Tuesday, 24 December 2013

I'm The Mosquito Slayer

Day One I went out as soon as I arrived. I slathered my skin with repellent over my sunscreen.

During the day there aren't many if any mosquitoes, so on Day Two I literally just applied sunscreen and went out.

When I got back at night I had to clear my room from mosquitoes.

I took my shoes and pretty much swatted them when I could. I inspected my bed like a madwoman several times and took down the mosquito net and inspected my bed and net one more time before I decided to call it a day.

I did put some repellent on my skin again (feet, arms, neck, face and forehead). Hey it doesn't smell nice and my eyes feel slightly irritated, but it does work.

I'm not on holiday to get sick. At all. Daily I've been taking supplements and my malaria prophylaxis.

This one night I woke up to buzzing at about 5am-ish. I was annoyed. I knew the mosquito was fighting to suck my blood. So after some major erratic movements with my blanket I was desperate for it to go. So I put on my artificial flashlight (my iPhone 'flashlight') and quickly got up out of bed to grab my repellent and slather it where required.

While scanning my room for the repellent, I found a cockroach, almost the size of the inside of my hand excluding the fingers, on the dresser.

My heart sank.

I didn't have many crazy encounters with bugs in Africa so far but this was something else. I found my repellant and with quickness I got back into bed. I could not believe what I had seen.

The buzzing of the mosquito calmed down and it became the least of my worries. The loud, big cockroach became the centre of my concern. The way it was loud!

I covered myself in my bathrobe and blanket and wrote this post, desperate for it to be sunrise.

In the morning I was tired as hell. I didn't sleep for about three hours in the morning because of the loud mosquito buzzing. My cousin was asking me why I was still asleep and I told him about the mosquito buzzing.

Later on my other cousin arrived and sorted my room out. I haven't been (pun alert) bugged by mosquitoes since.

However, I missed a dose on Wednesday so thought on Thursday morning, 'let me just take the medication'. Mind you, I hadn't eaten and I only took it with a few sips of bottled water.

I was already feeling a little sick to my stomach. However, a good ten minutes later the medication made me feel worse so I decided to lie down. Another ten minutes later I had to rush to the bathroom. I was violently sick.

I refreshed myself and decided to just eat a few biscuits and wash it down with water. I sat up in bed for a while but had to rush to the bathroom again because I was getting ill yet again.

I ended up cancelling my day, spending most of my time napping in bed trying to get well.

I learned my lesson.

Saturday I went to spend the night away from home and took some of my anti-malaria medication with me. I had about two tablets with me.

Sunday I became trapped because of the unrest in Juba; I was first stuck in a hotel and then the place I was only meant to be staying at for two nights.

I missed my malaria prophylaxis for about two to three nights. I was getting concerned. I couldn't get the rest of the prophylaxis and my stuff because parts of the city was unsafe. I tried to survive on my repellent as much as possible as well as inspecting the inside of my net and slaying any mosquitoes I would see.

Now I have definitely become accustomed to living life in a malaria zone. Before I go to bed I always put on repellant and I take my prophylaxis right after I eat. I even take it about six hours apart from my supplements as some minerals such as iron found in supplements can inhibit absorption.

The sound of mosquitoes is still incredibly annoying and the only two remedies that works for me is either,

1) kill them,
2) get so tired and pass out.

The buzzing is still an issue, for the most part, but I will survive. Let's hope tonight is a great one.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

From Cairo to Juba.

At Cairo I encountered familiar faces; that of South Sudanese. We can spot each other miles away and notice such similarities that one uncle even mistook one guy for someone he knew.

I had a wonderful time with them talking about Juba etc, even being pushed out of my comfort zone by being spoken to in Thuongmuonyjang. It was great practice. I started responding to some questions in the language and also attempted to formulate other possible responses I may use later on during my trip.

So we queued for boarding and I was so certain this one woman queued right on top of me. I didn't feel at ease; I love my personal space. Even moving slightly forward didn't send this lady a message. I just had a preview of what I will encounter in Juba.

Overhead luggage space is abused and misused. People putting plastic bags there, handbags and single briefcases.

I had a small carry-on suitcase which clearly couldn't go under the seat in front or behind me. A wonderful gentleman, a South Sudanese from America, took the initiative to rearrange the luggage so that my little suitcase could fit in the overhead space. I was highly thankful. He was next to me throughout the journey and we just spoke and discussed.

The flight was (naturally) full with South Sudanese but there were also foreigners on the flight. I'm assuming some were NGOs or business people.

The flight also felt like eternity but I had a great chat with the South Sudanese American who told me about Juba International Airport. Funnily enough, a friend asked me before I boarded the flight to write an article on the airport. The fellow passenger ruined the surprise and told me all about it. I mentally prepared myself for what I would possibly experience next.

Anyhow, when we were beginning to land I was perhaps on cloud nine (literally and figuratively) because the flight finally ended. I was coming home.

Friday, 20 December 2013

A Bad Case Of Traveler's Fear (Fear of the Unknown)

(Originally started 12th December 2013).

Days before I came to Juba, I was under a whole lot of fear.

I was having a bad case of 'fear of the unknown'. I did not know what to expect on my first trip to my own country. I did not know how I would be treated, if I would fit in, if I would feel comfortable with the languages, the local behaviour and customs etc.

The fear was there and it even came with a little bit of sadness. I was terrified out of my mind and expressed this to a few loved ones; some really tried to comfort me.
Other loved ones/friends gave me some tips and advice. For months I've been told by anyone who has been to Juba that,

1) it is a wonderful, great city, etc.2) keep an open mind if you go. Your experience will be different to the next person's.
I'm glad I have come here and actually made my own judgments and decisions so far; something that would have been fair for me to do any way.

My fear came out of a place of wanting to belong. For so long I have expressed much love for Africa, some kind of knowledge on the continent's rich history and the continuing neo-colonial presence. But there's a big difference between reading and educating on Africa and actually coming here to see everything for yourself; reality sets in and pretty much all your ideals of what can become of the continent takes a back seat.

My fear was elevated when I arrived. I stood out like a sore thumb (it could have been because I was wearing a hoodie in 40 degrees Celsius weather when I first arrived...).

The airport was just chaotic but luckily I was too tired to be expressively fearful.

From the airport to my cousin's house on the outskirts of the city, the fear came out little by little in the form of awkward laughs and consistent staring from the car windows.

I just couldn't believe I was here and I was seeing/experiencing the things I did.
On day one I even asked myself, 'why am I here?'.

I've always lead a very comfortable existence. Every place I've been have always been somewhat relatable to the UK or Netherlands. But this was so new for me. The air I was breathing, the languages I was hearing, the things I was seeing. Day One was overwhelming for someone like me to the point where I just went out with my cousin immediately because I was too shocked to sleep and recover from my long-haul flight.

I had to get used to the constant stares. I felt like people were peering into my soul from the moment they began to set eyes on me.

My cousin funnily told me that, 'if a guy likes you, he just stares'. And her dad told her that.
Funnily enough I just think people stare because people appear to be pretty brazen about things. Which is ok and quite funny.

It's now Day Four and I'm still a little fearful of walking down the streets of Juba because of the stares. The 'fear' I had was not the same kind of fear I had before I came home, it was rather mild and more superficial.

I've been told that I will grow accustomed to the stares so the fear of stepping outside on my own or even with someone else will slightly go away. Looking like fresh meat is not the way to go if you want to blend in amongst your people.

It is Day Ten and I have to say I have grown accustomed to my concerns. My fear of not being able to fit in has pretty much dissipated. I have familiarised myself with the unknown. Most importantly, I have decided/concluded that,

1) fitting in should never be the sole aim of any one person in any area of life,2) I pride myself on being unique and that is what I need to carry with me wherever I go,3) people in Juba aren't that different from myself!

To conclude, feel fear, analyse it, try and rationalise it. But don't let it consume you or stop you having a good time.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

The Woes of International Travel: Egyptair 'Food'.

My experience from London Heathrow to Cairo has been a mildly adventurous one, with intermittent laugh-inducing events.

Egypt Air's plane interior and logo etc are incredibly modest and basic; they are definitely no Emirates. If anything they're like a stale version Emirates; stale, covered with emerging mold. The only thing they have in common with Emirates is the Arabic, other than that...

On the first flight we were served with a square cake, basic salad which consisted mostly of the inner parts of lettuce resembling the colour of a cabbage. They tried with half sliced black olives, which were white from within, which concerned me.

The hot meal was rice, chicken in a sort of broth/sauce and tinned peas and carrots on the side.

Upon first bite I feared the worst. The chicken looked unappetising, the vegetables were clearly microwaved and the rice was the only winner here.

Bite by bite I felt my cholesterol raising, hence my blood pressure, something I didn't need. The food was that salty.

I managed to muster up the strength to finish this 'meal' and proceeded to just drink juice. I didn't touch the bread and complimentary butter or the cake. All I could envision was the same stale flavour and texture I had encountered earlier.  I didn't want to put myself off my favourite; cake.

On flight two to Juba, the attendant asked; chicken or beef. I was overcome with slight terror as flashbacks from last night's dinner took over all my other previous thoughts. I thought 'not fucking again'.

The salad which had a red pepper slice which was satisfactory. I left the purple olive out. The 'hot meal' consisted of what I had last night except the broth or sauce was a little different.

With each bite I envisioned myself going to the toilet more than I am used to. I even envisioned myself probably throwing my head over the toilet as my body spasms to get out the foreign object that was this dinner out of my body.

I fought when I ate. I fought hard. I felt forced because people around me chowed down and I didn't want to feel like I was being disrespectful. However, at some point I glanced at the food of the gentleman on my left and he sort of stopped eating which was my cue to save the rest of my taste buds and digestive system.

I did not continue eating. I just drank orange juice in a desperate attempt to cleanse my taste buds after this 'dinner'.

Afterwards I felt slightly relieved but still horrified that this 'food' is being served. I've flown before and the food then was what I thought abysmal but this meal by Egyptair has ripped off the title from the original owner.

It is fair to say that Egyptair's plane interior design and cabin crew, is truly a reflection of the food they serve. However, nothing beats flying about five hours from London to Cairo and about four from Cairo to Juba. I suppose the fact that this trip is shorter than other available options, will make me keep coming to Egyptair. I'm pretty sure with time, my body will adapt to their cuisine.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Does Liking Rock Music Make You 'Less Black'?

Rock music has always been one of my favourite genres. Particularly in my teens, I used to obsess over My Chemical Romance (do not judge), I loved Green Day and I rocked out to Aerosmith. I simply love rock music.

Whenever I would mention this to other black people, the responses would go either way:

1) 'REALLY?! ME TOO!!! Wow finally another black person who listens to rock music!!!'.
2 ) 'LOL. You're such a white girl/Oreo. Black people don't listen to rock music'.

Not even exaggerating.

There are just two type of black people when it comes to rock music; those who are finally happy to hear another black person openly expressing their love for rock music and those who are definitely not into rock music and feel that only white people can listen to rock music.

So I got into an interesting conversation on Twitter where I literally just expressed other black people's disdain when I told them I listened to rock music. Aaron Lee of Aaron Lee, who I met at the Media Diversity UK launch party, saw the conversation and felt compelled to write this piece; Does liking rock music make you 'less black'?.

Aaron Lee's article summarised for simplicity:

  • Musical prejudice is alive and well here in 2013
  • Jimi Hendrix was considered a freak by his black peers for his love of guitar and rock music
  • The genre we call 'rock music' can be considered of black origin
  • Rock emerged out of blues, jazz and folk; fragmenting its origins as well as claims it was created by one nation or people
  • White people have had a hand in progressing and evolving black music as musicians, composers, DJs, label founders and more
  • Rock music has borrowed from 'black music' many times and vice versa
  • Ultimately, black people who look down on their peers for enjoying rock music or music of any kind that they do not consider 'black enough' are guilty of the same ignorance that certain white people hold about hip hop. 
Everyone responds to music regardless of ethnic, racial and cultural differences. 

Music transcends between genres and transcends between cultures. If it's good, you will respond to it and the language of the lyrics does not even matter.

To summarise, music is for all to enjoy, all to relish, all to dance to, all to sing to, all to tap your feet to... music is not exclusive to a group of people, it can and should be experienced by anyone

Sunday, 1 December 2013

I Graduated!

I have officially reached 'graduate status', which means, I got the cap and gown pic and my graduation certificate.

It's been a journey to remember; three years of rigorous studying; late nights, all-nighters, coffee in the morning, the afternoon and the night time, junk food 24-7, late evenings in the lab, the dreaded group work... I lived through it all, every year. 

I have to admit though that third year was particularly unique because I once stayed up 24 hours and that was to get my dreaded thesis done.

University has been an amazing journey. I stayed local so I lived at home. My options of fun was quite limited but I sort of lived like a hermit anyway so it didn't matter that much... plus I was saving quite a bit of money over the years.

Would I do it again? 

I am itching to go back to school again. I want to do a masters, preferably something with relation to my degree. I wanted to do a Journalism MA but I figured that I don't need to study journalism in order to do journalism. Plus I don't really know what I want to do with my life... so I figured I should study more (especially since pretty much everyone has a bachelor's these days) and hopefully I'll figure out what I really want to do.

Honestly, I don't think that I'm the type of person to stick to just one thing, I'm definitely a jane-of-all-trades so I will continue in the publishing/writing/journalism world while doing something else besides it (like live out my passion and love for science).

What was my graduation day like? 

Let's just say that graduation day (particularly for women) is kind of like a preview of how you would be on your wedding day... it was stressful. I snapped at pretty much everyone around me. I thought I was going to be too late to pick up the gown.

Once I got to the university, I rushed out my cousin's car to get to the building where they had the gowns etc.

Putting on the gown was incredibly emotional but I didn't cry (imagine that I did not cry the entire day? I'm also surprised).

Fast forward to the hall; I was wearing high heels that weren't too comfortable, so a friend who was on the same course as me had her handbag and spare flats which I asked I could wear. The walk to the stage seemed like eternity so I was really thankful I chose comfort over style.

The graduants' names were called in threes, my name was obviously butchered -_____-''

I shook the hand, accepted my degree and walked back. The walk back felt like an eternity too.

Fast forward to outside; had a photo-op with friends and family. It was a wonderful and a beautiful day. Everyone was happy for me. I was overwhelmed with the amount of congratulatory messages I got, the gifts I got, the love I was showered with... it was a day to remember.

Afterwards we had dinner with invited friends and family which was also very enjoyable. I felt so much love... it was unreal.

I did everyone around me proud and most importantly I proved myself wrong. I struggled throughout third year and I genuinely believed I was not going to make it. But I made it. I made it... and I believe I can overcome some of the toughest challenges.

Here's to the future.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

I Pledge Positivity.


A good mindset is important for a healthy body, spirit and mind.

It's now November and today I've been reflecting the past year more than usual. Almost a year ago, I made that same reflection and came to the conclusion that I had an amazing professional and academic year.

Reflecting right now... so far I can say that this year has been kind to me, despite me being on my knees a few times this year.

My professional and educational life has been amazing:

From last year, I've definitely stepped things up! I first proved myself wrong (I got my 2.1 despite me thinking I couldn't really get it) and I did things I thought I could/would never do (co-hosting a show in front of a live audience).

I have met many wonderful and amazing people this year, young professionals, old professionals, journalists, musicians, writers, politicians... I have made many amazing and useful connections that I know I have and will be utilising.

But... why am I writing this post... right now? And not in December?

From about August/September, I began to lose steam. I started writing less (as I discussed in my 'writers' block disease' post) and I was working, consistently, almost every day. Some weeks I worked every day, some weeks I worked in just the working week. It's just been up and down for me (the whole entire year but I have to admit the past two months it's just been worse). It was also the first anniversary of my brother's death last September (which didn't make things any easier for me). I am still mourning despite pushing on and appearing joyful. I guess the gap in my life will always remain... the fading memories and the moments I would wish I could share with him.

After two months of being very up and down, emotionally, spiritually and mentally, I have decided to fight back. My friend Onyinye from Onyinyedraws and her positive mindset and incredible achievements has really inspired me to wake up and change my mind from 'I can't' to 'I can' and from 'I don't want to' to 'I want to'.

So from today, the 13th of November 2013 and onwards, I pledge to think positively:

  • I pledge to see the sunny side of things. 
  • I pledge to see the good that can come out of the bad. 
  • I will be positive, loving and giving and even forgiving. 
Tonight I'm reading the first few chapters (and more) of The Secret to just remind myself of the laws of attraction to get myself back into the mindset I was building on. Further, I genuinely believe that if you think positively and embody it, you will gain a lot of positivity in life... 

I'm 'patiently' waiting to go to Africa early December. Preparation (vaccination and visa) hasn't taken full force yet (next week is the week!). I think my trip will add an interesting end to my year... I can't wait to be there and start sharing my experiences.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

I'm an INTJ.

It's one of those days after a six day working week and I'm lying in bed, physically exhausted, mentally drained and feeling like life has sucked itself out of me.

I get a lot of dips in confidence, especially concerning my personality.

I have recently discovered ( thanks to an analysis by a dear friend and even through my own research) that I have an INTJ personality type (introversion, intuition, thinking, judgment).

What is an INTJ?

According to 16Personalities:
  • It's one of the most rarest and interesting personality types. 
  • They are seen as highly intelligent and perplexingly mysterious.  
  • They radiate self-confidence, relying on their huge archive of knowledge spanning many different topics and areas. 
  • They are considered as the most independent personality type. 
  • They are decisive, original and insightful. 
  • They do not seek or enjoy the spotlight
  • They often keep opinions to themselves if the topic of discussion does not interest them that much.  
  • They are natural leaders and excellent strategists
  • They dislike rules and artificial limitations – everything should be questionable and open to re-evaluation.
  • They find it very difficult to handle romantic relationships, especially in their earliest stages.
  • They are very good at improving their knowledge of (often diverse) topics and fields that interest them. 
  • They excel at being able to analyze anything that life throws at them, uncovering the underlying methodology and then applying it in practice. 
  • INTJs are very good at improving their knowledge of (often diverse) topics and fields that interest them. They take pleasure in tackling intellectual challenges and their natural curiosity pushes them forward as well.
  •  INTJ personalities can be very patient and dedicated if something excites or intrigues them. They will work hard to achieve their goals, often ignoring everything else.
  • INTJs are very good strategic thinkers, often using this strength to devise multiple contingency plans in both professional and personal situations.
  • INTJ personalities do not mind being proven wrong and enjoy being exposed to something they were not familiar with.
  • INTJ personalities loathe inefficiency and imperfection, trying very hard to iron out all the flaws and analyse all possibilities – if left unchecked, this trait can easily become a weakness, slowing down their work quite significantly and frustrating people around the INTJ.
  • INTJs tend to believe that everything can be analysed, even things that are not necessarily rational – e.g. human relationships. 
  • INTJ personalities often pride themselves in being brutally honest and logical.
Famous INTJs (fictional or not) include: 
  • Karl Marx
  • Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Mark Zuckerberg
  • Jane Austen
  • Nikola Tesla
  • Dr House 
I suppose this explains why I can get obsessed with certain tasks, why I like to plan ahead and why I snap when I'm interrupted while doing something... not to mention, I love to learn and I am open to learning new things! 

Of course, a personality type isn't just all that you are, everyone is diversified due to personal experiences and environmental factors, but of course, I think it's definitely the basis of my personality. 

Thursday, 7 November 2013

I Suffer From Writer's Block Disease (+ Four Tips To Defeat It).

I used to write a lot. Probably 'something' once a week.

Right now it seems like anything worthy of promotion (actual articles) gets written like once a month. Maybe once every two months if I really push myself.

The only places where I'm currently writing more text than my own blog is Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr... even Instagram (can you imagine I probably have more text on my Instagram than I have written on this blog for some time?).

Ok maybe I'm overreacting a little, but I have had a bad case of writer's block and it's been super frustrating. There's so much I have to write but I actually struggle to find the will to do so. I know I have to but I simply refuse to. It's that bad.

I'm not short of inspiration or topics to write or discuss, it's just the sheer effort it requires; multiple drafts, proper research, making sure it is a unique perspective, etc. It just takes effort.

I've also been working pretty much non-stop and ultra long hours. I don't really like to write at work, I generally prefer writing at home, where much of the inspiration and will tends to come. But I get home late, so I get too tired to write.

A friend told me I should slow down. Stop planning. Stop forcing myself to write... and ultimately, think about writing a lot less like it has to be done, like a chore. If you act like it has to be done, it becomes very unappealing and very job/chore-like.

