Thursday, December 29, 2016

twentySixteen: reeCap

I think we can all collectively agree that this has been a very hard year. I can only speak for myself of course without having to force you to agree with me but with world events that I cannot list here because well, not the purpose of this, I think it is safe to assume a lot of us have had it exceptionally hard. Amidst all of the chaos that enveloped us (me) this year, I have come to understand myself more. I realized that I underestimate my strength and resilience. More than anything, I learned that I am a survivor and even if I am dropped in the middle of the jungle alone and afraid, I would survive if I choose to.

I found myself in situations I never imagined I would ever find myself in and get this…I did not die. This year only went further to reinforce my belief in the non-permanence of our situations. “This will pass” became my daily mantra. I had constant bursts of light within me. I would wake up one morning and nothing would go right the whole day but then I would go to bed at night thinking “Well look at that. The day has ended and I am still here.” Few weeks before moving back to Nigeria, I met with one of my dear friends and while discussing my move, I explained to him how terrified I was about moving back, how I worked hard to become this person that I am proud of and how I did not want to change. That was when he said to me “Only dead men don’t change, Asma” at that moment, I stopped fighting this battle to hold on to who I was. I became open to change and learning and boy did I learn.

2016 has redefined the word “deliberate” for me. I created a system of control for myself called “Deliberate reaction”. This means that I get to decide how I react to every single occurrence in my life. I taught myself how to utilize my circumstance to enhance my reaction and it has been nothing but light in my life. Situations where I would naturally get angry, I deliberately choose forgiveness. I know what you are thinking, that I am naïve and what if I get trudged on by not reacting, well, so be it. In the case of that happening, I would deliberately choose how I react to said situation. No one is born with hatred, anger and all negative emotions. I found out that my system kept my spirit elevated and I did not carry toxic energy with me through my day hence, enhancing my interactions with people.

One other important philosophy that I have coined for myself using an existing word is to assert my truth without fear of judgment or persecution and I refer to it as “Assertion”. I know who I am, I know my values and beliefs and wherever I go, whomever I stand before, I can confidently and proudly assert my beliefs. Life is a series of reactions fueled by actions. If my actions are guided by my beliefs, which are backed by my spirituality, then the series of events in my life would be for me positively. I am not afraid to be kind and soft. Someone told me that I am too sentimental and you know what, I am very sentimental, unapologetically in fact, if that is a flaw then so be it.
I cannot begin to list here how 2016 has influenced my life, I cannot begin to list the experiences and interactions that will inevitably shape the course of my future but all I can say is “We will be fine”.

If there is anything we know to be truth in this life, it is that This too shall pass.


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A List Of Great Books I Have Read: 2016

Here we are again. As I did last year, this year too I am listing a number of books that have kept me company while on a new journey. Unfortunately, I did not get to read (or write as you can see from my sporadic posts here) as much as I did last year but I did come across a number of wonderful books that kept me sane and enlightened. If you can find the time (since I cannot seem to get to find a healthy balance between my work, personal life and laziness), I would urge you to find and read some of these books. I am sure there are some of you that will go, yeah I read that and you know what…send me a message, lets talk. It is almost impossible for me lately to find people who are interested in the same books and music as me.
As usual, the list would comprise of Philosophy, Poetry, Fiction, Science, History, Fantasy etc.

1. The Audacity Of Hope- Barack Obama
2. The Museum Of Innocence- Orhan Pamuk
3. Islam And Democracy: Fear Of A Modern World- Fatima Mernissi
4. The Veil And The Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation Of Women’s Rights In Islam- Fatima Mernissi
5. City Of Lies: Love, Sex, Death and The Search For Truth In Tehran- Ramita Navai
6. The Madman: His Parables and Poems- Khalil Gibran
7. Headscarves And Hymens: Why The Middle east Needs A Sexual Revolution- Mona Eltahawy
8. The Song Of Ice And Fire: A Game Of Thrones- George RR Martin
9. The Song Of Ice And Fire: A Clash Of Kings- George RR Martin
10. A Brief History Of Time- Stephen Hawking
11. Memoires Of A Porcupine- Alain Mabanckou
12. Precious: A Memoir- Precious Williams
13. Afghanistan: Where God Only Comes To Weep- Siba Shakib
14. Hear The Wind Sing- Haruki Murakami
15. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them- JK Rowling
16. Quidditch Through The Ages- JK Rowling
17. Tales Of Beetle The Bard- JK Rowling
18. Burned Alive- Souad
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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Boobs And Brains

This is one article that has been on my mind since the beginning of this year and I am glad it took this long to write. I will explain.
I have always been conflicted when it came to how I presented myself to the world. I always believed and still do that what I put on my body says a lot about how I feel about myself. I cannot wear a hijab because I do not feel like a hijab wearing girl in my heart and I cannot walk around in a bikini because I do not feel like a walking-around-in-bikini girl.
So as a female entering into an almost exclusively male dominated world of technology (I am a software developer for those that don’t know), I was conflicted when it came down to how I presented myself to the world.

