A sea of red as soccer aka football fans gathered to watch Manchester United take on Liverpool at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Big House, officially known as Michigan Stadium is the football stadium of the University of Michigan. It is the largest stadium in the United States, and the second largest in the world. We’re currently in the middle of the International Champions Cup where European football clubs compete in friendly matches in Europe, North America and Asia. Over a hundred thousand fans came together on a beautiful sunny Saturday evening to witness their favorite teams play; A luxury for us American residents. The air rumbled with excitement and cheer as individuals from all walks of life – shout out to all the Africans I spotted which was pretty much every black person – unified by the colors of their jerseys sang their football songs and drank their overpriced beverages. $10 for a can of beer…Heineken and Dos Equis!!!!
When you score a free ticket to see Femi Kuti, Grammy nominated, world-renowned musician, son of music legend, Afrobeats pioneer and political activist Fela Kuti, you go.
I watched in awe as this 56 year old danced, jumped, sang, played and engaged the eclectic crowd. The kind of crowd I have been anticipating to find in Detroit; young and old, of different races and ethnic backgrounds under one roof in harmony. Well, there was one instance in which this tall millennial African American man was about to fight a short baby-boomer Caucasian man. I honestly didn’t care for whatever the reason was behind the dispute, they weren’t about to ruin a positive night for the rest of us.
The concert ended around 11:15 pm. Femi decided to take pictures with everyone after the show. However, I had a 9 am interview the next morning and a 35 minute drive home so chose to leave right after the encore.
From the jovial movements of the musicians, and gyrating of his dancers in their glow in the dark tribal outfits, to his flawless continuous breath saxophone playing and politically driven lyrics, the vibe was energetic and positive. It was totally worth my weeknight.
P.S: Someone remind to get a photo pass the next time I attend a concert. A very polite staff member approached me, and asked me to put away my camera lens with further explanation. So I had to use my cell phone. Which reminds me…I need a new cell phone.
I just realized that I have been living in Michigan for two years and a week. My feeling about this place has been sort of like an on and off relationship. Sometimes I see the potential and get excited about living here, other times I get bored, fed up, and left wondering what the end goal is. But there’s something about Michigan, particularly Detroit that keeps pulling me back. I can’t put my finger on it, but my gut is telling me to be patient and stick it out. I get this sense of purpose especially with my career and relationships, that my time here is going to bring about a major impact not only on myself, but the lives of others. I just wish I knew what that purpose is. Actually I wish I knew if my gut is right or if it’s just fear and the hassle of change that’s preventing me from leaving.
So maybe I came at the right moment, assuming this city does successfully rejuvenate itself. To be honest, I do have a few career moves I have written down that would work perfectly in Detroit. Unfortunately, a current life event has taken the wind out of my sails leaving me drifting. So in the meantime, before I catch some wind, I’m trying to make sure I enjoy the blessings around me, maybe even catch some fish…alright, I’m done with the whole sea navigation metaphor. But you catch my drift, right? Okay, now I’m done, lol.
On the 4th of July, all types of Africans came together for their annual picnic in Detroit. Different countries and ethnic groups set up tents and entertained the passerby with food and music. It was a joyful occasion.
I took particular notice of the children in their patriotic outfits playing a game of football aka soccer.
In today’s America, I couldn’t help but think about the unfortunate image that immigrants have always had in this country. This country was established and built by immigrants for centuries. And yet, immigrants have always been looked at as a threat to society, criminals and unwelcome. Yes there is the law that should be upheld, but when that law dehumanizes particular foreigners, I view that as a problem. It’s painfully obvious that the system is terribly broken. If only they can all come together in agreement and find a solution, instead of pointing fingers and name calling each other.
A few days ago I was fired from my first post-collegiate big girl job. I kinda saw it coming too but I sure wasn’t expecting it. Like a pedestrian crossing the street while a car in the distance speeds up and hits them. There were signs for a month prior. And about a week before I got the news, HR with a practiced empathetic expression on her face suggested that I start to look for opportunities outside the company. I believe I cried each day after that meeting for a week up until I was let go. I dared not cry in that office as I faced my judgement. Instead I held my shoulders up, head high and walked out of the premises. I didn’t let a single tear drop until I drove off property. The tears were a sign of the realization. Holy Sugar Honey Ice Tea, it actually happened! Luckily, I already had a week to think ahead and figure out my next steps (one of the reasons I was let go was the perceived inability of me thinking ahead and creating plans…perceived by someone with whom I was not working directly). I digress.