As I am combatting my writer's block, I have a few tips which I have found helpful for inspiration (of course I need to implement some of these a whole lot more). When I am ready to return to writing on a more regular basis, I know these tips will be useful!*

(*I'll be honest and admit that this post is a way for me to get my post count up and really is my own solution to combat writer's block, see how things work out? Funny).

Here are four tips!

1. Have a notepad or phone with a notepad function on hand.

This is so helpful when you are on the go and consistently thinking... 

When a topic comes to mind or a funny line, write it down! Writing can then ensue. 

2. Stay up to date with current events.

Current events can give you some great topics to write about. This is especially helpful if you're into current events like politics or stuff like gossip.

3. Read books or magazines.

This will help you 1) get the topics you may want to discuss, 2) result in a book/magazine review and 3) help you improve your writing style.

Point 3 is pretty personal to me. I feel like I'm slacking... I feel like my writing is not at the level I would like for it to be. Reading books, articles and magazines will enable me to be a bit more creative in writing and help improve it, thus, I won't feel like I'm a bad writer and I shouldn't be writing anymore.

4. Stop making excuses for not writing! 

Seriously. Stop it. 'I'm tired' and 'I'm too busy' are all excuses to stop yourself from unleashing your potentially next viral article. I am so guilty of making excuses for myself. I truly am. I'll just say to myself, 'I have worked so hard, I deserve a break', while forgetting that freelance writing and writing on my personal blogs is actually an extension of my professional and working life -______-''

Get to writing!!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Juba 2013.

So I wrote about my plans to head to Africa this year after my graduation, I wrote about it here and here.

I am happy to announce that I am leaving for Juba, South Sudan early December.

The plan is that I will stay in Juba for a few weeks then head to my hometown Tonj (in Warrap, South Sudan). I will then return to Juba for new years, go to Kampala for a few days and spend a few weeks in Nairobi before going back to Juba and then back to the United Kingdom.

Of course I won't drive... 
I am really excited about my trip! It will be my first long break in forever. I won't be doing any work when I'm gone, it'll be impossible. I'm just going to spend time with friends and family, relax and familiarise myself with my surroundings.

Do I have any expectations? I've been consistently told to go in without any expectations and just to keep an open mind, something I am happy to do (it's only fair!). 

This week I am going to get my South Sudanese visa and I'm also going for my injections. Later this month I will get my malaria tablets and during the week before my travels I will get everything I will require for my trip. 

I'll be making detailed posts about my preparations, what I will take, etc. and most definitely, posts about my experience in Africa. Looking forward to it. 

Monday, 28 October 2013

Rest In Peace: One Year On.

My very last post regarding my late brother was written in May. He died on September 18th 2012.

May was a very dark time for me. I had just finished university and I was left with all of this free time to play scenarios in my head over and over again. I became so acquainted with my feelings that I spend most of my time in bed, crying and watching Parks and Rec to keep myself busy. May 15th was my brother's 20th birthday and it really wasn't easy.

I don't really walk on the street anymore and see a guy that reminds me of my brother or somehow think I see my brother. I suppose I have accepted that he is now gone and that I won't see him again.

I do miss his presence, his laughter, our intellectually stimulating conversations, his outbursts while playing Fifa 12 because someone scored another goal. My brother was one of the many lights of my life but he was truly unique and unforgettable.

I am saddened to say though that I feel like he's quickly becoming a distant memory. I'm only remembering fragments of our childhood and just some bits of his later teen life. Perhaps I have a bad memory? Or perhaps everything I have remembered is being pushed into the back of my head because thinking about it all was just so painful.

I still miss him. I still get sad. I still get moments where I want him to just come back. I still envy people who have that brother and sister bond that I used to have with my brother. However, I don't feel the hopelessness anymore. I feel like me and the rest of my family can still live on and continue to live a fulfilling and wonderful life.

The love he gave and the things we have talked about and said continues to bring me a whole lot of comfort. It encourages and motivates me to carry on and to do well and to live life like he couldn't.

Friday, 20 September 2013

My Excitement About Africa + Plans!

So I kind of discussed this before in some other blog post.

It's now past mid-September and I am just twiddling my thumbs, waiting for October to reach so that I know all of my plans for certain. October is also when I will book my (ONE-WAY?) ticket home! 

I have already compiled a list of things I am planning to do:
  • Taking pictures! Will be taking photos of landscape, living creatures and architecture. It'll be so much fun.
  • Visiting relatives. I have relatives galore in Nairobi, Kampala and Juba. And I'm not even mentioning the village. It'll be so nice to meet up with them all.
  • Work related stuff. So I'll be working for Talk of Juba (I'm one of the writers/co-founders) when I'm out there; finding stories and whatnot. I will also work on other things... either way, I won't be doing nothing! 
  • Living life. I'm going to relax, travel, hike, exercise, whatever else I could do in Africa.
  • Whatever comes up. I'm happy to try something new. Who knows what I will encounter? What I will start doing? Whatever happens, happens.
Many I've encountered have warned me not to have high expectations. I'm going with no expectations. That isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'm open to what I will experience... I'm giving Africa a chance. 

Monday, 16 September 2013

A Bad Case Of Road Rage.

Road rage is real. I've just experienced it today.

Last month I passed my driving theory. Compared to last year June (yes, I literally didn't do my theory again for almost another year), I did very little work on it. I guess I did so very little because I knew most of the answers to the questions already. I also practiced the dreadful hazard perception just the night before.

