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Rolling Together: Blessing's Journey to Creating a Skateboarding Sisterhood in Lagos
NCO 080
2023-07-08
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0xB6734B4E01D1cD9A626efD6c86F031cBbF9B4936

N: Hey Blessing, you have the prettiest name! Tell me a bit about your life growing up. What did you dream of becoming, and how would your school friends have described you back then? Do you think they got it right?

B: Thank you for saying I have the prettiest name! As far as my life growing up, I remember that I wanted to become a psychologist. And when I was in high school, I used to do lots of sports. So I was like the sports girl.

I used to do marathons, long jump—sometimes I would even go for competitions with other schools. And at some point, I became the school games prefect at my school. So yeah. How would my friends describe me? I don't really know… I didn't have a lot of friends at that time because I was really a quiet child and I didn't really say much.

N: I really wanna hear more about Dencity, the girl's skateboarding community you founded in Lagos. But before we dive into that, can you tell us about your first encounter with skateboarding? What pulled you towards it? Were you just looking for a fun pastime?

B: Yeah, so it all started when I moved to a new city, which is Lagos. I moved here for a job which then turned out to be a scam. So I just—I was just like, “Ok, I will just stay in Lagos and find my way and do something”… It ended up taking a while to find my way here, so I had a lot of free time.

I started watching this show called Skate Kitchen and I saw girl skaters for the first time. I thought it would be fun to try it out.

So I started looking for communities like that and didn’t find any. I found some guys, and I just started skating with them. I became friends with two girls who were also skating, but we lost contact during Covid when we all went into lockdown. When things got back to normal and I went back to skating with the guys, but I kept thinking, why can’t I start a community like Skate Kitchen? Because I'm sure that there are so many girls out there who really want to skate but don't know how to go about it.

I kept getting messages on Instagram as well from other girls who wanted to skate but didn’t have a place where to start. That’s how Dencity got started.

N: From what I've gathered, skateboarding can be a bit misunderstood in Africa, with skaters often labelled as troublemakers. And it's definitely not seen as a typical activity for girls. Could you share more about this and why you felt it was important to inspire girls to take up skating?

B: Skateboarding is really misunderstood in Nigeria. Like you can just be randomly cruising on your board and someone will just see you and be like, "Why are you doing this? This thing is for guys. Go and find something else to do with your life."

Like a woman literally stopped me one day and started giving me advice about how I should go to school and get married and have children for my husband. So yeah, it's very, very misunderstood here. And it’s kinda hypocritical because even when you try to do something else and go for your dreams, you don’t really get support either. But when you have or create a community behind you, you know that at least you’re not alone. Through Dencity, people have been able to make friends and create a community for themselves, and that’s really beautiful.

N: With Nigeria's strong focus on upward mobility through traditionally prestigious professions, like doctors or lawyers, I'm curious about the impact on the creative scene in Lagos. On one hand, there's a vibrant artistic community, but on the other hand, it must be challenging to follow your passion in a society that might not readily accept a girl on a skateboard with purple hair! Can you tell us more about this?

B: I think the creative scene in Lagos is actually doing so well, and it's getting bigger every day. I see young people being so much more comfortable to do what they want to do regardless of what society is telling them. Parents here can be a bit controlling of our dreams. Even in my case, I had to leave my parents' house in order to really step into my own. I really believe people now are starting to do whatever they want to do, and it's really amazing to see. There is just so much potential around here.

N: Let's lighten things up and talk fashion! Who are some of your style icons, favorite brands, and fashion inspirations?

B: To be honest, I don’t really know… There are definitely some brands I like. I love Heaven by Marc Jacobs, and I really like Adidas. I am also really into skate brands. For my personal style, I’m mostly inspired by sports. I have lots of football jerseys; I love jerseys. Sports really drive the way I see style. I don't even know how to explain it, but I am more into the idea of being comfortable than anything else.

N: At Newlife, we're all about redefining success and what it means to thrive as a human. In your journey so far, what insights have you discovered about finding happiness and success? Any nuggets of wisdom you'd like to share?

B: I think it comes down to doing what you want to do regardless of what other people say. I read somewhere that if you put 60 minutes every day into doing something that you love, like learning a new skill, you are going to become good at it, no matter what.

If you work hard into achieving what you want, you will see results.

All images courtesy of Blessing
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