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Friday Track: Where is the ‘Black’ Brand?



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As the newly sworn-in President of the United States, Barack Obama and his charismatic wife, Michelle took their first few steps away from their bullet proof motorcade and slowly walked towards the White House on that cold Tuesday morning of January the 20th, 2009 – no one could believe what was happening.

Yes, we all knew he had won two months earlier, but many still didn’t know what to think. It almost felt like it could still be taken from us – a fact confirmed by the deafening cheer of the thousands stood crammed behind metal barricades along Pennsylvania Avenue in DC.

For many black men including yours truly – the Barack effect had started. Finally, we could walk into a job interview with the confidence that we will no longer be ignored – that we can aspire to other professions beyond the stereotypical. For once, aspiring to become an athlete or actor or rapper was no longer good enough.

Never had the ‘Black Brand’ had it so good. It was a fresh start – Barack had done his bit – it was time that we all stepped up and in particular, the many black men and women in the spotlight, in particular, those in the music and film industries.

In 2009, Blacks in the spotlight just couldn’t behave. They wasted money, took nude pictures of themselves, ‘accidently’ forgot to file for taxes, gave money to celebrity ‘beliefs’, practiced domestic violence and produce family porn.

Kanye West set it off in the February issue of Vibe Magazine, where he revealed ambitions of posing naked, claiming “if I work out for two months, then I’ll pose naked…I break every rule and mentality of hip-hop, of black culture, of American culture.” On the same tip, Jamie Foxx thought it was a clever idea to take a picture of himself naked through the mirror of a hotel room. Surprise! Surprise!! The ‘snaps’ ended up all over the blogosphere.

Ray J (as if the world didn’t have enough problems) managed to convince some dim TV execs to produce his very own reality TV show profoundly titled ‘For the love of Ray J’. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, he later released a single (wait for it!) using the names of the female contestants as verses. If by some crazy chance you downloaded or iTuned or bought that single – you need Dr Phil.

T.I. finally faced the music after his Tony Montana-brain touch where he was caught with machine guns in his possession. MTV, on the other hand, thought it were doing its audiences an educative favour by following TI as he enjoyed his last few days of freedom. 50 Cent threw cheap blows in a desperate attempt to hold the world’s attention, in January he dissed Oprah and called Kanye all sorts. Puffy’s Making the Band puppet formula suffered an inevitable blow despite his invention of the word ‘Bitchassness’, Danity Kane became damaged just like their song and split up.

Singer Chris Brown had an alleged altercation with Rihanna. The TMZ photoshop-ed image of her battered face got everyone pissed at Chris even Jay Z wanted the Death of Breezy (D.O.B).

The L.A. County District Attorney later charged Brown with felony assault with a possibility of spending up to 4 years and 8 months in jail. Less than a month after Breezy and RiRi made domestic violence the way to show affection, gospel singer BeBe Winans is booked on a domestic assault rap for allegedly pushing his ex-wife to the ground during an argument. Just as you thought this circus couldn’t go any further, MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice felt it was HAMMERTIME all over again. Harem trousers surfaced around the hips of fashionistas from Tokyo to San Fran. The pair performed together at a Utah concert on 27 February 09.

In home wreckage news, Alicia Keys is exposed by lover and Mashanda’s husband, Swizz Beats. Again, we prove that we are a race that honors matrimonial commitments. Usher and his 40-something wife filed for divorce. In child support news, Kelis literally had our jaws on the floor when we read the contents of her divorce papers. The court eventually ruled that Nas paid his ex wife, $55,000 in combined spousal & child support a month. If there were ever a cue for girls to ditch the idea of a 9-to-5 and bag ‘em a rapper. This was it!

Lil Wayne reminded us why he’s such an ambassador; Lauren London confirms she’s having his baby. Shall we add that he’s also expecting two other children from two separate women?

In drug news, the ‘Skoda that calls himself a Benz’ Fabolous got caught with 500 pounds of herb on his tour bus in Arkansas. DMX couldn’t rise above the rocks; he spent more time in solitary confinement.

Then the world got mad at Rupert Murdoch for a cartoon published in The New York Post. But honestly, looking at how badly behaved we’d been in less than 100 days since Barack took office. Don’t we make ourselves easy targets?

