March 07, 2018

A Decade of Blogging | Incessant Scribble

19 Y.O. The night before I turned 20
Ten years ago in an internet cafe on the University of Nigeria, Nsukka campus I created this blog site and published my first blog post titled My Blogenesis. I was there that night with Onyeka Nwelue but he was at a different computer station because that night the cyber cafe was packed. I had needed convincing by my friends Eromo Egbejule and Nwelue (both of whom had blogs at the time) to begin blogging because my major worry was starting the blog and lapsing into irregularity. I was also secretly worried and nervous about putting myself out there and opening myself to scrutiny and criticism. That night I took a leap of faith because they gave me wings and here I am ten years later. Ten years. I was nineteen years old sitting in the cafe that night, 14 days away from turning twenty. I'm twenty-nine years old right now sitting in my apartment, trying to compose this post before heading out to work, 14 days away from that scary number THIRTY. 30 years old. Ohhh myyy gawdd. "What am I doing with my life?" is a question I've asked myself countless times in the past. It's a question that pops into my mind with increasing frequency as these few last days of my twenties flash by.

29 Y.O. This morning. 
I had long imagined that to celebrate this anniversary I would conjure up a thoughtful and lengthy blog post chronicling the last ten years of my life but when I woke up this morning I knew it wasn't going to happen lol. However, it's necessary that I point out the three years break I took from blogging. I started working on getting into pharmacy school the year I moved to America and by 2010 things were heating up. There was lots of stress and pressure as I combined school, secular work, and increased responsibilities at home for the first time in my life. No matter what I had on my plate I needed amazing grades to get into pharmacy school. I was scared of failure and did not want to be distracted so I abruptly restricted all access to this blog site. I locked it up and threw away the key. I have zero blog posts from August 2010 to March 2013, a span of about three years. My leisure reading dipped really low during that hiatus but I'm glad I kept reading. One of the books I always regret not blogging about is Brian Chikwava's Harare North. I wish I had shared how much I enjoyed that book. It wasn't until the end of my first year of pharmacy school that I returned to blogging as a way to deal with the stress of school. Chimamanda Adichie was about to release Americanah and the email from her Nigerian publishers requesting that I announce their release of her novel was the extra push I needed to get back to blogging. I haven't taken any breaks since then.

I had hoped that by today I would have reviewed at least 100 books on this blog site but 77 book reviews from 18 different African countries isn't too shabby. Incessant Scribble has been an incredible blessing in my life. The fact that I've done all of this single-handedly makes me so proud. So freaking proud. I need to thank Onyeka Nwelue & Eromo Egbejule for the love and these wings. I need to thank all my readers. I need to thank all my favorite bloggers who constantly inspire me to work harder at this. I need to thank everyone who visits this blog, subscribes to this blog, tweets, comments, shares and likes my blog posts. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you soo much. You encourage me in more ways that you know. The next decade of my life will undoubtedly bring a lot of change and I'm not yet certain about my plans for this platform that I've cultivated. Whatever I decide I'll keep you posted.

Much Love,

Dr. Osondu Nnamdi Awaraka

March 04, 2018

Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin | Book Review

There are eight short stories in Going to Meet the Man. The first is The Rockpile, a tale of a small family and its abusive patriarch. In The Outing a young black adolescent boy bears the weight of a yet to be fully understood secret that makes him different from the other boys. In The Man Child Eric and his parents celebrate the birthday of his father's childhood friend, Jamie. Jamie, who just turned thirty-four, is "old" and has no wife, kids or property. The tension that bubbles beneath the surface during the birthday dinner doesn't forewarn us of the evil darkness that ends this tale. In Previous Conditions a struggling black actor is broke, alone and frustrated. In Sonny's Blues two brothers try hard to understand each other after the death of their mother. The African American singer in This Morning, This Evening, So Soon readies himself for a trip back home after years of being abroad. Come to the Wilderness is an engaging story of a woman reflecting on all the hurt she's holding on to and all of her choices. It has some of the best, most moving lines in this collection. The last story is the titular Going to Meet the Man which isn't at all the sexual rendezvous its name suggests. In this upsetting story a racist sheriff lies in bed reminiscing on a life changing public event he witnessed while perched atop his fathers' shoulders.

I love the first two stories because of its protagonist Johnnie who's lovable, confused and perilously close to his first heartbreak. The first two stories also brought back childhood memories of the pious persons I used to know. The Man Child story hurt and Come Out the Wilderness was sad. I interrupted my reading of Going to Meet the Man to search for the song Glory by Common & John Legend. I listened to it on iTunes, watched Yolanda Adams' mind-blowing cover on YouTube, then watched the Common/John Legend performance of the song at the Oscars before then returning to read the final three pages of the story. It's very important that African migrants continuously educate themselves on America's history. We need constant reminders that the freedoms we currently enjoy were fought for and paid for with human lives. This is a great short story collection. Fifteen months after I bought it off Amazon I finally read this book and I can proudly say I've read something by the revered James Baldwin. You should read this.
This is my fourth and final book pick for my literary celebration of Black History Month. READ my reviews of Gabrielle Union's We're Going to Need More Wine, Jesmyn Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing, and Junot Diaz's Drown