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Before yesterdaynaomi's parlour

Teaching your child(ren) to show love.

13 February 2021 at 06:46
By: Amina
Do you know your child's love language?

Copy of Copy of Girls Compete Women Empower Women's Day Instagram Post

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One of the letters my son will be getting tomorrow.

Vision Board 2021 – Event Recap

1 February 2021 at 07:00
By: Amina
Creating a vision board.

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(Male) Feminist? Which one is that one?

27 August 2020 at 08:00
By: Amina
We should all be feminists.

Image 27-08-2020 at 11.59

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On being a hijabi in Lagos – Part II.

19 August 2020 at 08:00
By: Amina
Hilarious accounts o a Muslim woman living in Lagos, Nigeria.

Tan Photo Flower Women's Rights Instagram Post

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Self-care tips to make you happier.

3 August 2020 at 06:00
By: Amina
Why self-care is important.

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Women in STEM – Oyinda Gunn

30 June 2020 at 05:57
By: Amina
Celebrating women in engineering.

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Let’s talk skincare.

16 June 2020 at 07:00
By: Amina
Hey beauties, How are you all faring in this pandemic? I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy during these tough times and remaining hopeful that this uncertainty will end soon. I’m here to lighten our moods by sharing how we can keep our skin healthy and flawless during this period … Continue reading Let’s talk skincare.

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Representation matters.

9 June 2020 at 07:00
By: Amina
Growing up Nigerian, I never knew or felt like I was different. The term β€˜Black’ was not something that was ever used to describe anyone. Yes culturally, we were from various tribes – be it YorΓΉbΓ‘, Igbo, Hausa, Ibibio, Delta, Fulani, Kanuri, Ijaw or *insert other ethnic groups here* – regardless of our ethnicities, we … Continue reading Representation matters.

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brown skin

femi the fox

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No means no.

6 June 2020 at 07:39
By: Amina
Black people matter. Black lives matter. Our girls and women deserve to be safe - whether in their own homes or outside. Our bodies are not for anyone's pleasure...

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Relocation Stories – Journey Across 4 Continents.

26 May 2020 at 06:00
By: Amina
With more ex-pats relocating to the diaspora, I thought it would be a good idea to get people to share their relocation stories...

Relocation Series - Journey across 4 continents

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Staying Connected During Covid-19.

21 May 2020 at 07:00
By: Amina
How to host a kick-ass virtual party.

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Getting your child to love reading.

18 May 2020 at 06:00
By: Amina
Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or a duty. It should be offered as a gift. β€”Kate DiCamillo

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That's not my snowman.

Julia Donaldson

Beatrix Potter

Quarantine Cooking – Easy Short Bread Recipe.

10 May 2020 at 05:04
By: Amina

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last blog post. If I’m honest, this pandemic has got me feeling some type of way. I’ve been indoors for two months, and it’s made me realise how much I miss the little things – like going for a swim with my son or going to my besties house around the corner to nick food from her fridge πŸ™‚

Baking through anxiety or uncertainty is nothing new, and Covid-19 has inspired us to eat more and bake more *I see all of you complaining about your waistlines this period – don’t worry, we are in this together* πŸ˜‰

What started as a way to bond with my son while on lockdown has quickly turned into a hobby. I now enjoy baking – it’s therapeutic. I love the lingering smell it leaves around the house.

I’ve been trying a lot of easy recipes recently and you know I had to share them with you guys!

Easy Short Bread Recipe
Ingredients:

  • 180g plain flour
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 125g butter

Directions:

  • Beat the caster sugar and butter until fluffy
  • Mix in your flour until you get a smooth paste
  • Roll out a flat surface and cut dough into desired shapes
  • Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes
  • Then bake in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes at 190C until golden brown
  • Set aside to cool and enjoy your yummy cookies

Β 

Have you been baking during the lockdown?

If you try this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram – @naomisparlour ❀

Γ€kΓ rΓ  (Nigerian Bean Fritter)

Γ€kΓ rΓ  (Nigerian Bean Fritter)

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Γ€kΓ rΓ  (Nigerian Bean Fritter)

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Γ€kΓ rΓ  (Nigerian Bean Fritter)

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Γ€kΓ rΓ  (Nigerian Bean Fritter)

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ameenasmusings

The Face Of African Feminism

30 April 2020 at 07:00

The word Feminism is often met with frowns and grumbles, mainly by the male population. Feminism and its many theories and facets have been grossly misconstrued by many – even women. It is by no means an attempt to engage men in battle and equate women to men.

