Summer-ing 2016

Summering last year featured the capital city. This year, it featured the big apple and the capital city. I won't bore you with words. Let's get to the pictures:

this girl, fierceee! ha.

Book Of The Month: Ghana Must Go By Taiye Selasi

Unlike last month's book, this was certainly not light-hearted. On the contrary, it was heavy with unexpected deaths, poverty, sexual abuse, complex family secrets, love, and of course, similes and metaphors that never seemed to end. In all, it was exceptionally written. It was beautiful.

P.S: You should follow me on Twitter; got my Tweeting mojo back!

The above tweet captioned exactly how I felt when I completed this book. Before I go on, a quick anecdote. When I started this book—despite a few hiccups I will describe in a bit—I  knew it was my book of July and wanted to blog it. I was not halfway done and today (Sunday) was looming. Still, I told myself about a week before today that I would finish this book before Sunday. Honestly, I did not see how. I'm not what you will call a fast reader not because I don't know how to read incredibly fast, I do. But really, it's not a competition. I don't go an entire day reading a book; I have a life, and while I have a predilection for books, I swear by my TV shows too. There are only 24 hours a day, at least seven of which I must sleep if you don't want monster Ife. So you see all the things competing for my attention.  But my mind was set on finishing the book. So during work breaks, and couples of minutes before bed, I read bits and pieces and continually got enthralled with the Sai's family secrets at the turn of every page. Fast forward to the beginning of a weekend trip with my sister yesterday: I was just halfway through when I told my sister about my goal to not just complete this masterminded-crafted literary piece, but blog about it. She scoffed. She was right to. We both fell very deeply asleep minutes later,  instead of me reading. About an hour or two before the trip ended I started. Well vacation-ing began around 12 and ended about 5 for the day. I finished the book by 8:45 PM. Set goals people, even when they look unachievable. Set them anyway.

Back to this piece that got me all giddy. I'll confess, it took a while to get a hang of this. While her writing was brilliant, to say the least, I found it tedious at first. The metaphors, the similes, the play on words, the avid descriptions...Sigh. They were at first, quite annoying.  However, amidst the verbose prose, I saw a plot thicken and thought if only she could get to the point. I found myself saying "get to the point already!!!!" a couple of times. For instance, when she described Kweku's Ama using three freaking pages. UGH. So extra.

Despite that only shortcoming of the book, it was just really great. It began with Kweku's death and would later evolve around all his four children and their mother reuniting for his funeral. Selasi (the author) herself is what you'll call intercontinental: Born in London (of a Nigerian mother and Ghanaian father), raised in Massachusetts, Yale and Oxford trained, and now living in Rome. Watch her TED talk: "Don't ask where I'm from, ask where I'm a local".

It was therefore no surprise to see her put her rich experiences and background to use when the book spanned across continents, and state lines: Brookline, Massachusetts; Kokrobitey, Ghana; Accra, Ghana; Lagos, Nigeria; New York, New York; London, England; New haven, Connecticut.

The book tells the story of Kweku Sai and Folasade Savage, or Fola as she's called throughout the book. They met in Pennsylvania after Fola had to leave Lagos for Ghana after her father's unfortunate demise in the North, just before the Nigerian civil war. She then left Ghana for Pennsylvania, where she met Kweku, a gifted surgeon. She gave up her dream of becoming a Georgetown trained lawyer for Kweku, saying "one dream is enough for us". Unfortunately, after the demise of a rich person (Kweku operated on) at his hospital, Kweku was deemed the fall guy and ultimately fired from work. He hid this salient fact from his family, while trying to figure things out. When he couldn't, he walked out very unceremoniously from his family, without as much as a warning.  The book dealt with the consequences and aftermath of that incredibly selfish decision; how it affected the lives of each child; and the fragments from the broken (both literally and figuratively) family. But instead of just divulging it directly, Selasi did this with a series of flash backs. First, we began with Kweku reminiscing while dying, and then the rest of the family slowly, but ultimately dealing with all the ghosts and skeletons in their individual closets.

