Just a couple of days ago, I turned 30. The BIG THIRTY. Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you, a few days before the big day, I was stressed. Was this the end of my youth? Have I accomplished anything? Have I made too many mistakes?
Once the big day arrived and went, I felt oddly at peace. For the first time in a while I felt balanced. Of course, no one ever stops growing and learning but I realised that I know myself now: my weaknesses, my strengths, my likes and my dislikes and I was completely comfortable with who I am.
So, after being inspired by this great post from fellow University of Brighton alumnus Ross Asubonteng (a great personal blog by the way with inspiring teachings), I have decided to write a list of the six pieces of advice I would tell my younger self if I was given a time machine (apart from going back to 2015, the last perfect summer).
1)Women are fun but not as important as your friends are making them out to be
Don’t worry too much about the opposite sex. I know most of your friends, particularly when you arrive at university, will be focused on sleeping with as many women as their hormones will allow. But don’t be too quick to chase women all the time or have a girlfriend just because your university friends have girlfriends. Take time to explore meaningful pursuits outside of girls because in your 20s, girls are mostly a distraction anyway. Trust me.
2)Don’t be too reckless with money. Cultivate the attitude of saving
Instead of the miniscule pocket money you used to receive from your parents, you will begin to start making some decent money after university. Try not to squander it all on alcohol and partying – that isn’t to say don’t have fun – but set some money aside for a later day. Trust me, you’re going to wish you had because your life will be rocked by a huge bombshell in your mid 20s and you will struggle with this new shift in your life partially because of your recklessness with money.
3)Don’t be so naive about raising a family
That bombshell I was talking about? Well, you end up having a baby with your then girlfriend at the age of 26. At first you will be ecstatic and excited, thinking about all the things you will do with your baby daughter but you are foolishly unaware of how unprepared and naive you are about the realities of raising a family. You’re naturally a nice man, having been brought up responsibly, but while you will be a good father you will be a terrible family man at 26 (there is still much you want to do with your youthful energy, staying at home with a crying child constantly will make you deeply miserable) and this will ultimately lead to the breakdown of the relationship with your daughter’s mother. But it’s ok. Everything happens for a reason and you’ll be fine in the end.
4)Don’t be afraid to cut off friends. Loyalty is not a given
There will be friends you’ve known for a long time who will deeply disappoint you. There are friends who you will realise were never really your friends to begin with. This will hurt you but, in the process, make you stronger. You will tolerate less bullshit from people, and you will become more ruthless in your ability to cut off friends if they cross your boundaries. You are a nice guy and you will realise you’re too nice and need to be an asshole sometimes. It’s a realisation that will stand you in good stead as you move forward in life and deal with more cunning people in your personal and professional life.
5)You will move jobs. A lot. But this is not a bad thing in hindsight
After graduating you will have a series of jobs because you’re naturally charming and people like you. However, some of these jobs will be good experiences and some will be very bad experiences, but you will certainly move around a lot for various reasons. At times you may feel like a failure for not staying in a single job for such a long time but as a result of this you will pick up a range of experiences from different types of companies and different types of people. This will make you a more well-rounded person, both personally and professionally.
6)Learn to be alone for a while – it will take time for you to grow into your own
Don’t be afraid of being alone. It is this fear of not being around someone that will make you rush into a new relationship when you just left one and put up with nonsense from some friends just because you don’t want to lose them. But being alone will be crucial for your development. Due to being pampered by your parents during your formative years and your friends holding your hand throughout university, you’re not very good at standing on your own two feet but this will change gradually. You will travel alone and start to enjoy being an independent person and become comfortable in your own skin.
There will be many twists, turns and bumps throughout your 20s but you’ll be ok. You’re a strong guy, always have been. You just need to realise that for yourself. And thankfully, you will.
“I don’t want to be with you anymore.”
As a man, but especially as a Yoruba, Nigerian man, hearing those words come from the mouth of my then girlfriend and the mother of my daughter snapped my heart like a twig and was like a point-blank shot to the face of my pride.
As soon as she said those words, there was a lot of shouting, insults, tears and pleading. Here was I, as a man, witnessing my family fall apart before my eyes. Deep down inside, I knew that my ex-partner was making the best choice for herself and for me as well– our relationship was basically a sinking ship with a gaping hole, and everyone needed to abandon it. But my Nigerian pride was too much and, to be honest, I was afraid of being alone and single again.
Having been fully single for nine months now, I have pretty much moved on and accepted the fact I am going to be a co-parent to my daughter most likely for the rest of my life now but never say never right? However, being single again has taught me a few things about the importance of being emotionally independent as a man, discovering who you are as an individual and self-reliance.
The problem with many relationships – particularly with African men
Although it’s slightly changing, for the most part, African men are still very conservative regarding their relationships. The man is leader and the woman must follow his lead. This was exactly my way of thinking too. Even though I was born in England, I was still raised in a Nigerian household, so my parent’s marriage was what I used as a template for my own relationships.
Some women like this set up especially if the man is very capable and she’s naturally submissive. However, with women now working and earning, such a structure might not work in the times we live in. I know many African men who still want their wife to cook, clean the house, look after the child and still bring home the coin. It’s unrealistic and unfair to expect women to carry all those responsibilities and the man does nothing apart from go to work and come home to a cooked meal. England isn’t Nigeria (and things are even changing over there).
African men, from my observations, can be too reliant on woman to clean up their lives. I was like this as well. I am not arguing against a woman doing domestic chores, but men should be helping in equal measure. We should know how to cook our own food. Iron our own clothes. Wash the dishes. Which brings me to my next point.
