Category Archives: Nigerian girls

Master of all the Balls.

I can feel the eyes of everyone on me the moment I take off my jacket. I made the effort. I am pleased by their reaction. I suck in my gut and bask in the admiration.

He walks towards me soon after, swaying as though he has lots of balls clustered like grapes beneath his trousers; crotch out, shoulders back, hands in his trouser pockets, sweeping his jacket behind him like a cape. Superman. Master of all the Balls.

Nneoma beside me, watches his approach and sniggers. I know what she is thinking. He’s probably a weirdo. I always get the weirdos. Something must be wrong with my pheromones. The last time it was Callistus; hirsute and almost mono of brow. Handsome in that Wolverine sort of way. That is until the picking and flicking; eye crusts, teeth jam, bogeys.

And then there was Eghosa who sucked his thumb when no one was looking, using his herniated belly button as a stress ball. He was a banker. A good banker. He squeezed that sucker all the time. Wouldn’t go in for surgery either. Said it was his ‘good luck charm’. In the end, I decided couldn’t date a guy with a belly button bigger than my boobs. It just wasn’t right.

Don’t even get me started on the guy who had a tail.

In the middle of the room, Master of all the Balls halts for a passing waiter, jumping back deftly to avoid spillage from overfilled glasses. He turns it into a little dance.

“Quite the mover,” says Nneoma, eyeing him up and down. “Not bad.”

“For a man with elephantiasis of the scrotum, you mean?” I roar. Nneoma titters a bit, absent-mindedly. The fact she is is not ROTFL gives me pause. This is our usual Saturday night entertainment. I buy stupidly expensive dresses which I return the next day. We visit upmarket watering hole. Get drunk. Laugh at bankers and wankers and pseudo-poshos and weirdos and intense Afropolitan-types. Go home sans weirdos. At least try to, anyway. It’s pathetic, yes. But that was how we bonded; two lonely girls from the same country who had nothing else in common.

Master smiles.

“Nice smile too,” she adds.

He has. There is a dimple in his chin that I just want to stick my tongue in and an almost cartoonish twinkle in his eye. I can even hear the twink! when the light hits it. I decide that I want him after all. Walking around crotch-first like he wants to impregnate the world is no problem, I tell myself. Much better than boob-navel.

I smile back, raise my hand in a finger wave. Beside me, Nneoma starts. I feel her glancing at me. She clears her throat.

“Err, babes…”

“Back off, he’s mine,” I say through clenched teeth.

“Girl, listen…”

“You just got a promotion! Don’t be greedy.”

Nneoma grins back maniacally but I can tell she is upset. “Fine. I need the loo anyway.”

She says ‘loo’ now.

Master reaches me just as Nneoma takes off, tattooing the floor in an angry clack-clack of heels. I flick my hair and cross my legs on the bar stool.

“Hi,” he says. His breath smells edible. He looks suddenly shy. It makes me want him all the more.

“Hi,” I tilt my head in what I hope is a coquettish manner. He smiles again. His teeth are white-white. I want to go to sleep in the tight curls on his head. He swallows.

“Hey, so,” he bends lower whispering in my ear. “The price tag on your dress is showing.”

Ogoli nuo di n’abo, omara nke ka nma – A story in Igbo (with English translation)

Hello,

So I have been practising my storytelling in Igbo for a long while now – mostly it’s Tot who is the beneficiary of my stories as you all know. However I thought I should share my latest efforts with you guys ; not only do you get to read one, but listen to it as well. I’ve uploaded a sound cloud file below.  It took about 6 takes and it’s still not perfect; I had to pause to read what I had written.

(I can speak Igbo well and write it too but reading it takes a bit of effort. Reading it aloud can be tough.)

I have also included the English language version which has taken A LOT LESS TIME to write (about 10 minutes). The Igbo version took me 25 minutes for just 700+ words. I have a long way to go in  the speed of my written Igbo, obviously!

Stories below.

***

 

OGOLI NUO DI N’ABO, OMARA NKE KA NMA.

Anwu chara Adaku n’isi mere ka osuso wee dabaa ya n’ime anya. Oji azu aka ya fichaa ya n’ihi na obere akwa ojiri ehicha okpofu ruru inyi. Adaku tara ikikere eze wee chee uche ojoo n’ebe enyi ya nwoke bu Ikem no.