At the time of his death, his children were practically estranged from one another. My favorite part was their coming together and reconciliation. Although while alive, he wrecked the family, he did one last good thing with his death: he brought them together.

I like how she explored the children's reaction to the death of their fathers. How does one mourn something they never had? She delved into immigration and the barriers immigrants are willing and almost always break to achieve undeniable success, no matter the cost. Kweku was too egoistical to accept defeat and to start over. Instead, he completely gave up, leaving his family to misery. Fola, a flower merchant who was too broke to sustain four children on her own, decided on a whim to send her twin children to a half-brother she did not know. I thought that it was unusual for someone as brilliant as Fola to do something as stupid. But there was nothing usual about being suddenly left with four children without a provider. The experiences of those twins in Lagos, with their drug dealer uncle would later shape the rest of their lives and have dire consequences. Olu, the firstborn child, the administrator, and very like his father became an orthopedic surgeon but finds it almost impossible to love or be loved. He had to keep a level head while his world around him changed as he knew it. Sadie, the baby, suffered from bulimia and a serious case of low self-esteem, where she just always felt out of place, unsure of everything, even her sexuality. She threw unnecessarily tantrums, if you ask me, but very expected of the baby of the house.

I mean it when I say you really have to read it to fully enjoy it. Let's just say Selasi has a new fan.

And that's it folks, my favorite book this month.

See you next month!


Who Are You?

Man, I gotta tell you, too many things happening at the same time. It's like as we are putting out one fire, another is popping out. And it's every freaking where. But don't forget to guard your heart and seek for your own peace, however you can. Jesus has overcome. Not will. Not may. He HAS. It's done.
Coded this myself #Girlswhocode

I wanna blog about identity. Who are you? What makes you, you? What is the real you?

I remember years ago when I first heard about Elizabeth Holmes, a tech entrepreneur. Holmes dropped out of college at the tender age of 19 to start what she at the time considered to be the future of medicine. She wanted to revolutionize blood testing, and she did. And while I was impressed by all her achievements—you know I love me some girl power, I don't joke with powerful and successful women at all—I  was unnerved by something she said in an interview. She said her work was her life. In a profile of Holmes, Ken Auletta wrote in The New Yorker:

"She no longer devotes time to novels or friends, doesn't date, doesn't own a television, and hasn't taken a vacation in 10 years.  Her refrigerator is all but empty, as she eats most of her meals at the office. She is a vegan, and several times a day she drinks a pulverized concoction of cucumber, parsley, kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, and celery." 


I thought.

When I first read that two years ago, I was both impressed and intrigued. My first thought was to wonder what exactly I was doing with my life. Someone was so occupied with literally changing the face of medicine and here I was, done with my first semester of grad school (it was 2014) and spending unaccounted time on Facebook and the mother devil—Instagram. I gotta do better, I told myself. Few moments later, I paused. No, I was not sure I wanted that. What kind of success would it be if it required me not doing other things I love or worse, if I had no time, no matter how little, for the people I cared about. I was back to being happy in who I was and forgot about her. I was still impressed though, just no longer intrigued.

Fast forward to two years later, she made news, again. This time, not for good. You see after extensive coverage by Wall Street Journal, the accuracy of the tests done by Holmes' company was being called into question. Few weeks after the news, Forbes estimated her net worth to be $0 from over $4billion. In no time the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service banned her from operating labs for TWO years.

If her work was her life, doesn't that mean her life is over? Don't get me wrong please, this is not schadenfreude, I'm trying to make a point. It's devastating what happened to her; that one's entire life's work be so reduced to nothing.

Which brings me to my point. Outside of that degree, that fancy achievement, the accolades, the incredibly-unbelievable success, the hustle, the one zillion social media followers, who are you?

I think we tie our very being, our very core to what brings us money, to what brings us popularity, which is understandable, maybe even okay.  But it also makes it clear how depression and suicides are at an all time high. If your very foundation is something as fleeting as money or popularity, the moment that foundation shakes (and it probably will at some point for many people), your core shakes too. In Sarah Drew's commencement speech at UVA, her alma mater, she charged the graduates to not focus on impressing, but to focus on love.

