Love like a gangsta ft Nipsey and Lauren London

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Photo from GQ-magazine Feb’19. Shot by Awol Erizku

If there is anything I have learned from rap songs, it is that “there’s nothing like hood love”. That Nelly and Kelly Rowland “Dilemma” kind of love. That 50 Cent “21 questions” kind of love. And to throw it way back, that Bonnie and Clyde kind of love. Now to bring it way to the front, that Nipsey Hussle (Ermias Asghedom) and New-New (Lauren London) kind of love.

           At first look, Nipsey was an intimidating looking kind of guy with his tall frame and face tattoos but we now all know, that he had a heart of gold. Lauren London (best known for her performance as New-New in the movie ATL) dated many of the richest rappers in the game such as Lil Wayne and even had his child. However, she found true love with Nipsey. Why? Because like she said in her speech at his funeral, she did not have to wear her “cool girl mask” anymore with Nipsey. Nipsey was her “turn up and her church”. He was not “perfect” and she would never ask him to be.  He was and still is “the coolest guy ever” to her. “His soul was majestic.” He was a “gentle father” and a “patient leader.”  These are all direct quotes from her beautiful speech at his funeral where she shared a text message that she wrote to him during January of this year while she was watching him sleep. Clearly, Lauren knew what she had found with Nipsey was truly special and I am sure Nipsey made her feel special as no woman would talk like that about a man that mistreats her. I repeat her “turn up and her church.” Many guys can fall into that “turn up” category but very few can be your “church.” That is a spiritual connection which is “beyond this earth”.

            Based on her and Nipsey’s spirituality, Lauren is probably better equipped to handle what has happened to her and her family. In her speech, she shared how Nipsey taught her that “you cannot possess people, you experience them.” The few years she got to experience him will last her a lifetime and maybe beyond that. Furthermore, he had told her that “the game is gonna test you, never fold.” “Stay ten toes down.” “It is not on you, it is in you and what is in you, they cannot take away.” I don’t know about y’all, but her speech gave me life and her strength was the real definition of “gangsta.” Even though the perpetrator of his death took Nipsey’s life, the love he shared with Lauren and his family can never be taken away. In fact, she shared that her greatest sadness is realizing that their 2-year-old son is “probably too young to remember how much his dad loved him”.

            I hope we may all experience such “gangsta love”. Not gangsta in regards to being in a gang or involved in crime (in the traditional sense of the word), but gangsta in how fiercely we protect it.  No side chicks have popped up from the woodworks stating that they were with Nipsey because he was all about Lauren. He was faithful, loyal, and most of all, he financially protected his family so that they would not have to starve without him. Instead of flashing his money for all the world to see on cars and other depreciating expenses, he invested in his community and educated people about financial literacy. As Lauren says, “he was brilliant” and the world is at a loss for such a man. One of Nipsey’s face tattoos says “PROLIFIC” and I had to google exactly what that word means: “producing much fruit or foliage or many offspring.” I believe that based on Nipsey’s hustle alone, his investments will continue to bear fruit for his community. His love, on the other hand, is limitless as it has even inspired people like me who are not a part of his direct community. Maybe we all get to experience this gangsta type of love in this lifetime and those to follow. As Lauren said, “the marathon continues.”

Love, Lust, and Obsession

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Mobile, AL carnival cruise port- Apr 2019

A few weeks ago, a Kenyan girl named Ivy Wangechi was murdered by a love/lust-crazed admirer of her. There are a lot of half-baked theories about why the boy murdered her, including some stating that he was her sponsor as she was in medical school. However, her grieving mother has come out to say that Ivy was on a government scholarship and the only balance they paid was about 20,000 shillings (about 200 dollars) which is not a hardship for them. From what I gathered, the girl knew the boy as they grew up together but had made it clear that she was not interested in him. However, the boy continued to pursue her for whatever reason and had even sent her a gift for her recent birthday. I would assume that the boy expected the girl to fall in love with him after such a gesture and became angry after not getting the response he wanted. The part that we do know is that in a rage of anger, he asked his friend to drive him to where the girl was and hacked her to death with a knife and ax.

            When my mom heard about this story, she instantly shared it with me and proposed that I write about it on my blog so shout out to Mamacita as I call her (this is a Spanish nickname by the way, not a Swahili one as she does not have six kids). Anyway, my mom is particularly interested in the psychology of people and love is something that can influence your mental health. For example, the boy in this story was clearly obsessed with Ivy to the point where his mind went to a dark place, premeditated a murder, and committed the act. But before he got to this point, the horror story started with him lusting over Ivy to the point where he believed that he was in love with her. I say “he believed he was in love with her” because I truly believe that anyone who truly loves someone would never kill them (remember that I believe that you can tell love through actions and hacking someone to death clearly is not love). I have also previously confused lust and love in the past so I know how it feels. Lust can drive you crazy because it is a possessive emotion where you want to say that whatever you are so passionately attracted to is yours. Love on the other hand, in my opinion, is a freeing emotion because you want nothing but the best for the person that you care so deeply for. So no matter what the assailant says, I do not believe he loved Ivy.

