Reflections on a summer

Summer’s nearly over. I’m writing this blog post a couple of hours before it becomes September in the UK. I’ve recovering from a very fun but exhausting past couple of days. I just thought I’d reflect on my summer this year, my experiences and things I’ve learned. Thinking back I haven’t done everything I wanted to this summer and it was a little disappointing but it was still a lot of fun and I’ve had some great times. I went to the Field Day festival in London in June. I had gone last year and I really enjoyed it so when I saw how good the line-up looked this year I had to go again. It was a really great festival, all the acts I saw performed well and delivered good sets. Flying Lotus was a highlight of the festival and one of the best acts I’ve ever seen live, I caught him a second time a week later at Parklife festival in Manchester. I also saw Forest Swords, Gaika, Nicolas Jaar, Run the Jewels and Sinkane. The only act I was gutted I missed was Death Grips but I got to see Sinkane instead who brought some good vibes. I’ve loved going to festivals since I went to my first festival in 2015 to see Kendrick Lamar headline. Sure they can be very crowded, dirty, expensive but I just love music and seeing live music never gets old for me. Being part of a crowd of like-minded fans all repeating the words and moshing is always fun to me. I was going back home the next day but I went to a house party my friend was throwing. I was exhausted from the journey back from the festival but I got off the coach and went straight to my mate’s house and socialised with friends, acquaintances and strangers. House parties were one of the best things about my second year of uni haha of course I really enjoy my degree but the house parties throughout the year were a lot of fun. I had made a lot of friends from being part of my uni’s hip-hop society since my first year and going to most of the events. A lot of these friends were in their third year and have now graduated this summer so that was the last I would see most of them for a while and some of them ever again so it was a bittersweet time. I stayed as long as I could which was until the sun came up at like 5am. I was probably the most sober person at the party because I had to be up in a few hours to be ready to pack up and my parents were coming to pick me up.

A week later I’m back home in Leeds. I took a few days to unpack all my luggage even though it wasn’t that much because I’m not a hoarder. After I had settled I spent most of the week at home before going to Manchester for another festival, Parklife. I saw Bonzai, Mura Masa, NAO, Sampha, Stormzy and FRANK FUCKING OCEAN!! Of course it was amazing finally seeing Frank Ocean, one of my favourite artists live, and trust me he was amazing. But all the other acts were really great as well. Bonzai I had never heard of before but she delivered a great set, NAO serenaded the entire crowd with her beautiful voice, Sampha was just absolutely incredible I literally cried and the moshpits at Stormzy were mad. After those two festivals I spent how I’ve spent most of this summer to be honest: catching up on TV, watching films and playing video-games. I also read more than I usually do. I was still applying for internships in those last couple of weeks of June but I wasn’t confident I would get anything. This continued for most of the summer lowering my self-esteem and making me feeling worthless until I decided to stop and just go onto my final year of uni. Oh and I also received my uni results which were disappointing. I did well but not quite as well I wanted to on a module I really enjoyed and totally bombed the other and got the lowest grade I’ve ever gotten in uni. Overall, across my modules I got a decent 2:1 which is 40% of my degree which I’m happy with and I can still graduate with a first if I do better this year.

Anyway July was a little better. I started off the month by going to a Kamasi Washington gig in Leeds. Kamasi Washington and his band was jaw-droppingly great, they really killed that shit. The crowd was loving it and they performed for a long set which was very impressive considering how difficult and exhausting it is to play jazz. I started to play pick-up basketball again with my long-time friend I’ve known since secondary school. I’m still not that good but I love playing basketball and the more I play and practise the better I’ll get. I strongly doubt I’ll be good enough to make the first team but might possibly make the second team if I keep practising with these last few weeks I have before to going back to uni. Since going to uni I’ve loved coming back to Leeds and seeing familiar faces again, hearing Leeds accents and enjoying the beautiful city that is Leeds. I consider Leeds to be my hometown even though I wasn’t born in Leeds and I don’t have a Leeds accent, at least not noticeable, my accent tends to get more Northern when I’m speaking to another Northerner. I was born in Abeokuta, Nigeria which I have no memory of because my parents moved to Lagos a few days later but I’m glad I was born in the same city as Fela Kuti and Wole Soyinka. I lived in Lagos for 9 years but those 9 years weren’t formative for me. I have some clear memories but not that many and I think I would struggle to adjust if I went to live there permanently. But I definitely intend to visit Nigeria especially Lagos in the next couple of years I’m sure some buried memories would resurface but I’m far too comfortable with British life right now even though there’s a lot of fuckery going on.