In the day to day phraseology, many people harbour the notion that feminism solely has to do with hate for men. There are different kinds of feminism. Envying the power of the masculine phallic symbol and fighting to stand on an equal footing with men is termed Radical feminism. Other theories like Liberal feminism seeks equality in all forms with men – in the social, economic, political arena. Individualist feminism aims to tell the government to retract from engaging in matters which involve the female and her choice in things concerning her body.

Feminism engages the important role of awakening the female power she has been thought to suppress during the years, to hone her competencies and reminding the woman that she can be better than what she has been reduced to and thought to be in the past.

Feminism should seek to remind a woman that she can rise from her current position to something more elevated. More importantly, feminism should strive to achieve a non-gendered category of power, the enactment of competency above gender and sex. In this regard, African feminism should be driven towards Cultural based feminism – it should seek to revalidate the undervalued attributes of a woman. It should help preserve the sanctity of the African female and encourage society to engage in activities that kick against the denigration of the female image being used as a symbol of sexual entertainment.

There are varied feminism theories – to define it in a generic term without a clear and concise view is another ploy to derail the understanding of the real face of necessary feminism. The type of feminism that should be encouraged is Development Feminism. Judith Lorber, in the Variety of Feminisms and their Contribution to Gender Equality, defines Development feminism as β€œaddressing the economic exploitation of women in post-colonial countries on the way to industrialisation.”

She goes ahead to say that, β€œWomen workers in developing countries in Central and Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa are paid less than men workers, whether they work in factories or do piece work at home. To survive in rural communities, women grow food, keep house, and earn money any way they can to supplement what their migrating husbands send them.”

That being said, Africa and Cameroon, in particular, has done a great job in the field of empowering the woman identity, giving her opportunities in every domain. All that is left is to deconstruct dangerous ideologies like, β€œA woman can never surpass me” or β€œA woman can never be president when I am alive.”

A woman is a part of society – she should have her strength and competencies exploited to better the community in which we all live in. Selfishly denying her the chance to prove herself, is a crime whose punishment will be the stagnation of our society. In the Pan-Africanist thought process, there is a call for diversity of gender roles for the future of the African continent.

Like Thomas Sankara said in Women’s Liberation and the African Freedom Struggle,

β€œComrades, there is no true social revolution without the liberation of women. May my eyes never see and my feet never take me to a society where half the people are held in silence. I hear the roar of women’s silence. I sense the rumble of their storm and feel the fury of their revolt…

…a woman’s consciousness of herself is not only a product of her sexuality. It reflects her position as determined by the economic structure of society, which in turn expresses the level reached by humankind in technological development and the relations between classes.

Collectively, we can empower women – once they cease to be viewed as merely sexual beings, once we look beyond their biological functions and become conscious of their weight as an active social force.

AFRICAN

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All about ISAs.

28 April 2020 at 06:00
By: Amina

**Disclaimer: views given are solely mine. I am not a financial advisor and therefore, I am not able to provide financial advice. Please ensure you seek independent financial advice and conduct any necessary research. Relying on my views is entirely at your discretion.

Sorry to hit you guys with a disclaimer first – these things have to be done πŸ™‚

A few weeks ago, I had a whole discussion about Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) and maximising cash allowances on Instagram (PS: are you following me @naomisparlour?) and I was surprised by the number of questions I got. So I thought, β€œWhy not write a blog post about it?”

Β β€œAn investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

– Benjamin Franklin

What is an ISA?
An ISA is a tax-free saving or investment account. It was introduced by the government in April 1999. By tax-free, it means you do not pay tax on any interest you earn.

Every tax year (which runs from April 6–April 5), the government sets a maximum savings threshold. The 2020/21 ISA allowance is Β£20,000.

Are there different types of ISAs?
There are four types of ISAs:

    • Cash ISA (Help-to-Buy ISA and Junior ISA fall under this category)
    • Stocks and Shares ISA
    • Innovative Finance ISA
    • Lifetime ISA

You get to choose how you want to split the Β£20,000 allowance across the different types of ISAs. πŸ™‚ Any unused allowance does not roll overβ€”so if you don’t use it, you lose it!

