“I believe that there is a level of bias as regards gender even in the church”- Oyinda Depo-Oyedokun(Author and Poet)

In line with my belief in women supporting each other, I have decided to do a bi weekly interview series called “Interviews with Ms. Nduka-Nwosu”. Here, I would be interviewing young people–with a huge focus on women–that are change agents in their communities through entrepreneurship, charities, art, photography et al. 
My first interviewee is Oyinda Depo-Oyedokun who is the author of the Christian romance novel “Love and God” which was published in hard copy in 2017 when she was 17.

I met Oyinda virtually on a Christian Whatsapp group chat and her passionate love for God seen evident in her tweets and her writing attracted me. 

This interview was conducted via Whatsapp. 

Angel Nduka-Nwosu: Hi b. Are you ready?

Oyinda Depo-Oyedokun: Yes yes. 

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu:  Okay. First of all welcome to Interviews with Ms Nduka-Nwosu. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

O.Depo-Oyedokun: Thank you for having me! I am Oyindamola Depo-Oyedokun and a bunch of other names (by virtue of my ‘Yoruba-ness). I turned 17 in September. I am passionate about Christianity, as opposed to religion, and that started for me a couple of years ago. I love writing and I love how God has given me the ability to recreate through that gift.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu:   Lol. I see the by “virtue of Yoruba-ness”.
Anyway let’s talk about your writing career. You recently published a Christian romance novel called “Love and God” which is a feat I must say for a 17 year old. What was the inspiration behind the novel?


O. Depo-Oyedokun:  Aww. Thanks. Well, I would say I was inspired by God, situations around me and to an extent, my personal experience. The book is really about how a lot of people these days feel like they have to sacrifice or compromise their relationships with God in pursuit of romantic relationships and I really felt the need to challenge that.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu:  That is so beautiful to hear. Your book addresses the very dicey issue of celibacy which not most people would want to hear about. Was it difficult getting someone to publish you especially with an overtly Christian message? What was the publishing process like?

O. Depo-Oyedokun:  Oh yes! It really was. In 2016, I actually published the ebook on okadabooks.com
The cost of publishing in Nigeria is very high so at that point, I was trying to raise some money I could use to supplement the publication of the physical copy. Truthfully, that didn’t turn out too successful lol. I eventually started looking sending my manuscript to publishing firms, but got turned down by quite a few. To be honest, at the time I published the ebook, I did not incorporate the growth in my writing skill into it. I was lazy about developing it further. I just wanted to let the book be out because I had started writing it long before and school was getting in the way. I eventually found a publishing firm (Amab) whose editor was patient enough to work with me and let my growth be reflected in my work. As for the Christian message, not many Nigerian publishing firms were looking for that sort of thing so yes, that posed as a problem too. 


Ms. Nduka-Nwosu:  Wow as a fellow writer I can absolutely relate to that. Are there any publishers you would recommend for Christian writers? Also do you plan on having a publishing outfit later on?

O. Depo-Oyedokun:  I would definitely recommend the publishing firm I used i.e Amab Books. Most publishers in Nigeria are actually either focused on religious books (devotionals and the likes), inspirational books and some such as Cassava Republic, Safari, Parresia amongst others are looking for books with strong African themes which my book didn’t really reflect. Of course, if your writing does capture both African and Christian themes and is of good quality, it would be great to consider.
I have actually thought of having a publishing firm at a very latter stage of my life for Christian creative writers. Just a mild thought though. 

I believe that there is a level of bias as regards gender even in the church. I have noticed that in a good number of  churches, the pastors/ministers’ seats are hardly filled with women.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu:  That’s good to know. One of your tweets which caught my attention was the one where you talked about how we need more women called to preach in the church. I don’t know if you can remember. Anyway there has been more campaigns like #ChurchToo for eradication of sexual discrimination in the Church. What are your thoughts on that?

O. Depo-Oyedokun:  Yes, I definitely remember that tweet. I believe that there is a level of bias as regards gender even in the church. I have noticed that in a good number of churches, the pastors/ministers seats are hardly filled with women. For most of these conventions, you hardly see women invited unless it’s a women’s, family or marriage convention or unless, they are called to worship. I personally find it annoying because I do not believe the only form of revelation or teaching women of God could give is based on marriage and family. There’s a lot more to our ministry than that. I was discussing this with a male friend once and he said that it’s not like most women have indicated interest in wanting to go into preaching. But the thing is they have been fed an image for so long where it’s the men that preach and the women sing or do anything else so they’re likely to not even think of opposing the system.


Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: That‘s good to hearI believe personally that as women theres a lot we can accomplish even in the church if we are just allowed to exert our full potential.

O. DepoOyedokun: Let me not even begin to talk about how preachings on marriage in the church lay out more responsibilities for the women than the men. 

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: That’s good to hear. I believe personally that as women there’s a lot we can accomplish even in the church if we are just allowed to exert our full potential.

O. DepoOyedokun: Let me not even begin to talk about how preachings on marriage in the church lay out more responsibilities for the women than the men.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: I know right. It is my hope that the church would train men to be husbands in as much it trains women to be wives.

O. Depo-Oyedokun: To be honest. Even the Bible lays out more responsibilities for men in that regard.


Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: True true. Back to your book. Which of the characters is your favourite and why?

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Hehe. My favourite character is actually Valerie, the main character’s best friend. Firstly, she is short and I have a natural affinity for short ladies (because I am too lol). I also like how much of a great friend she is. She’s determined to help Feyikemi become the better version of herself, tries to help her make the right choices, sticks with Feyikemi and is generally just a great support system. 

Never try to shrink the Christianity in your voice just so it seems more appealing to more…Be willing to accept constructive criticism…Someone out there needs your message no matter how small you might think it is..

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: #ShortGirlsWinning. I also liked Valerie. She was like the more sensible person.

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Yes oo

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Asides prose writing do you write in any other genre?

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Yes, I write poetry too. I have also dabbled in plays a bit.



Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: That’s nice. Thinking of going into spoken word?

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Yes. I have actually performed at a few places in Ibadan (where I mostly stay) but I plan on starting a YouTube channel for my spoken words this year and performing live more.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: That’s good to know.So I’ll be asking you a few playful questions.Ready?

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Bring it on!

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Pepsi or Coke?

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Coke please! That’s the original Cola drink. Every other one is a canstafist.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Loooool. Okay Jenifa’s Diaries or Skinny Girl in Transit?

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Wow. This is really a tough one for me lol, but I’ll go with Skinny Girl in Transit, even though this last season annoyed me a lot.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: I could tell.

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Lol.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Favourite Youtubers?

O. Depo-Oyedokun: I love Atang Agwe (lipsoflove) and Sisiyemmie.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: I love them too. I didn’t know Atang was a Youtuber. I just know her on Twitter.

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Oh her YouTube channel is for her spoken words. Sisiyemmie became dearer to my heart when she helped me experience #Baad2017 with her vlogs.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Sam Smith or Adele?

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Sam Smith! His voice is just soo soothing.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Twitter or Instagram?

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Twitter! Apart from the fact that instagram consumes my data like crazy, Twitter is just always a fun place to be.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Instagram is such a data consumer to be honest. Favorite African writers?

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Sefi Atta, Teju Cole, Lola Shoneyin, Ben Okri, Chinua Achebe, Mayowa Depo-Oyedokun(not only because she’s my sister)and Uwem Akpan.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Terrific list!

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Thanks!

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: To wrap up, what would be your advice to younger women coming in as Christian creatives?

O. Depo-Oyedokun: Never try to shrink the Christianity in your voice just so it seems more appealing to more. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to use your gift the way God has sent you to use it. Be willing to accept constructive criticism. Corrigibility is essential for growth. Believe in your voice. Someone out there needs your message, no matter how small you might think it is.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu:Nice nice nice. It was beautiful chatting with you Oyinda. Wishing you more exploits in Jesus Name.

O. Depo-Oyedokun: It was lovely chatting with you too, Angel! This blog will go places.

Ms. Nduka-Nwosu: Thanks and Amen.

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Reinventing Friendship amongst Black Women: A Review of Toni Morrison’s “Sula”

The summer holidays can get quite boring if not planned and so I have developed the habit of downloading books off the internet and reading. I just finished reading Sula by Toni Morrison and it was an absolutely thrilling read which is so beautiful as it is my first Toni Morrison book.

The story of Sula is set in a town called the Bottom which is also in a larger part of Medallion and the Bottom is ironically the hilly unfruitful part of Medallion and is majorly habited by black people. It is told in a chronological order and has the shadow of the First and Second World Wars in it.

