Big News Coming

big-announcement

Hi guys!! It sure has been a while! Please forgive me. LOL. Michael will come and tell me now that I’m always saying sorry for disappearing. Haha. But this time around, it is for a good reason, I promise.

I have exciting news that will hopefully make this period of absence worth your while.

You guys remember Hunter’s Game yes? With Leela and Uzo and Ijeoma? You do? Lovely!

I’ve got great news! I’m taking Hunter’s Game to screen! Whoop whoop!

6 weeks ago, I had a meeting with an incredible friend and told him I wanted to take Hunter’s Game to screen and I wanted him to direct it. He was crazy enough to believe in the idea and in a very short time, we put together a fantastic team of cast and crew together and we got to work.

I had some amazing friends and family come together to help me raise the 7 figure sum that I needed to pull off a pilot and just like that we did it. I have been marvellously helped of God on this project through the super humans He has placed in my life and I am so so excited for this season.

Now we have shot the pilot episode, written and produced by yours truly and I cannot wait to share it with you guys. It will take a bit of time to put the final product out there but I assure you, it will be worth the wait. I’ve got some of your favourite actors in it and they are literally bringing MAGIC to your screens.

So tell your friends, family, enemies, frenemies etc Haha. Hunter’s Game is coming to screen and I hope you guys are ready.

More details will come over the next few weeks and months and you will get to meet the amazing cast and crew who were crazy enough to go on this journey with me. But I have had such an exciting and fulfilling weekend and I just had to share.

But here’s a little something for you dear reader who has journeyed with me so far:

Your dreams are truly valid and you must do everything you can to chase them tenaciously. So here’s to audacious ambitions, to valid dreams and doing it afraid.

I hope you win!

 

Love and Light,

@Oge_writes

 

2018 Review: Slow Down Baby, You’re Moving too Fast

Since I began reviewing my year in 2014, this has been the ‘hardest’ to write. Or should I say, this has been the laziest I have been to write. That’s probably because my 2018 can best be described as a slow year, a passive year even and for someone who is always about one activity or the other and constantly on the lookout for the next best thing, I didn’t quite know how to handle it. The year is winding down now and I only just getting to accept that this slow pace is okay. It’s the only way I can keep my sanity. I mean, considering how the last few years have been for me, it was as though life was saying to me “slow down baby, you’re moving too fast.”

I keep saying “slow” because the only thing I seemed to ‘accomplish’ this year was finishing Law School and getting called to the Nigerian bar. Which in itself doesn’t feel like an accomplishment, but ho knows, maybe in reading through my journal, I will find high points I may have missed.

I participated in two gratitude challenges towards the end of this year and it shocked me how hard it was to find reasons to be thankful on some days. And this is how I know 2018 was really not that ‘great’ a year. Oh well, as is my custom, I will do a monthly review and end with my goals for 2019.

January

The year began on a sober note. I had to do some personal assessment and I realized I was really not as infallible as I thought. LOL. And this is coming from someone who should know better. Humble pie isn’t the sweetest to eat but I think it is the healthiest. So there was that.

Attended Bestie’s brother’s wedding in the East and had a blast. But not without some close brushes with annoying local men that really had me moving mad. Your average uneducated Nigerian man is toxic and the disrespect towards women, totally unrivalled.

I returned to Lagos and settled into school work again. Hung out with close friends and was grateful for feedback that mostly everyone was doing well and winning all round. Amidst the tumult of the month, one key thing stood out:

Everyone needs a superhero once in a while.”

February

The month started out with me struggling and feeling overwhelmed with school work. But my parents were incredible anchors that kept me from drowning. It was also Shekinah’s birthday, one of the most amazing men I know and that turned out to be the perfect excuse to take a break from school work and let my hair down for a bit.

I’m reading through the rest of my journal entries and to be honest, I struggled quite a bit this month. There were times when I was just about ready to give up on myself even but Mercy said no. My friends came through though. There were beach hangouts and lovely dinners and willing shoulders to cry on plus ice cream and warm bear hugs without an iota of judgement.

The Lenten Season began and I resigned myself to a month of waiting on God and building spiritual capacity. An important prayer I prayed this month: “In my moments of uncertainty, Father let my hope in You be strong enough to make me wait on You. Let my heart rest sure and easy in You.”