So instead of focusing on on how to impress, maybe just focus on who to love, who to serve...because for the most part, the folks you are busy impressing do NOT care. Do it because of YOU.

For me, I found a verse in the scripture that gave me a better understanding. Paul, in a letter to the Philippians said compared to the privilege of knowing Jesus, every other thing was insignificant.

My own identity comes from God, who is a pretty solid foundation. Because my identity is in God, not how much is in my bank account, not my hustle, not my degrees and accomplishments, not the languages I speak, not my pedigree, not even my big dreams, I understand that failures don't define me. At the same time, there is no place for pride when I succeed. Success, failures are parts of me NOT the whole me. Many parts make for a whole us, and it's natural to attach more importance to certain parts. However, figure out the valuable part and focus on that. But place your identity on something immutable. I know who I am, do you? Or do you just move on to the most flashy thing and/or tie your life to intangible things? So I ask again,

Who are you?



Love, Peace, Justice...And Freedom?

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." - The United States Declaration of Independence.

In 1776, about a year since the thirteen American Colonies had been at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain, the Declaration of Independence was adopted, and thus these colonies—of course with the leadership of the founding fathers—declared that they had now become sovereign and independent. They became a new nation—the United States of America. These founding fathers would never have imagined that more than two hundred years later, the very foundation on which Independence was derived—freedom—would be so...shaken? challenged? ridiculed?

This past week has been very devastating and especially heartbreaking, but has also led me to thinking more about what freedom really means to me. I have found that true freedom is found in God. True freedom comes with salvation. And freedom is being able to live uninhibited under the grace of God. The same grace that has kept me (and I am sure many others) sane. These recent happenings have challenged me to think further on how people have become much less tolerant of others. And the more you think about intolerance, injustice, prejudices, racism, the angrier you become.

But you see, there is already enough anger to go around. Everyone literally has something to say, but no one is listening. I wish we would reason beyond our ideologies to tackle the problem of hate. I wish we would be more involved in seeking answers to the many questions recent happenings have posed. Like, why would you think that a person is inferior to you because of the pigment of their skin? Why would you think that a person's life is worth less because they are different from you? And why would you judge me based on what I look like? It defies common sense, doesn't it? Considering I had no say whatsoever in how I was created, why then should my actions be solely defined and sometimes confined to the amount of melanin in my body? Why should a particular subset of people be expected to be more subservient to police than others? Also, why would anyone resort to more violence as the solution to violence? It's all very murky. Indeed, the time to discuss it is now.

Our leaders can and should better enforce and make laws that defend the unalienable rights of everyone as human beings. Alas, while the government can and should protect its citizens from hate crimes, racism, and discrimination, the government can not make citizens love and respect others irrespective of what they look like. Only Jesus can do that. He did that when he commanded us to love our neighbors—NO MATTER WHO YOUR NEIGHBOR IS—as we love ourselves. He did that when he constantly preached love. But most importantly, he did that by demonstrating a perfect love when he gave up his life.

Having said that, it begins with you and me. No person is born with hatred in them. Rather, as we grow older, we pick up prejudices and form our impressions based on our environment and the adults around us. Maybe you have conditioned your mind to form untrue opinion about black folks. I don't know. What I know though is that your child sees and picks up everything. Check yourself, examine yourself, above all ask God for some sort of exploratory surgery. Do you believe you are better than another person because your skin colors differ? You are not. And let's forget credentials and pedigree. I argue that being "uneducated", being a miscreant even, does not mean anyone deserves to be killed.

