Tag Archives: Norway

New Exclusive Interview With me on NotJustOk TV

Lioness Oyinbo NEA Winner Exclusive InterviewI’m so excited to present a brand New exclusive interview With me on the Nigerian Music blog NotJustOk. The interview was recorded in Dallas Texas and I talk about my love for Afrobeat, Challenges in the Music industry and my perspectives as a disabled artist. I also sing the Nigerian National anthem.

 

You can find notjustok at http://www.notjustok.com

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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:

Sex toys are on the government- Turning the wellfare system on its head

We are going to continue on the topic of *not a single story. And today, we are addressing the problems of living in a rich country with a good welfare system.

If you’re sick long term, you get sick pay. If you’re pregnant, you get a year off after the baby is born. Can’t get a place for your child in a kindergarten? No problem. You get a support if your child stays at home. Having more kids? You get more money, because you get child support anyway. Need some aid like Braille displays, hearing aids, and a wheel chair? Just send in an application to the government. Need a free sex toy? Find the government application form online. Welcome to Norway!

No, that sex toy thing is real. I know you thought I was joking. So did I when I saw the application form for it as I was looking for an application form for a Victor Reader Stream, which, in case you don’t know, is a talking book and text book player which can record. Very handy for studying.

It all sounds great and it is. I certainly couldn’t afford a Braille display. And what about scree reader licenses? Unlimited secretarial support?So expensive! With regards to vibrators, I’d say they are in the affordable price range. So I don’t know what the government is playing at.

I’m grateful to live in a place where this type of support is available. But there is a flipside to living in this great welfare system. And it’s ugly.

I am due to finish my masters degree in November of this year. After that, the idea is that I’ll be working. I’m young, fit and have no excuse whatsoever not to work. I want to work! I was casually talking about this with another blind friend of mine. A girl who is doing her PHD and who has been through several rounds of getting a job. Like me, she is highly qualified and able to work.

“If I were you, I would apply to NAV for a placement,” she said. NAV being the state body responsible for all the good help Norwegians receive. The advice was well meant, but it made me reflect on the sorry attitude of this rich country I’m born in.

The idea of such a placement is that NAV gets you a job, hopefully in the field of your qualification, and pay for your salary. In my case, this could for instance mean that I got a job in a national newspaper or with the NRK, the Norwegian Broadcasting Company. And instead of them paying my salary, they would be paid to have me working for them by NAV, who would also pay me.

You can choose to see this situation from many different angles. You could choose to see it as a positive way to prove yourself to a mainstream employer, who may, when your placement is over, employ you. Or a way to not be unemployed. But to me, the placement arrangement has more negative than positive aspects to it.

Firstly, I think it places the disabled person looking for work in a position of charity and gratitude. I’d be grateful to be taken on by a national newspaper, as would any self-respecting journalist, but being employed on the terms that it’s not really them employing me, but NAV placing me there is a different thing entirely.

Then, there is the proof aspect. I’ve written before about feeling that I, as a blind person, constantly need to prove myself to be as good and better than sighted journalists. If I was taken on as a placement employee, I would feel twice the pressure to prove myself so that the newspaper would take me off the placement and start paying me themselves, making me equal to the other employees. Journalism is a tough field where one constantly has to stay on top of the game to get the good jobs and gigs. And the added pressure would probably have me cracking at some point. It also doesn’t help that certain Norwegian editors have come out and said that disabled people can’t be journalists.

The placement arrangement could help change bad attitudes to disabled peoples by employers, but it’s easy for an employer not to take you seriously if they know you’re just there for a time and that you’re not even paid by them. Accepting a placement on those terms for me at least, would be equal to shitting on my professional reputation and qualification. Pardon my French.

I am not the only one sharing the above mentioned sentiments. I was discussing this with my fully sighted cousin yesterday who has been looking for a job for a long time. She finally found one, but it has taken her long, and she has not received the help needed by NAV in the form of job seekers allowance. She’s lived abroad for a few years and has worked. She’s even worked in Norway and paid taxes, but to no avail.
Acquiring the job she has now, was also not easy. Her employer wouldn’t employ her until she felt she could trust her because her previous employees had worked there for a short while, only to start claiming sick pay from NAV. They did not, according to this employer, seem sick.

I myself know people who are receiving sick pay and who’re not sick. I have also heard of people pretending to have lots of children to receive more money. And it has gone so far, that a term (å nave) translated as to NAV, has made it into the dictionary. This means to simply claim benefits for a time while enjoying life.

So there you have it. The welfare system that does help those in needs sometimes refuses to help others in need and fork out for some who doesn’t need help. The welfare system that give employers excuses not to employ disabled people who would be a great boost to the economy, and could as such, improve the welfare system so that the type of help needed, would be more widely available.

I for one, is adamant to try and make it a freelance writer and set up my own business. I want to keep my integrity as far as I can. Something I feel the Norwegian welfare system is not able to help me keep at present.

I do hope that one day, the system bwill be reformed so that those who have life long disabilities don’t have to prove every so often that they still have a missing legg (also a real example). That employment support, such as secretarial and assistive grants are being more focused on rather than placements for people who can and want to work and making it just that little harder for every Tom, Dick and Harry to claim to be sick without rigorous proof from a qualified doctor. But then, the doctors are writing out those sick notes, so perhaps they too need to be sanctioned if they can be proved to do favours for people who just need time off because they want it. I don’t know. And I’m not a politician for a reason.

10 things I love about Norway

Just before leaving the UK I did a post on 10 things I love about the UK
as well as a post on 10 things I dislike about the UK
and I promised I’d do the same regarding Norway. Though I’m born and raised here, I’ve spent so much time away that even after four months, I feel relatively new to Oslo, but in a good way. It’s nice to rediscover and actually quite enjoy the city I was desperate to leave at the age of 19.