We have an anchor that keeps the soul, steadfast and sure while the billows roll, fastened to the rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.”

March

Started out on a high note with close friends pushing hard and showing up for me back to back. I was genuinely overwhelmed with love. Bubu completed his ATC course and the pride in my shoulders ehn!! All the shoulders pads in the world would not have sufficed. Didimma got engaged and I thought my heart would burst for all the love and joy that filled it.

I got a medical diagnosis and my faith took a major hit. I think the problem was largely how the doctor broke the news of the diagnosis to me, almost like it was some sort of death sentence. (I don’t have a terminal illness, so don’t worry. Lol.) The rest of the month was an endless cycle of a cocktail of emotions- frustration, faith, sadness, hurt, hope, worry, peace. Etc. But I had the support of loved ones and family and that helped a great deal.

I fasted and prayed and cried to God like I have never done before and well, I ended March with my faith and peace intact.

Even the strongest people have personal crises they deal with. Check up on all your ‘strong’ friends.”

April

The term ended for Law School and oh the joy that filled my soul. A great deal of the mental stress I was undergoing was a direct effect of being in that system and boy was I glad to take a break.

I find that April is generally always a good month, perhaps because it’s my birth month. But the first best thing to happen this month was Eloho’s wedding. The way my heart was sweeting me all the way to Benin ehn, you would think it was my wedding! For all the love and warmth Eloho brings to my life and the lives of others around her, it was a huge privilege and blessing to be able to share in her moment. Eloho, God bless you and uncle C. I love you both immensely!

Next was my birthday. I wasn’t particularly excited for this year’s because there was a lot about my life that I didn’t quite have figured out. But my birthday came and I was surrounded by loved ones who threw me a surprise pre-birthday dinner (that had me knocking and punching some people for their deceit in a bid to pull it off. Lol) and subsequently enjoyed a small, quiet dinner on the birthday itself. My heart was warm and full.

Two of my favourite humans returned home from Europe and we had the absolute best time!! I had not seen either of them in months (that felt like years) so we did our best to make up for lost time. Hangouts at the mall, late nights out and loooooooooong conversations. LOL. I had the best time really. Oh, my court attachment was this month too. It was interesting to observe how the Nigerian justice system works.

No one really has their life all figured out. Las las, we are all winging this thing. Relax, you’ll be alright.”

May

Started out with the birthdays of bestie, my twinnie and the younger brother. Back to back turn ups. Lol. I had made two applications in previous months towards the advancement of my career that fell through. The rejections didn’t sting that bad, oddly, I just kept it moving. What did manage to get me down though was the realization I was still uncertain how to tie in all my major interests in order to move forward with my ambitions after law school. Let’s just say this was something I would worry about often for the rest of the year. I began actively studying for the bar final exams.

Was on a radio show where I talked about my writing. Had a lot of fun with that. A random conversation with a friend inspired new travel plans for the year. Reviewed my adulting skills and realized I sucked at some parts of it. But that’s life, innit? As stated clearly in my journal- “See, abeg, mi ole wa ku”

Which one of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?”

June

We welcomed my niece- Chimdiuto Munachimso. I unlocked a new level of love I could never have imagined existed. Chambers attachment was just there. More exam preparations. Raced to Zaria during the public holidays and spent the entire time glued to my niece’s cot. Enjoyed the World Cup matches and all the banter that came along with the games.

My trip up north brought a lot of nostalgia and unearthed long forgotten, buried memories. But my gratitude remained for a beautiful history that is past while I look with hope to an amazing future that is to come.

More progress with exam prep. Messed up an application for another career move and missed the deadline and I was so frustrated, I cried. It looked like the universe was conspiring to not give me anything I wanted along the lines of career advancement. Sigh. We move still.

 “Everything good will come, you just need faith and a great deal of patience.”

July

July began with the nastiest waves of panic attacks to ever hit me in a very long time and I was worried, very worried by the trigger. July was hard. The exams were upon me and I was dealing with stresses from multiple angles that I was not mentally equipped or prepared to handle. I didn’t die though and at the end of the month, with the MCQ part of the bar finals behind me, I was grateful to be standing.

