INTERVIEW WITH ENIAFE ISIS

her·it·age: FABRIC OF HER DNA

The art of storytelling is a raw talent.  It's a natural gift that if possessed, usually comes by way of generational inheritance.  It's a special something infused in one's DNA and oftentimes is quite evident in the simplest of conversations. That is where Eniafe Isis Adewale enters the chat.

Eniafe is a true yarn spinner whose words wrap you in a warmth so real, you'll be tempted to touch your grandmama's thermostat and we both know you know better than that.  Her reflection and description of her mother is a beautifully woven tapestry of strength, love, and serenity. 

Allow her words to envelope you as she recounts idyllic moments of appreciating natural beauty, basking in positive energy, and acknowledging that to our core, who we are has so much to do with whom we've descended from.

WHAT IS YOUR NAME AND WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

My name is Eniafe Isis Adewale. I was born in Los Angeles, CA and raised in Lake Elsinore, CA. 

 

WHO DO YOU DEDICATE THIS SEGMENT TO?

I dedicate this segment to my mother, Judy Carole Leonard, and the women in my family's lineage who I did not know but who have, in spirit and energy, always been present. I also dedicate this to my father, Idowu Adekunle Adewale and grandfather Thomas Leonard.

 

TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THEM?

My mother is hard to describe because she is such a deeply multifaceted woman and I am still learning her. As a mother she is my homeland. She was as nayyirah waheed has written, "my first country. the first place i ever lived." She is my teacher, confidant and sounding board; my healer, protector and guide.

She is also the person who, when necessary, challenges me to think outside my own box or the boxes which I have allowed others to impose upon me. And my mother is an artist and her tools have always been energy and language. An avid reader and student of life, my mother is one of the most intelligent and wise people I know. She is also one of the most curious.

There were two beauty brand staples I remember from growing up: Erno Lazlo (skincare) and L'Air du Temps (fragrance). My mother is who taught me about oil cleansing and ice baths for the face and why I, to this day, use and prefer natural body oils to moisturize my skin. 

 

WHAT DID CULTURE LOOK LIKE IN YOUR FAMILY?

Traditions, or more so practices, in our home looked like eating dinner at the dinner table, having quiet time, not as punishment but just as a part of our being. My mother taught my sister I to value and nourish the intangible things like peace of mind and mental, physical and spiritual health.

We were taught to be mindful of our energy and words and the impact we have, through both words and actions, on others as well as ourselves. And community, my mother was always sure to root us in community, whether it be within our schools, church or our extra curricular activities. She sought always to encourage us to explore our interests and curiosities and supported, as much as she could, the multifaceted-ness of our being. 

 

WHAT ARE/WERE THEIR HOBBIES THAT YOU’VE INTUITIVELY PICKED UP ON TODAY?

I definitely inherited my love for books from my mother. And even though she says she didn't like doing it, I learned to cook and make dishes as delicious in presentation, as in taste, from her.

She is also the one who encouraged me to journal and from journaling, and also reading, I became intrigued by the art of creative writing. And, from reading her personal work, and that of others, I became a lover of poetry.

 

TELL US ABOUT THEIR HOME AND SOME OF THE FINE DETAILS THAT YOU REMEMBER?

Our home always felt warm. Not necessarily in temperature but in mood and vibe. My mother loves wicker. There was, and still is, a wicker chest of drawers that sits in the dining room and a set of wicker chairs that go with a glass topped wicker dining table. 

 

The scent of fresh earth, sandalwood incense and almond body oil always reminds me of home, and the sound of the static that you hear at the beginning of a vinyl record. We had, and still do, a stereo, with a record player, which I believe belonged to my great grandparents and is a part of the original furnishing of the house I grew up in.

If she could have, my mother would have kept every single piece of furniture and rug and window treatment that the house had when it was first built in 1950. The house, built by her grandparents for her and her brother, I have come to understand is more than just a place we lived but a part of my mother. She is rooted there. It is her sanctuary. 

 

HOW DID THEY ADORN THEMSELVES?

My mother has always been a natural beauty. She didn't wear much makeup, and I can't ever recall her wearing nail polish. Outside of special occasions, and other than small earring studs and a nose ring, she never wore much jewelry. But. Her. Hair. Her hair has always been an adornment in and of itself. She has a lot of it! and though her hairstyles have changed over the years, she always wears it like a crown. 

 

Her fragrances were almond body oil and, on special occasions, L'Air du Temps perfume. My mother has always been very much about skin and body care. 

 

DESCRIBE HOW YOUR HERITAGE AND MEMORIES OF THEM HAVE IMPACTED YOU TODAY?

I know - believe, feel - that my heritage, both from my mother and my father, is weaved into my DNA. I believe my affinity for certain things - art, music, jewelry, color, food, aesthetic taste etc. - is rooted in my heritage, or, atleast, affirmed and informed by it.

The fabric of who I am is because of who my mother is, who her mother was and her mother. And while I believe I do have a choice in who I choose to be, I also feel that this is guided and, in some instances, has already been chosen. 

Something I don't often share, other than when asked, is the meaning of my full first name, Eniafebiafe - there are accent marks that sit below each "e" in the Yoruba language - it means, 'the one to be loved by the air'. There's so much within this name that explains me, my personality, my interests, my natural presence and energy. 

I am deeply proud of my heritage and I think this pride is reflected in the many aspects of my life and my being. 

"Tradition shows us that story becomes history and the way in which our history is shared and (re)told depends greatly on how it is recorded and who it is recorded by. Similar to history, it is our heritage that informs us of our origins, and instills in us not just who we are but who we have right to become."

— ENIAFE ISIS ADEWALE

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