A Woman, Regardless : World Wide Wednesday #2

Hey hey!


Hope you're not suffering from the midweek blues like I am. Not so much that I am tired from work, but I am tired from the world. There has been a lot of talk around social media spaces about sexual harassment & misogyny and it's consequences. On the flip side, I've been feeling extra inspired by women, who regardless of the burden women are subjected to, are still a full life, inspiring others, sharing their stories and working tirelessly to dismantle a rigid society in dire need of change.

While this series it meant to be lighthearted and meant to motivate, I believe it is importnat to talk about these things. This is the reality of flow women, and humans. These are things So this will be different from the previous WWW (if you didn't see the first one, check it out!) and the ones to follow. In the first half I'll share few issues that stuck me, and ultimately nudged me to center today's WWW around this. In the second half, I'll share links and videos about the women who have inspired and motivated over the past few days to take joy in being myself, black, and a woman, regardless.

Do enjoy!


The ISSUES

Me Too
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Currently falling in love with Instagram 'doodlers' whose art provide social commentary on issues I'm passionate about. This was on my discover page on IG and it aptly describes my feelings about the current sexual harassment/assault revelations about Hollywood celebrities. Combined with my own experiences, those of friends and families, those splashed across the news and those highlighted through the #MeToo campaign, I feel increasingly hopeless and ANGRY.

@katechow_

Refusing to stay silent 
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One of my dear friends (who has an amazing clean beauty blog), Queen, posted about her experience with sexual harassment, and she accurately details the very real and frustrating reasons women do not speak about their experiences: (1) fear of drawing attention to myself,  (2) [worrying] about what might happen to assailantsnot wanting to tarnish their reputation, and (3) fear that no one would believe me. It is quite frustrating that this is the reality of women who face unwanted sexual attention and violation. In the end she brilliantly details the flip side of her reasons: I will no longer indirectly protect men who try to violate me and other women. There are consequences for our actions. You should think about consequences before assaulting or harassing someone. I do not care about your reputation, your family or your job. I do hope that with the current discussion of these issues, more and more perpetrators will be named and shamed.

Because the religious leaders said so
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The latest sitcom titled "fake Nigerian politics and morals" showcases yet again (1) how religion has often been used as an excuse fro misogyny and to opress women (2) our leaders really just don't get it. The country's military took several steps backward from their 2011 step forward in training female regular combatant cadets in the Nigerian Army (apparently they will still be trained in the Nigerian Navy and Air Force). The reason? Northern Muslim clerics test the idea of and want to prevent a situation where, one day, a woman will lead the army and give orders to men (them). Basically, women were outperforming men (haha) and were moving up the ladder, apparently two female cadets beat their male counterparts and won a place in the United States Military Academy. Classic case of salty men in power.


Women exploited because of poverty
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In this post, I talked about how I was mistaken for a prostitute on a solo trip to Rome. There has always been something quite fascinating and gravely disturbing to me about trafficking. Over the years, I've come across women trafficked  in my line of work and I continually work to understand the nuances behind trafficking. and conducted researched to improve their rehabilitation. However, last week over two dozen Nigerian and other west African women were murdered while attempting to cross the Mediterranean sea. Here, as in most cases of trafficking, the interaction between poverty, gender and racism cannot be unraveled.

The FLIP SIDE

We all go through something
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So now, I've dumped all this depressing information on you, how do you react? Though these might be triggering, painful, and frustrating it is the reality and staying informed is the painstaking yet  important first step to the world I described in the beginning. And so is taking care of yourself and other women. Also self love/self care is not just eating comfort food (sobs into giant plate of plantain) but realizing what hurts, why, and getting the help you need.

@recipeforselflove

Not just the food
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Including this was not because of the food, although these akara donuts or as Chisom Ombau likes to call them "akaronuts" did draw my attention to her page, 9jaDelicaies makes me want to get up and work. Chisom, the creator behind 9jaDelicacies is a mother of 3, a wife, a food blogger and has a full-time job. On top of that her pictures make her food look as amazing as I am sure they taste. So for me, and I hoe for you too, Chisom epitomizes that women can do it all, be it all, however they want.

@9jaDelicacies 


Live for yourself
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This speech by one of my many #WCE, Tracee Ellis Ross, reminds and encourages us to live our lives for ourselves. Becoming the "Brave you" as Ross says, gives us the courage to hold our own agency, our own choice, our own desire, our own longings, our own fear, our own grief, our own future.