Sleep-deprived, I sat and did my theory at the test centre. I didn't have much thought on the outcome, I just wanted it done and go about my daily life. Basically, the lack of studying, doing the hazard perception last minute and frankly not giving a damn about the outcome, really demonstrated my intense lack of motivation.

I passed!

After the test was done, I sighed and I was glad it was done. I then went to pick up my results and the first line said... 'Congratulations!'. I was immediately cloud nine-ing! I finally passed! Contrasted with last year, I prepared for my theory weeks in advance and went over the theory questions and hazard perception like crazy but still managed to fail because of the damn hazard perception.

I had a showdown with hazard perception and defeated it!

So after all of that, I booked my first driving lesson in months and I did pretty well. My driving instructor thought I'd forget how to drive. Now I'm being pushed to pass my driving test in October, which is literally two weeks from now. I'll give it a try, but I will have to phone the DVLA for driving test cancellations in October since the nearest booking dates right now is early November.

Now onto the actual story of this blog post.

I was driving and I had to turn left. It took me a while to get to the biting point to get off to the left. There was a driver behind me who started to become impatient and began beeping and generally being disrespectful. I was swearing and getting very irate. My instructor told me to calm down and just to ignore it.

Funnily enough, through the anger, I was driving off and heading to my destination (Tesco's because I had to get to the cashpoint). The guy was still following me. I was still fuming.

My instructor suddenly said 'your driving has improved'. Today wasn't my driving day at all, but as soon as I got angry, it suddenly improved.

So I got to Tesco's and the guy got off at Tesco's too! Walking towards him, I really wanted to call him out on what he did.

'How can you beep me and my car is learner's bro?'.

I walked past him and went to the cash machine, I had to just let it go. The guy didn't even say anything to me, funnily enough, only minutes ago he had a whole lot to say.

It's people like him who makes learner drivers nervous on the road. Anyhow, next lesson is tomorrow and I am working hard towards getting my licence. I need it before I head to Africa!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

My First Notting Hill Carnival.

This year was my first time at the Notting Hill Carnival. I went to the Children's Day part of the carnival with my best friend (I didn't really expect to go, I just made a last-minute decision to go, which I don't actually regret when looking back). I've been told that Children's Day is calm and pretty child friendly, so having gone there I kind of missed the big deal of carnival (Adult's Day). However, I was so exhausted towards the end of the Bank Holiday Weekend because I had a whirlwind weekend and was just busy, busy, busy. Plus, as an introvert I felt the need to retreat to my happy place and just relax before I went back home to my city.

I initially went to London to join ISIS to the Woman In The Jungle Hair and Beauty Show. The Saturday was adventurous, at times stressful but highly rewarding... we made it. We received incredible feedback and the love for ISIS was amazing. ISIS is making strides.

We also had an encounter with Valley Fontaine at the event, who ended up interviewing ISIS CEO/Co-Founder Linda Graham on BBC Radio the next night (WOW!!!). So that Bank Holiday Weekend was just amazing for me and the people around me.

Back to the Carnival. The day was hot as hell. We jumped on the tube to Notting Hill and the way we all struggled for oxygen every time the tube doors opened... thank God I went with my instincts and actually wore a T-shirt and jeans that day and also my typical, signature Converses made for comfortable walking.

Despite the seemingly good prep, I messed up. I took a big tote and my coat inside it. Imagine carrying around a big bag behind a float with 100-odd people dancing right behind it, never again.

The first part of the day was calm. There were many people, but it was clear that as the day progressed, more and and more people attended. Me and my friend sort of looked around for the Chocolate Nation float, where my friend Hunii was. After a frantic search which included me and my best friend losing each other, we finally found Hunii and her float. I definitely had a proper workout that day, I'm sure I didn't need the gym for another two weeks after that.

Being someone who does not appreciate claustrophobia, I was surprised that I didn't struggle too much with all the touching, grinding and bumping in. I even danced and genuinely had fun. The only thing that I struggled with was the consistent walking (my feet were done at the end of the day). Also, some creepy guy tried to flirt with me and it became pretty scary at one point but then he got the message.

Now here are some of the pics I had taken with my Canon 600D. I used different settings for the different scenes. I still have a lot of practicing to do and should have also used the grid feature on the camera but hey. Practice makes perfect.

The sheer irony...

Trinidad represent!

In commemoration of the 50th March on Washington

The beautiful sky.

This boy is so cute! 

Paint everywhere.

I personally love this picture.

People everywhere.

Love her locs.

The chocolate lady.
 This woman smeared chocolate on my face!

At the Chocolate Nation float, bottles of chocolate was sprayed all over us. My friend got the most chocolate. I had chocolate on my shoes, T-shirt and my camera! It was all a little messy, but I really did enjoy myself.

'Check me out!'.

These guys asked for a picture, LOL!

I will go again next year! 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Life As A Widower.

So I was walking through King's Cross Station on a beautiful Sunday morning (as you do) and saw a familiar face that I had seen before, not in person, but on beautiful photographs online, accompanying some of the rawest texts that I could sympathise with and relate to.

I saw the blogger of Life As A Widower, Ben Brooks-Dutton (Brooks was his wife's Desreen name, which she kept after they got married). Last November, his wife Desreen died in a car collision. Ben was able to push his son and get out of the way, but Desreen sadly did not make it.