Building self-reliance as a man
A man, especially by the time he gets to his mid-20s (If not earlier) should be fully self-reliant. If you can’t even operate a cooker by the age of 25, then I fear for you. If anything, most of a man’s twenties should be him learning how to take care of himself. Know how to pay bills. Keep a steady job. Try to keep your credit rating decent. These skills are critical for a man to become a fully mature adult but gaining these abilities requires a man to be a lone wolf for a period of life which means no girlfriend living with you who is basically doing all these things for you. Let’s be real, a quality woman wants to date a man who can handle himself not a baby boy she has to handle herself.
Get your money up first
Whether you like it or not, women are attracted to a man who has accomplished something. This does not mean you have to be rolling in it (although some women do have their ridiculously high standards) but in a time where women are making their coin, they will expect their man to also be making a decent living. Just because you’re a man doesn’t mean you are owed a wife. You must earn a wife.
Hence why it’s important for a man to get his money up first. Spend a significant part of your 20s just working tirelessly on your career, your side hustle or whatever it is you’re doing to make paper (as long as it’s not illegal of course). It makes no sense to be spending most of your time chasing girls when you’re broke, or you’ve just started your career. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t have fun with women but that’s all it should be – fun. Spend the majority of your 20s and even your 30s, if you have to, working on yourself and you will attract high quality women down the line.
"Let’s be real, a quality woman wants to date a man who can handle himself not a baby boy she has to handle herself."
Learning to be happy first before having a girlfriend or wife
This is the most important point in this whole piece. You must be happy first before you get into a relationship. In recent times, women have started to understand this concept but I think a lot of men haven’t quite understood it. There still a lot of African men who can only be happy if they have a woman by their side to start a family.
Now I am not saying having a wife and a family shouldn’t make you happy but you’re happiness should not only come from that. Men become very needy because they place so much emotional responsibility on a woman to make them happy. Instead, a man should spend a period of his life being single so he can learn to find happiness within himself first before finding a woman to add to that happiness, instead of being his happiness.
All men are created differently. Some men reach a level of independence and self-sufficiency at 24 and some men at 34. But what is important is that a man gives himself some time to be single so he can grow as a man without a woman having to carry him. It is not a woman’s job to mother a man like a child. Instead it’s a man’s job to grow himself so he feels and looks like someone who carries himself like a king.
A Prophet Who Loved Her, Leke Apena’s first novel, will be published in 2020. Find out more here.
That was my immediate reaction when I learned about the death of Cadet (real name Blaine Cameron Johnson) as a result of a car crash on his way to perform at a university.
Cadet’s sudden and unexpected death was honestly the last thing I expected to read on my Twitter timeline on Sunday 10th February. With a slot booked in Wireless and having just featured on the popular 'Trendy' track, 2019 was set to be an even bigger year for one of grime’s most impressive lyrical MCs. An inexplicable death of young talent like Cadet makes you ask God: Why though?
I did not know Cadet personally in any way other than through his Commitment EPs and other tracks where he featured but, as many people have pointed out, he was such an authentic rapper through his raw lyrics that you felt like you knew him on some level.
Having watched the heartfelt videos of a memorial gathering in Hyde Park which I was sadly unable to attend, I decided to honour the Clapham rapper by listing my top five Cadet tracks.
So, without further ado: CADET! CADET!
5. Cadet - Wanna Know Why (Album: The Commitment)
The riddim on this track reminds of the old grime sound from the Channel U days. When I would listen to this during my gym workouts, the energy and pure hype had me lifting weights and making angry faces at the gym. If you want that hype Cadet track, this one definitely does it.
4. Da Beatfreakz x AJ x Deno x Swarmz x Cadet - Pumpy
Obviously, this is not a strictly Cadet track however, of the tracks Cadet as appeared on, this one is my personal favourite. I love his flow and the playfully boastful lyrics: "She wants the ball like she's Pele" and "I got asthma let me pump that" always bring a stupid grin to my face.
3. Cadet - Don't It Take Personal (Album: The Commitment 2)
In my opinion, this is the best track on The Commitment 2. Although, i'll admit, I am very biased. Ghetts is my favourite MC so seeing him featuring on a Cadet track was always going to gas me up. And the pairing did not fail to deliver. The bars are deadly from both MCs. Who says East and South can't come together and create pure fire.
2. Cadet - The Stereotype (Album: The Commitment)
I think a lot of grime fans will agree that this track was the first taste of Cadet's masterful storytelling. This is such a strong track because of the vulnerability and rawness of Cadet's lyrics. Few MCs would dare be this honest. No bravado. No hype. Just a brother barring his soul for us to listen to. An amazing track and a classic.
1. Cadet - No Way ft Donae'o (Album: The Commitment)
This was the first Cadet track I listened to (in a ponsy club in Shoreditch which I didn't expect) and I used my shazam app to find out who this MC was. I love Cadet's flow on this track (he was one of the few rappers who could truly rap to any tempo) and Done'o gives the track that nice touch with the addictive hook. This will always be my favourite Cadet track.
What are you favourite Cadet tracks? Feel free to leave a comment below listing your top five tracks.
Why I respect Liam Neeson for his honesty and dislike being told that I must be outraged as a black person
When I first listened to Liam Neeson’s recent interview to promote his latest film in which he, very shockingly and bizarrely, admitted he walked around London “with a cosh (a thick heavy stick) hoping to get into an altercation with a black person to kill them," I was taken aback and immediately angry.
To provide some context (not that any context justifies Liam Neeson’s mindset 40-years ago), Mr. Neeson’s late friend was raped by a black male. Enraged, Liam Neeson took it upon himself to seek revenge on any unassuming black man who was unfortunate enough to cross paths with him.
It was appalling to know that an actor I much admired and whose films, such as Taken, I greatly enjoyed, could be capable of such terrible thoughts.