A throwback to pick you up
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This is for my girls all around the world
Who've come across a man who don't respect your worth
Thinking all women should be seen, not heard So what do we do girls?
Shout out loud!
Do you recognize these lyrics? Over the weekend I a found myself humming to Genie in the Bottle by Christina Aguilera and went on a Christina Aguilera music binge session. When I got to Can't Hold Us Down, I couldn't believe how much of a feminist/female power/let's show our worth anthem it was. This song deserves a post of it's own, which may come later. But for now, let this be your pick up song for the rest of the week, reminding you to stand your ground, believe in yourself, and just revel in your strength and amazingness as a woman, or (if your a man reading this, let it remind you that your female counterparts are worthy of respect).

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Hope you enjoyed this one! This was tough but fun to write and I hope you learn something new, enjoy the rest of your week and remember women all over the world are sharing their stories and declaring their power.

Which of these stood out to you the most? How do you feel about all that's going on? Please share down below! 

Solo Travel Tips + Memories from Rome



November 10th officially made it one year since I moved to Nigeria. And then it hit me: I’ve been stuck in this bittersweet country for a year. Adulting and wanderlust just don’t go well. I’ve been craving for a break—to travel off to a new place and come back refreshed and ready to tackle end of year deadlines. Alas, I can’t travel for so many reasons; none of which included having no one to go with. I’ve only travelled alone once (I’ve gone on trips for conferences and stayed alone), but I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and perhaps because I’m an only child, I think I prefer traveling alone than with people.

Solo travel is scary for so many people, especially if you’re a woman and you’re black (especially in European and Asian countries). So daunting, that when I told my best friend back in 2014 that I wanted to go to Rome alone, she panicked. I, however, was not bothered, I’m a master planner and pride myself in being able to navigate new places pretty fast (kinda). So, in 2014 I went to Rome alone for four days—and I survived. Except for one racist experience where I was mistaken for a prostitute (there are a lot of women trafficked from Nigeria and other African countries to Italy for prostitution), I had an amazing eat.pray.nolove trip. Here are some tips that made the trip easier and you should jot down when planning a trip alone.

After checking into my hotel around 6:30 pm, I looked for the nearest phone shop, checked the closest place on my list of sights to see and headed to the Vatican. Although it was quite late and I couldn't go inside. I loved seeing the Vatican at night.

Solo Travel Tips: 

1. Do your research 

 Know the do’s and don’ts of the country you’re visiting. This reminds me of all of Samantha's woes (menopause hormone pills and making out in public) in Sex and The City 2. Haha! Also, research whether traveling alone to that particular county would be a wise. Although, I have never felt unsafe in foreign countries, I have heard that certain countries are not best travelled to alone. Do your research and decide if visiting x country would be safe and appropriate for you, while also considering your strengths. I.e., If you know you’ll get lost because you always get lost, don’t go to a country where language might be a barrier and then you’ll get lost.

2. Plan, plan plan! 

 It’s so easy to just say hey i’m going to x place, and I’ll just go with the flow and do it “like the locals,” but in reality you're not a local and when you travel alone as a person of color in a country where your type is definitely a minority, you’re not really a local. Which makes planning is essential. know what you’ll be doing, where you’ll be doing it, and when you’ll be doing it. You don’t have to plan every hour down to a T but have a general idea of what you’d love to do, see and of course, eat. Which is my favorite thing about travelling alone, you get to do what you want, always! Planning also helps so you can inform your family and friends where you'll be in case of an emergency.

*Before I went to Rome, I went to a Barnes and Noble and considered buying a book called Top 10 in Rome along with some others and ended up sitting in the attached Starbucks and taking notes of top places I’d love to visit, which became the places I did visit.

Some of my top places to visit: (l-r) Villa Borghese, Pizza Navona (I ended up attending mass at Sant'Agnese in Agone, a beautiful church in the square, and of course the Vatican this view is from the top!
3. Be safety conscious

As mentioned above, you should be aware of safety concerns in the country you’ll be visiting. No matter how “safe” the Internet deems a place, as a foreigner you may draw attention to locals looking to exploit or take advantage. This includes being low key and not drawing attention to yourself. You’ll be alone and unfortunately predators around where you lodge may notice this, especially if you carry flashy things.

4. Be accessible/have access. 

 If you travel frequently, I’d first of all recommend having an unlocked phone. Because I move between Nigeria and the U.S, my phones have always been unlocked, which has helped greatly in traveling. I typically always get a spare sim card when I travel with a low costing plan to be able to make a few calls, use maps, and send messages to my friends and mom to let them know I’m safe & ok. If this isn’t an option, a lot of phone companies often offer affordable plans so you can roam your phone for emergencies. Also, writing down phone numbers (your hotel or host family, emergency personnel) helps if you can’t roam your phone or get a sim card. You can always use a telephone box, look for information centers in the downtown tourist area and ask for help with making a quick call in case of an emergency.

