BODIES AND SPACES

*This piece was done for a session on cultivating wholeness and was shared in a group where other international students felt the narrative resonate with theirs. I’m telling because it needs to be told that our presence and bodies in spaces matter, regardless of other actors or narratives.*

I thought about what to write for my spiritual reflection and this was the only thing that stayed on my mind longer than the others. I hope that writing and reflecting on this helps me cultivate wholeness and a sense or awareness of self that will help me be better, both for me and in my vocation. 

I think about the many emotions that I experience as I go through a day and I think my body is just amazing by still holding itself up. I think about navigating spaces as a black African* student with an accent and how different people respond to what I represent as an “alien” or foreigner. Some of the times, it is overwhelming, other times it makes me angry and desire to be petty while at other times, I’m just tired because I see no end to the nuances that come to play in interacting with others. I cannot count the number of times I have heard people (Lyft Drivers especially) tell me that I speak good English after they’ve just learned that I come from a country in Africa. I stop being civil after that but the fact that it gets to me after the many times it has occurred makes me feel a need to reflect on what to do about it.

I had an interesting and maybe even dully painful encounter with an acquaintance about a while back. I had spent about two to four minutes sharing something with them and they kept nodding the whole time. Another acquaintance walked in and this person asked the first person what I was talking about and they said they had no idea with a smile. It was a patronizing smile but I shook it off. I still remember like it happened yesterday. I would rather be asked to repeat what I’ve previously said for clarification but I find myself wondering what to do when I’m not asked. Do I ask them if I need to repeat myself? When is it appropriate to or not to ask? I do not want my thoughts repackaged when I make contributions in class but what do I do when that happens? What do I do when everyone is given an opportunity to make contributions on a prompt for discussion but I’m “skipped” or told to hold my thoughts until a future time?

As a person who loves languages and sees the beauty in being able to speak them with the necessary inflections and intonations, am I raising the bar too high and expecting the same grace I would give to others for myself? In an interaction with a friend at the Friendship House where I live, I honestly told the friend that I would always have an accent so long as I spoke the languages I did but it was with pride and not regrets or longing for something different. So far, all I have been able to do is to constantly remind myself to breathe, even when I want to walk out or walk away (this is to prevent me from cursing them out). I go back home most days not remembering why I became so strung up but I think it’s probably because I need to ward off so many interactions that directly or indirectly question my body or presence in the spaces where I find myself.

I feel like nothing is going to change and maybe I should learn to live with it but I’m also grateful for those who ask me what I mean because what I think and say matter. I’m grateful for those who know that English is the language of instruction in most schools  (hello colonization) in Africa and that I did not just learn the language because I wanted to travel overseas. In a way, I’m grateful I experience this because it helps me to understand and empathize with an Other in the same space with me and honoring them as being as valid to be there, just as I am. I still really need people to stop telling me that I speak good English for having come from Africa though.

Sincerely,

Bunmi Adegbola.

*Black African because some white populations identify as African – hello colo…, never mind.

Advertisements

YE ARE GODS! (Part I)


You are god.

Broken and beautiful,

Heart out, reaching for praise

Seeking worship and asking to be adored,

But you are forgotten, ignored by the life that you feed all ages.

You are god.
Creature and creating,

The hopeless and the rejected are your clay,

Life and invention is in chaos, wrecks and shard,

But your wounds are reopened by their acerbic edges.

You are god.
Determined and deciding,

Giver of second and extra chances,

Silently willing them to choose abundance, the world,

But you are left with doors unopened and untested paths.

You are god.

Escaping and embracing,

Love defines you, it is who you are,

The sea, the wind, all depth and vastness, far reaching too,

But your strength espouses your weakness, it is who you are.

You are god.
Filled and fulfilling,

Clear visions and prophetic pronouncements

You know the end from the beginning, you are perfect,

But incompletes never make excellent, always a grade or two lower.

For those who find fulfilment and purpose in mending broken arrows,
Bunmi Adegbola.

LOVE AND WELCOME BACKS!

I promised myself I’d write. Everyday. Sueddie Agema almost got me writing and then the wedding and all plannings happened. I allowed myself be overwhelmed and I was dragged along. I forgot so many things but I always remembered I ought to write. I wrote in my head but I had papers to turn in and I crowded out whatever was supposed to be happening for this space.

