Personal Column: Home

Nigeria. To some it is just another country in Africa. To others, it is the country which they were unfortunate to be raised in and have sworn to never go back. To others, it is the 15th largest oil-producing country in the world. To me, it’s home.

I’ve been on the Unites States for three years and still, there’s something missing. Or maybe there’s too much. Too much competition. Too much talent.

Or not enough. Not enough opportunities to display talents. Not enough jobs to cover the competition.

“So my main goal is to move back home,” I say to my high school best friend, Ada. After three years in different states, we’ve grown apart but we still find time to reminisce on the “good old days”.

“Seriously, I’m trying to go back as soon as possible, as in, two years max.” She seems surprised.

Surprise. That’s what I’ve been met with every time I told someone I plan to move back home. My mum has given up any hope on my relocating back to Nigeria.

“Of all people, I never thought you’d move back,” she says, with a smirk. She says I’ve been so assimilated in the American system. In our local lingo, I’ve become an “akata,” a Nigerian turned American.

“First of all, you’ve lost your accent,” she says. We exchange a banter of Nigerian colloquialisms, my subdued effort to prove her wrong.

Coincidentally, earlier in the day, I heard from another friend that my accent sounds like a mix between a Southerner and an African.

“So why so you want to go back so badly?” she asks. I’ve asked myself the same question over and over again.

Why do I want to go back? Last time I went back home was for Christmas. During that break, everywhere I looked I saw an opportunity. When those around me complained about how bad things were, I thought about how to make them better.

There is a lot wrong with Nigeria. As I type, there is a religious war going on. Not that that is anything new in Nigeria. With over 300 religions, there are too many “gods”. In this case, the Muslims are fighting and killing everybody else. The war is currently ravaging in the northern region of Nigeria.

“Are you really ready to go back?” Ada asks. I’ve asked myself the same question over and over again and every time I ask, I remember the little things that I’m going in back to.

Am I ready to go back to washing clothes by hand instead of just tossing them in the machine? First there is fetching the buckets of water. About five. In goes the soap. After washing come the blisters and skin peeling. Am I ready to deal with all that?

Am I ready to go back to fluctuating electricity? Or no electricity at all? I recount countless occasions when I was writing a paper or watching a TV show and just as it got intense or before I got the chance to save my paper, darkness. And heat.

“So why aren’t you going back?” I ask her. Ada has been here a little longer than I have, four years. The difference between our experiences is the fact that her whole family moved here with her. My family is back home in Nigeria.

I went to boarding school for six years so I’m used to seeing my family about five times or less a year and honestly, that’s enough for me. I have been able to explore and find myself by myself and I’ve gotten used to being on my own.

Am I ready to go back to having my whole family around me all the time, constantly in my ears, telling me what I can’t do? Am I ready to go back to not wanting to come home because I know I’m going to get in an argument with my mum about the state of my room?

Talking to Ada made me realize the things I hadn’t thought about. That’s why she’s my best friend. She is the reason why I reason if I do at all. She makes me think things through without thinking about it.

I’m not ready right now so I’ll give myself time. Time to detach myself from the American way of life. Time to gain the professional experience I need to succeed in Nigeria. Time to build a tough skin to deal with my mum. I put that at two years.

Nigeria might not be the best country, far from it, actually but just like the song “Arabian Nights” says: “It’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home.”


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