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Atoke’s Monday Morning Banter: The Thin Line Between Sentiment & Hoarding



I am one of those people who get weirdly animated when I’ve finished reading a good book. Last week, I told as many people as possible that they need to read Ngugi Wa Thiong’O’s Wizard of The Crow. It was published in 2006 but I only just read it. It’s a really good book and I think it should be made compulsory text for secondary school students. There are so many interesting elements in the book to consider, but there’s a thread I’d like to draw from, and talk about this morning.

One of the characters in that book, Titus Tarjirika wore a glove permanently on his left hand. It was the hand with which he shook the Ruler of Aburiria. Tarjirika was determined to preserve the sanctity of that hand, so he did everything he could – never taking the glove off. As I read on, I could relate to the sentiment behind holding on to something that is attached to a significant part of your life.

My friend, Mo’, has a room in his flat which we call “The No-Go Area”. It is the room where you can find relics of a lifetime ago. A shirt from his first stage performance; a VHS cassette of his first tripple X film. Every time I try to help him clean out the room, we end up getting into a row about how if it’s junk, it’s HIS junk and he has a right to keep it… even if it means stinking up the house.

We all have things that we hold really dear to our hearts. We have sentimental attachments to certain items because they bear a significance to certain periods in our lives. I mean, I’ve got a t-shirt that I wore for the promotion of our Law Cultural Pride night at Uni. I cannot explain why I still have it. I can’t explain why I am still carrying it around. It is immaterial that it still fits and I love it, carrying it around for so many years is skirting the thin line between sentiment and hoarding.

Someone once said that you can only be a hoarder if you have a lot of space to play with. This may or may not be true, because if you meet a chronic hoarder, you’ll know that space can be created for any and everything. For instance, our house in Ogbomosho is my mother’s dumping ground for all things we tell her to get rid of. Imagine my surprise when I went to Ogbomosho one year and saw that my mother kept trays and cups from my granny’s funeral service over 20 years ago. Her justification is that it makes for good history.

She probably has a point. At a flea market recently, someone tried to sell me old bottles of ginger beer from before the 2nd World War. My friend was rather excited as she told me the history of the shape of the bottle and the cork. As a local girl, I just stood there thinking “kini kpantii?” (What is this junk?)

But the truth is, something that is junk to someone might just be gold to someone else. There’s no logical explanation for why I have a dress wrapped in an air tight bag. It is completely inconsequential that it is what I wore on that delightful day that I met BankyW.

There is a hoarder in everyone of us, our threshold for keeping stuff just varies from person to person. Please share some of your hoarding stories with us. Don’t worry… we won’t judge you. What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve held on to or seen someone hold on to. Your first child’s cot? Your wedding dress? My mother kept the Sanyan wrapper that she wore for her marriage ceremony some 40 odd years ago and I must say… It has been good for the winter.

Oh, and before I go I have to say this. Some of my friends are spending Valentine’s Day at Heritage Orphanage, in Lagos. If you would like to give out any of your old stuff – freshly laundered and in good condition – please shoot me an email. I’d give you details. You could also give money or food if you feel like. I look forward to reading from you—> [email protected].

Have a fantastic week ahead. Hey… don’t forget to do something positive and inspire someone today.

Peace, love & cupcakes.

Photo Credit:

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website for more information.


  1. Neo

    February 10, 2014 at 11:21 am

    I am too OCD to be a hoarder, and contrary to what some aproko people may think i don think im trying to justify hoarding. i am safely on the side of keeping things for sentimental reasons. I have birthday cards from secondary school, even one handmade one from primary school. I have an ex-bfs tshirts. I dont have weird stuff like my baby teeth in a jar, or a lock of hair from my first haircut so im still dangling on the safe side of normal.

    Now meet my mother! this woman is the greatest hoarder of all time, she has so much stuff in the master bedroom that she moved to the small adjoining room that was meant for my father and his sparse belongings. After polluting that room now, she has moved to the girls room. we’re thinking of converting the ground floor to a bungalow where she can live comfortably before her ngwongwo suffocates her up there! Safe to say i think i was adopted and Oprah is my birth mother!

