Sefi Atta’s A Bit of A Difference Book Cover

Detanglers and silk caps are now ways of expressing confidence in our richly textured Afro hair. If you were a woman of African descent at a certain time, you knew no other reality than relaxers, hot irons, hours under hot dryers, braids, wigs to be fashionable or even accepted.. It’s refreshing to see pride in natural hair have a resurgence..Hopefully it stays and doesn’t go away like the Afro movement of the 60s and 70s.

Other people wear their hair naturally, it should be a choice for us too. Myths about African women having short hair have been debunked with knowledge about how the pomade we’ve been sold for long hurt our hair growth. Now more and more women are relearning the hair care methods of our grandmothers, the miracle of coconut oil, natural hair styles in addition to recent advances in hair care. Our hair grows to great lengths and bulk when cared for properly.

Our hair grows to great lengths and bulk when cared for properly.

You can have healthy hair too. And be respected when on it. You shouldn’t lose a job offer because you express your natural self. You should not be forced to conform to European beauty standards in the public and in the home. It is disconcerting to hear that some African men ask their female partners not to wear their hair in its natural state. Hair is one of the ways we resist racism as it has been one of its tools for far too long.

Sefi Atta in a calming voice tells us the story of Deola a woman who grew up in the West and decided to come back to Nigeria. It details her experiences reuniting with relatives, adjusting to inconvenience like power outages, falling in love with the energy and warmth of home and finding love.

A narrative that explores the life of a young successful woman moving across continents and absorbing the tumultuous changes that come with it.

Enjoyable.

Easily a 4 star.

TwentyFifteen Collection 3: Deen Books

OumissaInspire

This part of my library is special as most of the books are hard bound tomes that cost more than most of the others. They are guarded jealously for their value is inestimable. Never a light read, perusing them can be tedious as I try to jot down words of wisdom and so I just give up and soak up the goodness.

About these pearls. They can be found in millions of homes and libraries around the world.

The Sealed Nectar is the winner of a writing contest about the Prophet.
Women Around the Messenger by Muhammad Ali Qutb is a collection of essays on the female companions. Stories extolling their grace, wisdom, courage, loyalty, honour and piety.
Enjoy Your Life by is a treasure by Muhammad Al Arifi Let it hold your hand and show you the beauty of life in the obvious and the hidden
Don’t be Sad by Aidh Al-Qarni. Well, that speaks for itself. It is a modern day classic that has impacted the lives of millions around the world.
Why Women Are Accepting Islam by Muhammad Shahid explores the many reasons reverts to Islam in the West are mostly women. .

In the years since, I have read more Muslim books written by Muslim women to have a more complete experience. This is very important as more women need to see their perspectives being recognized, and girls need to learn that this religion encourages them to seek knowledge and teach it.

Award winning writer, Naima Robert is a contemporary example of Muslim women writers. There are countless women in Islamic history with great knowledge who authored treatises and taught notable scholars. Starting from Aishah bint Abu Bakr. We should read more of them and share their work.

What is your favourite Muslim classic?

________

With love,

Oumissa.

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TwentyFifteen Collection 4: My First Adichie Book

OumissaInspire

I can’t look at this book without memories of my days spent in the University of Lagos bookshop when I would enjoy those moments with only the books for company. No one disturbed me on my long walks down the shelves, looking at shelves and shelves of books, reading pages out of some and shaking my head at how inadequate my allowance as a hundred level student was.

They were intimate moments that made me feel at peace. I had a glimpse into the minds of great men and women in blissful solitude as there were few other buyers at the times I went which often were my breaks between science classes.

…who live in Chimamanda’s

favourite setting; the university

community of Nsukka,

I did sacrifice many a lunch to save up and buy a few books there. This cost five hundred naira and has remained a favourite . She lords it over the other books in my collection like “I am not your mate. I am not only older but I was borne of hunger for food and for building a library”

It is a coming of age tale about Kambili, a young girl based in 1980s South-Eastern Nigeria. Her growth is a mix of living in a home ruled by the tight grip of a fanatical Christian father, finding respite in holidays with her lecturer aunt and her children who live in Chimamanda’s favourite setting; the university community of Nsukka, falling in love with a priest, finding her voice, a family’s survival through tragedy. It is honest and gripping.

The themes transcend Kambili’s specific circumstances and resonates with many across ethnic, nationality and religious divides

This book fast became required reading material for secondary schools exam boards in West Africa and is one of the most notable debuts by any author.

What are your thoughts on Purple Hibiscus?
______

Oumissa

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Okada Books Town Hall Meet – UX research with small chops

A touch of yellow

The Okada Books Town Hall Meeting held Sunday 7th April, 2019 at GTB You Read Library, Yaba, Lagos.

Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings (ManBooker Prize Winner) was my touch of yellow for the event. A big and heavy book that was the perfect accessory. My fashion mantra is “You’re never fully dressed without a book.” It’s such a beauty to photograph and a sweet gift from a dear friend. I have the best people, Alhamdulillah

A few years ago, another friend gave me How Intelligence Kills by Okechukwu Ofili @ofilispeaks (Founder, Okada Books), I enjoyed it. It was funny while questioning our collective consciousness towards academics, excellence, respect, belief etc. The perceptions we hold so dearly to can be improved upon if we must achieve growth.

It wasn’t a surprise therefore to see him along with his fantastic team to be open, honest and welcoming of criticism from their community of authors and readers. All of this was noted down. Hopefully the recommendations, complaints and comments culminate in a stronger company and a better experience for us all.

More Nigerian brands need to inculcate this. For me, I learnt so much more about the brand even though I check their IG posts daily. The business structure, the opportunities for authors, the accessibility it provides readers but most of all, the keenness for growth made me consider writing my own book. Dreamy huh?

They were great with time management and there was ample opportunity to network with authors, publishers and readers.

Is it even a Lagos event if there is no small chops? There was a lot to go round with @wilsonslemonade and water. See ehn, that chilled water and few hours of air conditioning was a relief from this angry Lagos sun roasting brilliant ideas along with skins.

Lastly but not leastly, it was a delight to meet the creative persona behind the @okadabooks page. Well done and thank you for the daily bursts of yellow happiness.

_________

With love,

Oumissa

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TwentyFifteen Collection 2: Lagos Books And Arts Festival 2013

Bought this at the Lagos Books and Art Festival (LABAF) 2013. At @freedomparklagos. A fun day with @aeesha__t .

We attended the book launch (The Accidental Public Servant) of Nasir El-Rufai @nelrufai former Federal Capital Territory Minister and current Governor of Kaduna State.

People we met and had interesting conversations with
-a cheerful South African lady with blond hair, blue eyes and a welcoming smile who was excited to see two Nigerian sisters in hijab. Exchanged stories about our schooling and her work. Contacts were exchanged but we haven’t spoken since then.

-Tolu Ogunlesi @toluogunlesi a journalist, poet and blogger whose work I read in print and on Twitter. He is now Special Assistant to the Nigerian President on Digital/New Media It was interesting to learn he was a pharmacist by training. I was a medical student in love with literature. A combination of health sciences and writing? Here was another person who got it!

It is a classic that explores everyday American life.

-Fodeh Baldeh a Gambian author who was thrilled to see two Muslim girls that loved books. He told us about the value of education and confidence in our culture, faith and interests. We bought his book Fate of an African President.

Briefly met veteran Nigerian filmmaker, @tkelani as we left the event to search for a mosque. I didn’t know until then that he was Muslim. His awardwinning productions like Saworo-Ide were the highlights of school holidays.

We were driven to Jumu’ah prayers by a man who didn’t ask for our numbers or any of those things Lagos men with Jeeps liked to do. We later found out he was a legislator. He didn’t even wait for us to say thanks.
________________
Would you believe it if I said I haven’t read this book for close to the 6 years I’ve had it? It’s not hoarding if it is books right? It is a classic that explores everyday American life. In elevating the ordinary, Mark Twain makes these stories easy to relate to and this endeared him to millions around the world. He also highlights social conditions of the masses. Many decades later, his books are still in high demand. He is perhaps best known for his witty quotes.

What is your best Mark Twain book?

Have you read this book? What did you think about it?

_________

With love,

Oumissa

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Twenty Fifteen Collection 1 : My Early Bookstagram Days

What to do with old things?

Four years ago, when I newly discovered this amazing community Bookstagram, I took a series of pictures and only posted a few. For many reasons, some straightforward, others weird, they laid deep in an onion ring of folders.

Many post-its later, fast forward to a few minutes ago, I faced the digging I’d been postponing and would be sharing them.

A lot has happened since then, my presence here has evolved and I have learnt quite a lot.
This community has grown in delightful ways and many of those whose pictures inspired me then have gone on to become award-winning book influencers.

I wasn’t called a nerd derisively here, I could just be me. I didn’t have to field ‘All these books you are reading sef, is a waste of energy when you will end up in a man’s kitchen’ type of comments

These three are part of a series of medical thrillers by Ted’s Gerritsen. I loved them! I was dreaming of becoming a physician and I had a love for literature some told me was incompatible with medicine. Thus, finding a New York Times bestselling author who was a doctor too was exhilarating in so many ways. Of course I used to enjoy Michael Crichton and Robin Cook but they were not female like me so it wasn’t as perfect as Tess. Representation matters.

