Crowning Glory: My Natural Hair Journey

Hey baes!

This post has been a long time coming and I’m so excited! Let’s talk all things hair! My hair is a huge part of my life and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get myself organised so we can talk about it.

*insert joyous cartwheel*

So. Most of you already know that in the black community, hair is life. For us, it’s not just a matter of washing your hair quickly in the morning and heading out to work. Most black women spend hours in the salon every month, preparing to slay you with a fierce new hairstyle that you just weren’t ready for. If you didn’t know, you heard it here first. For us, hair is life. The styling options for afro hair are endless, but over the years there is one issue that has continued to divide us.

Relaxed or natural?

Ooh, CHILE. You don’t know the number of heated debates I’ve sat through. The lectures! The accusations! It is NOT a game. It’s not “just hair.” Our hair, and what we choose to do with it as black women, is a source of constant discussion. Our hair is seen as a badge of honour, an expression, even a political statement. It’s hard to even know where to start. What I will say is this: you cannot make judgments on a person’s character (or lack thereof) from the way they style their hair. All the ashy Brother Hotep types, this is for you. Don’t call me a “race traitor” when I wear weaves as a protective style. Don’t assume that girls with relaxed hair are insecure and trying to conform to Western ideals. Don’t get over-excited when you see me in braids because you deem that to be an acceptable “afrocentric” hairstyle. I am an African woman. Have been since birth, and I will be until the Lawd calls me home. Therefore I don’t need you to tell me whether I am “African enough.” GET ARRA HERE MEHN. Everlasting idiot.

Great! Now that’s off my chest, let’s get into my hair history.

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This pic of me and my big brother cracks me up. Why am I holding his shirt like “B!tch Betta Have My Money?”

So as you can see, my afro puff game was always strong. I took after my Daddy- we both have masses of thick, coily hair. Growing up, my mum would unleash her creativity on my hair and I STAYED slaying heaux in the playground. One week I’d have beaded cornrows, the next week my mum would stretch it with black thread. The week after that, I’d be rocking a fluffy fro. Huge shout out to Mummy because the struggle was REAL! I’d spend hours sitting on the floor between her knees, squirming like a fish and shrieking at every tug of the comb.

My mum’s hair was relaxed, and I used to watch enviously as combs glided through it with ease. After a while the wrestling styling sessions became too much, and I begged to have my hair relaxed too. Finally the day came. I was thrilled. Gone were the kinky curls, replaced with shoulder length black silk. I was entranced.

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(Mega LOLz. The half-up-half-down side pony was fierce doe, so don’t hate)

In my teenage years I went to boarding school in England, and protective styling was the name of the game. Being separated from my mum was heartbreaking in so many ways, but hair was a huge part of the struggle. I didn’t know how to look after my hair myself, so I always braided my hair before leaving Nigeria, and the braids stayed in until I came home on vacation.

Braids were my default style, until my postgraduate years in London, where I got my first weave at age 22. My roommate glued in hair extensions for me (Milky Way, 14 inches, yaaaasss) and you couldn’t tell me nothing!

At this stage I was still relaxing my hair every 3 months or so, because that’s what I’d always done. It never crossed my mind that it might not be necessary. After all, I hardly ever wore it out of a protective style (braids or weaves).

I then hopped over to Australia for a few years. It was there I met someone who changed my life. I met my hairstylist Miss R (@razzyslim on Instagram) through a work colleague and she quickly became a close friend and hair twin! She had thick, long hair too. What fascinated me was that she actually only relaxed her hair a couple of times a year. This was the first time I heard of “stretching” relaxers: lengthening the time between relaxers. Hair relaxers contain powerful chemicals, so spacing out the applications gives your hair time to recover and strengthen. Over the next few years, I started relaxing my hair less. I realised that because I rarely left my hair out of braids or weaves, there was no need for the constant straightening of my coily roots to match the previously straightened ends.