In March, the set was set. This is it. Michael Jackson live at the 02 Arena. 37 Nights. In his own words “When I say this is it, this really means this is it.” Tickets sold out in 07 seconds. It was going to be the making of men and women of all backgrounds, beliefs and aspirations. We were excited.

Then the Candy Rain boys, Soul for Real are popped for identity theft – indicted on 145 counts of aggravated identity fraud. Rihanna made it clear in the May issue of Vibe that she is the sole winner of the Chrihanna battle. She milked the black eye reference so much that her Rated R album cover sees her covering her right eye. She also spent the summer wearing an eye patch in NY’s Meat-packing district. Thankfully, that trend didn’t catch on!

Then Queen Latifah’s stylist threatened to dog her out, daring to spill the beans on her sexuality. Like the world cares! But the world did cared and stood still when Michael Jackson left us in July. What followed was possibly the greatest outpour of regret the universe has ever seen. It rained in Lagos that morning. But his music brought us sunshine.

Every rapper used the word ‘Obama’ in their 16 bars, while others rapped “My President is black, my lambo’s blue…” although very few actually seem inspired by his achievements. DMX for the second time in the year finds himself back in the slammer.

Foxy Brown tried to do a Wesley Snipes’ – she got slapped a lawsuit from the IRS for failing to pay $641, 558 in back taxes whilst still serving a 8-month sentence for assault at Rikers Prison.

Which lead to the question, why were most female rappers in jail in ’09? Foxy,Remy Martin, etc. These complacent botox-feens best go study 80s rap verses by Queen Latifah and MC Lyte.

Then to really push all morality buttons, the month of July saw Keyon and Teyon – hardcore gay porn twin actors get sent to jail for burglary. Morgan Freeman revealed his intentions of marrying his 27 year old step-granddaughter.

Then a man from Northwoods, USA went on a HIV infecting spree with unsuspecting women. Orlando Hadley infected so many women that the St. Louis County Bureau of Crimes Against Persons released a statement that read and I quote ‘If anyone has had sexual contact with Orlando Hadley since February 2009, they are asked to contact the St. Louis County Bureau of Crimes Against Persons or call the main number at 889-2341.’

In bad behavior news, Kanye West got called a “jackass” by his fellow black man and coincidently, the most powerful man in the world after his verbal Hennessey-induced diarrhoea at this year’s MTV VMA. If the KKK ever needed a reason to hate us – then stealing the limelight from a country star – and I repeat, a country star is the way to do it. Thanks Kanye for your contributions this year. Besides your Amber Rose publicity sightings, your heart shaped suit brooch and blah…. – what did you do this year?

Puffy spent $3million on a lavish 40th birthday which included a $30k orchid arrangement on each table. He also managed to remind us why he’s a role model to the kids by hurling a $20k ring into the young audience of BET’s 106&Park during a performance then held them all hostages when someone pocketed the ring. Serena Williams was fined $82,500 by the WTA for her shameful outburst at a tennis official at this year’s US Open.

And just to prove that fame is indeed killing members of our community, in corporate news, less than a month after becoming an executive at Xerox, CEO Ursula Burns tripled Xerox’s service revenue to an estimated $10 billion next year from 2008’s $3.5 billion.

Will and Jada Smith’s two kids, 11-year-old Jaden, and 8-year-old daughter Willow were named youth ambassadors of Hasbro’s Project Zambi. However, we’re still not sure whether to applaud or stone their parents for giving the Church of Scientology $150,000 according to their 2008 tax filings.

Jennifer Hudson flew the Black Brand flag at full mask with her stunning performance at the Superbowl and the Grammys, her first appearances since the tragic loss of her family members. Andre 3000 also did the black brand proud with the launch of his Benjamin Bixby clothing line – GQ named him Best Designer.

The Oscars continued to drink up some black juice, this year’s nominees included Taraji P. Henson and Voila Davis, neither won but we sure looked at home on the front row with Jack. President Barack Hussein in mid-February signed a $787 Billion stimulus plan with hope it will somehow get us all out of the hole. The College Dropout was dubbed the Top album of the decade by Entertainment Weekly.

