Author Archives: Tunrayo

Top 6 Podcast Recommendations

Listening to podcasts reminds me of listening to the radio. The major difference being that anyone can start a podcast while being on air at a radio station involves formal procedures. There was a time I wanted to delete the podcasts app on my phone because I never used it but I was unable to. The podcasts app is in-built on my phone. I started listening to podcasts when I realised that some bloggers behind the blogs I read had podcasts.

Today, I decided to share six of my favourite podcasts.

1) This Afropolitan Life: It is hosted by Clarissa Bannor, a Ghanaian-American. I discovered her podcast while reading one of her articles on She Leads Africa. She included her site in her bio on the platform. I checked it out and saw that she interviewed an actress from a web series I love, An African City. The actress she interviewed was Maame Adjei and I listened to it. From then, I’ve been a regular listener to Clarissa’s podcasts. She focuses on the stories and experiences of Africans both in the diaspora and on the continent. One of my favourite episodes was on weddings. She had an events planner, Maame on the show and they spoke about planning an African wedding. Maame mentioned how brides would see something pretty on Instagram and would only want to pay $500 for that beautiful thing they saw on Insta. If you want the fancy decor you saw on Pinterest, you have to pay for it.

Clarissa is vegan and she had an episode on being vegan and African. One of Clarissa’s friends was on the podcast and she’s vegan too. It was interesting to hear what it’s like being vegan in a household where all your family members are eating jollof rice (which has meat stock) and fried fish at a family gathering.

2) The Pool: They have episodes such as Dear Viv which is like an agony aunty show. People send in questions like- what happens when you move in with your homeowner boyfriend and you break up. They also interview authors so I listen to them for book recommendations. They interviewed Kit de Waal, the author of My Name is Leon and immediately I was sold on reading her book. It’s on my Goodreads list now. It’s a book about a boy who is mixed race and comes from a poor family. The story explores how it can be difficult for young black boys to be adopted. Leon has a younger half- brother who is white and he got adopted but Leon wasn’t.

3) The Pandolly Podcast: This is a popular culture, fashion and entertainment podcast hosted by two British ladies, Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton. It’s the Sunday Times Style podcast. On one of the podcasts, they spoke how much they had stalked a wedding on social media. Then, they saw one of the guests at that wedding in real life and they were about to say hello. They then realised that they didn’t know the guest.However, because they had looked at the wedding pictures a lot, they felt for a moment that they knew the guest. Dolly and Pandora are interesting to listen to so check them out.

4) Ctrl Alt Delete: This is hosted by Emma Gannon, who is a British blogger, author and podcaster. Her podcast has the same name as her book. I think that was a brilliant marketing strategy as the name of her book sticks quickly in people’s mind once you begin to listen to her. She has had popular YouTubers- Zoella and Tanya Burr as guests on her podcast. It’s interesting how social media has shaped people’s careers and lives. My little cousin once told me, he wants to be a YouTuber. Social media has changed our aspirations and Emma talks about how lives are different now that we are online a lot more.

5) Not Your African Cliche(NYAC): Four young Nigerian ladies run this podcast. I like that I can relate to their discussions. Their latest episode was about going back to school and they shared their memories of returning to boarding school in Nigeria after the holidays. It brought back many memories for me. They mentioned how people felt under pressure to say they went abroad (when they didn’t go) during their summer holidays in order to fit in. One of my memories of returning to secondary school after the holidays was ironing my clothes and hanging them in the car, rather than folding them in  my suitcase so they would not get rumpled. I remember going to the tailor and telling how many house wears I needed for school. Also, I always had tummy ache on resumption day because I didn’t want to go to school. I really identify with NYAC podcast and if you’re looking for a podcast where you get to hear the voice of young Nigerians, NYAC would be my top recommendation

6) MyTaughtYou: This is hosted by Myleik Teele, who is the founder of Curlbox, a beauty subscription service in the US. Myleik is really down to earth and she says it as it is. She answers questions from listeners and shares her experiences as an entrepreneur in the natural haircare industry. I like that she not only runs Curlbox but she connects with people in a different way through running her podcast.

