigerians citizens enjoy and that include the right to life, right to privacy and right to freedom of association, freedom of expression and the right to marry another consenting adult.

 

There is no link between homosexuality and atheism, but there is a link between rationally accepting the evidence that homosexuality is natural, and linking it with the way atheism is all about logic, rational argument, and evidence. It is foolhardy to continue to criminalise homosexuality when all rational evidence points to the fact that it is natural, not a choice, and not harmful to anyone.

 


men 9Where can our listeners find your book? And perhaps more information about what you do.

My book Freedom To Love For All; Homosexuality is not Un-African is available in paperback and kindle edition on Amazon. My collection of poems titled ‘Reaching for the Stars’ will soon be available on Amazon. It is about empowerment, self-actualisation, culture, human rights, and feminism, tapping into our inner hero and reaching for the stars. So watch this space.

Thank you very much.

 

I am a romance and not erotic writer: Kiru Taye

Kiru Taye is an award winning author of historical, contemporary and paranormal romance. Her stories are sensual and steamy, often leaving you wanting more of her characters and her books.  Her characters are believable, passionate and real. Taye provides heros and heroines who are black and authentic culturally and traditionally, filling a gap alien to main stream authors.
Having read a few of her books, Taye is arguably the best romance author of all times. She is simply very good at what she does. Taye has written twelve books in the space of four years. She writes books she wants to read and to be fair it is hard to keep up with her creative energy.

 

There is no end to prequels and sequels. There is something for everybody in her books. Whilst Taye argues that there is a difference between romance and erotic writing, Taye works to dispel the myth that sex is a recent invention for African men and women.  Kiru’s audience are mostly women as are all romance readers and we are scattered all over the world.

 

Women love Kiru because her male characters are strong, masculine, virile and able to understand the needs of  their women. Many of us who read Taye, want partners -or want our partners to become-  like Taye’s male characters. Plus, we love happy endings. Who doesn’t? A founding member of Romance Writers of West Africa, Taye does us our continent proud. Her latest book Black Soul is out now.

 

She spoke to Tundun Adeyemo from www.blackandoutspoken.com and here is what she had to say.

 

What was life like before you started writing in 2010? How did you learn to write so well?

 

Before I made the leap into writing, I was a project management consultant and had worked in the corporate environment for over ten years. After I had my children, I wanted a slower pace and something that would allow me to spend time with the children while still using my brain.

Kiru Taye 2

I remember reading a romance novel and asking myself why there weren’t any stories about Africans like me falling in love and living happily ever after. I decided to write the stories I wanted to read.

 

Writing has been a great learning process for me. In fact I’m still learning something new about the craft every day.

 

What roles have the gods played in your success? Is this what you believe or  a belief of the characters in your books?

 

Laughs. Nice one. I am not my characters.

 

I believe my writing talent, is given by God just as any other talent is given by God. However, we as human beings have the responsibility of honing the talent and of continually learning and improving. The day we stop learning, is the day we return to our Maker.

 

You have written twelve books, which is your favourite book?

 

That’s like asking which of my children is my
favorite. Impossible to choose. I love all my books.

 

I read three of your books in one morning, what inspires you?

 

Thank you so much for reading three of my books in one morning. Life inspires me. Love inspires me. People inspire me.

 

Many times book sales are lethargic is this your experience?

 

When you start out it can feel that way but with time and as word gets out about your books, sales improve. Like everything else there are sales Kiru Taye 6cycles.

 

I find that the best marketing I can do for my books is to write the next one because the frenzy that goes with every book release I have always boosts sales to my back list titles. So it’s win, win. Old readers get a new book from me and new readers discover my old titles.

 

 

Your heroes are decent virile men with respect for their women …., a bit different from the metrosexual egoistical 21st century men you have today? Is this your experience of men or a desire to portray men in the traditional view?

 

Don’t get me started on the metrosexual (read emasculated man). Really not my cup of tea. You won’t find him in any of my books. Laughs.

