Today, my father turned 80. This in itself is an achievement. The fact that he has remained healthy, able to walk, talk and even exercise, makes it even more so.
I deliberately keep from discussing my family on this blog, but today, I will deviate from the norm because I have an important message to pass across. I will decide if this remains.
Growing up, my father was very involved in my childhood. Not just mine, of course, there were 6 of us and he was as equally involved in everyone’s life. One of my earliest memories of my father was of him giving me a bath. He made it fun, unlike my mom who was very efficient and practical and faced her task with the purpose of getting it done properly and quickly.
My father was domesticated, changing diapers, caring for his babies, washing his clothes, cleaning floors, heating up food (his cooking took too long, abeg! So he would heat up food and make things like Eba e.t.c.). Allow me to share a memory with you – some 20 years ago, we traveled to our home in the village and we got into the task of cleaning the house. Everyone pitched in. And I mean everyone! As you know, Igbo people have big houses in their villages. We were no different (I told you I was typically Igbo).
My dad usually would not sweep because the dust would affect his sinuses. So we were a tag team, I was sweeping and he was either scrubbing or mopping. As was normal for him, he had a dust mask on and looked pretty ridiculous. A female relative that was resident in the village came in and was so shocked to see him cleaning that she clapped her hands, did a mini jig and all at the same time exclaimed: “Hei! Are you now the one sweeping the house?” (if you understand Igbo, click below to hear exactly how she said it).
My young chest swelled with pride at this man that would not allow people’s perception of what his role was, influence him.
I mean, my dad was the sole breadwinner and for a long time, my mother was a housewife (no small task!) who had no income. For a lot of our men, they think this buys them an automatic pass on any housework or “women” work.
My dad didn’t ever fail to take us out during public holidays – boxing day e.t.c. We would go to amusement park e.t.c. As a matter of fact, while I was in boarding school (the first three of us went to boarding school and were away at the time), I was told by one of my younger siblings that they begged my mom to tell her husband to please give them a break. That they were tired of going out. Silly kids! I knew of kids who were never taken out by their dads.
My dad is the sort of dad that went out of his way to do things to make our lives easier. When I started Natural Nigerian, both my parents allowed me to overfill their house with box upon box of products. To give you an idea, at a point my things were so plentiful they overflowed to other rooms. It wasn’t the tidiest of arrangements but I was their daughter and they allowed me to inconvenience them. I remember them both staying up with me just before a meetup, getting my labels on bottles. As a matter of fact, once my parents noticed that my business would require certain herbs, my father started planting them. Unbidden. Because I am his daughter and that is what daddies do.
A few months ago, I had the most annoying conversation with a person who said that “daddy is always daddy, no matter what daddy was”. Basically, the moral of her speech was that it was okay to lower one’s expectations and that one had to love one’s daddy no matter what. I was not annoyed with her, far from it! Her own experiences colored the advice she doled out. I was annoyed that she had a father/parents who had imparted to her that low expectation of what a father should be.
I grew up with a father who surpasses (yes, even now), ALL expectations. This makes my expectations very high.
Why am I sharing this story?
I read all the time that ALL Nigerian men cheat. Whenever I say that my father was always faithful to my mom, there are dissenting voices. “You were a kid, how would you know?” While I would like to counter with “If you were able to realize at a point in your life that your dad was stepping out on your mum, how can you disbelieve that I realized at a point in my life that my dad never did?” but for the sake of peace, I usually respond with “My mom is not the sort of person to help a person hide their shortcomings, especially if it is directed towards her.” Which is true. I am not saying that my perfect father was a perfect husband…it is difficult to be but fidelity was never an issue. It is possible. It is possible.
I know people that have fathers that outsourced their fatherhood or just didn’t think or perhaps even know how to be fathers. I know people my age that are shaping up to be like that.
Where I can, I encourage those that want more for themselves and their kids. Be the best you can be! It is not impossible to be that person. Forget that “the boys” would think you under the thumb of a woman or not manly enough. If you bring children into this world, they are your responsibility and not just a financial one.
With this post, I am trying to say:
Men, Women, People: Do good by your kids. They notice.
Women: Encourage your men to be all they can be. Do not assume that “All men must cheat.” Granted, it is getting easier and easier for men to do so, but it was also pretty easy during my father’s time.
Women: Do not lower your child’s expectations of what they should expect from a father. Even if those father’s are not in a child’s life, I do not believe that one should settle for crumbs of attention.
Parents: Be careful how you bring up your children. Impart to them a sense of responsibility for those they bring into the world.
My parents are pretty awesome and if that was not your experience, I hope you are able to set things right with your children.
I am beyond proud of all the locally made products that one can get now. For Christmas, I think there is no way we cannot include these products in hampers or stocking or even give them out on their own. I have made an (inexhaustive) list for you!
A Christmas tradition is giving greeting cards. There are more than enough Nigerian themed cards to choose from now. Wish folks a Merry Christmas or a Merry Keresimesi by choosing cards from Not Just Pulp or Amama Design Studio. Amama Design Studio also sells yearly planners, leatherbound notebooks e.t.c for that special someone in your life (which could be you :)).
With all the parties, family get-togethers and outings during this period, hair has to be on point!
Want to try a contemporary, threading style? This not like any old threading style you know. This allows your hair to bounce. You can choose different thread colors, choose to add extra hair for bulkiness and even choose any length you want. The style lasts for several weeks. Please note that you will need to book an appointment for this particular style.
If this is not your style, they offer many many other options – updos, twists, crochet braids e.t.c.