Image Source:
“Not too much lipstick, I do not want them to think I am shallow”, “No heels, so I do not look like all I know how to do is dress up”. I found myself equating how I looked with my intelligence. I wanted to be taken seriously as the only female engineer at my office. I pride myself on my ability to evolve and unlearn the misogynistic ideologies that I have been indoctrinated in. It took me a whole year to pause and realize that I did not have to choose between looking/feeling beautiful for myself and being intelligent/good at my job. With or without my attire, I am beautiful and intelligent and that should be enough. I remember Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk where she talked about how she was conflicted about her attire on her first day teaching. I have watched this particular TED talk at least 10 times and it never occurred to me that I too was doing exactly what Adichie did on her first day lecturing.

It is naturally assumed that beautiful women are not intelligent. Women in the modelling industry are assumed to be shallow and dumb, which often times reminds me of Tyra Banks and her show America's Next Top Model and whey she had a college edition. It was to break this stereotype that beautiful women are not intelligent women. 

This year, America almost had it’s first female president and amidst all of that debacle, I was noticing how Hillary Clinton’s wardrobe was carefully chosen. Her team always chose attires that people would consider “serious” and there was not much in the way of accessorizing. Do you see the pedestal they put women up on? I bet none of the other male candidates had to worry about how they looked, heck, Trump did not even have to sensor what he said but alas, the people chose. It took me until the end of the year to understand that I still had more unlearning to do.

Growing up, I remember I myself, looking at other women who loved to dress up as inferior to me intellectually. Most of the time, they were not. I was conditioned to think that due to the way society judged women. Today I have little sisters who are growing up to be very confident, smart and daring women. One of them told me how she would be a kick-ass humanitarian lawyer and look “as bom as Amal Clooney” while doing it and you know what, that is just fantastic. Smart and stylish women run the company I work at, I am learning that intelligence quotient and beauty/style are not mutually exclusive. Women do not have to choose between looking good/feeling confident (I believe these go hand in hand) and having a high intelligence quotient. I know very beautiful women who deliberately dumb themselves down so as to seem more appealing to men. 
We must begin to unlearn this the moment we awaken to the realization that we are living by misogynistic ideals. 
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Thursday, October 27, 2016

You Must Have Heard

I am sure by now you must have heard
That your mother washes her hair with salt
To rid herself of your fathers stench
She sleeps on one side
Because her ribs have been cracked.
Your mothers legs have been bent
From birthing too much,
          they said.

You must have heard
That she forked herself
To rid her last child of your fathers

I am sure by now you must have heard
Your mother screaming at night
When he comes home and he hogs her breath
          Don’t you know?

She wishes you had her surname.
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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

For Those Women

This one is for those women
those who bend their backs for men
who come home at night
smelling like darkness and the forest
breathing like hunting wolves
this is for those women
who at 18 years old
we call them antys
because they have walked through the clouds
their hair turned grey from
dancing with the cold
for those women who close their eyes
knowing that even in dreams
they are the women that women
like you and me
look through
do not see
do not greet
for those women who became women at 12
who look out for brothers
brothers that were sat and told
"you are the man of the house"
yet these women never become
women of the house
never receive glory or pensions
expected to not whimper when the world
becomes a little too heavy
slouching their posture
for those women whose bellies are stretched
from carrying us
too many times yet
we are not acquainted with their intestines
do not say Thank You
do not say Forgive me
do not say I see you
this is for those women whose eyes
are black holes
swallowing up pain like
it was not matter
carrying their sorrow in their skin
like cells
for those women whose mouths are graveyards
of buried words
haunted memories
i pray
i pray i do not carry a woman
in my body when i am woman
there aren't enough bones to break
in my body enough to hold a woman in
enough to hold the wrath passed from my blood
to my blood
this is for those women who give birth to daughters
that become women before they can walk
who break their hearts praying still
for daughters, they know
they know only a woman
can hold a woman.
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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