After spending one full week, with Taya Smith (and Joel, Matt and JD) and Lauren Daigle too, crooning and screaming in my head and with a constant urge towards love, like wholesome love o, I’ve come here. With Wonder playing on and Taya and everyone else not being able to stop their foot (feet) from moving, including me, I feel the need to mark the 7th day in 2018 and put it down. 


I start a new semester tomorrow and I feel awesome. Not because I’ve found a way to stay out of school and still have a great GPA (I haven’t started yet but I’m sure I’ll be dropping a class), it’s just what songs can do to me. I had spent two months listening to Obey and Shina Peters and at first, I was surprised by how much capitalism, patriarchy, sexual crap and inequality was preached and accepted by all to be the norm. I found it funny. And then I didn’t. I low-key became tired of everything. My tiredness bloomed fully after a deconstructive class on the Hebrew Bible.

I moved around. A lot. I listened to everything. I became a pretend country music girl but I could only really deal with Keith Urban and Blake Shelton and Thomas Rhett (it has everything to do with Nashville 🤗). Coldplay and Michael Bublé grew tired. I grew tired. I grew doubly tired when Christmas came and I had to publicly share Bublé. Every store. Every (OK, maybe almost every) car. All I want for Christmas is you. I knew that wasn’t true so I ditched Bublé.

I’m always listening to something, not white noise kinda something but songs with lyrics. I get lost in my mind and lyrics bring me back to reality. I put songs on repeat sometimes and miss the entire song and wonder how it happened but then I reassure myself it’ll play again and then the process repeats itself. I don’t have favourites. It’s hard to have favourites when there’s so much of everything. Seasons, 100 billion X, Perfect (Ed Sheeran), It’s a beautiful day (I have a soft spot for Bublé), Rain_Reign, Strawberry Swing (Coldplay, I never fight with Coldplay), Crossover (Travis Greene), Come alive (Dry bones, Daigle), Prince of peace, Splinters and Stones, Not today. All these songs and some more, got me to my awesome place. 

Taya is on Broken Vessels now and she’s jumping and shouting and throwing her arm up and shouting ‘come on’ after almost every line and I know I’ll be alright. Because God gave some the gift to craft lyrics that speak what mouths and minds can’t explain but which hearts know. Because energy is contagious. Because music and feelings are connected. Because there’s so much joy and soulfulness packed in plates and vinyls. Because music will remain. Because God’s got me.

Bunmi Adegbola.

Living Life

I’m a natural/artificial collector but I don’t have all the money I want yet so I stick with some devotion to Pinterest. This space allows anyone have anything without being tagged a thief. You have any idea about something and you need a picture? Search it out on Pinterest. It’s not there? Create it and share for others to also use.

I think it even helps you understand or even describe the many facets of your personality by allowing you put each section in boards. I LOVE RUMI the poet and that makes me automatically love Beyoncé’s Rumi, even if it’s from a distance. I find many of Rumi’s quote to be really deep and truthful, crossing borders and moving beyond boundaries. This here is one of them. 


To me this spells out the need to be sincere and honest about your situation, whatever place you might be. You can lie about your life and do fake stuffs or make them up on SM but you can’t lie to yourself. If you really want better, make an effort towards achieving better, not using colourful fondants to cover up the cracks. You matter most to yourself for you are the standard by which every other person can be loved and accepted.

Evaluate your life and see if there’s a need for some changes. If you do find, ask yourself what needs to be done then do it but never rush the process and be very forgiving without undermining your strength. Living life is actually fun but every day you have to choose, you have to decide what matters. You have to decide what will win and I think it helps to live just one day at a time for you’ll find (if you haven’t found that out already) that worrying about other days in advance won’t help you or make the days go away.

I’m exposed for anyone to evaluate on Pinterest 😄 (@Olubunmi Adegbola) as I confidently own all my boards. There’s a part of me in all of them with my Rumi board accumulating the highest following and the highest pins too. Then, my Lifesaver board on music, sometimes I think I should rename it “Coldplay” because Chris Martin but I usually have a rethink because that would be unfair to Blunt and Bublé. 

