#DiverseBookBloggersDiscuss: Embracing my Nigerian Identity

My name is Taiwo and I’m a Nigerian book and lifestyle blogger. When Fadwa mentioned that she was resuming #DiverseBookBloggersDiscuss, I was so excited to participate! I’m a very private person and I never write discussion posts but I am really happy to be included in this one because I need to write about this; not just for other people but mainly for me, and the young girl who grew up to shun her heritage.

I’ve always loved reading. I can’t remember a time I wasn’t reading. I’ve got pictures of 5-year-old me happily reading instead of playing. However, all the books I was reading were written by white authors, featuring white characters and written for white readers.
So, books by white authors became the default for me. I would walk into a bookstore, bypass all the Nigerian books and go straight to the “real books” (by white authors). I began seeing white books as “well-written” and books by Nigerian authors as “bad”..
It never occurred to me that this behaviour was bad or wrong until I started blogging. Thankfully, I joined the book community at a time when diverse books were gaining more clout. I saw book bloggers, booktubers and bookstagrammers advocating for books that represented them. I saw fellow Nigerian bloggers like Etinosa @ Uwadis Reads and Chinelo @ Booked Unicorn writing posts centred on Nigerian literature and I began realizing that something was very wrong with the way I viewed books. Why did I think Nigerian (and other black) authors wrote trash while white authors were the real deal?
A sub-conscious part of me began seeing my internalized racism but it wasn’t until the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge that I faced it head-on. Seeing Asian readers chatting happily about own-voices Asian books made me realise how little I was talking about (or even reading) Nigerian books.
It’s taken me a while to see and accept how I’ve gone wrong but I’m glad it has happened. I believe it’s not too late to correct my mistakes and I’m so excited for the many many Nigerian books I intend to read (and rave about) this year!
If you’ve ever found it hard to accept a part of yourself, I hope this post helps you realize that you’re not alone and I hope it nudges you towards acceptance

Taiwo sig

Book Blogger @A Lifestyle Nerd

#DiverseBookBloggersDiscuss is a way to boost diverse bloggers who are brilliant, have a lot to say and deserve to be heard loud and clear. What this is, is basically a guest post feature where every Sunday, one blogger from a minority will discuss things they are passionate about on my blog.

10 thoughts on “#DiverseBookBloggersDiscuss: Embracing my Nigerian Identity

  1. Love this post! You have actually completely inspired me to do my own Diverse Book Bloggers discussion to share my own story, I’m so glad that you’re embracing your Nigerian Identity and I couldn’t be happier for you. It’s so great to be seeing more OwnVoices books coming out 🙂 Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This post was sort of very relatable and I really need to start thinking more about this as well.
    A part of me also tends to see books written in English by American authors as “really good books” and whatever is written by Brazilian authors as trash. And I’ve never given much thought about this behaviour, because I have tried multiple times before to read books by Brazilian authors and I didn’t enjoy any of them! But now I’m wondering if the reason why I didn’t like them is because I already had a negative view on them to begin with, due to much of an internalized racism I haven’t even noticed!
    Granted, Brazilian authors hardly ever write books that I find interesting, because the YA contemporary scene – which is what I read the most of – is very small, but still there are definitely some authors I can name that I could be reading, but I rather pick up a very similar book but by an American author.
    This post has made me think a lot, and I hope to come up in a few months and say that I’ve also started to embrace my Brazilian identity more! 💛 Amazing post, Taiwo!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Taiwo, fellow Nigerian here. I have just created a new blog after stopping one I had for three years for some reason, and I decided to come back to the blogosphere. I searched “Nigerian”, and your post came up first.
    I am glad to see this, and I resonate with it so much. I did not start reading so early, as I discovered my interest in writing even earlier on, but when I started in J.S.S 3, I started with Christian Romance Fiction, and they were not written by Nigerians.
    As Literature was taught, I knew Nigerians wrote books, but they wrote about the political scenery, colonialism, and all that I wasn’t interested in. The ones that wrote the type I was interested in were people of the Western world, so as I wrote, it subconsciously happened. My characters were never Nigerian. Even the scenery of the novel, regardless of the fact that I had never been outside Nigeria.
    It wasn’t until I got into Uni that I started the appreciation of Nigerian books, but even then, there’s still the subconscious preference of books not written by Nigerians.
    Have I read books by Nigerians I personally enjoyed? Yes.
    Do I think there are wonderful authors? Yes. Definitely. I like to think I am one after all 😋, but I have come to realize that the market has a lot to do with it, as the system we were raised in as well.
    Do parents embrace their kids when they say they want to be writers? No. Here, it’s a “side hustle” mostly.
    How many publishing houses are there? Much too few.
    A lot of the successful “Nigerian writers” do not even reside in Nigeria, and that has a lot to do with the market.
    All that said, when I write now, I try to put some Nigerian essence in it. Make the location Nigeria, as that is where I know best, but even then, it’s hard to unlearn writing like the white man, but it is a process.
    I know that was a long one, so thank you for reading. Do check out my page when you can!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey, I just came across your blog after searching for Nigerian bloggers and i’m So grateful i found your blog. I’m also a book lover and a blogger a have been contemplating adding book reviews to my niche but looking at your blog now has given me th courage to do so. I’ve always looked at Nigerian and African books the same way you did, although I have long came to terms with this defected mindset, I came to realize that African writers are all the more relatable and authentic with words that string along your imagination. I just spent a few minutes here and I’m already in love with your blog, hope to see more from you💕
    I’m also a blogger and I would love for you to check my blog out too. I’ll leave a link below

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey there! I’m not Nigerian (I’m African tho, Moroccan to be exact 😁) but Taiwo is indeed Nigerian, her blog is linked at the end of the post. I’ll check out your blog when I have a bit of time. Thank youso much for commenting 💖

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: To sum up: March 2019 | Word Wonders
  6. I love this!! As an African-American, I found myself thinking similar thoughts about my own race in other aspects of life. In the past couple of years, I have also had to confront my own thoughts and come to a place of genuine appreciation for my race and the accomplishments of my race. I am unashamedly on a road to recovery, exposure, and appreciation.
    Thank you for sharing 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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