“Moto onweghi, credit nwa, onaghi enye mmadu. Anwu anoro ebea n’acho ichagbu m. Kedu ka osiri buru so so mu na ndi ibe m n’ile bu onye na ata odiri afufu a?” Ka o na ekwu otua, were aka ya n’ehicha anya, owere lote na otere ihe n’anya. O nenere azu aka ya were fu na umu ihe n’ile ojiri cho nma n’ututu ahu etesasigo ya n’azu aka.

“Oo! Kedu kwanu odiri ahuhu di ihe a?” O wee maa nnukwu osu. O kwusiri n’akuku uzo, meghe akpa ya, choo ugegbe aka ya, ka o wee hu ma iru ya ajoro njo. Ihe ohuru mere ka o maa osu, were mkpisi aka ya detu ire ya, wee jiri aso mmiri dozibe ihe okara mebiri emebi.

Ka okwu ebe ahu, otu ugbo ala n’egbuke egbuke jiri oso gafee, gbasa ya apiti. Adaku nere anya n’efe ya odere ede n’ututu ahu wee tie mkpu akwa. Odi ya ka o ya gbuo onwe ya.

“Baby…”

Adaku wenyiri anya ya  hu na ugbo ala gbara ya doti nachighataru azu.

“Baby gini? Maka gini ka ijii gbaa m mmiri doti?”

“Nne, ndo amaghi m uma. Odi m osiso. Ahuro m gi.”

Adaku wee si ya “Kedu ka iga esi hu mu? Ebe ina agba ka onwere ihe n’achu gi? Oburu na ikuturu m, okwa otua ka nke m kara isi wee ga?”

“Chukwu aju, nne oma m,” nwoke no n’ime moto were yipu ugegbe anya ojiri dochie anya. “Nne iwe gi adina oku. Omalicha nwata nwanyi di ka gi ekwesiro idi na ewe iwe otu a, inugo?”

Adaku mara osu ozo. “Zuzupuo m n’iru biko! Onye bu nne gi nwanu? Kitaa aga m eje letu na lecture m. Onye kwanu nwee ike inachigha azu kitaa?”

“Ngwa bata na moto, ka m buga gi n’ulo akwukwo gi. Ngwa bata bata, inugo? Mgbe emesiri anyi ejee na butiki gote akwa ozo. Nke obula ichoro, aga m egotere gi ya. Ka m nye gi number mu.”

Mgbe okwuru okwu otua, Adaku gee nti obere.

“Enweghi m credit nji akpo gi. Biko ejego m late.”

“Bia ka m buje gi. Bata na moto. Anwu a ekwesiro icha udi mmadu gi.”

Adaku runetara isi, nee anya n’ime moto ahu. “Kedu aha gi?”

“Aha m bu Chuma. Mana ndi enyi m n’akpo m Chu ma obu Chu-Boy.”

“Aha m bu Adaku. Anaghi m aba na moto onye m n’amaghi. Mana idi ka ezigbo mmadu.”

Chu-Boy riputara na moto, gazite n’ebe Adaku no. Adaku lere ya anya, hu na otoro ogologo nke ukwu, gbaa akpu obi. Ohuru n’ahu ya di ocha ka okpa waawa. Ngwere bido gbaghariba ya n’ime afo n’ihi na Chu-Boy di ya uto n’obi.

“Nne, imaka o. Odikwa m ka m buru gi laa be m kitaa kitaa, ka nje gosi mama m nwunye m.”

Adaku siri ya. “Koghelibe ebe ahu.” Mana isi bia buo ya n’ihe Chu-Boy kwuru.

Chu-Boy meghere Adaku uzo owere ba n’ime moto. Ahu ya n’ile bia dabaa n’ime oche moto ka o no n’afo nne ya, ma obu n’ime nri ji. Adaku bia kudaa, negheria anya n’ime ugbo ala ahu. Ihe n’ile di n’ime ya n’egbuke, di ohuru. Tupu Chu-Boy wee bata n’ime moto, Adaku atugharigo ya n’uche ya na o ga arapu enyi ya nwoke nke ozo sorozie Chu-Boy.

“Biko tinye seat belt nne, n’uzo ajoka. Aga m akpochi uzo n’obu otu nsiri anya moto, maka ndi ori imeghe uzo na go-slow.”

Adaku mere otu osiri kwu. Chu-Boy gbanyere ikuku n’ime moto ahu, owe kuo Adaku, aru ya wee juo oyi. Adaku chiri ochi, gosi eze ya n’ile n’ihi na obi n’eme ya polina polina.