The black brand is only going to get stronger, so strong that even the billion dollar athlete won’t be able to shake our base with his 14-and-counting straight-haired swirls. But we shouldn’t really include Tiger Woods in a black debate…after all, he isn’t one of us, or is he NOW?

The Black Brand can only be solidified by you and me, not Hollywood stars. Like I told someone on that infamous Tuesday morning, Barack’s job is done. Even if he has the worst possible term and gets kicked out in 2013, he has given us all hope. Hope that, I too can dream a dream and perhaps, just perhaps irrespective of how farfetched it may seem – I can achieve it.

A CNN correspondent said after the November State Dinner – “there were more African Americans on the guest list than ever, I think Michelle and the president were making a statement”…err, what did you think you cynical cow? The couple are single handedly painting a new face for our race – and we too can do the same by being more responsible about where we seek inspiration and what our drivers are?

We also need to communicate these values with the impressionable younger ones. Let them understand that we can inspire each other; we don’t have to seek solace in the Real Housewives of Atlanta.

A few years ago, I got into a heated debate with a Unilag professor who seemed concerned about the influences of DSTV on the Nigerian youth; well I guess the LightUpNigeria initiative has answered all of those concerns.

This week’s Friday Track is the stylish and very British, The Gadsdens with their new single, The Sailor Song.



  1. ladi

    December 18, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    nice article but how many nigerians can actually relate? Great for an american audience thouh. Submit this to Ebony magazine.

    Nnamdi Azikiwe, Tafawa Balewa, Obafemi Awolowo, and the like accoplished what Obama did decades ago. How did his who affect young lagos guys going to job interviews when all of up are black and independent from colonialism. Even South Africans that had aparthied cared less. Mandela was enough.

    Talk about local issues with OUR LOCAL black African Nigerian people: young women and aristos, young guys and yahoo and interswitch scams, robbers, AIDS, go on.

    Even me who lives in america is almost indifferent to akata celeb drama and hardly care about lil wayne and his baby mamas. Tu face anyone?

  2. ladi

    December 18, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    wonder why we have to look far across the atlantic for role models in a country we need visas, i-20, expensive plane tickets, and extreme wahala to enter. The latest form of colonial mentality.

    Like your topic asked where is the black brand? Its in Nigeria.

    Sorry, i just have opinions. Lol!

  3. PET

    December 18, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Thanx for summing it all up. For those of us who took a break from the Tabloids and TV at some point so we could face some other money spinning ventures, this helps us fill in the blanks.

    However, i am expecting a summary based on the Nigerian scene – Movies, Music and more!

  4. Toni

    December 18, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    thought provoking..benjamin bixby does suck tho’

  5. Caramel4u

    December 18, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    don’t understand what this has to do with me am Nigerian/ African…this article just goes prove how we has Africans are adopting the wrong stick of the American society. you see the reason why Oprah, i don’t totally agree with all her ideologies, tries to distance her self from this so called hip-hop way of life that so many are destroying their lives by following. why do i want to emulate an illiterate drug dealer or someone with no moral standing at all just because they are popular?

    American, Britain, Nigeria and in fact all of Africa have very successful black people flying the black flag positively in various industries from science, economics to arts. including Tiger Woods and Serena Williams who so far have been very on point are not disgracing us yes they made mistakes but who doesn’t….


    December 18, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    this is quite funny, but isn’t it more realistic that i can also research and list out all the disgraceful things all the other races did this year as well?

    The fact of the matter is that where someone out there is making a mistake, someone else is out there doing a great job. It’s for us as individuals in the society to make our own choices, also for us as parents and grown ups to educate the younger generation on making their own decisions too.

  7. Sugabelly

    December 18, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    This article isn’t relevant to Nigeria in any way shape or form. There are tons of successful Nigerians that we can look up to as a society. I don’t see why we should be looking to Black Americans for a respectable “Black Brand”. They have no impact or weight in our society so I’m not sure what we’re supposed to do with this.

    It would make more sense if this was about successful Nigerians. Besides, some of these people sef… Ray J? Kanye West? Foxy Brown? Puff Daddy? Seriously?