While I was in London on my last trip, my friend in Detroit suggested that we go on vacation two weeks after my return. I think it was very timely that the vacation happen to fall on the day after I got fired. Perfect time to get away, clear my mind, relax and be at peace with God’s creation.
We decided to drive up to Saugatuck on the border of lake Michigan. For those who don’t know much about the great lakes of America, these lakes are essentially landlocked freshwater seas, gigantic and so clear that sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish the water from the sky.
The western border of the state of Michigan is also known for their massive sand dunes that tower over the shores of the lake. You get an amazing view of the surroundings.
The lake is towards the west, which makes the dunes a perfect spot to view the sunset. Unfortunately, by the time the sun was setting, the clouds came in and covered her up.
In this time that I’ve been given, the wisest thing for me is that whole cliche notion of discovering one’s self, mind, body and spirit. Obviously, I’m going to be on the job hunt because a girl gotta eat, but it’s a chance for me re-evaluate what it is that I want to do with this life I’ve been given. And it’s chance for me to do something about it.
I had a plan in which I had time to figure out my next steps. I don’t know what God has in His plans for me. But I know that according to His will, those plans are good and all things will work out. In every negative situation, there is a blessing waiting to be exposed. It all depends on your attitude in the midst of it all.
I Just got back from London and one of my favorite meals on earth is the full english breakfast. I can’t visit the UK without having eggs, sausage, bacon, baked beans, mushrooms, tomatoes and toast for breakfast. We don’t eat black pudding in my family, although I’m beginning to think we should add it to our meal.
New York City is one of my favorite cities in the country to visit. Brooklyn is usually my choice of location to stay. I find the flavor, characters and general atmosphere to be so distinct from the rest of the city. I get a sense of neighborhood and belonging. It’s a place where the strange and normal mix in so well like the perfect cocktail. And everyone’s so friendly contrary to popular belief. I’m the type of person that doesn’t mind getting into a conversation with a complete stranger. In fact sometimes I embrace it because I see it as a learning experience. How will America get passed its prejudices if we don’t take time to know our neighbors, to sit down and listen to all types of characters that make this country great? Everyone has an experience, a story for every minute they live that ends up defining their characters and way of thinking. I believe we all should take time to understand the perspectives of others before condemning their views, opinions and choices. Anyway, I digress. I had a lot on my mind that I needed a distraction, so I spent more time experiencing than documenting.
I entered Central Park for the first time ever and I’ve visited the city at least 3 times prior. I’m a huge fan of romance and Central Park is probably Hollywood’s most romantic location. The view of the Plaza had me in my feels!
Also came across a group of people looking up at tree with so much awe. The crowd slowly got larger and larger as other curious minds were drawn to the congregation. I ask “What are we looking at?” as I search the tree. The man next to me replies, “It’s a rare bird sighting. The first of it’s kind to visit the park and third sighting in the state of New York”. A minute passes by as I then join in trying to spot the bird in the tree. “What are we looking at?”, a man on a bicycle asks me. He also then joins in looking for the bird, a kirtland warbler. And so on.
So my friend had mentioned a Senegalese restaurant last year. It was fairly new at the time. Actually, it’s not even up to a year old. But this year in January, Maty’s African Cuisine made the list of the top 10 restaurants to visit in Detroit 2018. First of all, AYE, AFRICA MAKING A STAMP ON THE FOOD SCENE!! #WAKANDA #AFRICAISNOTACOUNTRY #FORTHECULTURE.
My sister visited me from Atlanta and she had never been to Detroit, so I used her visit as a reason to go check this place out. I invited two of my closest friends, a Nigerian and a white American, along for the ride.
One of the reasons I love to try different cuisines is that it forces me to research the area associated with it. Knowledge is power. And I love learning about different cultures. So of course after dining at this restaurant, I went online to learn about the history and culture of Senegal.
Senegal is a coastal French speaking west African country. It also is a predominantly Islamic nation. So when you go to Maty’s, the menu is filled with dishes of fish, lamb, chicken, couscous, and of course rice and plantain (two staples in west African countries). There is also claim that the famous and controversial jollof rice was created in Senegal by the predominant Wollof people.
Side Note: Remind me to try the jollof next time I visit. As a Nigerian, I need to know who has the better jollof.
So Maty’s is located in the city of Detroit in the Old Redford neighborhood. The area is pretty sketchy as most of the city of Detroit, but not too sketchy for me to be worried. Sheltered suburbanites won’t be able to handle it out of fear. Majority of the customers weren’t African. Talk about a melting pot; white, black, Asians, Africans etc. My heart was jumping with joy. The restaurant did look like your typical African restaurant in America. If you know, you know.