Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be moving over to my new place on the internet – goodnaijagirl.com. I hope you’ll come visit me there—I can’t guarantee you any home cooked Naija meals but the palm wine will be flowing!

Don’t waste time commenting here: head over there and let me know what you think!

Ok, so I signed up to participate in Blogville Idol 08 and this is what happens: I lose my voice and end up sounding like someone who has had a hard life and spent the majority of it drinking and smoking crack: My current voice. It hurts to talk!

(Compare this to the entry I recorded back in March: Me in March.)

I have no idea if my voice will be back in time for next week but I really hope it will. Pray for me: I want to participate!

(Edited to add: I found some recordings I made for fun last year so I guess I can use one of those for the first round if worse comes to worst.)

So yeah, I love my gap and everything, and I’m fine having it for the rest of my life, but the thing that I find really annoying about it is that small drops of spit can easily escape when I’m talking, thanks to the large area for it to escape through! It’s a good thing that it’s rude to talk with my mouth full or I’d be spitting food at people too, and we all know how sexy that is.

While I was getting comfy in my chair, getting ready for an evening of blogging last night, my sister called me to come and see something on tv. I was not impressed at having to leave my computer but she insisted I wouldn’t regret it so I went to see what the big deal was.

They were doing the last 10 minutes of a documentary called Where I Belong and today’s story was about a rather attractive Nigerian male, Arinze, who was born in Canada, raised in Nigeria who returned to Canada to work as an adult. He had been dating a non-Nigerian and was dealing with how his parents, who hadn’t been to Canada in a while, would react to this and his career change from engineering to arts (I guess his motto is “go big or go home”). According to the synopsis (we missed most of the show) he was torn between wanting to please his parents with his life choices (with respect to spouse and career) and also wanting to live the life that appealed most to the person he had become. His parents seemed very cool and easygoing, though part of me wonders if that was because they were being filmed (even my opinionated mama can tone it down for the sake of not wanting to come across as rude—how many of you have invited friends over and had your mother treat them so graciously when they were there, only to tell you later that they don’t like the person one bit?).

Aaaaannnyways, the thing that jumped out at me is this idea of seeking parental approval. I’d say there are probably three categories of people out there when it comes to seeking parental approval:

  1. those who seek parental approval for all aspects of their life and will generally defer to their parents’ wishes if it comes to that (it rarely does sha because these approval seekers rarely have opinions apart from the ones of their parents because they know it’s just easier to do and think what the parents want them to do and think)
  2. those who would prefer that their parents approve of their decisions, yet have made some big decisions that differed from what their parents had suggested/hinted at/insisted upon
  3. those who couldn’t care less what their parents think of their actions: they do what they want when they want to and rain curses upon anyone who disagrees with their decisions.

Before we continue any further on this topic, which one are you?

Me and my gap


Sting was bragging about her perfectly straight teeth and got me thinking (yet again) about my eji, or gap. Yup, I am one of those Nigerians who is blessed with a gap. My gap isn’t one of those sexy Madonna-esque ones either, the type that you catch a glimpse of then think “Oh, how cute, she’s got a little gap”. Oh no, mine is huge. Don’t believe me? Check it out:

gap1.jpg When I was in elementary school, I didn’t really take special notice of my gap. It was there but it was no big deal. As I entered my teens, not surprisingly, my appearance and the look of every part of my body was suddenly an obsession. My gap got more scrutiny by me, and as I started babysitting younger kids, they would ask innocent yet upsetting questions like “Did your tooth fall out?” and “Are you missing a tooth?” which would be fine if I was also seven and still losing teeth, but was embarrassing when I was 12 or 13. I dreamt of braces, but they were far too expensive, and my mom repeated what every person whose gap has bothered them has probably heard: “Your gap is byootifoo (beautiful) and it’s a sign of royalty and prestige” (something like that). She also tried to get me to take pride in having a gap because family members had it too. To my mother’s credit, Nigerians and oyinbos alike have told me that gaps are sexy or something when I was self conscious about it, however, that doesn’t really stop you from wishing that you just had normal teeth.

My gap got bigger when one of my teeth that had grown in crookedly and was causing me trouble had to be pulled. Basically the hole caused by this tooth being gone led to some shuffling around and of course, the teeth on each side of my gap decided to move apart from each other. It got to a point where I didn’t want to smile if it meant showing my teeth. Of course when I told my mother that my gap was getting bigger, she denied it in that vehement way that (Naija) moms have (anything to make you feel better about yourself).

And then as often happens, real life intrudes, and you realize that there are worse things in this world than being born with a gap the size of a truck in your mouth. I finally became proud of my gap, and happy to share something in common with my maternal grandmother and my late uncle who I am said to be similar to. In my 20s I now smile widely when I feel like it, letting the gap show to all who care to see it.

I still think of one day getting braces, only now I think it would just be to close the gap a bit, but that’s probably just a waste of money. I can’t imagine my face without a gap, and a part of me suspects that the way my upper teeth are arranged, short of having extensive surgery I’d never close the gap anyway. But I’m ok with that. I’ll just keep smiling.

As I was taking care of the task of clipping my fingernails, one of the nails didn’t land in the small garbage can I was clipping them into. I watched the nail fly off then tried to find it but could not. That’s ok though because it helped me think of something I wanted to talk about: superstitions!

