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Reflections on 2022

What to say about a year that has rendered me speechless in ways both good and enlightening. What to say about a year that has hosted just as many devastating disappointments as tremendous triumphs. What to say about a year I’ve both loved and loathed.


There is nothing to say.


That is why we write.


I started this year oscillating between excitement and dread. My debut anthology, How Far? was released over the 2021 Christmas holiday to warm reception. I was excited to humbly/not so humbly show it off, luxuriating in the limelight. Still, as I strutted, trepidation dwindled my smile to a crooked smirk.


I’d been rejected from Oxford in November and the other Oxbridge hopefuls would have their fates decided in two weeks.


Then, the day came.


The brooding clouds mocked me as I ambled to class and stumbled into the weekly Headteacher’s Council meeting. I summoned myself to silence. My hands banged together. Congratulations swarmed my friend Elisha; Cambridge approved.


Everything felt jauntily macabre. I was glad for Elisha. She is kind, smart, driven and talented in ways few are. I was brimming with excitement for my friend Alex who had enough extracurriculars for a quadrilogy. I couldn’t be prouder of TT. I was over the moon for my girl Jade who worked harder than anyone I’ve ever known. If I could, I would make the Sun and Moon bow for her.


Their effervescent optimism and solidified futures only served as a reminder of what I failed to do. I knew that I could still end up chosen one day but my endless tears didn’t. Submerging myself in anything else, I focused on the Anti-Racism Policy I was constructing with the Black Student Forum, as well as my studies, my writing and my Beyond-Friend Trifling Taurus (TT for love).


February rolled around and Jade turned 18. She moved at the end of Year 11 after receiving a scholarship. I was ecstatic for her. The opportunity allowed her to be closer to family and provided much deserved access. Still, I felt alone. She was my best friend in Wymondham and a home. But you can’t make homes out of people. Doors lead to trap doors.


As much as she shows she cares, at the back of my mind doubt lingers. She only feels sorry for you.


The voices were wrong, right? Sure, I’ve called her my best friend since 2019 and she never reciprocated. Sure, I always call, and she calls back.


She was there when I cried over TT in October and was relieved once we found our way back. She makes me feel safe and I feel her love. But some nights I’m dying to hear it.

In April, FLO came to save the day. A talented trio. Their distinctive brand of nostalgic yet modern R&B and Urban Pop was a refreshing change of sound from the beep of voicemails that hurt like a death knell whenever I would try to bridge a distance my friends happily watched burn. Witnessing FLO’s rise in real time was fulfilling. Even if the kinship is fiction, I feel a part of something bigger. A Black British Girl Group hadn’t smashed the mainstream in my lifetime. When I feel lonely, I wrap myself in the warmth of their harmonies.


May and June were dominated by A-Levels. After the long goodbyes I went to Mauritius with my family. I love my dad. He wants everyone to be happy but sometimes his desire can overwhelm. Surrounded by magnificent beauty with Creole dancing in my ears, loneliness consumed me. My parents did their thing and my brother checked out, so I explored by myself. With help from the highlight reels vandalizing my feed, I painted a smile, a replica from my portfolio of performances. My eyebrows rose to heaven, ghost dimples made a cheeky cameo and a chipper tone accompanied.


Flying home, I pressed on my keyboard like I was possessed by a demon. Her name is Determination. And unlike the humans, she never wavers. She morphs in strife. Mutates in the baptism of the salty water that escapes my eyes and galvanizes in the face of those blind to our vision.


Determination and I got my novel published November 30th. Ese: The Misadventures of Moving Forward.


In September I went to London with my old friends. I hadn’t seen them in three years. Fumbling through the awkward hugs, the breathy ‘hey’s’ and pitiful ‘how are you?’s, we bounced back into a gentle groove, banter ping-ponging quicker than we zapped past the green lights.


Dressed to the nines (Alien Superstar) in my vibrant Ankara shirt, I turned heads. My blue jeans vibed with my waist and my red cap rested on top of my bushy mane.


Still, being special is its own unique brand of isolating. Over chips, salsa and piping hot tea, I sat contemplatively at the head of the table realising how far I was from them. They filled their time with tales of study period hook-ups (they’re frees but I have PTSD from my Headteacher’s rigamaroles), pregnancy scares, parties and divine mistakes that conjured up hazy, fond memories.


All I mustered were academics, my books and the industry connections I’d forged. Suddenly I couldn’t hear them over the reggae blasting from the radio and the voices fighting in my head.