Who can open an ISA?
You need to be a UK resident aged 16 or over to open a Cash ISA; aged 18 or over to open a Stocks & Shares ISA or Innovative Finance ISA; or aged between 18 & 39 to open a Lifetime ISA. Note that you cannot open an ISA account with someone else or on behalf of someone else, except you are opening a Junior ISA.

Some banks may have additional requirementsβ€”make sure you read the small print. Now that I’ve given you a brief summary, let’s get into more detail about some of the ISAs.

Junior ISA
A child who is under 18 and living in the UK is eligible for a Junior ISA. The Junior ISA allowance for 2020/21 is Β£9,000. It is aimed at encouraging families to save for their children’s futures. Only parents or a guardian with parental responsibility can open a Junior ISA for under-16s. Any money you save in a Junior ISA will be locked away until the child’s 18th birthday, after which it will automatically roll into an adult cash ISA.

Help-to-Buy ISA
The Help-to-Buy ISA was launched to help people who are saving towards their first home. Help-to-Buy ISAs was discontinued on November 30, 2019; however, if you opened your Help-to-Buy ISA before that date, you can keep saving into your account and earn a government bonus towards your first home.

Stocks & Shares ISA
Unlike cash ISA which is basically a savings account you do not pay tax on, with a Stocks & Shares ISA, you’re investing. Any profits earned from a Stocks and Shares ISA are tax-free. You might be interested in a Stock & Shares ISA if you are looking to lock away your money for a few years.

WARNING: When you invest in the stock market, the value of your investments can rise or fall.

Innovative FinanceΒ ISA
Innovative Finance ISAs are deemed to be riskier than Stocks & Shares ISAs. This is because your money is invested in things like Peer-to-Peer lending. As with other ISAs, the interest you earn from lending your money isn’t taxed.

How Peer-to-Peer lending works: you lend your money to borrowers in return for interest. This is usually based on the length of time you are prepared to leave your money untouched.

Why is an Innovative Finance ISA riskier? This is because there is always a chance that the borrower will not repay the loan, which means you lose money. However, you can reduce this risk by spreading the amount you are willing to lend across multiple borrowers.

LifetimeΒ ISA (LISA)
This is another ISA that was created to help people saving for their first home or saving towards retirement. Even though the yearly ISA allowance is Β£20,000, the maximum you can pay into a LISA is Β£4,000 every tax year.

This means if you max out the Β£4,000 on a LISA, you will only have Β£16,000 available to spread across the other ISAs.

How LISA works: the government will give you 25% of whatever you save. For example, if you save the maximum amount of Β£4,000, you will receive Β£1,000 back from the government. You will be paid this bonus until you’re 50 years old. *Yup, it’s that easy*

Because LISAs were created specifically for first-time homebuyers or retirement, you will be charged a penalty if you try to withdraw funds for any reason except the below:

  • you are about to buy your first home;
  • you have reached the age of 60 or
  • you are diagnosed with a terminal illness

ISA FAQs
1. Can I open more than one ISA in a tax year
You can have multiple ISAs, but you can open only one cash ISA in each tax year. So, if you have opened a cash ISA since April 6 2020, you cannot open another one until April 6 2021.

2. I have too many ISAs open from previous years; how do I keep track?
You can transfer ISAs from a previous tax year into a new tax year; this will not affect your allowance. For example, if you saved Β£10,000 in the 2019/20 tax year, you can transfer that into an ISA in the 2020/21 tax year and still have your threshold of Β£20,000. Make sure to tell your ISA provider that you want to use the transfer option.

DO NOT WITHDRAW THE MONEY YOURSELF OR YOU WILL LOSE THE TAX BENEFITS.

3. Can I open a joint ISA with my partner?
No – everyone is entitled to their own ISA account.

I tried not to make this post too long. If you have any questions regarding ISAs, please leave a comment or send a direct message to me on Instagram – @naomisparlour


*For tax purposes, you’re automatically a UK resident if either:

  • you spent 183 or more days in the UK in the tax year
  • your only home was in the UKβ€”you must have owned, rented or lived in it for at least 91 days in totalβ€”and you spent at least 30 days there in the tax year (culled first from the gov.co.uk website).

*All posts on Naomi’s Parlour are edited by Ife Agboola.

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On being a Hijabi in Lagos

25 April 2020 at 08:30
By: Amina

Some of us cover to protect our bodies and some of us cover to protect our souls. In both cases, respect their choices.

