Monthly Archives: March 2016

How much is that doggy in the window? Well, it’s not important I’m not getting it anyway…

“Have you ever thought of getting a blind dog?” I get this question a lot. And on mischievous days I reply that “Well, no. Blind dog and blind owner would be a disaster wouldn’t it?”

 

But yes, I have actually thought of a guide dog. I have even tried walking with them several times and in several settings and I love it. I’m also amazed at what the dogs can do and how they lead me through crowded places. But there’s one problem. When you don’t walk around with them, they have to be taken care of. Fed, watered, patted, played with and let’s not forget that the poop and vomit as well. And this is the part I’m not ready to deal with.

 

When I graduated after my bachelor’s degree, most of my blind friends were with me on that. Besides, they, like me, felt that they were doing just fine with the white cane, so why be tied down by a dog.

 

But as the years went past, even some of the most avid guide dog resisters have gone and gotten themselves a pooch and they keep telling me that I will soon change as well.

 

But guess what, I haven’t. And I probably won’t anytime soon. As much as a dog is a good mobility aid, I really am doing just fine with the cane. And as much as I travel I think the cane will be my preferred mobility aid for some time to come. It doesn’t need vaccines a passport or special travelling arrangements.

 

The guide dog converts seems astounded that I’d quite happily have a baby when I won’t have a guide dog, reminding me that babies too poop and vomit. And while this is true, I am more okay with that since I’m generally more of a people person than an animal one. Don’t get me wrong, I love animals, but I’m happy to hand them back to their owners when I’m done playing with them. A bit like what people who love kids but don’t want them say about kids.

 

Maybe I will change my mind about guide dogs one day, but if I don’t its okay. Because guide dogs aren’t for everyone. I have two blind friends who gave back their dogs because they felt it wasn’t the right thing for them.

 

I may perhaps choose to have a pet dog one day. I’m a lot freer to choose the breed etc. And it won’t require the same level of training and maintenance to keep up skills. But that’s in the future if ever. For now, I’m dog free.

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Five reasons why I love Easter

I’m not too keen on Christmas. The joy and purpose of the season for me has died among the millions of commercials and the pressure of getting appropriate gifts for everyone at the right time including people I don’t know, that well, but who I have to buy gifts for because if I don’t, I’ll end up hurting someone related to them, or with feelings of guilt and embarrassment because they bought me something and I didn’t. Pffft!

 

Easter however, is an entirely different kettle of fish. At least for me. I have always loved it since I was very young. I think mainly then, because of the Easter egg hunt, but not just that. And I love it even more now.

 

Firstly, I’m an Easter child. Born on what is the Persian New Year, first day of spring and so one, my birthday is close to Easter. And despite getting older every year, pretty much like the rest of the human population except Benjamin button, I love my birthday.

 

Secondly, the horrid wretched winter is truly over when Easter arrives. There might be some snow, at least in the mountains, but it’s an amount I can live with. And after Easter comes more spring and summer.

 

Thirdly, I like a lot of the things I culturally relate to Easter. The various chocolate eggs roasted Easter lamb, the cute chickens, the light spring colours of the Easter decorations and the Easter Crime and thrillers. I don’t know if any other countries have this, but in Norway, Easter is associated with Crime fiction and there is always a series running on TV, one on radio as well as crime novels and short stories being released. Oh and there’s also a crime story every year on the milk cartons where you have to guess who did it and won’t find out till Easter eve.

 

Finally, Easter is the season of new life, new hope and new beginnings.

 

Before some Roman Emperor dude decided that the calendar must be changed so that his birthday would fall on the first day of the year, the year started around spring time. My birthday March 21st which is the equinox. This makes a lot more sense. Mid-winter when the new starts now, there’s no real shift in nature to mark this. But as it was, flowers and trees would start blooming at the beginning of the New Year. Sheep would give birth to their lambs and chickens would get hatched.

 

There are also the biblical aspects of Easter. Firstly in the old testament where Moses led the Jews out of their enslavement in Egypt. They did wonder around the desert for 40 years, but their escape symbolizes the end of an old era and the start of a new.

 

Then of course, there’s the New Testament. Jesus who on Good Friday went down to the valley of death to create a way for our spirits to live on when our bodies rot. And if that’s not some kind of new beginning, I don’t know what is. In fact, Easter is one of the very few times a year I quite willingly not just go to mass, but instigate it.

 

So although it’s not Easter Sunday yet, I wish everybody a happy Easter and enjoy it, whether you do that for the chocolates, the Old Testament or the new one.

I’m a Nigerian/African export and proud of it!

A lot of people in Nigeria either ask, or imply that I must be big in my own country and get surprised when I say they have absolutely no clue who I am unless they’re especially interested in Afrobeat. That number in Norway is extremely small. Though the Fela tribute concert I went to in Bergen during the Felabrations indicated that if properly promoted, Afrobeat could actually get a fair following here. I noticed names of different bands being noted down on phones all around me to be looked up on Spotify, so maybe one day more than the 15 or so Afrobeat enthusiasts will know the name Lioness Oyinbo, my family and friends not counted.

