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Black Essence of 20-year-old Nigerian poetess in New Jersey

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Elizabeth Omolaja was transplanted to New Jersey from Nigeria when she was three.

She has grown up on life’s journey since then. Now she is 20—and a lot more.

“I am the groundhog scared of its own shadow; I am an unfinished book hoping for a good ending; I am a hidden treasure waiting for someone to clean it…; I am Mary, I am Elizabeth, I am Esther; I am the female who will bring about a new existence,” she wrote in her book Black Essence (Bird with a Broken Wings) launched recently in New Jersey.

But her teacher thinks Elizabeth is something else: a jewel, a diamond.

“A diamond comes from roughness,” said Mrs. Karyn, a teacher at Creek High School. “When it is pressurized, it becomes a nice and shiny object we can mesmerize over.”

Karyn comes from the Island of Bermuda and has been in the U.S. for two decades. So she knows when a diamond from Africa turns up in the dirt.

Elizabeth Omolaja abd Mrs. Karyn

According to her, Elizabeth has gone through a lot of trials—from where she was, then, always having anxiety.

Dark clouds seem part of the sterner stuff most writers and poets are made of. No wonder her lines and verses drip with tear-jerking emotions. She confessed she inked many of the poems when she—or her friends—was going through some rough patches.

“So the poetry encompasses my feelings during the bad times and the good times,” said Elizabeth.

There’s no doubt the heat of those moments has refined the gem in her.

“I saw her recovering from trials and tribulation. And through the community, she has been pressurized. They have helped to mold the young lady,’ said Karyn.

“Now I see a beautiful diamond about to flourish.”

Elizabeth Omolaja and her family

For a black young poet to flourish enough to get published in the U.S. is not a picnic. There are lots of baggage you drag along when you are colored. Elizabeth had a fair share of those drags.

“There were times I put off the book,” she said.

It got worse because she is Nigerian. “I had to balance being a Nigerian and then a Black person in America. I have to adjust to each situation.”

And the blah feeling that came with such an identity crisis, sometimes, overwhelmed her so much she felt like she was that “bird with a broken wind”. And that the book was heading nowhere.

At such downtimes, Elizabeth was not always alone. Her fairy godmother Karyn, who she described as a blessing, was always close by.

“She’d tell me the book might touch somebody more than it means to me. That kept me going on.”

And, really, all the motivation from parents, friends, Karyn, others, were all worth it. The book turned out a hit.

“Black Essence is about the excellence that is in the melanin of our skin. It’s about the promotion of the essence of a people,” she said.

Its acclaim, according to families and friends that came to the book signing, cuts across poetry, youth motivation, and pan-Africanism.

Karyn described the author as an open book, a prototype of success for New Jersey’s youth of color.

Elizabeth herself has this to say: “Don’t let the fear of what can go wrong keeps you from succeeding.”

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Consul-General Ben Okoyen to honor young Nigerian patriots in U.S.

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Ben Okoyen

Among Nigerians drawing inspiration from the Green-White-Green flag, Ben Okoyen stands out—not just as a flag-waver, but as a mobilizer and development catalyst.

As the Consulate-General of the Nigeria House in New York, Unites States, Okoyen has the duty to promote Nigeria.

Agreed.

But his devotion to the name Nigeria is religious—and infectious, too.

“It’s a name I’m proud of; the name that brought me here as Consul-General; the name I project any day, any time,” said Okoyen while declaring open a conference by a group of Nigerian-Americans at the Nigerian House in New York.

The youth, brought together by the Nigerian Youth in the Diaspora Engagement Forum (NYDEF), were discussing ways to better represent Nigeria around the world in the event themed Nigeria: Our Brand.

Okoyen told the gathering that every nation strives to earn the respect and trust of others in the comity of nations, a competitive world of equals and super powers.

“We believe that a nation’s brand is its most important asset—if it must be relevant in the comity of nations, he said as he expounded the importance of a name as a brand.

According to him, if anybody says things that are not nice about where they come from, they ultimately go back to face the indignity they have been promoting.

He noted that events happening around the world have always have repercussion back home in individual countries.

“If you promote the positive image of your country and people, then you can earn respect in all your endeavors.”

Describing the youth as the first stakeholders in the branding effort, the consulate-general urged them to tell their own story.

“Know your country. Know your strength. That’s when others believe in you,” he added, with urgency.

A lot of brand stories are there for Nigerians to tell.

“Our food, our dances, our entertainment are our brand. We are peculiar. We are resilient. We are hardworking.”

Okoyen then reminded the youth of Nigeria’s founding fathers, their struggle for nationalism and the nation’s independence from colonial masters, and their expectation from younger generations they left behind.

“They went to other countries, studied, learnt new things, and how things worked. They then came back home to contribute their quotas. That was the beginning of nationalism. And we are beneficiaries of it today,” he said.

