Sunday, January 24, 2010

Don't sit with her. She's from Africa.

Ms. Olamide (on the left) with her sister

I think I'm going to start a series on people (Naija, African, and maybe others) who are doing things I think are great/inspire me/ I admire/ so on and so forth..... The first intallment will be: Ms. Olamide.

This weekend (Saturday January 23, to be exact) the African Student Association of Michigan had and excellent leadership conference. Click here to read a great post about it.

At the conference, Ms. Olamide of gave a short little talk and told about her first day in high school, fresh outta Naija. But there was one thing she said that really stood out to me. Kinda made me drop my jaw a little and gasp....Ok, maybe my reaction wasn't that dramatic, but I definitely did feel a bit of indignation. Hahahaha......

She said that on her first day, she walked into the class room after class had started, kids giving her strange looks. Another student walked in a little after she did and was about to sit next to Olamide, when another classmate suggested that make a different choice.

"Dont sit with her; She's from Africa," is what Olamide told us the fellow student said. I wanted to go back in time and give the person a good slap.

This cold reception would have been enough to make anyone hide in their shell and count the days until graduation, but not this chick. "My own confidence in myslef was way up there,"she said.

It wasn't long before she started getting recognition for excelling in classes. She also began to join all kinds of school school clubs: swim team (without knowing how to swim; she learned on the team. lol) track, badminton, drama, dance tennis....In short she didn't let the initially intimidating situation stop her from shining.

Right now she's doing a lot: she's involved with the Yoruba Youth Corporation, her website, another website, writing poems, skits, songs, designing websites for others, and so much more. And she's humble too. I gots ta give props where props are due. You're going places girl. Keep on!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King Day

Today is Martin Luther King Day, and unlike years past when I was mainly just grateful to have a day off from school, I am truly in awe when I consider a man like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His convictions were so strong and he proclaimed them so fearlessly, even knowing that he was risking his life; but he didn't care. He didn't back down. He didn't stop. One useless excuse for a human being couldn't take it and he shot Dr. King. However, as I wrote in a speech on the subject a few years ago: the bullet that took Dr. King's life did not, because it could not, take his dream. The Reverend King was definitely an instrument of God, used to forever change the minds of Americans into believing that equality was possible. He is certainly not the only one who deserves credit, but he is definitely among the greats.

Every country in the world needs a Dr. King. I thank God for giving us ours.

Anyway......I'm getting ready to leave for a march in Dr. King's honor. I'll post pictures later. :)


So I went to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. march here in Detroit. The march started at the high school named after the Reverend and there were about 200 to 300 people there. The march took about an hour and a half and took us a few blocks in the area around the school. It was really an awesome time.

I went with some friends of mine, all of them members of the African Student Association of Michigan. Here are some pictures:

As you can see, we wore traditional Nigerian head gear to represent our African heritage. That's me in the pink gele if you can't tell. People seemed curious to see who "those Africans" were. Hahahahaha....... A couple of people took pictures of us. I personally think it was a great way to show solidarity between Africans and African Americans. It shows that we recognize greatness from wherever it comes.

Anyways, the walk was a great way to remember Dr. King. May his legacy live on. And in every corner of the world, may more like him rise to change the human race for better. Amen.

One of my favorite renditions of "Lift Every Voice and Sing."

Friday, January 15, 2010

On Haiti

Click to go to to donate to their relief effort

I hate seeing stories of devastation in the news. I have a tendency to internalize them and it makes me feel sad for a long period of time; tears are not uncommon. So at first, I tried to avoid watching too much of the news on the earthquake in Haiti. But of course, my curiosity and heart for the human race can't let me ignore it.

There's not really much I can say in the wake of such pain and suffering. Haiti was already a very poor country, the poorest in the western hemisphere, from what I heard. This earthquake devastated an already struggling country.

For me, the worst part is seeing the massive piles of bodies, many of them unidentified by loved ones, dumped in mass graves. It's not that the people doing this don't have any compassion or respect for their fellow humans; it's just that they have no choice. Right now, they are just trying to survive. Also, seeing people in makeshift hospitals trying to get medical treatment, knowing many of them will die, is heartbreaking.

