Cosmetic surgery is something I'd never thought I'd ever consider, and certainly not at my age. If like me, you subscribe to the school of thought whereby any sort of invasive treatment for cosmetic purposes is completely narcissistic, you'll understand why a few months ago, when I was invited to try a new treatment, I was very hesitant.  

DermaEraze is a treatment which employs skin needling techniques to "banish stretch marks, fine lines, acne scars, and skin trauma marks without aggressively removing the skin's epidermis...".

I had given birth a few months prior so I guess I was the perfect candidate, seeing as I had enough stretch marks to make up a road map of the whole of London. So on a Monday evening at around 8pm, off I went, casually (as you do), to Harley Street - the hub of private surgery and medicine in the UK-  to have the treatment on a small section of my stomach. As I arrived, a middle-aged woman was leaving a neighbouring building, frozen-faced and with specs of blood evenly dotted around her whole face. My guess was that she'd just had a top-up of botox. Who was I to judge? I mean, I was there for cosmetic treatment too, right? 

Anyway, I had the pleasure of meeting Lorena, who instantly made me feel at ease with her sincere and warm personality. She explained the procedure to me thoroughly but it was her informal approach that helped create a very relaxed setting in her London clinic. Just as well really because, in 20 minutes or so, she would, in essence, be harming me with a needle. 

FYI, stretch marks are caused when the skin stretches too fast during growth; they are a form of scarring. Those of African/ Caribbean decent are more likely to suffer from stretch marks, Lorena explained: "There is a link to European diets and less stretch marks: over generations, the genetic make up of people who are of Caucasian origin has changed. Their diet has resulted in their bodies adapting better to growth- this is compared to those of African decent and their diets."

Lorena told me that lighter stretch marks work better. I had plenty of those, to her delight. She applied some numbing cream to the area that she would be working on. While we waited for it to do its job, we spoke more about the history of needling and her experience in the field.

Afrobeats at Somerset House - Hosted by DJ Abrantee

What do "Oshe!", azonto have in common? Well, they're both either a popular phrase or type of dance born from the hottest, fast-rising genre of music: Afrobeats- a name coined by Nigerian multi-instrumentalist Fela Kuti in the 1970s. Essentially, it's a fusion of jazz, funk, and chanted vocal styles with distinct percussion rhythms. So, in essence, Afrobeats has been around for quite a few decades now and has evolved substantially with other African nations adding their own flavours and dialects to create the distinctive sound as we know it today (incorporating Afro-pop and Afr&B). The commercial  success of artists such as D'Banj and P-Square who are signed to major record labels owned by Kanye West and Akon have definitely brought this genre of music to the world stage. 

I only really started listening to Afrobeats about a year and a half ago and since then, it's grown on me.  As a native of Sierra Leone, I'm so incredibly proud to see such progress in African music. Though bred in the UK, I've never lost touch of my roots. I remember when I was growing up and it was all about West Indian music like bashment and dancehall and only really listening to African music at home or when I went back to my homeland for holidays. 

So, on Saturday 14th July 2012, Choice FM's DJ Abrantee (@DJAbrantee) hosted 'Afrobeats at Somerset House', an outdoor concert dedicated to some of the best established and up-and-coming  Afrobeats artists. Headlining were Olu Maintain (@MrOluMaintain), Atumpan (@AtumpanGH), May7ven (@May7ven), Vibe Squad (@Vibe_Squad), Mr Silva (@MistaF2DaSilva), Skob, Flava (@FlavaJfmb) & Kwamz (@Kwamz_k), SOA and Tyroon Da Prince (@TyroonDaPrince).  
I was granted two press passes so went along with my friend, Joy (Joy to the World) and, over the course of the evening, got the opportunity to interview some of the main acts backstage in the VIP lounge.