He emphasized how important it is for the younger generation to work and build on the foundation they laid.

“We too must use our skills n knowledge to think about giving back to Nigeria.”

The consulate under him is already watching out for the Nigerian youth, especially those in the Diaspora, contributing to the positive image of their fatherland.

“We have a program to honor them. Those contributing positively must be encouraged,” he told BeingNigerian in a separate interview.

He believes this is no time to sit down and complain, and draw back the effort at nation-building.

“We don’t need distraction. We need cooperation and unity. If we believe in d nation to which we belong, that’s a force. And we can move forward.”

Under Okoyen’s leadership, the Nigerian House in New York has been supporting youth initiatives and nation-building program like NYDEF’s.

He encouraged others with similar imitative to come forward and partner with the consulate.

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Miss Africa USA hopeful reveals plans for Nigeria, seeks help to win

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Porscha Lee Taylor. Photo: IG @porschaleetaylor

Porsche Lee Taylor has been contesting in beauty pageantry for 14 years.

As Miss District of Columbia preparing to work it again on the catwalk in the Miss Africa USA contest, Taylor, a Nigerian, knows what she wants.

It’s not fame.

It’s not wealth.

All she wants is a platform to tell Nigerian girls born in the United States to trace their roots back to motherland.

She has done hers. And she can tell the difference the realization makes for African girls blooming in the Diaspora.

“Realizing my Nigerian roots now allows me to launch myself deeper into this pageantry,” she told Africa Independent Television AIT Correspondent, Abolade Ishola in an exclusive interview.

“It allows me to present myself to other girls born in America—that they do have a home. My home is Nigeria.”

More than anything else, Taylor, from this contest, also wants a platform to foster the kind of education that will lead to the development of African women and girls, and, indeed, in Nigeria.

In short, she wants to promote STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering, Math—among African girls and women.

As an entrepreneur, Taylor knows the importance of education in shaping one’s ventures.

“But African girls and women lack education. Which brings social and economic instability,” she said.

That African women and girls languish in poverty and inequality is not strange to her, going by her experience even in the U.S.

According to her, she lost her grandma to dementia; she was roofless for a while; and she lost a relative to gun violence.

“You don’t have to live in Africa to suffer from all those things. But I want to tell people out there they are not alone.”

Like the handful of Nigerians in the Diaspora zealous of making impact back home, Taylor believes this is the time for Africans and Blacks doing great abroad to unite, and give back to the continent.

“Remember you are Africans. We must bring our knowledge back home to make Nigeria better. We really need to start highlighting the beauty of Nigeria,” she reminded those obsessed with negativity about their fatherland.

“Negative words travel faster than positive ones”, she urged those who desire change in Nigeria to first change their negative mindset about the country.

“We are not shying away from the negativity—poverty, corruption, and others. Bring them to the fore. And let’s talk about what we have to do to solve the problem.”

She is ready to be part of the solution.

Which is why she’s asking Nigerian Americans to support her quest to win the crown so she, promising, can go back to Nigeria, and rebuild schools, provide educational resources, and reduce poverty.

Taylor is already getting the backwind she wants.

A California-based model and engineer, Valerie Ehimhen told AIT that her participation in the Miss Africa USA will help her change a lot of things.

“When you see Nigerians doing things like this, it is an easy way for the African culture to penetrate and get out to the Diaspora,” said Ehimhen.

“People can see that the Nigerian culture is more than what the media usually portrays.”

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“My wedding will be like a movie”, Davido plans big for marriage ceremony

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Davido

Davido who proposed to his girlfriend, Chioma, recently is about to take his love with the lady to another level as he promised a movie-like wedding in 2020.

About two weeks ago, Chioma was said to have introduced her man to her family as they commenced their marital journey. However, while many people were still arguing what the couple were up to, Davido, on Thursday, at a private party that had some members of his crew and family members popped the question to Chioma.

With a ‘yes’ from Chioma, Davido has now informed those who are close to him to prepare for a movie-like marriage in 2020.

Trust Davido to go big with jewellery as he shared the photo of the huge diamond designed by Dorgu on Chioma’s finger, with caption: “SHE SAID YES!!!! BIG ROCK #ASSURANCE2020”.

Chioma also shared the photo on her Instagram page with the caption, “I love you @davidoofficial (You didn’t even let me wax yet).”

An inside source, who did not want his name mentioned, told R on Friday that Davido and Chioma would spare nothing to throw up the biggest celebrity marriage in the country.

The journey will begin with a traditional marriage in Chioma’s home town before the end of this year and would be followed by a trip to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, for a pre-wedding party that would involve some family members and friends.

Davido, who is about to release his studio album, also informed his crew that top international artistes would fly into Nigeria to grace their big day.

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