 

I love my men dominant and confident in their masculinity. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as they respect their women. The men in my books are like some of the men I have met, are honourable and do not abuse their positions of power.

 

Your women eschew virginity and virtuosity. Not all women are chaste…. Is this a rather broad or narrow view of how you view that women should be?

 

I wanted to balance the view that women have to be virtuous to be of value to men or society. That idea is oppressive and partly what has kept women tied in terrible relationships because they had to conform to an idea of piety.

 

The fact remains that not all women are chaste. Not all women go into marriage as virgins and that doesn’t make them bad women or bad wives or bad mothers.

 

And why is it okay for a man not to be a virgin on his wedding night. But a woman has to be one?Kiru Taye 3

 

Who reads you more women or men? I know that romance writers are mostly women who write for a largely women audience.

 

My largest readers are women and I bear this in mind when I write my stories.

 

Are the men him in your books your husband?

 

Laughs.  I reserve my comment.

 

What are you working on now?

 

I always have several projects on the go at different stages.

 

I’m currently finalising Black Soul, Black Warriors series, prequel coming out October 30, 2014.

 

I’ve also just sent back first round edits to my editor for Scores, book 3 in the Passion Shields series. I’m waiting for the publisher to set a release date. Hopefully Nov/Dec 2014.

 

 

I am also writing the first draft for Riding rebel, The Essien Trilogy book 3 which will be out in Dec 2014.Kiru Taye 5

 

What books have you got on your kindle?

 

At the last count I had 1754 ebooks on my Kindle App. That does not include the ones I have on other reading apps nor does it include the paperbacks sitting on shelves and in boxes. Laughs.

 

Is there a book that changed your life?

Gosh. I’ve read so many books and each book has impacted my life in one way or the other.

But there are so many books from my teenage years that made me dream about writing books.

Shogun by James Clavell

The Godfather by Mario Puzo

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

Trinity by Leon Uris

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

 

Is there a word for your fans, budding authors who want to be like you?

 

I have three words. Read. Read. Read.

For more on Kiru Taye:

Email: kiru.taye@yahoo.com
Blog: http://kirutayewrites.blogspot.com

 

 

Tundun Adeyemo

 

 

 

 

Award winning Author Mahsuda Snaith speaks to Tundun Adeyemo

Mahsuda Snaith is an award winning author and blogger who was born in Luton, Beds in 1981. She  works as a supply teacher  in Leicester. She has been writing since she was eight years old and has an incredible passion for  writing and literature.  ‘Dreams do come true’ is a phrase Mahsuda is likely to reiterate as she has always dreamt that one day she would write full time.

Well, Mahsuda now  has an agent (Charlotte Robertson of United Agents) and she has won three very prestigious  awards in the space of a year. One can safely say Mahsuda iMahsuda_Snaith 1s not far away from that dream.

Her success is an inspiration indeed to Asian, black and carribean women in England and indeed all over the world. All things are possible if we are ready to work for it.

In 2013, Mahsuda won the Mslexia Novel Writing Competition. On her 33rd birthday,  she won SI Leeds Literary Prize for an unpublished novel she had written.

Roughly  about 10 days later, she won the  2014 Bristol  Short story Prize for her short story  ‘Art of Flood Survival’. There were 2,472 other entries  and unsurprisingly, the  years of hard work paid off. She won.

She spoke to Tundun Adeyemo from BlackandOutspoken.com recently.

Can you tell us a little about your self?

I’m a part time writer and supply teacher of Bengali heritage who lives in Leicester. I’ve always loved writing and have had the goal of being a writer since the age of eight!  My main dream is to be able to have writing as my main living.

How did winning the SI Leeds Prize make you feel?

It was an utter shock! I listened as all the other entries read their work and thought I didn’t have a chance. It was great to win mainly because it gave me validation that I was on the right path with my writing.

Is it luck or hard work?

For me, mainly hard work. I supply teach for a living but work part time so I can still write. If I didn’t dedicate a lot of years and hours to writing I wouldn’t have got where I am. At the same time you need the right people to see your work and love it. Not everyone is going to like what you’re doing so to find the people who do is like finding gold dust.

