Waila Reads

Waila Reads: Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie

americanahA few years ago I heard Chimamanda Adichie speak and something about the way she came across didn’t appeal to me. Over the years I’ve watched interviews she has given and heard her speak at literary events. While I respected her success, there was something about her demeanour I wasn’t a fan of. I concluded we weren’t destined to be friends…until I watched her Channel 4 interview with Jon Snow. Chimamanda, we can now grab a coffee when you’ve got a minute. Now that’s we’re friends, I am of course allowed to call her Chimamanda, just Chimamanda. Experience, training or perhaps both have awarded her a degree of charm and grace that in my probably irrelevant opinion, she previously hadn’t mastered. I like her new aura and I like it a lot.

Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, won the Orange Prize but despite several attempts, I haven’t managed to read the entire book. Hard though I’ve tried, I can’t connect with the writing and characters and that makes it a tedious read. I’m in a minority though because it’s a best seller and most people I know who have read the book, sing its praises. I much preferred her initial offering, Purple Hibiscus. It’s not a Waila favourite but it is worth a read.

If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that my copy of her latest publication, Americanah, landed in my hands six days ago.

Americanah is without doubt, her best work yet. And I say that like I’ve read every word she’s ever written, which of course I haven’t but I quite like how it sound so I’ll say it again. Americanah is without doubt, her best work yet.

I was hooked from the first page and she had me reeled in till the very end. The central character Ifemelu is witty, sassy and charming in equal parts and on occasion, a little annoying. Obinze her love interest, sounds like a man I’d quite like to date. I know next to nothing about Chimamanda personally but I can’t help but think that Ifemelu’s character is a type and shadow of her creator. Americanah bravely attempts to tackle issues of race, identity, migration, prejudice, stereotypes, and love (and that’s not the half of it) and in my opinion, she did a brilliant job of it.

As always I won’t say too much because I’d quite like you to make up your own minds but what I will say is if you don’t own a copy, I suggest you get yourself one… it’s a Waila likes a lot. If you’d like to read a review before you commit your pennies, here’s a link to a brilliant one in The Guardian online.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/apr/15/americanah-chimamanda-ngozi-adichie-review

And no MrsOhgee, you can’t borrow mine.

xxx

Waila

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A Memory Time Erased + Waila Reads: On Black Sisters’ Street

I was in Lagos a couple of weekends ago to marry off one of my lover girls, Shally of ForStyleSake. The detailing on her dress gave the analyst in me a lot to analyse. Goes without saying she looked stunning on her big day, what bride doesn’t?! Actually I take that back. I almost had a heart attack when I saw the wedding pictures of one the vendors my mother enlisted to plan my traditional wedding. To each their own but seeing her in her rather interesting bridal get up gave me reason to intensify my prayers. Thankfully, God is and was kind to me.

Much as I profess to be anti-weddings, I love watching my friends get married and I’d trek to the moon to see it happen. I’m amazed at how far we’ve all come in our lives, with or without men, and I’m pretty excited to see what the future has in store for us.

I digress.

Yes, Lagos. The city never ceases to amaze me. It’s a pretty cool place to live if you have enough money in the bank to create your own world but it can be scorchingly unkind to the poor and struggling. That said, it’s such a vibrant city, it’s easy to get caught up in its vibe.

I was in Lagos for all of 52 hours but it was long enough for me to run into a reality I had assumed was long dead. We were driving along the streets of Ikeja late Friday night hunting for food when I noticed a voluptuous girl in a miniscule white Lycra mini skirt striking a pose on the sidewalk. Her ample breasts were spilling out of her umpteen sizes too small top and her makeup was like something out of a how-not-to tutorial. It took a few minutes for my brain to register that she was a prostitute. I was stunned.

Growing up in Lagos and living pretty close to Bar Beach, spotting prostitutes was part of everyday life. I grew up knowing too well that they existed and on occasion, watched them get picked up by punters. Somehow, my brain had deluded itself into thinking such things didn’t happen in 2013.

In the age we live in, there are many sophisticated forms of prostitution but like my grandma says, “Pikin wey resemble goat no be goat, na pikin.” In other words, you are what you are regardless of how you choose to portray yourself. It’s no less heartbreaking to meet a girl who dates a man purely for financial gain but to see a woman standing on the street corner, body parts hanging out, desperately trying to attract the attention of every passing male, stripped it back to its most basic form. I really had forgotten that standing on the streets is still a viable option for some.