The novel Sula is eponymously named after one of the major characters and explores her friendship with Nel. They are both only children born to distant mothers and what we can best describe as absentee fathers. While Nel Wright can best be described as the conformer, Sula on the other is very much a non conformist much to the disapproval of everyone. One occasion that shows this is when Sula cuts off her finger to scare off a boy who has been disturbing Nel.

Their friendship however suffers a deep strain when Sula returns from college after a long period of being away from the Bottom and sleeps with Nel’s husband Jude. This in turn earns Sula the reputation of being a seductress and rebel as she doesn’t settle for the conventional role of wife and mother which Nel has settled for and is even rumored to sleep with white men. This hatred is so deep that even at the point of Sula’s death, none of the town’s people pay her burial good respects. They instead come to mock it. It is at this point that Nel realizes that Sula just like her is a product of a society that disregards both women and black people such that being a black woman is being the mule of the world to use Zora Neale Hurston’ s words. 

Asides the fact that Sula is such a powerful commentary on black womanhood, what I really admire about Morrison’s writing is the lyricism of her words. Reading Sula for me was like listening to a combination of spoken word poetry and jazz music. Take for instance her description of the arrangement of grass like stones. 

Another thing I really admire about this work is that even though I am a black African woman, a lot of the race related issues discussed were things I could relate to and things that are still very much a part of the African American community. This despite the fact that Sula was published in 1973; to give one such example, Sula is shamed for sleeping with white men by black men who would most likely see sleeping with a white woman as an achievement. This still rings true today as black women such as Serena Williams (to give a recent example) are shamed for ending up in relationships with white men. 

Even in the black African community, most African men would frown at the concept of an African woman marrying a white man on the grounds that it is disloyal, but they themselves would boast of their sexual escapades with white women. 

All in all, Sula was a beautiful read and I would personally recommend it to anyone who wants to have a start in African American literature and in particular women centered black writings. 

The End 

By Angel C. Nduka-Nwosu

July 2017

Everything Is Not Fine

Everything is not fine

Because majority of rape victims are female

Everything is not fine

Because Female Genital Mutilation still exists

Everything is not fine

Because women are underrepresented in politics and all major professional fields
Everything is not fine

Because cooking is still seen as a woman’s role
Everything is not fine

Because most countries still don’t recognize that marital rape is possible
Everything is not fine

Because an overwhelming majority of the victims of child marriage are female

Everything is not fine

Because women are given respect based on their marital status and not based on their intellect
Everything is not fine

Because it is difficult as a single woman to rent property in Nigeria
Everything is not fine

Because women are still viewed as temporary members of their households 
Everything is not fine

Because women still do not have the right to inherit land in Igbo tradition
Everything is not fine 

Because male children are still priviledged and desired over female children
Everything is not fine

Because a woman is still subtly told she has to have a son to seal her presence in her marital home
Everything is not fine

Because women are told to normalize the above mentioned and many more to get on with life

The End 

By Angel C. Nduka-Nwosu

26th April 2017

You Fell in Love with a Screp*

You Fell in Love with a Screp*
 
So you fell in love with a screp
a self identified screp
and Papi you fell deep.
 
while you were still 
trying to get over the
silky chemicalized tresses
of your ex-girlfriend 
she had sworn that 
her hair would exist 
in its God given unrelaxed form
because it simply wasn’t stressed.
 
She dreamt in Solange,Angelique Kidjo,Asa
and spoke in Bez, Bryson Tiller, Marvin Gaye, Logic,
Sauti Sol and Falz
her spirit was quite comfortable 
dissecting the different types of black
never boringly fixated or too cliché.
 
You however dreamt in Desiigner, Travis Scott and The Weeknd
and spoke in Steph Curry,
Draymond Green and Dwayne Wade
your spirit was restless 
ever trying to navigate 
the different spaces 
of being a Nigerian teen.

but what you were aware of
was that asides the joy
gotten from Nutella
scoring three pointers was key.
 
You said it was her smile 
that got you
and she said it was your dimples 
that got her
but the one thing both of you bonded over
was your love for Burna Boy.

because your body count was the 
square of three
she felt it was just one 
more conquest for you
since she had 
never kissed a boy.
 
