As a black girl, living in Brighton, England

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Picture gotten from-Proud Brighton

A lot of black people I’ve been privileged to converse with are skeptical about having to move to or study in Brighton. The popular buzz of Brighton being known as a major gay city also tends to affirm their dislike for this beautiful town.

I moved to Brighton September 2014 with the sole purpose of studying and not paying much attention to the city as I wasn’t an outing type of person before arriving. I was enticed by the beach and the pebbles by the sea front during an open day visit in my foundation year which was supported by EF, Oxford (the foundation institution I had attended). The differences I had picked up with the culture, style and people compared to Oxford’s made me choose the University of Brighton instead of Oxford Brookes which had offered me an admission prior.

Firstly, I haven’t come across as many gay people as I had predicted on coming down here. Even during the gay pride festival that is usually hosted here on a yearly basis, I rarely see gay couples or find a group of gay people sitting, walking or chilling. It’s probably just me who isn’t looking hard enough. To clarify, having gay people in this city actually in my own opinion makes it more accepting and tolerable compared to other small and vibrant towns in England.

Secondly, as a black girl and as one who appreciates her cultural background and race, it wasn’t a problem building a community of friends that share the same interests as me. As there are two universities in Brighton, University of Brighton and University of Sussex, this city is filled with both home and abroad students and therefore finding where you may belong isn’t a problem. There are clubs and communities open for all kinds of people and interests within and outside the schools’ premises. This is to say that every year, the population of blacks admitted into both universities are always significantly higher than the previous year so, don’t panic if you’re worried about this factor.

Thirdly, I’m quite a foodie and quite traditional as well as I enjoy cooking my own meals. Most times going out spontaneously with my friends to small restaurants and food places at the city’s center allows me appreciate different cultures and what they eat without having to visit their countries. Brighton is diverse with a plethora of local and international restaurants representing countries from across the globe, I however have exploited this privilege as a black girl who has come from Africa. I have tasted and tried cooking most of these dishes myself, as well as recommending them to friends.

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Picture gotten from-Brighton lanes

Racism. Socio-culturally, Brighton is very diverse and as a black girl I haven’t had a reason to question my skin colour and where I’ve come from since living here. It’s so diverse and free-spirited that I have only met two guys who actually admitted to being originally born and bred in Brighton, my co-worker at a night shift and the maintenance guy for my rented place. Compared to Budapest, Hungary, I never get conscious of my surroundings and certain places I tread because of the colour of my skin or the fear of what people may be thinking. Brighton is one of the least racist towns you can ever think of in England.

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Picture gotten from-Yablink

If you love greens and parks, books and rides, if you love events and dances, good night outs and games, Brighton is the place for you. This city is not anti-black or anti-any other race, It accepts, tolerates and builds with you as long as you are open.

The disadvantage however, for me is the fact that it is quite expensive to live in. Apart from that I can see myself settling and building a good life here as a black girl if I wanted to. It’s become my mini home.

Dyna Ekwueme Copyright, 2017.

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For millennials: 21

 

Journaling

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There is no warmth in waiting for the right time. The patience will sting harder than the truth you believe about holding on.

Misery becomes more appealing.

“may you be defined by your boldness in running through dry and dark cracks.”

I’d get into the bus sometimes, most times with my headphones banging loud music out its tiny speakers.

Sitting by windows is my favourite thing. My eyes get to count coloured and grey houses, watch trees and many other greens. I often begin to play rhythmic music in a lowered volume to feel the same feeling I get when watching good scenery movies. I deviate into solitude and just observe.

It is powerful.

The only regular thought I’ve known is home, it’s sometimes with me and other times I fear to think of its broken tone.

I’ve watched myself grow with strangers that I call friends. I’ve been shaken by subtle disagreements imposed by the universe in openness.

I seldom believe we are all here, just making history and not living well enough. We will all die surviving with or without purpose.

“In love, the purest of our souls’ manifest.

In love, we succumb to humility and fear without coercion.

In love, we tell our stories in ways we wish they existed.”

Can you read the signs through my saggy eye bags?

I’m knackered by pressure from my wants and the wants I’m expected to want.

I heard mum’s voice on WhatsApp call and she sounded like 50 hasn’t been good to her. I’ve been thinking of her in a sweet way lately. In a way I would spoil her with happier days if she were here.

