This writer talks about her personal feelings towards the country. She talks the smallest of the Nigerian society, the home and its influence upon a child. She talks about so much from Politics, to social circles. At the end, Nigeria is the home that could make you feel alive. What does this post say to you?
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I like my country a lot. Most probably more than you like yours. See, Nigeria is difficult to love, ‘like a lot’ is as far as I can go. I am not made of many parts of Nigeria like most of my friends are. Parents, Grandparents, Great grandparents…my entire bloodline is Edo and nothing else. But on the good days, on the days when I have forgotten that my blood screams Benin, days when I have forgotten that I speak with an accent that is anything but Yoruba, days when I have decided to not yell ‘osanobua’ at things that surprise me, on those days, I am Lagosian. It’s how I am one with everything here. I am that bus conductor, I am that LASTMA official, I am loud, I am angry, I am laughing at people who are in better conditions than I am, I am Lagos, I am Nigeria.
Everything I know about Nigeria I learnt on my own. Except maybe the little tainted history I learnt in primary school. The version of history where the Biafran war never happened, where names like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Anthony Enahoro, Aguiyi Ironsi are littered all over the textbook pages, where military coups exist in only one sentence and Nigeria is one big happy family of Ibo, Yoruba, Hausa, Efik, Igala, Christain, Muslim. Nobody prepares you for the reality of Nigeria, the unavoidable reality that is Nigeria. I feel like something so compelling, something that pulls you in so strongly, hits you in face, kicks you so hard your knees buckle and then dares you to get back up is something we should prepare our children for. Nobody taught me.
So I learned. From word on the street, from my mother’s stories, from my father’s warnings. From my grandmother and her theory that ‘money is all anyone cares about’. From my sister and her insistence that I look out. And I did just that. Looked out.
Looked out for potholes on every road.
Looked out for stools in the dark on those electricity-less days.
Looked out for vanished billions of dollars.
Looked out for missing children, girls, boys.
Looked out for police officers that might ‘accidentally misfire’, for the idleness that comes with university strikes, for fuel price hikes, for disease outbreaks, for panic, pain, hate.
Looked out until looking out began to make my brain hurt. Until ‘I cannot carry Nigeria’s problem on my head’ became my mantra. The never ending sea of problems is for the strong to worry about and tackle. I am not strong. I am in that league of Nigerians.
The ones that gather at newspaper stands, analyzing every government policy and every aspiring candidate. The ones who decide who the best ruler will be but stay inside their houses, come voting day. The ones that trend hashtags of whatever plague we are currently facing on social media, ignore the physical protests, all the while asking people to pray pray pray, all the while believing in their hearts that nothing will be done. But isn’t this in itself some kind of strength? The strength to remain detached from all the chaos around you has to be some sort of superpower, and I have mastered its use.
I like my country a lot. Most probably more than you like yours. See, it’s about how it makes me feel so alive during the day but at night, wraps its hands tight around my neck and tries to choke me. It’s about how I love and hate it at the same time, and equally too. I know of nothing else that conflicts my emotions this way.
Sapele road at midnight. Third mainland bridge just before Lagos wakes up. Zuma Rock. Yaba market. Ring road. Under the Oshodi bridge. It’s about the little things that end up being everything. It’s about loving something that does not love you back. It is about home.
Written by Eghonghon Eigbe
You call follow her on twitter: @eghonghon
Read more of her work: eghonghon.wordpress.com