“So, Adaku. Kedu ihe I na agu na mahadum?”

Mana gbe Adaku meghere onu iza ya, ochoputa na ohiara aru tupu orote ihe o na agu.

“Em…ana m agu Sociology.”

Chu-Boy nesiri ya anya ike. “Ya bu na irozobeghi ihe ina agu?” Owee gbanyesie ikuku oyi n’eku na moto ya ike. O juru Adaku ozo, “Kedu aha gi?”

“Aha…aha…aha m…bu…bu…” Ura bucharu Adaku.

Chu-Boy chiri obere ochi, gbanite egwu n’akpo na moto wee gbasie ike, gafee iru mahadum, ebe ndi enyi nwanyi Adaku n’eche ya ka obia ulo akwukwo.

 

ENGLISH (very literal translation).

‘WHEN A WOMAN MARRIES TWO HUSBANDS, SHE DECIDES WHICH ONE IS BETTER’

The sun shone down on Adaku with such heat that a bead of sweat dropped into her eye. She rubbed the sweat away with the back of her hand as her handkerchief was already dirty. She gnashed her teeth and thought bad thoughts about her boyfriend, Ikem.

“He doesn’t have a car. He doesn’t give me phone credit. Why am I the only one out of all my friends to keep suffering like this?” As she thought these thoughts and rubbed at her eyes, she remembered too late that she had make-up on her eyes. She looked at the back of her hand and discovered it was smudged.

“Oh! What the hell kind of suffering is this?” And she hissed.

Adaku stopped by the side of the road and pulled out her mirror from her bag to examine the damage. What she saw caused her to hiss again. She dabbed a bit of spittle on her finger to wipe away and correct the lines she had draw around her eyes.

As she stood there, a flashy car sped past, splashing mud on her. She looked at her dress, the dress she had so painstakingly ironed that morning was speckled with mud. She wanted to die.

“Hey baby,” said a voice.

Adaku looked up. The car had reversed, stopping in front of her.

“What do you mean, ‘Baby’? Why did you splash mud on me?”

“Sorry, girl. I didn’t mean to. I was in a hurry and didn’t see you.”

“How would you have seen me, speeding like something was chasing you? If you had hit me down, is this now how I would have died this morning?”

“God forbid, beautiful creature!” The man took of his sunglasses and looked her up and down. “A lovely thing like you should not be prone to such anger. “

Adaku hissed again. “Get away from me. Beautiful creature my arse! Now I’m going to be late for my lectures. Who has the time to go home and change?”

“Come in, I’ll take you to school okay? I can get your dress replaced later. We could go to a boutique…I’ll buy you whatever you want. Here’s my number.”

Adaku simmered down a bit at the thought of shopping. “Whatever, man. I don’t have the credit to call you. Excuse me, I’m very late.” And she pretended to walk away.

“Com’on, I’ll take you. The sun is too hot for a beautiful girl such as you.”

Adaku leaned on the passenger-side window. “What’s your name?” she asked.

“My name is Chuma. But my friends call me Chu or Chu-Boy. “

“My name is Adaku and I wouldn’t normally take rides with strangers. But you seem normal enough.”

Chu-Boy climbed out of the car and came around to open the door for Adaku. She saw that he was very tall and broad-chested, his skin was fair like okpa waawa. Adaku felt as if lizards were scrambling about inside her belly. Chu-Boy’s looks pleased her greatly.

“Girl, you are fine,” said Chu-Boy smiling. “I feel like taking you to my house right now and introducing you to my mother as my wife.”

“Quit talking rubbish,” said Adaku, but she was secretly pleased at what he said.

Chu-Boy opened the door for her and she sank into the car seat. It cradled her as surely as if she was in her mother’s womb. It was like sinking into fufu. Adaku sighed and looked around. Everything in the car was brand new and smelled of wealth. Before Chu-Boy had even come round to the driver’s side, Adaku had decided she was going to leave Ikem and make a play for Chu-Boy instead.

“Fasten your seatbelt. I’m gonna lock the door okay? It’s how I drive. You know, I’d hate to stop and get robbed in a traffic jam.”

Adaku did as he asked. Chu-Boy switched on the air-conditioner and it cooled Adaku’s spirits. She gave a little laugh because she was suddenly very giddy with possibility.

“So, Adaku, what it it you’re studying?” asked Chu-Boy pulling away. But when Adaku tried to reply, she found out that she had difficulty remembering her course.