What were the challenges you faced in getting that award?ms 2

I grew up in a Bengali family on a council estate in Leicester. I think the main challenge was that I wanted to be a writer but I didn’t see any writers out there like me.  There was a handful or well-known Black and Asian writers as I was growing up but they were all from middle-class backgrounds. I hope this win shows that it doesn’t matter where you come from or how much money you have, you can still succeed in the field you’re passionate about.

On Saturday, you won another award The Bristol Short Story prize, surely your head must be spinning on this night, how did you keep calm?

My head is still spinning!  I think I’m trying to appreciate this moment while it’s here. You never know how long it’s going to last.

Tell us about the short story that got you both awards.

My unpublished novel that won the SI Leeds is about a British Bengali girl growing up on a council estate in Leicester and how she copes with a condition called chronic pain syndrome.  My short story that won the Bristol Short Story Prize is from the viewpoint of a housegirl (servant) in Bangladesh and what happens when a British-Bengali family come to visit the house she works in.

What are your friends saying about you on Twitter?

I’m not brilliant on Twitter and a lot of my friends aren’t even on it! But I’ve had huge support from fellow writers and lots of new followers. It’s all very exciting for me.

If you had only one wish right now, what would it be?

I’m incredibly grateful for everything that’s happened. I think I’ve learnt it’s best to work hard and see what happens.  Wishing isn’t what gets you anywhere, it’s planning and perseverance!

Would you consider yourself a role model to other female writers in the UK?

I hope I’m an example for both women and Black and Asian writers of what can be done. Sometimes we can be put in boxes but we don’t have to stay in them.

What more can you add as an encouragement to budding writers?

To keep on writing and, more importantly, to LOVE writing. If you don’t love doing it then it doesn’t matter how many awards you receive, it’ll feel hollow.  Of course there’s times when it feels hard and you don’t love writing so much – but if your heart is really in it, you will always go back to it.  Tell your story the only way you can.  Bring something new to the world.

Where can we find more about you?

I’m on twitter and have a website at http://www.mahsudasnaith.com

 

Sade's World on Outspoken!

Telling the African narrative is dear to Sade Adeniran’s heart as I listen to her on her podcasts and on radio interviews. She has an uncommon passion to promote African literature. In 2008, she won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book largely due to a tenacious campaign to get the right audiences to read her story Imagine this.  She studied English and Media at the University and her dissertation which was a radio play was adapted and aired by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
Other commissioned pieces have appeared on the BBC. Sade is also a film maker who hopes to win an award in the industry soon. She spoke to Tundun Adeyemo recently.
How can we help shift the remainder of the books under your bed?
I guess by recommending it to readers. If they live in the UK, they can buy it from my website, www.sades-world.com/shop, or from Amazon, although I have to admit I prefer people to buy direct from me because Amazon take 60% of the retail price which doesn’t leave me with much once I’ve paid the postage.
I heard your first edition of Sade’s world: it sounded like you had lots of fun interviewing Chinbundu Onuzo. When is the next podcast out?
I’ve just released the last podcast in this series, which featured a story by the amazing Ama Ata Aidoo.  I’m not sure when the next set of podcasts will be produced.  I have to do another round of fundraising, and then find the writers and actors.  So a fair amount of work still needs to be done before the next set of podcasts hits the airwaves.
Where can people find information about your podcasts?
 