In all, podcasts allow me to discover the world in a different way. One minute, I’m listening to a podcast about weddings and the next minute I’m listening to a podcast on whether Pippa Middleton is a socialite or not. I like stories so I think that’s part of the reason why I love podcasts.

Do let me know in the comments if you listen to podcasts and which ones you recommend.

Photo Credit: This Afropolitan Life, Emma Gannon, Myleik, The Pool, The Pandolly Podcast and Not Your African Cliche.

On Travelling Light as a Young Woman

You know those times when you pack your makeup bag with all your makeup products for one weekend and wonder why your travelling bag is heavy. I’ve come to realise that I don’t need so many products on a weekend away.  I tend to wear eyeliner, mascara and a bold lipstick as my typical everyday makeup look so those are the only makeup products I take with me. The only time I take my products for a full made up face is when I’m going for a wedding or an event. I know not everyone will be able to do with just 3-4 items but “do you boo.”(Side note: my cousin questions my ability to wear lipstick without any foundation. She said I can get away with it because I wear bold lip colours and she has advised me to never wear a nude lip colour without foundation).

On holiday in Skegness wearing lipstick and mascara. I can’t be carrying many makeup products. Who is looking at me? 

When I’m done with sorting out my makeup, I move on to my hair. I have  to plan well when my hair is out. Do I need to take my leave-in conditioner with me? The last time I travelled down to London, I moisturised my hair before travelling so I wouldn’t have to for the next couple of days. I was staying over at my cousins’ that weekend so if my hair got dry, I could always ask them for a moisturiser. 

Then what would I read while I’m away? I have to take a book with me. If my book is too big and I don’t want to take it with me, I reread one of my kindle books on my phone. My favourite hard copy books to take with me while travelling are my Ankara Press novels, They are small in size and fit and I feel like I’m carrying nothing when I have one with me. I didn’t think twice when I put one of their novels- Black Sparkle Romance in my overnight bag when I last travelled to London  because it wasn’t going to be a burden for me to carry.

Train ride to London with my novel and overnight bag

My hair is sorted. Books are sorted and makeup, I gatchu but what about my clothes. My grandma would say, “you only need one pair of trousers and two tops for your break.” That advice wasn’t for me. I would take clothes I don’t need and end up staring at them and questioning why I brought them. In winter, packing gets tougher because of the thick clothes I wear during that season that fill my bag in no time. However, I’ve learnt to manage this. No need for five jumpers just because I’m going away for a week.

On holiday in Skegness last autumn

I would end with my favourite excerpt on travelling from a novel, From Pasta to Pigfoot.  It’s a scene where the main character, Faye is travelling from Ghana to London and there are a lot of people travelling with huge amounts of luggage.

“‘Dad, have you seen the amount of luggage some people are taking?’…Directly in front of them, a young couple had two trolleys, each laden with suitcases, canvas tote bags and cardboard boxes firmly secured with masking tape. The woman was carrying a handbag on top of an even larger shoulder bag while trying to push a smaller wheeled suitcase… When Ghanaians are returning home, they always take huge amounts of luggage.”– From Pasta to Pigfoot by Frances Mensah Williams

Do you find travelling light difficult or easy? 

Book Review: Love’s Persuasion by Ola Awonubi

Love’s Persuasion is a romance novel where two characters, Ada and Tony meet and the story explores their relationship and other situations they face as young people at work who have to deal with expectations from their families.

Tony was sent abroad to study in England at the age of 10. When he was 28,  his parents asked that he return back to Lagos to head his father’s finance company. Tony had other career interests in writing but his father wasn’t keen about that.

“I have spent my life building up my businesses for you and all you want is to do is to stay in London doing this writing thing…Do you think I sent you to London to become the next Chinua Achebe? You have a degree in business and finance and your ACCA for a reason, you know.”

