Tag Archives: New Year

Happy New Day…etcetera.

If there is one day guaranteed to make me feel a bit squiffy, it’s New Year’s eve.

I don’t know why. Partying doesn’t seem to help; the sight of revellers snogging in all their party finery only makes me even squiffier, sadder maybe. It’s like looking at piles of dust and old bones. And church, well, joyous old bones, yes, but bones and dust nonetheless.

I suppose that’s morbidity for you. I have always held a fascination for the morbid.

But, that’s not really it, I don’t think. It goes beyond my daily morbid fascinations. It surpasses all those introspections, the navel-gazing in which one is supposed to indulge today. I just feel really odd. It is as if I do not deserve my life somehow – and yet, I am not ever satisfied with my life. Not really. They is always something I could be doing better. Ha, more like I could be doing the WHOLE thing better if there was only enough time and you know, if I was a better person. Which I am not. So, of course, I am stuck in squiff like an ant in thick custard.

No, it’s not that either.

You know, I am not sure what it is, because if you think about it, technically, it’s just another day. In the course of my existence as a mostly nocturnal writer, I have crossed the midnight threshold more times than I care to count; oftentimes, two letters in the same word are written on two different days. I hardly notice. But New Year’s eve just imbues things with a lot more meaning than it should and this is annoying. I hate that it takes one day to make people sit up and take notice. I hate that on the day, a year’s worth of experiences for me, seems distilled into a drop, an essence. This is a careless way of viewing the world surely – the human mind and humanity is so fickle – how can you trust what you feel on one particular day and why should it govern, as it seems to, your resolutions about the coming year?

Eugh. I digress again. I am not certain that this is what I meant to say either. Sorry. I told you I was feeling squiffy.

Maybe I don’t really feel this way any more. This year wasn’t a bad year for me. I had you guys and I didn’t hate myself so much and I actually made some progress in my writing because I stopped dreaming and started doing. I am well in myself, my family is alright and I do have much to be thankful for.

Maybe all this contrariness  in feeling is just my mind remembering that it is supposed to feel that way. A habit, rather than a fact.

But my point is, do I have to be uber thankful with everyone? Surely, it’s like showing love only on Valentine’s day when ideally it should be spread out throughout the year. Do I have to go through the vortex of other people’s emotions and gratitude and reverence and debauchery today? Do I have to be swept along in the murkiness and muckiness of humanity?

Can I not just slink once more past midnight without all the bells and whistles?

So, I have decided.

I shall throw away all man-made constructs like time and years. I will throw off the weight of forced gaiety and  reflection. I will try not to think about the fact that with every breath, I am farther away from innocence and no nearer to the amount  of wisdom I desire. I am going to avoid looking through the drop of last year’s essence because I know that it will magnify areas which I should most likely forget. I am going to put on some music and dance.

Tomorrow, I will wake up and be grateful for a new day.

And I will try as usual, not to mess it up.

Happy New Day everyone!

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In defence of (my) Igboness

This blog is NOT about a hatred of Igbo people and things, especially Igbo men.

I do not hate being Igbo.

As a child I didn’t necessarily know I was Igbo. Yes, I spoke the language and I soaked in the culture as if I was a sponge, but when you grow up with everyone singling you out as ‘Nke a muru na obodo oyibo’ (the one that was born abroad) and making it out to be something special, you start to feel you are – somehow – above being Igbo. It’s not something you think about with a conscious mind. You don’t sit for hours pondering your uniqueness. It’s something that thrives in the warmth of admiration but has nothing really to do with who you are. Much like being able to grow your hair past your shoulders or being a lighter shade of black.

I was black. To a large extent, I was white – colourless even; the books I read, the music I listened to, the voice of my subconscious: white, white, white. (If you were born into the middle class and upwards before the mid-90s you understand what I mean. Let’s not get bogged down.)

It took moving abroad to make me appreciate all the things I took for granted growing up; unique forms of expression, smells, sounds. It was like my I-chromosome had been activated. This didn’t happen immediately – nor consciously, at first. It’s true that if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. If you let people, they will define you. In my case, many tried.

Yet there is no one definition of Igboness – how can there be?  (I am aware of the irony because the blog seems to hold up a certain type of Igbo as the norm.) I took exception to condensing my life to its purest igbo droplet.  Did this mean I could no longer (unashamedly) enjoy 80s Brit pop? Motorcycles? Spanish culture? Rollerderby? Travel? Trdelnik? World literature? Did this mean I could no longer admire or date anyone not from ‘our side’?  Does discovering other sides to myself make me any less ‘Igbo’?

I don’t think so.

If anything, it has helped to appreciate being Igbo more. I no longer take language for granted, ‘Oh it will always be there’, because it is constantly changing, evolving. More than half the words my maternal grandmother spoke when I was more interested in charging around than listening no longer exist. The paradigms of beauty have shifted so that my dark-skinned paternal grandmother whose teeth were sharpened into points to offset her cheekbones might no longer be considered stunning.

I stopped caring where I was born years ago and considered where I was raised. I know that the English fox is crafty but that the Igbo tortoise is craftier. I know that an Akpu tree is not the same as a cassava plant although they both share the same name. I know what to do with a ripe head of Ukwa even if it is a bloody tough job. Burning tyres will always remind me of New Year as opposed to lynching. I cannot hear ‘Kom Kom’ without being transported to ndi uzu oka. I am from Oba of the nine villages, and my village Ezelle is the youngest, responsible for keeping Idemmili in priests. I can forgive you if there is no ojii when I come to your house, but if you sweep my house at night you are my enemy. Why are you sweeping away my wealth?

I belong.

I do not hate Igbo people. I can take the mickey out of my brothers and sisters, out of my culture because it is mine. I can see our flaws and I can laugh at our mistakes. This does not mean I do not appreciate the beauty of who we are.

After all, you do not throw your baby away just because it has bitten you on the breast.