Yoruba girl meditating

“How do you do, which one of you is my father?” A young Yoruba girl sent off by her rich Nigerian family to a posh English boarding school at six meets her father and uncle five years later and can’t recognise them anymore. She has succeeded in becoming properly English. Her black skin, however, will forever reveal her background and ensure that the British will continue to regard her as coming from the “darkest Africa”.

Simi Bedford’s novel Yoruba girl dancing was an immediate success when it was published in 1992. “She captures you early and doesn’t let go,” says one reviewer. There is little doubt that the novel partly reflects the author’s own life. Like her main protagonist, she spent her early childhood in Nigeria, but was sent to boarding school in England at six. She later went back to Africa searching for her roots, only to discover that she was no longer a Yoruba girl dancing. Simi returned to England, became Mrs. Bedford, and raised three children. In 1998, she learnt Acem Meditation in London, on the recommendation of a friend. It was a remarkable experience.

– The technique was fantastic, and it has helped me a lot. I’ve been doing it on a regular basis, twice a day, ever since. I particularly like the fact that it’s so simple.

Simi Bedford trained as a lawyer. But her career has also included working as a radio presenter on the BBC World Service, a television reporter on London Weekend Television, a location manager in the film business, a model, and a book publisher. Eventually she decided to write her own books, instead of publishing those of others. Her second novel, on slavery, is due to appear this autumn.

How does Acem Meditation influence your creative work?

– It opens me up to ideas and things I didn’t know were there. I often have problems in writing. Things that seemed difficult while sitting before the computer often seem easier after meditating. Meditation helps me find solutions. I have realised that you can hear best when it’s quiet.

Like many others, she uses meditation to calm down and, as she says, “centre myself.”

– Before, I had a tendency to view things as either black or white. Now, small things don’t upset me the way they used to. I feel more grounded. Meditation helps putting things into perspective.

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