Home, a word often described as a place where your heart is, so depending on where your heart resides anywhere can be a home. Though I never understood what it means to call a place home, as I grew up traveling and living in different countries with my family, for me wherever my family was, I considered my home. But after years of being away, returning to Nigeria made me understand that there is where home is.
Like many of my adventures, my trip to Nigeria was spontaneous, almost instantaneous as I was unaware of whether I would take the trip up until the week of my flight, but God’s timing is always perfect. This trip again was one of meaning one of recentering, a God sent trip.
Arriving at Murtala Muhammed airport, full of joy the cold air from the AC slapped me in my face, as I received a warm welcome in the form of lost luggage and although this wasn’t ideal, surprisingly I wasn’t filled with rage. I was just happy to be home, and I had faith that my luggage would arrive the next day that I overlooked the commotion of the angry passengers before me and trying to keep the faith I reassured those around me while I waited to declare my missing luggage. In the midst of this whole ordeal, my father shows up to greet me with a warm hug and a slight chuckle at the commotion and a snarky ‘this is Lagos’ as we leave the airport. I laugh as we enter the car looking out the window smiling thinking, this is home.
A day in Nigeria
The saying Nigerians don’t carry last is the best way to describe my people, the entrepreneurial spirit of Nigerians is one of a kind unlike any in the world. Just a short walk down any street in Nigeria, you’ll be able to find someone hard at work, selling, cooking, mending or just creating. The beauty of Nigerians is their ability to utilise their talents and surroundings to provide a service, a quality that I truly admire in my people and I am proud to possess. Despite the apparent dysphoria of poverty in Nigeria, Nigeria as a country has slowly made progress towards more forward-thinking solutions. Especially as the elections for the next president loomed over the public, the atmosphere oozed with change and demand for progression, bearing witness to such filled me with hope for the future of my country.
The hunger for progression and revolution radiated throughout my trip, with great prominence in the highly and rightly so esteemed play Moremi. The show screening at Terrakulture, Victoria Island embodied and illustrated change, with an underlying feminist storyline with a female protagonist challenging the woes of the toxic Nigerian mentality of male dominance. Closing with a strong message about the need for progression, the playwright emphasising the importance of telling our story for ourselves and not letting the world too, and to keep creating, dreaming and acting for the advancement of our country. With a diverse audience including the governor of Lagos, such a prominent message challenged the thoughts of us all and left me in awe of the prospective future of Nigeria, as a forward-thinking country.
Although, such progressions were challenged when I visited my father’s village, as I came face to face with the heavy misogynistic attitude of Nigerians (this is not to group us all ). One afternoon strolling down the streets of the village, my little cousin age 16 brings it to my attention that boys in her school suggest that ‘a woman’s education starts and ends in the kitchen‘ a statement that brought such distaste to my soul, so as I reassured her of the falsehood of such a statement. I realised that not every girl, has someone to tell them otherwise, as even the mothers of these girls have a tainted perception of what a woman is as they too are governed by misogyny and as a result torment young girls ambition of being more than just a wife. So I plead with the mothers of girls, the importance of instilling drive and courage in our young girls of Africa as a whole, to challenge these oppressions.
Lagos Night Life
Nigeria over the past two years has become well known along with other African countries like Ghana for the Christmas period celebration, as afrobeats become more prominent in the music scenes, seeing a lot of young people coming back home, both Nigerians and non-Nigerians. Such an influx of tourists has seen the nightlife growing tremendously in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, so seeing as my visit fell during this period, I experienced this newly found vibes. Despite not enjoying the nightlife anymore, bearing witness to such a vibe was troubling, the nightlife can be dangerous, so word of advice not to loose yourself. Ironically, I used to enjoy such an environment, however during my walk with God( though I’m not perfect), I was shocked at the level of disturbance my soul felt during the experience. Such a revelation made me aware that I had grown, see growth is not condemning others but having a heart for people when you develop from where you once were in life.
