Monthly Archives: February 2016

My Naijalife part 4. What it’s like to be a blind foreigner in Nigeria

I’m going to talk about this topic from the point of view of a foreigner. If any blind or visually impaired Nigerian happens to stumble across this blog, comments would be greatly appreciated.

Before I went to Nigeria to record for the first time, I was apprehensive about a lot of things from whether this was a real deal to how I would be treated as a blind person. When I was in university, my parents used to live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and I didn’t like the attitude the locals had towards me there being blind. People would randomly come up to me in the street or in shops, pat me on the head and say “God bless you dear”. My experience with African immigrants who were a generation older than me wasn’t great either. And I was accused of being possessed by “the spirit of blindness”, being too scared to allow god to heal me and a few other ridiculous and hurtful things.

Surprisingly therefore, my expectations of how I’d be treated in Nigeria were pretty low. After all, I was going to a developing country where disabilities seemed to be caused by evil spirits.

But I was positively surprised. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t referred to as ‘the blind woman’. OI was ‘the white woman’, which isn’t much better. I prefer to be referred to as Linn or Lioness, but the truth is, strangers are always gonna refer to you by your appearance. For example the man with the long beard, the girl with the square glasses etc. so I am not going to complain about that.I do it myself. Being the white woman is somehow a break from being the blind woman. My blindness takes second place. And nobody has accused me yet of being possessed by evil spirits.

I’ve had a few negative incidents, but that was mainly with my first label where the CEO, who has little education and I suspect low IQ, sent in a press release where he referred to my blindness as an “imperfection” and asked me to write a song where I “encouraged the handicapped”. Can you blame me for dumping that label? LOL. Handicapped might have been ok to say in 1856, but in 2016 it’s pretty off.

But after I changed label, I’ve had none of that. In fact, most people who meet me don’t realize I’m blind, so imagine how puzzled I got when a girl at a video shoot asked me if my leg was ok. I was holding my stylist’s arm so she must have assumed I needed physical support. Those kinds of assumptions can be quite confusing at the time. I think everyone knows I can’t see, though that’s not the case, but actually they are indirect compliments. Blindness doesn’t always come up in interviews either. But when it has come up, I’ve only had positive experiences talking about it, because blindness related questions tend to be about my blog.

The real challenge for me when it comes to being blind in Nigeria has more to do with practical matters. Public transport systems and roads are not developed, so I can pretty much forget about getting around independently. And that’s why I couldn’t live there twelve months of the year. I’m a spoilt girl who is used to going out to get what I want when I want and not having that freedom is depressing. My team is more than willing to help me with anything I may need, something I’m grateful for, but it doesn’t quite make up for lack of freedom and flexibility. Being a white woman alone in Lagos comes with its own risks, but had I been able to drive, or get around independently by other means, I would have enjoyed more mobility and freedom which would have made daily life easier.

Being a blind foreigner in Nigeria is fun and exciting as long as I am busy working and have access to a gym or a pool. But for day to day spare time living, it is just too restrictive in the long run.

Blind babes and body image

The fact that I’ve never had an eating disorder is pretty remarkable. My parents were perfectionists in absolutely everything from the cleanliness of the house, to their children’s marks. And since I can’t see, I got some very early lessons in what looks good and what doesn’t.

I think it started when I was around seven. I can’t remember how the subject came up, but I’m guessing I must have been eating my share of the Saturday sweets. When I was little we only really had sweets on Saturdays unless there was a special occasion. But What I do clearly remember is mum saying something along the lines of “I hope you’ll never get fat. Because most blind people are fat and absolutely hideous to look at.”

Perhaps because I was so young, I thought what mum had said was very funny and I asked her to list the names of the biggest fatties in the blind community. I then asked why blind people were so fat and ugly. And she said it was because they ate too much and moved too little.

I never really forgot the conversation, although I didn’t ponder over it then. I was a very active child anyway. I did athletics, swimming and horse riding. And since I was a very picky eater as a child, I was very skinny anyway.

When I was 12, I got the kind of puppy fat most young girls get and grow out of. Looking back, I don’t really think I was fat. I remember using size small and I couldn’t have weighed that much. But mum was very good at reminding me. “No, you can’t where that. You’re too plump.”

