Category Archives: Travelling

“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.

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Happy 2016!

I know I’ve been a bit of a stranger recently. I always have these incentives to blog regularly, but something always comes up.

Anyways, let me start by wishing you all a happy 2016. May this New Year be the year where your goals are reached and your dreams come to pass.

2015 was a great year for me. Though mostly the exciting stuff happened in the first 9 months of the year. After the NEA in September where I didn’t won my category, but still had a great time and learned a lot, and till new-years-eve, I was just in Norway working on the business side of my music career and my Forever Living business.

But at the start of this year, I went back to Nigeria again and being back was lovely. I’ve done what I think is my best project yet. A song featuring Chidinma, a very sought after female singer in the Nigerian music industry for those who’re not too familiar with afrobeat and produced by DJ Coublon, producer of the year. The video was shot by my team member and friend Hg2films. The song will soon be released and I just can’t wait to share it with you!

What I think made this project so good, was both the fact that I now have a lot more experience and better self-esteem and, in the case of the video, I had my own personal stylist, who is practically like my sister. She didn’t dress me up in anything until I understood what kind of look and style it was and she kept a very sharp eye on the make-up artists, so I got the look I wanted. And so I felt I looked better and had more control.

Having the right team around you is extremely important for everyone. But for me as a blind artist, it’s especially important because I need to have that extra level of trust. My opinions on how something looks only goes as far as what I can feel myself and that isn’t always enough in an industry where appearance is so important.

I am back in Norway now, dealing with the cold harsh winter. But though I’m known for hating snow and the cold, I’m feeling really positive right now. Spring isn’t that far away and with spring comes my birthday. And I’ll soon be travelling again for shows and promos.

I also need to work on my other business this year. And I need to focus on recruiting which I’m terrified of. But I believe in having many things going at the same time and if I want to succeed, I need to step out of my comfort zone. Easier said than done though. But I’m ready for the challenge. Hey, it’s nearly spring! The Lioness is rising!

My Naijalife part 2. Lagos salons

“Is your hair real?” I have to admit I still find that question strange, but in Nigeria I do get it from time to time. People usually ask just before they ask if they can touch my hair, or just after they’ve touched it. The reason I react surprised every time someone asks, is that everywhere else, everyone assumes my hair is my hair, though since my hair colour is not very common, I do get questions asking how much I paid for it, which are equally amusing to me.

Real hair or not though, I love going to hair salons in Lagos. I like getting braids. And though my hair isn’t yet long enough that I can just use it to get the style I want, I can use extensions. Funnily enough however, when I do that, I’ve had women come up to me to tell me how lucky I am who has so much hair naturally. The irony.

Having my hair braided at a salon is a bit of an experience if that’s not what you grew up with, which I certainly didn’t. I love having my hair done, so that alone is my reason for going there. It just feels nice to sit down while someone else takes care of it and then come out looking and feeling great afterwards.

Then, it’s the atmosphere in the salon and the strange kind of bonding that happens there. Braids take long, though I’ve been lucky since my first set of twists only took 3 hours while the box braids took 4. I’ve known girls to sit in the chair for a lot longer than that. Still, it’s longer spent in a hair salon than what I’m used to.

The TV and radio are usually on at the same time, though not always. But it creates a very interesting mix of sounds. It also makes me feel like I’m at a party. That feeling is increased by the running around and loud chatter of women and men in different languages.

Often, my hair stylists have not spoken more than basic English, so we can’t talk very much, but we bond over singing instead. The last time I had my hair braided in Lagos, me and my two stylists where taking turns singing verses and parts of choruses to every song that came on the TV. I might never meet these women again, but for as long as I was there, it felt like I was among my best friends. It was so informal and fun. And you get quite comfortable with someone when they’ve done your hair and you’ve been singing together for four hours.

It’s not just the hair part I like about the Lagos salons. I love how you can get pretty much anything done there. At least in some of the big ones. Nails, tattoos and hair for both men and women.

If you’re planning a trip to Nigeria, go to a salon and experience it for yourself. No need to get your hair done. A refreshing manicure and pedicure is enough to experience the salon mood.

Nigeria Baby!

I am writing this from my bedroom in Nigeria! And let me tell you, my life has changed quite a lot over the past three months in ways I didn’t think possible. If somebody had told me a year ago that I’d be the first white female artist to sign with a Nigerian music label, I’d tell them they were crazy, although I’ve always dreamed of establishing myself in Africa.

