Monday, December 28, 2009

2009.....Na wa oh! You don finish?!

2009 was quite a year for me, but the most memorable thing that happened took place on Wednesay January 7.

I was driving my sisters and I to church around 6:45 pm. It was snowing outside, so I was trying to drive carefully. I got in the left turning lane and and got ready to turn on a yellow light. The snow must have impaired my vision because to me, it looked like the cars coming straight were slowing down. But as I turned, one of the cars that was coming straight hit my car on the passenger side.

I screamed "JESUS!" as soon as the car hit. We ended up in the left turning lane of the street I was turning into. I got out of the car and started screaming, praying, crying. I saw my sisters. In the front passenger seat, my second sister appeared to be alright. In the back seat, the two younger ones scared me the most. The youngest one's eyes were rolling in her head. I kept praying aloud and trying to calm her down. At some point I called my parents, 911, and all that. The man who hit us was also there trying to calm everyone down.

When the ambulance came, they took the youngest two away, just to make sure they were ok. As they put the youngest one on the stretcher, she was saying "God, why, what did I do?" over and over. Then she started saying "God, please forgive me of all my sins...." like she thought she was going to die. I was trying to calm her down the whole while, telling her that she wasn't going anywhere. She was going to be ok, and I knew this, but it broke my heart to hear her say things like this.

After going to the nearby hospital and getting tested for various internal problems, my sisters were released and all was well. My car was totaled, but the Lord God, Jehovah, saved our lives. I could never thank Him enough for that. The story could have ended a very different way, but God was merciful to us. I'm glad, because I don't think I could have lived with myself if things didn't turn out the way that they did.

The four of us a few days after the accident.

The next day, after spending time praying, thanking God, it dawned on me again, how blessed I was to be alive and to have all my sisters with me. I turned on some music, and we all started dancing like mad, praising God. Hahaha.....I've always loved to dance, but I think that this event really gave me a new appreciation of the expression of joy through dance. We danced mostly to two songs; one called "So Gi Bu Chi" by Paul Agubata. The title means 'Only You are God.' The song gets some criticizm because it's basically Awilo Longomba's "Carolina" set to new lyrics. I couldn't care less because the man took the song and a beautiful new version. He can work out all the copyright issues with Awilo. Hahaha.... As for me, when I dey hear good music, me, I go dance. Also we got down to "Na God" by BNG. Both songs are by Nigeria-based gospel artists. Click on the links below to see the videos.

So Gi Bu Chi by Paul Agubata

Na God by BNG

My name, Chidinma, means "God is good." I can truly say that He has been good to me, every second, minute, hour, day, week, month, and year of my life! :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009


I had a wonderful Christmas. Had some "fam" from our church over, and just had a good ol' time with them. Talked to my grandparents, uncles, aunties, cousins in Naija on the phone. Cooked. Ate. Laughed. Got some nice stuff.

After the festivities at my house were over I went to my best friend's house to do our normal gift exchange and then just hang out. I had some good Puerto Rican food over there (that's where her family's from). Anyways......we were talking and she got on her computer to check something. She saw a story on some kind of terrorism plot on her home page and clicked on it. I went to the screen and started reading it, and my jaw dropped as soon as I ran across the word 'Nigerian.'

My initial reaction was one of surprise and displeasure. "Oh no," I said. "Now Nigerians won't be known just for scams, but now for terrorism!" I was shocked to find that this man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, attempted his plot on a plane landing in the Detroit Metro Airport, 5 minutes from my house. I groaned again. The plane was coming from Lagos, Nigeria after making a stop in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

After I got home and did more research, I learned that the man claims to be linked with al-Qaeda and said that he got the explosive in Yemen. I'm glad that the story ended the way it did, because if the man had succeeded, lives would surely have been lost.

