Whenever I meet elder Nigerians in professional contexts, I spend time agonising over the proper way to address them. ‘Auntie’ seems overly familiar, ‘ma’ always feels a bit clumsy, but I can’t just plough ahead with their first name. However, two seconds after meeting Ify Adenuga on our Zoom call, she’s telling me how much she enjoyed watching A Dot’s BBC documentary A Story Of Grime the night before and all my previous agonising is forgotten amongst our easy laughs and her evident enthusiasm.
If the surname doesn’t ring any bells, Ify Adenuga is mother to grime pioneers Skepta and JME, radio DJ and cultural tastemaker Julie, and Jason, a talented illustrator and animator who also produced three tracks on Skepta’s Mercury Prize-winning album, Konnichiwa. After her eldest, known to his family as Junior, won the Mercury Prize in 2016, an impromptu interview with the BBC went viral and she joined her talented offspring in our collective consciousness.
It was this milestone in her son’s career that inspired Ify to transform her personal journaling habit into the book that she had been saying for years that she would write.