I’m not sure where to start really. But as well as being a writer and want to make a living out of that, I am also a singer and if I had the chance to do both, I would do both. My writing is going pretty well these days with my freelancing and I’m even working on my first novel. But my music career was a dream I’d pretty much put on the shelf. That was until I met my current manager whose nickname is Slim-Fit.

One day, I was actually on a job In Wales; I received an e-mail from a guy in Nigeria who really wanted to get to know me more, because he had a record label and was interested in me musically. He’d found me on twitter where my good friend Oly, who had just came back in my life, and who persuaded me to give music one more try, had set up a souncloud page where I’d put out a reggae demo which I again put on twitter.

We got talking. And to make a potentially long story very short, after months of getting to know each other and building a close relationship, I decided to take the risk and go over to Nigeria. It’s a country I’ve always wanted to visit, because I am fascinated by a lot of the culture coming from there. Some of the world’s greatest intellectuals, such as Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka hale from there and Nigeria also has a booming music industry. I happen to rather like Nigerian music and since my areas of music would be reggae and afrobeat anyway, it was the perfect place to go. A lot of people said that a potential manager should have come to Europe to see me. And that would have been great, but circumstances were not permitting of that, plus it would just make more sense for me to come to him.

But of course, I did have a lot of doubts. 419 scams ring a bell for you? Well, I was pretty sure I wasn’t about to fall victim to one. But the worries some of my closest friends had, rubbed off on me. And with all the stuff now happening in the north of the country, I just wasn’t sure if it would be safe. And, there was the additional thing, blindness. Was I, a blind Western woman really going to be safe going to Nigeria by myself?

As you can imagine, I had a lot of questions, no real and certain answers and after I revealed my plans, heaps of worried friends and family. But I chose to go in the end, because I was convinced that this was a real opportunity after having done a little bit of detective work. And my foster parents were 100% supportive as long as I promised to text or call them every day.

And here I am. I have already recorded 4 tracks, two of which features Nigerian A-list celebrities. Slim-Fit is also a great manager. A much bigger man than I anticipated. Not really in stature, otherwise the nickname wouldn’t fit, but in standing. He is well respected and I can definitely tell that being an artist under this label is going to be a very enjoyable thing for me.

The blindness thing is not so much an issue yet, and maybe it won’t be. I have only been here a week and I’ve only interacted properly with my manager, producer, general friend and driver and the two other artists, all of whom I share a house with in Akure in the South-Western part of Nigeria, far away from Boko Haram and alike. The other people I’ve met, such as my manager’s family members, the company lawyer and bank staff have all been very nice to me and I don’t feel pitied like I have felt sometimes in foreign countries.

The work is hard, but when you enjoy what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. I only notice in the evening when I’m exhausted. But it’s exhausted in a good way. There are many other perks as well. Hanging out at A-list celebrity’s houses in Lagos, getting VIP tables in the night club and just being here, recording, realizing my second dream!

I realize this is a very messy update. But I’ll be more specific in later posts about different aspects of life here. I’m gonna be here till mid-October this time, but I’ll of course be back once my work permit is cleared with immigration. And then, the whole crew will be moving to Lagos which I really can’t wait to do! So many beaches and other things to explore. Plus, it’s where it all happens!

In the meantime, I want to let my readers know, I’m as safe and happy as I could be!

My 2013

During my years in the BBC, I had a colleague who read palms. Upon reading mine one day, she said “I’m surprised you’re not more confused than you are. Your creative and sensible sides are very conflicting with each other.” She is very right, which made me respect her skill. She didn’t know me very well at the time. And my 2013 has been very much like my colleague described me. It has been an extremely happy and uplifting year, but also a painful one. But let me rewind and do this month by month.

January: I fell onto the subway tracks and I survived! I think that was very miraculous. It’s one of Oslo’s busiest stations, and I fell at a time when there was no train coming. As I couldn’t get up because I had fallen backwards, a man jumped down to lift me up and a girl received me at the top of the tracks. Luckily for me, I was on my way to the doctor and feeling slightly hysterical from the fall, I got there with my two rescuers walking me.

