Tag Archives: Africa

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.

Advertisements

Why I love and identify with L’Occitane en Provence

Disclaimer: L’Occitane is not paying me to write this post. I do it out of love and gratitude.

L’Occitane en Provence is a French personal care, beauty and cosmetics brand founded in 1976 by Olivier Baussan. However, in those days it was a far cry from the International stores which are so popular today. In fact, Olivier Baussan started his business selling essential oils in an open air market in Provence. The first actual store opened in 1978 in Provence and in the 1990s L’Occitane saw International expansion. Today L’occitane shops can be found in over 90 countries in North and South America, Africa, Asia and Europe.

The products are organic, not animal tested and plant based except for beehive products that are used in the manufacturing process. L’Occitane is also practicing traditional ways of cultivating and harvesting ingredients and in the making of the products themselves.

Most ingredients are sourced directly from Provence though the popular shea butter series containing shea butter is purchased directly from women groups in Burkina Faso as Fair Trade.

I love L’Occitane for several reasons. First of all, the products are nice and my skin loves them. And using them makes me feel beautiful and refreshed.

Secondly, L’Occitane makes their products accessible to blind people. I remember the first time I was in a L’Occitane store in London getting quite emotional because picking up a product and being able to read what was inside it was a completely foreign and beautiful experience to me.

Thirdly, I support what the L’Occitane foundation (La fondation D’Enterprise L’Occitane) is doing. Namely to support visually impaired people and the economic emancipation of women.

L’Occitane works with NGOs to reduce avoidable blindness, particularly, but not exclusively in Burkina Faso. But they also do other things to empower visually impaired teens, such as running perfume schools every year for visually impaired teens from all over the world in Provence. If only I had known when I was a teenager…..

I have always loved the brand because of their accessibility efforts, but I’ve only recently started using it for almost every part of my beauty routine. I wasn’t aware of just how good all the products where, how much the company supported causes I have passion for and I thought it the price tag was high. However, having recently been to an L’Occitane members evening at the L’Occitane store in Oslo, I found out that it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Plus I really don’t mind my money going to this company.

I also like the friendly treatment I received from the L’Occitane staff at this member’s night. They advised me on what my skin needed Rather than telling me I needed a million products because they needed to sell. I came away with a lot of shea butter products.

As an artist who works in Africa, is blind and working on setting up a foundation to help blind people in Nigeria with education tools, L’Occitane is the kind of company I dream to one day be one of the faces of.

Blindness is NOT an imperfection!

My first single Let’s go party is out! I can’t quite believe it’s happened. But it’s on music blogs all over Nigeria, even Ghana and people have been sharing my video from Norway to England to Australia. It will soon be available on iTunes and other digital platforms, but I’ll announce that when it happens.

This is the least serious of my songs. And what you will hear from me in the future will sound less pop, and more, hmm, serious is not the right word, but never mind. You’ll hear it when it comes. Still, this is my first baby and I’m very proud of it. The song puts me in a good mood and will hopefully do the same to you.

My dream has really come true and this is just the very tip of the iceberg. The only bad thing I feel deserves a mention, is how the music blogs talk about me. Firstly they state my blindness. Fair enough. But then they go on to say that “She has always had a passion for singing and performing despite her imperfection”.

I don’t know about you. But this is both insulting and patronizing. Why, first of all, does blindness have to be called an imperfection? It’s at times an inconvenience, but imperfection?!

And why should I have a passion for singing and performing DESPITE this so called imperfection?
I don’t know if this is a cultural matter. But I do wish that whoever fed the bloggers my bio wouldn’t have added that bit. Or, I wish at least, that the bloggers would have the presence of mind not to include it in the brief. But I blame whoever wrote the brief. It was nasty and hurtful and a stinging insult. It forces me to speak up about blindness and how positive I am, when instead, I would have liked to let my personality and character speak for itself on those matters.

And I believe that the pending interviews and promoting I’ll be doing in the months to come will show people that there is no imperfection and no despite of. And the brief writer’s words will be an empty patronizing echo from the past.

But, I am happy. I am grateful for having the opportunity to work with my music and release it, despite the imperfection of the press brief. (See what I did there?)

In case your sight is as bad as mine, I can tell you that the video is a dance video shot on a boat in Lekki which is a very beachy area of Lagos. In one scene, I’m on a bed, but in the others I’m dancing at a party. I’m mostly sitting down. There are lots of people around. Men and some video chicks. The latter are all over my singing partner Lace. I don’t have that much male attention, but that will change in my next video. I have been assured though that I look very elegant in a black and white short dress and big straw hat.

You can listen and watch here: