The last time I featured an interview with yours truly was in response to Mrs Lister’s Q&A meme. That was back in the good old days of blogging like nobody’s reading. As birthday season comes to a close, I’ve been feeling quite reflective. So I thought I’d get a little personal on the blog. Today, I’m sharing 10 things you might not know about me.
10 Things You Might Not Know about Me
1. I was Blogging before the Internet
I wrote my first book when I was 7 —- about a family of vegetables —- and ‘published’ my first novel (an entire exercise book) when I was 10. I still have a copy of it somewhere, with the cover handmade by my late schoolfriend Tamsin. The House Around the Corner was a lively and somewhat dysfunctional family drama. Storytelling is in my blood and I’ve been writing poems, stories, memoir, articles and more since I knew how to work a pen. I also kept almost daily journals from around age 8 to 25. So yeah, blogging comes naturally to me. I’ve been doing versions of it long before the Internet made it possible.
2. My Name is Deep, Yo
Growing up in the UK, sometimes even today, many have struggled with my name (it’s 2 syllables, people). My full name Obianuju means ‘born in a time of plenty’ or ‘fulfilment’ or, my favourite interpretation, ‘abundance’. My birthright is ABUNDANCE. Powerful stuff. Lately, my full name and its shortening seem to be all the rage in Afrobeats pop songs. Shout out to my fellow Obianujus.
3. I Live to Dance
Music is my heart and dancing is my life. I grew up in a house filled with music and my mum was a groover too. She used to teach us all the ‘60s dances like the swim, the jerk and the twist. She also loved Highlife and Owerri music (from her hometown). Every now and then, I play one of her favourite artists — Chief Osita Osadebe — and I dance and have a good cry at the same time.
4. I’m a Titled Woman
Not a duchess or countess or anything, but part of the ancient Odu society of Onitsha, in eastern Nigeria. In 2014, I joined my sisters and my mother and grandmother before me to become a member of this celebrated group of women. To be honest, I had felt rather ho-hum about it all, when my mum first brought it up. She wanted us to do it in honour of my late father, who was 2nd in line to the Obi (king) of Onitsha. The ceremony turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences of my life. My official title is Amalunweze, meaning: ‘You know this is the child of a king’. It’s a title that reflects our family’s royal heritage, going back several generations.
5. Don’t Judge this Book
I have a sweet face and a dirty mind. Blame it on Prince.
6. I’m Afraid of Clusters
I suffer from trypophobia. Even writing that word makes my skin crawl. When I was younger, I thought I was the only person who had this. I called it ‘cluster phobia’ because it seemed linked to clusters of things. Now I realise it’s about strange clusters, patterns, textures and holes. My kids laugh at me because I can’t cut whole melons, as I’m afraid of seeing the seeds inside. I’ve never taken the boys to LEGOLand — the idea of being surrounded by so many big characters made out of tiny, tiny bricks? Shudder. Yup, I’m a weirdo. If you suspect you have a similar condition, just DO NOT GOOGLE it. Google Images will have you curled up in a ball for the rest of the day.
7. My Internal Struggle
I also suffer from anxiety, specifically health anxiety, that reaches a peak under times of great stress. Getting professional counselling really helped me process some of these fears and feelings, and also go deeper, to the roots of my condition. I tend to internalise rather than vocalise my emotions, expressing myself better on the page than in person. So talk therapy has been powerful for me. Also ink therapy, allowing myself more creative space to just write what I want. For the physical symptoms of anxiety, adding a magnesium supplement to my diet has been a game-changer. Seriously, read up on the benefits of magnesium as it helps with so many health issues and most of us are deficient in this vital mineral. I have quite a few coping strategies for when life gets overwhelming.
8. My Family is Pretty Famous (and Infamous)
I come from an absurdly large, ridiculously creative extended family that includes one former America’s Next Top Model contestant (my gorgeous cousin Nnenna, pictured), an Afrobeats pioneer, TV commentators, published writers, multiple musicians, actors, fashion designers, social media maestros, creative entrepreneurs, politicians, preachers and at least one jailbird. One day we will rent a couple of islands and have an insane family reunion.
9. Idris is my Bestie. Well, Kinda Sorta.
Way before kids, I was an arts and culture journalist, writing for publications including The Weekly Journal (broadsheet for The Voice), salon.com, The Guardian and Time Out (Visitors’ Guides). Hot guys I’ve interviewed include Denzel Washington, Idris Elba and Chiwetel Ejiofor. As a blogger, I’ve also had the chance to cuddle rugby star Ben Cohen and chat up the uber-lovely Clive Owen at Royal Ascot. Swoon.
10. I Once Danced Flamenco on Spanish Telly (for about a minute)
A few years back, during the London Flamenco Festival, the kids and I stumbled across a pop-up flamenco session in King’s Cross station. It was a troupe from the Antonio Gades company (funnily, watching the Antonio Gades film Carmen was one of the first times I fell in love with this art form). They invited random people in the crowd to come and learn a few steps. I was dragged into the middle with the others, and picked up a couple of moves. Afterwards, three different Spanish TV crews there interviewed me about the experience! I’m still in love with flamenco – the music, the attitude, the duende – and plan to take classes one day. Who’s with me?
Over to you! Tell me something fun or freaky or random about yourself in the comments. Go on, I dare you :-)