The most encouraging part is seeing the videos of people on CNN trying to let their family and friends know that they are still alive. Also, the database on of missing and found people is truly amazing. I love it when I hear of one more story of someone who found a missing loved one because of video on TV or information online. I think this system is the first of its kind; it will go down in history. Also, the rescue teams who are still pulling people out of rubble are doing great work in their heroic efforts to find those who might still be alive.

I was fascinated when I saw troops of people marching through the city, singing and clapping, trying to keep spirits up. This also truly amazed me. I haven't every seen anything like that in my life and I think it says some very positive things about the Haitian people.

All I can say now is, pray for Haiti. Donate to charities that are doing the necessary work there. God is great. Let us not doubt what He can do through us.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Oh say can you Lift every voice and Arise oh compatriots?

I love music. From the age of about 13 I've been in some form of a choir or the other. Even before that, I've always loved to sing. When I was younger I used to sing at the top of my lungs and annoy everyone in the house, especially while doing the dishes. Hahaha.....still do that sometimes :)

As youngsters, most of us learn our country's national anthem. I vaguely remember learning the American national anthem"The Star Spangled Banner" sometime in elementary school. Around the age of 14 I was in my 'black power' phase. Hahahaha......I was reading every piece of African American literature I could get my hands on. This is when I learned "Lift Every Voice and Sing" the black national anthem. I loved the words of this poem-turned-song and I made myself learn it.

But just a little while ago (maybe a month and a half) I began to realize, I don't even know the Nigerian national anthem! Well, not all of it, at least. I knew the first three words (Arise oh compatriots), the last two words (Peace and unity) and the general tune. I even asked my mom, but she hardly remembered herself. So I took matters into my own hands. As a Naija American girl, I felt that I must. I looked up the lyrics on Google and found videos of the music on Youtube. Now I know the anthem, and I think its a very beautiful one. It's a call to action; short, sweet, and to the point. From what I see, it has two verses, but I've almost always only heard the first one sung the few times I've been somewhere where it was sung. Of the youtube videos that I found, my favorite version is by Beyonce, of all people. Imagine that. This akata woman dey come for Naija and sing anthem well pass any otha person. Hahaha.... I'm really not a big fan of hers, but I love this version because she puts her own style into it with that amazing voice!

Here's the link:

Great, isn't it? And the crowd is really soaking it up. Beyonce performing in Naija and singing the national anthem? No be small thing oh! Hahaha.......I hope I get to sing it somewhere someday, even if it's at a small, chaotic and disorganized local Naija event! :)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Naija American Girl....................speaks Spanish!

Though my parents are both Igbo (a major ethnic group from Nigeria, for those that don't know) the language I know the most of, after English, is not Igbo, but Spanish. Whenever I think about this fact it makes me laugh. Kinda sounds like a riddle to me: Who's Nigerian by blood, American by birth, and can carry on a pretty decent conversation in Spanish? The Naija American, that's who! Hahahaha.............

You see, my parents, probably not consciously, didn't do the best job at teaching my sisters and I their native tongue, Igbo. Since we were all born in the U.S., we've had so much more exposure to English than Igbo. But we were raised in an environment where we learned a little bit of Igbo from Christian praise songs. There was even a woman who taught Igbo school on Saturdays for the children of Igbo immigrants that wanted their children to learn more Igbo. And of course there were the ongoing in-home lessons where our parents took teaching into their own hands.

Performing with my Igbo school classmates at the tender age of 9. The blue arrow is pointing to me.
Little by little, I've gained more appreciation of the culture which I was born into; it is my heritage, one that will be passed down for generations. If they taught Igbo in school, I would have surely taken it. But of course, they don't. French, German and Spanish were my only options in high school; I chose Spanish. From the first year of taking Spanish, I loved it. It just kinda clicked with me and it was always easy for me to learn the next concept or a new set of words. In high school I always seemed to have one Latino friend somewhere and my best friend to this day is Boricua (Puerto Rican). Plus, I've always had a little thing for Latino guys....... :) I took four semesters of Spanish in college and was even considering making it my minor. But when I found out how many extra classes I would have to take ( a year's worth) I decided to continue my education in Spanish on my own!

So, I'm not ashamed to admit it: I know more Spanish than Igbo. I believe that having an understanding of as many cultures as possible makes for a more interesting and enlightened person. But I am a firm believer in exploring one's own culture first. Thus, I will continue my adventures in learning Igbo!