My early days were thrilling. A community within Instagram where what I loved to do was shared by so many around the world! I remember the joy of having my photos liked by someone in Brazil whose page was all in Portuguese. Thousands of miles apart in distance yet bonded by our love for books.

I wasn’t called a nerd derisively here, I could just be me. I didn’t have to field ‘All these books you are reading sef, is a waste of energy when you will end up in a man’s kitchen’ type of comments. Not like these comments dented my spirit in anyway but it was exhausting having to put these ‘educated’ people in their place.

@aeesha__t, @bookminimalist @thatothernigeriangirl, @theguywiththebook, his sister @sumaiyya.books, their friends @pardonmywritings @ilhamreads and @i.reads and @alliyah.riaz all shaped my early experience. Many of them still do today. I was a silent observer of their discussions, their reviews, book shopping trips, and Lord, was there some drama! I’m happy to see they have all undergone remarkable growth. Thank you all for making Instagram pop for me.

When did you join Bookstagram?
What were your early days like?

______

With love,

Oumissa

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Book Reviews With Oumissa 9: Sexual Violence in Nigeria: A Silent Epidemic

Image credit: OumissaInspire

Long before the contemporary levels of awareness and progress of the #MeToo era, the menace of sexual violence has been a normalized part of life for far too many women, girls, and some boys and men in Nigeria.

For a nation which places culture, religion and good values on a tower with its spire in the clouds, the impunity with which sexual offenders commit crimes and get protected for it is incongruent. The hypocrisy brings bile to the throat. Victims suffer many times over and the damage is often irreparable. As if the turmoils of being a Nigerian weren’t enough to make life bleak, these victims and survivors have to contend with stigma, emotional and physical effects their entire lives. In some cases, the cycle of abuse continues as they go on to be perpetrators.

This book is a short read but is packed with facts and research on the problem of rape and other sexual crimes in Nigeria. It debunks myths that have kept the problem alive for this long and counters the societal acceptance of sweeping it under the carpet. Solutions are highlighted on how to achieve a society free of these horrific acts via taking precautions, preventing sexual violence and changing the poisonous mindsets that cause it.


kangbch from Pixabay “>
Image credit:  kangbch from Pixabay “>



We are shown that rape is an act of violence, a display of power and control over a victim’s body and life that includes injury and sometimes death and thus should not be chalked up to the simplism of sexual attraction. We see that women as old as ninety and girls as young as three have been victims of rape. There have even been newspaper stories about eight-month-old female infants being raped.
The list is endless. A case was reported just this morning by LinkaNG, a Nigerian health communication start-up.

Contrary to what some would like us to believe, staying at home is not a guaranteed way to avoid being raped in Nigeria. Many victims are attacked by their closest relatives and supposed loved ones. The home is therefore not the safe haven it should be. Boys and men are victims too. There are numerous heart-wrenching accounts of boys as young as four being violated. In addition, the statistics show that the overwhelming majority of perpetrators are men.

the shame associated with
the crime is borne not by the
perpetrators but the victims.

One needs not to be an academic to appreciate the value of research. And this particular one is a feat considering that in this country, the shame associated with the crime is borne not by the perpetrators but the victims. The victims and families who reported these cases must be commended for their bravery. It is extremely traumatic to relive events like this and the law isn’t always on their side. Not too long ago Nigerian Twitter was awash with a report of a father whose young daughter was raped at school and during the process of making a case, he had to pay for the medical tests of not just his daughter but that of the perpetrator!


Image credit: Lum3n.com from Pexels


This book draws on work by Project Alert and Mirabel Centre two of the organizations making strides in ending sexual violence in Nigeria. The stigma attached to the victims makes it difficult for bodies like theirs to get data for this research. Another Nigerian organization leading change in mental health and sexual violence is She Writes Woman founded by Queen’s Young Leader,

Hauwa Ojeifo, a survivor herself who has shared her experience and works tirelessly to help countless women.

With this, hopefully, more awareness will be raised and more progress would be achieved. It wouldn’t take up to an hour for most readers. Which is just as well as everyone would benefit from this. Sexual violence is closer to home than most of us want to admit. Let’s work together to have a nation and world free of this evil. Nigerian writer and social critic, El Nathan John provides a synopsis of the pervasion of violence in the country in this poignant Twitter thread.

.

