Book Reviews With Oumissa 11: A Life Elsewhere by Segun Afolabi

From the title, it is evident that this is a collection of immigrant stories. The entire work traverses the varied experiences of black people in the diaspora. For the most part, the setting of their new abode is England.
Most of them were written from a male viewpoint while the inner workings of a female mind can be strongly felt in the remaining. The age range of the characters is diverse. We find people at the end of their careers and young children analyzing their immediate environment in that intelligent yet innocent tone peculiar to them. In capturing all demographics, the author delivers a well rounded view of life as a foreigner. The common background however, appears to be South West Nigeria as heavy Yoruba presence is seen in the names, customs and memories.

In one story, a diplomat mother grapples with the cold austere winter in Japan while raising two young children. The author goes ahead to illustrate the myriad forms of life immigrants lead as medics, musicians or tourists. This rich diversity is united by one single pervading theme – the struggle of integration and acceptance in a foreign land.

People are grateful to leave poverty and a lack of opportunities behind but beyond missing the familiarity of home, they do not find it so easy to earn and save in a new land.

Navigating life outside one’s home isn’t as rosy as it appears. I found this crucial because it is still a common view in many parts of Nigeria that going abroad is the solution to any and every problem. People are grateful to leave poverty and a lack of opportunities behind but beyond missing the familiarity of home, they do not find it so easy to earn and save in a new land.

For starters, tax is more heavily enforced than in their home country. Some lose themselves in the new culture and end up in a suspended state when they disconnect with home and are still not fully accepted in the host country. This affects their state of mind, leaving them sad, lonely and distrusting of both citizens of their adopted home and rather ironically, fresh immigrants.

Everyone is thinking mostly about adjusting to the new climate, food and culture while battling old demons. There were some shocking stories in this book. Afolabi was not afraid to take us to the inner recesses of the minds of some of the characters.
With a kind of abstractness running through this work, the core narrative was in the thoughts and not in dialogue. The whole book appears to lead nowhere but the careful tapestry lies just beneath the surface. You need some level of focus to get through this as it isn’t a light read. Perhaps it is just as well that it was written as a collection since the many breaks ease the weight of what was plaintive in many places.

Passenger – Commuting in Lagos in the rains

Rain in Lagos is a leveller. It has the power to upset your plans and make you want to cancel the whole day. But we can’t let the weather stop us. We get up, pack our books, laptops and other stuff in waterproof lining, get a sturdy umbrella, strong shoes and match on to face a new day.

This Keke was empty and I loved the upholstery (some Lagos kekes are masterpieces of decoration.) I couldn’t resist a picture with my companion for weeks now. I knew it would fit her perfectly and frankly doing this made the gloomy morning a lot brighter. Would you believe it was raining just outside? Gratefully, the breeze did not carry this darling away.

How do you handle the stress of your morning rush?

World Bicycle Day

Cycling engages the different muscle groups, keeping you active, strong and mentally healthy.. It reduces cost of transportation.. And by cutting back on fossil fuels spent on short distances, it helps protect the environment.

Try it for short trips to school, nearby work, to get groceries etc. Bicycle lanes by city councils will help encourage this too. Let’s end our dependence on cars for everything.

#WorldBicycleDay

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

060619

First Quarter 2019

Credit: Imgflip.com

Q 1

2019 sure is going by in a whoosh!

Appreciate what you’ve achieved in the past three months. Remember, comparing yourself to others will make you feel despondent.

Learn from them by all means but do not for one second think you are inferior because of some material achievement they’ve got and you have not. No two journeys are identical.

Focus on your growth and approach the next quarter with renewed zeal. 2019 will be a great year for you and you and you in shaa Allah.

With Love,

Oumissa,