Hi. I am Ramatu Ada Ochekliye. I am a writer and a freelance radio and television presenter. In addition, I am an aspiring actor and director.
I grew up in a family that struggled to stay together. In the end, the struggle was pointless; my parents divorced and the family split when I was 11.
It was hard coming from that background. I was ashamed of my history. I felt like my family issue was isolated until I met many people who shared similar stories. When I met these people, I realized that every family had their own forms of dysfunction and my story was not isolated. In fact, I learned that many of my friends and neighbors had it worse than I did.
I wasn’t even 7 when I started to realize what made me tick. I got angry at the forms of dysfunction I was seeing in the society; though I didn’t know the word at that time.
As I was introduced to society, I couldn’t help but notice that girls were expected to act differently from boys. We weren’t expected to do too well in school and even if we did, we had to remember that no matter how much we achieved, we were nothing if we didn’t marry. It seemed that society wanted to stifle us and keep us grounded and it also seemed like society felt ONLY men had the ability to do that for us.
This pushed me to want to do what men did. I went into sciences because ‘sciences are for boys’. I played football in secondary school, even though it was a ‘man’s sport’. I had only male friends because ‘girls are dumb. All they do is gossip. They have fish brains. They don’t think. They are materialistic. yadi yadi yada’. In fact, I was an honorary boy. I didn’t wear make-up, I never primped my hair, I always wore trousers, I laughed at girls who cried because I didn’t cry and best of all, I walked like a boy! I had that bounce that said, ‘come get me’.
Society couldn’t understand me and so emissaries were sent to tell me to be more like a girl if I was ever to be married; to stop talking down to men or get beaten; to stop having only male friends or be labelled a prostitute and my all-time favorite, to stop being ambitious as I was going to end up in a man’s kitchen.
I realized that I was boyish because society only put premium on men. I played football so I wouldn’t be categorized among the ‘feeble’ sex, I studied sciences to show ‘those girls’ and I let my mouth be so potty, I definitely couldn’t be termed a ‘girl’. In spite of all that, society refused to see anything but my gender and I got fed up. Each turn I took was another placard of ingrained ideology telling me to conform or be booted out.
In another instance, I kept reading of an Africa I didn’t see around me; an Africa where there was only poverty, hunger, illiteracy, disease, famine, war and white dependency. Yes there were elements of these in my communities but those were not all I saw. I saw wealth, satiation, education, health, abundance, peace and communal dependence. Why then did most media, especially white media stations, only project the negatives of our beautiful continent? And why was our society so willing to accept the white man’s view of our essence, our worth and our collective importance?!
These prevailing issues bugged me so much that I kicked against society. I decided to own my femininity, to be a ‘girl’ and to rock at it! I was no longer going to be ashamed of being a girl. I decided that girls could be as sensible and intelligent as boys; and in some cases, more! I realized that my worth was not in my last name, marital status or a tiny ring on my left finger. My worth is in me! In my ability to harness my capabilities to be the best person I can be; in my ability to be athletic and still feminine; in my ability to love my natural hair and not seek to straighten it to make it less ‘kinky’, ‘nappy’, ‘bushy’ and ‘local’. I realized that I didn’t have to wear tons of make up or bleach my skin. I am okay with BEING ME! I am a fat, black girl with thick lips, natural hair and an awesome personality and if you don’t like ANY of my physical attributes, I don’t see how that is my problem.
When I came to this realization, I wanted to share it with as many people as I could. I wanted to be accepting of people, yet inspiring enough to get them to love themselves. I started a blog called ‘SHADES OF BROWN’ to talk about such issues. I chose the name because the black race is the most diverse of all the races as can be seen in our skin tones. From Mariah Carey to Alec Wek, our skin tones are as glorious as we are beautiful. I use fiction and non-fiction to communicate to my racial family. The opportunity to share my view on what happens to us and around us has been very satisfying and fulfilling. The reviews have been great and I have had personal messages about how I have inspired many people. THAT is why I write!
I am a long winded writer and I know many people hate to read long articles. While I know there are many people who would read my blog no matter how long, I know there are still many who wouldn’t. So I decided to branch out and increase my sphere of influence. Some people love to listen to people talk and some people like to watch others do their thing. Knowing this, I am starting my podcast which is also called SHADES OF BROWN on Podbean and my vlog on YouTube so people can choose their best option. The podcast and blog will be an audio and video representation of my blog and I hope to get you to listen in, watch and be a part of my story….of our collective stories.
Here are platforms where I express myself;
I am on Facebook as OCHEKLIYE RAMATU ADA, on Twitter @remimah and on Instagram @miss_remimah. My Blog, podcast and vlog are called SHADES OF BROWN and can be found at www.shadesofbrownnigeria.blogspot.comand www.shadesofbrownnigeria.podbean.comrespectively. My Vlog is on youtube and is at www.youtube.com/c/RamatuAdaOchekliye.
If you have a story to share, a story you want me to talk about or just questions and enquiries, you can send a mail to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
So if you are interested in our African story, I urge you to subscribe my blog, podcast and vlog. I hope that you let me grow on you as we spread out our hope for our continent.
Welcome to my official launch and thank you for being a part of this journey.