Despite being in quite a lot of pain from the fall, I boarded a plane four days later and went to Monaco. I stayed with some Egyptian friends there on the 25th floor of a block of flats and I had the time of my life. Me and my friend who are both singers, held an impromptu concert in a bar in Monte Carlo that had karaoke, and it went down so well that we were asked to come back the next day.

February: I fell again. But this time I fell in love. That can be more dangerous and painful than falling off a subway platform, but it is more fun, those times when it is not agonizing of course. The man is a bright and good looking Ghanaian student, who like me, work for the student radio station in Oslo.

March: I took the radio presenter’s test, which meant that I put together and presented the hour long news and current affairs show on our radio station by me. I passed and I now have an official paper saying I’m a qualified radio presenter. Live radio presenting is something I’ve grown to love more than I thought I would and I do hope I have my own show some day.

March/April: I also did the longest trip of my life so far. I traveled alone to New Zealand to visit a cousin and then on to Australia to visit a friend. I did so much on these two trips that I wouldn’t do them any justice by summing them up in this post. But let me say that I recommend anyone who can you should go there. I hope to go back one day, but preferably with some company because the flights are long. I slept as much as I could and I made some friends on the plane, for the duration of the journey, but still, company would have been nice. And I’d love to share a trip like that with somebody simply because it’s so incredible to be on the other side of the world. I did get to touch both koalas, kanagroos, wallabies, wombats and a kiwi.

April/May: I went to Iceland with my fellow master students. Iceland is also very amazing and we had so much fun walking on volcanos, soaking in natural baths and going out every evening. Of course, this all happened when we weren’t doing something study related, which was quite fun too. Especially because during our trip to RUV, the Icelandic broadcasters, we were shown around by Iceland’s most famous news Anker.

In May I also hosted a party with my partner for the first time ever. It was a Ghanaian party, meaning we served Ghanaian food. I learned never to mix Amarula and wine again!

June: I went to Skagen with one of my closest allies. Or is it called closest friends? No, ally is cooler I think. Skagen is that place in Denmark where you can walk out on the beach and have one foot in the Baltic Sea and one in the North Sea. I was there as a child, but didn’t remember because I was little. The place is magic and when you have a foot in each ocean, you can literally feel the two meet because they strike against each other

July/August: I wrote a teen novel for my niece for her confirmation. The title Vilde Gudenes utvalgte translates as Vilde, chosen by the gods and is about a girl Vilde who enters into the Greek mythological world to help make right a wrong that has been done and which have caused the world of the gods to die out. Writing it was a strange experience in a good way and I felt as if the story lived its own life and that I was just sent by someone to write it down. Writing in Norwegian was difficult for me however, because English has over time become the language I prefer to express myself in when writing unless we’re talking about informal emails and so on, where it doesn’t matter to me which of the two languages I use. But getting reacquainted with writing my mother tongue was also good.

August: I went back to Skagen with my same close ally who I’d gone with in June as well as my other half. That too was a nice trip and we had better weather. Next time I go to Skagen, I hope to swim in the Baltic Sea.

October: I made my first full length radio documentary. It’s entitled Faith as career, and features three people who have incorporated their faith into their life style or career choices. The first one is a girl studying to become a catechist in the Norwegian Lutheran church, the second a guy from a Pentecostal background who is the leader of the Oslo Youth party of a prominent Christian political party. The third person is a Catholic sister of the Dominican order who is also a physicist and who had and is continuing to have, a profound impression on me. The three made for a very good and dynamic documentary for which I’ve had some good feedback.

I also had a splendid girls trip to Copen Hagen. It was crazy, a little Sex and the City style. And yes, I did spend money on a pair of expensive high heels. Italian high heels.

So a good year. But despite all those good things, I have had some painful times too. I don’t want to talk about them in detail, but they have taught me a few lessons. Firstly, that only sadness can show you what really matters in life. Secondly, that people you thought were not that close to you can be of good help. Thirdly, that pain makes you a better person, because it forces you to develop, think and reflect and it makes your appreciate even small moments of happiness a little more. And finally, despite wanting to delete most of the last three months of 2013 from my life, I am in some twisted way grateful that I have experienced the depth of the pain I’ve been in. Because I am still here, I am still laughing and little by little, I remove myself from it all and show myself how incredibly blessed I am to have what’s even more important during sad times than good friends or a partner. A strong personality, psyche and sense of reality. And that’s how I know; I’ll eventually be completely alright again.