Nothing is worth sacrificing your mental health and peace for. Absolutely nothing.”

August

The much anticipated bar finals exams came and I was thankful for the ease with which I wrote the exams. The pressure had been insane, I had done all I could to prepare and once the exams were done, I took a much needed and well deserved holiday to Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire with my bestie. We met up some other friends and had the best time exploring. I wrote about those trips here and here.

Times and seasons will come and go. Nothing lasts forever.”

September

I went back to Zaria for Muna’s dedication and resumed full time nanny duties. Lol. Shout out to mothers all over the world. Y’all are the real MVPs. I know how many times I wanted to pull out my hair because of Muna. LOL. And yet, every single time she smiled at me, I thought my heart would burst with love. My phone is filled with so many pictures of her ehn! Eish!

I started my fitfam journey this month. The thick life was really not for me. Lol, okay, maybe some parts of it but the chubby cheeks, Christian mother arms and bulging belly had to go. Plus I really couldn’t reconcile getting so close to a size 14 from a size 8. So yeah, the movement began and it was hardddd. We welcomed my goddaughter this month and my heart that was practically bursting with love expanded some more for the lil munchkin.

When your friends and loved ones win, you win too.”

October

Another month babysitting and watching Muna grow. Remarkable I tell you. More on the fitfam journey. I battled unforgiveness this month. I didn’t even realise I was still holding on strongly to something that had happened years ago. But I think I eventually found a way to let it go.

Results came out this month and I passed the bar. All my friends passed too but my excitement was largely for Dolapo who made it through despite the insane bricks life hurled at her throughout the Law School period. You’re still my hero darling! Shout out to you!!!

This month mostly felt slow and uneventful and there were lows but we found a way to keep it moving.

Even time needs time. This too shall pass”

November

November was practically more fitfam and more babysitting. The call to bar ceremony was this month and yours truly was officially a confirmed lawyer. I wasn’t over the moon with excitement. Lol. I dunno why. I guess I was bored by the fact that it was done and trying to figure out the next big thing. But the parents were very proud and hosted a small dinner reception in my honour.

Constantly find reasons to be thankful even when you don’t feel like.”

December

I returned to Lagos after 3 months of being away. Queen came home for Didimma’s wedding and we all had a blast. It was the first time us 3 were getting together again in over 2 years.

Made new friends at the wedding and generally had a grand time.

Travelled to the East for the holidays and it’s been nice.

December had a few lows but summarily taught me another level of contentment. I feel like every year, there are deeper levels to contentment that I unlock and this year rang so true. I learned that contentment is not merely a state of mind but a way of life. True contentment is expressed not just by the words we speak but by the actions we compel ourselves to take. It is rebelling against the natural order of things- consumerism, selfishness.  True contentment is in reminding yourself that what you have is enough and shutting down avenues that make you covetous of what belongs to others.

So I guess it wasn’t totally a bad year altogether. Not the best year yet but not so bad either. I am hopeful for 2019 though. Already making moves for the year even and my goals are simple and clear:

  1. Build capacity in my field. Take courses, attend conferences, put out those applications, and gather experience.
  2. Drop down to and maintain a size 8. 65-68kg plis dear.
  3. Travel some more. Would 4 countries be too ambitious? Well that’s the goal. Throw in a bit of local travel as well. New cities are always a great idea.
  4. Publish my ebook(s). (I can imagine some of my close friends rolling their eyes at this because they know how long this has been coming. But hold me accountable and I promise I won’t disappoint).
  5. Give back. Volunteer with Charities/NGOs.
  6. Live my best life basically.

How would you summarize your year? Share with me in the comments please. And let’s hear your goals, dreams and aspirations for 2019.

I pray the New Year is good to you. I hope you live your best life in 2019 and I hope you find all round contentment. Happy New Year guys!

Ps. If there was one thing you could do in 2019, what would that be?

 

Escape From Bamako by Ghandi

I still remember the day Ghandi said “I have something I want you to read.” That something turned out to be the first draft of his novel that completely blew my mind. The story held me spellbound from the beginning until the end and I doubt I have read anything that intriguing in a while. So because I am nice and I don’t sell fish, I am here to share the goodness that is Ghandi’s writing with you guys.

