The year is drawing to a close and we are in the homestretch! 2018 is peering back at us over the horizon. 2017 has been a bizarre year, much of it in a good way. After the horrors that 2016 wrought upon us, it was good to catch some semblance of a breather over these past 12 months.
I know quite a few of us sustained heavy personal losses with friends and heroes passing away, many in their prime. I’ve had to console myself with the theory that Prince once espoused in the ballad, Gold and trust that if they’ve lived a good life heaven will take their soul. I’d rather live with the hope that I will see their faces again than to dwell on the cynic’s supposition that this Earth is the end of the line for all of us. With the passing of these loved ones, I am reminded that whether we are entering this world or taking leave of it, pain is an integral part of the experience. That we are left behind to mourn them is a testament to their positive impact, and one can find joy in that, albeit rueful.
2016 was such a relentless series of horrific events that I made a conscious decision at the beginning of this year to make one resolution and one only: To abstain from bad news wherever possible. For the most part that meant straying as far away from politics and the absolute dumpster fire that is the entirety of the Drumpf administration, and I admit: that was hard. I didn’t do a very good job of it the first 40 days of the year. The discovery of the golf-ball sized tumor in my brain forced a shift in my focus, another misfortune for which I found myself grateful. It was in those moments and the months that followed that I was shown extreme kindness and generosity from friends and strangers and had the opportunity to meet denizens of my Facebook feed (shout out to Monique!) in real life.
2017 was the first time in seven years that I had not written or published a book. It was an unsettling sensation…beyond that. Not producing any tangible work felt like I was sacrificing a limb, but I knew that the longevity of my health necessitated a break from extensive writing. I read a lot this year, all of it for pleasure; an indulgence I hadn’t partaken in since I was a sixth grader. Some of the work I read was transformative, magical and lyrical. Others were just a tad better than mediocre. Each of them provided their own instruction on what makes for interesting, compelling composition.
Reading aside, the one extravagance I gave myself over to was watching for and celebrating the wins of others…wins that unfurled like the sails of an ancient armada. Since I had committed myself to looking for good news, you can imagine I found it at every turn. For the benefit of time, I will list my picks for the best moments of 2017, in no particular order.
The release of ‘Get Out’
Jordan Peele’s first film as a solo director tapped into a peculiar fear that most Black people keep hidden and shut away from the prying eyes of the mainstream: Being kidnapped by white people. The possibility haunts our collective subconscious -because although we know that Europeans can no longer legally pack us onto 100 foot long death traps made of wood for their economic benefit, we all know that the imaginations of whypipo know no bounds when it comes to Black destruction. In the era of 45, this movie was an important reminder of that fact. I’m looking forward to the sequel, ‘Stay Woke’.
Daixy makes soap
Maame Aba Daisie (@D41XY) is one of the few virtual friends I have a tangible, 3D connection to. That makes her a real person, with real emotions and real dreams. One of those dreams was to make soap for profit. Maame Aba Daisie is a talented woman, and like many talented people suffers from the occasional bout of self-doubt. She overcame her uncertainties and launched a line of organic soaps this year. She was good enough to mail me some from Accra and boy, are they yummy! You could cut her excitement at launch like a bar of soap. (Sorry. Couldn’t help it.)
Robert E Kelly’s kids interrupt him on BBC
The mom dive is still gold! LOL!
Josh is one of my favorite people in the whole, wide, wonderful world. We’ve only met twice in person, but I knew he was my spiritual twin the instant we met. He reminds me of a young Mr. Miyagi. He is an entrepreneur who grooms other entrepreneurs to be better entrepreneurs. And he’s also the CEO and co-Founder of iSpace, which is this dope hub in Accra. This year, he launched a tech a women-centered initiative to push women into untapped avenues in the tech space. He realized that tech needs African women, so he provided a platform to give them entry into the space. Not all heroes wear capes… or have a full head of lustrous locks.
You all know Tosinger, the voice behind the hit single Ile and Atlanta’s original Naija flower child. When I could get the night off, I used to run the ATL art/music scene with Tosinger and whistle encouragingly from the audience as she would belt Afro-folk songs to crowds who often didn’t get her music or style. She never let a tepid reception get her down though. She would work the crowd, handing out her demos and smiling like she was Nefertiti come to life. Sometimes she would struggle to get stage time at a venue; and my girl is too big for that kind of struggle. So guess what she did? She built her own stage. Boom.
Naija never, ever go carry last!
Reading The Shack and The Alchemist
These are the two most impactful books I’ve read this year. I return to the Author’s Note of ‘The Alchemist’ at least once a month for encouragement, and since I don’t own a copy of ‘The Shack’, I tap into the memory of those written words to experience the sensations of forgiveness and awe whenever the need arises. The lessons in each book are very different and very necessary.