However, after my initial anger had cooled and my emotions had cleared, I looked at Liam Neeson’s confession as objectively and rationally as I could. After some thought, I realised that I respected Liam Neeson for his honesty. I checked my social media feed to find out what other people felt, and I grew frustrated by some of the reactions.
To admit personal failure is a sign of strength
One of the main reasons I came to respect Liam Neeson after his awful admission was that I realised he was very candid about a personal failure of his. In the interview, he clearly states that after a week of roaming around London with a weapon like his character from the Taken movies, he realised his thirst for vengeance was shameful and stemmed from his experiences growing in the Troubles in Northern Island, where revenge between the Protestants and the Catholics was rife.
Now, of course, I am not condoning or excusing Liam Neeson’s actions. Thinking about what he wanted to do to an innocent black man is quite horrifying. It's also immensely brave that Liam Neeson is so self-aware that he can admit his failings. No one can deny that the Hollywood actor did not show genuine remorse.
Many if not all of us can do terrible things in the right circumstances. Nobody is above moments of madness, and we should learn to forgive, especially people like Liam Neeson who can express genuine remorse.
The left-leaning mainstream media only focuses on black people when we're victims
A big part of me believes that the mainstream media, especially the liberally-inclined sections of the press, love it when a black person is victimised. It doesn't matter about the context of any situation so long as black people can be the victims, allowing left-leaning liberals to feel good about themselves for supporting black people.
The fact is if you take into consideration the entire context of Liam Neeson's interview and examine what he has said objectively, then this was an unplanned revelation from the actor in a moment of vulnerability. Personally, I believe this should be commended.
Instead, the left-leaning media and other liberals have weaponised the situation to drive home once again the narrative that black people are will always be victims.
All black people are expected to be outraged
Prominent black figures such as John Barnes, Whoopi Goldberg and Terry Crews have congratulated Liam Neeson for his outright honesty. However, many people, both black and white, have condemned these stars for supporting Liam Neeson.
There seems to be this idea, among left-leaning liberals and among black people with massive chips on their shoulders, that black people in western society should always be outraged about perceived slights against our demographic. This belief harkens back to my earlier point about a percentage of black people still needing to feel victimised and the left-leaning liberals encouraging this thought.
I am not outraged, and I won't be told by anyone how I am supposed to react as a black person. I am not just the color of my skin - I am an individual. Like Liam Neeson, I have my dark days as well. Growth comes when we recognise our destructive behaviours and rise above them. Liam Neeson has done that, and we should all learn from that.
What does it mean to be a modern feminist?
Ever since I became a father to a beautiful baby girl in 2017, I have been increasingly pondering this question. As a young father (still a fresh-faced, slightly jaded 29-year-old millennial) I am now facing the prospect of raising my daughter in western society. Doing my homework on feminism is crucial for me if I want to build my daughter to be a strong and independent woman who fulfils her full potential.
After doing a lot of reading about the history of feminism, examining media stories around the issue and engaging in my own self-reflection, I have concluded that I won’t be raising my daughter to be a feminist - well not the modern iteration of feminism.
An extremely brief history of feminism
Western women, particularly in the early ninetieth and twentieth century, were prohibited from having the same rights as men. Of course, I don’t need to explain why this was absurd. The woman suffrage movements that spread throughout western society gave women their rightful freedom to vote.
Later, we had two devastating World Wars which forced western women into the workforce while men went off to go and kill each other. Becoming part of the workforce made women realise their own economic potential – they did not have to be domesticated housewives as they could do the factory and office jobs just as well as the guys. This epiphany planted the seeds which eventually grew into the spirited feminism movements of the 60s and 70s, finally bringing about the much-needed equality between men and women.
So far, so good.
Fast-forward to 2019, and this new incarnation of feminism has me worried. Instead of pushing for equality (despite claims that modern feminism is promoting equality between the two sexes, the messages I am seeing from feminists tells a different story) modern feminism is now about cultivating female superiority while ridiculing and dismissing masculinity in its entirety.
Therefore, i have developed my own beliefs around femininity that I am going to impart on my daughter, so she grows up into a happy woman rather than a miserable one, filled with unrealistic expectations.
Women are not better than men. Men are not better than women. We complement each other
Anyone who knows me on a personal level is aware I am not religious, but I do consider myself to be spiritual to some degree. I sometimes read the Bible as I find it to be an excellent guide when I find myself facing morally tricky decisions. The Bible clearly states that women were created by God to support men and help them.
In my mind, God created men and women with different characteristics so the sexes can complement each other. This is what I will teach my daughter. Modern feminism, utilising mainstream media as its primary vehicle, seems to be driving home the message that women are competent and independent and men are bubbling and inept Neanderthals. Women have gone from being damsels in distress to the saviours of humankind. In modern feminism's attempts to rightfully champion women, its advocates have swung the pendulum too far in the opposite direction.
It’s my responsibility to show my daughter that men are caring, confident and competent – not the idiots that modern media wants to perpetuate.
I want my daughter to understand that there is nothing wrong with doing things to make your boyfriend or husband happy (and ditto for the man as well). Wanting to please your male partner does not make you a weak woman. It does not make you a conformist to the "patriarchy." It makes you the type of woman that a man will do anything to keep by his side.
Not all traditional masculinity is toxic
I don’t deny the fact that some men, particularly those with status and power, have abused their positions to sexually exploit young women. Recent high-profile cases are a testament to this. I will never condone the actions of a man using his status to dominate a woman in any way, and I will teach my daughter never to tolerate it either.