Escape from Bamako contains all the right amounts of adrenaline pumping action and plot twists to keep you glued to each page until the story ends. And best believe when it ends, you’ll be begging for more. Now this is the plot:

There’s a rebel uprising in Bamako, Mali and the international community gets really antsy and pressures the Nigerian President to intervene and settle both parties.
He gets there and after what everyone considers to be successful peace talks, he stays back for a state dinner organised in his honour.

The rebel leader is also invited but declines the invitation, citing fatigue. He drives out of the Malian presidential palace supposedly to go rest.

While the Nigerian President and his Malian counterpart are still at the state dinner, the rebel leader launches a full scale attack on the capital in a bid to take over the government.
News filters into the palace and back home in Nigeria and everyone is in a race to get the Nigerian President out of Bamako before the rebel leader takes over Mali.

This story really features some Hollywood action type stuff. Guns, aircrafts, espionage, fast and furious driving, explosions, the whole works.

Now that you have read the plot, I am fairly certain you are itching to read the book. It’s quite simple to make that happen, really. If you wish to purchase the ebook with your Nigerian account, you can visit the website https://ghandi.com.ng and click on the “buy from our store” button. It’s N1,100.

The book is also available on Amazon (Kindle) at https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07JBTQMV1 and on Kobo at https://www.kobo.com/ww/en/ebook/escape-from-bamako

Don’t hesitate to get your copy now.

You’re welcome!

Ps. I have been working on something interesting and I really can’t wait to share it with you guys. I am back to blogging now and I am so grateful to you guys for sticking around. But bear with me a little. It won’t be much longer now.

Love and Light,

@Oge_writes

Healing Begins With Salsa

He found her in Nkemakolam’s room huddled over the baby’s cot clutching a stuffed bunny. He had no idea how long she had been there but he suspected it must have been hours.

“Honey?”

She looked up and her glazed eyes met his in silence. He stooped down and took her hands, looking into her eyes.

“Honey, what are you doing here?”

When she gave no response, he placed his arms firmly underneath her shoulders and gently lifted her up. She held tightly to the bunny as he dragged her into their bedroom and laid her on the bed. That was when he noticed the tears.

Feranmi was exhausted- completely spent. It had been a year since they returned from the hospital without Nkem. The baby that should have been their miracle child after 7 years of waiting and trying. The baby that should have ushered in perfection and joy and laughter. One year later, Ifeoma had still not recovered. She had steadily sunk into depression, refusing therapy and any other form of help.

There were days when it felt like living with a zombie. Because Ifeoma went through life as though she were in a trance. She moved out of their bedroom and into the guestroom. She began stress eating and it showed in all the folds and excess layers of fat in every part of her body. She quit her job by simply refusing to show up at the end of the 3 months maternity leave she had taken. She barely left the house even.

Feranmi had been patient, struggling with his own grief yet trying to be strong for her but she shut him out completely. He still remembered that day like it had only been a few minutes even though a full year had gone by. He had stayed by her side while she labored for hours to bring forth their son. He remembered his exultant excitement as the baby was pushed out and his echoing panic that gradually rose to a crescendo when the baby made no sound. He remembered his heart stopping momentarily when the doctor’s eyes told him what his mouth could not put in words- It was a still birth.

Now one year later, having tried everything within his means to help Ifeoma overcome their grief, he was fresh out of ideas and completely spent.  Nkem’s death at birth had taken the light out of her life and his by extension. Gone was the vibrant, energetic, passionate woman he had fallen in love with and married. This woman in his bed was a complete stranger.

Feranmi left her lying in bed, shedding silent tears and walked out of the room. He went into his study and slowly paced the length and breadth of the room. He was inches away from having a mental breakdown himself and he did not know what to do about it. He loved Ifeoma with his entire being and for a whole year, that loved had been tested and tried and he was really close to giving up on it. Was this love worth his own sanity? Was this part of the ‘for better for worse’ phrase in his wedding vows?

His right foot kicked something as he paced and he bent down to pick a book lying oddly on the floor. As he looked around shelves trying to figure out where it fit, his eyes caught a portion of a particular shelf that held some albums. He dropped the book on the table and reached for the albums, carrying them carefully to the couch. As he flipped through the wedding album and their honeymoon album, he realized just how much he missed Ifeoma’s smile and the sound of her laughter.