Ada, on the other hand was from a low-income family and was expected to marry a rich husband to take care of her family. The story looks at whether Ada would succumb to that to raise her family’s living standards or if she would choose to work hard to build a well-paying career for herself. Ada had extensive financial responsibilities towards her family and she was also paying her university fees and working alongside her studies. An excerpt on her experience was,

‘Books call Ada’. ‘Money call Ada’. ‘The roof is falling down call Ada’. How many pieces do you want me to divide myself into?’

Tony and Ada are from different social backgrounds so we see if their love survives the class differences between them.

I think Ola, the author explored a different returnee experience when she wrote about Tony moving back to Lagos. I watched An African City, which is a web series about five female women who had lived in the West and moved back to Ghana. It was nice to read about a man’s returnee experience which maybe a bit different from a woman’s.

Exploring how Tony schooled abroad from a young age and turned out fine was interesting as I’ve listened to conversations on how going to boarding school overseas at a very young age can affect a child negatively. I once read a novel, Mother’s Choice by Agbo Areo (it was required reading in secondary school) and was about a boy who left Nigeria to school in England and how he joined bad friendship groups in England and didn’t turn out great. Love’s Persuasion offers a different perspective on still being able to excel in life, even though the child’s faraway from home.

I met Ola, the author at the Africa Writes literary festival and that was where I bought a signed copy of her book.

Ola Awonubi and I

There’s a video review to the book as well.

Do you read romance novels? And what’s your favourite genre to read?

 

Social Media: Making and Maintaining Friendships

July was a month of catching up with friends so I thought I would write about social media and friendships. I joined Facebook in 2008 and since then I’ve gone on to join other platforms. In 2011, I created a Twitter account because everyone kept talking about tweeting and having an avatar (Twitter’s way of saying a profile picture) but I deleted the Twitter app on my phone because I wasn’t using it. I didn’t know why I needed a Twitter account since I had Facebook but now I know better. Twitter has become one of my favourite social media platforms as I get to keep up with the world through my account (P.S. follow me on Twitter @tunrayo_akande if you haven’t already). If you ever wonder where I discover the book events I attend, it’s on Twitter.

Through Twitter, I met the lovely Kachi from kacheetee.com. I tweeted at a company Chuku’s because I wanted to try out their food and needed to know their prices. Chuku’s make Nigerian food in Tapas style. Kachi saw that I was interested in going to Chuku’s and we ended up going together. Yay to making new friends on social media. 

Kachi and I
Food from Chuku’s
Beyond meeting new people on social media, I get to keep in touch with my old friends. I was on Snapchat talking to my friend, Funmiloye who I hadn’t seen in 3 years. I saw a snap about her on holiday and decided to ask her about it. We got talking and she told me she was having a barbecue in London and asked if I was able to come. Of course, a girl never turns down a barbecue and that was how we met up. What I love about Snapchat is that if I see a snap, I can easily communicate with my friend based on their snaps rather than having to think of what to say.
Funmiloye and I

I got to see a couple of my other friends in July as well. I saw my friend from A Levels, Yatta in Birmingham. We hadn’t seen since our first year at uni and I happened to be in Birmingham for a graduation so I thought let me just message her and see if she’s free. She was so we spent the evening together.

With Yatta in Birmingham

Two of my friends from university got married so I caught up with my uni friends too.

My parents once said my generation could keep in touch better with our friends because we have social media. My mum added that regardless of whether you have social media, you still need to make the effort to use it to connect with your friends through messaging from time to time.

So let me end with some advice to you and myself that requires just a little bit of effort. Call your friends today. It’s not when you need something that you remember to call them. When you can, meet up with them. Social media is great but nothing beats seeing friends in real life. 

Story Time: My Experience at Boarding School in Nigeria

In 2004,  I resumed secondary school at Louisville in Nigeria. I was excited and told my older brother that I won’t be joining him at his school as I was going to Louisville. Little did I know what awaited me at secondary school. 
I had read two of Enid Blyton’s boarding school series, St. Clare’s and Malory Towers when I was in primary school but I knew Louisville wasn’t going to be like that. There was no way Louisville which is situated in the South-west region of Nigeria would be similar to the schools in England that Enid Blyton wrote about.