Rating: 4/5 stars

____________
Thanks to Oyinkansola Momoh of Muslimah Style Guide for lending me this book for a quick read and of course providing access to a valuable library.
.
With love,
Oumissa
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Ten Signs A Book is Your Favourite

It’s Friday! As you go to the masjid and go about worship, pray for peace, love and an end to hate everywhere. Commit to making this world a better place.

And please don’t forget to hydrate to stay fine in this warm temperature.

These are signs that about is your favourite.

1. You have more than one copy, these may include different translations.
2. You read it everyday.
3. You keep it in a special place on your shelf.
4. You have recommended and bought it for others.
5. You quote from it frequently.
6. You are familiar with the words and these in it.
7. You are heavily influenced by it.
8. You probably loved it from an early age.
9. You have a miniature version to carry around.
10. You smile just by thinking of it.
.
Fact: the word ‘book’ occurs more than 300 times in the Qur’an (my favourite book of all. 🙂

What is your favourite book?

With Love,

Oumissa

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Health and Books – My Social Media Week Lagos Experience

KhamisLifestyle Read a Book and Go Offline

The two books I just fell in love with at the KhamisLifestyle Social Media Week Lagos Event. I read a few pages from each and was enthralled!
(Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger
And A Platter of Gold by Olasupo Shasore).

Two days ago, I hosted a session as CEO, KhamisLifestyle – Story Story: Read a Book And Go Offline with Spa Pampering At Home for its Offline Wellness Studio at the Social Media Week Lagos event. It was all shades of amazing. I had a great time with great participants.

Last Thursday was one of the most hectic and yet rewarding days I’ve had. All morning and afternoon was for the Hellocare Nigeria Telling Great Stories in Healthcare, a Social Media Week Off-Campus event which held at Doctoora Health hub at Surulere.

that smile is what everyone deserves to have.

Then came the rushed cab ride through Costain and Island traffic to Landmark Event Centre, Victoria Island to host the KhamisLifestyle event. I wish I had a helicopter! Of course I got there behind schedule but I had the best facilitators and participants who got things started. (Thank you!)

It was fun being on teams organizing two Social Media Week Lagos events in one day! I thought it was impossible at first but with a solid support system and positive affirmation I pulled through ( This throbbing headache is worth it!)

Harnessing the power of social media to change lives

I am immensely grateful to every single person who helped me do this. The donations, the kind words of encouragement, the listening ears, the backbreaking work, networks , flurry of calls and emails and so much more make me believe that humanity is alive and thriving.

Perhaps the greatest lesson I’ve learnt this past week is “Believe in yourself and your power to do great stuff. Don’t worry, Allah’s got it.”

_________

With Love,

Oumissa

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Book Reviews With Oumissa 8: The Trespasser by Tana French

“I owe this case. I’ve got beef with this case. I need to shoot it right between the eyes, skin it and stuff it and mount it on my wall, for when my grandkids ask me to tell them stories about way back a million years ago when I used to be a D.”

Tana French- The Trespasser

The story opens with a peep into the protagonist’s troubled childhood. From then on is a regular night in an Irish detective’s beat until she receives a call about a young woman’s murder. You follow Detective Antoinette Conway and Stephen Moran, her loyal partner and favourite colleague. Between them, they examine clues, interview witnesses and associates, go through the mental and physical stress of forensics, fight a threat on her life, stay up staking out their suspects and work together against an often unhelpful bureaucracy.

Tana French- The Trespasser , Flatlay book photo

She battles racism and sexism in her daily life with a dedicated pursuit of excellence at work. This creates more enemies for her. She takes it all in stride and refuses to cower in weakness to her detractors. It is this doggedness that leads her and her partner to uncover the heinous truth of the perpetrator’s identity. In the end, one feels the same sense of triumph they did at ending the chase, the rigmarole of interviews, false leads and interrogation. The betrayal inherent in finding the true killer and how much effort was put into making sure an innocent man took the fall is palpable.

I really enjoyed this book in spite of the fact that it was long, winding and exasperating. Difficulties faced by people othered for gender and colour or even being single in a demanding job are brought up close. You would admire her strength in dealing with male colleagues who do all they can to undermine her work and set her up for dismissal from the force. In addition, there was something endearing about the bond she had with her mother, a highway of dark humour and sharp retorts. It was refreshing to see a professional relationship that was rich, full and enjoyable without becoming romantic. Tana gifts readers with an extra; everyday life in Dublin. The suspense was unbearable at some points but was worth it when the time for reveal came.

This book will have you hooked.  4 stars.

It currently is a prize in a giveaway. Hurry and enter the contest. You just might win.

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