However, I will not teach my daughter that traditional masculinity is terrible. Toxic masculinity has become this buzzword that seems to encompass anything men do that make them inherently men. Cheeky banter, checking out a pretty woman, play fighting or being competitive – all of this has been categorised as toxic masculinity at some point by modern feminist commentators. Just take a look at this condescending Gillette ad as a case in point.
Quite frankly, I find the concept of toxic masculinity to be ridiculous, and I will teach my daughter not to be offended by a man who play-fights or a man who is competitive or a man who kindly and appropriately expresses interest in her.
Being pretty and feminine will always be important to high-quality men
I would love my daughter to go to university, obtain a degree which she enjoys studying and then totally owning the corporate world or be a brilliant artist. Whatever makes her happy and, it goes without saying, she should accomplish goals for herself, not to impress men.
Having said that, I will tell her that if she wants to one day marry a high-value man (one who is masculine, responsible, reliable, caring and hard-working), then she will need to pay attention to her appearance and ensure she has traditional, feminine qualities. Telling my daughter that looks don’t matter is ridiculous. There is a reason the market value for the beauty and personal care industry in the UK alone was expected to have reached over 15 billion euros in 2018.
" I want my daughter to understand that there is nothing wrong with doing things to make your boyfriend or husband happy (and ditto for the man as well). Wanting to please your male partner does not make you a weak woman. It does not make you a conformist to the "patriarchy." It makes you the type of woman that a man will do anything to keep by his side. "
Of course, I will never tell my daughter she needs to resemble a malnourished, catwalk model or she must have curvy hips and a massive backside. Beauty is subjective, and she must work with what she has. But I will teach her to take care of her physical appearance and try to stay as attractive as her age will allow. Not only to attract a man but for her own health and self-esteem as well.
You cannot have it all immediately
The notion that “women can have it all” has been the rallying call for modern-day feminists. Women cannot have it all, and I believe many women don't buy it. Modern feminists would have you think that all women can grow a career or business for twenty years and then expect, at 40 years old, to bear children with any high-value man of their choosing. While they are indeed examples of women who have achieved this, this is not happening in droves.
Thanks to the marvels of modern medical technology, women are freezing their eggs in their late thirties and forties so they can put off child rearing without the fear of being childless when they grow older. But freezing eggs is far from a guaranteed success.
As a father, it is my responsibility to teach my daughter the reality of her biology rather than regurgitate the falsehoods about womanhood that is perpetuated by our current feminist commentators. I will show my daughter that if she wants healthy children, she will need to have them while she’s in her twenties to thirties. If she wants children with a highly-desirable man, she will need to be maternal and feminine.
Finally, if she wants to be the best mother she can be in the early years of her child's life, she will need to work less for some time. Her career will be waiting for her. But I will never tell her she can have everything because it’s more likely that she can’t, and she must prioritise.
Ultimately, I must be the best version of a man I can be
Raising my daughter to have a healthy relationship with men will eventually come down to me. How I behave as a man, how I treat her mother and other women will form her understanding of intersexual dynamics. Inevitably, there will be outside influences but her first point of reference will be me, and when she's a fully-grown woman, her expectations of men will be anchored to how I raised her.
There is a well-known platitude that says women end up marrying men like their fathers. If there is truth in that, then I absolutely must strive to be a good man.
If I don't want modern feminism to be responsible for shaping my daughter's understanding of men and the world around her, then I must ensure I am the best version of a man that I can be. It's what our daughters deserve and desperately need right now, instead of modern feminism.
I am turning 30 this year. For millennial men and women, becoming 30, like turning 18 or 21, comes with an expectation. You've lived for three decades now and seen some stuff. By this point, you have mostly experienced every feeling a person experiences; love, heartbreak, friendships, broken friendships, death, promotion, job losses, etc. The one thing most almost-30 millennials have yet to experience is parenthood.
It’s no secret that millennials are having sex (Tinder is ubiquitous among my generation for a reason) and becoming vegans in droves, but millennials are not starting families. When I look at my social circle, I am the only one who has a child. And I have a big social circle.
For me, becoming a father was an accident. If I typed on this post that I wanted to be a father so desperately at 27 and that I was beyond excited to bring my daughter into this world, it would be an outright lie. Don't get me wrong, in hindsight; my daughter is a blessing and one of the best things to happen to my life. But initially, I was not ready at all to be a father, and because of that, there was a lot of drama between myself and my partner. It was a volatile period which has since settled.
When my male friends, often those who are in their late twenties, come to me and say to me "I am thinking about having a child," I look them dead in the eye and ask: "Why?"
Instead of asking that question, I have outlined four questions the millennial man needs to ask himself honestly before making this incredibly life-changing decision to have a child. Doing so will save young men from experiencing the regret and anger that I felt because I didn't fully think about the implications of fatherhood before throwing myself into it.
Have you accomplished your goals?
A man in his late twenties must have goals in his life so that by the time he is in his mid-thirties, he is stable in all critical areas of his life.
If having a child is not part of your goals or does not help you accomplish them, you don't need to have a child, especially if you're still in your twenties.
Now some of you men might say to me "But my girlfriend/wife" really wants a child. My retort is: "It doesn't matter." Having a child will bring such a massive upheaval to your life that you need to be utterly confident that becoming a father is a goal of yours at this stage in your life. If it isn't, then don't have a child. If that means your girlfriend or wife leaves you, then so be it. The two of you weren't on the same page.
Never have a child just because it's what your girlfriend or wife desires. I can't stress how important this is. When it comes to having children, you need to be selfish because the impact of children is too high.
Does your girlfriend or wife desperately want to be a mother and is she willing to put her career aside for a short period?
So, you’ve done a deep-dive into your soul and found that you do want to have children in your late twenties. Good for you, mate. The second question you need to ask yourself is: Would your girlfriend or wife make a great mother?