This picture was taken in 2010 near the end of my final year at school. I’m the third person from the left. 

Did boarding school meet my expectations? I had no expectations but boarding school taught me many things and instilled values in me that I live by today. At the time, I didn’t really appreciate the value of going to Louisville though I knew I was privileged to go to a good private school. There were moments when I cried because I couldn’t understand why I was under the hot sun cutting grass as punishment for not laying my bed properly. I left Louisville  knowing that outdoor labour like cutting grass isn’t for me. There were punishment times, happy times with my schoolmates and academic sessions to get the qualifications that I needed.


Watch the video below to hear me talk about my experience.

It was hard to capture six years of being at boarding school in a video of less than six minutes but I was able to share my memories of it and the lessons from Louisville. 
Let me know your fondest memories from school and whether you went to boarding or day school. 

Day Out at the Africa Writes Literary Festival

I found out that there was going to be the Africa Writes festival at the British Library on social media and given that I love African literature, I was interested. The event ran for 3 days but I only attended on the second day- Saturday.

At the British Library

I chose to attend sessions on digital publishing and diversity in children’s publishing and a book launch. Yewande Omotoso launched her book- The Woman Next Door so I was able to find out more about her writing and the book. 

I enjoyed all the sessions and the panel discussions were very interesting. I’ll give you a mini recap on the session as the issues they discussed are topical. The sessions were:

The Digital Debate: A New Era of Reading and Publishing
This was facilitated by the ladies who founded Bahati Books, a digital publishing house. What drew me to attend was the constant conflict in my mind on whether to buy e-books or hard copies. The latter always wins the war. I’ve only read 2 books on Kindle and the first time I bought a Kindle book, I thought e-books were cheap. I bought it for £1 but I guess there must have been a promotion at the time. 
The publishers on the panel mentioned how they can play with the prices of their e-books and that’s why it may seem cheap at certain periods. They can afford to change prices on e-books but hard copies have the prices already printed on them. The panel spoke on how it can be costly producing e-books so we shouldn’t expect it to be free.
There was a discussion on free content and how “just because it’s digital, doesn’t mean it’s free.” However, I feel there’s a place for free digital content from authors. I like when I’m able to read blog posts or short stories from authors online for free before committing to buying a book. There are short stories on Brittle Paper which I read from time to time to discover new authors.

An interesting issue was also whether certain genres like erotica do better in e-book sales. It was said that 50 Shades of Grey did well in e-book sales as people perhaps felt more comfortable reading it digitally than holding a copy version and reading it in public. 

“There’s no such thing as a Black Princess: Diversity in Children’s Publishing”
This was about the need for representation of characters from different backgrounds. I knew growing up, I read many books by Enid Blyton where I didn’t see any characters like me and I didn’t think much of it at the time. However, it’s important that children see themselves in books because every background is valid.

One thing I took away from this were that stories are for everyone. Just because, a book has black characters doesn’t mean it’s only meant to be read by black children.

Then, there was a question on whether books should have raceless characters. For example, there was a casting of a black actress as Hermione in the West End play, Harry Potter and The Cursed Child and this caused a lot of debate. JK Rowling defended this casting as the ethnicity of Hermione was “never specified” in the book. From the session, I figured the panel was more drawn to ethnicity of characters being specified.

Finally, what’s a book event without an opportunity to buy books? There was a book marketplace and I bought a romance novel by Ola Awonubi, called Love’s Persuasion and chatted with Ola.

Ola Awonubi and I

Overall, I enjoyed Africa Writes and I plan to next year and attend more of the sessions. It was a lovely way to spend my Saturday.

Let me know in the comments section if you’re a lover of e-books or you’re a hard copy girl like me.