    Obama is not the only successful, respectable, admirable Black man out there. Nigeria is CHOCK FULL of them.

  8. Bola #1

    December 18, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    same feeling, it will have been nice to have a mix of both

  9. bebe

    December 18, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    Lovely! cracked me up…didnt know i was behind on my celeb gist. All u guys talking about how u r nigerians.. bla bla…well we know, this is a write-up and if u don’t identify with it, move to the next write-up or better still write somethn about the naija scene , I’m sure bella will be happy to post it 4 all to see.
    Stop cluttering this page with irrelevant comments.
    Nice 1 Bobo!

  10. Lake Lee

    December 19, 2009 at 2:53 am

    I enjoyed reading this piece. Did anyone else see the funny side or was is just me? Come on peeps, don’t be too tight…give the writer kudos. He/she has got a creative mind and I appreciate that. More! More!!

  11. Renaissance Man

    December 19, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Thank you very much Lake Lee.

    I’m glad you picked up the point!


  12. Renaissance Man

    December 19, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Thank you Bebe,

    I like and truly appreciate how your mind works


  13. Renaissance Man

    December 19, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Hello Sugabelly,

    Thank you for your comment.

    I’d like to refer you back to the 4th paragraph. Kindly read again and perhaps you might get the point.

    If you have read Renaissance Man in the past, you might appreciate that I don’t write obligatory articles just because I’m Nigerian or live in Nigeria.

  14. Renaissance Man

    December 19, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Thanks PET for your comments.

    We are working on the Nigerian scene article at present.

    Stay tuned!


  15. Renaissance Man

    December 19, 2009 at 1:11 pm


    I really like your interpretation of the subject matter.

    I completely dig your spin on the question, and a great answer too.

    Great mind!

  16. Renaissance Man

    December 19, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Hello Ladi,

    As a writer, I write about subjects that provokes thoughts within me.

    I’m not sure if you’ve read other friday posts but they vary from local, to societal to broader issues.

    The moment I start pre-cooking an article to fit a demographic – either geographic or otherwise, then, I would no longer be staying through to my art.

    Believe me when I tell you that few have a better grasp of our rich history than I do. And I think to underestimate what Obama becoming the President of the United states has done for Black men and women across the globe (in particular,) our continent is disappointing.

    Occupying the most powerful office in the world is no easy task. Just the accomplishment along is enough to inspire the local mechanic, the fruit seller, the bus conductor to aspire or perhaps instil these values in the next generation.

    I know this because I collaborated with a local NGO in March to conduct a nationwide survey amongst a cross-section of 15,000 Nigerians to test the impact of Barack Obama taking office.

    The results speak for itself.

  17. beezy

    December 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Renaissance man…… I’m wondering… you dont normally reply to comments on your articles here….so wat’s different this tym…wat changed?….
    PS: Ur last article still has me in stitches…

  18. WTA

    December 19, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    “serena williams shameful outburst”?… SMH at the writer

  19. BBB

    December 21, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    totally saw d funny side of it

  20. ladi

    December 21, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    You don’t have to publish everything you write on this page. Unless of course Bella becomes bella-global. People have multiple blogs/ books addressing different topics. Can’t cramp all in one. You know if Ebony read this, you will be a hit (see how all of us Nigerians are complaining).

    It just sounds like if Nigerians are obsessed with other people’s problems (especially those in the West). So Obama has the highest seat? Eh heh? People in Africa are still hungry, Nepa aint functioning etc because we are busy screaming Obama instead of pressing for change within. Did he even visit Nigeria? Tschew! And what are the details of this survey?

    P.s. I have read your articles from the get-go so I love them was just ‘one kain’ when I read this one.

  21. Licious

    December 21, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    I love your articles. This was very well written. Proper research!

  22. Sugabelly

    December 21, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Actually Renaissance Man, Obama’s presidency has no effect whatsoever on the average Nigerian. Sure it’s nice that a Black man got to be president but it doesn’t change ANY factors in the lives of Nigerians. The average Nigerian doesn’t even relate to Obama, just like we don’t really relate to the Black American celebrities that you used in your article.