Everyday, I hope you do what makes your soul happy and I hope your soul finds rest in God and His creations.

Yours, 

‘Bunmi Adegbola.

AN ODE TO A CHAMP 



The Thing Around Your Neck was our connecting point. I wanted to read it, he had read it and he owned a copy. So, we fixed a meeting for Ibadan. No date was attached. Just a casual “when I come to Ibadan” and that was okay.

He was a friend who was living while he was alive. He wrote everything beautifully. Said he didn’t get poetry but he wrote it anyway. His style was with class. His mind was indecipherable. He painted stories and they became reality. He was a king in his own right. He loved books and he read them all the time. He lived for the other life many never know exist.

He loved well too. He loved family, and an angel. He never sought revenge on any level. He was a good young man who celebrated everyone. He laughed at my jokes all the time and he was dearer because he always got the ideas right. He thought OAU strikes were too distruptive but he changed his mind when I gave an unbiased view and felt we were all just lazy people in a common environment.

I think about the many dreams and plans and projects that don’t matter anymore. I said it wasn’t fair but when will death ever be? He lived for a while but he’ll stay alive forever to the people he mattered to. It’s hard to accept he’s gone. He got everything together, then he vanished. He took a bow, left the stage and I’m hoping it’s really not the end for him. Maybe just an intermission and he’ll come to continue. For this season, this play has lost a rare character of much worth. His part will be sorely missed and if there’s any writing to be done where he is now, I hope he gets enlisted to do just that.

For Bomi Ehimony,

ChampKing.

FOREVER AND AN HOUR

One of the many reasons I chose to walk with God was the offer of eternity. I’ve always wanted to keep on living. This love drove a nagging fear into me, that I’d die and not be able to achieve this great desire. When I listened to God, I let the fear go. Even if (when) I really die, I’d still live.

This “obsession” keeps me thinking and doing. I pour myself into people and give them my best. I teach what I’ve learned. I share what I’ve experienced. When it doesn’t seem like a possibility, I preach trial. I search for solutions, always. I campaign for peace and when it seems like it’s insurmountable, I focus on tolerance. 

I smile at children and never fear to help them out because their innocence hasn’t been sordid, yet. The harm they can bring me, most times, isn’t premeditated. So, I champion their cause and help them to decipher right from wrong. I spend hours poring over books and praying I find the right answer to help us all breathe easy again. 

I’m here and I’m there. I stand in front, at the back, in the middle and in the gap. I cross continents, desiring greatness and fulfilment. I look back yearning for home and family. Still, my heart wants forever. Forever, an absolute in relativism. Forever, a constant in change. Forever, a propellant for everything, today and tomorrow. Forever draws me in like a desired love but I set out to live today, one hour at a time, so that forever can be full and no hour lost.
For everyone who tries, 

One more time, one more hour,

‘Bunmi Adegbola. 

TO THE BEAUTIFUL YOU!


Okay, I love movies and my love is with a capital ‘L’ but like everything else, too much of anything is bad. So, I change style and I avoid seeing anything for as long as a month, nothing at all. However, before I go on these self inflicted fasts, I get my mind ready. I can watch just one clip for four days and sometimes, I go two weeks with just five to ten minutes shows. As much as I do all these, I make sure not to make anything personal. Just fun and play.

Beginning of the year, I watched the nominations and awards and I wondered what the Suicide Squad was all about. Looked to me like a crazy movie and I believed my own crazy suits me just fine and might even beat theirs. I was wrong. I also wondered what was between Will Smith and Maggie Robbie. Focus was fun. Anything else? Well, I was happy she had the joker. Leave the cute ones for the tall ones.

I wanted to see The Ghostbusters just because Melissa McCarthy but then, I was a lucky part of one advance screening like that and I saw the American Nazi SS. I must confess that I wasn’t disappointed. Only thing was I wished I could have been with another set of viewers. Nigeria’s situation is getting to so many that they can’t laugh at jokes anymore.