Everything he had tried to do before now to bring her out of depression had failed. But now his eyes lit up with a sudden realisation. There was one thing he was yet to try and even though it seemed like a brilliant and yet stupid idea at the same time, he decided he would try it anyway. He would take Ifeoma on a trip. Somewhere nice where she could enjoy the sun and put her feet up. A brilliant idea because Ifeoma enjoyed travelling and had not done much of it after they got married, yet a stupid idea because Ifeoma had refused to leave the compound since they got back from the hospital one year ago. What was to say she would want to travel?

It took Feranmi another 4 weeks to put everything in place and as he walked into Nkem’s room yet again to find Ifeoma on the floor by the baby’s cot, his heart thumped wildly in his chest. If she turned this down, there would be nothing left for them. Their marriage would be over.

“Honey, I got you something.”

Ifeoma looked up blankly and Feranmi held up the passports with the tickets in between.

“We’re going to Barcelona.” he said with an uncertain smile.

Ifeoma gave no response.

“There’s a lot we can see and do there. We can go hiking, swimming, take long walks, enjoy great meals, go dancing…”

It was the dancing that earned him a vague semblance of a smile which disappeared as quickly as it came.

“I don’t want to go anywhere without Nkem. His spirit is in this room. If we travel, he’ll be lonely and afraid.”

Feranmi’s heart rate tripled as it became evident that Ifeoma was suffering a proper mental breakdown. He gave himself a few minutes to think before responding gently.

“Honey, his spirit can come with us too. We’ll pack a small bag with his clothes and you can bring the bunny too.”

Ifeoma sighed resignedly.

“If you say so.”

Packing was a hassle. Ifeoma had several crying fits over clothes that no longer fit and Feranmi soothed her kindly, promising to buy her new clothes and anything else she wanted but hours later, they were ready.

Barcelona turned out to be a brilliant idea. After checking, into their hotel on arrival, Feranmi arranged for a spa session for Ifeoma whilst he unpack their bags. She returned two hours later and her face held a familiar glow. They ate a late lunch in their room and Ifeoma promptly fell asleep. Feranmi watched her sleep and ached to cuddle her but she had laid out a tiny blanket and pillow in between them where according to Ifeoma, Nkem lay. He stayed staring at her until he fell asleep.

Hours later, they woke up and made their way into town, taking a long stroll down La Rambla, the longest tourist street in Barcelona. Ifeoma seemed to enjoy the sights. She marveled at the dexterity of the artists who sketched caricature images of interested tourists as well as actual portraits, some with pencils, others with charcoal. There was a wax image of a woman sitting pretty and for a few minutes, Ifeoma was convinced it was an actual person. When she realized it wasn’t, she smiled and Feranmi thought his heart would burst.

At the end of the street, Feranmi grabbed Ifeoma’s arm and pointed ahead.

“Honey, look!” Ifeoma followed his finger and saw the towering sculpture of the Columbus Monument and she gasped. “Wow! It’s so huge!”

They joined a teeming crowd of tourists to admire the structure and take pictures, especially of the huge lion sculptures that surrounded it at the bottom. Two little boys ran past with their mother chasing after them and Feranmi noticed Ifeoma’s face fall. He squeezed her hand and asked that they keep moving.

“I hear there’s a mall built on water. Let’s go check it out.”

To get to the mall, they walked over a long wooden bridge surrounded by a massive expanse of water littered with numerous yachts and smaller sailing boats. At the end of the bridge, they came face to face with the Maremagnum mall and Ifeoma gaped. It was huge. They walked in and explored the various shops on the different floors. The entire place was crowded with children and for a few minutes, Feranmi thought it was a bad idea, until a cute little girl walked past with her mother and smiled at Ifeoma. Ifeoma smiled back and the little girl came back and said to her “you’re so pretty!”

Ifeoma swallowed hard and tried to stop the tears but failed. The mother quickly came back and apologised then took her little girl away. Feranmi hugged her tight, littering her forehead with a thousand kisses, all the while muttering “I’m really sorry honey.”