Now this is a process...maybe a long one. Maybe not. Maybe we wake up tomorrow, and we ALL love each other, we hold hands to sing Kumbaya, and racism is gone. Maybe not. Maybe it's folly to think racism and prejudices will ever end. Maybe its folly to believe so much in the human race; to believe that out of many languages, culture, race, ancestries, we are ONE. Maybe this is indeed a long arduous journey to freedom, real freedom. Whatever the case may be, you need to find your peace in this process.  Make no mistake, you should voice these frustrations and be a part of the solution. You should not be so complacent or indifferent to injustice, that you completely ignore everything going on and become insensitive.

A side note to my Nigerian and non-American friends: that you are not in America is not an excuse to turn a blind eye to racially motivated murders. You may have never been on a plane, you may never have physically been to America, but you can voice your frustrations too. Don't let anyone take that from you. Don't let anyone mock you for being aware even though "you have never seen the inside of a plane". Let them bask in their small-mindedness.  The world is now more connected than ever; be a part of the solution. However, please take care to properly educate yourself on history and facts before blabbing anything ignorant. Okay?

Moving on.

We all need to understand that while it is okay to voice our frustrations about injustice and murder and cop killings, our sanctity also needs to be protected. After all, nothing good can come from you losing your mind, can it? Therefore, do what you need to do and what you can to protect this peace. Disconnect, if necessary. Take a media fast too if necessary. The media has a LOT to gain from uproar and unrest. You don't. Whatever you need to protect and preserve your peace, go for it. Do not for one second forget about the Prince of Peace, Jesus: he is able to give you a kind of peace that surpasses human understanding, and he usually does.

Love, peace, and some justice,



There have been tons of scientific research on the importance and benefits of gratitude. Still, as human beings we have kinda wired ourselves to think a particular way; ignore everything we have and focus on the many things we want to have, but don't yet have. Now, I will be the first to admit that there are only a few things more frustrating than not getting what you want or need. The more that thing escapes our grip, the more inadequate we can sometimes feel. It doesn't help that we live in very interesting times. I don't think there has been any other time in history when people have been able to compare themselves to others: friends, families, foes. We see them living the life on social media; you see that person's list of achievements on LinkedIn and you wonder how you let all these years pass without achieving just one thing. Let's digress for a minute to talk about how not-useful LinkedIn actually is. Apart from being an avenue to monitor someone else's career progress (or lack of) aka being nosy, what other benefit does that site have? I woke up one fine morning and drastically edited my LinkedIn profile, leaving only the barest minimum. Anyway, that is just me; feel free to use it as you deem fit. Okay back to the matter at hand.

It also doesn't help that not only does your favorite blogger live the life, they tell you that the only reason you are not living the life is because you don't dream big enough; because you are complacent; because you don't dare to dream yada yada. And you believe them, so you keep your sight on what you want and forget to appreciate what you have. You think when you finally have that dream you will be able to live. You are wrong; you would always want something. ALWAYS.

So what can we do while we are waiting for what we want? Be grateful for what we have. Learn to have an attitude of praise; thanksgiving; gratitude. Not only will you begin to feel really better, you will learn to value what you currently have.  It helps to be thankful to God and also to people around you. Gratitude boosts your physical and psychological health, what's not to love about it? Don't be vague, be specific; make a list if you must. I made one of such lists recently and thought to blog some of them. You can take a step further by making a gratitude journal, or just a journal where you keep record of the beautiful, amazing things God has done for you. Without much ado, and in no particular order, here are some things I am thankful for:
Thankful for food!

  1. I'm thankful for life
  2. I'm thankful for salvation
  3. I'm thankful for my amazing family
  4. I'm thankful for provision
  5. I'm thankful for protection
  6. I'm thankful for food
  7. I'm thankful for peace and joy and laughter
  8. I'm thankful for freedom
  9. I'm thankful for my friends
See, once you start, you can go on and on and on...It helps. Try it. 

So before you beat yourself up too much for not having met your desired goals in the second half of the year, remember to count your blessings and literally name them one by one. You'd be surprised :-) Besides, it's not too late to pick up where you're slacking. There are still six months left after all. 

Enjoy the second half of the year!


Happy Fourth of July!!!

Here's to freedom and the many sacrifices made to achieve that freedom!