As I watched them sashay from car to car trying to reel in dinner, I couldn’t help but fear for their physical safety among other things. Absolutely anything could happen to those girls and the soles of their feet would be none the wiser. I slept uneasily that night.

Prostitutes exist because there is a demand for them.  If no one was willing to pay for sex, no one would be selling it. It’s that simple. Much as I worry about the women who sell their wares, I also worry about the punters who part with their cash. I call it the meeting of troubled souls.

People prostitute themselves for all sorts of reasons and contrary to popular belief not all prostitutes are women struggling to put food on their tables or a roof over their heads. Sometimes, it’s an act born of pure unadulterated greed. I’ve met a few. That said, I am weary of condemning such women because personally, I am yet to encounter circumstances, financial, mental, emotional or otherwise, that would make selling my body a viable option.

I earnestly pray that someday, somehow, these women find a way out.

Seeing those girls reminded me of a book I read a while back and leads me on to a Waila Reads recommendation.

black sister

On Black Sisters’ Street by Chika Unigwe isn’t a Waila favourite but it’s definitely worth a read. It tells the story of four young and rather naive women who make their way from Lagos to Belgium in the hope of raking in serious cash. It’s a story full of clichés but sadly, these clichés are born out of an embarrassingly stark reality.

I won’t say too much, I’ll let you read and make up your own minds. For the curious, I’ve included a link to a review by The Independent below.

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/on-black-sisters-street-by-chika-unigwe-1728899.html

I hope you enjoy reading but more than that, I hope that the next time you get on your knees to pray, if you pray, you remember to say a prayer for these women.

Love & so much more,

Waila

My Stash

Hello people,

As promised, here’s a picture of my stash and a heads up on the titles to come in Waila Reads.

Please, refrain from insulting my picture taking skills. I have many talents but photography isn’t one of them!

The last time I was in Lagos and wanted to buy books, someone suggested I go to the CMS bookshop as they supposedly stocked a large variety of books at competitive prices. I dragged my friend Moin-Moin all the way to CMS and I tell you, if I’d had a cane, I’d have flogged the staff out of the bookshop, locked it u and thrown away the keys. It was that useless.

This time around when I asked, everyone recommended The Palms mall in Lekki. All the books I picked up last time, I picked up from The Palms so I didn’t question their knowledge. The day after I bought most of my stash, I had lunch with a friend at Terra Culture on Tiamiyu Savage and  discovered they have a library/bookshop there…and books there are cheaper than at The Palms. I didn’t do the Maths but I’m pretty sure the savings I could have made would have been enough to buy me another two cartons of Indomie.

Oh well, here’s a list of the titles and authors;

  • The Mrs Club by Ekene Onu
  • Weep Not Child by Ngugi WA Thiong’O
  • A Squatter’s Tale by Ike Oguine
  • Dew In The Morning by Shimmer Chinodya
  • Nights Of The Creaking Bed by Toni Kan
  • The Housemaid by Amma Darko
  • The Son Of Your Father’s Concubine by Seun Salami
  • Burma Boy by Biyi Bandele
  • Nine Lives by El-Nukoya
  • Zack’s Story by Abidemi Sanusi
  • Kemi’s Journal by Abidemi Sanusi
  • Yellow-Yellow by Kaine Agary
  • Treachery In The Yard by Adimchinma Ibe
  • London Life Lagos Living by Bobo Omotayo
  • Tomorrow Died Yesterday by Chimeka Garricks
  • 26A by Diana Evans

Yes, I know, I bought another copy of Tomorrow Died Yesterday. The last pair of hands that housed my old copy must have left its doors open for rats to enter. Some people just never learn to shut doors. I keep saying I will stop lending out my books to people because many of them never find their way back to my bookshelf and some of the ones that do, escaped from rat infested hands.

I’m currently reading 26A so it lay hiding in my handbag during the photo shoot.

Have you read any of them? Tell me! Tell me!  I’m trying to decide which one to read next.

Happy Thursday people. May Friday come quickly and Sunday, slowly!

xxx

Waila