When she looked up at him eventually, she was smiling through her tears. “She said I was pretty.”

They spent another hour walking around the mall, catching a small rock concert that had been set up somewhere in the back. It was not Ifeoma’s cup of tea but she stayed beside Feranmi for the few minutes that he stopped to observe it before moving on.

At night, after dinner, Feranmi mentioned a club he had found online. Ifeoma was reluctant at first until he specified that it was a salsa club. Dancing salsa was Ifeoma’s absolute favourite thing to do and Feranmi was hoping she would enjoy it.

Her healing began with the salsa dance. They walked into the club in time to catch Marc Anthony’s Vivir mi vida and while they stood at the bar to order drinks, Feranmi observed her tapping her feet and swaying gently.

“Maybe we should leave the drinks first. Do you want to dance?”

“You can barely move your feet and you always say salsa isn’t your thing.” Ifeoma said.

Feranmi smiled. He took her hand and led her to the dance floor. With his right hand circled around her waist and her left hand firmly in his left hand, he began to dance, counting the steps in his head like he remembered. He had spent 4 weeks practicing because he had meant for this trip to be worth it and the surprised smile on her face as he led her in a cross body lead was fully rewarding.

He faltered a little bit and her soft giggle was even more rewarding. They danced together to the next song but his moves were basic and he could tell she was warming up for more. The moment Elvis Crespo’s Suavemente came on, he nodded to some Latino guy he had observed checking them out and the guy came and took Ifeoma’s hands. They moved so fluidly and were a delight to behold. Feranmi returned to the bar and observed them from there. The light had begun its return to Ifeoma’s eyes and he was grateful.

Just as the song ended and Ifeoma began to walk back to him with the biggest smile on her face, Don Omar’s Danza kuduro came on and everyone began cheering. Before Feranmi could figure out what was happening, the entire club lined up on the dance floor and began moving harmoniously in line with steps being proffered by a leader.

What happened next felt like magic. One minute, Ifeoma was in the second row, digging in the moves with a great deal of enthusiasm and the next minute, she was front and center leading the pack and throwing in random Nigerian dance moves with a huge smile on her face and a great deal of laughter. First there was the shoki then some shakiti bobo and finally some shaku shaku which the dancers managed to imitate fairly well. Feranmi fought back tears of gratitude. This was the woman he married. This was the woman he had loved for 10 years. She was finally back and the constellation of stars that shone brightly in her eyes were full proof of her return.

Later that night, after a warm shower back at the hotel, Feranmi cuddled his wife in bed for the first time in over a year.

“I really missed you honey,” he whispered into her ear, with her head buried in his chest. Her response came minutes later in form of soft gentle kisses that trailed from his neck to his ears and eventually to his lips. Their lovemaking was slow and passionate and that night in the beautiful city of Barcelona, Taiwo Nwachinemelu and Kehinde Kaosisochukwu were conceived.

#TravelThursday; The Vatican City

When I decided to take on the challenge of visiting 30 countries before I turned 30, I began counting off the number of countries I had already visited just so I would know how many I had left. I had not been to Italy at the time and when I did visit Italy and subsequently the Vatican City, I counted them both as one country. LOL.

The Vatican City is actually one of the smallest countries in the world with a population of about 1,000 people and the Pope as the Head of Government. It is the Head Quarters of the Roman Catholic Church.

If you’re looking for a treasure trove of art in Europe, you have absolutely got to check out the Vatican City. There are a total of 54 museums located within the Vatican with the Sistine Chapel sitting proudly at the peak. The museums rank among the top 10 museums and galleries in the world.

On the day of my visit, I walked around for over 4 hours and still did not get to see all of the museums. But those were the most beautiful 4 hours of my life. From sculptures to paintings and tapestries and Egyptian Mummies, I saw sights for days.

To get into the Vatican Museums, there is usually a ridiculously long queue and you can stand in that queue for hours (or less than an hour if you’re lucky) before you’re finally able to purchase a ticket and get in. The alternative would be to purchase a ticket online and skip the queue. But here’s what I realised on getting there that morning with my cousins- there’s also a queue for those who have got tickets to skip the queue! LOL. It’s a much shorter queue actually so I guess it could be worth it. Of course as you expect, the online tickets are a lot more expensive than the offline ones.