By coincidence, it was around this time that my lifestyle started to change. I found the Clean Eating movement, and started being a lot more aware of what I was putting in (and on) my body. I was reading the ingredients of everything I bought, avoiding processed foods that contained things I couldn’t even pronounce. The same went for my beauty products; I no longer wanted to apply harsh chemicals to my skin and hair. I started making a lot of my own hair and beauty products using natural ingredients like aloe vera and coconut oil #JuicesandBerries

By the time I moved back to London, I was only relaxing my hair twice a year. I hear a lot of women saying relaxers ruined their hair; that the chemicals burned their scalps, weakened their hair and caused breakage. This isn’t one of those stories, y’all. My kinky/ coily hair never really relaxed as straight as other people’s, so that kept it relatively strong.

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This was taken after a fresh relaxer, where my hair had pretty much said “No thank you” and decided to stay kinky.

As I relaxed my hair less and less, it gradually hit me. Slopping the harsh relaxers on my hair and scalp no longer fit with my lifestyle. By this point I was drunk in love with kale and chia seeds, and the idea of relaxing my hair was starting to make me uncomfortable.

At the same time, another odd thing was happening. I found myself obsessively checking my curly new growth between relaxers. I was finding all these adorable crinkles, coils and ringlets that I hadn’t seen in as long as I could remember. It was like re-discovering a part of myself that I had completely forgotten.

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#TeamEdges

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Playing with shrinkage!

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And before I knew it, a 6-month stretch turned into 9 months. Then a year.

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Then it got to 17 months since my last relaxer. I didn’t even realise I’d made the decision to transition back to my natural hair texture, until someone asked me about it.

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The two photos above were taken in August. My kinky new growth was clearly visible, and if you look closely at the second picture you can see where my natural hair met the relaxed ends. But honey working with those two different textures was becoming an epic struggle. I decided that I would muster up the courage to cut off the relaxed ends at Christmas.

Then last month, I was sitting in a crowded Accra salon. It had been yet another day of struggling through life in a new country. I was frustrated and stressed out. I had just had my braids removed, and my hair was freshly washed. Without thinking, I blurted out to the hairdresser, “Cut it off.” She was as surprised as I was. A few minutes later…

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*SHRIEKS*

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It was both terrifying and freeing. When all my straight ends were gone, I looked at myself as if seeing my face for the first time. There I was as God created me, with my chubby cheeks and puff of jet-black hair. The hairdresser used thread to stretch my hair and keep it soft so it would be easy to braid the next day. I was excited to see that it was somehow still shoulder length when stretched. Now that’s what I call black girl magic.

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So there you have it. I am now a fully fledged natural hair girl! I’m still learning how to look after my natural texture. From what I can see so far, it’s a mix of soft corkscrew curls and coarser kinks. I will continue making my own hair products, and keep living in braids and weaves. These protective styles will save me time and shield my hair from the elements. And also = FIERCE.

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I’m so happy to share this journey with you! Any questions for me? Comments? Words of wisdom? Holla at your girl in the comments.

P.s. A couple of years ago I wrote this abstract piece about my hair, and how it’s always been a symbol of my mother’s love for me. Enjoy!

Love,
Adjpants

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Accra Update: Two Weeks In…

Hey!

It’s Adjpants, your Fierceness and Slayage Correspondent, coming to you live from Accra, Ghana. I wanted to give you an update on my adventure so far. Hoooo my garsh- moving “home” when you’re essentially a foreigner in your own country is NOT EASY. It’s been a stressful couple of weeks. After two days holed up crying in a darkened room, I thought it was time to put on my big girl pants and share my ongoing story. If I can help even one person who’s going through the same thing, I’ll consider this a job well done.

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So! We’re now two weeks in- here’s what we’ve learned so far.

1. Taxi Drivers Are Thieving Knobjockeys.

I just… I can’t. Taxi drivers in Accra have left me so unable to deal, like I’m fresh out of being able to deal and there is no chance of stock replenishment. They are the bane of my effing life here and I really wish I had a car. Any rich Uncles reading this who want to buy me a Camry, please #CallMeMaybe.

I have previously only spent short periods of time in Accra/been on family trips with our own car. So this level of f*ckery is new to me. The taxi drivers will cheat you on sight. Yes, even if you speak Twi they can tell you’re a foreigner and they will double or triple the price. Haggle them down mercilessly- I usually like to cut the number they give me by half, take off a couple of cedis, and start bargaining from there. Even then, sometimes you’ll get to your destination and they’ll claim not to have change so you have no choice but to overpay. This happened to me the other day and I straight out lost it. We almost came to fisticuffs and I am normally such a peaceful, jolly person. So lesson learned- carry small notes and an old lady bag of change if necessary.

