This song….this song… I swear this has been a week of up and downs and lots and lots of stress. This life (sigh) odiro easy! Flavour as an artist has always had a place in my heart, because he sings and raps in Igbo (my mother tongue), and he has this way of embedding cultural traditions into his music that is just so justifying. For those who don’t know Odiro easy loosely translates to it isn’t easy. There is just something about the beat and message that feels ancestral and comforting, odiro easy, but it is going to be okay. From my exhausted self to yours, I hope you enjoy.
You always return back to your origin
No matter how far you go
How hard you try
It’s like a whisper that keeps drawing you back and in
I teach you to be brave
I hope you are never ashamed to be broken
To raise your fist in the air and scream your pain
Allow your heartbreak to be heard
Never suffer in silence
Never keep your story silent
I hope you speak,
You were never meant to be alone.
Happy Independence Day! Although the concept of independence is nebulous, especially when taking into consideration the colonial/capitalist context and formation of the country. That being said, I am and will always be Naija and proud, Igbo and proud and Biafran and proud.
“We continue make ourselves from all the pieces no one else wanted. We are in constant formation and that is our legacy as Africans. Rebuilding, reclaiming, remembering and always moving forward.” -A.A. Eke
Photo Courtesy of google.com.ng
Let’s set the stage: This takes place after a community discussion about the role that queer and LGBTA folks play in the Black Lives Matter movement. To give a bit more insight it was titled, “Which Black Lives Matter?” Somehow the topic of the Africans and African Americans came up, which is always a multilayered and relatively difficult topic for me to answer, mostly because I’m still developing in my own thoughts/self perception.
Her: So you’re Nigerian, how does that mesh with this black liberation, being African and all?
Me: Idk it’s complicated, my identity that is. My parents are Nigerian and I’m Nigerian, but I was born and raised in the Bay and Sacramento. So there is an identification with all these places.
Her: Where do you call home?
Me: I think the concept of home is a bit nebulous for black folks period. If you’re African American there is this detachment with the concept of home, due to slavery and displacement and that culture echoes and has influenced me. But also, when I think of my own parents as not just Nigerians but as Igbos, there too is this odd relationship with home. My dad lived through the Biafran War and he grew up in Kano, but was forced back down home to Owerri when the war broke out. So he has a displaced traumatic relationship with home, which affects me. So even though I’m from the Bay there is this other place in the back of my head that exists. And when I think about, like really think about it, there is a pain and a sense of detachment associated with that home as well. So yeah, to make a long story short, idk.
Her: Oh, well it seems like still you have a lot to think about and figure out.
Me: Yeah, I guess so.
Regardless of whether or not I was fluid in my response, isn’t the point. I spoke my truth. I told my experience. In all its layers and multiplicity. I didn’t make it easier for someone else to digest or distill it to make it more palatable. My identity does not deserve to be reduced for someone else’s convenience. I spoke, it was honest, and for me that made all the difference.
Until next time…