We must avow that this year has been quite noteworthy, especially for storytellers, creators and creatives in Nigeria, and Africa entirely. There have been too many beautiful stories, the heartwrenching ones, the ones that made us think deeply and those that make us cackle.
At BellaNaija, we are committed to telling positive stories of Africa and I must admit that stories have shaped and guided everything we do. From our storytelling series to BN Meet the Star, BN Creatives Corner and the many other stories we’ve worked on, we have focused on actually telling stories that matter, are meaningful, and are changing the African narrative, one post at a time.
It is with joy that I bring you some of our top stories of the year. Let me be frank, the stories we published this year are inexhaustible. We worked so hard, our contributors outdid themselves and it was so hard to pick these stories. But the list is just 15, right? Surely, we’ve got to make some tough decisions, haha.
Without further ado, here are our top 15 reads of the year, in no particular order:
Why Twitter Conversations On Cooking are Beyond Pots and Pans
There’s something psychotic about the way society sets silly traps for women to fall into, in order to measure how wifey they are. Let me see if she’ll sleep past eight. Let me see if she’ll eat all 4 eggs. Let me see if she’ll collect the broom from me. Don’t do this else no man would marry you. Don’t do that else you’ll chase men away. Don’t. Don’t. Do. Do. Urrgghh.
In this feature, Oluwadunsin takes a deeper look into conversations about cooking and cleaning on Twitter and how they go beyond pots and mops into influencing people’s thought processes offline. Do conversations like this set women back in real time? Read more here.
Through His Works, Kwame Akoto-Bamfo is Creating a Repository of Our History and Heritage
I identify that people are at various stages in their healing – in the acceptance of who they are as Africans, their place in this world and their place within history, as it has unfolded and as it is unfolding. So I have had the angry. I’ve had those who weep uncontrollably, those who are remorseful, those who are indifferent – I’ve had them all. My work triggers people and sends them to the extreme ends of the emotional spectrum.
Kwame Akoto-Bamfo is a genius; his sculptures tell it all. Kwame is one of Ghana’s finest artists whose works focus on the transatlantic slave trade. This interview is all shades of brilliant. Read it here.
Sometimes, You Don’t Have to Be Strong
People, as I read somewhere, say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger but, lately, I’ve been thinking that being strong isn’t entirely a good thing. Nor is resilience. We tend to assume these things are unalloyed positives but, really, they are value-neutral. There is a kind of strength and resilience that no one should have.
Too often, the world preaches strength and resilience. But it gets tiring, doesn’t it? Here, Ahmad explores what it truly means to be strong and resilient: realising you don’t have to be strong always. Read more here.
Five Nigerian Women Who Broke Boundaries & Made History this July
July was a golden month for many Nigerian women. From breaking world records to getting honourary degrees and global recognition, we’re definitely giving a standing ovation to women going beyond and above to leave their mark in this world through this feature. Read it here.
Is Everything About Life Hinged On Luck?
The lottery of birth fascinates me. Every time I think about it, I am enthralled at how being born into a certain kind of family can make or mar, build or break a person. The homes we’re born into decide the trajectory of our lives. It influences the bigger things like the kind of opportunities that’d come our way, our social circle, our way of thinking, if our skin colour will be globally accepted, or if we have to fight to remind the world we are humans too.
Poverty is multi-faceted and multi-dimensional yet people have the best advice for poor people: work harder. but how much of our birth and family keep us poor? We wonder too. Read this to find out.
How Should We Tell The African Story? – A Conversation with Ukamaka Olisakwe
Whenever I go to the village, women would gather around to peel egusi. It’s like a communion activity but that’s where the hottest gossip is going on – they’re finishing everybody in the society. By the time they’re done, you, who came to visit, would leave with a wealth of stories. I want to read a story set in that commune. I want to read gossip. The African story shouldn’t be boxed; tell all kinds of stories. Be experimental, go outside your norm, and make these stories richer.
The How Should We Tell The African Story Series is an absolute fave and Ukamaka Olisakwe is a storyteller through and through. The interview was fun and this feature is simply quintessential. Read it here.
This Friendship, May Algorithm Not Put Asunder
We are not objects, we are persons. We feel, sense, we shouldn’t alter that. It’s not a flaw. A beautiful, relatable post or skit may be satisfying, but wouldn’t beat getting a hug, a pat on the head or shoulder, a warm smile, and listening to another’s voice.
People pay so much focus on romantic relationships and how we all have to put in the work to enjoy them. But what of friendship? Doesn’t it require as much work and commitment, or even more? Ariyike’s essay explores this, read it here.