But I can't help but think that people, if they haven't already, will begin to say, "Nigeria! Can anything good come from there?" As the Naija American Girl, I feel that I must do my own part to answer with a resounding "Yes!" But we have a long way to go before Naija gains a better reputation in the world. What I want people to know about this particular situation, though is that:

1. This man is a Muslim, but not all Nigerians are Muslims.
2. Not all Muslims are terrorists.

My Naija people, we need to showcase the great aspects of our home country. We do not need anymore negative stereotypes. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and the 419ers are a disgrace to Naija and we can't let that continue to be the first thing to cross people's minds when they think of Nigeria.

I can't help but think that by his act of foolishness, Abdulmutallab has made things just a bit more difficult for Nigerians world wide. How many legitimate international businessmen will lose deals that they'd been working to seal? How many students will be turned away from universities abroad? How many people who would have otherwise gotten Visas will be denied? Sigh.......

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

It's after 3 am on Christmas morning and I haven't wrapped a single gift that I bought. But Merry Christmas, anyhow! I am thankful to God for the gifts of life, health, strength, and wonderful family and friends to share them with. As has been said, but can't be said enough, Jesus is the reason for the season. He's what this whole thing is about!

I'm thinking ahead to this time next year.....I will be 22....I will have gone on my long awaited trip to Naija.....I will have just completed my bachelor's degree at Wayne State University....I will be getting ready to start a new chapter of life. I'm excited, but at the same time, I'm kind of like "Woah, 1 year?!?!" I know just how fast a year can go by. I'm still seeking the Lord's guidance on exactly what I will do after I graduate. I know He'll lead me, so I'm not worried.

But I think I'll use it as a point of reference: December 25, 2010. Only God knows what I'll be up to then! Hey, that rhymes.......Hahaha....I need to go wrap these gifts and catch some shut-eye before the Christmas day traditions and festivities begin. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! God bless you and yours.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Really Cool Book

On my way into work one day last month there was a traveling bookstore in the lobby. Looking around, I was immediately drawn to a book called A Day in the Life of Africa. This book is amazing. On February 28, 2002, about 100 photojournalists took pictures in 53 African countries. The book shows their fascinating pictures with captions. I learned so much from that book and I continue to learn more every time I pick it up. It's a big, heavy hard cover book that would be a great coffee table book for starting conversations. It would also make a great gift for anyone even remotely interested in Africa. The funds from the book go to help an AIDS educational fund.I encourage you to look it up! Here's the link to the website:

"So I put my hands up, they're playing my song, the butterflies fly away......Yeah, its a party in the...."

Picture the scene:

After a long and hard semester, African students of the Detroit area are ready to socialize and have a little fun. So they decide to attend a little end-of-year dinner hosted by Wayne State University's own Wayne African Student Society (WASS). The hosts spend hours in their respective kitchens cooking for the potluck-style dinner: fried rice, rice and stew, chicken, spaghetti, plantain, meatpie, cake. As partytime draws near, fine young ladies and gentlemen get dressed in some of their flyest gear, making sure to check that their swag is turned on. Last-minute people buy their gift for the secret Santa exchange, get cans for the food drive and make their way to the event. They find a place to park and after one last look in the rear view mirror, they get out of the car. In the cold of the late-December night, well-dressed young men and women arrive on Wayne State's campus and walk quickly to the venue. They enter the place. Some take the elevator; some climb the stairs to the third floor. When they get to the room, a DJ is spinning the latest and greatest in popular African music. A table in the back has a spread of food that makes one hungry just looking at it. All around are clusters of beautiful black people that hail from Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana (and other African countries), the Islands, and the United States, talking and eating. After a while the dancefloor opens up and people proceed to break it down. But after some time, noise patrol comes to see why the room is so noisy. He opens the door and can't believe his eyes. After picking up his jaw that has dropped to the floor, he talks to those in charge. He tells them to keep it down. After all, this is a LIBRARY! Hahahaha...