But let’s get to the list!

1. The chocolate! It’s not too sweet an there are so many varieties from the pure milk chocolate to the one with bubbles and the ones with crunchy/biscuit fillings or soft fillings. When I lived in the UK, I made sure to bring a stock of Norwegian chocolate which I hardly shared with my friends because I enjoyed it so much. And as I’ve resettled in Norway, I still can’t get enough. However, I’ll happily share with friends now as I need only walk for 10 minutes to buy more.
2. The nature. As a child, I groaned and moaned when my parents made me go for a Sunday walk in the forest. BORING! But now I really like it. I had a couple of friends from London visiting me earlier this week and on their last day; we went for a walk in the woods near my house. As we sat down on a picnic bench in the sun, listened to the birds sing and the ducks walking close buy, feeling the fresh air and the smell, I was proud of living in a country with such lovely nature. I am by all means a city girl, but a walk in the Norwegian nature, be it forests, mountains or parks, with or without skis on, will always clear my head and lift my spirit.

3. Oslo. I love it especially in the summer when the main street has a market, buskers and other street artists from all over the world doing their thing, the restaurants on board boats down at the port and, well I could go on forever. It also has the multiculturalism I love so much in the form of shops, restaurants, cafes and people from everywhere. There is also a lot to see, so it’s a great place for tourists.

4. The water. It tastes great and it doesn’t have that white stuff in it that London water has, so washing up is easier. The water is so good; I don’t by bottled water unless I want sparkling stuff.

5. Norwegians. My people are not fuzzy, down to earth and honest. You don’t get that oh so annoying British politeness and I find that if I’m ever lost and Norwegians offer help, they do so without all the “I’m ever so sorry if I intrude” or the “are you absolutely sure?” if you decline. If I had any criticism, it has to be that I wish there was more warmth between and towards people like you find in other parts of the world, but Norwegians are generally quite friendly.

6. Everything is very organized. Buying and selling property is very easy here. It took me only 3 weeks from I saw the flat I wanted till it was mine. And it only took that long because we waited to sign the contract on purpose so that it could be done on my birthday. Otherwise the whole thing would have taken less than a week. Also there are not all the middle men involved in buying and selling like there is in Britain.

7. Good quality houses. In the UK, I often got the feeling the houses and flats were not built very well on the inside. I remember my heavy glass shower door falling over me one day I was cleaning without me even moving it. I also think the doors and wood of the walls were bad quality which would need frequent renewing. And carpets! I hate carpets! Rugs that can be moved I like, because they can be cleaned. Here I have a feeling more thought is put in to the building and the quality of what’s inside the houses.

8. Food quality. I’m not really talking about the Norwegian cuisine itself, more that the food usually is nice, clean and of good quality. And I no longer have the 5 extra kilos I seemed to carry in the UK.
9. Beauty. I know this is both biased and boasting, but Norwegians are generally quite pretty and dress well.

10. There is no class divide. Sure we have rich and poor, like anywhere else in the world, but there isn’t quite the working class, upper class thing there is in the UK.

Watch out for my post on the 10 things I dislike which I’ll do my best to put up tomorrow!

My big decission

I haven’t been posting here for a while because I spent some lovely days in Florence, Italy where my fantastic boyfriend comes from. I absolutely love Italy and will probably write about it in later posts, but I would like to share a big decission I made, rather rushed, today.

As you may or may not know, I’m a Norwegian and for 7 years I have been living in the UK. 3 years in Edinburgh and 4 in London. And what a time! I went from being an insecure student, to being saved and baptised in a pentecostal church. I went to London, stopped the church thing and lived a little on the wild side until I got a job in the BBC where I stayed for 3 years. I had to leave because my department went to Salford and I didn’t wanna move. I got back into a wonderful church as well and my faith is stronger than ever.

Ok, so I decided on the freelance thing and it’s still something I’d like to persue, but I’m also realising that I really have nothing here in London. I have a social life and friends, but I don’t have key people I need in my life, like family. Because I do really believe that we all need family. If you’re raised without a family, you’ll naturally do anything you can to make a family around you in one way or another. And although I am a very capable and independent girl, I am blind and I do need people around me I can trust to help me with the few, but crucial things I need help with. I would also like to go back to university, take a masters degree and get a job, perhaps do the freelancing on the side. Whether I’ll stay in Norway forever or join my other half in Italy, only time can tell. There are some lose plans of a Tuscan future, but for the next few years at least, I will live very happily in Norway. And if the future plans don’t work out, I hope he’ll come stay with me. I’ll have family around me, university is free and my chances of getting a job is much bigger when I complete a higher education as very few disabled people with master’s degrees in Norway end up unemployed.

Will it be easy? Probably much more so than moving to the UK back in 2004. It’s after all the place I was born. I speak the language there and I have a network.But I won’t leave London without feeling sad about the fact I’m leaving a couple of very close friends and my church behind. I will also always have a part of Britain with me. After 7 years, you can’t help but being somehow shaped by somewhere you lived.

But I think this is the right decission. I have felt unhappy about living here in London lately and worried about my future. I will hopefully go back around Christmas or new year, so everything will happen quickly. But I’m confident this really is the right thing to do.

My one worry about leaving London, is that my studio recording will have to end. I hope this is not the case and that something can be worked out. Being a Christian, I’ll pray on it and hope the producer doesn’t feel I betray him by going away. It’s just that at present, I need more than a few studio sessions to keep me here.

But, everything sorts itself out for nice girls. Hmmmmm, I’m known to be more naughty than nice though, so need to work on that? 🙂