I am nervous…
It is a Friday morning and I realize the jacket my stylist made, doesn’t exactly fit Naomi(Me), well still, I rise!
Long story short, I am on my way to the Ake festival; dressed in an Ankara jacket, a short black dress and the most painful sneakers on planet earth.
I arrive at the Mike Adenuga Center and I’m feeling less of Naomi and more of a mix of Ezinne & Shema.
My hands are shaking; fuck social anxiety but it’s too late for me to turn back.
As I make my way into the building, I take out my phone and dial “Amethyst“…
I’m seriously shaking still, that I spill a couple of 1000 naira notes on the registration table, I’m sure the woman at the stand must have wondered what was wrong with me.
Oh well… Welcome to the Ake Festival 2019
Another symptom of social anxiety is confusion, so I’m confused but an angel finally appears in grey braids… ADA!
It is my first time of meeting her physically. She is more like my virtual G & she explains the arrangements… I make my way to the cinema Hall.
I’m seated at the far end of the auditorium and on the panel is also one of my virtual friends.
One, his voice. Two, his looks.
Men are so terrible at taking pictures, because damn! I feel myself tripping.
My thoughts are cut short as I hear (who I later learn is Tolu Daniels) talk about writing standards.
All personalities in me are triggered but who will talk?
Naomi comes forth, shaking strangely.
I take 7 deep breaths because I mean, perfect number right and I ask my question.
I get answered, with utmost clarity, I nod my head, learnt.
In all this, I acquaint with the woman sitting beside me; she’s an art enthusiast. Her name is Latifah and she appears timid, which I later learn is a cover up. Lol *we did some crazy things*
We go to the amphitheatre to view the art exhibition and I’m super impressed to see my friend’s (Niyiokeowo) work on display too.
I’m moved by what I see; the details and the essence, that I ask myself how anyone cannot relate to the beauty of artistic expressions.
We are back outside and we go into the experience center; free body art, free henna, game boards, free zobo, tamarind and palm wine.
In my head, “cool stuff”
For food, there’s only a shawarma stand and an amala stand.
I’m on a journey to being what the world calls “Vegetarian“, so none of these appeal to me but I wonder… No jollof rice?
I put a face to most my virtual friends; Lara, Amyn, Juju, Demola etc
I meet my friend, Will too.
I make a new friend too, Ella Chikeze
I also get reminded that my French truly sucks.
By evening, I’m mentally & physically exhausted; I can’t feel my legs and I can’t seem to hold my emotions in.
My sneakers are killing me but a poet ” Fragile ” is somehow giving me life with her sensual spoken words; I almost forget I’m in pain.
My emotions are running high because I’m feeling overwhelmed with exposure; a mix of I can do better & I’m different. *I also spent my day observing and watching people*
Somehow I leave with a repetitive mental affirmation that “love is not my language” cause my eyes were burning from hurt & envy.
This might be out of a new knowledge; that most writers sleep with themselves.
Not a shame but not a safe space. No love lost however, we move still…
Saturday: Day Two
I can’t feel my legs that I almost reject fixing my lashes.
But what is the connection between my eyes and legs? Lol. I don’t know myself.
I’m in ikoyi early enough with my see through boubou.
Today I’m Madame Venz.
*which I have to say is “the ruler and controller of my being”*
There is no atom of anxiety in me; non-existent.
Every panel I walk into, awakens me more, most especially the Gender Binary Panel.
I learn things I didn’t know & unlearn things that I know.
I meet my work friends; Chidera Mouka & Odenike
By evening, I’m mentally explosive as I’m jotting & jotting ideas in hope, would grow into some amazing work projects.
I also saw myself questioning Emmanuel David Ette, while she sips palm wine, about what it’s like to be different and how to fully embrace it.
I’m mentally observing her to see through & I see…
In all, I feel the higher gates of my mind unlocked. I’m getting high off these people.
The night ends with a play and an outstanding poetry performance from D’bi.
In between all that, I see my ex try to make his way into the auditorium and I feel my heart beat funny.
What does this mean? I ask myself
I’m praying I run into him afterwards
I’m praying I don’t… Confused right? Yeah…na human being I be, I no kill person.
The performance is over and I eventually get a taxi to take me home.
As I drop my visitor’s tag, I’m internally grateful to myself for doing this, my dad for supporting me & Lola Shoneyin for creating an experience like this.
I’m also aware that Sunday (which is the last day of the festival) will be bomb, but the beach has my heart for Sunday.
So I’m writing this on a Monday morning in bed, while I look out the window at the sea, somewhere on the Takwa Bay Island.
And so, from the depth of my soul
Love & light!