Sade’s World Short Story Podcasts (SWoSSP) can be found on iTunes, SoundCloud and Mixcloud.  Or people can go to my website, www.sades-world.com/podcasts.
Why podcasts?
We live in an age where we’re spending more time at work and in front of the TV.  A lot of people don’t have the time to sit down to read a book; they also can’t afford to spend their money on books.  Add to that, the fact that in most African countries, libraries are practically non-existent.  I figured we could solve some of these issues by providing FREE podcasts of short stories, which people can download or stream.  They can listen on their way to work or while they’re cooking dinner or working out at the gym.  Sade’s World Short Story Podcasts (SWoSSP) is vital to me as a Writer because telling our stories is important, it is a gift for future generations.  We tell stories, not only to evolve and grow as people, but also to make a difference in the world and broaden the perspectives of all human beings. 
What books are you reading now?
I’ve a pile of books to read at the moment and haven’t had a chance to read any of them.  The only time I’ve got to read is on Tube journeys and I don’t have a lot of those because I tend to cycle to places.  However after saying all that, the book that’s been in my bag for the last 3 months is How To Spell Naija by Chuma Nwokolo.
Have you read anything that changed your life in recent times? Can you share it with us?
Nothing I’ve read has changed my life, but I would say some of the books I’ve read that made an impact on my psyche are Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, Zenzele: A letter for my Daughter by Nozipo Maraire.  What I loved so much about these books is that they took me to a world I knew nothing about and taught me something new.
What is IT like being Sade? Why do you write fundamentally?
I’ve only ever experienced being Sade, so have nothing to compare it to.   I write because it’s the way I express who I am as a person.
As a liberated woman, would you prefer to have been born white and male?
Being black and a woman has its challenges, but no; I would not want to be born a white or black man.  I like who I am.
Are there occupational hazards attached to your job?
Yes RSI and one can go blind from staring too long at a computer screen.  Okay I made that last bit up.
Who do you think you are?
I am me, Folasade Adeniran, the true daughter of my father as we like to say in Naija.
What would you tell budding authors?
Writing is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.
Tundun Adeyemo

Up and Coming Singer Songwriter Dinachi Onuzo

Dinachi Onuzo is talented singer/ song writer whose blend of music is described as ‘an intriguing blend of jazz, folk, highlife and gospel’. She has been heard at a number of open mic venues and festivals across the United Kingdom where she lives. Dinachi (26) perfected her art by singing at ‘church choirs and leading gospel choirs whilst at school and at University’. Even though she cannot stand heavy metal music, the guitar is her preferred musical instrument. She spoke to Tundun Adeyemo recently.

Tell us about your EP. Is this your greatest accomplishment?
Before releasing the EP, I’d been playing open mic nights and shows in and around London for about a year and the songs on the Come Out EP are probably the ones that resonated the most with audiences. ‘Come Out’ is a song that’s very dear to my heart. ‘Ohio Boy’ is a bit of a funny, silly love song, which has a serious side to it. And ‘Mr Tenny’ musically, has very strong Fela influences and lyrically, talks about not sitting down and watching chaos unfold around us but rather initiating change – being who God has called us to be.

Why should anyone listen to you? Who else in your family sings?

I’m nice so I must write nice songs. People should listen. Both my sisters, my dad and a lot of my extended family on my dad’s side sing.

Who are your musical inspirations? What kind of music do you listen  today?

The likes of Nina Simone, Fela and Tracy Chapman because they sang about light hearted things but also about the deeper issues of their times. Most of the music on my phone would fall under gospel and Christian music. I’ve been getting into jazz of late and a bit of folk, soul, R&B. I also listen to a lot of music that you really can’t limit to one genre. I think they describe it as Alternative.

c18e8d_f9f28545135542a6b8fe8957e6eea3f4.jpg_srz_p_352_529_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srzWhat embarrassing songs might I find on your MP3 player?

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on where you’re standing, I don’t think you’ll find any.

Where would you most like to perform?

Gotta dream big, Royal Albert Hall, baby! Having said that, I love the pure sound you get in old cathedrals.

If you weren’t singing, what would you be doing?If you could dabble in another genre of music, what would it be? What genre of music can’t you stand to listen to? 

Probably singing. Although, I could see myself in art school. I think it would be pretty cool to sing in a jazz band.Maybe heavy metal but that’s probably because my ears aren’t tuned to appreciate it.

Where can we find more about you?