What I didn’t know at 13 was that I’d grown out of the puppy fat stage. I only found that out later. So, being quite slim, I was convinced I was really fat. I could only compare myself to myself, so there was really no way of knowing what I looked like. I also didn’t know that your stomach not being ironing board flat sitting down was normal.

But I never really dieted. Instead I comfort ate when there was food around to comfort eat, which in our house wasn’t often. And throughout my teens, I was convinced I was on the larger side because of my dad’s “spare tire” jokes and hints that I needed to lose weight and join a gym. My dad was obese, so he probably was just taking out his resentment about his weight on me.

I think my teenage angst about my body was pretty average, but with one big difference. I couldn’t see what other people looked like. It’s only as an adult I found out that I was a relatively slim teen. And only because I saw my clothes from that period as well as having been able to explore what kind of bodies people around me had. Not necessarily always by touching, although having been able to feel waistlines of very close friends has helped. But also through information about measurements, BMI and learning that not everyone has the same body type and build.

Had I known all these things as a child, I would perhaps have resented my parents less every time my weight came up. I’m not saying I wouldn’t have had issues with my own body and wishing for it to be more perfect, but I would have been able to look at things differently had I known there was so much variety in sizes and shapes. At least I’d like to think so.

I know other blind girls and women who have experienced unfounded negativity in relation to their bodies from well-meaning parents who want them to look good. But I also knew blind people who have been completely spared from everything to do with body issues because they are blind.
I don’t think either extreme is good. You don’t have to be a size zero with and hour glass figure, but knowing what’s healthy is very important. Weight and body issues are things blind people need to be aware of. But there are good and constructive ways to raise this awareness. And having known blind women with eating disorders and my own resentment towards my parents growing up, I’d say that when it comes to any negative criticism, one has to be extra careful with a blind girl, or guy for that matter, who doesn’t always know the bigger picture.

My relationship with my body is a lot less complicated now, luckily. As I mentioned, I’m a lot more aware of a lot of factors that play a role in what makes someone fat or slim. I still have days and times where I’m not happy with parts of my body. But that’s normal. And I know I’m strong and healthy which is the main thing.

“Your swag’s African girl.”

I was waiting to take the subway home when someone came rushing towards me, shouting my name and through herself around my neck to give me a massive bear hug. It took a few seconds to recognize her. My own little sister. You might be wondering how I would struggle to recognize the person I know best in the world. But it’s easy. I didn’t expect to see her there and then. I recognized her fast enough, but since I didn’t think I’d see her, my ears weren’t tuned in properly.

This happens to all of us. Sighted or blind. We don’t see or hear at once what we expect to see or hear in places we don’t expect it… And in different contexts, what we actually see and hear isn’t exactly what we see and hear. So we can be easily fooled or tricked.

I had an experience like that in New York which was actually quite fun and amusing.

During my time there, I hung out exclusively with West Africans. Quite natural really, since I was there for the Nigerian Entertainment awards. We went clubbing quite a bit in relation to this award. And one question my friends got asked a lot was “Is this girl white, or a light skinned Nigerian?” Nobody asked me that directly, but I did get a few questions about where in Nigeria I was from. I told them I was proudly Lagosian LOL. My friends also told whoever asked them, that I was a light skinned Naija girl.

I loved being taken for a Nigerian. But it did baffle me somewhat. I was quite tanned at the time and I have curly hair with a texture some mixed race girls have got, which were in cornrows at the time. I also speak Pidgin English a lot when I hang out with West Africans. But how can anybody mistake me for anything other than white with my blue eyes, hair colour and Oyinbo nose?

So when I met a Ghanaian American artist to feature on his single on my final full day in New York, I asked him why I was taken for an African. His reply was interesting. “Your swag is African girl.”

What he meant by that, is that though you look at me and clearly see a white girl, the way I speak, my mannerisms and the setting makes me appear African. There were white people at the events, though they were a minority. But there were a lot of Jamaicans. A nationality I could get away with more easily as white Jamaicans exist.

I’m not sure I totally get the whole thing about the African swag, though I can only relate it back to not expecting to see something, in this case a white girl, in a majority Nigerian setting who behaves like a Nigerian, whatever that means A bit like me not thinking immediately the girl so excited to see me was my sister. But I don’t care. The koko for this post is that I be proudly African, Nigerian sef. Even if it’s honorary.