    Obama becoming president hasn’t done ANYTHING for Nigerians, but we’re a group of people famous for simply parroting whatever the rest of the world is saying. When America went into recession last year, suddenly Nigerians in Nigeria were complaining about a credit crunch.

    I almost died of laughter. What credit crunch? Nigeria has NO CREDIT SYSTEM so for people in Nigeria to be moaning about an imaginary credit crunch to me is absolutely ridiculous, yet it almost became a buzz word even in discussions that did NOT directly involve bank-to-bank loans/transactions.

    We should be talking about OUR people, OUR role models, OUR disgraces, OUR issues. Obama hasn’t changed the price of gari neither has he made it easier for a Nigerian undergraduate to get a job in Nigeria so I’m not sure what “effect” he’s supposed to have.

    Obama is generally aspirational. Yes, that’s definitely true and I’ll give you that, but Obama is only particularly/especially aspirational to Black Americans. Because Obama became president does not mean that a Nigerian born in Nigeria can get up and dream of becoming the President of the United States.

  23. Sugabelly

    December 21, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Oh, and 15,000 is a pitiful number when compared to 150 million people. 15,000 is not large enough to be representative to any useful degree.

    Also, what socio-economic stratum did that 15,000 come from? For all we know the 15,000 surveyed could have been purely upper-middle to upper class Nigerians, who while they represent a very valid portion of society, are definitely not representative of the whole of the Nigerian experience.

  24. bebe

    December 23, 2009 at 12:27 am

    Obama’s presidency didn’t necessarily have a change on economy and other issues etc in Nigeria, but it put a spring in everyone’s step. I’m sure you would be lying if u said his presidency didn’t have any effect on your psyche.

    What stops a Nigerian from dreaming. Having ur mind set on opinions like these actually acts as a draw back. A can’t do attitude is one of the things that should be done away with.
    Do not forget that Obama is NOT an African American. He has an african father and an american mother…hence he is bi-racial, but not african american,[don’t just string the two words together], so when I say he is an inspiration to nigerians, it is on point!
    Stop being overly critical of the writers standpoint or views. The Obama effect doesn’t mean he will ‘effect’ the reduction in price of garri. Think intelligently, I’m sure you did english in school and understand figures of speech … or will u say Obama did not help educational system, hence your not knowing not to take words at surface value?!

  25. Sugabelly

    December 23, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    For someone telling me to ‘think intelligently’ and asking if I studied English in school, you seem unable to understand that I did not mean that Obama affected the price of gari literally. Who’s the one taking words at surface value? Hmm?

    Obama has no effect on Nigerians other than being just another figure with aspirational qualities.

    And yes, a Nigerian born in Nigeria CANNOT dream of becoming the President of the United States because the US constitution bars anyone not born on US soil from becoming President. Why do you think so many people are determined to prove that Obama was born in Kenya? Because it would make him ineligible for the Presidency and he would have to be removed.

    And no, I did NOT gain a spring in my step just because Obama became president. While I was undoubtedly happy for him, and while I acknowledged the significance of his presidency as a mark of progress for Black Americans and other Blacks in America, I did not personally identify with Obama’s win because I, and most Nigerians do not personally identify with his story.

    Not only that, I did not delude myself for one second that Obama’s presidency was going to improve race relations in America. In fact, Obama’s presidency has made racism against Blacks in America significantly worse.

    The fact that Obama is part African is irrelevant to Nigerians because the fact that he was able to achieve what he did achieve in America is hinged upon the fact that he is American. Hence no African can come out and say “Because of Obama, I too can dream of becoming President of the United States.”

    No! You CANNOT. Unless you were born on United States soil, no matter how much you might admire Obama, the dream of becoming POTUS is FOREVER CLOSED TO YOU.

    In other words, the only people Obama has a tangible and meaningful effect on are those who are in a position where such an effect from just such a person would be useful to them, which is why Ladi and I are insisting that we discuss the success of NIGERIANS rather than focusing on America.

    Showcasing the success of Nigerians in Nigeria actually has the potential to affect other Nigerians in a positive manner. Showcasing the success of Americans in America is simply that. Nothing more. It has no effect on the every day Nigerian because the surrounding circumstances are completely different.