 

I got discovered by Nigerians and was invited to Nigeria to develop my music. This couldn’t have happened in Norway and possibly not that easily in the UK, where I experienced that being a white Afrobeat artist was just that little bit awkward. So Nigeria was the only place I could really develop.

 

My reply to those people who ask if I’m big back home is that “I’m an African, Nigerian export” and I’m proud to say that I am. Now, I am accepted as the white Afrobeat singer everywhere, simply because I, musically speaking, come from Africa. My music is being played on all continents, but mainly on African outlets. I hope to be played on mainstream radio stations in Europe, America, Asia and Australia one day, but this is something many African artists alongside me are dreaming of. And if I were to choose between one or the other, I’d rather be on an African radio station playlist among the big names that I admire than be on a mainstream station playlist whilst the people of Africa are don’t want anything to do with my music.

 

So there you have it guys. As an artist, I’m one hundred per cent African and proud of it.

New Song: Love Me Jeje

Lioness (Feat. Chidinma) Love Me JejeOn my birthday which was two days ago, I finally released my track featuring Chidinma entitled Love Me Jeje.

Jeje is Pidgin English and means something like happily, fully, or something along those lines. The song has received really great critique and a lot of people who normally don’t like Afrobeat love this one.

I am grateful to have released my fourth single without the backing of a big label. And to have my song out there alongside big names in the industry. I have faith in this one.

The song can be purchased on iTunes
And it’s Also available on most streaming services like Spotify, Deezer, and GooglePlay and so on.

For my visually impaired readers the video is me and Chidinma performing the song while models are acting out the story. The story is about a couple who are going through hard times before things get better. I believe you die, says the girlfriend, which means I’ll trust you till the end. The video looks invissible to me even though I did include it on the post, so in case screenreader users wanna watch it, I added the link at the top.

Can sight be a hindrance?

As practical as I can imagine being sighted must be I sometimes think sight can be a very big obstacle.

I was discussing a new type of vegetable pasta with a friend of mine and told her how much I liked it, because it didn’t drop my blood sugar levels the way regular pasta does. Especially white pasta. It even tasted like regular pasta. Her reaction was quite funny. She started lecturing me about how stupid the advert was and that she wasn’t tempted to try it at all because of it. Besides, the pasta was different colours because they had different vegetables inside them.

What surprised me, was that just from seeing, the pasta had put her off. I also thought that pasta came in different colours, because I’ve seen that in Italy. But that’s beside the point. The conversation taught me just how quickly sighted people use their sight to judge and that’s sad.

Sight is a remote way of perceiving the world around you, meaning that there’s no need to get up close with objects or food to get a rough idea of what they are. But the key for me here is remote. You’re not up close and personal with what you see, well not always anyway. So if you see something new, you can’t really know what the object is like.

Food is a great example of this. I used to waitress in Dans Le Noir in London. A restaurant where diners eat and drink in the dark, not knowing what they are eating and drinking. One thing a lot of customers said when they came out after their meal and was told what they had consumed and saw pictures of it was: “I’m glad I didn’t know what it was, or saw it, because I probably wouldn’t have chosen it. But it tasted divine.” That tells me sight is a weak sense. But unfortunately a weak sense that has taken over most sighted people’s lives and dulled their other senses.

Sighted people also judge people faster and sometimes on unfair grounds. Blind people do this too, but usually based on more than just appearance.

One time for instance, I was going out to meet my class mates in St Helier, the capital of Jersey where I went to summer school to improve my English. I was sixteen and my host family was scared to let me go on the bus by myself, but they couldn’t exactly force me to stay in.

My bus came in a little earlier than the other girls busses. I decided to cross the road to the point where I was meeting them, but I missed the crossing. And before I knew it, I had three Jersey skater boys offering me a hand. We had been warned not to mix with, or date the locals. Apparently Jersey girls hated Scandinavians, claiming that they stole their boys, and there had been some ugly cat fights, so when a couple of the other girls stepped off their bus and saw me with the boys, they came running and out of breath asked me if they had done something to hurt me. In fact, the boys had been extremely polite and well behaved, but apparently they looked a little trashy. Perhaps if I’d been sighted, I’d not been so nice to them.

So here’s a challenge for my sighted readers. Next time you’re in a new place, close your eyes and experience the place for a few minutes without sight. Do you notice something you didn’t when your eyes were open? Do you smell, hear and feel things you didn’t realize were around you? This is also good to do in a familiar place, like your favourite café.

I always joke that if I get to see one day, I’ll be a ninja, because all my senses will be so well developed. Just imagine how much richer your world would be if all your senses played as big a role in your life as sight. I personally think it would be pretty awesome.