  2. sigh

    February 10, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Atoke, my question is, WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO HELP A GUY FRIEND CLEAN HIS PLACE? I am not judging but giving you an opportunity to explain yourself. Does he not have hands or are you trying to pitch the idea for a Nigerian wife (aka part-time maid)?

    • Atoke

      February 10, 2014 at 11:30 am

      Lol Aweh giving me an opportunity to explain myself! (Y)

  3. Emirates

    February 10, 2014 at 11:38 am

    I hoard a lot of stuff for sentimental reasons. Over time I’ve realised that some of the things I hoard, especially things from previous relationships, only bring memories I wish to forget. So my strategy is keep things that are useful even if they are from previous relationships. If they are not, into the trash they go.

  4. linda

    February 10, 2014 at 11:41 am

    the only item i have been hoarding all this while are my childhood photos for when, i also have a pix my mum snapped when she was few months to give birth to me.

  5. Jane Public

    February 10, 2014 at 11:46 am

    Lol. My penchant for new and shiny things won’t even let me be a hoarder. The rate at which I get rid of things and replace them is giving my accountant cause for concern. Clothes on the other hand, I have a sentimental attachment to. I find it really hard to get rid of clothes. I have given and sold on ebay macbooks, ipads, kitchen gadgets, tv, books, lamps, curtains, in fact people come over and go Janey it doesn’t look like you are still using this thing, can I have it? Okay its yours. Don’t you even dare go into my wardrobe and ask for anything. I will go nuclear on your ass. I still have all my bridesmaid dresses. The oldest of then, the couple’s firstborn will be 8 this year. I just can’t seem to get rid of clothes. In a few years I am sure items in my wardrobe will be classified as vintage. Shoes, I don’t care much for whether they are designer or not. I have moved from place to place, carrying my stash with me. It has become a rpoblem now and I don’t know what I will do when I get married. Le hubs will have to put his things in the spare bedroom because giving away my clothes will be like losing a part of myself. My bestie has vowed to sign me up for one of those TV shows about hoarders.

    • whocares

      February 10, 2014 at 12:30 pm

      Lool. Shoes. I find it sooo hard to give away my shoes even the ones that are not my size. You should see me go engineer on them. I put a plastic bag filled with water in the shoe, and then put the shoe in another plastic bag, and put it in the freezer.. all in the name of expanding the shoe size. lool. It works!!!!!

    • Bleed Blue

      February 10, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      LOL! See tip of life.

      Honestly my real friends will soon vex for you my cyber friends of BN…the way I accept some of your advice as gospel truth ehn…the thing taya me.

      Love you whocares…and I’m off to “engineer” those Dune shoes that want to finish me with calf ache.

    • whocares

      February 10, 2014 at 2:05 pm

      @bleed blue.. Its the truth o.. LOOOL. (number 3)

    • Jane Public

      February 10, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      I heard of that tip but kai i don’t have liver to try it on my expensive shoes and annoyingly they are the ones that come a little small. Mschew.

  6. Jemima

    February 10, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Okay, so I have this jacket I wore for my 2years old birthday and it was a gown then! I found it inside our hoarding room”lol” well 23years later it happens to be one of my favorite jacket I just love it! “hugs it dearly” …

  7. no heart to hate

    February 10, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    For me, none

  8. TA

    February 10, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Atoke mi of life! Long may you live. Great article as always.
    I am definitely a sentimental hoarder. Lol! I stillhave one of my English exercise books from primary school,yes,my children will leave to see it. I have also kept my scrap book from secondary school… If it holds fond memories for me,I am keeping it but in pristine condition. 🙂 Strangely enough,I do not find myself attached to items like clothes,shoes or even jewellery. Its only books,photographs,souvenirs from places I have visited and printed materials that hold such loving memories that I do not even think or dream of giving away.
    Have a great week y’all.

    • TA

      February 10, 2014 at 12:39 pm

      *will live

  9. whocares

    February 10, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    lool. I am a sentimental hoarder of books. When we had to move house, my books took about 2 large Ghana must go bags(and several Iceland plastic bags).. gods help me but I could not throw them away. Not my useless M&B books , the outdated law textbooks I used to at Uni, or my notes.. That aside, I have no compunction binning other things. Clothes, shoes, jewelleries.. If I do not have the space to keep them, then they gots to go(I have a one in one out rule regarding clothes.. For every new cloth I get, I give one out) ! It drives my mother mad the way I am cavalier with everything but books. Aiyemoye earrings and other household decorations I have thrown away as I considered them garbage.