Gasali Adeyemo on Designing the Batik Fabrics in “The Woman King”
I first got involved with the movie through my Instagram page, Yoruba Indigo. Lieze van Tonde, the assistant costume designer, contacted me from Cape Town, South Africa. She first sent me a message saying that they were working on a movie titled “The Woman King.” I couldn’t believe it. But she kept messaging me until I got involved in the project.
Perhaps there is one lesson here: take your social media pages seriously. But the biggest take here is BellaNaija’s consistent celebration of excellence. In this interview with Gasali Adeyemo, Oluwadamilola talks about everything – arts, culture, batik production in films, and everything in-between. She leaves no stone unturned. Read it here.
Dealing With Sachet Racism
A sachet racist is, therefore, a person who is clearly racist but puts it in sachets so it is not big enough for you to consider it as racism but it clearly is. It is disguised as a smile with no teeth and rolled eyes when you pass. It can also be certain colleagues bypassing you to speak to your junior because…
There’s a sachetisation of everything – food, drinks, sanitary pads and even… racism. We all know the blatant ones but what happens when it comes in sachets, can it still be that lethal? Read Adanna’s experience here.
5 Important Rules for Raising Children
We are first married to our spouses before children come along — ideally. Children should thus fit around our lives and marriage, and not us fitting our lives and marriage around our children. That’d make for both spoiled, entitled children and a weak marriage. A recipe for disaster!
Let’s be honest; raising children can be a tad bit difficult. Thanks to Akanna’s essay, we can glean nuggests that help us become better parents. Read it here.
Building Tangible Opportunities for Women | A Conversation with United Nation’s Sara Beysolow Nyanti
We have to intentionally make this world equal for boys and girls, starting from when they’re born. You know, we talked about he for she and all of that, but it starts from the household – fathers promoting and supporting their daughters. In the workplace, men promoting other women. It is not seeing women as competitors, but as equal contributors to the development of the nations, of their communities, of their families. And I think together, we will reach our full potential. The issue is not women taking something away from men, it’s us realising the fullness of who we can be as a people if all of us – men and women together – are driving towards development.
There is so much to learn from Sara Beysolow Nyanti. There are so many women empowerment events, but beyond this, how can we build tangible opportunities for women? Read this interview here.
Of a Mom Caring For a Child Living with Autism in Nigeria
I get the ignorance on autism, what I do not get is the bad behaviour by adults. So many times, the needless advice is laced in condescension. The child can hear, see and feel you, be kind! It’s not too much to ask for. I love my special needs son, and I am proud of him and will not hide him at home because you are uncomfortable.
Caring for a child with autism isn’t an easy feat. Watching them find it difficult to express themselves or watching them struggle can put a strain on you. Vicky is a mom to an autistic child and oh! She’s tired of the ignorance displayed by many. Read about it here.
“Blood Sisters” Star, Genoveva Umeh, is in Her Zone
I was like, “Thank you, Jesus, that I have this role. I’m so excited to get my teeth in.” And then you walk into the table read and it’s like Gabriel Afolayan, Ramsey Nouah, and there’s Kate Henshaw. I was like, “Oh, my God.” I remember just nodding to Gabriel and saying, “I can’t believe I’m in this room.”
“When I first met Genoveva Umeh on Zoom, she was calm and serene — exactly how you’d expect her to be,” Oluwadamilola says of her interview with Genoveva. This conversation is fun, fresh and inspiring. Read it here.
Dear Men, Take Your Communication Skills Beyond “Send me your photo” & “Come to my house”
Maybe I am overreacting a little to the “send a photo” message that I get ever so often from men. But I cannot be the only one who thinks the “what are you wearing?” text is weird, especially if we just met. Why do you want to know what I am wearing to bed at night if I am neither your girlfriend nor your best friend? What do you need that piece of information for? Not only is it creepy and cheesy, but it also reeks of laziness.
It Takes A Village To Raise A Child
It is the duty of the family to protect children and this protection includes them not being exposed to sexual predators or sexually illicit content at a tender age. You cannot beat hormones or curiosity out of children, but you can arm them with the knowledge they need to navigate this world and discern right from wrong.
The world loves scandals. A viral tweet or video here or there and people become overly excited. But where do we draw the line, especially when minors are involved? Oluwadunsin makes a case for children’s protection in this piece, read it here.
All Things 2022 and Other Little Stories
It’s wild how the economy has made being broke a normal thing. We outchea making skits from it, singing about wearing fugazy kicks and literally building a culture around it. Even the thing wey belong to Caesar no sure for am again, and the patient dog never see bone chop.
Thank you, BellaNaijarians for riding with us, and engaging. There are so many superb essays that didn’t make this list, read them all here. I’ll use this medium to encourage you to read more features on BellaNaija. Trust us, we’ve got so much for you.
Thank you for a terrific 2022, let’s do this again in 2023.
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