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 Tania Nwachukwu, a British Born Nigerian poet from London. When not reciting poems, she dances as part of Adanta, a Nigerian traditional dance group . Taking a moment away from the stage, this talented young Londoner provides some profound advice, as well as something embarrassing. Read on!
How did you get here?
With a little bit of luck.
Are you stressed?
At this present moment, no.
If not yourself, who would you be?
I would choose myself over and over again.
Which person do you most admire?
Besides my hard working and loving mother? My wise and hilarious father? It would have to be my friends. I admire my friends. I have a bunch of amazing friends, doing great things in their respective fields. Too many to name, but they all deserve their shine.
Which place do you call home and why?
I call many places home for different reasons. My fridge is my home because I’m always in it. London is home because it is where I was born and where I grew. I know these streets like the back of my hand. Nigeria I call home because it is where I’m from. It is where my family is from. And I find myself longing to be there whenever I’m away for too long.
What is a typical day in your life like?
I have to laugh at least once, otherwise it’s a failed day. And it can’t be an ordinary laugh, it has to be those deep belly, breathless, no sound coming from your mouth, tears streaming down your face kind of laughs.
What’s the worst piece of advice someone has given you?.
Don’t cut your hair, you’ll regret it. ( I did, and I don’t)
Name one book you think everyone should read?
I’m going to cheat and give two. The Art of Living by Epictetus, and Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde. I find myself returning to Lorde’s chapter on The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action regularly and wishing more people read it. In fact, I find myself regularly wishing more people would read. All the time.
What is your idea of happiness?
Being able to switch between a level 1, a fade and a huge natural afro without the long 5 year wait in between.
What quality do you dislike in others?
I really dislike when people don’t say what they mean. Like bro, say what you want to say, and say it with your chest.
What do you most admire in other people?
People who strive to be good. A lot of people don’t actually care. I have so much love for people who actively try to be good and do good. even if they fall short of the mark sometimes.
What advice would you give to a younger you?
Books over boys. Your parents are human. Say yes to as many things possible. Give things the time they deserve.
Are you scared of death?
I’m not scared of death. Death should be scared of me. If it takes me before I’ve finished doing the things I need to do, it won’t hear the end of it. It will probably send me back because it’s gotten tired of my nagging!
What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you?
I used to get embarrassed when my mum sang at church. She’s not the best of singers but she always sang loudest. Always. Probably why I stopped going to be honest.
Tania Nwachukwu is a British born Nigerian writer, poet and performer from London. She is a member of both Octavia and Barbican Young Poets poetry collectives, and the assistant creative director for the African dance company Adanta. She has performed in venues all over the UK and West Africa, and spends her spare time on Skyscanner looking for her next adventure.