Liebster Award Nomination!

Receiving recognition from people in one of your fields feels good. Last night, my blog was nominated for the Liebster award by my good friend and fellow blogger
Gemma Tutu
Thankyou Gem!

My knowledge of the German language is very limited, but I know liebster means something like darling, sweetheart and so even the name of this award is quite encouraging.

How it works:
Liebster is not a physical award. It’s more of a recognition thing in the blogging community. I was very encouraged by mine though nonetheless, and I hope my nominees will too. I’ll be answering ten questions from Gemma, and then nominate ten blogs I enjoy reading.

I’ll let my nominees know that they’ve been nominated and give them a link to this post. They then have to nominate five to ten blogs and answer 10 questions I’ll put to them. Oh, and the nomination has to be presented on the post. Either as a picture, title or both. It’s a chain and I’m not a fan of chains. But I like how this promote writing you love as well as havin your own writing promoted. But it’s ofcourse up to my nominees if they will accept the award or not.

So let’s get started on these questions Gemma gave me:

1. When did you start your blog?
I started my blog in 2011. I blogged before then, but wasn’t satisfied with my blogs, so kept deleting them after a year.
2. What topics do you write about?
My blog started as a blog about blindness. However, I have progressed to write abou other topics that matters to me, such as my work, Nigerian culture and anything else that’s on my mind.
3. What tips do you have to share with others who want to start blogging?
Just write. Your posts don’t have to be long and complicated. As you keep blogging, you will feel more comfortable with it. Also, be consistant if you want a bigger readership. Try to blog at least once a week. I’ve not been so good at this always. And lastly, blog about things you have passion for. Either things you know about, or things you want to explore. Passion shines through in a post and make the blog a lot more interesting to read.
4. What are 3 interesting facts about yourself?
I’m the only Afrobeat singer of European descent signed in Nigeria
I’ve written a yet unpublished novel. It ran as a serial on the blog, but I have updated and edited it since then to improve the story.
I am fascinated with the mafia.
5. What are your hobbies?
I’m interested in other cultures. Particularly African and Caribbean cultures. I am also into cooking, fitness and nutrition. I don’t see writing as a hobby per se, because I treat it like work. But I love reading books, learning languages.
6. How often do you write?
I try to write every week. Though it’s only this year I’ve done that successfully. Before, my writing was more sporadic. Not because I didn’t care about the blog, but other projects got in the way. Ok, as well as laziness. I’ll admit that.
7. What has been your best blog post?
My most popular one has been the one about how to attract blind people. It’s even been published on a few other sites. As for which one I think is my best one, I can’t say. They’re all my babies.
8. What are your goals for your blog?
My hope is to educate sighted people on blindness related issues. Or in other words, try to normalize blindness so blind people are received more equal in all aspects of society. I also want to make people think and laugh and keep them entertained. I hope one day to be published by Huffington Post.
9. What did you want to be when you were younger?
I wanted to be what I am now. A singer and writer. Those dreams never changed, though I was side tracked for a few years.
10. How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Creative, ambitious and fun.

Here are the blogs I love to read, in no particular order. As you can see, these are ten very different blogs. I like variety and blogs from where I can learn and be challenged.
1. Where’s your dog?
2. Lauren Henley
3. White Naija Girl
4. Chidinma Inspirations
5. TheAfricaYouwontSeeOnTV
6. Blind girl moments
7. Erywon Yeahmen
8. A Fulani-Nigerian in Britain
9. The Outlook from here
10. Diary of an exotic escort

Finally, the questions for those I nominated

1. What does blogging mean to you?
2. What was the hardest topic you blogged about and why?
3. How often do you write?
4. If you could feature on anybodyæs blog, who would it be and why?
5. Your favourite blogger e-mails you to ask for a guest post. Who is it? And why that blogger?
6. What are your goals for your blog?
7. How do you feel after having published a post?
8. What do you do besides blogging?
9. What did you want to become when you were little?
10. Mention three interesting facts about yourself.