Another tip: if you’ve managed to haggle the price down in Twi, don’t then get in the taxi and start talking to friends on the phone in Queen’s English. You’ll notice the driver peering at you as if you lied to him, and suddenly there will be loud claims of how the agreed price needs to increase due to traffic/time of day/the crisis in Syria. May God smite them all with herpes. Also ladies? Always sit in the back seat. Some dudes are pervs.

2. People Have No Filter and Zero Chill.

Lemme tell you a story, paint you a little word picture. I met a friend of a friend the other day, nice gentleman, friendly and fun. I thought huzzah new friend, right? Wrong. He called me and we were chatting away, and suddenly out of nowhere he asked, “Are you watching your weight?” I was like, “…Um, no…” He replied, “Don’t you think you should be?” I was like O_O and he chirped into the icy silence, “I mean, don’t you think it’s getting too much?”

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WHUT.

Do you see why I am so unable? What fresh hell is this? And this sort of piping hot nonsense is commonplace. People here are for the most part, pretty judgmental. Which would be fine if they were using their inside voices- but they’re not. They’re telling you their opinions at every opportunity. I’m sure there will be many more of these occurences. Just keep an eye out for the headlines: “Crazed Non-Weight-Watching Ex Londoner Cuts Man In Public: Says She Regrets Nothing”

3. Slow Your Roll- You’re The Only One Rushing.

Coming from London where my life was a constant race against the clock, I find the slooooow pace of life in Accra maddening. I’m used to the big city where people will throw you into oncoming traffic if you’re walking just a touch too slowly. Here everything takes forever. FOREVER. There’s a general laid-back attitude to most things which can be so effing frustrating (some things need urgency bruv). It’s been driving me insane but then it hit me. Why am I hurrying when nobody else is? Why am I rushing to be on time for an appointment, when the person I’m meeting has no intention of being on time? I’ve been told that I need to relax, slow down, and just accept things as they are. I might have to do that, but not because I agree with constant delay and inefficiency. Because I don’t want to die of stress and or/rage.

4. Don’t Expect Everything To Make Sense.

There are so many things which just don’t make a lick of sense. Examples below:

How can I be asking a salesperson a question, and they can’t be bothered to answer me because they’re chatting to a colleague? How can it then be other customers who step in and try to help, while the salesperson continues to ignore my increasingly loud questions?

How can Accra be just as expensive as London? People tell me the prices for things and I just want to flip tables.

How can Ashanti be on this sign for the omotuo (rice ball) special at a local chop bar?

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This is a switch to turn on the air-conditioning, isn’t it?

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No, it’s not. It’s for the water heater. Is this life?

*Puts fingers on temples and sighs* Just don’t expect things to make sense.

5. The Kindness of Strangers Is Heartwarming and Awesome.

Moving to a new country can be extremely difficult and heartbreakingly lonely. I came here knowing almost nobody, and I thought I would just have to fight it out myself. BUT GAWD (I love how my people do that, just be halfway through a sentence and suddenly scream out to the Lawd)! See the way God is set up, he sometimes places people in your path to show you the way.

When I moved to Accra, someone blessed me with this golden piece of advice: join the Ahaspora mailing list. This group is made up of awesome young African “returnees” who have come to make Accra home. They have a huge network, and they’re a resource for almost everything you could ever need. Advise on housing? Done. Recommendations for good legal advice? Yes. Where to get your nails did? No problem. When I first moved to Accra, I went out on a limb and sent out an email introducing myself to the group. The response was overwhelming; within minutes I had invites to lunch, general friendly greetings and even some potential job opportunities. Chile if you’re moving to Accra, GET ON THAT LIST NOW.

My advice would be to reach out to people, and keep your heart open. I’ve already made some new friends, and I can’t thank them enough for welcoming a stranger with open arms. They’ve checked in on me, taken me out for cupcakes, welcomed me into their homes and given me a wealth of advice and support. Y’all are the real MVPs.