            The question then becomes, how do we stop ourselves and others from becoming obsessed and confusing love with lust? First of all, you need good friends or family that you feel comfortable enough to discuss your romantic escapades with. For example, my friends would always call me out when I was in lust in the past. And to be honest, there is a time and season for everything so when you are young, you may be looking for lust and not love so that is age-appropriate. However, you should never let lust or “love” turn into obsession. If you cannot even sit still and study or work without stalking your crush on social media, then you need to have a deep look at why you are letting that person have so much power over you and your life. Throughout my romantic experiences, what gives me peace is knowing that I am destined to be with someone and it will happen naturally, not by force. If someone does not reciprocate your energy or level of interest, then cut your losses and move on. You should never have to convince someone to love you; it is either that they do or they do not. It is true that we all love what we cannot have but think about it, once you have that person won’t you get bored because the chase is over? So stop chasing and just look for a real connection. Yes, beauty is captivating but beyond that, you should be able to love that person even if they turned into an ogre at night (like Princess Fiona in the Shrek movie). So, in essence, we have to train our mind to read between the lines of a chiseled man or even the curves of a beautiful woman and focus on the substance of their character instead. I am sorry that Ivy died at the hands of a man who claimed to love her when he clearly he just wanted to possess her. May she rest in peace and may her tragedy be a lesson to us all.

            May we remember the following scripture: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away”. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

 

Thank you for reading. Feel free to peruse previous blog posts that I have written on the subject of love:
Love and Divine intervention

Don’t settle for less just because it’s available

Self-love: Love is a Verb.

The male perspective on dating ft  5 comments from male readers

On Dating and Modern Day Love

Boston Review: Resident & Tourist view

 

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March 2019

Some of you may know that I spent a little over half a decade (six years) in Boston, Massachusetts. So this is a review where I can delve both into being a resident and a tourist of the city. My first trip to Boston was in 2010 with my mom before the start of my senior year of high school to look at different universities in the area (Harvard, MIT, Boston University, and my alma mater of Northeastern University). The one campus that truly captured my eye and heart was Northeastern’s as it was right in the heart of Boston but still managed to be centralized; so you could feel like you were in your own world and still be in the mix of the city within less than a 5-minute walk.   I liked being in a worldly diverse school with students from all over the map and being in a city where all these cultures participated, especially in food.

Food. My favorite restaurant in Boston is actually a Senegalese restaurant called Teranga. It is a small place with a cozy vibe as the owner is super friendly and makes sure to talk to every table when he is around. One of my favorite quotes of his is “We are all African” which actually describes my experience in Boston because I made friends with Africans from other countries such as Nigeria and Somalia. I also loved the Boston Shawarma restaurant that I was on Huntington Avenue where my alma mater is located. I also loved eating really delicious Vietnamese soup called pho (thanks to my best friend’s mom for introducing this to me as her homemade pho is still the best in my book) at a restaurant called Pho & I which was also down the street from my school. I also loved samosas and biryani from an Indian restaurant called the Dosa Factory (I actually gave them my email one time to be contacted in case they were hiring). The China town in Boston is actually pretty legitimate and has very authentic Chinese food (sometimes so authentic that it doesn’t match your palette depending on which restaurant you frequent). My favorite is Gourmet Dumpling House which has a really nice pancake dish and obviously amazing dumplings. For brunch though, my favorite restaurant is Darryl’s Corner Bar and Kitchen which has a soul/jazzy vibe with live music and a buffet brunch option. On my recent one-day trip to Boston, I actually did not eat out as my friend cooked shrimp & chicken Jollof for me which filled me up for the whole day (see picture below). It was actually the best Jollof I’ve ever had so shout out to Chef Ola.

 

 

Tourist Attractions. A lot of films are actually filmed in Boston so you should already know that it is beautiful (especially in the summer because snow can become a pain after a while). My favorite spot is the Boston Gardens which are right at the end of Newbury St where you can shop from various high-end stores like Gucci and even low-end stores like Forever 21. My friend and I went there to chill before heading to Macy’s which is within walking distance. We actually ended up climbing a tree together (mainly him climbing the tree and helping me up). After Macy’s, we went to the Charles River Esplanade which is another tourist attraction where you can watch sailboat races or just a beautiful sunset. There is also a little park by the banks of the river which I love to visit from time to time mainly for the monkey bars where I like to hang upside down like the primate that I am (every so often I like to do this just to make sure that I haven’t lost this skill yet haha). If you want a great view of Boston (no upside hanging involved), the Top of the Hub Restaurant which is at the top of the Prudential Building (also known as The Pru) is a great place to go especially during a clear day. If you are a museum enthusiast like myself, both the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) and the Isabella Stewart Gardner (ISG) Museum are a must-see.