“Erm…erm…I’m studying Sociology….yes”

There was silence. Chu-Boy looked her in the face, hard. “I see you still remember what it is you’re studying eh?” He popped a tablet in his mouth and turned up the air conditioner.

“What did you say your name was?” He asked her again.

“My name…my name…my name is….” Adaku fell asleep.

Chu-Boy looked at her. He laughed and sped up, past the gates of the university campus where Adaku’s friends were waiting for her.

THE END.

 

I am tired of this hair, hair, everywhere.

Maybe I’ve always been a bit blasé about hair because mine grows so easily; I could always switch from natural to permed and back again.  But lately especially, I find myself tiring of the natural versus relaxed hair debate.

I understand all the connotations of having relaxed hair. Believe me, I do. I too have had weave itch, the sort that leaves you slapping your head repeatedly in public, with no thoughts whatsoever as to how mad you look.  No care either. Nothing but the desire to scratch that unreachable, infuriating, itch.  The near soporific effects of scratching it cannot be matched by anything in this world.

I have suffered the sores that come from digging too deeply with a pen or other handy pointy object under dandruff and sweat encrusted wefts. I have had my hair fall out from too much relaxing and traction from braids. It was not pretty.

Still it’s such a shame that black women’s hair is so highly politicized. I understand why it would be but it still is sad that it is so.  Because the truth is that I didn’t change the way I wore my hair because of any movement but because relaxers affected me really badly. It was just not worth it. To ME.

And that’s what hair boils down to in the end: personal choice. It doesn’t really matter what anyone thinks. Of course it is entirely possible that had I not been in Newcastle where African hairdressers were few and far between, or were not properly trained and expensive to boot, I might have continued with the weaves and the braids and the creamy crack. It is possible. After all, it costs twice or three times as much to have natural hair made in the market in Nigeria – unless it is isi owu. And even then,  chances are that they will use the wrong  comb  and complain so loudly about their fingers hurting  that you will feel you have serpents for hair like a gorgon.

The way we wear our hair is not only an expression of how we feel, who we are. It is also purely functional. With the hustle and bustle of daily life, not everyone might choose to have natural hair. Some women might prefer to wake up and run a fine-toothed comb through their hair before they leave for work. Others might polish their gorimapa with coconut oil and bounce. Because let’s face it, hair is work. Natural hair is work, even our ancestresses knew that. Hence the wigs and head-dresses they wore to give their own hair a rest in between styles. Relaxed hair is also work; anti-breakage this and placenta that and hair burning and sores and picking the scabs on your scalp and money, money, money.

So, I guess what I am asking is, can’t we all just get along? Shouting abuse across the (not-so) great divide isn’t really the way to be heard. That girl with long flowing Brazilian/Peruvian/Chinese hair might secretly wish she was another race. She might have received negative messages about her hair her whole life.  Or she might not even consider herself any less proud of her race. That woman with dread locks/an afro/bantu knots/a twist out might have her hair that way to prove she is a Sister. Or she might simply prefer the peace of mind that comes from knowing she can walk under the rain or swim any day without a huge freak out session being involved. (Or that emergency plastic shopping bag, shoved over her face like a masquerade!)

It’s a shame one side is considered more ‘professional’ to the other’s ‘creative’ and ‘political’. Does having weaves mean I can no longer write poetry and fiction? No. Would having locks mean I can no longer wrap my head around facts and figures in financial institutions? I don’t think so. And yet that is the way it is seems now. People are being forced into these boxes by corporations, society and even by themselves.

Let it be. Live and let live. [Insert choice of cliché here]. This post was not supposed to be deep (or even particularly well-writen, har har). I am just a bit tired of all the slings and arrows. How a black woman chooses to wear her hair should be her choice. She is entitled to it. Just like she is entitled to change her mind about her choice. That’s what it means to be truly free and that can only be a good thing.

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Ngwo-Ngwo vs Nkwobi

A friend asked me  ‘What’s the difference between Ngwo-Ngwo and Nkwobi?’ and I didn’t know what to tell her having never tasted Nkwobi before.

When I moved to London a few years ago it was all ‘Nkwobi-this’ and ‘Nkwobi-that’ and I approached it in the same way I do all faddy things – which is not at all. I have never tasted Nkwobi.