Fiction: Lunch at Cafe Gianni

Today, I want to share a fictional story I wrote a while back. As a singer, it’s so easy for me to look at those who have come further than me in the industry and think “Their lives must be so amazing”. But the truth is, I know nothing of their lives. Also, I know of People envying me and where I have come in the industry. And I know for a fact my life isn’t Perfect. Though it’s nowhere near as complicated as Savannah Green in this story. Thankfully. I hope you’ll like it.

Lunch at Café Gianni

She put on her oversized dark sunglasses and glanced in the mirror. Perfect. The glasses both half concealed her face, making her unrecognizable and mercifully hid the bruises given to her by her no longer so loving husband TJ. She sighed, picked up her purse and opened the front door.
Downstairs in the lobby she barely nodded at Ricky, the friendly concierge she usually didn’t mind exchanging a few phrases with. He was Cuban. She was learning Spanish. So she’d practice her new phrases with him. It was as if Ricky understood that today wasn’t a day for pleasantries, so he just opened the door like the gentleman he was and gave her a courteous nod.

Café Gianni was situated in a quiet back street and was not at all trendy. But she loved it all the same. The place was old and could do with some refurbishment, but there was something charming about the chairs and sofas where the stuffing had begun to fall out and the worn ow tables, where, no matter how well you cleaned them, had old marks from cups and cigarettes, from before the smoking ban. She had been going there since she was a music student. And nothing had ever changed about the place. Except that Gianni Sr, who had been the owner, had retired and his son Gianni Jr and his wife had taken over. But even father and son were so alike that nobody could tell unless they knew.

It was quite a walk away from where she lived. The sensible thing would have been to take a cab, but she needed to feel her body move and the brisk autumn air in her face. She didn’t do this often anymore. Saved it for special occasions. More and more often sad occasions. She sighed and felt a slight pain in her ribcage. Also curtsy of TJ. It had only been an argument about his latest mistress Monica who incidentally was one of her backup singers. He’d had mistresses before and so far it had only be kept in the family, but Monica liked to talk and was jealous of her, both professionally and for being TJ’s wife.. So it was a question of time before she would leak the story to the press. She had stupidly asked TJ why he couldn’t have chosen a mistress that wasn’t working with her. That had set him off and he’d slapped her in the face and kicked her in the ribs. He was clever like that. Knew exactly how to inflict painful, yet invisible injuries to her body. Years of practice had seen him get it down to a fine art. She had gotten living with them down to a fine art as well. She had gotten so good at it, that she almost didn’t feel the pain when she was performing on stage, or recording in the studio.
It hadn’t always been like that between her and TJ. Things had been fine until she won her first Grammy and lost their first child. A miscarraiage, although he had accused her of having a secret abortion.Before that. He had been loving, caring and considerate. But looking back, she guessed he’d always had the evil in him. Just that he waited for the right moment to show it.

Neapolitan music greeted her as soon as she entered Café Gianni. Her nose was a little runny and her ears prickled from the cold. The heat mixed with the music and smell of spices had a calming effect on her and she felt a smile developing on her face as she walked up to the counter. Gianni was flirting with some female customers as he always did while they placed their order and paid.
“Bella!” he exclaimed when it was her turn. He knew better than to shout her name, though she wasn’t the only girl in the city called savannah.
“Have you thought anymore about my proposal?” Gianni asked and wiped his huge hands sprinkled with black hair on his apron.
“I just need to get the divorce papers ready,” she replied lightly. This was a long running joke between them. And not for the first time did it occur to her that if Gianni Jr had been more attractive, 20 years younger and not so clearly smitten with his own wife, she might have taken him up on the offer. Working in your own café had a satisfying ring to it that she liked. The money would be regular and she would meet lots of new interesting people. She was also wondering for the umpteenth time why she hadn’t filed for divorce with TJ. She’d made excuses to herself. That Victoria deserved to grow up with two parents as role models and that both their incomes combined, gave their daughter the best of everything. But who was she kidding. Victoria hardly saw her dad and she earned enough on her iTunes sales alone to put her daughter through the private school she already went to. As for her real reason, she was scared. She was hoping he would bring up divorce. But for some reason she couldn’t comprehend, he hadn’t.
“What can I get you bellissima?” Gianni asked. “I hope you are good and that your husband is nice to you.” She startled. He usually said that too. And she always laughed and assured him he was a gentleman.But today, with such fresh bruises, she thought for a moment that he had perhaps seen something she hadn’t managed to cover up. Gianni’s smile disappeared and his intense grey eyes studied her face…
“You know Savannah; I will always be here if anything happens.”
She felt her eyes well up and looked away.
“The usual please,” she said.