I've dated girls in the past that were fun. We had a laugh and a great time. But they would not have made good mothers at the time; their mentality was ill-suited for the demands that motherhood requires.
I honestly thank God that my partner is a natural mother. She is maternal to a fault. Our daughter's priorities come first. She has sacrificed a great deal to ensure our daughter is healthy and happy.
Although mainstream media says otherwise, a very ambitious woman who wants to be a director of a large company by 35 will probably be miserable if she becomes a mother at 30. I know the media is proclaiming “women can have it all” but in reality, they can’t - not straight away anyway. Show me an unstressed mother who is a full-time director; working 40 hours a week, while also being a full-time mother and isn't outsourcing her child rearing duties to nannies every week.
If your girlfriend is under 30 and wants children, as a man, you need to make sure that she is willing to put the needs of her child first and foremost before her career. If she can't, I don't see why she should have your child.
Depending on what kind of man you are, you might be happy taking a backseat in your career to stay at home and look after your child while your girlfriend or wife goes to work. While I could never sit at home and look after my child without working, if you decide to do that, then please make sure you're with a woman who won't lose respect for you overtime for being a stay-at-home Dad and appreciates your role.
Have you moved in with your girlfriend or wife for more than two years?
You want to have a child in your twenties. You can confidently say yes.
Your girlfriend/wife is willing to be a mother first and a career woman second or she is happy for you to stay at home and will not lose respect for you. You can confidently say yes.
Are you good to go? Better get procreating? Not quite.
In my personal experience, you want to raise your child in a stable household. I am very conservative about this. Although it's not the only way to build a healthy and emotionally stable child, it is still the most effective way in my opinion. It's going to be much harder to raise a child in a stable household if you haven't even lived with your girlfriend as stable housemates for at least two years.
I always roll my eyes when my mates, who have never lived with their girlfriends, say to me "we never argue, and we always get along." Well, of course you do, because you only see her three times a week. When you move in with a woman, you will see sides of her that will annoy you, and it's the same thing for her as well.
" Never have a child just because it's what your girlfriend or wife desires. I can't stress how important this is. When it comes to having children, you need to be selfish because the impact of children is too high. "
Live with your girlfriend for at least two years to fully understand her character, and she understands yours. Living together will smooth out the creases in your relationship so that when you do have a child together, your child is entering a home that is peaceful instead of one with constant arguments and slammed doors.
Are you financially stable?
You would think this would be a no-brainer, but I have seen couples have children they cannot afford -myself included. If my bank balance had eyebrows, it would have raised them incredulously when I ignorantly decided to have a child with my girlfriend.
If you don't have sound finances, having a child is going to test you as a man in a way you want to avoid. Again, take it from me. Raising children is ridiculously expensive. Overpriced clothes. Overpriced toys. Overpriced nappies. Overpriced nursery fees. If you're a vegan, forget about all that costly vegan food you love eating from Whole Foods. Having a child will bleed your bank account quicker than an ill-advised, drunken trip to the Casino.
Sit down with your partner and calculate your monthly income. All your outgoings and what you both need to cut now that you have both decided to have a child. Make sure you have emergency funds. Failure to do due diligence on your finances will make you stressed out and unhappy during a period where you should be happy and joyful.
Are you willing to sacrifice a lot of your money; time, energy, and opportunities?
Probably my most significant oversight was that I did not fully comprehend how much sacrifice would be required when raising children. Spending my disposable income on new trainers and weekly night outs. No more of that. Travelling whenever I want. No more of that. Eight hours of sleep. Ciao.
If you want to be a decent father, a lot of your time and energy will be spent supporting your partner in raising your child because you're also responsible for that child's growth. It's a gigantic shift in your priorities especially for men in their twenties, heck any man at any age. Raising a kid is one of the biggest responsibilities a man can have, right next to being the US President and look what happens when you mess up that role.
Are you happy to no longer be your partner's priority?
Understand this, as soon as your child is born, all the attention you used to receive from your partner will decrease, especially in the child's early years. While you should expect to be a priority to some degree, you're not going to be THE priority to your partner when she becomes a mother. As a man, you must be comfortable with this. If you still want to spend more time solely enjoying the love of your girlfriend while you both travel the world, then don't have a child with her yet.
To all my male, millennial friends who ask me if they should have children, I will now point you in the direction of this blog. Having a child is beautiful but have your eyes opened. It's not all fun, games, and trips to the park. It's a real responsibility. Don't make my mistake of blindly going through with it. Make sure you're ready.
"The Devil made me do it." Blaming demonic forces for our mistakes and misfortunes holds black people back
Although I am not a regular churchgoer anymore, I still speak to and surround myself with Christians who are both black and white. Even if you're not religious, I believe it's good to have Christians in your social circle. Surrounding yourself with genuine Christians helps ground me in a secular world filled with temptation and hatred. Growing up, I went to an African-dominated church in East London, but when I was an undergraduate student in Brighton, I went to a mixed church where most of the congregation was white. Attending these two churches, I gradually became aware of one major difference between black Christians, and white Christians. This difference was their relationship with Satan.
For many black Christians, I noticed that Satan is such a central and pronounced part of their Christian lives than it is for white Christians. Black Christians, particularly those who are of African descent, blame Satan for everything that goes wrong in their lives. Absolutely everything.
There was a period in my life where a lot of things weren’t going my way. Life was playing around with me or, more accurately, i was playing around with life. I was making a lot of mistakes in my professional and personal life. My mother, bless her, who is a very devout Christian, would always say to me during this turbulent period by saying: "The Devil is a liar. It will not be your portion."
