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The story of my identity crisis, by Toyosi Etim-Effiong

Multifarious communication strategist and talk show host, Toyosi Etim-Effiong, is also the past Publishing Editor (COO) of the CNN-powered digital publishing platform, Foliong and its affiliate creative agency, Times Multimedia Marketing. She spoke to SATURDAY TELEGRAPH, on issues bothering on identity crisis many Nigerians suffer and how to conquer it.

How exactly did you come to public reckoning?

I started writing this book during the COVID- 19 lockdown. For me, the lockdown was the period when I revisited old copies. It was when I realised I had so much time on my hands- there was no rushing anywhere, everything literally stood still. And I started going back to things I like doing. One of them is writing. I was a contributor for BellaNaija, I’d written for Genevieve Magazine, I had blog that would later metamorphosed into a website.

So, writing has been a hobby for me. I wrote about things that happened to me. The first one that touched a lot of people was the one titled, ‘Lekki Chronicles’ where I wrote about how I found myself in a semi-brothel for accommodation.

I didn’t realize my neighbor were brothel people. One day I just heard two of them shouting at each other; “You thief my white man.” That was when I had to call the agent- that was in Lekki Phase One and asked him what the hell was happening. He knew about it anyway and I wrote the experience on the social media and people were asking me to tell them more.

Is that the only writing you’ve done that drew attention to you?

The second one is the one I titled ‘’Now You Know Me Better” which is about me growing up in a dual situation where during the week I’d go to school in Victoria Island and I was living in Bode Thomas, Surulere, Lagos. I had rich friends whose parents were bank MDs, ambassadors and all of that. But I spent the weekends with my maternal grandma’s place in Amukoko near Ajegunle, Lagos. So, during the week, I was with people talking about Ikoyi Club and going to London for holidays and by the weekend I was with people hailing Baba Fryo or guys miming Daddy Showkey’s new song.

So, I didn’t fit perfectly into the Amukoko neighbourhood because they knew I had rich friends and I didn’t also perfectly fit into the Victoria Island class because I came to school with hairstyles then called ‘’Sade Adu, Koroba, Patewo” and all those folk hairstyles that my grandma put on me when my classmates were coming to school with weavings, frontals and assortment of styles for the higher class.

I was so embarrassed about that Amukoko side of my life, I hated to talk about it or share. I don’t even think my friends knew until I wrote the book titled ‘’Now You Know Me Better.”

What informed this expose of your near-double identity and how everything about you evolved?

I was having a conversation with someone who said, ‘’Girl, do you know that you’re well-rounded?” And I started to think that truly, I can have conversations with the elite and I can flow well with the masses. So, that part of me that I was ashamed of is actually part of what has formed me.

That was when I started embrace my story and this rich cultural background that I have. It was through my grandma that I even had to learn Yoruba language because she didn’t speak English.

We are in a society now where everyone is trying to ‘’form’’ and act like they don’t really have a back story and that causes a lot of identity crisis. People have not fully aligned with who they are because they are trying hard to claim to be what they are not and I hope to address this crisis with my book.

No shame, embrace your story. It’s your identity and part of what has formed you. Ignore people who want you to be in certain ways. I wrote about other incidences. I’m married to an actor, Daniel Etim Effiong whose popularity in the last seven months has soared.

Did any of the chapters address your regular life?

Yes. Let me break it down for you. There’s actually a chapter titled, ‘’So You Want To Marry a Celebrity?” It’s been very interesting because when we got married, my husband hasn’t become quite popular. We married three years ago and we have a daughter now.

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