w. When It’s Dark Hawt
It’s been almost 2 years since I laid foot again on European soil after going to Nigeria for just 10 days.
I remember then, I’d promised myself I was going to write a day to day run down of all I did – but technology was a bitch, I was busy and the days just couldn’t round up fast enough. It’d been 13 years since I left Agege, my place of birth, home of fresh baked bread and local work-your-ass-off shop owners.
I was 11 when I left, Lord knows I was skinny af, I’m still skinny, but in some way, it’s more acceptable to be skinny when you are in your mid 20s than when you are getting closer to teenagehood…because “Society Says….” that’s why. I went not really expecting much and I’m glad I’d had such low expectations, hoped for the worst…and I wasn’t disappointed! I mean nothing scarred or scared me thank God but yes, nothing happened. I had bureaucratic jargons to deal with (change of Name to be exact, long story..no, not really.) and I ate suya.
I got to watch some Nigerian officials “work” and by work, it consists of:
– getting to work as late as possible,
– getting through an always screechy metal detector,
– entering ill kept offices void of PC stations and just nothing but tables and quarter to dead chairs,
– talking about politics or mundane stuff – most of times not work related obviously,
– and you get to see ignored files every now and then on some official’s desk, by mistake.
Men and women would sell food and drinks, newspaper sellers, recharge card sales girls seemed to often populate the area as well. Looked like a fucking market place instead.
And don’t let me get started on the corruption and how desperate we citizens would eagerly try to bid the highest to get the attention we well deserved from the appropriate persons. I think I saw more influx-out flux of money than people actually seating at their desks and working.
I remember one day I sat for 5 hours – I shit you not, 5 hours, no food o. I stood up for the first time to see if I could still remember how the “walking” process worked, then some Oga (boss) saw me, smirked and came up to me to just to say: “the system isn’t working very well, e be like say you go come back tomorrow again be dat”, but of course, they had to tell me 5 hours later because, bad bitches with uniforms Life.
So, I got my stuff done finally, did I have to pay, hell yeah. Was I lucky I got it done in such short notice and as fast as it got done, yup…but yeah, that luxury wasn’t for free. I remember on a Saturday afternoon, a rather warm one, while the children of the couple hosting me were gisting me about how teachers had stopped beating students in school and that 2.8 million Naira is now the norm for school fees – Nepa (phuck ’em, ain’t calling them PHCN) struck!
– Nepa: instigator of the (in)famously invoked “Up Nepa” by people of all ages.
– Nepa: they toy with your feelings when you need electricity so bad that you are forced into buying a generator causing an awful lot of unnecessary noise and air pollution or if you don’t have the financial means, you chill.
– Nepa: they are so bad ass that when electricity seems to be absent, people are so used to it they start to make assumptions for the next days or weeks on when they’d get it back on, it’s like a fucking Supernalotto, #alternativegames.
– Nepa: they toyed with my feels that day, for the first time on Nigerian soil, in 13 years…and I loved it!
I mean, I was going to leave the country anyways, so yeah.
See, the thing about me going to my homeland wasn’t my main issue, it was about fitting in really. I’d surely be seen as an outsider since I’d chosen to find a better life elsewhere. That’s the down side of being a black migrant, you end up being of everybody and nobody. Everyone’s foreigner.
I did miss Nigeria but unfortunately I didn’t enjoy my stay like I would have hoped to. I was constantly torn between nostalgia and frustration. I was being judged regularly, especially by the madame of the house, my crime was since I lived “in the” abroad, why wasn’t I always ready to splurge money unnecessarily on costly or meaningless stuff.
The thought “If you are not doing well over there, why not come home instead of looking like an imported peasant” clearly must have ringed in her/their mind millions of times. I would, but you see, I’d rather not, Ma.
I missed fast internet and I missed Italian, I studied, I spoke regularly in my native dialect or local pidgin English. It was like I had to constantly prove, to most and myself, that I was indeed, the prodigal daughter but I could pick and handle my business right from where I had dropped it years before. And that’s exactly how it felt, I felt at home, it was like once off the plane, right after my first interaction with the personnel at the ABJ airport, I fell right easy into “the role”, which isn’t a role per se, I am as Nigerian as I always thought I was, wasn’t sure then but now, I am.
We gotta get reacquainted properly though, Nigeria ’cause that just wasn’t it.
What this journey taught me: I have two homes in two very different realities and continents, does that mean I have multiple identities too?
Iyeoka | I travel home