– Anonymous

First, a not-so-brief introduction.

There are different levels of being a hijabi. I don’t mean that with regards to reputation or social standing; I mean it with regards to the choice of covering. These levels are not bound by Islamic teachings but determined by the individual, personal preference and level of faith.

Level One: The Turban Sisters
These are fashion-forward ladies rocking everything from boyfriend jeans to abayas. They have watched every YouTube tutorial on how to turn a scarf into a turban and their best friends are hair buns and anything to give their heads that perfect turban look.

Level Two: The Scarfies
Scarfies fall under two groups. Group A scarfies have experienced a light-bulb moment and now realise that it’s not just about covering your hair alone. They wear scarves secured tightly with pins of all sorts while still having a wardrobe similar to that of the Turban Sisters.

Group B Scarfies, on the other hand, are slightly more concerned about the looseness of their clothing. Their scarves hang lowβ€”past their bosomsβ€”and their wardrobes are filled with billowy skirts, one-size-fits-all abayas and maxi dresses.

Level Three: The Full Hijabis
These are the sisters whose wardrobes are totally unpredictable. Some wear only camisoles and leggings, others wear jeans or shorts and cropped tops, and yet some wear everything literally. Regardless of what they choose to wear, they all wear a single piece over their attires; this loose cloth is called a Khimar.

As a girl who has proudly moved through all levelsβ€”spending a considerable part of my life as a turban sister, a few years as a scarfie and just two years as a full hijabiβ€”allow me to introduce you to life as a Hijabi in Lagos.

1. All the critics and their criticisms.
The first thing you have to endure is negativity and wrong assumptions. Sadly, this can come from family and friends too. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to explain that I am not being oppressed and my dress code is a personal choice.

Once, I was in a shared cab with my friend Aisha, and we were having a conversation on domestic violence. The lady sitting next to me heard my comment on how I would hit whoever hits me and she replied something along these lines: β€œYour personality… the way you are talking. You shouldn’t be allowing your family oppress you into dressing like this.” I had just a few minutes, but I was sure to thank her for her concern and explain that I’m the only one who dresses this way in my family and yes, it is by choice.

2. Curious questions and more.
Now that you have chosen to cover up, your Muslim friends crown you the Queen of Religious Knowledge. Sisters, I’m listening to Yasir Qadhi and Mufti Menk podcasts just like you. Please don’t assume I can quote parts of the Quran or Hadith off by heart. Although I try to answer questions to the best of my knowledge, it’s still too much pressure.

3. Security around you doubles up.
I understand that we’ve had to deal with Boko Haram issues in Nigeria and the need for extra security measures; however, it doesn’t make it any less annoying. For instance, at the entrance to Maryland mall, my bag always gets checked, and on numerous occasions, I’ve seen people with larger bags just waltz past security like no man’s business.

4. A new name.
Congratulations! You have been rechristened, and your names are *Alhaja, Hajia or Eleha. I’ve never really liked being called any of those because I want to be called my name; I always try to introduce myself if there’s a possibility of a lengthy conversation or meeting next time. β€œOh, you can call me Hamdallah”, and if you can’t pronounce that, β€œjust call me Doyin”.

5. Your clothes are now everyone’s clothes.
I have a feeling this is more of a family and friends thing than a Lagos thing. Everyone asks you β€œplease give me one hijab na” until you’re down to almost nothing. I get it, but imagine if every time a friend showed up at your place they asked, β€œplease give me one pair of jeans na, one top na, one shoe na”…

On the sunny side of being a Hijabi in Lagos…

6. Every Hijabi is a potential friend.
There is an unspoken rule Hijabis follow, and it goes thus: β€œon sighting a fellow hijabi, you are required to say Salaam Alaykum, smile, wave and acknowledge your fellow hijabi.” It’s a small act that shows acknowledgement, and it’s enough to brighten your day.

7. Free bus rides!
This actually never happened to me when I was still rocking turbans or scarves. Either way, on many occasions, fellow Hijabis paid my bus fares. Imagine the joy when the bus conductor says; β€œdem don pay your money”. Some β€˜mummies in scarves’ and β€˜daddies in caps’ have also paid my bus fare a few times.