A word from the wise, wisdom sessions with my Dad and Uncles
They say that there’s a lot to be learned from the old, wisdom is often referred to as being acquired with age and rightly as we age we hopefully gather more experience and therefore become wise. Although I often found it is not necessary to have experience, but instead have eyes to see and observe your surroundings. From observing young children playing without care and concern, I learned the true meaning of freedom and joy, from my father’s conversations with his friends I learned about the ways of the world, wisdom surrounds us every day. The Bible tells us that we can learn much from observing birds in the sky and the flowers in the ground, as both don’t worry about where their food supply comes from and yet both are taken care of by God, so we as humans more complex than birds and plants, we shouldn’t worry but trust in the Lord. Therefore being present is the only way to acquire wisdom because you negate the occupation of worry and concern and focus on the now, rather than past and future, equally allowing joy to prevail.
The three pearls of wisdom. One of my earliest memories of Nigeria is my families Sunday traditions, see growing up Sunday’s was significant to my family. Waking up early to go to church, then going to a restaurant after church to have a family lunch was a routine that we maintained every Sunday. So returning home, I made it a point to attend church and rightly so as the priest was preaching on wisdom, a message that resonated with me and one that everyone needs to hear. As the Bible and every nativity play around the world, features the three wise men so we all know the tail, but my priest looked at the qualities that gave them wisdom. So here they are;
- The wise men were able to recognise and interpret the sign of the star and differentiate the call of God. So wisdom takes the ability to be discerning.
- The wise men were able to take action and follow the star. The wise have the courage to move when led.
- The wise men persisted until they reached Jesus. The wise continue to push forward even in the midst of adversity and confusion, they didn’t give up and neither should you, even when you fall keep going till you arrive at the end.
- The wise men consulted and sought wise counsel on their way. So the wise stay close to God and seek confirmation from him, they also have wise friends as counsels but ultimately God has the final say.
- They did not return to their old wrong ways. Even if your attention is drawn to the past listen intently and learn never to turn back. The wise men pressed forward no matter what, they didn’t give up and go back.
- Along with their journey and when they arrived at Jesus, the wise men worshiped. The most important thing is worship along the journey and also at the destination, worship covers all fear, lifts all despair and warms every broken heart.
An ode to my African Queens
You are worthy. Your full lips and curvaceous hips are what make you unique, the curls in your hair no wonder people stare and look to see where you’re from. The shape of your nose is as beautiful as the colour of your skin that so richly drenched in melanin as precious as gold, so precious they say we never get old. My beautiful African Queens, despite how much they try and depict us as mean, my beautiful queen, your strength is nothing short of supreme, you are intelligent, hardworking keep chasing your dreams. My dear queen, never let you crown slip for anyone, not even a king, hold your head high and take on the world, knowing the Lord holds your hand and walks with you in love, you don’t have to be strong all the time let God be your helper. My dear queens, so soft and sublime, never let anyone tell you not to dream, we are believers, visionaries but we also need to remember to sleep, my queen rest, don’t let the weight of the world knock you off your feet, remember a queen needs her beauty sleep.
Being in Nigeria I had the privilege of being surrounded by beautiful shades of melanin. Observing beautiful women pass by me day after day, witnessing the strength and grace of African women was a bittersweet feeling. As I realised that in today’s society whiteness has been pushed onto black people as the only standard of beauty, reinforced by the residue of slavery trauma causing many people in African and black people around the world to strip away the very thing that makes us black women and men beautiful, our melanin. The very essence of our history and heritage, stripping away our identity. It was a disheartening relisation, although it motivated me to ensure that in my life I do something to make black women and people see just how beautiful and magical we are, all on our own without the standards imposed by west.
Leaving Nigeria was a bittersweet feeling. As I sat in my dads car driving to the airport, I fixed my eyes out the window savoring every moment of my beautiful country, with a deep sigh I turned to answer my fathers questions, as he spoke my mind drifted into deep thought about the next time I will return home ( Ah home). Exhaling, the car comes to an abrupt stop, the sign above reads welcome to Muhammad international airport, I hop out the car and assist my dad with my luggage into the airport. After checking in and declaring my luggage, my dad escorts me to the gate, repeatedly asking if I have my passport and money, smiling at his concerns I nod yes I do. Before a final hug and a wave goodbye, then I see my father disappear into the distance as I proceed along the gate, my heart heavy with sorrow, I’m gonna miss my dad.
Finally boarding the plane, I peered outside the window with despair and excitement to finally sleep whispering i’ll see you later, before slumping into the airplane chair and shutting my eyes. You’ve been wonderful Nigeria.