I’ve got a website – dinachionuzo.com. I’m on twitter – @DinachiOnuzo and Facebook – facebook.com/dinachionuzomusic.
You can also listen to my music at soundcloud.com/Dinachionuzo

Dinachi Onuzo’s debut EP, Come Out, is out now on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and other online stores.

The Queen of Words: Adura Ojo Uncovered!

Adura Ojo is a British-Nigerian author, poet, blogger and a mother of two. She is the author of ‘Life is a Woman Breaking Eggs’ – her debut poetry collection. She is a graduate of English, Law and Social Work. She has worked as a lecturer, trainer and mental health practitioner. Her work is published in Sentinel Champions, Sentinel Nigeria, The Poetic Pinup Revue, and a number of websites. She lives in the UK where she is currently working on her debut novel and a second poetry collection.  She spoke to Tundun Adeyemo recently and here is what she had to say.
                                                                           
Why this collection of poetry, why now?
 
I wanted to do some stocktaking – write about how fragile life is and I wanted to do this from my point of view as a middle aged woman who has lived for a while. ‘Breaking eggs’ is about trauma; it is also about living outside of society’s rules. It could also mean surviving on the margins of society. It can be life affirming as in ‘finding the yolk’ to be your own person or it can really mess up a person’s life The ‘breaking eggs’ experience becomes a marker in one’s life for good or bad. The collection is divided into three sections: Albumen, Yolk and Woman to identify three spheres of human experience from childhood to adulthood. Along with that, there are philosophical themes and ideologies that go into each section.
Has your dad read your collection? What are his thoughts on Dance with my Father?
Unfortunately, my dad is at that stage of dementia where he can no longer read and process thoughts like the average person. Conversation is difficult most days due to memory and thought processing issues. My ‘before dementia’ dad would approve and so will my ‘after dementia’ dad. He is still the same person. 
 The poem on domestic violence, how personal or otherwise is that? You work on themes and life events, what prompted that poem?
                                                                                
Yes, my poems are based on life events. I ensure that I strip each poem of any characteristics that may link to a particular individual. Some of the poems are also about me. What I’ve done is fuse experiences wherever possible so that the people in my poems and I are one.  As a social care professional I have worked closely with survivors of domestic violence. Women’s issues are close to my heart. That particular poem (‘Girlfriend’) is a montage of survivors whose stories have impacted on me in a profound way.
You use a lot of imagery and every day words.  Was it hard work connecting with your audience?
I’m pleased with the feedback from readers so far. I have an international audience on my blog: ‘Life is a Woman.’ Most of my readers are fiction readers and writers who don’t usually read poetry. They tell me that they find my poetry accessible and that’s why they read it. I’m happy about this because it is one of the reasons I write poetry – to reach those who would not usually give poetry the time of day.                                                                
 