Of course the only free table in the whole café had been taken while she had placed her order. Typical. Though the place wasn’t trendy, it was still popular with the people who knew about it. A woman round about her own age sat at that table. She was eating a huge plate of spaghetti and meat boles while she was listening to something on an iPod or iPhone. She carried her tray which contained a mozzarella and pesto sandwich and an Americano over and hovered for a few seconds till the woman looked up from her plate. She had a plump face with dimples and a small gap between her front teeth.
“Excuse me, may I sit here?” she asked and the woman nodded.
“Be my guest. She moved her bottle of Fanta closer to her plate so that Savannah’s tray would fit comfortably on the small table.

They ate in silence. She was looking around, listening to the passionate guitar and voices of the Neapolitan singers. The woman seemed to enjoy whatever she was listening too.
“What are you listening too?” she asked without having planned to. But this woman with the dimpled face, bitten down nails and hands that looked red from cleaning seemed so happy and she wanted to share in her happiness.
“Savannah Green,” the woman said and picked her earphones out of her ears.
She startled a little at the sound of her own name and lifted her coffee to take a sip.
“She is a real genious.” The woman continued. “Do you know her?”
She nodded. “I do.”
“Isn’t she fantastic?” I managed to find a live album with her best performances and, Oh my. Her version of At Last.”
She held out her earphones, which were completely clean and gestured for Savannah to insert them. Knowing full well what she’d hear, but not wanting this woman to possibly reveal her identity by refusing,she did as she was told.
“My dear husband TJ. I love you. And I’m going to sing a song for you. Only you. But I guess everyone else is listening in.”
She remembered saying those words. It was her first show after they’d got married. Shee’d been dizzy with love and happiness. She’d not known what his boots in her ribs felt like back then and she’d not known the feeling of never being enough to somebody.
“At last”
She played with the first two words of the song. Let her voice go up and down. Giving the words the emotion she’d thought they deserved. The sound of the audience applauding. They loved it. She knew they’d loved it. She knew she nailed that song because though she never did covers, this had been an exception and she’d practiced and practiced till she had made the song entirely hers.
“At last,” She began again. This time accompanied by the first soft accords of James, the guy who had played piano for her back then.
She carefully picked out the earplugs and gave them back to the woman.
“It’s a very emotional performance,” she said. At least that wasn’t a lie. She’d been crying while singing the song. Crying because she was loved, because she was happy.
“I know,” the woman sighed.
“I wish I could be her just for one day.”
“Who? Savannah Green?”
The woman nodded.
But alas. I’m just plain Jane. I work as a cleaner. I clean offices when nobody works in them. And when the offices are busy, I clean toilets. I am a single mum with six kids. The eldest is going to college next. year. That is, if I managed to make enough money to get him there. You see, he’s so bright. He’s trying for one of them scholarships. But he ain’t good at nothing apart from the academic stuff, so he ain’t gonna get a basketball, lacrosse or other type of scholarship.”
The cleaner Jane had finished her food and picked at a stubborn piece of onion that had decided to stay put between her teeth.
“Now if I was Savannah Green.”
Savannah tried to keep her face still.
“Savannah is rich and doesn’t know a thing about working hard wondering if there will be food on the table the next day, or if her teenage daughter will get raped on the way home from school. And she’s got that fantastic ex soccar player for a husband. They look so perfect together. If only I too could find my prince. Besides, Savannah is pretty and just look at me.”
“How do you know her life is like that? Worry free and filled with love I mean?” Savannah asked in an even tone.
“Nobody just gets to where Savannah is at over night. Maybe Savannah has a past as a chicken shop worker.” She thought of the long afternoons during her last two years at high school selling fried chicken to make enough money to get into music school.
“Or maybe she herself grew up with only one parent.”
Her mind was cast back to a mother who always had a new boyfriend, one of whom had fancied Savannah more and raped her repeatedly for a while before she dared go to her form teacher to report it. Her mother, more interested in getting high on Chrystal meth than raising Savannah, her little accident of a baby, hadn’t believed her. So she’d moved to stay with her uncle and aunt who had been poor, but decent people who had welcomed her.
“Or maybe, just maybe TJ is no prince.”
“You talk like you know her,” Jane said. “Why are you so defensive?”
She didn’t answer at first. She’d probably taken it too far. Jane was challenging her with her eyes.
Savannah drained the last of her coffee and stood up.
“I just happen to know that all which glitters is not gold. And that there is so much to somebody elses life that outsiders will never know.”
She turned slowly on her heel and walked out into the autumn day.There was no point in explaning anymore.

