1. It’s inspiring and invigorating
2. It develops skills you never knew you had
3. It satisfies your thirst for adventure (especially if you’re feeling bored and trapped)
4. It helps you to take risks, and to try new things
5. It creates amazing, lasting memories
6. It gives you experiences you wouldn’t have at home
7. It changes your perspective on yourself, other people, different cultures – and the world!
I have never questioned my identity as an African woman. Being a woman has always been foremost in my consciousness. It has never been African + Woman. I always took the “Africanness” as a given; not needing pampering or reminding or nurturing.
I am African.
I gravitate towards folklore, oral historians, ripe mangoes, cocoa and palm kernels. I look out for patterns in my everyday life, in artwork, in my photography because my Africaness connects with the patterns in Aso-Oke, Ankara and Woodin. I need maggi in my lasagne and crayfish in my okra. I have to boil my plantain in its skin and steam my beans in banana leafs. My existence is wrapped in the essence of Africa- toil, triumph, exuberance, richness and hope.
When I was a child, I noticed that all the adult women I knew had straight hair. My hair was always in cornrows that refused to stay neat. It was a huge curly mass that defied every attempt at taming. I thought you got straight hair when you became an adult, and so I wanted to become an adult quickly. I wanted to look like my mother, my aunts and my teachers. I got straight hair at age 8- in a chair, by a relaxer that burnt my scalp, ears and forehead. I continued getting perms till I turned 23. One day, I walked into a salon and had my straight, shoulder length hair chopped off. I had no consciousness of this being a return to my “Africanness.” It just felt comfortable and natural to maintain my hair the way it comes out of my scalp- coily, curly, wavy and sometimes straight. However, people attributed my short hair to valour. I don’t understand that. I have never understood why people choose conformity over authenticity."