    I don’t understand why so many people here are so averse to anyone with a dissenting opinion. This is a very relevant issue: the fact that so many Nigerian publications and media tend to highlight the success of the West over domestic success. I am not saying that we cannot give credit where it is due because Obama being president is definitely a good thing… for the self esteem of Black Americans. However, for Nigerians, Obama being president is irrelevant. Obama is first an American, and only after half-Kenyan. The possibilities open to him are open to him specifically because he is an American. If Obama were not born in Hawaii, all talk of a political career for him would have been moot, no matter the greatness of his desire to have one.

    What is known as “The Obama Effect” is the change in mindset that swept across AMERICA after Obama’s election causing young Black Americans to begin to have more positive hopes for the future and to resolve to work towards a more positive and more successful future. This of course manifests in an uptick in work ethic and school performance and school attendance among young Black Americans. That sort of thing.

    Obama affects Black Americans this way because they see him as representative of them. They can identify with him even though the very fact that he did not identify with the usual Black American narrative of slavery and oppression was key in helping him appear more suitable as a candidate.

    Obama is NOT representative of Nigerians. He’s not even representative of Kenyans… a group of people to whom he even has a legitimate claim. When Obama won the election there were reports of some Kenyans dancing around and singing “we’re going to the White House/America”. I immediately shook my head and laughed because those people were fooling themselves. Obama does not identify with Kenya to the point that he would improve things with Kenya in relation to America to America’s detriment. He identifies with AMERICA first. And trust me, if it came down to America or Kenya and one had to go, he wouldn’t hesitate to blow Kenya off the face of the Earth.

    So, let’s stop deluding ourselves. We are very happy for Mr. Obama. It is a good thing that he is President. It was a long time coming. We are also very happy for Black Americans and other Blacks in America that can be directly or indirectly affected by the significance of Mr. Obama’s presidency.

    However, if you think for even a moment that Obama somehow has a hand in any positivity in your life personally as a Nigerian in Nigeria (assuming you are a Nigerian in Nigeria), then you need a very serious reality check.

  26. bebe

    December 24, 2009 at 12:18 am

    I see you deliberately chose to misquote me. I said Obama was an inspiration, not that his election will make Nigerians president of USA. But anyways, people that see themselves as ‘critics’, which seems to be the path you are towing just like to make a whole lot of noise, distort peoples opinions and sit back and feel very smart with their supposed achievement.
    About discussing the success of Nigerians, as Bobo said earlier, a story is in the works and will soon be posted here. Ur dwelling on the issue just points at the fact that you just want people to know you have an opinion, albeit an irrelevant one.
    He is a writer who chooses his topics as he sees fit….unless you ‘the reader’ now want to tell him what to write.

  27. Sugabelly

    December 24, 2009 at 3:04 am

    Bebe, whatever. Seriously. I am not telling the writer what to write. I am simply telling the writer what I am interested in reading. There is a difference.

    And by the way, if readers don’t like the subject matter then next time we won’t read. I’m sorry you were hoping for everyone to just mindlessly praise it but I felt (and so did some other people) that it was not reflective of Nigerians.

    If you think I misquoted you, that’s your business. Both my comments and yours are up there so whoever wants to be the judge of that can do that. I’m not discussing this with you any longer. I have said what I intended to say. I cannot and will not attempt to force a writer to write something that they do not want to write about. If the subject matter doesn’t interest me, I will simply not read it. I do not understand why just because I have a different opinion you are insistent on forcing me to agree with you. And last time I checked, commenting on an open story that was posted only a couple of days ago did not classify as ‘dwelling on the issue’.

    Get a life Bebe. You’re hardly one to talk about the relevance of my opinions. As long as I am Nigerian my opinion IS relevant. If you don’t like it, suck it up and deal.

  28. bebe

    December 24, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    ok, i get it, u are not telling him what to write, just what you want to read…. hmmm…smart, very smart
    u said if a topic doesn’t interest you, you won’t read it …. er ….. but you seem to have read this one though.
    I guess we won’t be seeing much of you on Bobo’s page then, since u are not feeling his style of writing and topic.


  29. damilola

    August 24, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    will you marry me lol

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