8. Significantly fewer rude comments.
Idumota and Yaba boys would rarely ever touch you or be unnecessarily rude. The worst you would get is a gentle tap followed by β€œHajia, dollar? gold?” or an annoying repetition of β€œCurtain? Bedsheet?”

Compared to being dragged, pushed or called nasty names, this is a better upgrade.

9. All the earth is a place of prostration.
This statement rings true in Lagos. People are always willing to show you a corner, a lounge, a mosque. They would even offer to get you something to pray on, and if you decide to pray anywhere, I don’t think you’d be getting harassed. I’ve prayed at a filling station, at numerous office corners and in many fields.

10. Ten is for God.
All in all, as with everything in life, there are ups and downs and being a hijabi in Lagos is no different; however, I wouldn’t change it for anything. At least, not yet… πŸ™‚

I wish all my Muslim brothers and sister a lovely Ramadan. May Allah SWT accept our fast as an act of Ibadah.


I am Hamdallah; an architect who enjoys writing poetry, taking photos of buildings and making fashion illustrations. I am a creative who believes design is not rigid; hence less can be more or bore depending on various variables.


*Alhaja, Hajia or Eleha – a title commonly used in West Africa to describe a Muslim who has been to Mecca as a pilgrim

*Dem don pay your money (pidgin English) – loosely translated to β€˜Your bill has been paid’.

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ameenasmusings

Day in the life series.

14 April 2020 at 08:00
By: Amina

β€˜Day in the Life’ series explores the professional lives of working women – women sharing some insight on what they do and how they manage their day-to-day work lives.

Today, a Client Solutions Specialist, Yinka shares a typical day in her work life. – Yinka is a Nigerian who lives in Toronto, Canada. She enjoys travelling, eating different cuisines and reading, amongst other passions.

As a Client Solutions Specialist, I work with clients to determine the right financial solution(s) for them. I come in contact with diverse clients who have different levels of financial knowledge. My clients can be categorized into two main groups:

  • those who possess a high level of financial expertise and know what they want, and upon evaluating their profile, their request is usually the right fit for them;
  • and those who want advice on ways to improve their financial situation, which also involves evaluating their profile, before educating them on the best solution(s) for them.

I consider myself to be a people-person and, as clichΓ© as it sounds, I have always wanted a career that involved helping people. I love the satisfaction I get from my job and the life-changing difference my solutions bring to individuals, couples and families at large. I enjoy helping people achieve their financial goals, whether by tidying their debt portfolio, increasing their investments, buying their first home or assisting in setting up rainy day funds. There are many more solutions, but these are just a few, and whatever their financial dreams are, I am here to help them accomplish that.

What does my typical day look like?

Well, I must start off by saying that I’m a Starbucks addict and it doesn’t help that they have a little shop right in my office building; this makes them my first view every time I walk into the building. I work on the 19thΒ floor, and before getting into the elevator, I deal with my Starbucks-induced internal struggles. The first struggle is β€œshould I buy Starbucks today?”, the next struggle becomes β€œshould I buy a java chip with whipped cream and mocha drizzle OR a Frappuccino?” Most times, I go with the java chip with whipped cream and mocha drizzle (if you’re a chocolate addict, get one and thank me later). Β 

Now armed with my Starbucks, I wave my access card at the reader and step into the usually full elevator as, like me, everyone is in a hurry to start their day. When I get to my desk, I sanitize my workspace area. It’s ironic how I used to feel like I was dramatic doing this, but since this horrific pandemic broke out, I feel more comfortable engaging in the act. After settling down, I go over some files from the previous day and follow up on any outstanding transactions that are currently in process or yet to be completed. Then I relax and start entertaining clients. Some clients are very easy to have discussions with, and so I can quickly identify their needs. Others can be a little overwhelmed with their objectives and may require more time to help prioritize their list of goals and eventually work our way down that list.

The job is pretty adventurous because cases are always different, unlike other jobs where you just do A, B and C, and then call it a day. I never know what I’m going to be faced with, it is like going to an amusement park where the rides continuously change, so you never get bored. I really love that about my job. Some cases are much more straightforward than others. I would say the challenging situations are probably when I identify the right solution for a client. Yet, the client doesn’t seem to understand my view and chooses to go with another option, which, in my opinion, may not be the best. At times, it just takes simplifying the financial terms for the client to really grasp the concept of my suggestion. Once they understand, I can go ahead to lighten their burden, put a smile on their face and make a delighted client. I am not micromanaged, so meetings are far in-between. My job also involves a lot of decision making that starts and ends with me, so there is no long process of approvals which makes the job much easier for me.