I kid you not. My school's African group had our end of semester dinner/party in the school's undergrad library, in one of the rooms they have there for workshops and small lectures. I'm the public relations officer for the group, and when I went to book a large room in the student center a few weeks prior to the event, I was told that because the university was about to be closing for Christmas break, we couldn't use the room because it was being closed. So, I thought, we'll just use the room we usually use for our meeting. It's a good size. We can make it work. So I booked a room in the basement of the student center and thought it was all good. But to one of my fellow board members, it wasn't. He didn't think the room was good for a dinner where we were inviting non-Wayne State people. So he booked the community room in the library. I didn't think it was such a bad idea. That was until I realized that he invited a DJ. The music we were playing in the room before the DJ came was already loud. Imagine when the guy came and hooked up all his equipment to speakers and a mike. It was really a crazy situation. All I could do was throw up my hands and laugh, joining in on the madness. I'm still tickled just thinking about it. Lol. I was afraid that we were going to get kicked out, but they actually let us stay until the library closed at 10 pm. Some of the library staff and noise patrol came in at 10 and made sure we cleaned up and left. I know they probably thought we were crazy. I don't blame them!

During the normal school day, the first and second floors of the undergraduate library (UGL) are notorious for being unthinkably loud. On any given day of the week from around 10 am to about 8 pm you're liable to see all types of stuff. Baby mamas with their small children or crying infants trying to finish their papers at the computer. Large groups of people feasting on fast-food at the long tables and having loud conversations about things you don't want to hear about. Homeless and mentally disturbed people walking around talking to themselves. People playing music from cell phones and computers and having their own mini karaoke session. People arguing with bill collectors on the phone. I am not joking. You can ask anyone who goes to Wayne State. It's endearingly called Club UGL. I call it a zoo.

Our party was on the third floor though, the floor reserved for quiet study. During the school week, Wayne State hires noise patrol people to walk around and make sure no one is eating, talking, playing music on speakers, or even appearing to be having any kind of fun whatsoever. You have to go to a separate room if you want to do any of those things. This is where the serious people who actually came to the library to study go. I do want to mention, though, that it was the last day of finals and the library was relatively empty at the time this wahala went down. If that makes it any better......hahaha.

In conclusion, I would like to say: Some of you may have partied in Miami or Vegas. You might have gotten down in London. You might get it in on the Lagos scene. You may be a queen/king of the night life in wherever you live. But I bet you ain't never partied in no library, though! Ain't no party like a WASS party 'cause a WASS party can happen at any place and time. Na wa oh!

Monday, December 21, 2009

And so on...

Now that I'm done with school until January, I must admit that I'm feeling quite bloggy...... So let's talk about how this Naija American Girl thing started.

It was about this time last year when I first started the title poem. Can't remember exactly how the idea came to me, so it must have came from God. :)

I started writing the poem and stored it away, bringing it out periodically to add to it. I do this with many poems that I write, sometimes spending months before finally finishing a poem.

However, one event sped up the whole process and forced me to finish the poem: my African group's cultural show. At my school every year our African student group puts on a show for the whole school. We were kind of short on acts, so I volunteered myself to do a poem, and I had the perfect one....I just had to finish it! Hahahah

So I finished the poem and performed it for the first time at the show in this year April. It went over really well. Thus, the Naija American Girl was born. Lol.

Looking back, I feel like 2008 was the year that I enrolled myself in "Naija Awareness 101". It's the year I really began to dive into popular Nigerian music on Youtube and found some stuff that I really fell in love with by people like Faze, P-Square, 2Face, the now broken-up Resonance, Eben, my favorite, Timaya, and the list just goes on.

My self-education was sparked by curiosity after watching hilarious remakes like "Crank dat Naija Boy" by two different groups. But I wanted to find out what the real music that people in Naija were moving to these days. Also, being ridiculed by a friend when I didn't know who P-Square was also prodded me to find out what I was missing. Hahaha. I mean, it wasn't like I didn't know good music when I heard it at a Nigerian party or wedding reception or anything; I just didn't know the names of the folks making it!

I also read books that really gave me a better understanding of Nigerian history, Igbo history to be specific. I learned the most from one book, "What Will my Mother Say?" by Dympna Ugwu-Oju. I would recommend it to any Igbo young lady.