So darlings that’s it for now. Keep your eyes peeled for more Accra Updates! And anyone else who has recently made the move back, or is thinking about it? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re all in this together.

Love,
Adjpants

Homecoming.

My dearest loves. It’s been a while since my last post, and I’m sorry I’ve left you for so long without providing some sort of foolishness or tea-spilling. Why have I been absent? Because I moved away from London 2 weeks ago…

*cue gasps*

That’s right. The last couple of months have been an insane emotional rollercoaster, a whirlwind of goodbyes. I wanted to write about what was happening in my life, but can I be honest? I was avoiding it because it hurt and I was scared. But someone once told me to “write through the pain,” so here goes.

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(FYI this is my brave face. The hearts are cute non?)

A bit of background for those of you who are just getting to know me. I travel a lot and I call four different places home (Ghana, Nigeria, Australia and England).

I was born in Australia to Ghanaian expat parents. We then moved to Mexico for a few years before settling in Nigeria. I had a blissful (and hilarious) childhood there before heading to boarding school in England.

After I graduated from uni, I worked in Australia for a few awesome years before heading back to the UK for another stint. After a rough start in London, I slowly started to feel a strange and unfamiliar sensation. I was starting to settle in. Settle down. Everything started clicking into place and for the first time in my life, I could actually see myself staying in the same country for years to come.

But bruv, you know how life sometimes throws you a curve ball? Things changed very suddenly and it became clear that this just wasn’t going to happen. I would have to leave, yet again.

While my international background is interesting, it is by no means unique. Apparently people like me are called “Third Culture Kids” and we’re everywhere. Children of expats, we went to international schools and were taught the capital cities of every country in the world (shout-out to my IITA peeps WOOP! I know you remember Stripies). We didn’t know what racism was, because our friends looked like a United Colours of Benetton ad. For us, constant travel was normal and stability was never guaranteed.

The last couple of years in London, I started to realise how much I craved that stability.

But sometimes things don’t work out the way we want them to. I was now faced with a choice- where to next? Back to Australia made the most sense. I lived there for 3 happy years, and Melbourne wasn’t voted “Most Livable City in The World” for nothing. It’s funky, fresh and fabulous. And yet I didn’t feel quite ready. Something was telling me it was time to go home to Ghana.

But “home” can be a problematic concept when you have never actually lived in your home country. I tried to move back about 6 years ago. Saying it was a bit of a train wreck would be like saying Uncle Donald Trump’s hair is a bit off.

I wasn’t prepared for the culture shock, wasn’t ready for how my own people would see me as an outsider. They said I was too British, too feisty, too Westernised, even too Nigerian. My grasp of my parents’ language, Twi, was… well…it was dusty. This added to my frustration and sense of isolation. I only lasted a few weeks before fleeing to Melbourne.

So. When I found out I would have to leave London, that still small voice of calm said, “Go home.” After my previous experience, I was definitely nervous. Nah let’s be real- I was terrified. What if it doesn’t work out? What if I fail? What if I still can’t fit in? What if I still feel rejected? What if I can’t find a good job?

As I started packing, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed. At one point I sat on the floor of my rapidly emptying bedroom, surrounded by bits and pieces of my past, and I just sobbed. It seemed so unfair- why was this happening to me?

Now check this out. Somehow at my lowest moments, when I’m just about to fall to pieces, my mother knows. Even though we live in different continents, there seems to be an invisible string connecting my emotions to hers. Right at that moment she called, and she waited patiently while I cried and cried and cried. Then she said, “Dry your tears. God has never failed you, and He won’t fail you now.”

With those words, she reminded me that there is someone looking out for me. She reminded me that you can’t miss out on your destiny. Whatever is meant to be, will be, and you have to trust the journey.

So my darlings, as I write this I am in Accra, Ghana. In the distance I can hear rushing traffic and the ever-present thump of hiplife music. My grasp of Twi is still rusty, but it’s better than it was 6 years ago. When I arrived in Accra recently, I managed to negotiate the price of a taxi without being royally ripped off with the “abrokyire” (overseas) price. That, my friends, is progress.