The Vatican itself is a marvellous piece of architecture. You’ve got to give it to Europe though. When it comes to architectural structures, they will give you a good run for your money.

From the ground floor, there are collections from all over the world and walking through all the floors, your eyes will be blissfully entertained with paintings from the walls to the ceilings.

The paintings on the ceilings fascinated me the most. Like how on earth did the artists get them done? Michelangelo and Raphael have my eternal respects for real.

The tapestries stole my heart! They were woven so delicately, they could pass for paintings. Each one depicted either a Bible story or something from ancient Roman History. For instance, there was a tapestry on the murder of Julius Caesar, another of Jesus rising from the dead, the killing of all male children at Herod’s instance and lots more.

In the Sistine Chapel, the entire ceiling is covered by Michelangelo’s paintings which took him about 4 years to complete. Cameras were not allowed in there so I have no pictures but it literally felt like being in art heaven and I still cannot wrap my head around how he was able to get it done. Some of the paintings in there were familiar however. For instance, the one in which Eve plucked a fruit from the forbidden tree.

As earlier mentioned, there were collections from all over the world. One of the most exciting things for me was seeing an actual Egyptian Mummy and reading about the funeral rites and rituals observed in Egypt at the time. It was fascinating to learn that internal organs were usually separated from the corpse and stored in canopic jars while the embalming process took place. Burying bodies whole? For what? Hehe

There were also tons of sculptures. All the famous Greek gods and legends were represented- Hercules, Artemis, the river god Arno amongst others. Some of the sculptures were familiar, others weren’t. But if you have ever read or watched anything on Greek mythology, you’d be sure to see a familiar face or two.

After the museums, we checked out St. Peter’s Basilica where I turned a few cartwheels because… LOL. I mean, we were in this massive open space with an unending queue to get in so we didn’t bother. St. Peter’s Basilica is reportedly the largest church in the world and is believed to be the burial site of Saint Peter. The church is the Pope’s principal church and a great number of masses and liturgies are celebrated there throughout the year.

So yeah, the Vatican City was a wonderful experience. Honestly, it wasn’t even just for the art alone. It did feel like being on a mini pilgrimage at some points. I am Christian (not Catholic) so there were moments of personal reflection for my faith. But whether you go there for the art or for religious purposes, the Vatican Museums are definitely a must see if you can afford it.

Ps. Kindly let me know in the comments whether or not you knew the Vatican City was a country before now. Let me know I am not alone abeg. LOL.

Love and Light,

@Oge_writes

#TravelThursday: Rome, Italy

Of all the (few) cities I have been to on my travels, Rome remains my absolute favourite. I love, love, love Rome for the ruins and all the history. There was something almost electric about walking down the various streets of Rome and imagining what it must have felt like to live in those times of chariots and horses and gladiators and shields. Rome feels like it was suspended in time. I mean save for the trains and electricity and tarred roads, I may well have been back in 6th century ancient Rome, under the governorship of a Roman emperor given how the ruins have been preserved. Fantastic stuff, I tell you.

I remember stepping out of the Colosseo train station and catching the first glimpse of the Colosseum and my goodness! Boy, was it breathtaking! The Colosseum is such an overwhelming, magnificent, gorgeous structure that takes your breath away upon first sight. Remember all those gladiator movies where men would fight to death in a large amphitheater made of stone walls with different ledges? That’s exactly what the Colosseum is. You’d spend hours walking around it and feel like you did a bit of time travel.

The Colosseum is not even the only ancient structure standing in that axis. There were so many others, names of which I cannot recall but they do a number on your heart, that’s for sure. So if you’re ever in Rome, be sure to check it out. Although it goes without saying that it is the primary tourist attraction of the city.

Asides, the Colosseum, another structure that stole my heart was the Trevi fountain. I love water and I strongly believe I will have a fountain and a pool in my house someday but that is besides the point. LOL. The Trevi fountain is beautiful. It was crowded with dozens of tourists and the water was so clear and refreshing. No, I didn’t take a dive in. LOL. Interestingly, the fountain is built from Travertine stone, same material used in the reconstruction of the Colosseum.