When I sought consolation from my African Christian friends, they would spout similar refrains: “The Devil will not win.” “Satan’s works will not manifest in your life.” “You will overcome the demons in your life.”
If you genuinely believe in and practice Christianity, then the power of Satan is real. I am not arguing against that at all. However, I do think to place Satan or the Devil at the centre of all your misfortunes and wrong decisions will hold you back, even if you are the most devout Christian.
YOU are usually the problem, not Satan
From a Christian perspective, you can’t deny that Satan is a powerful force in human’s lives. There are many scriptures in the Bible which explicitly refer to the Devil; the fallen angel Lucifer and the manifestation of evil. However, the scriptures also mention human’s evil intentions. Have a read of James 1: 13 -16 which directly alludes to human’s capacity to follow the evil intent within their hearts.
It’s not uncommon to hear stories of pastors having extramarital affairs or embezzling money from their churches. Most of the time, when a pastor's wrongdoings come to light, and he or she has no choice but to admit their fault, the apology is always framed so that it was Satan who enticed the pastor to commit their wrongdoings.
Whenever African Christians, and it’s a trait I find common with this group, blame Satan for their wrong choices, I never accept their apology. I find it to be the height of insincerity. If a husband cheats on his wife with a young woman, he made that decision to do it. Wives will pray that Satan stops tempting their husband or pray that Satan will not put a pretty woman in their husband’s pathway, but I find this ridiculous. A man cheats on his wife because he has the desire within him to do so. The husband is the problem, not the Devil.
Self-improvement is about you overcoming yourself, not defeating Satan
Whenever something negative happens in your life, it’s easy to blame Satan or demonic influences as many Africans tend to. Lost your job. It is demonic forces. Wife wants to divorce you. It is demonic forces. Boss is giving you stress. It is demonic forces.
Believing that Satan or demonic forces are the causes of all the negativity in your life glosses over the reality of why you're now in a terrible place in your life and disables you from finding the root cause of a problematic situation. Sometimes, the reason you lost your job is because of a mistake you made or perhaps the reason your marriage is failing is that you're no longer fulfilling your partner's needs. Without rational reasoning and looking inwardly at yourself, you will never understand the root cause because you’ve blamed it on some vague, abstract concept of ‘demonic forces’ or ‘the works of Satan.’
I am a massive believer in self-improvement. But you can't improve yourself and become a better person if you cannot take responsibility for your actions and do what is necessary to ensure you don’t make these mistakes again. Even the Bible says faith without works is dead. Also if you believe Satan is working against you, you won't be able to combat Satan if you do not put in the effort necessary.
" Believing that Satan or demonic forces are the causes of all the negativity in your life glosses over the reality of why you're now in a terrible place in your life and disables you from finding the root cause of a problematic situation. "
Many African Christians need to start assessing their mistakes and bad choices as a result of their selfish desires or unwise decisions. Pointing the finger at some intangible spirit like Satan or demons will not solve your problems. Look into yourself, admit you made the wrong choice and then find the strength in yourself and through God to improve. No ‘demonic spirit’ can affect you if your resolve is strong enough.
I don’t know about you lot, but I am anticipating BckChat Uncensored. It’s switching up the usual format of ‘round-table’ discussions and moving abroad. From the preview, it looks like a black, South-London version of Love Island and I can tell this is going squeeze so much laughter out my lungs.
My more highbrow, intellectually-minded friends don’t quite understand why I like BckChat London. Yes, it's loud. Yes, it's vulgar, and yes, it can be misogynistic. But you know what? It is unapologetically Black British. Being born and bred in London, the cast of BckChat are around my age, and they are so recognisably and refreshingly familiar in their mannerisms and viewpoints. It is refreshing to watch a show like this which is so true to its roots.
Another familiar show I’ve recently started watching that is similar to BckChat London is 3shotsoftequilla. Its premise is identical to that BckChat London but exclusively features Black British men discussing a variety of topics. Like BckChat, it's very Black British, very loud and, if you grew up in London, very entertaining. It’s like I am listening to the sort of banter I have with my friends.
Black British is an identify now
I think now, arguably more than ever, we are in a period where Black British culture is permeating confidently through mainstream British society and feels authentic, rather than trying to be African American. I don't think we've quite reached the renaissance or the golden era, but there's been a shift. Growing up in London, I remember a time where the notion of ‘Black British' was a nebulous concept. I never identified as a Black British person when I was a teenager. When I was 13, if someone asked me what I identify as, I would have replied that I identify as a Nigerian. Ask me now, at 29, and I’d say I am “Black British” or, more specifically, “British Nigerian.” I have reconciled my Britishness with my Nigerianess.
A massive factor in this successful reconciliation is because the idea of being “Black British” is a tangible construct because we have a collective culture, albeit a developing one, but a culture nonetheless. The forging of a truly authentic black British culture started with the Notting Hill Carnival followed by a series of events throughout the 70s and 80s that are too complex to cover in this single blog post. The emergence of jungle and garage music in the 90s added another layer to black British culture. The rise of grime music in the noughties further gave the young, third generation Black British youth a voice. Black British identify has become even more concrete now with afrobeats, drill music and with entertainers like Mo The Comedian and Michael Dappah, who have entertained the mainstream without losing their Black British identity.
From a sociological perspective, a confident Black British identify has manifested because black people in England have become more unified. Growing up in Newham, East London, I remember a time where African and Caribbean kids didn't get along. There was this silent animosity between us mainly because the Caribbean culture was seen as ‘cooler' than African culture. The only reason this was the case was that Caribbean people had been in England longer than Africans, so their culture was better acclimatised into British society. Now we have reached a point where all black people in England play together. The second and third generation of African and Caribbean adults now have mutual respect towards each other in England which has helped solidify the Black British identity.