Burna Boy’s Pree Me was
playing in the background 
the day you finally kissed her after 
you had convinced her to.
 
She was scared afterall
to the extent that she cried 
herself to sleep
the night it happened
It was stupid really 
to give up something 
just because you wanted 
to please a guy.
 
She told you all of this 
and a part of you died from
guilt especially as you
had just been curious
But were you really “just curious”?.
 
She couldn’t listen to Burna 
without feeling a sense of loss
and so she ended it
after weeks of going back and forth.
 
weeks where she questioned 
if she liked you 
because she really did 
or because she was supposed
to play along with a particular script.
 
 
You would come to love 
her screpiness though
those days when 
she laughed so hard
you could swear 
you saw green roses
topple out of her Afro
yeah green roses
hers was an Afrocentric;
Sankara inspired quirkiness.
 
but still you could tell 
that her screpiness
was only part of the carapace
built to protect herself 
she thought if she didn’t look beautiful enough
in the first place
then there would 
never have been imprints 
of fingers on her cheeks 
from boys who couldn’t take no.
 
So now you lie to yourselves 
that you are just friends 
and give each other side hugs
you both don’t want any title 
it would turn everything
into  a long boring prose narrative.
 
But her love has grown on you
and like a scratchy sweater 
on a cold harmattan morning 
you can’t take it off.
 
And she tries each time
to erase the tattoo of your name 
that has been etched 
into the fabric of her soul
But your cologne just won’t help.
 
The End
By Angel C. Nduka-Nwosu
*Screp: Term often used in Nigerian private universities e.g Babcock to describe someone who seemingly doesn’t take care of their appearance or is annoying like a pest or doesn’t conform to set standards either on behaviour or ideas about beauty. The first definition holds more ground. It can be used in a gentle self mocking tone or as a downright insult.
 

 

Fisi No Dey

Hello folks. This is my first attempt at writing a poem in Nigerian Pidgin English and was inspired by the current economic situation in Nigeria.I hope you enjoy it and hopefully leave a comment.

Your maale don drag your ear well well
She do am this morning before you comot
House say you dey go market
She say anyhow anyhow you do am for market
Change must dey your hand when you dey return
She don already give you strategies wey go help you
Like she say make you price everytin’ half the price
Make you search all the stalls wey dey Agbara side
Make you hol’ your purse well well
If e reach sef make you cross enter Lagos side of the market
As she don hear say things dier dey dey cheaper
She finish all dis her advice with
“Na condition dey make crayfish bend”

But as you dey the keke
You dey vex real vex
Even though you no say everytin’
She talk na true
Because una don enter an era of manage manage
The keke sef no wan’ cooperate
Abi na the road wey dey misbehave?
You sef no say Naija roads fi spoil tear rubber car
Jus’ give am six months one year last last
And the car go resemble wetin man no know

As you comot for the keke
Dey enter the market proper
You don begin dey hate the word change
You don begin dey regret the fact say you go
Mention that word for the market
And all na because of this economy wey man dey
You even read am for Linda Ikeji Blog
Say dem photograph the wife of the Big Man
For the American airport where she carry
Handbag wey be close to forty million naira
Dat money fi pay all your school fees
And change go still remain to build house comfortably
Chai! You don use the word
Shebi you dey tell people say
Change fi occur negatively and positively
Dem no wan’ hear

 

For the market the only tin’
Wey you dey hear from all the sellers
Na fisi no dey
Chai! Naija shebi before dem fi give fisi on top tomato?
But when you ask the woman make she put extra
She give you bad eye as if say na from hell you comot
So you no carry fisi
One woman wey you go im shop
Tell you say if you see wetin dey happen for Seme eh!
You go cry if you be Benin trader

She say dem dey complain everyday
Say Nigerians no dey come market again
But who wan come market?
Especially if person look this exchange rate
You just smile for the woman
Collect change comot

You don already dey prepare your ear
Well Well for the shouting
Wey your maale go give you
As you know say wetin you carry for hand
As change no be wetin she go dey expect
But at least you bring sometin’ come

The End

By Angel Nduka-Nwosu

The Dark Continent

I really enjoyed this write up by Arnold Sanginga. I hope you do 🙂

Arnold's words

At dusk the men come back from the white man’s field,
with hoes and a sack of food on their shoulders and mpanga’s in their hands,
At dusk the women begin to sing the welcome song,
for their husbands and children who return to eat her well cooked food.,

