Wednesday, July 29, 2015

In Nigeria, tea is the all-encompassing term for every hot beverage consumed. For the non-ratchet TV viewers, and those who don't reside in the deep south of USA, 'tea' goes beyond that definition and refers to indulging in a bit of gossip. Not just mild gossip, but that of a slanderous nature. Spilling tea, is to divulge dirty secrets about others. Sipping tea occurs most frequently when you've thrown shade, a pause for effect if you will. Again, there may be need for translation. To throw shade means to be rude, abusive or insulting...in an intelligent way (for the 90's kids, its equivalent to coming at someone sideways). 
Ankara Top : DIY | Trousers : Thrifted (Viyella) | Heels : Dorothy Perkins
Back to the matter: why I've decided to centre my post around tea is because I'm its number one victim/ champion/ subscriber/ advocate. I love a good screen capture iMessage, or @mention in the comments of a controversial post, but to what end? I remember having to peel myself off the sofa from watching back-to-back E!News, Fashion Police or trawling through NecoleBitchie or YBF! I could renounce all responsibility and blame it on society, but who am I kidding? I can sit there for hours going back and forth with my girlfriends just biting into someone...for what? They don't know my name. The hours I've spent cannot be monetised and will not pay my bills.
I have a theory that sin has been masked by contemporary culture as trendy/ revolutionary. Tea, otherwise known to the general public as gossip, is sin. Coining a new term wont redeem your baseless actions, and sure as hell wont save you if an error were made and the message were sent to the wrong recipient. It's bad to go around forming high & mighty, talking mess about everyone else but yourself. 
Necklace : Market (Turkey) | Silk Shirt : River Island | Sandals : Market (Enugu, Nigeria)
Of late, I've been doing a lot of soul-searching and realised why I indulge in soul-carnivorous acts such as shade-throwing and tea-spilling; status frustration. Indulging in a bit of gossip elevates you to be the Judge of another's character, actions, or what have you. There's a thin line between informative conversation revolving around someone else's life, and passing judgment. At the end of the day, judgment isn't ours to dole out. Tea is sin. Like any other sin, giving it up is hard as hell (for want of a better term...rather fitting though). I know indulging in high tea does nothing for my soul, and I've tried several cleanses over the years (most notably around lent). What helps is basing tea on its wider social implication i.e. discussing Caitlyn Jenner's impact on the normalisation of transgenderism. What do you think?
"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people" 
Eleanor Roosevelt

Tea

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I don't watch the show 'Orange is the New Black', so this is in no way a review. My rationale is, if I wanted to see girls in uniform getting it on, I'd commit a crime & drop the soap once incarcerated. That may not be the mindset of avid viewers, but that's my prerogative. This post title is a multiple entendre; 'orange' symbolising caucasians who taint their identity in the hope of being embraced by the minority-ethnic society; 'aint' because there is no substitute for being black; 'new' symbolising the contemporary understanding of what it means to be a millennial black person; and 'black' being all encompassing of minority-ethnic groups and culture.
Dress : Topshop | Studs : Betsey Johnson | Heels : Dorothy Perkins
I was amused by the comical lashings Bieber received from African-American entertainers on his Roast, but was shocked to learn the motivation behind his tomfoolery; an apparent bid to be black. This post is the result of biting my tongue after the Rachel Dolezal 419, and the backlash of Kylie Jenner's cornrows. It seems one too many caucasian individuals are moulding a media image of 'black' centred around hyper-sexualisation, delinquency, and self-glorification. I'm a black female who's always remained on the right side of the law, is not particularly curvaceous (and I'm content that way), not to mention quiver at the thought of even plugging my blog or personal achievements publicly.
Bishopsgate Institute, Liverpool Street, London
I was invited to a private tour of the Bishopsgate Institute to learn more about their eclectic archive collection & was particularly taken by the Bernie Grant items in the basement (which should be curated for an exhibition next season - October). Grant donated commercial racist paraphernalia such as racist postcards depicting black individuals as monkeys munching on bananas, Robertson's golliwog-emblazoned jam jars, and Darkie toothpaste, to name but a few. I was saddened to see how black people were depicted only a few years ago. I never dealt with racism growing up in Nigeria because there was no distinction between me and the next lass. Moving to the UK and dealing with my first racist attack aged 10, I remember being confused by the mixed race boy calling me a monkey when he must be half a monkey himself! I had never valued my caucasian counterparts as being any better, as I excelled far above them academically, and was equally regarded as aesthetically pleasing (in primary school). So why was the rest of society placing one race above the other on TV, in songs, and in the employment market?
Black people have come a long way in carving a culture and identity that is progressive. Gone are the days where I felt the need to lie about my ethnic origin; everything from 1/12th Australian to a smidgen Portuguese was claimed. Now we live in a society where Azonto is played on CapitalFM, Judges can discuss JayZ's Magna Carter album, and ankara can be bought in mainstream retailers like ZARA. To pull us back to a time where our features were mocked, and our aspirations were proudly curtailed under the mantra 'british jobs for british people' would be regressive. I am proud to mentor individuals who aim to conquer the workforce, change policy to be more socially inclusive, and revolutionise the media to accommodate our increasingly cosmopolitan world. Shows like The Real showcase women from different minority ethnic groups discussing socially prevalent issues affecting ALL women, highlighting there is no distinction in the issues we face based on race!
Headband (Scarf) : Twenty8Twelve | Necklace : Market (Turkey) | Bracelet : Market (Nigeria)
How can a caucasian female be praised for rocking the same cornrows her BME counterparts are mocked for naturally having? Why is a big booty the pinnacle of a fit body only when squatted for? I could go on and on about the double standards with race and popular culture, but its tiring. Wahala no dey for a more universal appreciation of black culture, but whats really being done with it? As erroneous as it may be, there's this glitch in society that allows for better reception if from an alternative source. The Jenners, Biebers, and Rachel Dolezal's of the world need to wake up and use their platforms to effect positive change, rather than just indulging in self-gratification. Some may argue that's exactly what the latter did with hers, but it was deceptively packaged. Tired of seeing figures build empires on the premise of being an anomaly in the industry, when the same cannot be replicated vice-versa.
I am not saying "[black] culture] is just for black people alone to enjoy and cherish. Culture is for everybody." Spike Lee...but as inclusive as its enjoyment is becoming, so also should its positive output be. 

