People of the City’ is What’s On Africa’s version of the Proust questionnaire. We ask exciting people across the city a series of questions. They can answer as seriously or as flippantly as they like. Expect by the end, to have a slightly more personal connection with interesting personalities doing innovative things.

This week, WOA connected with Charles Olayinka aka Mayonka, a rapper and founding member of the creative collective SXWKS. This week, Mayonaka shares some interesting thoughts, giving a unique insight into the life of a young East London rapper.

How did you get here?

I got here via my mother during a month that my father, her husband, visited her here in the UK before returning to Nigeria for work.

Are you stressed?

Mildly, but I don’t take life or the world very seriously. Consequently stress rarely gets overwhelming.

Who would you snog, marry or avoid?

I’d snog Kelly Rowland, Marry Beyonce and avoid Donald Trump.

What advice would you give to a younger you?

Make use of all your talent, strive for an holistic version of you. Ignore categories – you can be who you want and do what you want. Just love everything equally.

Which living person do you most admire?

Without a doubt, my mum.

What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you?

I feel like I missed all the embarrassing moments in childhood because I had a very poor perceptiveness; my best friend wasn’t actually my best friend and I wasn’t Mr popular in my class like I thought I was. I was the dark skinned kid. It wasn’t cool to be drenched in melanin back in the 90’s. Then I got older and was always too scared to make the first move so I don’t have any awkward stories to tell about trying to kiss a girl and getting rejected. Then I got older and was too scared to move to girls so I don’t have stories to tell about trying to get a girl’s number and getting rejected. Then I got older and was to scared to catch a stiff whine – so no stories to tell about getting rejected in clubs!

Which film character do you most identify with? And why?

A cross between Truman Burbank and Neo, I’m actually waiting to find out that my whole life has been a lie. Every time I fall in love(and it’s reciprocated) I’m worried that I’m being pranked. Partially because I’m surprised beautiful women find me attractive and also because of paranoia that’s been born from a slight affinity I have with these characters. (Bonus character: Black panther, because he’s African, epic and he’s a superhero. I’m all three of these things. Yes I’m a superhero.)

Are you scared of death?

I’m not scared of death but I don’t really like pain.

Name one book you think everyone should read?

Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

What has been the peak and pit of your day?

Today my peak was my gym session and my pit was leaving the gym.

What’s your walking style?

I have a slight swing, and a bit of a bop that my mum hates and swears is evidence of my allegiance with a ‘bad gang’.

What’s trending for you?


Who is in the party in your head?

Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, Michael Jordan

If you could change one thing?

I’d be a little taller. I have an older brother five years older than me but I was always slightly big for my age so he would sometimes wear my clothes when I was young. The painful thing was that he’d make them look better and I was convinced that it was because my shoulders weren’t broad. I was also convinced that I could change that without the help of puberty. So I started going to the gym too early as a result my legs are a little too long and my head is a little too big for my torso. I’d like to have the torso that God planned me to have when she drafted my blueprint.

Who would you vote for as president of the United States of Africa?

I don’t know but I’d like it to be a philosopher. I wish philosophers were presidents and prime ministers everywhere. Plato made a very appealing case for it in one of our many conversations (The Republic). I also wish I was slightly more politically aware.

What’s the most unwise purchase you’ve ever made?

Too broke to make unwise purchases. Only joking. Three or four times I’ve gotten a particular shoe in 3/4 different colours so that’s like continuous poor decision making rather than one unwise purchase. I’m no longer a student now so last year I bought zero pairs of footwear.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Taylor Swift. I’m not even embarrassed.

Mayonaka is a rapper and a founding member of sxwks hailing from Hackney and born to Nigerian parents. His music focuses on introspection and storytelling while trying to capture the playfulness that defines him as a man and the musical roots that he grew up surrounded by as a young boy in a Nigerian home and a Nigerian church. He is very inspired by health and wellness and is working to amalgamate the arts and fitness/training in the hope of promoting a more holistic lifestyle for young artists. He tweets @Mayonaka