    February 10, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    I’m not attached to anything except my books. I still have my novels from almost fifteen years ago. They’re taking up a lot of space and just last weekend I was wondering what to do with them. But I will never let go of them, my kids must see them and they will always be a part of my life.

  11. Diva

    February 10, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Essence, Ebony and O magazines!!!! I have every copy i’ve ever bought since year 2000!! I just can’t throw them away…. They have taken the place of clothes in my wardrobe!!

  12. Uby

    February 10, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    The only things I am guilty of hoarding are: 1. My perfume bottles(after using them) and 2. My African Novels… Shikena

  13. Igbeyinadun

    February 10, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Ahhh I am soooo guilty of hoarding, apart from the plenty panti, the major item i have been hoarding is my wedding dress. My husband cannot understand why i think i can still wear it for our 50th wedding anniversary (which is in 47 years time). I just believe that would make the day more special!

  14. Caramel

    February 10, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    My dad never throws anything away which drives my mum crazy lol. He has a collection of newspapers which comes daily from 1994 till date.

  15. peyton

    February 10, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Well hoarding runs in the family. Papa is a hoarder. Iam tired of fighting him the man keeps papers from meetings he retired from work 13 years ago.I keep throwing junk away me sef don rest.but there’s a good side we have mags from the 70s time newseek.we have a sorta room were we have junk chairs and all kinds of things.

  16. cindy

    February 10, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    Nice Article,Atoke.

  17. Chinma Eke

    February 10, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    I’m a natural born hoarder (got it from my mom and added mine), I keep thinking ‘it will come in useful’ and it does most times. I pray for my future husb, may he have a spacious house, because in my parents house, I share a room with my sis and have another full room (wardrobe extension/workroom).
    O my goodness, I’ve got it bad!

  18. A-nony

    February 10, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Atoke Atoke, who is this your friend Mo that you are always stylishly gisting us about, eh? *raised eyebrows, smirking*

  19. Grown Woman

    February 10, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    oh dear the only things i hve r my pictures thats all the rest i just can’t bt mom is a hardcore hoarder gosh she has two storage rooms full of stuff.

  20. sassy

    February 10, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Both of my parents are major hoarders, hoarding everything from clothes, shoes, newspapers, books to our baby toys and pram. 14 years ago, popsy had me arrange and categorise all the books in the house for onward distribution to libraries and schools…those 50’something cartons are still occupying their place of honour in the “upstairs” parlour! Several times I had tried to get the security guard at my parent’s house to help me dispose of garbage only for my parents to order him to bring them right back, so I officially gave up on them.
    In my new home, I try not to hoard as I know from my parent’s firsthand experience that once you start hoarding, it’s mighty difficult to stop. Arranging the house for me has become synonymous with disposing stuff.

  21. Blessmyheart

    February 10, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    I guess I’m a hoarder. It’s not sentimental though, I just find it very hard to throw things away. I throw some things away when I move houses so maybe I need to change houses often. lol


    February 11, 2014 at 1:01 am

    My name is R.R and I am a hoarder. I carry so much stuff around people wonder if something is wrong with me. When I travel for 2 days, I pack enough for a week. I cannot count the number of shoes I have. new week, new shoes. and I never throw them away because I always find use for them. My wardrobe is bursting at the seams yet when I remember how I lovingly bought something and the pleasure such an item brought me, or who gave it to me, I am reduced to hysterical tears at the thought of throwing it away. Thats how sentimental I am. People come into my house and have an incredulous look on their faces. Thats perhaps why I dont like people coming over. I dont want their judgement. I have some of my mom’s clothes which are fantastic vintage pieces. I will leave something for my girls to rock, since vintage is so in. I cannot see something I love, know I can afford it and let it not find away into my bag. People think I am a stylist. maybe I am, just not pro or just a hoarder who loves to collect good items. I collect tshirts from guys I know:my bros, my cousins, ex boyfs(while we were dating) and keep them as relics. why? hell if I know. My books, oh my books. I cannot throw them away because it seems as though I am throwing an old lover or a good friend. So have stopped buying books because at the last count, I had 4002 books. so now, I download them on my tablet. Sometimes I go to where I have my books in storage and pick one at random, and reread them again, going down familiar paths and smiling as I see the well-thumbed edges and I think, will my offspring like to read this book? I remember curling up on my mom’s big bed and reading her books, the smell of her perfumed skin close by as I watch her dress. She left this world quickly and I dont know maybe that is the reason I hoard. trying to retain her memory. Scared to let go. God help me.. . I am so lazy tryna capitalize my Is, but my mamma taught me manners. So Im going back to do so. Lol

