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Welcome to Yorùbá Yonder, a collection of diasporic stories about international travels cultivating worldly perspectives from a Yorùbá-Nigerian globetrotter.


So what happens when you have a childhood spanning three continents, starting school in Nigeria, continuing in the UK and finishing in Japan? Well, you pursue an equally international career and continue navigating life through seeing things with your own eyes, living the mantra:


             - Àwòrán kan sàn jù ọrọ ẹgbẹ̀rún lọ
                             - A picture is worth a thousand words
                                                          - 百聞は一見にしかず

And what is it I saw visiting numerous countries throughout our amazing world? Well, there are many places with several interesting and wonderful aspects distinguishing them from anywhere else. By expanding our horizons, we can appreciate the world for its diversity. In discovering the various distinctions, I certainly found great pleasure! However, when we look deeper into other cultures, we can recognise even more aspects that are similar to our own. By enjoying these diasporic stories, I also hope you will see that we do not have to just concentrate on our differences. We all have more in common than initially meets the eye, more similarities than differences, and this makes us part of one human community.


Abíọ́dún ‘Abbey’ Ọlátòkunbọ̀  Abdul | SFHEA 

Abíọ́dún (pronounced A-byaw-doon) is Yorùbá-Nigerian writer and UNESCO Cities of Literature Global Poetry Slam Champion 2022. Her expressive writing includes life essays and diasporic travel stories posted on Yorùbá Yonder, through which she additionally conceived the YNAD Talks event series. She is penning a 3-part autoethnographical memoir-polemic encompassing her schooling across Yorùbá-Nigeria, Scots-Britain and Japan with nuanced views on identity, ideology, social framework and prejudice - Stained Glass Eyes: Race, Family and Multiculturalism. She also writes short stories centring Yorùbá culture as well as poetry on social justice and topics celebrating our common humanity. Her work has been published in anthologies; she writes/podcasts for literary magazines, performs at literary festivals/events, and presents at academic conferences


More about the UNESCO Global Poetry Slam here





‘Ẹ káàrọ̀ everyone. Welcome to this presentation on the Benin Robots.’ 

Ọlánrewájú took a big breath as she centred herself on the podium surveying the 2,000-strong crowd gathered at the Ẹdo Museum. The Robotics Engineer had been working towards this convention project throughout her final PhD year at Ilé-Ifẹ̀ University. Finally, the day had come to share her ideas and she was feeling a bit shaky. But she’d had a smart ànkàrá outfit made with a vibrant gèlè wrapped around her freshly braided hair, looking outwardly presentable to induce a confident delivery. She took a sip of water, looked into the sea of expectant faces, and continued: 

‘The continent has come a long way since the Africa Union’s Agenda 10,104 strategic initiatives striving for ‘The Africa We Want’. And indeed, great milestones have been achieved over the 50 years of its implementation for the prosperity of our peoples. I’m glad the Ilẹ̀ Káàárọ̀-Oòjíire government has recognised even more can be done within Technology, Innovation and Sustainability.’ ...read more


Summary:




 Accompanying my writing and performing poems and diasporic stories from across the world, I also present at conferences talking about diasporic experiences and related writing projects, including my upcoming presentation ‘Past Speculation For Future Inspiration’. This will be delivered at this year’s Seen from Èkó (Lagos) Conference 2024, the inaugural platform of the Atlantica series, at University of Lagos (UNILAG) organised jointly by UNILAG Institute of African and Diaspora Studies (IADS) and University of ExeterTues 25th - Wed 26th June


My presentation focuses on ‘unlearning existing modes of perceiving the world’ by looking at the benefits of centring Black subjects within storytelling using real cultures and historical events as the basis of worldbuilding. Sociologist Kehinde Andrews notes, ‘art has often been explicitly used as a tool to advocate for white supremacy,’ to which there has been push back from Black Westerners by centring melanated subjects in non-African cultural output. This includes London-based activists Legally Black ‘recreating famous movie posters, including Titanic and Harry Potter, with Black people taking the leading roles,’ and artists reimagining Birth of Venus, Creation of Adam and Mona Lisa with Black focuses. However, surely the vast annuals of original stories and heroes throughout the African continent would be a better focus in film posters/paintings to celebrate authentic melanated cultures, beauty, ingenuity and diverse Blackness in general. Rather than inserting Black subjects into white art forms, it seems more sensible to insert Black subjects into Black art forms inspired by long-established cultural identities. 