It didn’t help that men were just going mad over it like it was the new onugbu soup. You’d have barely said hello on a date before the guy would ask with ill-disguised desperation:

“You can make Nkwobi right?” Trying to contain the drool pouring out of his mouth. And failing.

Needless to say, when I lived in Enfield, women – and they were always women-  who could make Nkwobi were almost always elevated to superstar status. And even then I did not taste it. Even though it looked the same as Ngwo-ngwo. I could not understand the frenzy. Na jazz?

You can imagine how flabbergasted I was to realise that my suspicions were correct. The two are more or less the same. Hiss.

http://chichiscuisine.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/nkwobi.html
Nkwobi.

For those who do not know, this is a spicy dish made from goat or cow foot and/or tail, palm oil and in some cases goat brain. Mmmmmmmm….nice creamy brain. My mother never used the brain though and she would often scoop it out when she was making Isi Ewu – another delicacy involving a goat’s head.

*Just FYI, few things in life are as satisfying as scooping out a goat's mushy brain through a gash in the temple after it has been roasted. It looks like a cross between porridge and cottage cheese but it smells so divine! 
*Another FYI, maybe TMI. Goat's teeth are nasty if the cook is careless enough to get them in the dish. (Not my mother though.)

This is something my mother would knock out from boredom which is probably why I am so blasé about it.  I guess she was a superstar too. My father’s friends would eat it and drink palm-wine, laughing into the night while we forced our child-eyes to stay open so as not to miss any gossip.

Some people would say Ngwo-Ngwo differs from Nkwobi in that the former can and does contain other parts of meat/offal as well as the aforementioned limbs and I suppose that could be correct. But I think this is splitting hairs a bit because ultimately  they are both based around the same bits of animal and the technique is the same.

Anyway, I just finished a serious discussion on the subject (yes, this is a serious matter. Take note if you are married to or friends with an Igbo person because this is the stuff wars are made of!) and got sent a video.

Can I just be the first to say that this girl’s accent is making me all warm and fuzzy? I just want to marry her. Is she not the friendliest person you have ever not-met?

Rage against the machine or ‘Who are you even doing, sef?’

One of the many benefits to being self-employed – and some months, not even that – is the freedom to do as you please. It’s harder with a toddler but basically you work in short bursts or long stretches, depending on the time you have. You might watch a bit of TV in between or work out, or have cereal for lunch. Or blog. Or even go all day without a shower because you’re waiting for a parcel. Like I am right now.

You have to watch your behaviour a lot though. You don’t want to be that person that conducts Skype meetings in your pyjamas or does  radio interviews over the phone while still in bed because pretty soon, you are that guy. You know, that guy; the one that you see on your way to work, going to the corner shop in a slanket .

That being said, it really is freeing. But it has got me thinking about how much of what we do is for other people, be they of the same sex or otherwise. I always used to say I dressed and groomed for myself and I believed it too. But how true could it possibly be when I am sitting here in a pair of joggers a size too small, an oversized cardie, no underwear to speak of and the most extraordinary amount of underarm hair I have ever grown in my life?

Yes, you heard me. I am free to grow disproportionate amounts of body hair. Call me Cousin It.  Not for me the folly of depilatory creams, waxing, buffing and whatever the newest hair removal torture is. Pah! Why should my body be under the control of society and accepted norms? Take that, society! In your face, literally and figuratively. I am saving money! Think of the bungalow I could be building in my village while you’re getting your eyebrows threaded, you pleb. 

Back when I used to work outside the house, I would leave my very unshaven legs out in the summer and get pitying looks on the bus or tube. White people looking at me, shaking their heads like “Whoever doth inflict  madness upon this poor child, may good fortune forever elude thee.”  The black grannies cursing my ‘rass’ for showing them up in front of white people, wishing this godforsaken country had access to koboko and no police. I’d sit there pretending not to notice, singing ‘God is good, he has done me well’ and hoping that no one would jump me before my stop. (You know, to drag me off to the nearest salon, get the mess on my legs fixed. Black grannies do not play.)

It was such a faff. And that was when I my features were aesthetically pleasing.  Now that I am grossly overweight I am sure they’d put aside their differences, light some torches and  chase me with off like Frankenstein’s monster. So I just sit at home, writing and growing my hair in silent rebellion.

Whatever, man. I am standing up for feminism. Or motherhood, whichever. Because God knows this whole mess started because I couldn’t find my razor one very busy morning.  And now I am just too lazy.

Help me.

Somebody? Anybody?