This summer wasn’t just a couple of festivals, a gig, a few games of pick-up basketball and staying in though. I did turn up at a few Nigerian parties. One of them was a church fellowship couple’s 25th anniversary party. As with most Nigerian parties I’ve been to it was pretty lit there were some drunk uncles misbehaving, afrobeats playing and people dancing. Another time, it was female friend’s 21st birthday party which was even more lit because it was a young people’s ting. The DJ who I knew played a lot of great afrobeats tracks. When the party ended at 10 I was a little surprised to be invited to an afterparty by the female friend. While I consider her more than an acquaintance we’re not exactly close or we don’t hang out so I wasn’t expecting her to invite me to an afterparty. It was one of the best nights of the summer because while I’ve known a lot of the people at the party for some years I wasn’t close with many people but I felt included. We were all first generation, some who were born in the UK and some who were born in Nigeria but grew up in the UK. We all shared similar childhoods, cultural experiences and had immigrant parents or assimilated in our early childhood or adolescent years. I felt happy to know that even though as a black person I’m a small minority in the UK I’m part of a large community. I had a similar feeling when I took my parents to see the play, Barbershop Chronicles which you can read my review of here.

Which brings me to August which ends in less than an hour. In August I decided I was done with the stress and headache of constant rejection and stopped applying for internships. I felt bad because one of my friends was in London working as an intern for Disney, an internship I applied but was rejected for, and I had other friends away in America on their year abroad. I feel better now that I’m going to my final year of university without having studied abroad or worked in the industry. I will make the most of my final year and will likely go on to a do a masters right after I’ve graduated. That way I will still get at least another year to see my friends who will be away this academic year. Last Saturday, I went to the Leeds West Indian Carnival for the first time and had a great time. I went with a friend and his brother and had the best time. It was great seeing so many beautiful black people, eating curry goat and jerk chicken for the first time, reggae, soca, dancehall and afrobeats music playing in the streets and watching local grime acts perform to huge crowds. I drank a lot of rum that day and at night we went out again to the after parties where the DJs played afrobeats and dancehall and of course I secured a few whines. It was funny seeing the ridiculous over-reaction from a few blogs over John Boyega catching a couple of whines at Carnival on his insta story. It was just making a big fuss out of a few dumb comments he received from people who don’t know about the culture. He actually replied to me which I was so gassed about.

And finally last night, I saw Vince Staples (finally!) and he was just incredible!! The supporting act was DJ Semtex who played banger after banger so that by the time Vince come on I was already tired but I immediately got my energy back up when the thumping bass pounded. He was a silhouette a lot of the time but I was often close enough to the stage that I could see his face clearly. The moshpits for a lot of the songs were intense, people got in a circle for a moshpit for songs that weren’t even hype. He performed so many of my favourite songs by him and the bass was so heavy. So yeah while it’s not been a particularly busy summer for me but I’ve definitely had a lot of fun and been more productive than I thought I would be. Now I’m tired of being at home and am so excited to go back to my final year of uni. Bring it on!