*Nowadays, a lot of tourist areas have free wifi so always check for this. You can make Whats App calls, and use google maps in case you get lost (also google maps and I believe Apple maps [like below] has an offline mode that shows you a moving blue dot as you walk, so if you pin a place while connected you might be able to see it when you’re offline and navigate your way there).



5. Write or document in your own way. 

The previous tips have been about being safe but one benefit of traveling is being able to reflect and enjoy your own company. When I went to Rome I recorded videos of myself and wrote in a journal whenever i went out to eat. Also writing the things you do and things you learn about the country while you are there is always fun. I sometimes find notes I took from previous trips and reflect fondly.

6. Have fun! 
Don’t be shy! Ask people to take pictures of you when you need to. I often set my camera/phone and stand where I’d want the shot taken and ask them politely to take the picture. Sometimes this doesn’t always work out and you get pictures with the hand covering the flash, but it’s still worth the potentially great shot! Don’t be lonely because you're alone! Take uplifting books and movie along to read watch when your back in your hotel room at night. Converse with people you meet at restaurants, tourist attractions libraries, museums and more. Not only will you learn more about the local culture but you’re bound to meet other tourists and learn about their culture too.

All in all, have fun be safe and don’t let the fact that you’re alone hold you back from enjoying a potentially life changing experience!


Have you ever travelled anywhere alone or have you had an itch to join team #solotravel? Comment below, and also add your own tips ;)

Shrimp Coconut Rice

Long time no food post! These past few months have been one hell of a roller coaster and I'm currently grateful for some semblance of normalcy. I'm also getting excited for the holiday season coming up, so many weddings and functions (the Naija 'owambe') and thinking of all the food that will be eaten if I don't start training my brain and mouth to cooperate now. In the past you'd only see jollof rice, fried rice, and if you're lucky ofada rice at owambes. But these days, there are several types of rice (including the disaster of a thing many caterers call 'chinese rice'). Anyways, I'm yet to see coconut rice as an option at these functions. Which upsets me because I LOVE coconut rice. It used to be a Sunday staple in our house before I went to university.



Coconut has always held a special place in my heart, I would beg my mom on after church if she could make coconut rice. I'd always chose coconut flavored anything over many other flavors. Add chillis to it and you've won me over! This recipe is exactly that-- a combination of thick plus creamy coconut and hot chillis (with some seafood thrown in). Though traditionally, I'd use the homemade milk from fresh coconuts, but there's something so special and delectable about using coconut cream instead of milk.

What you'll need

1 can of coconut cream
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 cup of stock
1/2 cup of shrimp
2 tablespoons of chili sauce
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
2 cups of rice (basmati or regular parboiled rice works)



s e a s o n i n g s

- salt
- two tablespoons of grounded crayfish *
- two teaspoons of curry powder
- teaspoon of mixed herbs
- teaspoon of thyme
- teaspoon of garlic powder
- bay leaves
- maggi or knorr seasoning cubes **



* If you don't have grounded crayfish use either crayfish flavored maggi cubes or fish/seafood stock.
**Use this to your preference and depending on how thick your stock is. Two cubes are shown above but I only used one.


What you'll do:

1. In a medium saucepan, heat up the coconut oil and add onions. Stir fry till translucent.

2. Add the chili sauce, and seasonings. Stir fry for 2 minutes.

3. Add the stock and coconut cream and bring to a slow boil. While the mixture is cooking, wash the rice until water runs clear.

4. Add in washed rice and cover tightly. Cook for 15 minutes, add prawns, then cook for another 15-20 minutes.

5. Add in the ground crayfish, and reduce the heat to low.* Allow the pot to simmer for 5 minutes and it's all done! Ready to be served with fried turkey. Or chicken. Or fish. Or just devoured straight from the pot.

* I made this recipe back in June, I recently recreated the dish and I popped the rice into an oven safe dish and baked for about 7 minutes after adding the crayfish and trust me, it made a difference!





Let me know if you try this out, and what you think!


How Will You Leave? World Wide Wednesday #1



Hi loves! 

I love the beginning of a new month, mainly because I love setting goals and being reinvigorated, same reason I kinda like Monday’s (yes, I rarely have Monday blues, hehe). I also really love November, and dearly missing fall weather and all the fall flavored food/drinks. 