My advice for anyone who wants to become a Client Solutions Specialist, or even take on any client-engaging role, is to have a lot of patience and understand that people are very different. You have to treat clients differently depending on who you’re helping out; for instance, I’ve noticed older clients love that extra respect and love to be referred to as β€˜Sir or Ma’am’, while younger clients prefer to be referred to by their first names as it puts them more at ease. Another advice would be to always put yourself in the clients’ shoes; this will enable you to pacify them when they’re frustrated, sad, angry or experiencing any other negative emotion. Also, empathy goes a long way, as we are all humans at the end of the day, and a kind person would usually connect easier with a client. Relationship management is everything. Clients feel more relaxed with someone who has built a considerable rapport with them.


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ameenasmusings

Relocation Stories – My Journey To Naturalisation.

31 March 2020 at 07:00
By: Amina

About a month ago, I was standing on the platform at London King’s Cross station, and a quote from an advert caught my attention.

β€œIf you were born in one place, grew up in another, but now live somewhere completely different, WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

Tricky one. Perhaps, a better question is not where you are from, but where do you feel at home?”

The question β€˜Where are you from’ is one I often get asked. As someone who relates to the quote above, I never really know which answer to give – Lagos? London? Darlington?

With more and more people migrating from their home country in search of better opportunities, I decided to start a new series on the blog called β€˜My Relocation Story’. What better way to launch than to talk about my journey.

I never thought on that cold day in September 2010 when I got my passport stamped at Heathrow airport that I’d still be living in the UK almost ten years later. There I was – suitcase in one hand, daddy’s hand in the other (yes I am a daddy’s girl) – vowing to myself that I’d be on the first flight back to Nigeria as soon as I completed my Master’s degree.

At the time, I had a love-hate relationship with the UK – the houses are much smaller than I was used to, and the weather was cold nine out of twelve months in a year. That was all the excuse I needed.

Moving here was the first time I’d really been away from home; it was freedom. The freedom I needed. I’ve had the opportunity to grow, make mistakes and learn from them. I’ve made friends, gotten married, had a child and created the most amazing memories in my adult life. Almost ten years, four visa categories and an approved naturalisation application later, the UK is now my home. ❀

Life as a student
Cost of student visa in 2010: Β£220
Schooling in London was both fun and exciting. It allowed me to explore while finding my weaknesses and strengths. In hindsight, I think my dad wanted me to understand what life was like in the β€˜real world’, away from the comfort I was used to. Despite paying my school and accommodation fees, and giving me pocket money for the duration of my degree, he encouraged me to find work. A student visa allowed me to work twenty hours a week.

By the time I’d graduated from University, I realised there was a chance for me to build a life here. Be independent. This pushed me to apply for a Post Study Work visa (PSW). The PSW visa got cancelled the year after I applied but has recently been re-introduced. This visa allows recent graduates to remain in the UK for two years, with the hope that they would find work.

Life after university
Cost of Post-Study Work visa in 2011: Β£459
After my graduation, I told my dad to stop sending me pocket money *cue independent woman*. I got a Christmas temp job at ASDA to cover the costs of my visa application. With my new visa status, I delved into the job market and got a job six months after graduation (fun fact – I still work in the same company). I got married before the expiry of my PSW visa and was able to apply as a dependant on my partners Tier 2 visa. We also had both gotten jobs in Darlington and had to move. This marked the start of a new chapter in both our lives.

Moving from London to Darlington was a shock to me. It was a much smaller town and not very diverse, so I couldn’t imagine living here long term. I was depressed for the first few months because I was dealing with so many changes at the same time; adjusting to life as a newlywed, coping with the challenges of a new job, and moving to a new town where we knew no one was very overwhelming.

Adulting
Cost of three years Tier 2 dependent visa in 2013: Β£494
Cost of five years Tier 2 dependent visa in 2016: Β£1,302
Health surcharge fee: Β£1,000
Being on a dependent visa meant I had no work restrictions. I was still working full-time and had no plans to change companies. The first Tier 2 visa I applied for was valid for three years. By the time I was due for a visa renewal, the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) had been introduced. It’s a healthcare charge that non-EEA migrants need to pay to use the National Health Service (NHS). It ruffled a lot of feathers as the NHS is supposed to be free for people classed as UK residents, and I’d been paying my taxes. Why did I then have to pay twice to use the NHS?