Nightlife. One of my favorite places to chill and listen to good music is the W Hotel in Boston. It never disappoints and the African City party this year was held in the hotel so I was excited to attend. My friend and I got there an hour and a half late but the party still had not started. When it did start around an hour later, it was actually a great party with a great DJ playing music from all over Africa (not just Nigerian and Ghanaian music). When he played Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s Umqombothi song that was when I knew he was the real deal. Unfortunately, clubs and bars close at 2am in Boston as it was/still is a Puritan city. This used to really frustrate me when I was in college but now that I am old, sleep is life so I do not mind the 2am curfew at all. Most of the time people have house parties afterward so there are ways to work around it which brings me to my next topic about accommodation.

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Travel & Accommodation. I won’t even try to sugarcoat it; Boston can be a little bit racist (I even talked to a white person who lived in Boston who stated this). I will say that I did experience some racism when trying to secure an Airbnb during my last year of school. For example, some prospective hosts will not even message you back based on skin color or will pretend that the dates are actually booked when they are not. Therefore, a hotel is probably the best option if you have a short stay (I guess unless you get lucky with Airbnb). If you are planning to stay in Boston long term, do bear in mind that rent is pretty expensive. You can live further out of the city for cheaper accommodation but if you do not have a car, the commute can be long by train or bus. I chose to stay close to campus because my major required long nights at the library and I wanted to be safe going home. Also, commuting during the winter can be hell with snow covered streets. In general, buy good shoes because the city of Boston requires a lot of walking and if you are a lady, the cobblestone will most likely ruin your stilettos. But one thing that makes Boston stand out from the rest is that it is a very clean city, your shoes will probably still be squeaky clean at the end of the day.

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New York City Trip Review

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March 2019, Brooklyn Bridge

I would like to start by sharing a quote that I read on a billboard while walking around New York City that stated that “NYC is like a pretty woman smoking a cigar”. It is kind of rough around the edges and definitely not everyone can survive living there. But they also say “if you can make it in NYC, you can make it everywhere”. I am fortunate to say that I have two friends who I grew up with in Alabama who are making it in NYC and I enjoyed hanging out with them. This was not my first time in NYC but 2015 was the last time I was there so a trip was long overdue. My review of the city starts with a food review because NYC is truly a melting pot where you can find cuisine from all over the world.

Food. I have never had a bad meal in NYC. This time around I was mostly looking forward to trying Peruvian food because my best friend is always talking about it. So when I saw a Peruvian restaurant in Queens called Jora, I was excited to try it out. My best friend recommended Ceviche which is raw seafood marinated with lime and onions. I am not a fan of raw fish, to be honest, but they also served a complimentary snack of banana chips with avocado/lime sauce which was so delicious that I have to try to recreate it at home. My friend also took me to a Greek restaurant called Taverna Kyclades which was great for me because I had been craving calamari that week. With calamari as the appetizer, I ordered lamb chops and lemon potatoes. The food was decent but my friend claims that the Taverna Kyclades in Queens is better than the one we went to. The best restaurant we experienced was Soco in Brooklyn which is black-owned and soul food/creole inspired. I had previously frequented this restaurant in 2015 with some college friends for brunch and I loved their fried chicken with red velvet waffles. Yes! Red Velvet waffles! My friend ordered the gumbo and we both enjoyed it. This time around I did not eat any street food but make sure to check out the halal food trucks if you’re ever in NYC.

 

Tourist attractions. NYC has a lot of tourist attractions but I am not really drawn to a lot of them such as the Statue of Liberty. My favorite attraction is the Brooklyn Bridge because the lower part of the bridge is for cars and the upper part is for pedestrians where you can walk while getting an amazing view of the NYC skyline. I also love Central Park just because it is so huge and is usually a great place to people watch. My friend and I also went to the top of the empire state building which had a great view of the skyline at night with all the lights all over the city. Surprisingly, we went on a Thursday and there were a lot of tourists there especially from France. I joked to my friend that French people view NYC the way American people view Paris: full of romance, class, and adventure. So Paris 2020 anyone?

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Night Life. On this trip, I was really looking to find a club that plays African music because that is something I do not get to experience where I live down South. I found an event in Brooklyn hosted by an African DJ in a lounge. My friend and I showed up an hour late to the event but we ended up being among the first 5 people there including the DJ. While we waited for more people to show up, I took the chance to play the DJ’s electronic drums which was actually pretty fun as you can see in the video below (sorry for the horrible quality).  By the end of the night, only 20 people had shown up but we still enjoyed as the DJ was on fire playing all the Afrobeats bangers. On my previous trips to NYC, I have gone to American clubs which are all over the place and can get really packed. That was a while back though so I won’t give any recommendations because things might have changed. But NYC still remains as the city that never sleeps so don’t sleep on it.