I’m effing scared, and there’s no shame in that. But I’m going to try and give this a shot, and I’m taking you guys along for the ride. We’ll explore the city together. We’ll go and see all the landmarks. We’ll hunt down the best brunches and the stiffest cocktails, and we’ll find out where all the hipsters hang out. Welcome to Love, Adjpants: The Motherland Edition!

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Is it possible it won’t work out? That I’ll fall flat on my face? BISH IT MIGHT BE- but there’s only one way to find out.

They say you can never go home again. I’m going to try and prove them wrong. As Dr. Maya Angelou said, “all God’s children need travelling shoes.”

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And if those travelling shoes happen to be serving Pocahontas realness… well that’s a bonus, hunty.

Love,
Adjpants

OOTD: Ghanaian Independence Day Slayage

Friday March 6th, 2015, marked 58 years since my home country Ghana declared its independence from colonial rule. Formerly known as the Gold Coast, Ghana was the first sub-Saharan nation to gain independence. This is a source of great pride, and we have so many reasons to celebrate. Every time I go home, I’m excited and awed by our progress. Yes, we still have some work to do but as the great Kwame Nkrumah said, “Forward ever, backward never.”

I wanted to celebrate the day with my nearest and dearest, so I got my friends together for a night of Ghanaian food, fun and as always, tomfoolery.

What did I wear? GLAD YOU ASKED *flips hair*

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I wanted to serve African Queen realness. For this I always turn to ankara (West African wax print). I wore a gorgeous strapless dress with a cinched waist and a full skirt. Last time I was in Nigeria my lovely Auntie Safi had this made for me. Oh, the fierceness.

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I wore it with my favourite grey coat- you may remember this from my previous OOTD post! You know that one item of clothing that makes you feel fierce and powerful? Chile, the second I put this coat on, you can’t tell me NOTHING. Just try me.

I added a black & gold belt from Primark to cinch my waist even further- because I’m disrespectful like that. I completed the look with a cascading gold leaf necklace from Forever 21, because my mummy always says, “A queen should wear gold.” Final touches were my favourite black Mary Janes from Clarks, ASOS faux fur snood and Primark black patent clutch.

Now let’s serve face, hunty.

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The lighting wasn’t great in the restaurant, so I hope you can seeeee! I wanted to feature the colours of the Ghanaian flag, so I went for a green smokey eye, paired with a classic red lip.

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I used the Sleek I-Divine Eyeshadow palettes in “Garden of Eden” and “Storm” on my eyes, and Maybelline’s “Red Revival” on my kisser.

What did we eat? Everything! I was so excited when I saw the menu- all my old favourites were there. Banku (fermented corn and cassava dough) and roasted tilapia, fufu (pounded plantain, yam and cassava) and groundnut soup, fried yam… and chofi (fried turkey tail). LAWD, the chofi! Jesus be a fence to high cholesterol.

It was good eatin’. That cute belt had to come off real quick, fam. Didn’t even make it past appetisers. I went home so full that I fell asleep standing up in the elevator.

Side note: I’m thrilled to be heading off to the motherland this weekend! Really looking forward to spending time with my family and EATING ALL OF THE THINGS. Look out for “Love, Adpants: African Edition!”

So my darlings. Until we meet again, as we Ashantis say, “Ebeye yie”… It shall be well.

Love,
Adjpants

I AM 30!

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Today I turn 30 years old, and I think it’s safe to say that nobody has ever been quite this excited about anything, ever. When people hear that I’m about to hit the big 3-0, they do that thing where there’s a wince and a sharp intake of breath (sometimes paired with a pat on the shoulder), and they start to say “Oooh scary right? How are you feeling about…” And then they trail off when they see the look on my face.

It’s a huge (inevitably gap-toothed) grin that I can’t hide whenever I’m reminded that I’m about to hit this milestone. I’M 30 YEARS OLD! The thought of it makes me want to bust a move; launch into a set of impeccable naked cartwheels.