I have had over 20.000 hits on my blog all time which is amazing considering how boring my posts have ben of late. I will try to amend that in 2014 and I may even post some of my short fiction from time to time. Thanks though to those of you who have read my ramblings and thanks for still returning. If you are on twitter, why not follow me at @Linn_M21 And if you enjoy my writing, you can read all the articles I have posted on http://www.styleable.co.uk
That is to say different articles than you find here, but probably some of them are on interest to some of my readers. On Twitter I also announce everything I publish. And should you be curious to see what I look like, you will find my picture both on Twitter and Stylable. I may include one on this site too at some point, though so far, I’ve left it as just a thought.

Happy 2014 to all of you and May the entire year be filled with laughter, good madness, and heart stopping moments of joy and peace and harmony.

Happy new year!

Blindly travelling

As a blind person, I’d have to get used to some pretty stupid remarks. I stopped getting shocked ages ago by questions such as “How do you manage to dress?” and “How do you not spill all your food whilst eating?” long ago. But occasionally, I hear something which I find down right shocking. For example when someone made the following statement to my friend: “Poor Linn, I can’t imagine how she can get any joy from travelling”. The remark made both her and me howl with laughter. Because I am someone who has been used to travelling since I was a tiny baby. At the age of one, mum would fly me over to Bergen in the west of Norway to have me stay with my grandma. And she would only fly me over because I was too little to fly by myself. This meant she’d fly back to Oslo again and I’d be with my grandparents for a long time. At five, I was finally old enough to fly alone. So, as you can imagine, I learned to appreciate going away at a very young age. The person, who made that remark, was entirely wrong. But someone may be curious about the kinds of things blind people do enjoy when travelling.

I have been very fortunate this year, and I’ve traveled to four countries I’ve never been to in a very short space of time. In January I went to Monaco, in March, New Zealand and Australia and only last week, I returned from a trip to Iceland. The first two trips were holidays, while the Iceland trip was a study trip, if four hours of lecture and a week of adventures and partying count. On all the trips, there was some kind of sightseeing. In Monaco, I walked in the narrow streets taking in the sounds, smells and the feel of the uneven cobbles under my feat. I also enjoyed a lot of luxury in the form of nice restaurants and living in a flat on the 25th floor. It felt amazing sitting up there listening to the life going on so far down and feeling the sun on my face. I even held an impromptu concert with the friend I visited in a Monte Carlo Restaurant.

In New Zealand and Australia, I went for walks, listened to the exotic birds, felt the flowers, fed and patted kangaroos, koalas and wombats, went to an Aboriginal memorial trust where I could learn about the culture, went around Melbourne in a city tram, walked around windy Wellington, patted farm animals, went to another museum in New Zealand where I learned about Maori culture and where they had an earth quake simulator.

In Iceland, I walked on Volcanos, listened and smelled the boiling water that came up from the ground, soaked in nature baths and climbed into secret caves.

Common for all the trips, was that I had lots of good food and at times, a little too much good drink, and good company. My friends in Monaco, a cousin and her boyfriend in New Zealand, a good friend in Australia I hadn’t seen in ages and my classmates in Iceland.

Do you notice that all the things I did are things anyone would or could do? I enjoy what sighted people enjoy. Ok, so I am more into touching, smelling and listening for things. I touch whatever I can in museums, stop and listen, and I take in things with all the senses I have. Certain things I do not enjoy that much. For instance, on a snowy day in Iceland, we made a photo stop which involved some hiking. It was only a short one so I decided to stay in the car because it was very windy and the snow was blowing in my face.

I don’t take pictures on holidays except when I was playing with the Australian animals in the wildlife park. But that’s not entirely because of my blindness. It’s to do with the fact that I’ve always been someone who likes to carry memories in my heart rather than a physical imprint of them. Besides, I like perfect pictures which mean I need someone else to take them as my friend’s mum did in the wildlife park. I do enjoy shooting my friends sometimes to see how the pictures come out. I did that in a hot tub in Iceland and because of the water, it tripled the size of the per of their bodies that were under water. Some blind people are crazy about taking pictures and they like to point the camera to different places. We are all different. So, there is no one thing that fit all blind people when travelling.

I hope my next trip will be soon. I am getting a little restless again….