Accommodation & Transport. Ubers can be a pretty expensive way to travel since the city is so expansive. It is a necessary evil though mainly for airport trips and when you’ve exhausted all your energy by dancing all night. However, the train system in NYC is world class. Usually, it will take about the same travel time as a car to take the train as train stops are everywhere and the wait times are short. Also, NYC trains are known to have talented individuals displaying their talents in hopes of being discovered and making a bit of money. And of course trains and buses are much cheaper than Ubers. For accommodation, there are usually deals on Groupon especially during the offseason (Spring and Fall). I chose to stay at a hotel in Queens because LaGuardia Airport is in Queens and I did not want to be late to the airport as usual. Also, I have always wanted to stay in Queens after watching Coming to America with Eddie Murphy and Yes, I ❤ NY.

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Thanks for reading! 🙂

On submissiveness and relationships

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March 2019

Submissive. The true definition per Google is to be “ready to conform to the authority or will of others; meekly obedient or passive.” If that is the definition we are going by, I do not think any person (man or woman) wants to be submissive in this century or ever. I think when we talk about being submissive in a relationship, we mean to cater to someone’s needs. This does not necessarily mean that you have conformed or chosen to be passive or cowered to some authority as the definition suggests. I believe that for those women and women who are happy in a relationship, they try to cater to the general wellness of the relationship. That may mean that as a man you take out the trash or as a woman, you cook the food. However, in ideal relationships, these are conscious decisions that are made to contribute to the benefit of the unit. I do not believe that this is submissiveness as nobody feels forced to do these activities. Again, each party is making a conscious decision to cater to the relationship.

            I saw a quote on social media that said “a woman is naturally submissive to a man who she trusts to lead..even if she’s an alpha female..” 86% of the person’s followers on social media agreed, including myself. But the more I thought about it, allowing somebody to lead is not necessarily being submissive. I would not say that I am submissive just because I try to follow the rules that have been set in place. Instead, I would say that I am a team player because I realize the role I need to play and why I should follow certain rules. This is exactly how I view relationships as well. Two people come together to form a team and agree on particular rules or arrangements. Following these rules, makes the person a team player and not “meekly obedient or passive”. Also, I have seen women lead/wear the pants in certain successful marriages and it is not because the man could not be trusted to lead. It was simply because of their personalities and skills such as money management that allowed these women to be the main leader of their households. But again, I think relationships have to be team-based so where one lacks, the other excels.

            The only caveat of this theory is that you never want your relationship to be like a group project gone wrong where one person does all the work. When one person is dominating one aspect of the relationship such as activities to do together, resentment from the other party can develop. Imagine the fight where one person says “I always do this” and the other says “well you are good at doing it so I thought you should always do it”. I think most of us would agree that we should try to help the other person with their dominant area. For example, I like to cook but I need someone who is at least willing to help out by chopping onions or even plating the food. Having someone who can even try to cook a few days a week would be even better but I try to keep my expectations low because some people really can’t even boil water lol. I am sure that the area of strengths for each person reveal themselves as a relationship grows and nobody can dive into a relationship knowing that their partner will be good at managing A, B, or C. I think the beauty of a relationship is getting to figure out how to be a winning team and this can be really fun especially if you have a sports mindset where you want to continuously improve your skills.

            So in a roundabout way, what I am saying is that I do not believe submissiveness is the key to a successful relationship. I think teamwork is the key and when I am married one day, I will come back and tell you if I was wrong or right lol. Feel free to share your thoughts as well.  🙂 ❤

The boy who harnessed the wind, Movie Review

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March 2019

Let me start off by saying that I have been a big fan of Chiwetel Ejiofor’s work since his portrayal of Solomon Northup in the famous movie 12 years a Slave.  And similarly, he did not disappoint in this movie based on a story about William Kamkwamba also known as The boy who harnessed the wind as he figured out a way to make a wind powered water pump for irrigation during a dry spell in his village in Malawi. As Chiwetel Ejiofor is British-Nigerian, he had to learn Chichewa to play the role of William’s father and to be honest I would think he was a Malawian actor if I was not familiar with his background. The film which was also directed by Chiwetel has received a Sundance Film Festival award but I am sure you would rather read about my thoughts on the film (maybe just a little bit of arrogance there haha). Anyways, let me commence my review.

  1. Film quality. Even though the film is set in a remote area, it does a good job of kind of romanticizing village life and still depicting it in an honest way. The lighting is perfect for the various hues of brown faces that are part of the story. Both English and Chichewa is used in the film with English being the main language and Chichewa used for dramatic effect where it is most appropriate. The sound quality is also good and as weather is an important part of the story, the different seasons are captured beautifully.
  2. Plot/Story line. I think the story is pieced together very well. The background of William’s family dynamics is appropriately presented and all the main characters are given well rounded depictions. The main supporting character is played by Chiwetel as William’s father and we get to see so much raw emotion from him that is truly unmatched. The movie overall can be a little depressing at times but you have to remember that this is based on a true story meaning that people do go through really tough times. Therefore, I think this movie serves as a reminder to persevere despite life’s challenges.
  3. Cultural representation. I love watching foreign movies because it presents as an opportunity to discover new cultures and ways of life. This movie definitely provides this perspective especially in terms of power dynamics within the Malawian village and how education is perceived in the community. Furthermore, it also depicts local politics and how funerals are conducted. I think what touched me the most is realizing that education is not free in a lot of African countries and that this is probably holding the country back in terms of the creative thinkers that are missing out on expanding their knowledge. In the movie, the main character, William, is clearly a creative thinker and he got lucky in finding resources that could help him explore his problem-solving ideas. I wish that we could all commit ourselves to nurturing our own and others’ creative thinking.