I had to take a long unexpected break from this newly launched blog (sigh) because life just happened. It was needed for my sanity. After some weeks shame and disappointment crept up, I was upset with myself for taking time off, and when I was ready to start blogging I didn’t know where to start. So since it’s a new month and also a Wednesday, today felt like a good day to start a series I've wanted to start since September— World Wide Wednesday. Like the name? I thought long and hard about it. Haha! 

On every other Wednesday  (typically in the morning unlike this one, lol) I’ll be sharing fun, inspiring, and necessary links, photos and videos from around the web to get you over the midweek slump or as I've seen on numerous memes, the Wednesday hump. In addition, on the first of every month, I'll be sharing my monthly fives, not necessarily goals but things I'd like to accomplish and also cook for that month. Meaning this post is a two in one! 

This week's theme is "how will you leave?" based off the social media/Instagram photo spotlight. The the majority of links revolve around making an impact, standing for what you believe, and living your life as bold as you can.

Here we go:

Food
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As I mentioned earlier, I'm missing all things fall. I recently started making butternut squash and pumpkin soup just to indulge in fall memories...in Nigeria. When I saw this picture I thought it was butternut squash and got excited. But it isn't. It's egusi. Egusi isn't my favorite soup, but I do really like the Ijebu version, which has no vegetables in it. This is such a creative recipe by Afrolems,  she and many other food bloggers have crossed necessary boundaries to make unique Nigerian dishes, forever changing the perspective of food and how it connects us all. Plan on trying this one really soon.

@afrolems

 


Self Care/Love
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I recently followed this page and fell in love with the graphics and messages. This one is especially important as a woman I often find myself apologizing for the space I take up, for the things I do or say. And I hate it. How can I live my best life, boldly if I am constantly apologizing for who I am? 

@recipeforselflove




Social Media Favorite 
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This was by far my favorite post on social media this past week. I love Mari's artwork and messages, they're always so relatable. But this one shook me. It made me think hard about laying in bed after work instead of finishing off a research proposal. It also motivated me to return to my blog. Which inspired the title/theme for this post, how will you leave this earth? How will you be remembered? As the girl who scrolled through IG envious of other's  success? Or as the go-getter? It's your choice.

@bymariandrew

Other
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When I came across this quiz, I honestly thought it would be like one of those long BuzzFeed quizzes asking an array of obscure questions to arrive at a sometimes funny conclusion but it wasn't. It caught my attention mainly because I'm currently reading Chimamnda Ngozi Adichie's We Should All Be Feminists. And according to this quiz and Adichie, it really boils down to two questions and one general goal-- equality and empowerment. 

During midweek service two weeks ago, this video was played and it made me tear up. Reminded me of how amazing Jesus is, how much we are loved by him and how strong my identity is in him.

On the radio last week and even around twitter, I heard about this young man who was expelled from a university in Nigeria, when he was already in his last year. It is quite frustrating how the Nigerian education system from primary school all the way to the tertiary level does not allow for freedom of speech. Nothing the guy stated, in my opinion was offensive to the school, he was simply stating how he finally found someone in the school who encouraged him. I often wonder how we can move forward if we don't allow youth to speak for themselves. 
_________________________________________________________________________

November Fives

Like I said earlier, November is one of my favorite months, it's like the calm before the storm that is December, especially a December in Lagos. Here are the five things I hope to accomplish:

1. Start and complete a write the scripture daily plan. I often let my worldly pursuits stray me from mediating on God's word, though I pray daily, I am really trying to cultivate a habit of mediating and study the scripture for a particular topic. 

2. Cook a dish from Northern Nigeria, living in Nigeria made me realize how I only eat Yoruba Nigerian dishes. I have never even tasted the popular Edikaikong or Afang Soups from the Calabar and Ibibio Tribes respectively. i also saw a friend making an Hausa dish, Masa on Snapchat and made me realize I my knowledge and food abilities when it comes to Nigerian food is quite limited. 

3. Socialize, this might sound ridiculous but it is so easy to get caught up in my head, work and books and stay at home. Making it a goal to attend at least 4 social events where I have to mingle with people I don't know. Pray for my guys.

4. Read 5 books, I was on a roll in October. I read 5 books and I think I can do the same this month. I also want to read a book set somewhere outside of the U.S, South Asia, and the African continent. 

5. Walk 20,000 steps in one day. I've been on a journey to get healthier which has included aiming to get at least 7,000-10,000 steps in a day. The highest I've reach was 16,000 so I'm ambitiously aiming for 20,000. Yekpa. 

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Anyways that's all for today guys. Quite a lengthy post but I reckon filled with some gems? Let me know what you related with the most and what your fives or goals for this month are. 

Happy November!