*The car slowly rolls to a stop in front of the entrance to a high-rise building. The man smoothly gets out of the back seat and thanks the driver before shutting the door gently. He peers up at the giant sign on the sidewalk that reads ‘Residences at Highland Blue’. He calmly walks in through the revolving doors and heads straight to the concierge.

“Good day. I’m headed for my assigned StoriesNG Suite. They’re expecting me.”

“Right this way sir. The lord told me you were coming.”

“Thank you.”

They walk to the bank of elevators where the concierge passes a fob on the reader. The reader flashes green, and the concierge steps away for the man to walk in as the doors slide open. He smiles at his reflection in the mirror covering the entire back of the box and then, looks out one of the clear sides as the lift rises to the swiftly and quietly. His final thought as the doors open on the 23rd floor is “It’s been a good year.”*

Ladies and gentlemen, it is once again that time of year where I regale you with the journey that has been the life of Mallam Sawyerr in the last twelve months. Let’s begin.

I Love, You Love – John Legend

Having become officially off the single train a few days after I wrote my last review, the biggest part of my life in the last year has been navigating what it’s like to no longer be accountable to only myself. After 7 years of being officially single, this year was me getting used to life as part of a romantic partnership. As expected, there were highs, lows, and everything in between. They say relationships make you confront things about yourself that you typically don’t have to, and bruh!!! I had to come to terms with sides of myself that I haven’t had to deal with in forever and it was work yo! I realized that I still have a lot of growing to do and while my position in the journey of self-awareness is pretty decent, there’s still a lot of work yet to be done. All this said, I’m doing this love thing with someone who I adore and who I know adores me just as much and so I can proudly say love has been my biggest win this year. To my Nnewi Spice, thank you for being my lover and friend. I look forward to many more years of loving and partnering with you. I love you baby.

Imitadora – Romeo Santos

The story of my relationship with dance this year was something that I should have kind of expected but didn’t. In January, I made up my mind I was going to join the InEssence Dance Company (IEDC) salsa team, increasing my IEDC team commitments to three; performing with the Performance Team, co-directing the New Projects Team, performing with the Salsa Team. Add to that a few projects with the Afro Urban Society over the course of the year, and you can imagine how much time and energy went into dancing this year. I have absolutely no regrets though. I got to perform at the prestigious Zellerbach Hall and grace many other reputable stages. I got to teach several dance classes. I continued to grow in my art as a performer, instructor and social dancer. And I got to fraternize with even more amazing professional dancers from all over the world. Didn’t travel as much though but it was still litty!

However, I also felt burnt out, a lot, towards the end of the year. I know what I need to do to remedy this and I have made up my mind to do those things. So 2020 will for sure be different. But as far as my 2019 is concerned, I lived my dance dream.

Let Go – Beau Young Prince

For a few years, I’ve talked about taking my photography seriously. Last year, I made up my mind that I would do that this year. So, come April, I bought a Canon entry-level DSLR and a couple of prime lenses and started my journey to professional photography. I’ll be straight up, it’s been hard; this pro-photo life is HARD as shit! I knew I didn’t know shit, but man, after I took classes and started reading up on shit on pre, during, and post-shooting, it underscored just how much learning is ahead of me. I love it though. I REALLY love it. I’m reminded of the days I first started taking salsa classes; there’s a joy with learning something new and putting it into practice and seeing the results. 2019 was for taking the plunge and putting my hand to the plough. 2020 is for putting in MAD work and building my portfolio. So, stay tuned.

Bigger – Beyoncé

Professionally, this year was a combination of some significant wins and a few humbling lows. A project I worked on with The Nature Conservancy got featured on the front page of the Los Angeles Times and is getting published in a peer-reviewed journal. The same project gave me my first work-related trip outside the office (Sacramento) to present to a room full of California natural resource-related state agency leaders. I was also the technical lead on the first public analysis on the impact of offshore wind on California’s long-term energy goals. Basically, I got my name out there. For the first time since I joined the company, I was confident in the fact that I am a valuable employee who can contribute to the stellar work we put out. Hearing it said is very different from KNOWING it yourself. This is vastly different from how I felt most of last year before I eventually got promoted. That said, not getting promoted pained me sha. Like, I was fine with it when I thought nobody else at my level was getting promoted. It was humbling to realize that I still have to sort through feelings of envy and disappointment even after knowing the things I described earlier in this work section. Regardless, in 2020, we move still.

Scatter – Fireboy DML x Wait for It – Leslie Odom Jr. (Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton)

This year was full of turn up sha. Whoosah! From #Nugwa30, to a Miami trip, to a wedding in South Carolina, to all the AfropolitanSF lituations. I had a blast!!! Then, there’s seeing Burna Boy live, experiencing Leslie Odom Jr. in concert at the SF Symphony and seeing THE Hamilton show itself, and finally closing out the year with a Brian McKnight concert also at the SF Symphony. I didn’t go to all the concerts I wanted to (missed Ramin Djawadi and Jon Bellion) but the experiences I did have were amazing enough that it doesn’t really matter.

2019 was legitimately a solid year but I’m also happy that it’s ending because I’m looking forward to all that 2020 has in store for me. I thank you all for taking this review ride with me. See you in 12 months.

*As the music fades, he sets down his glass and bows*

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I cannot write script like you but even you couldn’t have written the script of your life this year. So, it was Nnewi that did it, yes? Well done! Thank you for dancing through 2019 with us and hope you learn some new moves in 2020. Much love!