My mom might be alone in this but if she’s a typical Nigerian mom (and she is in many ways), then I’d say that Nigerian women are somewhat superstitious. In my family, we grew up knowing there were a few things that she believed in that we never quite took seriously. Whenever she mentions or comments on any of the following, I tell her they’re old wives’ tales, but she isn’t convinced:

  • If someone steps on the clipped fingernail of another person, they will have a fight with that person.
  • If you serve or pass anything to anyone with your left hand it’s a sign of disrespect. The reason I was given is that that’s the hand you should be using to um, how can I put this delicately, wipe after using the facilities. That’s one thing I actually have internalized and I find when I am serving a Nigerian older than me anything and for some reason I have to use my left hand, I will apologize automatically. I don’t even think about it, it just comes out.
  • When I was last in Nigeria 14 years ago and we were at the market, I, jovial and very silly person that I am, started laughing over something. I am not a restrained laugher: when I’m really humoured my laughing can be quite noticeable: loud and high-pitched even. My mom gave me a stern look and told me to stop laughing immediately, lest someone see me and do juju on me.

And on the topic of juju we could talk for hours. It’s not something I know much about, and I’m not even sure if I believe in it, but I’m sure even the skeptics have heard stories that have made you decide to be careful, just in case it’s true…or maybe it’s just me.

So, do you have family members who are superstitious? Are you superstitious? Do you know any superstitions that you’d say are uniquely Nigerian in nature?

It’s my birthday today, and in just under two hours, at 1:22pm, I will be 29.

This might sound a bit like an acceptance speech, but I am so grateful to God that I am seeing another year. For the last few years, I have not been taking this life for granted. My cousin in Naija, a brilliant, ambitious young man, died last year. My father has lost both of his younger siblings (my aunt and uncle) far too early. And six years ago this month, a young Naija man, the son of family friends, lost his life trying to break up a fight in a club. These events have shown me that you never know: you can be here one day, gone the next. We are not invincible. Waking up each morning is truly a gift. So don’t waste time: live for you.

My mother is one of the most exuberant and joyful women I know, and most birthdays she’ll come to my room, jump on me or my bed and wake me up, singing happy birthday in Yoruba. Today was no exception: she danced into my room with my birthday card, smiling and wishing me all the best.

And as I dashed off to work, my father ran up the stairs to give me a hug and wish me a lovely day. And really when your day starts with that, how can it be a bad day?

I would like a gift from you: Tell me the name (or better yet, give me the lyrics) of any Nigerian (Yoruba or otherwise) birthday songs you know of. I’d love to learn them.

Living for you


The Parakeet posted a couple of weeks about how she used to make decisions based on whoever her future husband would be, and how she will no longer do that: from now on, her decisions will be made based on herself alone.

I’m a fairly selfish person, but I prefer my decisions have my parents’ approval. This doesn’t mean that I never make decisions that they don’t understand or approve of: when I know they won’t like my decision, I try to convince them that I know what I’m doing, and try to get them to agree with me, but if they don’t, and it’s something I really want to do, I will do it.

The Parakeet’s entry got me thinking because this whole process of buying a house has been a bit of an emotional one, and I haven’t even bought the house yet sef! I have lived with my parents for nearly 29 years. I lived at home when I went to school. I seriously thought that because I didn’t go away to school, when I moved out of the house it would be for one of two reasons:

  • because I got a job in a different city from the one my parents live in
  • because I was getting married (to a guy I had dated while living at home)

When I started talking seriously to my parents about buying a house, this decision was not met with a lot of enthusiasm by them: my mom expressed thoughts like my own, that she didn’t see the reason to buy a house because she didn’t see me leaving home until I moved to my husband’s house. It made me sad because if past behaviour is an indicator of future behaviour (Thanks Dr. Phil!) then I have no reason to believe that my Prince Charming is going to show up any time soon (this is where Hope kicks in). Because of that, it’s crucial that I live my life for me and not wait for something that may or may not happen to determine my future. A few years from now, I don’t want to regret not buying a house in 2008 because I was depending on a factor that was not 100% within my control. I have to move on with my life, live the best life possible, even if that means dealing with things aren’t going as I hoped.

It’s not easy, but it’s necessary. If you can’t live for yourself who can you live for?

Although I wasn’t expecting to make this particular house buying decision on my own, I’m proud of my decision to buy a place. I think it’s a great investment and I’m glad that my education led to a job that allows me to be able to consider buying a place. I know that once it’s purchased, I’ll have a ball decorating it. I’ll also love hosting friends who come to visit, and having a place to experiment cooking Nigerian food.

It may end up being the best decision I have ever made.

Now before you leave comments telling me not to give up hope on finding Mr. Right, don’t worry: I haven’t. What I am ready to do is live an awesome life even if I never meet him (which is a possibility, no matter what any of you kind people say). There are no guarantees in life and I think it’s healthy to consider that this could be one of those things that might not happen for me. Consider it sha, not dwell on it, and start wearing tshirts that say “Single for life” or some other nonsense.

How about you? Is there anything that you’ve been putting off doing because you thought it depended on someone else? Give it a try and maybe you’ll discover that you don’t need anyone other than yourself (and God) to make it happen after all.