Orange Aint The New Black

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I was sent "Adventures in Saying Yes" - Carl Medearis by Baker Publishing Group to read and review. "Adventures in Saying Yes" is a biographical account of a Christian missionary working in the Middle East who learns that "saying yes to Jesus always leads us on an adventure", and shares graphic tales which he hopes will "encourage people to work through fear". Carl speaks colloquially about his travels in the Muslim region, and the obstacles he & his family faced in order to share the message of Christ in the Middle East. Carl explores three main themes: fear; failure and faith. I have pooled together key quotes from the book, and also the quotes he used in the book, to convey the overriding message in the hope you're as moved & inspired as I was. 
"A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles" Christopher Reeve
Fedora Hat : Marks&Spencer | Shirt : TK Maxx | High Waisted Chinos : Rohan 
"We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems" Lee Lacocca
FEAR - "Fear is anything that potentially threatens your sense of safety and security", and "Worry (fear's half-brother) brilliantly masquerades as helpful information...worry is based on worst-case scenarios". "Fear that breeds worry...will lead to paralysis, hatred, anger, irrational decision, and avoidance of those you're called to love". If a thought or action leads to those results, you need to learn to distance yourself from it by adopting these 3 helpful steps: "Step #1: identify and confess your fears; Step #2: identify where these fears came from; Step #3: Jesus works". "Helpful information and Godly wisdom will lead to positive action, freedom, loving others, faith, and hope". Learning to look fear dead-square in the face can help you triumph over it, or sometimes, even use it to your advantage; "fear is a powerful motivator"
"Perfect love...casts out fear" C.S. Lewis
"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it" Nelson Mandela
Canal Walk, Shoreditch, London
"I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." Michael Jordan
FAILURE - "Failure is part of everyday life" and if "Jesus came for failures", then you can rest on the assurance that you'll be picked up after falling from divine strength rather than your own. "We can either allow ourselves to get stuck in our own rigid expectations or we can ask and look for the greater good" but "sometimes the greater good comes in a cauldron of disappointment". Discerning what is 'from God' is difficult, but we learn from "each embarrassing situation [we] survive [because it] makes [us] less scared about what [we]'ll face in the future".  
"Pain nourishes your courageMary Tyler Moore
Watch : Guess | Perforated Leather Plimsolls : River Island
"There are some things one can only achieve by a deliberate leap in the opposite direction" Franz Kafka
FAITH - "It's the sick who need a doctor, not the healthy", so understand that falling flat on your face, and losing every ounce of respect, dignity, or hope even...is all part of the plan. God isn't a masochist, but He's powerful and needs us to acknowledge it. That sometimes requires shedding us of everything we hold on to for support & identity, and wholly "com[ing] to him with our fears and insecurities...[to] get the needed affirmation" of who we are in and to Him. It may sound messed up, but think about it from a loving parenting relationship perspective; sometimes a stubborn child needs to run away and fend for themselves to see just how good they had it at home. Prodigal son anyone? "Don't be afraid to fail" because God's got your back; "God doesn't give up on us". It may not look like it cos the chips are down, your account's dried up, your social life is barren, your looks are withering and your dating life is non-existent, but it's all happening for a reason. "At the feet of the Father is where we find courage again". Carl drums home that we shouldn't psyche ourselves up with positive mantras because when you're down, you just don't want to hear it. Live in it! Bask in your woes and recognise your failure. Don't paint it as anything else. Instead, know at the back of your mind that whatever happens, was meant to happen. "There is an answer to failure. It's not giving up". 
"Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds" John 12:24