Freedom

I’m writing this as I recover from a hangover after two nights out in a row. I’m finally free. This Monday, I finished my last exam…ever!! I only had two exams this year and I felt they both went really well. My second and last exam was on a module I found quite difficult but it went a lot better than I expected. I’ll be getting my results next month so hopefully I do well! I’m so glad to be free. I had spent more than a month of revising pretty much every day for most of the day. I’d wake up, go to the library in the early afternoon and came back late at night. It was dull, depressing and repetitive and I’m so glad it’s over. It was poignant that in my last exam I finished 5 mins early and for the first time ever I got to leave early. Since finishing on Monday, I’ve been really enjoying my free time. I just started reading The Famished Road by Ben Okri, it’s a very long novel but it’s very critically acclaimed so I’m looking forward to reading more. I’ll write a review when I’m done reading but that might not be for another more or so. It also feels weird but great to spend a whole day doing nothing and not feel guilty about it. I’ve had a lot of fun these past couple of days I just appreciate life so much right now. I went to two BBQs two consecutive days in a row, I’ve been to three house parties in two days and am currently suffering from how much I’ve indulged myself. But hey treat yo’ self!

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I’ve got a lot of plans for this summer. I’m gonna be reading and writing a lot, expect more frequent posts on this blog. I’m hoping to travel somewhere in Europe, I would love to go to Paris, Copenhagen and Rotterdam. I’m gonna try to find some work experience. I’m working a script for a short film which I’ll hopefully make this year or next year. As well as that, I’m still applying for internships for my placement year. I haven’t received any offers yet unfortunately but I’m not going to give up easily. Even though that’s one thing I’m not happy about, I’m very happy about all other aspects of my life right now. I feel more happy and confident than I ever have and if you know me personally you know I haven’t always been this way, I’ve grown as a person more in the past 2 years than I have in my entire life. Even though I’m not religious anymore I wouldn’t have been able to survive all these stressful situations for the past month without praying. I pray almost every night because I need some kind of reassurance as you now know if you didn’t already I worry a lot and that anxiety can be unbearable if I don’t have some kind of comfort. I don’t know whether God exists but I know that I might be in a very bad place without having some comfort in knowing that I matter in this world and someone or something cares about me. So honestly I thank God because I know all this strength doesn’t just come from me. Stay tuned for more posts, there probably won’t be a regular schedule but I’ll try to post as much as I can, thanks for reading!

Pray for me

This is just a quick update before I go on a mini-hiatus. I need y’all to pray for me. I’m getting the results of my final assignments of the year next Friday. I feel like I did well on one of them but on the other one I’m not strong at I don’t feel particularly good. In fact, I feel very nervous because on the first essay for that module I didn’t spend enough time on it and ended up getting it flagged for plagiarism. That was the first time it has happened to me in my academic career and I hope it’s the last time. I ended up getting a passing grade but it means I have do well on the second assignment I’m getting back and on my upcoming exam. I’ve got two exams, one in Empire, New Nations and Migration which I really enjoyed and feeling quite good about. The other is Early Modern Literature and that’s the module I didn’t enjoy as much and need to work a lot on. So until the 22nd of this month which is when my second and final exam is I will be entirely focused on revision. I’m hoping to get a first on Empire and at least the minimum for a 2:1 on Early Modern.  I won’t be posting anything until after both exams are over but then I’ll be back to posting regularly. I’m thinking about posting more than once a week when I’m back I have a lot of ideas and I want to post some reviews I’ve written in the past on the blog.

In addition, I’m getting really into theatre, poetry and plays more and more. I went to a live poetry performance by a Nigerian-British-Irish poet called Inua Ellams. He gave an incredible performance, telling the amazing story of his life growing up in Nigeria moving to London and then to Ireland and back to England. It was a touching, heartbreaking and inspiring performance! When he started crying I was very close to tearing up as well. I’m very happy to see black men being more open with their emotions and expressing their feelings. I think society as a whole needs to encourage men (especially black men) to open up more and seek help if they’re suffering from mental issues. That’s one of the reasons I started this blog. I was very emotional as a teenager (honestly I still am) and writing and talking about my feelings online was one of the ways I coped with my emotions. So look forward to some of that in the future haha. Anyway, back to revision now thanks everyone for the support so far you’ve been amazing thanks for rocking with me. I’ve got a lot more to talk about when I’m back!!

Check out the work of Inua Ellams here.