Published on April 13th, 2013 | by thevyne


Woman to Watch: Ololade Siyonbola

Ololade_SiyonbolaTwitter handle: @imandelarose

Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria

Current City: Brooklyn, NY

Education: Computer Science degree, Professional certifications; eternal student of Africana Studies and Herbalism.

Occupation: Poet, President of Yoruba Cultural Institute; co-founder of Exodus to Afrika

Roles you play in life: Mother, sister, friend, daughter, poet, artist, counselor, web developer/techie, journalist, photographer

What led you to become a poet? A deep love of words and expression. Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (I used to perform hers and Langston Hughes poetry in drama performances as a youth); Lauryn Hill’s MisEducation of Lauryn Hill (made me hungry for knowledge about Black Studies). I’ll never forget how Lauryn’s words about Ethiopia, the Serengeti struck me, made me want to know Africa like the back of my hand and then write about it with that level of diction and class; coming from a Yoruba background, Yoruba language is very poetic, full of metaphors. Spoken word artists in NY also got me really excited about performing.

What inspires you the most in writing your poetry? Inspiring others to love themselves. Empowering others. Documenting history, being artistic, being freed by creative expression.

Tell us about your upbringing. What led you to the States? Nigeria was in a military dictatorship. Even though my mother was doing well for a single mother in a developing country, she wanted to further her education and give us a chance at life in a country that wasn’t plagued by overwhelming crime, violence, disease. My mother came to get her graduate degree, and just could not stomach the idea of taking us back without getting us the advanced Western education so many around the world believe is a one-way ticket out of poverty. I was raised by hard-working immigrants to whom education was everything. Discipline, obedience, order were everything. But my siblings and I still had a lot of fun. I come from a very loving community of Africans in the Midwest.

3 words that describe you: Powerful. Spiritual. Loving.

Finish this statement, “To feel more centered I…”: pray and talk to God constantly.

Favorite travel destination: Nigeria

Shuffle Your iPod/iPhone/iTunes. What’s the first song that comes up?: Everywhere by Fredericks Brown.

One item you cannot live without: The Bible.

Favorite beauty product: Raw apple juice. Juicing has an unbelievably radical effect on the skin. Raw apple juice gives my skin a powerful glow.

Who have been some of your style inspirations?: I’ve always loved to make my own clothes and use my hair as a canvas. But the first silhouettes that come to mind are Lauryn Hill, Jackie O, Wunmi (musician and designer).

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Believe that you are a god. Know that you can do what God can do, if you truly believe. Become one with God and you can make anything happen.

Forgive. What others do to you is their karma, how you respond is yours. Forgive those who hurt you so that you can be free. Don’t hold grudges. Pray for them and let them be. I live by this daily as much as I can.


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