Is there a place for African poetry? Would you describe ‘Life’ as a collection of African poems?
There is definitely a place for African Poetry. There are awards that focus on African Poetry. African poets have a voice. That voice is diverse in its many tongues but it is also a unique voice.
My debut collection – ‘Life’ – is a reflection of who I am. I have lived across two cultures and this is reflected in my poems. So a poem like ‘French’ or ‘Keys’ would have a British overtone. ‘Owu Rubutu’ and ‘Sisi’ have an African flavour. Some other poems like ‘Say My Name’ and ‘Eggs Crack Easy’ are distinctly African as they portray the diaspora experience from the point of view of someone who is proud of their African ancestry.
 Why should a man buy your book?
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‘Life’ is a collection for everyone irrespective of gender. ‘Life’ is about humanity and its challenges, survival, cultural identity and the diaspora experience, and issues of poverty and bad leadership on the continent. These themes are explored from the poet persona’s point of view but that does not make the collection exclusive to women unless we are saying that men do not want to listen to a woman’s opinion on these issues.
Your poems evoke strong feelings. Which of your poem did you write whilst crying or in a broken place?
I have been told this. I’m still speechless when I get that feedback. One of my writer friends said Ojo was the hardest to read as it affected her the most. I had no idea it would come across that way. I would say “The Broom” and “Ojo” were written in emotional spaces that I found difficult to contain. I’m relieved both poems are out of me. XY20 was hard to write too. I edited the poem many times. I was concerned that the person would be dehumanised in some way. It’s a reflective poem about a young man who came to my attention some years ago. I did not work with him but his story stayed with me for a long time. What happened to him said something profound to me about how fragile our humanity is. I could not graphically describe the actual experience in the poem so I euphemised it as ‘foetal absurdity.’ Writing these experiences out of my head is therapy. It is therapy that no money can buy.
   Who is your audience? Your fan base cuts across nationalities it seems.
My audience is everyone who wants to read the stories and thoughts of real people. My audience cuts across Australia, India, USA, Canada, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Congo, Sweden, Spain and France. And those are the ones that I know.
 How did you build this up?
I joined some writing clubs. We have writing challenges and got to know one another on various online writing circuits.
How long have you been writing for?
I’ve been writing since 2004. I penned two columns for the Sunday Independent in Nigeria, as a freelance columnist. ‘London Calling’ and a Romance Series, ‘Tequila Secrets.’
       Has this brought you Fame or Money? Neither.
            I’m in it for the therapy primarily.  Would not mind some money though.
    You are also a publisher and an editor, a writer and a blogger. When do you have the time to put family in?
 It’s always a challenge. Sometimes I have to be mean with my time, sometimes I’d strongly feel the need to nurture and ditch all roles except mothering. *Smiles*
Tell us about the publishing side of things.
The publishing imprint is Lafia. It is based in London, England. It has an international reach. We are particularly interested in non-fictional or semi-autobiographical  life stories. We would also look at poetry and short story collections. But we would consider novellas and novels. We have a lot of flexibility in our author packages. One is bound to find one to suit. Some manuscripts are already in and the website is not even up yet. It’s an exciting time. Interested parties should email: lafiapublishers@gmail.com
     Where can people find your book online and in hard copy?
Currently, it is on Amazon in Kindle and paperback. We’re working on getting it to other platforms.
   Who will you be giving your book to as Christmas present?
My mum
  What 3 books changed your life?
Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice
Buchi Emecheta: Second Class Citizen
Barack Obama: Dreams From My Father
     Poetry or fiction?
Poetry
What is your favourite poem and why?
‘I rise’ by Maya Angelou. It makes me dance and cry at the same time. Joyous tears.
   Who is your favourite poet.
Recently deceased US writer Maya Angelou and London based Somali poet, Warsan Shire.
I  can’t choose between the two.
   Why should anyone buy your book?
 It is an inspiring and refreshing collection of poems. It will make you sing, dance, but also misty eyed. It is a sober reflection on humanity, our country, continent, and the diaspora experience. It is also a reminder of the challenges facing women, a celebration of womanhood and of identity and strength.
                                                                                            
     Do African writers stand a chance in the UK?
What I see is that we do not support each other. We are very selfish as a community. Everyone is out for just themselves. Take the promotion of my book for instance. People will not even click to ‘like’ a page. It takes just a few seconds to ‘like’ a page or share a status!  I have had more support from people outside of the Nigerian community. I have had fantastic support from my Australian, Indian and American friends than from my own ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters.’ The problem starts with us. We should support each other before we expect others to carry our cross. Charity begins at home.
Tundun Adeyemo

 

The Queen of Words, Adura Ojo Author 'Life is a Woman' On Outspoken!

Hello everybody
Check out who I have been talking to this weekend: the indefatigable Adura Ojo. How can you have things in common with someone you have not met? That was how I felt by the time I was done reading ‘Life is a Woman’ and talking to her. Perhaps you too might experience that same connection when you read her ‘Life’ which you can find  here. She is the Queen of everyday words. You will fall in love with Adura’s simplicity, style and poetry. She is coming on my radio show on the 1st of October and our Nigerian readers can expect her on TELL Magazine soon.  Read my  review and yes! buy a copy of the book.