Ngala-Najla

I Celebrate Myself…


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To Mama Maya Angelou, With Love

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I am not sure if I can articulate, in words, my emotions correctly today…but here goes:

 

This morning as I stood on the escalators of Broadway Junction, I looked down at my phone, which was just receiving reception. What flashed across the phone’s screen was a New York Times alert, ” Maya Angelou…dead at 86.” I gasped and looked around to see if anyone else knew. I wanted to share it with someone but others continued and their faces gave nothing away. When I got home after work, I lit a white candle (a suggestion by Iyanla Vazant that rang true for me) to bid Maya Angelou a safe transition…

I am not sure how I was introduced to the works of Maya Angelou. I would beg to say, she has been a part of my life for a very long time. Now reflecting on her life and what it means to be, like so many others are doing today, a few events are replaying in my mind:

1. Her poem, “Still I Rise” was recited in my voice at my church as a teenager. I told a friend today that I remember finding the poem and reading it for my church’s Black History Month celebration. In the middle of reciting the poem I forgot the words and sat down disappointed…moments after I went back up and told the MC that I wanted to finish the poem. To me it deserved that reverence. “I am the hope and the dream of the slave!” I proclaimed, feeling the power of those words but not really understanding it completely at that time.

2. I have never seen my mom connect to a book like she did to “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” I would assumed that the words of the book spoke to her in a way she has never shared with me or my sister. She was the first person I called when I found out.

3. “Phenomenal Woman” I presented to my English class in college and as I read the words, they and I became one. I remember clasping the book in my hands and reading it and when I was finished I hugged the book, so proud of myself…. because I found words that really got me.

 

Maya Angelou gave me words that my spirit understood before my mind could comprehend their power. She has always been present for me and always will.

 


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Questions

There are times in my life where I revisit and wonder about alternative endings. This often includes my involvement with men, who on some level I loved.

We’re often told that looking back is never a good thing but on nights like this, when the air is heavy and all is still except for the sound of the fan, I cannot seem to control my mind from wondering.


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Nostalgia

I finished Americanah today. I found myself crying and laughing throughout the last chapter. It ended beautifully. After closing the book, I began this fantasy, in my head, about having some way to write Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie, as if she were a good friend, to really encourage her to turn the book into a mini series. Of course Lupita Nyong’o would star in it and it would be set in Nigeria, with flashbacks. I still haven’t determined who would play the other roles…but Chimamanda may want to have a say in it.

I mourned the end of the book and felt as if I was no longer in the Unites States…Jamaica felt real to me. The heat today of course helped. It felt like the Caribbean.

Home is indeed calling.


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Good Read

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You know a book is really good when you reach the final chapters and you want to savor each page and
especially want to wait for the best opportunities to read the book –a setting has to be perfect. And yet, although so selective for perfect moments, you can’t wait for the next moment to pick up the book.


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Full Circle

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I have been working on being better to myself for about 2 weeks now. I found out recently from my doctor that in addition to having high blood pressure, I am pre-diabetic, have very low Vitamin D levels and anemic. I have since lost 7 pounds in the two weeks and have increased my veggie intake and stopped buying breakfast and lunch from the community I work in. East New York is a food dessert. Sodium is often high in the food and almost every other thing is fried… even if the end result is a stew.

Ironically, my current weight (after the 7lb loss) is the same as I was a
approximately 10 years ago when I begun the journey of losing 70 lbs. After losing that weight and then suffering from an injury and a broken heart, I went right back to food. The way in which I lost the weight was healthy but exercising became my obsession; it became my new vice in a lot of ways and I didn’t deal with the real stuff: the internal self hate and feelings of unworthiness that led to the overeating. I can say that more and more I feel and see the connection between how I treat my body and the love that I feel about myself and the way in which I allow others to treat me.

So, as I sit here in the Prospect Park looking upon the water, I pray for physical and spiritual healing and I am grateful for each moment, each opportunity to start anew.

Ashe!


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Americanah

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I am reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah and I have found my rhythm… My reading rhythm that is. Here I am reading it after some semi okay Ethiopian Food (man I miss DC!) and reading the book by candlelight because the restaurant is dimly lit for all the romantics (couples). I am loving a book at the moment and it’s name is Americanah and I love the reading grove that I’ve found.

I connect so much to this book, as animmigrant, as a person of African descent who is trying to navigate this racial filled mine field called America and I just love Chimamanda’s lyrical voice in this book and the way she thinks. By the way, please check out her TED talks.


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My Concerns About the “Bring Back Our Girls” Campaign

So…I have been conflicted about this BringBackOur Girls Campaign. You might have heard about it by now. Close to 250 schoolgirls were taken by the Boko Haram group from a school in Nigeria. Even though I forwarded on Facebook, Malala Yousafzai holding a sign that reads #bringbackourgirls, I was conflicted. Truthfully, looking back, forwarding the picture was more about Malala being alive and looking powerful…with the message than it was about the message (if that makes any sense). I have been thinking, ” what is it about the campaign that doesn’t sit right with me?” And even though I am still not 100% clear, there is something about the campaign that teeters on First World privilege that I am not too comfortable about. Also, I have a problem with it only highlighting what happened in Nigeria…when the reality is woman and girls are not safe in other countries, as well. They are bought and sold, enslaved, raped, killed all the time all around the world every day. My intention is not to lessen the reality of this horrible situation that occurred in Nigeria, but my hope is if we’re going to rally around this one issue, it should used as an unfortunate example of what’s happening to women and girls everywhere. The questions that I am posing is, how we can use this issue and similar issues (like what happened and is still happening in India,  and other countries in the world…including the United States) to really hold our local governments and world leaders accountable in bringing back all our girls? Also, how we can not take the lead and be the “saviors” but stand behind our sisters (and brothers in the struggle… there are fathers who are being affected too by these acts), supporting them?