The words in this blog post title were said by Michael Olatuja. I was interviewing him for my new conversation series, “(de)Ciphered.” Click on the link at the end of this post to listen to it.
This conversation has been released almost one year after I talked with Olatuja. I had planned to release it in 2020, but as we ALL know, last year was rough for e’rybody. I was dealing with a personal loss and the world was reckoning with two threats to our collective health: COVID and racism. My instinct was to shut myself off from everybody, but something told me to check in with other people. So, I leaned into the thing I loved most, talking to — and learning from others. Maybe I was searching for answers. Maybe I wanted to speak to people ‘from the outside.’ So, I reached out to Michael to discuss his latest album, “Lagos Pepper Soup.” I’m glad I did.
Our conversation felt hopeful. Michael has a gentle way about him, but if you’re not paying attention, you’ll overlook the calm, clarity, and strength that I could hear lurking underneath. He’s a man who is comfortable in his skin.
I felt guilty about taking so long to get this out. After all, I’d asked him to talk to me, and I didn’t release it when I had intended to. The truth is, as hard as I tried, I just needed to be still, and heal. And you know what? I think despite it all, the timing was right. Our (entertaining) conversation about growing up African in West London and creating your own trans atlantic path STILL feels relevant.
And yet, listening to the conversation was a wonderful reminder of the fact that we’ll always change and grow, as long as we stay courageous. Go visit Michael’s IG to see what I mean. He’s sharing how his mother inspired his creativity in a new way — cooking! Until June 5, Michael is offering cooking classes, where he’ll teach people how to make Nigerian favourites like Moin Moin. And wait for it — students get to watch him perform live their food ‘simmers’!
The change we’ve seen has been hard fought. And the change hasn’t been linear. A year ago we didn’t know how things were going to play out. Today there are vaccines. Fewer people question the validity of the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter,’ but Asian children are afraid to return to school because they’re being racially abused.
We have a long way to go. The fact is, the people who were doing the work before 2020, are still doing it today. It’s exhausting, I know. But stay uplifted. Rest. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, even if you’re unsure.
Actually, do it ESPECIALLY when you’re unsure. A path will reveal itself.
Then ‘be like Mike’ (I’m so sorry Michael — will you forgive me? I had to reference that Gatorade commercial) and make something beautiful.
Listen to the full podcast HERE.