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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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

Africa Writes 2015

Hi darlings!

So I’m gagging with excitement to share my thoughts on last weekend’s event “Africa Writes 2015,” the African Writers’ festival hosted by the Royal African Society at the British Library.

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It was a bit of a whirlwind visit, but I’m so glad I attended. My bestie Miss Fu and I stepped into the auditorium just in time to catch the reading from Frances Mensah Williams, who was promoting her new novel “From Pasta to Pigfoot.” It’s the tale of a UK-born and bred Ghanaian woman who returns to Ghana, and the challenges she faces trying to settle into life in her home country. Guys… you know when you read a book that you could swear was written about you? For you? I got effing chills!

Let me spill some tea on my life real quick. I am Ghanaian. 100%. Both my parents are Ghanaian. However I have lived in several different countries, I have two passports and I call at least 4 different cities “home.” I can swear in 6 languages. I have never lived in Ghana for any extended period of time. A few years ago, after living in the UK for what seemed like ever, I tried to move back to Ghana to work. It was a nightmare- I was unprepared for how different everything was, and how I couldn’t fit in with my own people. I was too Nigerian (I grew up there), too British, too feisty, too… just too much. I was heartbroken and frustrated, and left after only a few months.

So when Ms Williams read from her novel, expanding on some of the struggles of a young woman trying to return home, I felt like I wanted to jump out of my skin with excitement. She described her novel as “a journey of self-discovery… not just a coming of age but also a coming of culture.” On being an African writer, she said “There is so little out there about us.” When she said “Going home is not the same as feeling at home,” I wanted to jump up and scream YAAAAAASSS.

At the end of the reading, there was time for questions. I piped up and asked Ms Williams what her advice would be for someone who wanted to try and return home for the second time (Me! More on that later) She was lovely. She looked me right in the eye across the crowd and said, “Moving back home is not just a physical move, it’s a mental one. When things get tough, when you are frustrated by the system, just remember: these are my people. This is my country. Forget your second passport and remember that you are home.”

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It was then time for a panel discussion called “African Non-Fiction: Moving the Boundaries?” The panel featured Kwasi Kwarteng, Noo Saro-Wiwa, Jackie Kay, and Pede Hollist. I really enjoyed MP Kwasi Kwarteng’s reading from his book “Ghosts of Empire,” which touched on the colonisation themes from one of my favorite novels, Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart.” Now… all the intellectual chit chat was amazing but I’m not going to lie to you, I was thinking how nice it would be to have Uncle Kwasi read me a bedtime story! That clipped Etonian baritone though… I’m here for it.

Another highlight was the reading from Noo Saro-Wiwa’s book,”Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria.” She was sassy and fabulous and I want to be her BFF. Noo, if you’re reading this, let’s totes do brunch? One of my favourite snippets was when she said, “I prefer to see where serendipity takes me… I had only a vague outline of where I would go.” She then gave us a few hilarious anecdotes on “prosperity gospel” in Nigeria, and the unintentional humour found in intense Pentecostal churches.

At this point there was a comment from a young woman a few rows behind me, who said she felt like it had been open season on Pentecostal Nigerians during the panel discussion. As a Pentecostal Nigerian herself, she felt it was unfair to tar everyone with the same brush. I turned around and was like O_O

Because it was only Chibundu Onuzo herself- author of “The Spider King’s Daughter.” At this point I was like “Lawd I am READY for this debate!” Whipped out the popcorn and watched. Definitely a lively and fascinating discussion…

imageAll in all, it was an incredible event and I enjoyed every moment. There were so many amazing talks and workshops, but unfortunately Miss Fu and I had to depart (social butterflies, you understand).

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the peeps at Africa Writes- it was a great event and I can’t wait until next year! I’m so proud of the work you guys are doing.

I want to end with this inspiring piece of advice from Frances Mensah Williams: “Just write. Not enough of us are writing. African writing shouldn’t just be a niche. Eventually it should be known as just writing, not African writing.”

You betta write, 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

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

 

 

Soundtrack to My Weekend: Iyanya- Le Kwa Ukwu

This post should really be called “Soundtrack to My Life” because I’ve had this song on repeat for so long now. Growing up in my beloved Nigeria means that my heart belongs permanently to Afrobeat. Initially made world-famous in the 60s and 70s by the legendary Fela Kuti, Afrobeat has continued to slay folks up until 2014. I love how modern West African artists are blending the old Afrobeat style with the typically Congolese/Central African sound, commonly known as makossa/soukouss/coupe decale. Add to this blend some of the best elements of modern pop music and you’re left with something INCREDIBLE. Get your chops round the video and then we’ll talk.

*sips palm wine*

And we’re back! Here’s why we love this track:

1. The phrase “Le Kwa Ukwu” is Igbo for “Look at that backside.” Perfection. You’d better effing look at it.

2. I am drunk in love with Iyanya himself. I mean. Are you going to SIT THERE and tell me that you don’t see how his waist moves as if independent of his body? You don’t see that glint in his eye? And that smile which is scientifically proven to cause arrhythmia? Just take a moment to look at that face. Honed out of the finest milk chocolate by a merciful God. I am so unable right now.

3. That thumping bass line. Those frantic drums. The smattering of cheeky guitar, so familiar to me from Central African/Francophone music. You know when you’re dancing and suddenly a track comes on that makes you lose your goddamn mind? Iyanya’s hit song “Kukere” was one of the most popular Afrobeat hits of 2013. Every time the opening bars start playing, there are howls of “THAT’S MY SAWNG” as people sprint for the dancefloor. Like, people are constantly injured in the struggle for prime dancing space. We Africans take partying extremely seriously- I myself have been known to do some quick stretches in the corner when my jam starts playing.

4. The whole song is about a man appreciating the beauty of a woman. The way she moves. The way she makes him feel. The vibe is sexy, sassy and most importantly, FUN. It makes me giggle.

So now tell me the truth- were you able to sit still while watching this?