“Be generous and kind with what you bear to instil

I’m one and a half page of an A4 gone and I’m still wasting words on consciousness. This is what it feels like to fight forces that you never chose, fighting constantly.

You will live, you will live

You will write, you will write

You will love, you will love

You will break, you will break

You will heal, you will heal

You will die again and again before you learn to live to die.

“Be offended by your zeal to live because thinking of your death will remind you of here always”

 

Dyna Ekwueme Copyright, 2017.

On ageing

In my thoughts, in my head, in my journal. Here.

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Win your battle before you come home to mine.

Don’t remind me the trails of footsteps I face everyday.

It’s not enough to live young, wild and free because I know of places that don’t bring me such experiences.

Hold onto the existence, let what you have to say complement mine. Let what you have to give add up.

Don’t scare me with silence. Don’t tell me I’m too young to learn what grey hair can teach. It’s my cup of tea.

I am not here to prove how much neither do I seek accomplishments that will one day be forgotten.

I’ve been told countless times to win, win and win but I never got led to. My bruises, pain, tears, countless failures equals me.

Give me what you call wisdom, give me peace of mind. I’ll find my fun,my energy, my space and most importantly, me in all of it. Let me be.

Ageing is just a state of mind.

Dyna Ekwueme Copyright, 2016.

A poem for self- millennial poetry

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Remind me who takes it all at last,

the cries, the shame, worries and joys in the past.

These ones never heard of you,

the whole, priceless yet worthy of a true.

LOVE ME ALL THE TIME.

I didn’t need you when I needed to pray,

to wear my make-up, spray and slay.

Who left my name in your mouth?

with your opinions stinging and stinking like gout.

LOVE ME BACK TO BACK.

Can I say a word or two?

about myself, my worth, the way I eat too.

It’s not my taste for men you despise so,

but the way I love and love me to toe.

LOVE ME IN THIS SEASON.

Life without me is like no life

no star, no queen, less diamonds, no wife.

I’ll pay my weaknesses with strength and love

nevertheless, these words won’t stall or put me off.

LOVE ME WITHOUT REASON

 

 

Dyna Ekwueme Copyright, 2016.

 

 

CHIDINMA

See translation below.
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Abu m ihe  mbu,

Abum ihe Chi’m si na mbu.

Ogologo uzo ka’m jiri bia eba,

ma anom, kwudosike na enye ekele.

M na-agozi nwanyi nyere m aha mu, nne m,

na-agozi kwa nwoke sochata obi’m, nna m.

Mbge ufodu, ndi mmadu agwunaghi m

ma ana m ahu nka na mgbu,

ana m ahu ebube n’uru.

Ije nke ma, O puru eche naani,

ma amutago m otu ihe,

Ekele.

E nwere m obi isi ike,

Nke na enye reminisces m nsogbu.

Ututu obula nketara ura, m na cho ebe obibi mu, k’amu efuola,

ma otutu ugboro efugo mu n’ezi,

Eziokwu.

Efugo mu na gburugburu m, na ohere m ya na uwa m

ma unu ma mu azoputaghi m,

naani nkeko m jide siri ike .

Abu m ihe mbu,

Nma n’ime echiche m

Abu m Chidinma, nwata nwanyi na ede na otutu abstract.

 

 
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I am what I am,

I am who my creator says I am.

It took a long way to get here,

but here, strong and thankful

I bless the woman that named me, my mother,

the only man after my own heart, my father.

Sometimes people fail me,

but I see art in pain,

I see glory in the gain.

This walk of mine, alone it could feel,

but I’ve learnt one thing,

Thanksgiving.

I do have a stubborn heart,

one that troubles my reminisces.

I wake up every morning wanting home, like I’m lost

But most times I’m truly lost,

Truth.

Lost in my circle, space and world,

Neither you or me saves me

Only the bond that I hold unto

 I am what I am,

 a beauty within my own reflection

I am Chidinma, the girl who writes in abstracts.

The first part of this write up is written in Igbo (general), one of the major languages in Nigeria, West Africa. It was inspired by my love for my culture, my people and my nation. Although appropriate punctuation wasn’t made, I hope a native and non- native reader find strength in those words.  Thank you for making it here. 

Dyna Ekwueme Copyright, 2016.