Rakaya Esime Fetuga

Q1) Tell us a little about yourself!

My name is Rakaya and I'm a writer. I'm a second generation Londoner with family roots in Ghana and Nigeria. I'm a Muslim, sister to three bothers, amateur seamstress and perpetual student. 

Q2) Tell us about what you do, and why you do it

I write about overlapping-identities, about women, about food, faith and spirituality. A lot of the time, it comes out as poetry and sometimes as theatre and fiction. I do it mostly to entertain myself - I've been blessed to always have the options and support to follow my interests. But I also write to make people smile, to show all the beautiful and ugly things I see, to reach a hand out into the world that someone, somewhere might hold onto and say "we are the same". So we might both feel less alone. Sometimes I curate events and sometimes I programme courses. Often, I lead writing workshops for children, adults, anyone who's interested, or anyone who is forced in the room by their English teachers. Seeing a piece of writing grow from someone who didn't expect it from themselves is one of my favourite things. 

Q3) What makes you feel courageous?

It's not something I think about in my day-to-day. Courage is something I admire in the people around me and around the world who dedicate their lives to serving others or fighting injustice. On a smaller scale, I guess I'm told I'm courageous when I stand on stages and perform, but I feel it more when I stand in rooms full of teenagers, trying to get them excited about poetry.  

Q4) What is one thing you wish you could tell your 16-year-old self?

People will come and go in your life and it's okay to let them. Allah is giving you space to breathe and to change.

Q5) What is one piece of advice you can give a fellow lady who might be lacking courage?

Last year, an old colleague/ mentor told me about a game she plays will herself where she makes a note of every time she fails at something and tries to reach 100 by the end of the year. If she fails 100 times, she wins. I like to call it the Flop One Hundred. Every time we fail, it can show we've been courageous, that we have been working hard, that there's no shame in imperfection, only lessons, stories and another step closer to winning the game.

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