So, the movie with the tag line, Worst. Heroes. Ever. didn’t shock me much. Deadshot (the wonder hitman who never misses a shot), Boomerang (the thief who steals even from dead aliens), Diablio (the arsonist who has his fire stored in his hands, set his family on fire), Harley Quinn (the same Harley Quinn), Enchantress (same as all other enchantresses), and Viola Davies are regular characters but Killer Croc? I don’t do much reviews and I don’t read up on the plot of a movie, spoils the fun most of the time. However, I was attracted to whoever was bold enough to play behind the mask of such hideous persona. I wasn’t the only one though. Harley Quinn brought it up too after Diablio’s confession. She said they were all beautiful on the outside even if they were ugly on the inside, except for Killer Croc who’s ugly both ways. You know what he said? That face said, ‘No. I’m beautiful’. Must be the best joke of 2016. 

I thought to myself, this is no different from the usual actually. Not everyone can be used/projected as the face of something, not everyone can be allowed to represent an item even if we all claim to be beautiful. I can’t imagine how many hours Killer Croc stood in front of the mirror, saying those words to himself. Maybe he even read books to boost his beauty/self esteem but he still looked the same to everyone else. But his heart? He maintained beauty in it and instead of flinching away from Viola Davies’ meanness, he actually liked it. He offered to go first in order to protect the other people after he was given a responsibility. And don’t get me wrong, I haven’t said in any line that Killer Croc has always been good.
I learned from him, dazal. I learned beauty isn’t everything. You should focus on what you alone know how to do best, your strong points. It’ll make all the difference when the time comes. You can cover up what might scare other people but just so you can avoid stares and insults but not so much that they imagine you’re someone else. Be good with who you are but you should improve when you can. No one else would have rolled with Killer Croc except the other members of the squad because they all fit together. Find your tribe, be there for them and love them. They’ll always have your back too and you can find relief and acceptance in their company. Above all, don’t be bullied or mocked into changing who you are, except maybe you are Killer Croc.

Bunmi Adegbola.

Image source: IMDb.com

P.S.: You should look out for Inferno in October and Sing in December. I’ll pay you back if you don’t like them, asweh (not really, I mean it though).

HOW I ALMOST FOUGHT IN CHURCH

Many Sundays ago, my church celebrated Mother’s Day in grand style, as they do every year. Actually, everyone gets to have a day once every year. Mothers, fathers, youths, teenagers and the children all have days to do something special and to also be in charge all through. You could say everyone is mouthed, everyone has a say as the operating system is congregationalism, and every level is recognised, everyone is seen.

So, that Mother’s Day, two sunbeams approached me on my way to class and one of them asked me a question. “Is your mother dead or alive?” When I saw them coming, I was already smiling and appreciating how cute they looked, remembering when I was also like them. All that changed immediately I heard the question and within/inside of a nanosecond, I became a genuine and proper Patience Ozokwor,

“Ah! Finally, I have found my enemies. God has chosen to reveal those who wish me evil today and it’s even in the church. My mother isn’t dead but you want her to die abi? The woman that has lived her life for her children, you people now want to kill abi? Tufia kwa! Is your own mother that will die, not my own mother. In fact, I’m changing my mind about church this morning and I’m leaving. Imagine such audacity and rudeness, asking if she’s dead or alive. Who is she to be asking about my mother? Is my mother her mate? Lemme just go and sleep again so that I can start my day all over again and every evil person will be cleared out of my way”.

Ever wondered how psychologists concluded that a million thoughts flow through the mind in a day? All of these went through my mind as I was standing in front of the sunbeams and I can assure you it wasn’t up to a second. I’m proudly African but I became another African, suspicious and superstitious, all of sudden despite all I had learned. I chose to see beyond the environment, the context of the case or argument and imagined a warfare with an imaginary enemy I’ve never met but who I’ve been taught to fear by the society. I became someone else I didn’t even know.

I had less than two seconds to decide and offer my answer to the kids. You see, every year, they make little ribbons to attach to clothes in order to generate funds for their needs. One red, for those with living mothers and the other white, for those with mothers who are no longer alive. They would have to be sure before they attach it to your cloth, especially if they’re not familiar with you. And who’s in the best place to answer but you? 

I told them my answer and they fixed my ribbon. They thanked me and immediately went to meet another person, asking the same question. And as I walked away, I wondered how many people would be like the first me or the second me.