I think when I first saw the trailer for the film, I thought it was going to be a simple moving about a young boy who became a hero. However, this film is much more than that. It has a love story, political context, depth, and a certain richness that just cannot be explained. It is rich in life because of how much well the characters are portrayed. And just before you thought it could not get any better, the local chief is portrayed by the Butler Geoffrey from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air (his real name is Joseph Marcell). Let me tell you that Mr. Marcell did a wonderful job with the Malawi accent as well even though we have not seen him acting for maybe one or two decades now since the end of Fresh Prince. I hope to see more from him, Chiwetel, and the other members of this lovely cast. In case you are wondering, the movie is on Netflix for all to view (If you don’t have membership, ask a friend). 🙂 ❤

2019 Goals ft 5 aspirations

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Zanzibar 2019

I would like to start off with a quote that I wrote below my goals in my journal. Here it goes: “each person deserves a day away which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” That quote is by Maya Angelou and really speaks to the importance of self-care. In 2019, put yourself first and if you haven’t already, please write your goals down. There is power in pen and paper. And at the end of the year, it is wonderful to revisit them to see what you achieved. In total, I wrote down 10 on paper but I will spare you from all that so I picked the top 5 goals.

  1. Reduce impulse shopping. Last year, I truly enjoyed my first coins as a fulltime earner post-graduation. I was shopping online like nobody’s business. To the point, I had to make up excuses for why I was buying these things. My Kenya and Zanzibar trips was a great excuse since everyone wants to look good on vacation. But to be honest, I have so many clothes now that my two dressers with 5-6 drawers each cannot fit any more clothes. My closet is also full to the point that I am using the guest room closet for some clothes. My brother and I donated some clothes to Goodwill before we went on vacation but still no space. So I am going to try not to buy any clothes I don’t really need this year.
  2. Travel More. This year I want to travel smart by getting a credit card with free travel miles so I don’t have to foot those tickets (Who getting “flewed out” in 2019?). So travel more and save money while doing it. I mainly want to do short local trips this year; I don’t have an international trip planned this year yet. When you have vacation hours, there are two travel strategies. One is to do short trips so you refresh a lot throughout the year and the other is two save all your hours for mainly one big trip. I did the latter last year but I want to try the former this year.
  3. Focus on my spirituality. I went to church last weekend and can’t remember the last time I was there before that. In 2019, there’s no excuse to not getting a sermon in since we have church streaming online and even have YouTube channels filled with videos. My personal favorite is Elevation Church based out of Charlotte, NC with Steven Furtick. The pastor is pretty young so he appeals greatly to us millennials.
  4. Develop business ideas. I think employment is great as you can learn a lot about a field by first working in it as an employee. Over the years though, you start to itch for more so I hope I can start working on my own ideas and chisel them down to feasible projects.
  5. Work on myself externally and internally. I think a lot of times we just focus on what is on the outside but we should never neglect our character as well. My mom and I have started to do yoga together once a week now with the hopes of increasing it to two. I find YouTube videos such as Yoga with Adrienne and we do a video together on Mondays. I also signed up for pole dancing classes with my friend that I do kickboxing with so we’ll see how that goes. I barely have any upper body strength so this is probably going to be a real challenge for me.

I hope my goals can inspire you to pursue your goals too. Let us all win in 2019. Thanks for reading 🙂 ❤

Zanzibar Trip Review

Zan. Zi. Bar. WOW, is all I can say. The ocean was so blue and clear that you could see your entire body, including feet from the surface of the water. The sand was so soft and smooth like baby powder. The people were nothing but friendly. Their mango juice was freshly blended every day and had so much more depth to it, with a slight tart flavor. Everyone just seemed at peace. And peace we found, within the island and eventually within ourselves. An island that we thought was small, we found that no amount of time could ever be enough to explore it all. Let me pause this cheeky introduction and dive right into the review. Unless you do want me to continue (which can be arranged for another time haha).