Adventures in Saying Yes

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

I'm honoured to dedicate this post to my incredibly talented cousin & renowned Nigerian artist, Kenechukwu Emmanuel Nwadiogbu aka KenArt. I started BLEURGH in University as a creative outlet and I'm grateful for the opportunities it has created for me, and welcome a chance to use it as a platform to showcase other professionals with a creative vision. KenArt falls perfectly into that category; a 300-Level University of Lagos (UniLag) Civil and Environmental Engineering student with a penchant for popular culture and fine art. With his previous work aptly titled 'The Beautiful People' commissioned by the likes of famous author Chimamanda Adichie, music producer Don Jazzy, and Nigerian musicians M.I., Tiwa Savage, Davido, 2Face Idibia and Burna Boy. It is my great pleasure to have the opportunity to share his latest creation with you all and theme this post around what he has called 'The Unveiling'.
Dress : Miss Selfridge | Necklace : Wallis
The Unveiling is a simple pencil portrait of the current Governor of Lagos State; Governor Akinwumi Ambode. KenArt sheds light on important figures in African political history and that is what drew me to promote his latest piece. I have no political interest in Gov. Ambode, but was moved by the humble gesture to immortalise him far before his electoral success, that I couldn't resist tooting his horn here. When was the last time you took a risk, put in the hard work, then patiently waited for the right time to unveil a masterpiece? In our instant-popcorn culture, we have lost the essence of patience, and an understanding of diligence. I, for one, see it and want it...now!
Watching my cousin at work, I see the result of hard work, perseverance, and timing. If a shortcut is taken, the finished result falls short of being deemed a masterpiece. Without critical analysis during its creation, the end result's flaw may become the centre of attention, and an ill-timed unveiling could expose the work to amateur reviews, public scrutiny & a lifetime of feeling inadequate. The work of an artist can be nothing but admired. As a lover of art, I can do nothing more than humbly bow, in admiration of the traits one must adopt to truly create such work. We can all learn a thing or two before unveiling ourselves and our work in future.
The Unveiling's purpose is to create change & touch lives by reflecting who its subject (Gov. Akinwumi Ambode) truly is. He learned through patience and practice, how to perfect each pencil stroke and properly define his subject's rigour, prestige, flaws, and much more. It is in this process of learning that KenArt grew as an artist in his own right, acknowledging his own flaws and carving out a niche for his work in a saturated commercial market. KenArt's hope is that his art will bring an end to the search of light and knowledge, by the wholesome welcome of expressive art defining the meaning of life. 
"Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others" Jonathan Swift

