We’re pleased to bring you a special chapbook today, 14-February-2018. XXVIII is a reflective memoir in words and photographs from Praxis founder and publisher Tee Jay Dan.
Here, in his own words, is his introduction to the chapbook. Please join the Praxis editorial team in wishing him an amazing birthday!
28 feels like a deeply deliberate age. The last time I felt this way about attaining a new age was in 2009 when I clocked 19. 2009 was an eventful year: my first book was published, was even the subject of a letter of recommendation from the education resource centre to drive sales. I abandoned my family’s dream of a lawyer and went in pursuit of my own: filmmaking. I started and failed at my first business. And I lost my mother. 2009 was a measured year and it started with a feeling, too.
The number 28 marks a historic turning point in a person’s developmental life, according to the Mevlevi dervishes. 27 flipped me over and when I resisted the bending, broke me and shredded my heart. It was a painful journey one akin to the process out of which emerges a butterfly. I am out of the chrysalis now and enjoying some new lights. Looking back, I think 27 was a long overdue reset, the painful first step from caterpillar to flight. Perhaps I should take the Jewish tradition of Birkat Hachama more seriously.
XXVIII is divided into five themes that summarize the experiences that have had the most influences on my life:
Childhood – of the friends I grew up with and early lessons learned; Culture – the local entrepreneurs I encountered early on, the native food I love so much and a sense of community now almost wholly lost; Spirituality – my journey to God, my rebellion against religion and the eventual acceptance of all religions as true but different paths to God; Love – sacrifices Mother and other wonderful people made for me to be where I am today, the people I have loved and lost, how I hated Father through adolescence and the early stage of adulthood only to fall in love with him shortly before he left us, and; Therapy – of the many hurts, lost love, failed efforts and the search for closure and redemption.
I have been on the streets and in the boardroom, learning the politics of corporate Nigeria. I have attempted several businesses, failed woefully at one while growing along with the other two. I have had several brushes with death such that I no longer fear the dreaded monster. At 28 I feel blessed, not lucky, to have the good things in my life. I do not feel lucky because I have always known that I deserve all that I now have (even more) and I only need to work towards getting them. If anything I feel that I have not taken advantage of the many blessings and talents that God has bestowed upon me.
27 left me in financial and ‘work’ debt occasioned mostly by poor yet bold business judgements on the one hand and failing health on the other. It makes perfect sense to be where I am, with all the situations around me. Maybe this is so because 28 is an unusual number after all: the fourth magic number in physics, as well as the ninth and last number in early Indian magic square.
I am no mystic. I am just happy to be 28!!!
– Tee Jay Dan