It’s a real disorder: Let’s talk about Winter depression

Winter depression, Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). As we say in Norwegian, “Dear child has many names”. Though this isn’t exactly a dear condition.

It’s real though. It tends to hit some of us who are unlucky enough to live somewhere where there’s proper winter. I say unlucky, because if you’re hard hit by this, winter is a bit of a living hell.

Winter is ok if you’re in the mountains, skiing and it’s sunny. However, that’s not what winter looks like in everyday life. Those kinds of winter moments are usually saved for the holidays and they actually happen closer to spring. Oh, the irony.

Not everybody has SAD. I however, am so unfortunate as to be hit quite hard most years. I was under the illusion that I had escaped it this year. We’re half way through February, so spring is technically close. However, after not having seen the sun for about two weeks, I had to admit defeat.

Winter depression is pretty much like any other depression. But contrary to say, clinical depression, winter depression can be cured by just going to somewhere where there’s a lot of sunshine and light. I miss Nigeria!

Like with other kinds of depression though, your everyday life is affected. I find that the only way I am able to function in the darkest of winter days, is to treat my life as a long to do list. I don’t enjoy doing anything when I am this down. Not even the things I normally enjoy doing. So I write out schedules to follow to make sure that I go through the motions.
But though this works most days, I have days where I am unable to do much more than stay in bed. Everything from work to social life is affected by this. And the fact that I am too depressed to do anything gets me down even more. Vicious circle.

What adds to my winter depression, is the ice and snow on the ground, because it makes it near impossible for me to move around outside independently. The snow cover up landmarks I feel for and the soundscape is altered. As for the ice, I have the same issues as everyone else, except I don’t have the luxury of seeing where there’s less ice, so I can’t always avoid the icy stretches. I can just about walk routes that I know well in the winter. I need to go grocery shopping for example. But on bad days, the mental energy isn’t there. So the winter, as well as taking my beloved sunshine and light, also isolates me somewhat.

So if somebody mentions Seasonal Affective Disorder, or Winter Depression, take it seriously. For those of us who have it, it’s very real. We’re not trying to complain or be negative. It’s called a disorder for a reason. Many people don’t take this seriously, so I want to stress the importance of this.

Needless to say, I have been counting down to spring for a while and will keep doing so. I think I need to just stay in Africa or somewhere else sunny for all of next winter to avoid the depression. Isn’t it funny how easy, yet complicated it is to cure it? And no, the lamps don’t work for me. It has to be biological light.

Change 9: Final days plus my verdict

I’m done with C9 and I’ll tell you how the last days went as well as my verdict on the program.

Just to recap, if you haven’t read my other posts, This is a nine days program where you eat nothing except a protein shake and certain fruits and vegetables for the first two days. You also take suppliments and drink Aloe vera. From days 3 to 8, you can have two shakes and a 600 calories meal. On day 9, you substitute Your lunch shake for a 300 calories lunch. The suppliments you take in the Norwegian Version of the program are fibre and lean which is a suppliment that contains among other Things, figue extract and chromium which curbs hunger and kills sweet cravings. In most other countries, you also get Forever Therm which is supposed to help you burn fat quicker. But since the Norwegian government is very strict on suppliments, Therm isn’t allowed to be sold here. You also have to drink a lot of water on C9. If you don’t, you’ll get headaches. I speak from experience!

 

As far as diets go, I think it’s a good and safe one. It’s only nine days, so relatively short. And you get all the nutrients you need. The shakes which come in either chocolate or Vanilla taste remarkably good for proeting shakes and are filling. I didn’t have any sweet, or crisps cravings at all. And I don’t have them now either.

