I grew up in Lagos in Nigeria, in a multifaith household, where I lived with my parents and my extended family.
Lagos is a very cosmopolitan city, drawing in many different ethnicities of Nigeria, but also from Africa and around the world.
My mother was Finnish, and my father is Nigerian Yoruba. He is a Muslim and my mum was Protestant. My parents had met in Germany, so they spoke German with each other and with me. My mother and I spoke Finnish, and with my father, I spoke English. But there was also Yoruba around me because my aunties and cousins and grandmother lived with us as well.
When I was a teenager, my mother and I moved to Malmo in Sweden and I lived there for 10 years before moving to Spain for some time. Then I spent three years in New York. Eventually, I landed in London, where I’ve been for over 15 years now.
People sometimes ask me whether I became a feminist in Sweden. Of course, Sweden strengthened my feminist tendencies, but actually, the seed was planted in Nigeria. Nigeria has its own very entrenched patriarchal norms.
When I moved to Sweden, I had to contend with quite a lot of prejudice and racism. I was bullied. And I was called the N word. I was sometimes physically attacked, due to my race. In Sweden, I started to really reflect on being somebody who was racialized and minoritized and seen as inferior.
I spoke to author Anna Katharina Schaffner at Emerge about how my formative years shaped my interest in equity between genders and between races, ethnicities, and religions. We also spoke about Sensuous Knowledge, Afropolitanism, what we can learn from Yoruba philosophy, and the Politics of Joy.
Read the full interview here.
Image is by Pamela Coleman Smith