I followed his story quite early on, maybe from January or February? Either way, a friend of mine 'liked' his page on Facebook and so I liked it too and followed his journey through grief and raising his son as a single father.

I saw Ben, I smiled and looked at him for a while (awkward action, also a bit creepy for anyone to do). And I went up to him and we just talked.

I had to praise him, for his courage to lay it all out for the world to read, because grieving, it's ups and downs, the pain that comes and goes, the frustration, rage and hopelessness that also accompanies it, is all too real and not many people talk about it as they should be.

I shared my own personal experience about my brother's death and Ben was incredibly sympathetic. I really appreciated our brief chat.

Death and the circumstances surrounding it should never be swept under the carpet.

Grief should never be hidden.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Abercrombie & Fitch Fat Discrimination

If you've ever entered any A&F store, you'll remember how difficult it is to see and breathe in the store. 

You must have also noticed the generally aesthetically pleasing staff wearing the A&F line like it's 20 degrees while it's windy, rainy and wet outside.

I have never owned anything from A&F, but what I do know is that the clothes are overpriced. I also know that they clearly pick employees based on their outward appearance... oh and being non-Muslim helps too

Months ago, A&F CEO Michael Jeffries, 'justified' why A&F is not catering to larger persons. His justification did not come as a surprise to me.

It's not his 'discrimination' that's a problem; every company has their demographics. It's the way he went about explaining it, which is a problem. Mr Jeffries explained this in a very juvenile way and not in a business way that would have let him get away with this 'discrimination'. He associated skinny and beautiful people with popularity, a sweeping and common generalisation held by people younger than my age. This only taps further into the social hierarchies at school, with the 'beautiful' and socials at the top and not so social at the bottom.

Basically if you're not being discriminated against in school or in the work place, you're going to be discriminated against in life because you can't wear certain clothing because you're not good enough. 

In all fairness, Mr Jeffries isn't exactly aesthetically pleasing himself. At the same time, we should be kind of pleased that Mr Jeffries isn't making his tacky, overpriced clothing available to all. There are better alternatives out there. Furthermore, it seems like many teens these days aren't even interested in wearing A&F because of the price. So I guess, all of us realise there's everything wrong with the brand. 

What Is The Secret?

I have The Secret... 'the secret' (yes... in quotation marks, because it really isn't a secret).

A bestie of mine who has read this book before, gave me a really positive review. She told me how it helped her get the mindset she has today. She also recommended other things for me to watch and read, including Left Eye's documentary, Last Days Of Left Eye. I discovered that Left Eye died during the filming of this documentary. Twenty minutes into the documentary, I noticed that she was feeling like she got to the end of her life. It's all very eerie...

Back to the secret!

So I'm at the stage in my life where I feel sort of... accomplished but I haven't yet made it yet! What I have accomplished so far is great (in my eyes) but it's only the beginning! For me to get to the next level, I need to get rid of my bouts of envy and dips in confidence.

The first part of the book (chapter 1 and 2), teaches the law of attraction; what you think (good or bad) is what you attract to yourself. If you are wealthy, you are wealthy because you think of one thing only; wealth. When someone obtains wealth and loses it, it's because his/her mindset changed from wealth to the fear of losing it.

Basically, the general consensus of these two 'rules' is that your state of mind determines your success.

Another part of the rule is that the law of attraction draws in more 'like' thoughts. What you think is what you will think more and more. Thus, if you think about a specific thing, you will think more and more about it. Think positively and end up thinking more and more positively.

The 'I do not want epidemic'. According to The Secret, we think more about what we don't want than what we do want. The danger with thinking about what we don't want, is that we will attract more of what we don't want to ourselves. This is because the law of attraction does not compute anything that is negative (i.e. don't, no or not). Therefore if you say you don't want something, you will get it.

Luckily, for those who can be trapped in temporary negative thoughts, there is an element of time delay. Our thoughts do not materialise into something as soon as we think them. This gives us time to reassess our thoughts, think about what we want and make a new thought. Time delay is so useful to me (personally).

The Secret also states that we think by default. We don't control our thoughts every time. When we start to control our thoughts, we will control what we attract. Thoughts and feelings are intertwined; bad thoughts result in bad feelings, good thoughts result in good feelings. So how can we manage what we feel? The Secret says to ask yourself how you are feeling through the day.

Perhaps if we train ourselves to think a certain way, we will think that way by default? The Secret says we can master our thoughts through meditation. Through meditating we quieten our minds, which then enables us to master our thoughts. Meditation also helps to calm you in particular situations, therefore offsetting stress and negative thoughts. I try to meditate 15 minutes a day in a quiet space (sometimes with relaxing sounds). 

The Secret also explains that the law of attraction is impartial and impersonal, which explains why bad things happen to good people. The law does not discriminate and does not act based on your good or bad actions, it acts on what signal you're transmitting to the universe

To conclude, your thoughts create. Your thoughts are seeds, whatever you sow, you reap! Your harvest depends on the seeds you've planted... so you better start thinking some good thoughts! 

Sunday, 18 August 2013

It's Time For Africa.

It's time for Africa!

It's time for me to head home.

I haven't been in Africa since I was about one years old (I visited Egypt for three months). My memories of Africa are non-existent, but now I'm ready to be there and create those memories I don't have.