We have not yet entered the Black British cultural renaissance
As much as I love shows like BckChat and 3shotsoftequilla, they are very similar in style and structure. Both of them are very London-centric, and both of them can become a little too immature, a little too loud and a little too foolish. But it’s entertainment. And good entertainment at that.
But what I would like to see is more content from Black British creators which is more intellectually stimulating. We do have the Mostly Lit podcast which I implore you to check out if you’re looking for some Black British content which is less in-your-face and more cerebral than BckChat and 3shottequilla. Rapman's Blue Story trilogy and Shiro's Story are examples of mature, Black British storytelling in film.
I am not saying every single piece of Black British culture must be brainy and have some deeper subtext. We have highbrow and lowbrow white British culture, and we should also have highbrow and lowbrow Black British culture. But I feel we do not have enough of the former. Now the drill genre dominates Black British music, and our content online is entertaining but mostly loud and silly. Even our movies are just big and flashy, with little introspection or any thoughtful analysis of the Black British psyche. This year's most prominent Black British film was Intent 2: The Come Up. While I paid to watch that movie and enjoyed it, it’s a damn shame that this was the biggest and most advertised Black British movie of 2018.
For Black British culture to reach new heights, we need more Black British creators developing content which goes beyond just entertaining us. We need material that makes us think and takes a proper look at Black British lives growing up in Britain and all its complexities. The reason why I've decided to become a part-time, cultural writer is that I wanted to write fiction and non-fiction books which explore the lives of Black British people in a way that truthfully comments on our flaws, our conflicted lives while also being entertaining.
Black British culture is varied and black creators should be communicating every aspect of it. Loud, fun and flashy is great, but Black British culture is and must be more than that if we want real longevity.
They still talk about Shakespeare; let’s do our best to make sure they are still talking about us 200 years from now.
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I’ve been shamefully late on reading any books from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the most exciting Nigerian author if you believe the literary hype. Over the years, I've heard nothing but gushing praises about her books since she published Purple Hibiscus in 2003. So I made a solemn promise to myself at the start of this year to read one of her books and decided to pick up Americanah.
For me, reading Americanah was like eating at a 3-star Michelin restaurant that doesn't quite live up to its rating. The food is delicious and fills your stomach, but you can't help but be somewhat disappointed because it's a 3-star Michelin restaurant. Americanah is a great book; I would even go as far as to say it's an essential book as it examines contemporary Nigerian identity and the experiences of being black in America in a way no other book, to my knowledge, has. But with all the furore surrounding Adichie, I expected a stronger story. For all its acute, intelligent and enlightening observations on race, identify, and sex, Americanah’s love story felt perfunctory and predictable, becoming the least exciting part of the book.
What is it about?
Americanah tells the story of two contemporary Nigerians, the fiercely opinionated but intelligent Ifemelu and the bookish, American culture-loving Obinze. The two form a romantic relationship in Nigeria.
When Nigeria falls into a military dictatorship, throwing its educational system into disarray, Ifemelu travels to the USA to continue her studies and eventually wins a fellowship at Princeton. Despite his love for America and his desperation to move there, Obinze ends up going to London where he becomes an illegal immigrant. Desperate to reach America, Obinze goes to great lengths to arrange a sham marriage so he can obtain British citizenship and eventually head over to America.
Without spoiling what happens in the rest of the novel, Obinze and Ifemelu eventually reunite in Nigeria as two very different people. But can they rekindle their relationship after living in different countries for so long?
As a social commentary on Nigerian identity, the Nigerian diaspora in both America and England, racism in America and sexual attitudes in Nigeria, Americanah is in a class of its own. Adichie makes some very insightful observations about what it means to be black in America, not only as a black American but as an African in America. I never even considered it before but being African American and being African are two very different things in America. I learned a great deal about race relations in America reading Americanah.
The book contains passages taken from Ifemelu’s fictional blog on race relations that she decides to write when she’s been living in America for a while. These segments from Ifemelu’s blog post are brilliant, and I loved them. The wit, intelligence, and social commentary Adichie communicates through Ifemelu’s blog is a stroke of genius.
I also really enjoyed Obinze’s and Ifemelu’s characters. Whenever I ever read about or watch contemporary Nigerian characters, they are often just lazy stereotypes – loud, superficial women or untrustworthy, superficial men. And while these types of Nigerians do populate the book (every stereotype has a seed a truth), Obinze and Ifemelu felt like real people because Adichie wrote them with relatable characteristics and with a welcome nuance not often given to Nigerian characters.
The love story. At the heart of Americanah is the love story between Obinze and Ifemelu that beats as you expect it too. With the rest of the book filled with rich ideas and observations about race, identify and sex, the love story is just competent. It's safe. It's predictable. We learn that Obinze’s wife is superficial and does not understand Obinze. We learn that Obinze and Ifemelu still feel the same for each other after years apart. I know it’s a love story, therefore, comes with certain expectations as demanded by the genre but I wish Adichie could have made it less predictable.
Also, a lot of the story is about Ifemelu’s experiences in America much to the detriment of Obinze’s story in London. While Ifemelu’s story in America is captivating and I enjoyed reading about the relationship with her two American boyfriends, at times, it also really bored me. I didn't care about Ifemelu’s time in the hairdresser or about her being a babysitter for a wealthy family. These parts were unexciting, and I wish Adichie had fleshed out Obinze’s experience as an illegal immigrant in London a bit more.
Lastly, I felt that the book had too many secondary characters. We learn about a whole host of Obinze's and Ifemelu’s friends in Nigeria, and when Ifemelu is in America, she makes a whole bunch of other friends that Adichie introduces us to. I understand that these cast of characters reveal different facets of the themes Adichie is exploring in the novel, but I wish she had cut some of them down or combined them into one character.