Flight & Accommodation. My brother and I booked our round trip flight from Nairobi to Mombasa to Zanzibar with Fly 540. I had heard about the new airline and from what I remember they had a good rate of about $300 roundtrip. We had no issues on our flights going to Zanzibar which were early morning flights so we can spend most of our day in Zanzibar, which is an island off the coast of Tanzania. However, our flight returning from Mombasa to Nairobi was hell. Our flight was supposed to depart Mombasa at 8:30pm and initially, they informed us of a one-hour delay. However, we never departed Mombasa until like midnight.  This was due to a supposed engineering issue that they handled poorly as they were not even planning for our accommodation if the plane could not get fixed. Also, other passengers suggested that they could have bought us seats on another airline such as Kenya Airways which departed at around 9:30pm. Apparently Fly 540 is like the Spirit Airlines of Kenya so please avoid it if you can.

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In terms of accommodation for our four nights in Paje (Southern Zanzibar), we had paid about $360 total for two double rooms that could house 4 people but only my brother and I ended up going so we paid the same amount for 2 full rooms. We could have probably paid less if we had alerted them earlier about the change. We did end up spending one night in Nungwi since it is the most touristy part of the island. We paid about $80 for one night in one room as hotel rates were more expensive in Nungwi. However, Nungwi is more developed and has many high standard resorts. Paje was more of a homey feel so we actually appreciated it more because it felt like a more genuine experience. Also, we engaged in way more activities in Paje.

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Outdoor activities. On our first day in Paje, my brother played soccer on the beach with some of the local kids and we walked down the beach to see what all the different beachside vendors had to offer. The funniest vendor was the H&M store which had no correlation to the European fashion brand but instead stood for Hakuna Matata store. In Paje, the beach is full of colorful kites as Europeans love to kitesurf there. It was so popular, that you had to book a slot for lessons a day ahead. Therefore, we booked to do this our second to last day. It was a very cool experience but I forgot to wear my sunglasses that day so my brother enjoyed it more as he was better prepared. The full lesson is 9 hours and costs about 300 euros but my brother opted for a one-hour lesson for $35. It did seem like those who paid for the 9 hours were getting their money’s worth. We also went to a butterfly garden where we realized my brother is also much better than me at attracting butterflies. However, our favorite part was getting massages on the beach with some really fragrant coconut oil. For both of us, they were, hands down, the best massages we’ve ever gotten so much so that we fell asleep during the one hour. Nungwi offered horse riding on the beach but we missed their last office hour by trying to watch the sunset. I will say that the sunset was worth it as I also got henna tattoos while sitting on the beach watching day turn into night. Speaking of night, let’s move on to the nightlife.

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Nightlife. We only experienced the nightlife in Paje as we were too tired to go out when we got to Nungwi. Dancing on the beach is always a good change of scenery from smoky clubs. The DJs we experienced in Paje were very well versed in music as they played everything from hip hop to dubstep to local music. My favorite local songs were Hodari by Mbosso and Jibebe by WCB ft Diamond. My brother also made friends with some of our hotel staff who were able to get us into the outdoor bars for the local price instead of the tourist price. I was also lucky that they loved to dance and were really good at it. The bar that my brother loved the most had pool tables as he loved to play pool/billiards. The same bar also had a fire pit and a dance floor that had been dug out of the sand which was really interesting. At both Paje bars, the locals were very well represented as customers whereas Nungwi most customers were white tourists.

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Best Mango Juice Ever!!

Food. There were many different restaurants such as Italian, Thai, and authentic Zanzibar food. In Nungwi, we also found Indian food such as biryani at the resort we stayed at. However, our favorite place to eat was the famous Rock Restaurant. The most interesting thing about the Rock Restaurant is on the beach during low tide and in the water during high tide (water high enough that you have to take a boat to it). My brother and I arrived at the restaurant during high tide during sunset so we got the full experience. The quality of the food is just as extra as the location. I ordered a steak while my brother ordered spicy chicken skewers. Both were delicious and were followed by an even more amazing passion fruit cheesecake. Afterward, we lounged on the balcony while watching the stars. My brother has an app on his phone that identifies the different constellations which is pretty cool. I will say that the Rock Restaurant is quite expensive compared to other places on the island. I think with tip and everything, our bill was about $100 for two people. But despite that, I think it is well worth it as the view, service, and food is impeccable.

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The Rock Restaurant off in the distance

 

People. One thing that sets Zanzibari people about from others is that they understand tourism very well. Therefore, they do not steal or do anything that can jeopardize tourism. In fact, one of our hotel staff would identify the people on the beach who were doing bad business that could negatively impact tourists. They are also very easy going people in that, you cannot rush them to do anything. The stereotypical Tanzania saying is “kama uko na haraka, ungekuja jana” which roughly translates to “if you are in a hurry, you should have come yesterday”. So in that case, always communicate your plans ahead of time so they can be able to help you. For example, on our first or second night, we communicated that we would like to rent a car on our third day so we could travel to Nungwi. The hotel owner was very helpful in securing us a car and helping us get a permit. He was very knowledgeable about the island and was open to negotiation when I insisted on it. For example, the car we rented was on empty when we got it and we naively filled it up only to realize that we only used 25-50% of the fuel for our entire travel. As such, I negotiated that he cut the car rental price by about the same. Amazingly, he agreed and he apologized for the car not being fully fueled upon transfer to us. His staff was also very helpful as mentioned before in getting us local prices and they became like brothers to us. Easily enough, both their names were Abu.

