I recently travelled to Nigeria.
I finally got to see it for myself!
I came away feeling like everything was more real, and so many things about me became clear, and I just had to share it. I’ve been asked so many questions by friends in all the different areas of my life, and it has inspired me to blog about it. I have decided it’s best to split it into a series because there is way too much to talk about in one post!
Okay, enough of my chit-chat, let’s get into it.
Feeling at home.
Initially I was not buying the idea of a family trip back to Nigeria. I left Nigeria when I was 5 years old. I had not been in touch with any of my childhood friends. Besides what five year old remembers their friends unless they stayed in touch over a long period of time. I also was not in contact with family members from both my parents side. This in exception of my mum’s sister and her children. So you can understand my hostile feeling of going back to Nigeria, I just couldn’t picture FUN at all.
We landed in the Muhammed Muritala airport and all I could see was Africans! The first thing that came to my mind was ‘wow everyone here is black’. It was overwhelming. The only other place I remember seeing so many Africans was in the Nigerian Embassy in Dublin (and those of you who’ve been there know what that is like!) The change of weather was quite drastic; it seemed almost as if there was no air to breathe, as if the air had ceased . I felt almost suffocated. There was a smell of sand, HOT SAND, I didn’t particularly like the smell at the Airport. The passengers from the same flight suddenly changed their facial expressions to ‘no -nonsense face’, as we all made our way through the necessary emigration stations and then towards the baggage claim area.
This part of the trip was one of those I found both amusing and pathetic, I mean c’mmon we were waiting for a good 40 minutes before the luggages arrived. I overheard comments like “this is how you know you are in Nigeria”. As if that was not bad enough, a random man tried to steal a passenger’s luggage while he waited for the rest of his his luggage, yes I am for real! as I raised alarm to the owner he pretended as if it was a mistake, I was like “really, as in for real”.
Nevertheless, in the overwhelming emotion there was a feeling that I had never felt. It was the feeling of being around my own kind- there was no need to pretend – to try and fit in- to try and make sure I was understood- to check if my accent was still in check or in tuned to the majority. This feeling was very much the feeling of being at HOME. It was so beautiful.
Outside the airport , as we struggled with over 10 big luggages was my mum’s sister, her husband and one of their children.
I genuinely took a pause because while I had met my mum’s sister and her husband I have never met my cousin.
So many things were running through my head, it was like “wow! she is so pretty”, “ she isn’t as dark skinned like I expected” “are we going get along, do we have the same interest”. You can imagine, we have never had a real discussion up until this point, we lived in different worlds.
There were many amusing situations during this trip. One was the fact that people were wearing thick clothes, jumpers, jackets you name it and here was I literally stripping of layers of clothes.
Despite my negative attitude throughout the journey from Ireland ; at this stage I was smiling, there really was a special feeling attached to this place. It truly was home!
The trip from the airport to the hotel was interesting. We quickly saw the developed and undeveloped side of Lagos city. How ‘alive’ the streets was at 12:00am really caught my attention, people were still around selling, buying. We saw people making and selling ‘ suya’( generally made with sliced beef, or chicken marinated in different spices and then barbecued) , roasted corn and many other food that I still don’t know the name of. I could not wait to get out and explore the nightlife. It was funny how all of a sudden I could picture ‘FUN’.
Beforehand when I would travel, I could identify the feeling of being home sick. In these scenarios I would miss home – Ireland. However this time the feeling of home was very much related to my own roots. It truly made me feel more appreciative of my own root.
Please leave your comments or questions down below . I would also love to hear from your own experience if you went back home recently. In my next post I will be sharing the culture and my explorations in Nigeria!
See you soon
Photographer: Faith Anthony, Instagram : faith_anny