The IHS cost Β£200 per year (which was increased to Β£400 per year recently). It had to be paid at the time of your application, and I was applying for a five-year visa – do the math! πŸ™ƒ

Indefinite Leave To Remain (ILR)
Cost of ILR application in 2019: Β£2,389
Priority service fee: Β£800
Cost of Life in the UK Test: Β£50
In my fourth year of being on the Tier 2 visas, I began considering changing my visa status to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). To qualify for ILR, you need to have been in the UK for five years on specific visa categories, and must not have been absent for a certain length of time within the five years. With an ILR, I would be able to live and work in the country lawfully with no time limitations.

Applying for an ILR was very straightforward. I had to take a Life in The UK Test to ensure I had a good knowledge of British customs. It took me a month to study for the test. I read the Life in the United Kingdom – A Guide For New Residents book and took a lot of practice tests. I also had to prove I had a good knowledge of the English language; it didn’t matter that I came from an English speaking country. Thankfully I have a UK degree, so that sufficed. I opted to pay for the priority service, which meant I got a decision in 24 hours instead of potentially six months. Some other documents I included with my application were utility bills, P60 and my marriage certificate. With an ILR, the documents required vary depending on your circumstances.

With the uncertainty of Brexit looming, it didn’t seem wise to be on ILR status indefinitely. Immigration rules change regularly, so I made up my mind to apply for naturalisation as soon as I was eligible.

Becoming British
Cost of Naturalisation application in 2020: Β£1,349
Cost of appointment for Biometrics: Β£110
Cost of passport application: Β£80.50
Precisely 12 months after being on an ILR, I submitted my application for British citizenship by naturalisation. It was also a straight forward process as the documents I needed were almost identical to what I’d used for my ILR application. I had to provide evidence that I had been living in the UK continuously for five years and intended to continue living here. I also needed two referees who had known me for at least three years to attest to my good character.

After submitting my application, I had to visit one of the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVAS) centres to provide my biometric information and submit supporting documentation. Unfortunately, I could not get any appointments at the UKVAS centre closest to me in Newcastle for weeks. Thankfully, I found an appointment in Manchester (three hours away) – I had to pay Β£110 for this appointment, and the only slots available were 9am or 5pm slots.

According to the Home Office, the processing time for naturalisation applications can take up to six months. However, I got a decision for my application within a month, and I remember screaming with joy as I read the contents of the brown envelope πŸ™‚ An invitation to attend a Citizenship ceremony was sent alongside my decision letter. New citizens have to make an oath of allegiance to the Queen and promise to respect the rights, freedoms and laws of the UK. I had the option to bring up to six guests to the ceremony, which I declined.

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Sample Citizenship Letter With Personal Information Redacted

The ceremony at my local council was elaborate, which surprised me. The Mayor of Darlington, Councillor Nick Wallis, gave us a history of the town and personally handed us our Certificate of Naturalisation, signifying we were now British citizens. Food and drinks were provided, and it was a very welcoming and warm atmosphere.

Perks of being British
An English friend of mine was surprised I had to pay for naturalisation, and she asked:

β€œWhat are the perks of being British that you don’t get as a Nigerian?”

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Nigerian & British Passports.

The best perk for me is visa-free travel. I love travelling, and in the last ten years, I’ve had to pay for multiple Schengen visas. None of the Schengen visa application centres are located close to Darlington. I’ve had to go to London, Manchester or Edinburgh – so factor in travel time and cost of train tickets in addition to the cost of visa fees. It’s great to not have to worry about this anymore.

Where do I feel at home
In all honesty, Darlington is my home – maybe it’s the fact that I started a family there, or that I now have some fantastic friends, or perhaps it’s because I’ve grown to love the small-town life.

Regardless of visa *wahala,Β I’ve loved and still love every moment of living in the UK. Will I ever move back to my home country? This is not something I have ever considered, but like the famous saying goes, β€œNever say never” πŸ™‚


– Fees listed above are cost per person.
– All posts on Naomi’s parlour are edited by Ife Agboola.

*Wahala is an African word commonly used in Nigeria to express a state of worry, distress, problem or trouble.

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How to write a good resume.