Help out with this resolve by getting your friends sportswear that is sewn in Nigeria. Yep! Sewn here. Joagh Sports is totally local and have a very comprehensive line. An added plus is that the prices are nothing that will break the bank. You can get an exercise bra for as low as N990. That is a massive bargain! You can mix and match as you like, so pick a grey top and a pink bottom or a black top and a purple bottom. You have total freedom to choose! Purchase here. Follow them on Instagram here.
Set the Mood at Home
During the holidays, give your home that extra special smell with the handmade candles, scents and more from Abela World. There are quite a number of variants to choose from. They even have beeswax candles for repelling mosquitoes. All the products are wonderfully packaged and would make a great addition to hampers and Christmas stockings.
This Christmas we have made it easy for you to give away Natural Nigerian presents. You can purchase our Christmas box for the natural-haired person in your life or a Pack which holds our new baby range.
Both gift packs will also be available at Yellow Sisi Salon. They are open until year end!
Something for the Men
Men, don’t feel left out! We have something for you on our list. Azke Handcrafted has been making beautiful shoes and other footwear for years now. These Black Patent Brogues below are 100% handmade, with each hole carefully pierced by hand! (How many can you count?). If this is not your style, they have others you can choose from.
To contact them, leave them a comment on Instagram and they will get back to you!
One of the inquiries I get most is about making natural skin care products and if I can teach a class. Due to the demand, I created the Emulsion 101 course and have successfully taught 2 classes. One in Abuja and another in Lagos. I have to say, that both times, I met awesome ladies and ended up having more fun than I thought I would!
The class has come round again and will run from Tuesday, 29th November and end on the 3rd of December. We will begin with an online class that will span 3 days – 29th, 30th and 1st. We will then meet face to face to practice all we have learned during the week. (more…)
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Seeing as I have now changed industry, I was glad to be able to find the time to attend an important conference in my new industry. The Ninth Annual Global Shea Alliance Conference was held in Accra, Ghana from the 21st of March till the 23rd of March, 2016. It was a very educative, enjoyable and insightful few days. I knew that not everyone would have made it there, but there was a lot to gain, so I tried to capture it in pictures, on my Instagram account. If you follow the hashtag #nninghana, you will find all my pictures about the conference and my trip. The highlights for me were:
The President of Ghana, coming for the conference, by himself (no representative). He was on time – no African time. He was awake through it all. He was able to reel out facts and figures about the Shea Industry. He appeared not to have any prepared speech but spoke eloquently all the same. I was so impressed.
A photo posted by Natural Nigerian™🇳🇬 (@naturalnigerian) on
Hearing/Learning first hand what the challenges to the industry are. One can only right what one knows are wrongs. One of these challenges is the traditional belief in some areas that new Shea trees should not be planted. Another is the fair compensation and safety for the women who are in the forefront of picking these nuts and churning out the hand crafted butter.
A video posted by Natural Nigerian™🇳🇬 (@naturalnigerian) on
A bonus, was meeting Madam Fati Paul who has been a Shea Butter supplier to The Body Shop for 22 years. (Click on the picture to watch short video)
I wish I had gotten to see a bit more of the town but what I saw of Tamale and Accra pleased me. In many ways, I think that Africa is a country (at least West Africa) and this was re-emphasized for me in many ways.
I applaud the GSA for a good conference and look forward to attending the next one and the next one.
Today is our first day of work in 2016! Beyond re-opening the Ahia, I also came on here to give you a little insight about what is going on with me, personally.
As a few of you know, I have built and have managed Natural Nigerian while juggling the role of parent and full time worker. My job had me travel at least 6 our of 12 months a year and was pretty much full on. It was HARD to juggle things. There were many nights of going to bed past midnight and waking up at 5a.m to work for 12 hours.
What this meant for Natural Nigerian as a business was that while we somehow kept muddling through, it was not my primary focus and as such was not growing at the rate at which it should.
A photo posted by Natural Nigerian (@naturalnigerian) on
Unfortunately, I could not share any more information at the time but what had happened then was that my plans to leave formal employment were finally being validated by the universe.
Prior to that time I hadn't gotten the nod and since I am a person who relies on her intuition to make decisions, I couldn't take a step without that nod.
Anyhoo, like the image above says, Wherever you are, be all there! I formally resigned my "9-5" job and worked my last day on the 4th of January, 2016. Today, 5th January 2016, begins the day when I begin facing Natural Nigerian as my full time job.
Product releases every quarter this year. To give some insight, there is a MUST TRY hair oil in the works. And something for the guys. I heard y'all when you spoke guys, I heard.
More blog posts this year. Weekly. Unless I travel. I promise to do this.
Better shopping experience in our online store, the Ahia!
Many more posts on Instagram. I love that medium and it is a quick way to get information across so definitely follow me on Instagram if you aren't already.
More collaborations this year. This is something I think we did rather well last year and I look forward to doing more. Trainings, Workshops, Events. If you want us to work together, please email me. Let's be great together!
To end, I want to say thank YOU. Without you reading, buying and believing in our brand, I would never have had the opportunity to begin on this wonderful adventure. I can't thank you enough and I promise that you won't be disappointed.
After almost a month of not blogging, this would be a fair question. I do wish I was at a place like in the picture but nah! I was very much around. However, I had a bit of a setback. You see, my Macbook stopped powering on and I had to send it to the US to get fixed.
You didn’t think we would forget you this Easter did you?
Nah! We’ve got you covered with a 10% discount on all products in the Ahia NN. This is running all the way from today, 27th, March 2015 until the 6th of April. Gives you a lot of time to decide what you want to get. (more…)