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As you can already tell, my brother and I enjoyed our time in Zanzibar. We will definitely be back one day. If you haven’t checked out my Kenya travel & trip review, please feel free to do so at the following link: Kenya trip. Thanks for reading. 🙂 ❤

Kenya Trip Review

First, I want to start by saying that I have been fortunate enough to never experience danger or terror throughout all my travels to Kenya. The most recent terror attack at DusitD2 Hotel Complex in Westlands, Nairobi occurred just a few days after I came back to the U.S. from Kenya. It came as a shock to me and so many others as security has really been beefed up throughout the years. Literally, there are guards almost everywhere doing body and bag scans so it is hard to understand how this happened. But despite this, Kenya will still continue to rise. I have witnessed so much growth in Kenya in better roads, a ban on plastic bags, and even the introduction of Uber that makes me proud to be a Kenyan. Without further ado, let me highlight my activities in Kenya.

Flight & Accommodation. I won’t lie to you; Kenya is a somewhat expensive country but you can always make it with good budgeting. The greatest expense is the flight especially if traveling from the U.S. My mom bought her ticket like 10 months in advance and got it for about $1200. The rest of us bought ours later and ended up paying $400-$600 more than her (Ouch, yeah that hurts to say). So book early and consider KLM, Lufthansa, Emirates, or Air France. British Airways is usually much more expensive. If you are going with a big group, consider renting a villa, cottage, or house instead of individual hotel rooms.  My family rented an apartment where one of our friends and family stays so we were in close proximity for them to help us if needed. There is Airbnb in Kenya and can be searched at the following link: https://www.airbnb.com/s/Kenya

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Safari/Wildlife. Most people go to Safari in the Masaai Mara in Southwestern Kenya but the country is blessed with great biodiversity so there are actually several places to see animals. My mom went to Tsavo which is much more south closer to the coast of Kenya. As a family, we all went on safari in Nyanyuki which is in Central Kenya (In fact, the Ol Pejeta Conversancy we explored is right on the equator line) and we saw quite a number of animals such as Elephants, Zebra, Buffalo, Antelopes, Rhinos, and Warthog. We also got to see and feed giraffes at the Giraffe Center in Nairobi. The Masaai Mara is the most famous because it is where the great migration of wildebeest occurs every year and it is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. I speculate it is more expensive to do a Safari trip in the Masaai Mara due to the high volume of tourists so please consider the other Safari options in the country as well.

 

Nightlife. We did not have much to go clubbing in Kenya because of a lot of early mornings traveling but we made sure to try a few places out. Kizza Lounge and B-club in Kilimani were recommended by a fellow passenger at the airport. Kizza Lounge had a very good DJ and mature clientele but people were not dancing that much. B-club was pretty much empty when we checked it out but it was very fancy. The music was also more for a European clientele. As such, we escaped to J’s Fresh Bar in Westlands which had very good music and a dance floor. However, the majority of the crowd was high school to college age. The following night we tried a club known as Memphis which is frequented by a lot of students of the United States International University of Africa. The music was very top notch and the place was fully packed. We could have spent the entire night there but wanted to check out Brew Bistro in Westlands. Apparently, Brew Bistro has a policy of not allowing people less than 25 years of age so we were not able to enter as my younger cousin is still in his early 20s. As such, we took a short walk to the 40Forty lounge which has no affiliation with those owned by Jay-Z in the U.S. It has a very beautiful view due to the fact that it is on the 9th floor but their elevator was down so we had to walk up 8 flights of stairs to get there. Luckily, it was worth it as the DJ was on fire with his music selections: as always my club personal favorite is “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira and Wyclef Jean. The cool thing about 40Forty Lounge it is essentially, a fancy sports lounge. The place has huge TVs everywhere so if your boy wants to watch a game but you want to dance, you can both be happy. Kenya has a lot more Clubs, my usual favorite is K1 KlubHouse in Westlands but I decided to try new places this time. As previously mentioned, Kenya has Uber so need to worry about transport at night. If you have a big group, consider using the Taxify app as Uber in Kenya does not currently offer Uber XL but Taxify has XL options to accommodate a big group.img-20190120-wa0000img-20190120-wa0001

Food. Kenya has a lot of food chains now including KFC, Subway, Domino’s Pizza, and Burger King. However, I am sure you would love to try more authentic Kenyan Food. If so, you have to try a local Barbeque (Nyama Choma) joint which are all over Kenya. If you want to try different meats like crocodile, bull balls, and ostrich, then you should head over to Carnivore Restaurant on Langata road. The buffet fee is kind of expensive at $36 per person but I think it is worth it as it also includes soup, salad, and dessert.0110191918c