Why am I so excited? Because I look at my life right now and I can’t believe how ludicrously blessed I am. I am so grateful. I had my birthday party on Saturday, and it was like a dream. It was a joyous, chaotic and sparkly affair. The guests were beloved friends from different points in my life- many had never met each other before. I looked around and felt overwhelmed by love. I even felt the love of those who weren’t there with me in person- like  my darling Rosie; my partner in crime, yin to my yang, the sun in my sky. This girl is with me always.

I am 30. I was blessed with the wonderful family that I was born into. As if that wasn’t enough, I was then blessed with the replacement family I picked up along the way. I am happy, healthy and fulfilled. Where there used to be a painfully shy little girl who couldn’t make eye contact, there is now a woman whose laugh can be heard for miles. Where there was once a little girl terrified of being too far away from the safety of her bedroom, there is now a woman who has lived in 3 different continents in as many years.

I am 30. When I look at my life and the people I share it with, I know that I’m blessed. Because honestly? Nobody could be quite this lucky.

Love,
Adjpants

 

My Favourite Things: Silver Nameplate Necklace

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This new series is going to feature a few of my favourite things. The little trinkets and odd bits and bobs that I love, and why they are so important to me. These are the things I would grab first if there was ever a “LAWD JESUS IT’S A FAAH” situation.

First up! My beloved silver nameplate necklace. How do I love it? Let me count the ways:

1) I remember ordering this nameplate in the giddy rush, the first flush of love, the addiction that was Sex and The City. OK YES we all know the movies (especially the second one *shudders*) were a hot mess but this doesn’t take away from how brilliant and powerful the series was. SATC was iconic and a gamechanger for a whole generation of women. The characters became real to us because, well, they WERE real to us. They were our companions, the sassy friends who finally gave us the courage to talk honestly about life and love and sexytime. I became enamored by Carrie’s nameplate necklace and had to have one immediately if not sooner.

2) Let’s get into the epic discussion of what’s in a name. My name is a traditional Ghanaian name meaning “female child born on a Monday.” Babies are given a name depending on what day of the week they were born, and each day has a girl and a boy version. Post-colonial times, the common practice was to use the traditional name as a middle name, and an English name for the first name. But when I was born, my father insisted that I only have the traditional name for my first name. He also named me after my grandfather, giving me my beautiful middle name: Asieduwaa. How many people are lucky enough to have their middle name contain their surname? I love my pops for this, and I love that my name is a mark of my heritage.

When I was a kid, I wasn’t a huge fan of my name. I wanted a simple name that was easy to pronounce, like Sarah or Katie. When I moved from West Africa to the UK as a teenager, I got tired of constantly spelling and re-spelling my name. Even till today, most of my interactions begin like this:

Me: Hi, I’m Adwoa.

Them: Oh hey Angela! Nice to meet you.

Me: Um. It’s Adj-oo-wah

Them: What

Me: Adj-oo-wah

Them: Oh. You sure?

Me: ……………………

I remember once a fellow Ghanaian advising me to at least officially change the spelling of my name, to make it easier for other people to pronounce. After a swift slap to their chops, I explained that I would do no such thing- it’s three syllables and people can just DEAL. I mean if they can pronounce “quinoa” then they can pronounce my name!

3) Finally, I adore my nameplate necklace because it is the prettiest of things. It’s teensy and dainty and it goes with everything. I don’t tend to wear a lot of jewellery, so it’s nice to have a little something to set off my outfits.

I hope you enjoyed the first post in the series, my darlings!

Love, Adjpants

A Taste of Home: 805 Restaurant, North London

There are few things I love more than Nigerian food. My dreams are filled with towering mountains of jollof rice, rivers that run red with palm oil, and forests of emerald-green bitterleaf. I was blessed to grow up in a home where both Nigerian and Ghanaian delicacies appeared on the dinner table. Whenever I visit my folks, I make it my mission to eat ALL OF THE THINGS. This is often done in a wild panic because I know it’ll be a while before I get that taste again.