I plan on going in November/December, at least after my graduation ceremony. It's a great way to celebrate three years of rigorous study...

I am excited, very excited. I've been asking anyone who has been for advice and stories of their experiences on the continent.

My plan is to go to Nairobi, Kampala and Juba. These are the capital cities of Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan.

I'll be spending time with family, exploring and doing a lot of business work (writing and photography) while I'm there. I've been told it could get boring for me, but nothing is ever boring if you have a good book and a camera with you.

I'm going to continue practising my Arabic and Dinka and learn a little bit of Swahili from my cousin and friends (that should help me out a little bit in Nairobi).

I will start getting vaccinations and malaria tablets closer towards the time. I suppose the vaccinations at least a month in advance. I'm definitely heading to Africa with bug sprays etc. I know mosquito nets should be widely available there so I won't get it here.

So I have a lot of plans and currently I'm just doing the writing thing and focusing on work. I'm starting to manage my money much better because I know I'll need it for my travels.

I just can't wait, I'm excited and a little bit nervous, but actually more excited than nervous. I'm not sure how long I will stay, I'm looking at 3 months before I return. But again, that depends on work and family. But I am definitely staying there for at least 6 weeks. I genuinely can't wait... and this blog will definitely become more exciting while I'm there!

P.S. ISIS Magazine has a new website and Issue 3 is out!!! Also, Talk of Juba has launched! I'm one of the writers. It's a news and entertainment magazine on South Sudan/South Sudanese.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

I Got My New Baby: Canon 600D.

My baby arrived!!! In the form of a new camera! 

Shot with my iPhone 5 camera, which is now retiring from snaps that go on the blog. 
So I officially finished uni in May but received my degree classification in July. I got an upper second class Bachelors with Honours in Biological Science. Of course, to celebrate, I decided to dedicate a large chunk of my August pay to something I have wanted for so long and kind of needed for my newly acquired nomadic lifestystyle; a DSLR. 

After browsing for months and thinking to go with the Nikon 1 J1, a cool computer tech guy friend told me that I should go with a DSLR because you really get your money's worth with it...

And after some research (if you don't know which one to go with, check this out), I decided that the DSLR was the best thing for me... especially if I want to take photography to the next level. 

I've been playing around with my camera and so far... I love it! I've read through the instruction manual and checked out some videos online and asked experienced DSLR users for tips and advice... it's not as difficult to use as I thought it would be! 

Throughout this process of acquainting myself with my brand new gadget, I've learned that it's not the camera that makes the best pictures, it is the technique and skills of the photographer.

Photographed with my Canon 600D. I'm currently reading Chinua Achebe's 'Things Fall Apart'; amazing!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Beyhive Sends 40 Pizzas To A 'Hater'.

Fandoms and stans can become pretty deranged... like close-to-restraining-order-worthy deranged. 

When I saw this screenshot I was like 'there's nothing funny about sending 40 pizzas to someone else's home'. 

OK I'm appearing a little too serious or too sympathetic of others but there is nothing funny about using a service to prank people. If you're going to attempt to prank or have a payback moment, do it yourself.

I feel bad for that pizza company (because pizza's are nice and delicious and should never be wasted) but I also feel for the delivery guy who has made the effort of putting all 40 pizzas on his scooter/bike/car to take it to the house just for him to take it back to the pizza place again. You've wasted the delivery guy's time. You have wasted the money he could have potentially made by delivering to someone who actually made a rightful order.

It's petty. It's selfish. It's immature. People are always going to say something negative about the person you like, it doesn't mean you have to make their lives hell. Remember, everyone has their opinion. Who are you to decide what they should say or think?

Thursday, 8 August 2013

An Easter In Amsterdam.

Remember how I wrote about being so traumatised after my thesis that I booked a trip to Amsterdam to get over my worries (it kind of worked out for me)?

Well, here is a useless post with pics and text about my trip to Amsterdam!

This is probably my fourth post on the Netherlands. As you'll probably have noticed by now, I consistently go to the Netherlands. But since I have finished university, I am free to travel on long-haul flights. So after my graduation ceremony in November, I'll be flying away to a place outside of Europe.

Flying with KLM
Because I want to live a modern nomadic lifestyle, I'm now a member of KLM's frequent flyer program.

My favourite. Tea.

Out and about

Kermis or a fair on Dam Plein (Dam Square)

iPhone 5 photography.

Rembrandt House... this is where he was born!

Taking the metro...

Not my metro.

Near Centraal Station

I tried out mojito's for the first time... I believe the hype! 

My friend's strawberry daiquiri... I liked it!

Vanilla milkshake after! 

Amsterdam Centraal Station


At nights I just came back and blogged.

Cookies and chocolate = best of both worlds.

Helplessness is a feeling, not a position.

Seeds that you just plant in your garden. Then you hope there's enough sun, light and nutrients.

This was yummy. I don't know the name though.

Helps you get to the toilet in the dark... unscathed.

(Faux?) Vespa... taken the Netherlands by storm.

From the Hague, back to Amsterdam...

The image of this post.

Starbucks at midight. Yes. Total addict me.

Breakfast next day at Coffee Company. Banana loaf and pana montata.

Book flea market at Universiteit van Amsterdam

Anne Frank memorial near the Anne Frank Huis

Bought some good Hema cake as goodbye.
See you again soon Amsterdam.