Next up in the Behind the words series, we introduce Rafee of the blog, curiosity killed the eccentric yoruba. It’s not every day that you see the words ‘curiosity’, ‘eccentric’ and ‘yoruba’ put in the same sentence. African film history and commentary, the crosswords of Western and African Religions, The fusion of Asian and African cultures, Travel stories…and Korean Pop among other things. It’s all here. Rafee is one of the first bloggers I bonded with, over music and cultural interests. She talks to us here about the woman ‘behind the words:
1. What made you decide to start blogging?
I love writing and considered blogging for a long time. I started with Xanga when I was 16 (that back in 2005) and then got too lazy to update, that blog just died and a few years later, I discovered other blogs such as Racialicious and Black Girl With Long Hair. I opened an account with blogspot so I could comment on some of the blogs I read and when I realised that I was leaving novel-length comments made the move to blogging on my very own space.
2. Where did the name of your blog come from?
My wordpress blog is ‘Curiosity Killed the Eccentric Yoruba’ because people tell me all the time that ‘curiosity killed the cat’ and I thought why not use my online name in place of the ‘cat’ there. Nothing too special.
3. What do you write about?
I write about varied topics because I have varied interests. When I started the blog that is now on wordpress I wrote about natural hair, being a Nigerian and on being a muslimah. I also shared amusing stuff that happened through certain days. At that time I was studying for my Masters in a small English town so I would write about my friends and equally interesting (to me) topics. I’m also a history geek and I regularly gain interest in certain fields that prior to blogging I’d simply research and keep to myself. Post-blogging, I started writing essays on these subjects and posting them. I think the popular of these ‘varied topics’ I’ve written on are my series of posts on historical Sino-African relations. Another popular one is the essay I wrote on ‘Demystifying African Female Initiation Rites’.
My Dreamwidth was started because I liked the people and communities I knew on there and at that time my other blog grew in popularity so I wanted something smaller and more private. My DW is dedicated to all things African but I share a lot on African history, culture (music, food and such), literature. I also do memes!
4. Tell us a little bit about your cultural background
I’m Nigerian! My user name gives me away as Yoruba but a significant part of my culture is influenced by Hausa (both Hausa and Yoruba are part of the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria. The third being Igbo).
I could write an essay on my cultural background (and have been meaning to) however I tend to have conflicting thoughts on the subject. I grew up hearing my parents, uncles, aunts and other members of my extended family speaking as much Hausa as Yoruba. At home we eat Hausa foods as well as Yoruba foods. I also grew up in a Muslim home and most times I feel religion played a larger part in my upbringing than Yoruba culture.
Also I can’t forget to mention socio-economic class which does influence cultural background. Being from an upwardly mobile family (I’d said right now we’re at the upper middle class stage) and raised in a very multicultural city meant that there wasn’t an extreme emphasis on traditional Yoruba culture. Still some parts of culture are bound to affect you in some way or the other.
I’m sorry if this response comes across as convoluted, I get confused when I have to talk about my culture and how it has impacted me. Mostly because I’m someone who usually reacts in a way that is not expected of me in spite of my cultural background. I’m constantly told that I do not act African and that I’ve been too influenced by the West, right now I’m trying to reconcile this with my cultural background. Basically what I’m trying to understand is if I’m the way I am today due to my cultural background and upbringing or not.
Another difficult question for me! Obviously my experiences and cultural background have impacted my view of the world in some way but I’m not sure in what way they have.
I was depressed as a teenager. It is entirely possible that I attached parts/aspects of modern day Nigerian culture to the root of my unhappiness so that now as an adult I am more likely to challenge parts of my culture as opposed to accepting them wholehearted. I suppose this is impact enough?
6. In your opinion, what does it mean to be a girl/woman today?
Being a woman in today’s world I believe requires a lot of self-confidence and knowledge. Knowledge not only of the world as it is (and was), of issues that are relevant to oneself and others but also of the self. Obviously people may view this ‘knowledge of self’ in different perspectives, to me it is knowing who you are and where you’re coming from.
7. Finally, If someone asked you to recommend some music, what would you say? What are 2 songs you just can’t help replaying these days?
Ha, an easy question! I love love love music and I can recommend music to anyone. I’d love to share 20 songs I’m loving this week but as I’m limited to just 2…
I’ve been listening to a lot of Mafikizolo especially their album Sibongile, I enjoy most of the songs on that album but the one I’m replaying this week is Gugo’thandayo.
As for a second song, I always enjoy listening to 美人計 (Honey Trap) by Taiwanese pop star Jolin Tsai.
Thank you so much for the interview, Rafee. I always learn something new after a conversation with you. For more visit, visit curiosity killed the eccentric yoruba and check out previous interviews here.