So when the same Nigerian restaurant was mentioned to me five times in the space of a week, I started to take notice. The original 805 restaurant on Old Kent Road, Peckham is a popular hangout for London’s Nigerian community. But for those of us who can’t be bothered to head down “Sarf” on a regular basis, the good news is that 805 has just opened a northern branch in Hendon Central! *cue celebratory kukere dance*

A few weeks ago, I finally gathered up my gals and headed for 805 Hendon. The first thing that stopped me in my tracks was the restaurant’s appearance. I mean… listen… I’ll be honest. I was expecting more of a casual “chop bar” (shack-type establishment where you grab super-cheap, super delish street food). You know, Formica tables, plastic chairs, etc. But 805 is absolutely gorgeous. Dark wood accents, pristine white tablecloths, napkins meticulously folded into crystal-clear glasses. I was impressed. Also keep an eye out for the artwork! Lucky for them I had a small purse or I would have been walking out with the feature painting of a woman with a beautiful gele (ornate headdress).

I was surprised and impressed anew when we got a warm and professional greeting from the staff. As much as I love my fellow West Africans, sometimes our customer service sucks. Like, sucks bad. One time at a Ghanaian restaurant I dithered for a second too long when choosing a table- the waitress kissed her teeth at me and sauntered off towards another customer who was more worthy of her time. WENCH. But hey! At 805 there were smiles all round, and not one moment after my bum touched the seat did the waitress come over to take my drinks order.

Speaking of DRANKS. As I headed to 805, a still small voice in my head whispered “But will they have Chapman though?” For my darlings who are unfamiliar with this drink, let me tell you what a Chapman is (please note you will never be the same again? Ok thanks). So. Imagine a drink made of the following:

  • Fanta (but the GOOD KIND: African Fanta which is roughly 10,000 times sweeter than any other known to man)
  • Sprite (see above re: the good kind)
  • Grenadine
  • Angosutra bitters
  • Essence of Idris Elba and tears of a unicorn (optional but recommended)
  • A cucumber or pineapple slice to garnish

As far as I’m concerned, the Fanta Chapman is Nigeria’s most precious commodity. Forget the oil. This delicious ruby-red drink is the perfect balance of sweet and bitter, and every time I sip one it takes me back to my happy childhood. So you can imagine my joy when I walked into 805 and saw that YES THEY MADE CHAPMANS. I promptly ordered about twelve of them and sat back to enjoy. And they were good, if a little sweet (I have the sweetest sweet tooth in all the land, so if I tell you it was sweet you need to take me seriously). Next time I might ask them to go a little easier on the grenadine- other than that, perfection.

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And then it was on to the menu. Oh my effing God, the delights that awaited me! I couldn’t believe it- almost all my favourites were there. Eba and egusi? No problem. Chicken and jollof rice? Why not! Even the side dishes were perfect- fried plantain, fried yam, the list went on…

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We ordered a plate of chicken suya to start. If you don’t know what this is, then I feel sorry because your tastebuds are not yet truly living; they’re just existing. Suya is chicken or beef that has been cut into small pieces, coated with a distinct suya pepper mix, and then grilled to within an inch of its life. 805’s version was near-perfect and could almost challenge some of the suya I’ve bought at the roadside in Nigeria.

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For the main course we ordered chicken gizzards (hear me out cos they’re AMAZING) in a spicy stew and jollof rice. It. Was. Out. Of. Control. Perfect spice blend, perfectly cooked, just a delight to eat.

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(Rumour has it that we also ate the restaurant’s entire stock of fried plantain, but I can neither confirm nor deny this)

The food was authentic, hot, and bursting with flavour. The portions were extremely generous and I soon regretted not wearing something with an elasticated waistband. And when I finally came up for air, I noticed that the restaurant had quickly filled up. The atmosphere was fab- afrobeat music being played at the perfect volume, people kicking back and having a good old time. I can imagine the vibe on a Friday night would be LIVE!

To sum up: the ambience was great and the food was even better. Now darlings it is on the pricey side so please don’t be alarmed. I promise you it’s worth it as an occasional treat. Having said that, the prices on the wine list gave me arrhythmia so steer clear of that side of the menu if you’re feeling fragile.

So whether you’re a hardcore lover of Nigerian food, or a novice looking for adventure, get on down to 805 and order some orishi-rishi (“different-different”) treats ASAP!

 

View: http://www.805restaurants.com/; Visit: 60 Vivian Avenue, Hendon NW4 3XH; Wallet: Chicken suya from £10 (LAWD JESUS!), Rice dishes from £11