Acknowledge Progress to encourage more progress!

Hello everyone

I’m still in my writing cave. Both manuscripts are with editors. Yay! So, I am busy and loving it.

On Saturday, I glanced up from the book I was engrossed in and noticed a cartoon playing on the TV screen. I was so excited to see the faces of 2 brown-skinned ladies with braids as part of the cast, that I asked my kids to pause it for me to take pictures.

They couldn’t understand my excitement until I explained. Growing up, the only images of cartoons that I saw on television or even storybooks, didn’t include people who looked like me. There were no cartoon characters with brown skin, let alone wearing braids.

Back then, when I wanted to draw a princess, I could only reproduce images I saw on the television and books—Drawings of ladies who looked nothing like me.

This got me thinking about how much things have improved since then. My daughters draw princesses of all races—Black, Brown, White, Asian—without much thought. This is really encouraging.

Maybe pointing out these amazing advancements instead of hammering on the negativity and division amongst us would promote further awareness and inclusivity. Maybe if we commended television program writers and producers, doll makers, publishers etc, for promoting diversity in a positive way, others would be encouraged to do so.

It may be naive of me to think major changes will take place rapidly. But I choose to keep hope alive and encourage the small steps made to showcase diversity in a positive light.

So, in my own little way, I want to thank the producers of Girls on a mission, for this amazing picture of lovely looking brown skinned ladies in this cartoon and for lifting my spirit up.

Below is a picture of a few dolls in my children’s doll house. I’m loving this…more, more, more!

 

Happy dolls. Different outside, yet good friends.

 

 

 

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Intertribal relationships: What are the challenges?

More than 300 tribes in Nigeria.

Hello everyone

I am still in my writing cave battling with fictional characters in my head. Nonetheless, I have an interesting experience to share with you.

ENCOUNTER:

A few weeks ago, I met a lady called Bimbo Okoye. When she told me her name, I was instantly confused, and it must have shown on my face because she said, “I get that reaction from Nigerians all the time.”

Her remark caused a bout of shame to hit me, and I found myself mumbling through an awkward apology. Luckily for me, she was gracious. Not only did she laugh off my embarrassment, she also explained that her parents wanted her to know both sides of her culture and insisted that her name reflected that.

Most Nigerians would understand my initial reaction because the combination of her name is quite unusual—A Yoruba first name with an Igbo surname.

For non-Nigerians who may not understand this, Nigeria is an amalgamation of up to, if not more than 300 tribes. Some with similar language and culture, others with quite different ways of life. Names, accents, traditional attire, religion and other subtle qualities can suggest a person’s tribe.

MUSINGS:

Because of my experience with Bimbo, I decided to use the name Yemi Okeke for the new story I have begun working on. She is one of four children born to an Igbo father and a Yoruba mother.

This got me thinking about intertribal relationships and marriages. As a Nigerian from the Igbo tribe whose parents are both Igbos and who married an Igbo man, I have very little experience with the challenges that intertribal relationships can bring.

I know there are many stereotypes associated with various tribes, but I have always considered them all superficial and non-significant when individuals are involved.

Of course, there are constant jokes about the Igbos loving money too much, the Yoruba tribe throwing multiple elaborate parties even when broke, the Edo tribe having supernatural powers, e. t. c. But do the stereotypes really count in the daily living between couples or friends from different tribes?

Not for me. Although I enjoy those tribal jokes, I try not to let them influence my dealings with anyone on a personal level.

The wedding party, a movie I enjoyed tremendously, showcased an intertribal marriage. I loved the humour and the exploration of various cultures.

Do you have any stories to share about intertribal relationships? Have you observed any challenges from any? Do you think cultural differences can destroy a relationship?

I still believe in One Nigeria. However, I also like to celebrate our diversity.

The Wedding Party. A wonderful movie celebrating cultural diversity in Nigeria..

 

 

 

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