In the literature/written arts, diasporic speculative fiction authors using Yorùbá culture and Ifá spirituality/philosophy for their worldbuilding include Nigerian-American Tómi Adéyẹmí in her Children of Blood and Bone novel series. Similarly, in my forthcoming short story collection Ẹrẹ́dò Games (named for my hometown’s historical landmark Sùǹgbọ́ Ẹrẹ́dò), the central parameters are determined by our Kọ́jọ́dá calendar. First exposure to these Ifá and Kọ́jọ́dá aspects has elicited excitement from Yorùbá culture novices with some thinking their description sounded futuristic rather than a millennia-old West African tradition (current calendar year 10,065). Such excitement can also build confidence in younger diasporic generations as consumers enjoy pre-colonial Yorùbá cultural 'purity' untainted by its post-colonial disruption, upending any residual white supremacist messaging by celebrating our melanated identities through artistry. In this way, the diaspora can truly reap the storytelling benefits of past speculation for future inspiration.


 

In addition to diasporic stories from across the world, I am also writing an auto-ethnographical memoir-polemic of my global experiences starting in childhood called Stained Glass Eyes: A Memoir of Race, Family and Multiculturalism. It is a colourful blend of narratives and sociology, of young Black kids navigating a Scottish world, of warm embracing diversity and cold unsettling racism, and thus a universal story told in a unique context. I read extracts from the book at the National Black Writers Conference 2021 #BWC21 during the Unlock the Story event.


 During event Part 1, I read a combination of extracts from chapters 1, 2 and 3 which you can view here. You, the audience, can then decide if you’d like to get the “key” to unlock Part 2 which is a combination of extracts from chapters 3 and 4 of the book which you can access here by making a donation. Your choice to get the “key”; your choice how much to donate. 

You can read all about the #BWC21 experience in the Write On! Friday Feature 'The Key to Unlocking the Story':

2021 was the year the UK National Black Writers Conference #BWC21 finally made a comeback after being postponed like so many events by the pandemic. The normally biannual conference last took place in 2018 where I was upfront and centre, learning about the writing journeys of fellow authors of colour. Be they giving talks, delivering workshops, fostering panel discussions, or shoulder-to-shoulder in the audience, I quickly became enamoured by my creative counterparts. I, therefore, wanted to learn more about the conference organisers, Manchester-based writing development organisation Commonword Cultureword. True to their tagline, they are providing opportunities for new and aspiring writers to develop their talent, helping to counter so many systemic barriers BAME creatives encounter in the written arts. After participating in some of their initiatives, it somehow seemed quite a coup that I shifted from an audience member to event participant last year in ‘Unlock the Story’…read more.



After winning various poetry awards throughout childhood, I still enjoy composing poem as well as life writing pieces focusing as ever on social justice and topics celebrating our common humanity, which have been included in various anthologies.

Composition: The Present Future (creative non-fiction: life writing)
Anthology: ‘Weighted Words’ by Peepal Tree Press - Inscribe

Anthology: ‘Loose Connections’ by Commonword - Identity
Audio file: soundcloud link
Book launch: youtube link

Anthology ‘Squat Diddley Young Writers’ by Poetry Now (Bonacia imprint)
Poem: World of Man ('The Story')


Check out my other related sites:

*What Colour Are Your Senses: educational project promoting intercultural intelligence in Japan (...through the Notting Hill Carnival!)


*Global Roots - British Shores: youth group workshops on the importance of exposing and challenging racism through writing, arts and media


*The Scottish Racism Project: research articles focusing on race relations in Scotland.





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‘Ẹ káàrọ̀ everyone. Welcome to this presentation on the Benin Robots.’  Ọlánrewájú took a big breath as she centred herself on the podium s...