The Unveiling

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

I was innocently perusing my Twitter timeline yesterday and stumbled upon this trending topic; #BeingFemaleInNigeria. I immediately stalked the # conversation as I was intrigued to see what issues Nigerian women chose to raise awareness of & was hit by a trend; females tweeted seriously about gender inequality in the justice system, professional and domestic spheres, while the males mockingly tweeted about the financial implications of dating a Nigerian woman, marrying one, or cheating with one. Yes, being a Nigerian female sounded like a burden from females' accounts of injustice with child-rearing, social expectations & treatment from their female peers/ male counterparts. Finally, I wasn't alone in my pubescent whining!  I remember endless heated debates with Nigerian males who can't understand why I believed our culture wrongly denoted praise to men. In their eyes, women were rightly praised at any given event for holding down the fort. I begged to differ. 
Turban & Dress : Designed and sewn by me (DIY)
Domestic: From birth, females are socialised different. Females are taught the domestic basics, to be smart academically but more importantly, with their heart. I remember a cousin who'd successfully completed a Masters degree overseas & had also been proposed to weeks before graduation, being commended on "leaving the UK with the REAL certificate" (marriage certificate). Men could argue that they are not immune from the same pressure to lock down a wife, but be real, that only comes on or after your 30's. Imagine being subliminally coached on your marriage suitability your whole life; cooking, cleaning, aesthetic appeal...it's exhausting! Don't get me started on what ensues after you jump the broom; pressure to give birth. The countdown begins once he's proposed even. The trend is to be with child ON your wedding day! That obviously poses threats to early marital bliss, but in Nigeria, a woman is blamed if a man cheats so yet again it's a lose-lose.  
Academic/ Professional: just forget it! If you're smart? Dumb it down! This is a universal concept. Women's book smart is frowned upon. Go to Stanford, Yale or Oxford for all they care...if you're not married by 30, it has all been in vain. Heaven forbid you aspire to become a Doctor without first bearing a ring beforehand! Your mother will cry to Amadioha questioning where she erred as a parent, or what sin she's being punished for. The crux of the matter is, the man is the public mouthpiece, brain, balls, backbone...everything...of the home. PUBLICLY! The truth is, women are the root and source. Many women break their backs to see their children through school, yet it's the man's back who's tapped to commend their good work upon graduation. 
Watch : Guess | Peeptoe Lace-Up Wedge Boots : Primark | Bag : ZARA
Sexuality: Yes, I will discuss it. You're expected to wear makeup, don only the best hair (even remember in primary school it was all about what braid trends you rocked on a weekly basis?), wear designer clothes and accessories, and werq the baddest body in the game. You should attract male attention, and pander to the whims of the men you date (yes, plural), yet still keep your v-card intact & never cry rape. Even when you're sexually harassed because a man inevitably found you attractive, as was intended, you're supposed to take it all in your stride. BS! GTFOH! I vividly remember defending females TO females who brandished all rape victims as the cause for being sexually alluring to begin with. "It was her fault. She should know better than to hang around X". Funny how their tones changed once I humanised the situation by using their sister as an example. 
"Perhaps it is time to debate culture. The common story is that in 'real' African culture, before it was tainted by the West, gender roles were rigid and women were contentedly oppressed." Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

#BeingFemaleInNigeria

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Went to watch Mad Max this weekend and it was everything I envisioned and more. Aside from my fave, Tom Hardy playing lead alongside Charlize Theron, it had all the action, undercover romance & minimal scripting I need in a 'leave-your-brain-at-home' action flick. But you all know me far too well to think even a gun-guzzler of a film like Mad Max could keep me from seeking deeper directorial connotations and subliminal moral messages, surely. So in true BLEURGH review fashion, here are a few themes I picked out & I think are well worth sharing with you all.
Jacket : Klass Collection | Bodysuit : AQAQ | Midi Skirt : River Island 
INSANITY: I mean, this can't be a spoiler as its in the title itself; Mad Max. Max states in the opening scene that he "runs both from the living and the dead", yet in the same breath, questions "who was crazy? Me or everyone else?". I ask myself the same question (hold off calling the men in white coats please) as I observe modern culture. Society is racing so fast past the boundaries that the line between right and wrong is so blurred, I can't fathom its existence. Insanity or madness requires one to act so far from the norm that actions are deemed irrational, but as the plot thickens, viewers come to realise Max's actions are merely in defence against what's thrust at him. "If you can't fix what's broken, you'll go insane". Max may be nuts but he is right. When push comes to shove, we are all "reduced to one instinct; SURVIVE".
POWER: As one wife chimes "we are not things!" post-fleeing from captivity where livelihood is dictated by an obese megalomaniac, I force myself to remain seated and not join in mid-chant. The world's obsession with power has been on blast lately, from bribery & corruption to siphoned refunds to the preoccupation with oil in foreign soil, the ineptness of  leaders is blindingly evident when the allure of the coin is involved. All at the expense of the marginalised whose livelihoods, rights & whatever else is infringed without much regard on a daily basis. The hunger and thirst of the masses worldwide was perfectly depicted in Mad Max! The diseased population thrusting forward to taste just a drop of water from the momentary waterfall controlled by the King was heartbreaking as he proclaimed "I am your redeemer! It is by my hand you will rise from the ashes of this world". We need a solution; A revolution.
Watch : Guess | Heels : Red Herring (Debenhams)
HOPE: "praying [to] anyone who's listening" The Dag. Enroute to  "redemption", you can't help but feel like you're banging at a vacant door. Feeling lost, confused, angry? That's all natural. Sometimes it's natural to even give up - "Hope is a mistake" Max - Just don't stay there. Don't dwell in the confusion, get up and try again. At times, that rehashed plan may even mean revisiting one of old, but following it through with conviction. You're better equipped to deal with the obstacles, hurdles, distractions & naysayers. You've been down this route before, so use that to your advantage and strike again...this time, HOT! 
"I live. I die. I live again" Nux - Mad Max

Mad Max

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