 

My main issue with the program was being on only 1000 calories for so many days. I was perhaps working out a little bit more than what the program was recommending, but its winter here and not much to do. So if you can’t sit at home and over eat, then it’s working out instead. LOL. So this may not be a problem for you if you’re sensible and don’t work out too hard.

I actually realized though that I could have been eating a 300 calories lunch on the last day as well as my dinner. But only when I had a Skype meeting with my sponsor that evening. The PDF had been converted such that I didn’t pick it up. Not the most screen reader friendly pdf, in other words. You should have seen how quickly upon hearing that news I killed a protein bar.

But having said that, I do really recommend C9. It’s a good program to use after festive seasons where most of us over eat, or just before a holiday. I felt that most of the time I had a lot of energy. And the virtual fasting on days 1 and 2 really taught me the value of food. A lot of People report improvement in skin and hair on C9. I didn’t have that, but that’s because I’ve already been drinking aloe for some time.

I lost only 3 kg or 7 LB on this program. It’s not meant to make you lose a ton of weight, only to jumpstart the weight loss process and get you thinking differently about what you put in your mouth. I lost quite a few centimeters though and my jeans fit me a little better. We all know centimeters or inches are the real thing you wanna lose since muscles weigh more than fat, but take up less Space.

As I mentioned on day 1 of this program, I love the Norwegian name Change9 so much, because it implies that something will change for you during and after this program in terms of your health. In England, the United States and many other countries, this program is known as Clean9 which sounds a lot less appealing, at least to me.

So what now? Nine days is not a lot of time to learn new and good habits. But luckily, forever has the F1 and F2 programs. You’ll take the supplements you did on C9, but you’re allowed more calories from healthy foods. Basically, it’s just healthy eating plus supplements and exercise. Should be quite straight forward really.

But the good thing about being on the forever Fit programs is that you will learn things like portion controls and regular eating. Both of which I need to work on LOL, so that’s why I went on it rather than just eating sensibly. The supplements are good for me anyway and those protein chocolate bars are delish!

F1 and 2 also focuses a lot on exercise. I do a lot of that already, so won’t follow the program entirely on that one, but it may have some handy things I can learn so I can exercise better when I’m travelling.

If you live in Norway and would like to try C9, you can contact me by going to the contact link on my page, or through facebook or twitter.  If you don’t live in Norway and want to try c9, contact me anyway. I’ll be able to help you in the right direction of where to get it. C9, F1 and F2 is a program for everybody whether you want to lose a lot of weight, a little weight, or just learn new good habits. And if you’re not happy With the program, Forever does have a customer guarantee. So it’s free if you didn’t like it. 🙂 In Norway this guarantee is 90 days. I believe it’s 60 in the UK, so it varies from country to country.

Disclaimer: I have not been paid by Forever Living to write this post.

My Naijalife part 3: Na this oyinbo pepper eh?

Disclaimer: This post is not meant to personally insult individuals who may recognize themselves in some of the examples. It’s just my reflections on what I think may be a very complex issue.

One thing I really admire in Nigerians is the winner attitude. “We can, we’re the best,” etc. And I find that in Nigeria, when something seem about to fail, it somehow get pulled together at the last minute in some very creative ways. I’m talking about day to day and work situations mainly.

So it’s therefore a bit puzzling to me that although there is this refreshing “we’re great” attitude, there is also a tendency to have a slightly unhealthy obsession with white people. I’ll mention a few examples.

I was talking to one of my young colleagues when he said “You white people are just a lot better than us. We just destroy things and we’re not organized like you.”

Another time, I was with the first female friend I had in Nigeria as she proudly proclaimed to her friends that “I’m busy. I’m actually with my white friend.”

The final example is quite recent. I overheard another friend’s friend asking her why she hadn’t told him I was white before we met.

In all these situations I felt a little bit awkward. Why is me being white so special? And why would anyone say they’re not as good as a white person?

I’m not new to self-criticism of my own race. I think white people as a race can be quite full of themselves and walk around as if they own the earth and anyone is supposed to serve them. But I don’t see white people as less able to be friendly than black people. And I’ve met individuals of both black, Latino and Asian people who walk around with a sense of false entitlement. So it’s not your colour that determines how nice you are. Although I can appreciate that a lot of racial discrimination is carried out by white people.