At the Trevi Fountain, lots of tourists throw in coins because it is believed that if you do so, you’ll be guaranteed to come back to Rome. Yours truly in typical Alaroro fashion did not throw in anything but best believe I’ll be back to Rome again sometime in the no distant future. Lol. I did learn recently however that the coins that are thrown in are gathered at the end of each day and given to an Italian charity. So I guess next time I’m there I’ll toss in a coin or two.

Of course there were a bunch of cathedrals to be seen. Goes without saying. Rome is like the heart of the Catholic Church and it’s about an hour or so away from the Vatican City which I will write about in another post.

If you ever visit Rome, I very highly recommend the Camping Village Roma for accommodation. Rooms are decent, there’s an outdoor pool open in the summer and it’s right in front of a bus stop so transportation is easy and accessible. For food, buffet lunches work wonders. You eat a lot of food for really cheap and you’re good to go.

I noticed a lot of graffiti around Rome as well. I guess the most shocking was the one I caught on the walls of a train and that’s because I am more used to seeing it on streets and walls of buildings but certainly not on something so ‘official’. Still feels weird.

And of course there were street guys pulling off amazing optical illusion stunts on tourists. People are creative sha. But the picture below is the most interesting one.

Here’s your genie, you’ve got 3 wishes!

Hehe. Have a fab weekend.

#TravelThursday: Cape Coast, Ghana

Cape Coast is the most beautiful African city I have visited so far. Then again I am partial to blue skies and beach sand and castles so I guess that explains a lot. The city is so rich in African history that merely walking the streets fills you with a great deal of it.

Cape Coast is home to two castles that hold sordid tales of the slave trade era which will leave you pondering the callousness of the human race. Having been to both Badagry (Nigeria) and Ouidah (Benin Republic), I am no stranger to slave trade history but the stories I heard at Cape Coast Castle were no less heart-wrenching.

Cape Coast Castle

On our tour of Cape Coast castle, we were shown tiny chambers where hundreds of slaves stood pressed against each other day and night. The rooms had only one source of light and ventilation; a tiny window high up on the wall. There was no possible means of escape. In one of the chambers reserved for women, there was an imprint on the wall of a pregnant woman believed to have been caused by the constant leaning on the wall. Tons of people died in there while waiting to be shipped abroad, others who made it out suffered partial or even total blindness because there was next to no light at all coming into the room.

The horror stories are best left to your imagination but the tour guide left precious little to the imagination. With each room, he painted a vivid picture of the dehumanizing treatments slaves were subjected to at the time. And interestingly, when we took a tour to the top floor which was the governor’s quarters, the difference was remarkable. One room, reserved for one man had sixteen windows whereas a chamber holding hundreds of slaves just below had only one crack of a window. If you’re not careful, you’d leave those castles feeling extremely angry and bitter.

View from the governor’s quarters

The cannons outside the castle were reminiscent of those stationed outside the Montjuic Castle in Barcelona (a trip which I will write about some other time) and the view from there was breathtaking. The ocean stretched out in endless splendor but at the same time, I strongly believe that the beauty of the view was lost on inmates of the castle. I can’t imagine that they went through the door of no return and saw the ocean and thought “Oh hey, this is a stunning body of water and the sun is so nice and warm.”

Again, I must mention that if you ever visit those castles (and I think that you should,) you must brace yourself emotionally so you’re not completely overwhelmed by emotions that you’re unable to handle. It is that intense.

After touring the Cape Coast Castle, we took a quick ride to Elmina Castle just to have a view of it from the outside and the views on the road were simply a sight for sore eyes. The coastline, beach sand and palm trees brought a great deal of inner peace.

We made a quick stop at the beach to chase the waves and bask in the sheer wonder of nature. Sitting there and watching the waves come and go, I felt deep gratitude for freedom. And not just freedom from colonial masters because while that form of slavery seems way behind us, there’s a great deal of other things that enslave us.

My gratitude was for my freedom to live my life authentically and unapologetically. Freedom to be myself and continually strive to attain a better version of myself. And that’s the sort of liberty only you can give yourself. Determine to live life on your terms and not on the terms others have set for you because at the end of the day, if you require people’s permission to be happy, you’ll never get it.

“So tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Namaste

@Oge_writes