When the burning sun goes to sleep and the crystal moon awakens,
the drums begin to beat and the circle of warm fire is born,
the horns are blown and the people awake from the slumber of a trance,
men with their mats and drink, women with their beads and song,
children with their dances and laughter, elders with their stories and smile,
the drumming, the chatter, the dance, the laughter, the shouts in cohesion,
bring to life the dragon of colour and the Earth shakes with genuine rejoice,
they sing, dance, talk, drink, jump, play, laugh, love, live in the…

View original post 122 more words

All is Fair in Love and War

Hey guys, sorry for the long silence. I’ve been really busy. Below is a poem partly about the Rwandan genocide and partly about the Nigerian Civil War of 1967-1970 otherwise known as the Biafran War. I was inspired to write this poem after I watched the Sometimes in April movie about the Rwandan genocide of the Tutsis in 1994. As I researched the Rwandan conflict, I realized that most of the wars and conflicts which occurred in Africa in the twentieth century were caused mainly by imperialist-induced tribalism and hate. I may expand the poem later on to include other conflicts especially those in West Africa. I have tried as much as possible to not sound biased, however, I apologize for any inconsistencies observed in the poem and I’m open for criticism. Here is the poem.

All is Fair in Love and War

All is fair in love and war
So they said
Those hard hearted perpetrators of that conflict
Who shared the same hue of skin with us
Some were dark skinned
Others had the finest café au lait unknown to the average African
But still they had helped and contrived
When the African soil was collector of the bones
And the blood of her children

In Rwanda…
It’s April again
And the hearts of several Africans have not forgotten
That sad and bleak April of 1994
When the blood of eight hundred thousand Tutsi
Were killed in cold blood
Over a period of hundred days
Killed….Murdered
By our own Hutu brothers
Who shared the same colour of skin
And spoke the same Kinyarwanda and French language
Just like us….the Tutsi
The Tutsi crime?
France and Belgium had elevated our tribe during colonization
Right above the Hutu tribe
Then in a straight and the strangest U-turn upon independence
Gave power to the power-deficient Hutu majority
From that moment, all Tutsis became alien and filthy
Filthy like the cockroaches
As we were called by the Hutu
Women were raped
Barely clad infants who couldn’t speak
Were murdered in cold blood
And as the African soil was warmed by blood,
All the killers could mutter was….
All is fair in love and war
As eight hundred thousand Tutsis
Were murdered
In that bleak, dark, thunder-stricken rainy season
Of April 1994 in Rwanda
Till date the heavens still mourn every April
I kept hoping that this killing of ourselves in Africa would stop
But Rwanda isn’t the only African country
To have vultures testify about how the fresh blood from a young infant
Oozed till it was a clogged up brown

It’s Biafra…
All had never been fair during the Biafran war
But still that had been the mantra
Of the Nigerian side
As three million children died
Due to Starvation
Why feed our enemies fat
If they turn back to fight us?…
And so that statement gave rise
To the economic blockade during the war
The result of that statement
Was the death of over three million Biafran children
From kwashiorkor
Their protruding stomachs and thin heads
Were testimonies to the grave inhumanity
Carried out during the Biafran War of 1967-1970

These wars were barbaric
Uncalled for and left Africans
Generations to come after the wars
With deep emotional scars
Often resulting
In hard bitter tribalism
That no tribe could exactly point out to its cause
But these wars were the direct cause
So what exactly caused these wars themselves?
Was it imperialism?
Or the failure of the African state to curb imperialism?
Or the anger of Africans towards imperialism?
As it ensured that certain tribes
That had a long history of slave raids and local wars
Suddenly became one
Leaving the uphill task of identifying
As members of a new nation
With a new national identity
To everybody and nobody in particular
These wars were a testament
To the fact that
All was never fair
In the colonial creation of the African state

But we would rise above the heartbreaking consequences
Of long term imperialism and colonization
Yes, the road to freedom was long and bitter
And the taste of liberty upon our independence
Was worse and even more bitter tasting
We would rise
So that future generations of young Africans
Wouldn’t allow the African soil
To be warmed by infant blood
As they proclaim
With voices filled with anger and throats hungry for blood
All is fair in love and war

The End
By Angel Chinenyenwa Nduka-Nwosu