In life and in most cases, what peace requires to grow is an understanding of the situation in which we are in and the desire to see the best in other people. Were the sunbeams really my enemies? Would they benefit if my mother died? Do they even know my mom? Did they have an ulterior motive for asking such a question? Sometimes, we lose the best of people, things and circumstances because we can’t rise above our fears and our background. We let wounds fester because we can’t accept healing or help from anyone. Who has pride helped? Fights and arguments would be greatly reduced and easily solved if we are able to identify what the major cause is. However, most people fight out of context and remember a lot of things that might be related but definitely not applicable to the situation at hand. 

Fight for the renewing of your mind, fight to keep your heart sane in the midst of insanity. Guard your heart jealously and keep beauty, love, faithfulness, kindness, loyalty, trust, happiness, integrity and honour embedded deep within it. Life is beautiful, to those who desire to see beauty and life is a wasted existence, for those without purpose.

Bunmi Adegbola.

FOR EVERY CHILD 


I still remember when children’s day meant holiday and parade at a stadium. I remember how we looked forward to and celebrated May in Oyo because it meant plenty free days we wouldn’t have to show up officially in class. I remember how many times I tried to lick my elbow and suck my big toe (probably because a friend said it was impossible and I just had to try to be sure). I remember the many songs I sang at the top of my voice, incorrectly. I remember the time I was forgotten in a school bus but I remained calm and even slept. I remember stealing money to buy sweets and I was flogged like I had been possessed by a demon and it had to come out by force.

I remember going over to my neighbours’ because their mom served the best jollof. I was warned not to ever eat there again. So, the next time I was offered hot red rice, I told her my aunt said I shouldn’t take it. She went to the back of the house and shouted my aunt’s name over the fence. Well, my aunt denied it. She said I could eat anything and I ate. That was the last time I ever did.

I remember the times when I opened and closed the fridge slowly to catch who or what switches the light on or to cheat it by quickly opening or closing slowly. I remember the frost I packed from the top of the small freezer in the fridge with four fingers into my mouth until my fingers became numb. I ate iced water so many times I thought my heart would ice over. I, literally, damaged my teeth by wanting to taste something sweet when I woke up so I slept with sweet in my mouth, overnight. 

I remember the day I was to see the dentist. I thought we, my dad and I, were attending a birthday party where cake would be shared. I’d never been so wrong in my life. After extracting more than 4, I was offered sweets again immediately I got home. Apparently, everyone knew except me. My eyes bulged out but my feet couldn’t move. Even my mouth became so heavy that I couldn’t say a word but I managed a “Yes but no, thank you”, I was being sincere.

I remember we played outside most of the time because we had boundless energy and staying inside was the worst punishment any child could get. I remember asking my uncle to let us sleep at the amusement park because it was just too lovely to leave behind at night. He refused and I cried all the way home, threatening never to talk to him again.

I remember listening to and sharing stories. Books were compulsory and school wasn’t negotiable. Church was like walking, it was essential. I gained friends and I lost many. I don’t remember swearing but I made up my mind not to have or be best friends with anyone again since I lost one (another has changed my mind 😊). I also don’t remember but my brother and mother confirm it that I asked my brother to try to taste/drink iodine. I probably suggested it because he must have had a wound on the inside. But I do remember beating him one afternoon for no reason except that he could sleep and I couldn’t.

I look back at these days, not with regrets or longing for things past but with fulfilment that that stage of my life was filled with the right memories. I can appreciate them because I acted as a child, when I was a child. I’m aware that some people strive to hold on to the past in various ways because they feel it’s better than the present. Some refuse to grow up and retain their childhood for the best of life while some others grow up too fast. 

For these ones, there’s a problem. In everyone of us, there’s a child, whether you’re grown up or still growing. However, there’s a great need to make peace with your inner child, if you’re grown so that it won’t seek expression in major situations. Acting like a child should be personal for an adult, not to be shared publicly except it’s a fun game. You choose what you want to do and how you want to do it. Only it shouldn’t be every time. On another note, don’t kill the child because it won’t die. Just let it find peace in having lived when it was supposed to and let it teach you, every now and then, how to be happy.

Happy children’s day to all of us,

Bunmi Adegbola.