I'm still discovering more, learning as I go. It's amazing how much Igbo I've learned from Youtube, asking my mom when I don't understand. Also recalling all the old praise songs we've sung since my childhood and analyzing them helps too. :) I'm not ashamed to admit that I don't know a lot. It's when you admit that you don't know everything that you can learn something.

The poem that inspired it all

So after debating with myself back and forth for days before officially starting this blog, I have decided to post my poem. I've had many mixed feelings about this because I know that plagiarism is alive and well in the world. As a writer, I value my work and don't take the threat of plagiarism lightly. Even so, I believe that some (Naija peeps and others) may be able to relate to it and it might stem an interesting conversation. So without further adieu, I present to you my poem, Naija American Girl. I would hope that any reputable contest or person with common sense would do a simple Google search to verify that submissions are not listed on the Internet as someone else's work. And to anyone who would try to pass any part of this poem off as your own: Na only God go help you oh! Everything done in the darkness shall come to light! .....Hahahaha. Seriously though, don't commit copyright infringement; use your own brain cells!

Naija American Girl by Chidinma Ogbuaku
© Chidinma Ogbuaku 2009

Naija American Girl
complex mix of two worlds
Who knows the things that cross your mind,
the solace you seek but seldom find?

Many people born in Naija,
their hearts burn so bad
to come to America
and when they get Visa they’re glad

But for those of us born here,
Na wa for us oh!
Because of the many things
we should but do not know

“You mean you can’t speak Igbo?
You don’t cook fu fu?
Why are you not studying
medicine in school?”

And when we go to school
and the teacher takes roll
We hear a very familiar phrase
that we’ve all come to know

“I’m really gonna mess this one up,
please forgive me in advance,”
Then they struggle through our name
But they don’t have a chance


They struggle and struggle
with all their might
and when they’re finally through
we raise our hand and let them know
just how to say our name
some of them will hardly try
which really is a shame

We can get down with black Americans
'till they start talking ' bout slavery
Then we feel the need to boldly interject
“Oh no, that wasn’t me!”

“My ancestors were never slaves,
they weren’t forced across the ocean,”
Then our black friends look us up and down
and start a small commotion

“Oh so what, you think you’re better than us?”
they ask with animosity
They roll their eyes and start to cuss
And we wished we’d just let it be

We can hang with our Naija folk
till they start speaking
their native tongues
We catch a few thing here and there
while they all joke and have fun

Now having a foot in two worlds
isn’t 100 percent bad
for few can do the things we can
We can switch our greetings from
“Ndewo, sir” to “Ay, what up doe fam?!”

The line we walk is a fuzzy one
from what we do to what we say
It’s a very curious little thing
that really comes with age

Naija American Girl
complex mix of two worlds
Who knows the things that cross your mind,
The solace you seek and sometimes find?

© Chidinma Ogbuaku 2009

What do you think? For the full effect, you really have to hear me perform it, but I think you can get the gist, right?


And so a journey begins...

There was once a time when I never thought I would count myself among those that freely spew their thoughts on the Internet for all to see; now here I am. I guess you can say I've had a change of heart.

Who am I? I am the Naija American Girl. What, some may ask, is that? The answer is simple. I'm a person born in the USA of two Nigerian parents. The first generation of my family on both sides to be born here. I represent thousands of descendants of Nigerians born in the United States; millions born in countries around the world. I won't deceive myself into believing that our group is a homogeneous one; we are as diverse as any group can be. But we do have many things in common, from the experiences we have when it comes to teaching others how to say our name, to our family structure.

This blog, though, will be mostly my personal view on a wide variety of topics on, from music to literature, to current events and just stuff that's happening in my life. It won't be limited to just things that affect Naija Americans, Nigerians, or Africans, for that matter, but I'm definitely going to go there.

So come with me on my journey.....and feel free to chime in whenever you feel the urge!