I feel like I’ve just let the best years of my life fly by.


You’ve made lifelong friends and you already know where you’re going. Who can say that at eighteen?


When I spoke, they marvelled. I felt like an exotified animal. Observed, investigated, left behind a glass barrier in pristine condition for the next gawking spectators.


Sometimes I wish I could fast forward to the part of my life when everything’s okay.


‘You shouldn’t wish time away, Efe.’ A wise and wicked man once told me.


His alias is Boy From Back Home.


But you can’t make homes out of people.


I saw him that day and it was all smiles but usually he’s a ghost. Floating in and out of my life. In and out. In and out.


Out.


My friends are incredible, but I don’t know if they relate to me. Should my relationships be plagued by this much doubt?


Pinch punch first of the month! I’m in Uni now and after spending the entirety of Fresher’s and Welcome Week getting lost, going to parties and writing my second anthology, So Sweet It Stings, I prepared to conquer this place. That’s what I do.


I joined societies and stayed open to new misadventures but I’m still settling. Even with the release of my 1st novel, there’s something missing.


In time I’ll find it.


I’ll find me.


Snowflakes are falling, lights are up, and Mariah Carey is securing several bags. I’m dying to be in my own bed again, but the universe wasn’t in the giving mood. I must’ve been real trifling in my past life because these mischievous odds were suspiciously stacked.


First - I got on the wrong train. In my defence, both trains were going to London Euston and 12:47 starts twinning with 12:57 when you’re wheeling the weight of the world and stumbling on 4 hours of sleep and a single slice of Domino’s Meateor Pizza.

Second - When I was walking to London King’s Cross my suitcase broke, my clothes and books scattered all over the drenched pavement and a sleek chorus of judgmental mutters were equally divided. Once I managed to negotiate with my stubborn blood red foe, my train rocketed past me, leading me to get the next train to Ely.


Third - Just as I thought the test was over, the doors of my final train wouldn’t open.


Finally, I made it to the delicate embrace of my family. I’m really proud of myself for rolling with the daggers. The extraordinary has always come easy to me. The everyday is what eludes me. I’m turning 20 at the end of 2023 and my joy is a gilded cage for the fear I’m scared to unleash. Once 20 hits, I’m an adult adult. No more chalking up the chaos to teenage naiveté, no more delaying rites of passage.


I remember a day when I was struggling to pin my badge to my suede suit. Someone told me geniuses often struggle with simple tasks. I pray that’s true. I pray my shortcomings are fearfully and wonderfully made because if not that means…

2022: You’ve been a whirlwind and a gateway to transition. I’ve learned how resilient I am, and I’ve made significant strides in my writing career.

I’ve learned that heavy is the Afro that wears the crown.


I’ve learned that all the love I give will come back.


On a nasty November afternoon, my new Uni friend Keziah sashayed to me with a smile so sweet it stung.


‘I haven’t seen you in a while. I missed you.' She beamed effortlessly, wrapping her body over mine like a warm blanket. The smell of Cantu took me home.


But you can’t make homes out of people.


To know that even in a short time my presence was appreciated changed everything.


2022: Thank you for my health. Thank you for music. Thank you for my family and friends. Thank you for Jade. Thank you for TT. I love him more each day. I won’t fall because I know We can’t be.


2023 is coming and I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.


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This 19 year old British Nigerian writer and poet is called Emoefeoghene Akpofure Imoyin-Omene but because you’re cool, you can call him Efe, Mr Omene if you’re feeling spicy.

From an early age Efe has had an affinity towards the artistry of writing. It gave him the chance to create alternative worlds when his sometimes felt cold and confusing. Writing became his space to unleash emotions too explosive to articulate.

This love intensified during the pandemic. While most were reeling, Efe was finding healing through writing his debut novel. Ese: The Misadventures of Moving Forward- a book he affectionately labels ‘YA Romance with socially conscious and comedic twists’. It beautifully chronicles the trials, tribulations and euphoria that comes at the worldbuilding adolescent stage through the eyes of an unconventional protagonist and their diverse found family. From his work with The National Centre for Writing in their Lit From The Inside programme at 17 and publishing a zine with them, working on his school’s English Blog, Podcast and Instagram, starting the 1st Black Student Forum in Wymondham College, editing and mentoring, and using his imagination to paint possibility, the sky is too limiting for this bright star. Get ready world because Efe is.


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