On Burkinis and Bikinis

There is this unhealthy obsession with the bodies of women. Muslim women in particular. The thematic discussion regarding women’s bodies is always in policing what Muslim women can and cannot do with their own bodies supported by a strict interpretation of religious texts and a botched sense of liberalism.
Right from time immemorial, Muslim women are forced to have to choose between covering up and not covering up, making the Islamic ruling on hijab/headscarves a black and white affair whilst ignoring the grey area. Due to a patriarchal interpretation of Islam, women of the Islamic faith have often found themselves having to choose between wearing the hijab and not wearing the hijab with both choices been politicized.
Muslim women are stuck--going forward, a liberal western society that claims they refuse to integrate and--moving backwards, meeting a religious society that claims they are forcing westernization upon themselves hence losing their virtuousness and the essence of being “flowers” (or whatever metaphor they use to describe the reasons behind forcing women to cover up).
The recent Burkini (a type of swim wear Muslim women wear to the beach instead of swimsuits) ban in France is no different from the forced hijab in Iran. What differentiates forcing women to cover up and forcing them to not cover up? Whilst in the process of this discussion, the ability to choose which is a fundamental aspect of being human has been removed for the Muslim woman hence, absolving her of her humanity meaning, objectifying her.
Whether it is in Iran or in France, the politicizing of Muslim women’s bodies is the biggest play in the disappearance of women. You cannot help but wonder why there is an excessive amount of fuss over a piece of clothing.
The forced hijab in Iran is a political act to stifle women. If you force women to hide behind a veil, you force them to remain in their place (usually at home without any real influence in governance or leadership), and if you force a woman to take of her hijab, you force her to literally have to hide at home and not be out in public space. Here is the part where some of you would ask “Well why don’t they take it off?”. It is not as simple as that.
The hijab is a lot more than a political/religious symbol, to some women, it is a spiritual act of worship. Women who choose to wear the hijab do so in accordance with the wives of Prophet Muhammad S.A.W whom were deemed the most pious of all women, they choose to protect their sanctity with a hijab, to cover their body while in the presence of people whom were not immediate family. To some women, it is an empowerment tool and taking that away from them is taking away their power over their body. It is a violation of human rights. The hijab is no different than the scarf nuns wear. If a woman can wear a bikini to the sea without humiliation, why can't another woman wear a burkini to the sea without humiliation? Double standards? 
This hijab discourse has polarized Muslim women into two different ideological positions. To accept the hijab is to be extremist and to reject the hijab is to be secular/western. This is the part where we insert a grey area where a woman can both be Muslim+not wear the hijab and also Muslim+wear the hijab yet still active members of the society.

The west wonders why Muslim women do not integrate when an inclusive environment for the successful integration of Muslim women into their communities is not created. The recent burkini ban in France if anything, has set the west back hundreds of years. In 2016, where western women are granted the freedom to walk the streets wearing close to nothing, Muslim women have being rejected the freedom to be fully covered, citing “security” concerns as supporting grounds. 
This is the absolute hypocrisy of secularism and we should all be rightly outraged.
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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Insolence Of Hope

I was born in the 90s, not the most monumental time in history, the world was still healing from the war, still healing from the war. i was born two years before Rwandans turned against each other, blood against blood, black on black killing, bodies piled to the sky, the angels did not know what to do with all that grief. The 90s were a subtle time still, the world, looked forward to a new millenia, cupping hope in two hands, forgiving history for it's callous reminders of our shortcomings.

My sister was born in 2000, a new millennia, the naivety of hope. A year later, all that hope came tumbling from the sky. Hades opened his wide mouth to catch the remnants of the hope that lingered amidst the the smoke. Two builidngs shook the world and the skies opened up to cry blood. New york city residents picked out their dead and immortalised them in their hearts. That same moment
a naive child in Iraq was having the audacity to hope for a future in this brave new world, until fighter jets started dropping packages of carnage and broken dreams.

Our insolence to hope for a millennia filled with time travelers and Marty Mcfly shoes, have promised children like my little sister, a yet still possible lifetime of serenity, hanging in the air,
an unfulfilled promise.
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Monday, August 1, 2016

We Women

We African women tie loss around our waists, colorful beads around long strings. when we dance, we dance with our pain and our pride, melodies only we can hear, we dance. we dance.

We Black women, simmering in the hue of molten chocolate, carry thighs that rub against thighs and arms that embrace, the bulk of the world. grabbing onto our children, teaching them two times perfection.

We African women, who do not cry for the children to see, who walk out at 3am, sit and make pap, mixed with tears and love.

We Black women, who do not say words like "I love you", instead, we prepare three of your best meals before you come home and serve cold zobo.

We African women, who are each others saviors, whose backs are bent from carrying the world, we hold the universe against wide bosoms, pat the people to sleep while we stay awake, and fix everyone's blankets.

We Black women, whom are everyone's fetish, everyone's one time sexual adventure, those women who love themselves painful and joyously, who do not let the world, see them break.
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Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Some people become memories
Like fleeting images
Birds in the sky
Some people become statues
Un-moving sculptures
Constantly staring

Some people become rain
Cleansing us
Washing away our sins
Some people become thunder
Terrifyingly glorious
Almost beautiful
Some people become fire
They set us ablaze
And leave us begging
For lighter fluid.
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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Water, Sand, Mud

Writing has become extremely difficult. Mainly because this heart, is finding it increasingly hard to write from within. There is a yearning within for a place, a person or a thing. Writing for a while, was that thing, it was soul food. it is a stress. Writing must never be a forced act, a compulsion, it must stem from the places where the light does not touch. There is so much brightness around me and it is not the sun. The sounds are not music rather, screams and whimpers.

At the beginning of this year, i made peace with the fact that i would not be writing as much as i used to. The nature of my job does not leave too much room for personal expression. Also, i am having zero enthusiasm and motivation to write. This will be my last post for a while i think...or not. I am still not sure. I feel like this blog has had it's time and it is time to die out with grace. Yet, a part of me is still hoping things change and writing once more becomes my warm embrace. I do not know for a fact if i will not be back here but i will not leave you, reader . You can always find articles by me on or follow my dear friends blog , she is truly talented and she has a lot to say. With this, i bid you, reader Sayonara. I might see you tomorrow.

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