    • QueenOfAwks

      February 13, 2014 at 12:01 am

      god how i hoard books. and mine arent just story books. i have a few primary school books, secondary and uni. although im cleaning out the study so ima throw a few out. now that i think about it i wonder how come my parents never noticed this. probably bcz my mum is also a hoarder herself but she doesnt know it yet. she keeps old perfume bottles and books.. God her books are all over the place!

  23. Stephanie

    February 11, 2014 at 6:46 am

  24. DOO

    February 11, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    The only thing I hoard is women, they are too good to throw away!

    • Fig leaf

      February 13, 2014 at 1:38 am

      Objectifying women. And you think that makes you cool. Poor you.

  25. Maafia

    February 11, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Sometimes some very seemingly trifle things can hold so much value f0r us. I’m not able to put away examination sheet from even as far back as primary school.

  26. QueenOfAwks

    February 12, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    so this article just made me realise that im a hoarder. i mean i kept my milk teeth for years in a bag. tbh i cant remember if i did throw it out eventually. but the bag i kept it in i had since i as 6 and its still in my wardrobe. i think i only throw things that are spoilt or that are torn…. i mean i have the wrapper my mum wore on my naming ceremony. i still have my secondary school uniform, all the teddy bears i had as a child and i used to have a few dresses i wore as a baby… the good thing about me is that im neat so i arrange everything in my wardrobe and in boxes. i am getting better doe. cause i gave out the baby dresses a while ago and threw out a few other things like old toys and shit…… i still have a long way to go doe

  27. FunkyW

    February 13, 2014 at 9:31 am

    The word “hoarder” brings to mind the show on TLC- Hoarding: Buried Alive where they go inside the homes of extreme hoarders and try to help them. I’d like to call my mum and myself semi hoarders, I mean,we have plenty hope when we see the hoarders on TV.

    We keep everything from books, clothes, pictures, household items, to anything that brings a memory of something or anything that could be useful in future. It was only when we moved houses that we managed to shed off the primary and secondary school books and plenty other junk.

  28. FunkyW

    February 13, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Professionals look for these three things when evaluating compulsive hoarders:

    An inability to discard objects coupled with anxiety if a hoarder does try to throw things away. Impaired ability to function due to hoarding. A cluttered living space that has become so filled with objects that it can’t be used effectively.

    Although hoarding can be a challenging condition to treat, there are both drug and behavioral therapies that have shown success, usually when undertaken together.

    Culled from

  29. Mz Socially Awkward...

    February 15, 2014 at 2:04 am

    How did I “milz” this? My hoarding family, this feels like home right here!

    I dey hoard tire, mehhhnnn. It’s a worry and the one thing I find especially hard to give away are shoes. As a female with size 9/43 feet, the thought of downsizing my wardrobe and donating some of my shoes to charity makes me break out in cold sweat. How many shops in the UK are guaranteed to have lovely looking footwear in my size? Some of my best ones were bought years ago and it’s not like I have any choice in the matter, my options get fewer and fewer every year! Maybe if I lived stateside I’d be more cavalier about recycling my shoe collection but right now, they dominate every available space in my room (wardrobe, under the bed, under the dresser, in a shoe cabinet, in a corner, even in the hallway closet and loft sef…)

    And people who are married and living in this UK really need to explain to me exactly how the British style of conservative residences are shared without causing quarrel. I mean, na only me and wardrobe for room dey struggle to close and the drawers don fill up, so where the fictional hubby wan keep cloth, na? Plus pikin??

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