Generalizing an entire race is very dangerous. I said to my colleague who claimed all white people to be better than black people that if young people across Nigeria were thinking like that, the country would never develop to its full potential. Luckily, many young Nigerians are seeing potentials and are doing great things in the country. Some are even moving back from Europe to start businesses and that’s awesome!

Like with individuals, every people have its good and bad points. And it’s good that we’re not all the same as we can learn from each other’s differences.

When I came on to the Nigerian music scene, there were a lot of blog comments about white people coming to take over yet more things in Africa. And that Nigerians should stop worshipping white people.

I totally agree with the latter, though worship is a little bit of a strong word. But if we go back to examples two and three, where my colour seemed to be a big deal, I can appreciate that somebody would use that term. Example one is an even clearer indication of this. By the way, these people from the examples are intelligent and well educated, so I’m guessing this view on white people goes a lot deeper than just education. And I will not claim to fully understand this issue.

One thing I’ll tell everyone despite who they are is love yourself and only focus on being the best version of you. You don’t have to be your people, your country or your colour for that matter. As supportive commenters did point out, I came to Africa because Afrobeat is what I know how to do. I urge you to do the same. Do what you excel at.

Change9 Day 6

This is technically day 7 of my change9 program. I meant to post yesterday, but was feeling a bit unwell. Nothing related to this program though.

I’m feeling great! I’m full of energy and I’ve lost in total 3 kg, or 7 LB so far plus centimeters. I’m trying out some new recipes and I’m actually quite chuffed to find that a lot of the foods are things I naturally made and ate before. My friends always told me I was healthy, but I never believed them LOL. My challenge is the portion size. I like to stuff an entire plate of rice in my mouth during a meal, but I have to learn to reduce it and eat more veg. But that’s details. I’m looking forward to being able to eat more than 1000 calories per day though since I’m very active and could do with some extra protein now and then. But my longing for potato chips and chocolate is absent! Hurray!

It wasn’t really until day 4 I started getting lots of energy. I fell into some kind of food coma after my meal on day 3. Probably my body’s shock reaction to getting such a big meal after days without proper food.

I’ve only got two more days after today. Bring them on. I can do this!

I Admire: Empress Etana

Etana Richest Girl (Official Music video)There are many female artists I look up to in the industry. But if I have to choose one, it would easily be Etana.

 

Etana means The Strong One in Kiswahili and this is no doubt one strong inspirational woman. And I don’t use that word lightly. She was born Shauna McKenzie and she’s from August Town, Jamaica. She grew up in Florida and wanted to become a nurse, but she instead joined a female vocal group called Gift, signed to Universal, which she was part of for a few years.

 

But she didn’t like what the industry had presented to her and decided that if these were the terms of being a musician, she’d rather do something else. So she moved to Jamaica to start an internet café.

 

But as she was in the establishing phase of that business, she got word that the legendary Richie Spice was having auditions for new backup singers. She went along and not surprisingly, she got picked to back up for him on his Europe and North America tour.

 

While working with Richie Spice, she decided that she again wanted to do music, but on her own terms. Today she has released numerous singles and 4 fantastic albums. The strong one, Free Expressions, Better tomorrow and I Rise.

 

Why I find Etana so inspiring is not just because of her beautiful voice that never fails to move me. Her story is in a few ways similar to mine. At least in the fact that she wanted to give up music altogether and concentrate on something different. But she somehow got back into it. It goes to show that if you are created for the purpose of doing music, you will end up doing music, no matter what. Just look at Tina Turner who got big in her 60s.

 

But a more important reason why I love Etana so much is because her songs always speak to me on some level. And she is very diverse in her lyrics. She talks about everything from being unfaithful as a woman, to poverty, spirituality, injustice, Being a black woman, everyday life and true love. She has inspired me so much and will no doubt continue to do so.

 

It was hard to choose which of her many brilliant songs to share with you. But I chose richest girl from her 2014 album I Rise because the lyrics is a good reminder of what’s precious in life. You’ll know what I mean. Just sit back and listen.