Baking With Daisy from Daisy Brydon Creations

On a morning in May, I had an appointment at an office but it was closed when I got there. Daisy’s bakery was close by and it was raining so I asked Daisy if I could stay in her bakery. I ended up spending my day in Daisy’s bakery.   
Given that I was with her for awhile, I was interested in how Daisy started her business and I asked her questions about it.  Daisy was an actress but was suffering from insomnia and depression. To cope with this, she started baking in the evenings when she got back from acting. She had a mentor who advised that he couldn’t help with acting. He asked if there was anything else she did and Daisy said “I kinda bake.” That was the beginning of the business and she started the business in her grandmother’s kitchen. There were challenges she faced at the start such as figuring out profit margins and turnover. Her bakery has grown since then and she’s moved the bakery out of her grandmother’s kitchen. Her bakery business has been running for four years.

Watching Daisy work made me realise how baking and cake designs require creativity. Daisy specialises in creating sculpture cakes and is able to show her creativity through her cake designs and recipes. She taught me how to make vanilla biscuits as she makes biscuits for her customers. I thought people only bought biscuits from supermarkets and the like. Apparently, clients sometimes want customised biscuits.

Staying in Daisy’s bakery reminded me of my mum’s bakery in Lagos. My mum is also a baker and has been running her business for about 20 years. When I was younger, I helped out a bit in the bakery but never learnt how to bake anything from start to finish. As I’ve grown older, I’ve developed more interest in baking and running a small business like my mother’s.

Going back to Daisy’s, her cupcakes are amazing. I tried her carrot cupcakes with Italian Meringue icing. The icing is quite light so it didn’t feel heavy.

You can check out Daisy’s work on Instagram at @daisybcreations and she’s recently launched a new product- Whoopie Pies and you can check out her Whoopie Pie Instagram account @whoopsiedaisybakery 

My mum’s business is on Instagram at @cakesetcetera_bakery and she’s available for orders in Lagos. 

VLOG: Nigerian Wedding at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire

I attended a wedding with my family in Buckinghamshire on the May 2 Bank holiday weekend. The wedding was at Heatherden Hall in Pinewood Studios, the production home of many films including Star Wars and James Bond movies.  I’d never been to Buckinghamshire so I didn’t pay attention to the location of the venue when I saw the invitation card. Well, I googled how I needed to get there and that was it. It was when I got there that it dawned upon me that I was at a major British TV and film studio.

We stayed at Pinewood Hotel and that was where I got ready. I couldn’t travel from London in my heels and outfit. 
I recorded a vlog on my time there. There was a lot of dancing and party food, but didn’t record the food for you. 
The wedding was also featured on Bellanaija

Book Event Recap: New Nigerian Writing with Cassava Republic Publishing

This year, I’ve been reading a lot of African fiction so I was excited when Cassava Republic said they were hosting an event where I could meet some African writers. To say a bit about Cassava Republic, they are a publishing company whose mission is “to change the way we think about African writing”. They launched in London in April but I think they’ve been based in Nigeria for about seven years. They had some events around the time of their launch in the UK. One of the events was An Evening of New Nigerian Writing and this was organised with Dulwich Books, a bookshop in South East London. I learnt about the event on Cassava Republic’s Facebook page. 
I picked up three of Cassava Republic’s new releases there and I met the authors of the books- Leye Adenle, Elnathan John and Sarah Ladipo Manyika. There was a deal where I could get three books for £25. I felt buying the books at the event saved me from having to order it online on a later date and wait for it to get delivered. I’m glad that Cassava Republic is establishing their presence in the UK as it’s a platform to showcase the works of African writers. A lady I met at the event told me that this was my first of many book events. 
One of the books I got
In the video, I mention the two other books I got and share a recap on the event. 
One of the issues raised at the event was whether people were reading less? Do you think we, as individuals are reading less?   

Book Review: Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie

I thought I had read Purple Hibiscus while I was in secondary school. This was because it was required reading for the students below me at my secondary school. I thought I borrowed it from one of them. However, when I picked up the book to read this year, the story seemed very unfamiliar to me. That was when I realised that I had never read it before. 
Everywhere I hear about African writers, Adichie’s name is mainly mentioned so I was interested in reading her work. I share my thoughts of Purple Hibiscus in the video below. 
Have you read any of Chimamanda’s books? If you have, let me know which one you liked the best.  What books have you enjoyed lately and would like that I check out?