24 March 2020 at 09:00
By: Amina

Have you ever walked into a supermarket and chosen a product over another just because it had a more appealing package? As humans, we are continually making implicit judgements of objects, goods, services, and even fellow human beings based on how they are presented. In the same vein, your resume is the package that shows your value and informs the interest, or not, of recruiters/organisations/institutions in you.

Unfortunately, most times your resume is in the hands of people who cannot clarify many details from you, therefore making it susceptible to instant, irreversible judgements about your abilities and competence. You might be hardworking, fantastic team-player and even the best in your field and a look at your resume shows a clumsy, underachiever with no specific value-add.

In this article, I will highlight three simple tips to craft and own a banging resume.

1) Define your value.
Have you ever excitedly opened the refrigerator at your friend’s or parents’ only to find out that the ice cream bowl actually contained melon seeds? Very few things in life are more painful than that. You feel so deceived, and sometimes, if you had the power, you could toss the bowl and its pseudo content out of the fridge.

Against popular thinking, the most important part of a resume isn’t the format or the colours that overlay it. The most important part of a resume is the content. In my years as a recruiter, nothing upset me more than a well-designed resume that had no content. Consider the following questions when building content:

β€’ What value am I offering? What do I want to sell and how does this fit with the needs of the organisation/institution?

β€’ What about my work experience – do they me stand out? How relevant are they to the role in question? Remember, you don’t have to give details on your full work history; instead, focus on the ones that reflect the skills needed for the job.

β€’ What achievements/accomplishments have I made (work and academic)? A lot of times, people think they have not had any achievements in their jobs because they have not received an award or special recognition. However, I always let clients know that getting the job done, and reaching the objectives set out is an achievement – own it!

β€’ Yes, you may have little or no work experience, but what life experiences – e.g. as a volunteer or student – do you want to show on your resume? There are so many skills and achievements you can gain outside of a non-paying role or a conventional 9-5 work schedule. Think deeply about this and articulate what these skills and accomplishments are.

You cannot sell when there is no product. So, I will encourage you to continuously evaluate your experiences and education to ensure that you are constantly building an irresistible product. Take on that extra assignment at work, enrol in that exam and build your collateral.

2) Your resume is not a job advert.
It should have your job achievements and not a mere list of job descriptions. This is best explained with an example.

β€’ Job description: Lead marketing and sales initiatives for the organisation.
Achievement: Championed the development and implementation of bespoke marketing initiatives that led to a 35% increase in product sales over 6 months.

β€’ Job description: Conduct training sessions
Achievement: Designed and facilitated Customer Service training for 75 Senior Managers, achieving a 95% satisfaction rate from the participants.

β€’ Job description: Assist the CEO plan calendar and schedule meetings
Achievements: Managed scheduling of the CEO’s personal and professional diary based on priority and immediate need.

Note the following when outlining your achievements:
β€’ Represent your work achievements in the past tense – it is not an achievement if it has not happened.

β€’ Always start your achievements with action words (managed, led, coordinated, etc.). This positions you as a doer.

β€’ As much as possible, quantify your achievements – recruiters are drawn to quantifiable accomplishments. It is one thing to say β€œGenerated tremendous sales for the organisation”, but this will likely carry more weight when you say β€œIncreased client base by 20% thereby leading to a Β£500k increase in sales”.

3) One size does not fit all!
If you have been using the same resume to apply to all the job openings out there, you need to stop it now. Tailoring your resume is the most effective way of ensuring recruiters and automated systems shortlist you for the role. I know it is easy to have one resume and throw it all around, but when it comes to successful job search, the key is quality over quantity.

To tailor your resume, you would need to look at the specific job adverts and ensure your resume reflects the experiences and skills that are required for the job. Also, make sure the keywords used in the job advert are well reflected in your resume.

I hope these three tips are useful, and you are able to work on your resume to increase your chances of nailing that opportunity you so desire.


Anu Adejoro has over 6 years experience delivering people and change solutions for clients across Africa, Europe and the Middle-East. She started her career as a People and Change consultant with PwC where she was involved in diverse projects including middle level and executive-level recruitment. She now works as a Senior People and Change Consultant with Arup UK. Outside of the 9-5 Anu offers CV and Career Advisory services with clear testimonials of success to show for this. Beyond consulting, Anu is passionate about Nigeria politics and music.


*All posts on Naomi’s Parlour are edited by Ife Agboola.

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