Americanah is probably the best book written right now about race in America and the social experiences of contemporary Nigerians. Adichie is adept at observing how Americans treat people of colour and how Nigeria's society behaves, mainly its middle-class. The book is worth a read alone to learn about these themes. It will change how you view the dynamics and social constructs of race.
But the book’s love story is weak compared to its exceptional social commentary. Obinze and Ifemelu are fantastic characters, but the story of their love is underwhelming and undercooked, making the book feel a bit uneven because it's social commentary shines brighter than its actual love story. As a result, Americanah falls short of greatness, but it is still a quality read nonetheless.
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So, last night, my Twitter feed blew up. Chris Rock was trending. Initially, I thought two things: 1) Please don’t tell me Chris Rock is dead or 2) Please don’t tell me Chris Rock has become another casualty of the #metoo movement.
It turned out it was neither. Instead, Chris Rock was trending because of the word “Nigga.” A word that is up there as one of the most talked-about, most contested and most heated words in the history of language.
But what had Chris Rock done? Well, a clip from 2011 (not even this year, which shows how easily triggered the internet, and by extension, our society, since the internet is a more accurate representation of our society than actual society, has become) shows Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais and Louis CK humorously talking about comedy. During this segment, Louis CK starts casually throwing around the word "nigga" a few times, and Chris Rock rolls back his eyes in laughter. You can watch the clip here.
Did I mention how easily triggered my generation is? The twitter mob formed in droves to condemn Louis CK for uttering the word, sacred only to black people, and then proceeded to shame Chris Rock for sitting there during the entire segment, doing nothing while a white man with a ginger beard was letting the word roll from his tongue right in front of him.
Now, I’ve watched this clip a few times. After I did, I just shrugged my shoulders. Once again, ‘woke’ Twitter has exaggerated its anger, acting like everything is a slight against black people (*yawn*) without really thinking logically about it.
However, this new ‘issue’ did get me thinking about my relationship with the word ‘nigger' or ‘nigga' (is there a difference?), how I feel when I use it and my thoughts on non-black people who use it.
What’s up my, Ni$$a?
I am not going to feign some intellectual superiority and say I am above using the word. It would be a lie, and I do my best to always remain authentic. So yes, I do use the word ‘nigga.’ Not always, mind you, I am not in a rap video. But I do sometimes use it, like many young black men, in a few different contexts as described below:
As a term of endearment to my black friend
e.g. “What’s up, my nigga”
As a derogatory term, if I feel a black friend, always male, is acting selfish
ly, e.g. "Give me more pie. Don't be a nigga."
As a derogatory term, if a black male is behaving in a way that one could consider stereotypical
e.g. “Look how he is behaving. Like a nigga.”
Of course, I would never use the word within a professional context because I am not an idiot. But when I am around friends, even white friends, in a casual setting, then yes, I’ll sometimes use the word and always in a humorous way.
I am aware of the history of the word and what it once meant. But words can take on new meaning, especially when they become a colloquialism. To me, the term ‘nigga’ has become a slang word among many black people, and I use it in that context. It once meant something else, but black people have given it another meaning. Words can be malleable like that.
But should non-black people use the word?
Now, this is where we get into the sensitive and touchy ground. Earlier this year, on stage, Kendrick Lamar angrily called out a white fan when this fan shouted the word “nigger.” I didn't quite understand his anger. He uses the word "nigger" in his lyrics but then becomes inflamed when someone says it as part of the lyrics to his song? But he's okay if a black person says it? It's illogical.
The problem in my opinion (and it's an unpopular opinion I know), is that black people have reclaimed the word "nigger" and now suddenly we've become all precious over it. We act as if it only belongs to us, thus given the word a 'forbidden fruit’ aura. It’s like we're tempting non-black people to use it because we make such a big deal about it.
No word belongs to anyone. If you use the word "nigger" in your lyrics, how on earth can you be pissed off if a white fan, who bought tickets to see you live, says the word when he or she is reciting a song you wrote? Is that fan supposed to censor themselves if they’re not black?
I am not advocating that white people can use the word any way they want. Naturally, when the word comes out from a non-white person's mouth, it takes on a dark history which I don't need to explain (slavery, duh). It is for this reason why context and common-sense is always so crucial.
If I humorously call a white friend a historically derogative term for white people and then he calls me the n-word, then, within this context, we are both joking around with each other. So, I am not going to be offended. Now, if a random white man came up to me on the street and shouted "nigga" to my face well that's a whole different context.
Of course, a non-black person should ask themselves why they are using this word in the first place. If it's for light comedy, if it's part of a song lyric and it is not said maliciously or used as a way to legitimately belittle a black person, then, for me, it wouldn't be a problem. However, a white person who carelessly says the word all the time because they think it's "cool" is an idiot but I probably still wouldn’t be offended. There are much more cruel things in the world to be offended about, trust me.
" The problem in my opinion (and it's an unpopular opinion I know), is that black people have reclaimed the word "nigger" and now suddenly we've become all precious over it. We act as if it only belongs to us, thus given the word a 'forbidden fruit' aura. It’s like we're tempting non-black people to use it because we make such a big deal about it. "
In the case of this Chris Rock video, I am not mad at Chris Rock or Louis CK. It's evident that Chris did not mind Louis CK saying the word because they have a certain camaraderie. I am sure Chris Rock has probably called Louis CK all kinds of names relating to his gingerness and his receding hairline.
As always, I love ‘woke' Twitter, but at times it frustrates me. The black community in western society need to stop being precious about the word ‘nigger.' Consider the context in which it is used. Not everything is a deliberate slight against us.
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