Wananchi (Kenyan Citizens). It is always nice to hang out with people who I grew up with in Kenya (both family and friends). It sometimes gives me insight to what my life would be like if my family never moved to the U.S. And to be very honest, most of our family friends are doing very well for themselves so if that is an indication, then we would have been alright too. I also like to observe new trends like hair and fashion. This time around I noticed that almost everyone in Kenya is wearing Crocs (off-brand) around the house. For example, you go to someone’s house and instead of giving you sandals to wear like before, they give you crocs. Also, people in Kenya love spending time at malls and there are so many of them now. Most of these malls are multi-level and have grocery stores so it can be a one-stop shop kind of place. I almost bought a $100 fake Louis Vitton and then realized I could probably get a cheaper one from eBay. Moral of the story is, always know the conversion from your currency so you don’t buy something super expensive as compared to your country. The photo below was taken when my family visited the school my brothers and I attended prior to leaving Kenya. img-20190103-wa0016

And with that, I can’t wait to visit the next time to see what changes. Thank you for reading. I hope this inspired you to visit Kenya. If you are interested in traveling within East Africa, then you should also consider checking out the island of Zanzibar, which I cover in the following post: Zanzibar Trip Review 🙂  ❤

5 things I learned from reading “Becoming” by Michelle Obama.

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December 2018

I am not going to lie to you. This book is a very wordy and a long book with a little bit over 400 pages in small print mind you. But I will say that if you have ever been fascinated or inspired by Michelle Obama, then you need to read this book. I learned a lot more about Michelle LaVaughn Obama in terms of her personal life and who she was previous to becoming our first black first lady through this book.

  1. One thing I definitely had never known about Michelle was about her father’s battle with Multiple Sclerosis (M.S.). I am sure she mentioned it on the campaign trail but for some reason it didn’t register until now. I think this is because in the book, you can really see the progression of her father’s battle with M.S. It is a very deep story especially when you consider that her father never lived long enough to see his daughter grow up to be the first black first lady of the United States of America (the same nation in which his descendants were slaves). Her relationship with her mother and brother are also heavily displayed in the book but one thing I am sure many people will appreciate is learning more about her relationship with Barack.
  2. Obviously, we have all seen the love that Michelle and Barack have for each other. We saw this on the campaign trail when they would give each fists bumps, when Barack would whisper in Michelle’s ear, when Barack always opened the door for Michelle, etc. However, many of us wondered how these two got together in the first place. Some of us know that Michelle was Barack’s mentor at his summer internship as a lawyer but beyond that, their love story was a mystery. This book definitely allows us to see what Michelle saw in Barack and the challenges they faced as a couple, especially in the midst of politics. With Barack serving a country as well as his family, their marriage was definitely not easy as it looks but their love story serves as a reminder that lifelong partnership works when two people are unwaveringly committed to each other.
  3. I was thinking to include this point as the last one because it is something I am sure that we are all subconsciously thinking about: how does Michelle Obama feel about Trump? Well, I won’t overshadow this book review with a discussion about Trump but I will say that Michelle definitely makes it clear how she feels about Trump in this book. She doesn’t dwell on it, and rightly so, but she does discuss it. She also answers the million-dollar question of whether she would ever consider running for office.
  4. In addition to being the first black first lady, Michelle was also the mother to the first black children to live in the white house. Motherhood is a job to which many are called but I think we can all agree that Michelle did a wonderful job with Sasha and Malia. Malia is now a college student at Harvard and Sasha will probably follow in similar footsteps. Growing up in South Side Chicago, I am sure Michelle never thought she’ll be the first black first lady of the United States. In fact, readers will learn that her childhood dream to be a lawyer did not turn out being such a good fit for her. This is why the book is entitled Becoming as it is about her natural progression and evolution as another human on this earth seeking to live a fulfilling life.
  5. As the first lady, Michelle could have sat down and decided to just look pretty. Instead, she chose to carve out her own goals and initiatives for the country. She was passionate about attending to military families and to the growing rates of childhood obesity. Her book has the statistics on what an impressive impact she made on these issues so I will let you look into the numbers on your own. I will say that numbers aside, I felt the effects of her Let’s Move! Campaign when I watched Nickelodeon and there would be reminders to go outside for an hour of play. I also felt the diet changes in the public school I went to as whole wheat replaced refined flour. I may be mistaken but I believe there was a time that chocolate milk was not served at school. I loved my chocolate milk but hey I am all for it if decreasing childhood obesity can decrease the lifestyle diseases I see working as a healthcare professional.

I could easily tell you the answers to most of the questions about Michelle but I do not want to ruin the book for anyone. Another token of advice from me would also be to avoid watching all the book interviews she’s conducted so far as it kind of gives the story away. Save those interviews for when you are done reading the book. Trust me. I did not heed this advice and I think this is the reason why I would lose interest in the book at some points. It is a well-constructed, well written, and a well-deserved success story by Michelle LaVaughn Obama. I hope you enjoy it and most of all, learn something from it. Thanks for reading.