Ronke Lawal is the founder of Ariatu PR. She’s represented dozens of brands and helped pushed them to prominence in the UK and beyond. When I was a new novelist and had no clue about marketing or the power of social media, Ronke would amplify any tweets I published about my book (The Daughters of Swallows) to my utter confusion. Why was she re-tweeting ALL THE TIME? This was back when we were fairly new at taking a shot at each of our dream disciplines. I’ve never forgotten that. I am so pleased that her heart of gold and penchant for hard work is paying off with new clients and dividends!
Baba God! You have given this woman a gift eh? See her soup. See her stew. Like a bubbling pot of triumph and jubilation. From the stove in her flat to this? 2017 has been a banner year for my friend, Tokunbo. She’s been featured on BBC, she’s fed multitudes with rave reviews, she’s earned all her accolades for bringing West African food to the fore. It’s been my pleasure to watch the Universe open up new doors for her. Very soon John Boyega will be begging for seconds at your table, wai? *Seals this word with a broken egg*
To call it an ‘accident’ is a gross misnomer, but that’s what this whirlwind felt like. The fact is, everything in Kristin’s life looks chaotic in the beginning, but makes perfect sense by its conclusion. Her first book, Love Letters From Abba is the beautiful result of a tumultuous year spent in Plett and chance meeting with a Bishop from Mississippi. Stemming from a conversation with a ‘stranger-angel’ over ostrich burgers to a series of road trips all over the Garden Route, Kristin took a bit of advice and turned her pain into a page-turner.
Abynnah Sekyiamah is named best female entrepreneur for Clean Eats
Also known in the house as MK, this is the little sister I never had. (Whereas my actual little sister is a slightly more manic version of myself.) After struggling with her weight her whole life, MK made a radical decision 3 or so years ago. She took up yoga and started watching what she ate. This is not easy for African women to do. First of all, yoga is ‘demonic’ and if you’re not cooking with copious amounts of oil, are you really cooking? So profound was her physical transformation and so passionate was she about her new lifestyle that she opened up an eatery called Clean Eats, where she only serves fresh fruits, veggie and organic fare. She’s been a guide to many women who just didn’t know where to start in their health journey, and for that – and so much more – she deserves all her accolades!
The Conversation started by Pepper Dem Ministries
You may not like them, but you’re certainly going to listen to what they have to say. PDM burst onto the social media landscape and dominated the conversation on gender and equality in Ghana for…well…they’re still dominating! These women galvanized those of us who exist in the activist space and spiced it up by encouraging us all to interrogate the (often toxic) narratives that govern our thoughts and mores. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do in 2018!
Lydia Forson fixes her career
This is one of those moments where you had to be there.
Ruby Buah opens Kua Kids: A Salon & Spa for the Wee Ones
Ruby Buah is a powerhouse. She is an idea mill and a things-make-it-happener. There are few people who have the gift and knack for taking an idea from concept to execution with such flawless perfection as Ruby. If there is a woman who ever had the Midas touch, she’s it. Her Kua accessory line has been an international hit for years now, with a dedicated clientele. Now she’s bringing a new generation into the fold with her spa for kids. Look at the joy on these babies’ faces. Don’t you wish you were six all over again?
Michael Dapaah goes Skraaa…
Hol’ tight Asnee!
Michael Dapaah, popularly known as Big Shaq, is the embodiment of every kubolor boy’s dream. He has shot to fame and monetized tomfoolery. From Fire in the Booth to now representing a line of fleece, fur and bubble jackets, Michael is setting the world of music and fashion ablaze.
But it is we who will burn.
Because man is not hot.
Man can never be hot.
ALL THE TIME?? The release of the Black Panther trailer and the reactions from the Culture that followed
I have unfortunately become the official delivery service of every idea that people want to share with #RyanCoogler since he’s not #onhere. I can’t possibly share them all. It’s a lot! But this one I actually texted to him because truth… xo pic.twitter.com/deyIvM0fVI
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) December 22, 2017
Obviously, there are other great highlights that presented themselves in 2017 (like the day I discovered the wonders and efficiency of an epilator or that you can buy your kids used Legos for Christmas and they will never know the difference), but we would be here for another 2 hours dissecting those moments and I have a sunset to go watch. I’m sure you have some New Year’s Eve traditions that need attending to as well. Thank you for being a part of the MOM Squad and for being a part of this community for so many years. I wish you and your family great health, happiness, peace and the space and means to make your dreams come true.
Unless your dream is to hinder someone else’s destiny. In that case, fiya bu’n you. Fiya bu’n you well-well!
Happy New Year, and may we look back on 2018 with similar gratitude!