The thing about Nigeria is…..
You live in this constant tug between love and hate. So I’m back in England (booo), but I can’t decide whether I’m glad to be back or not, given the equally fun and traumatic time I’ve just had in my native land.
I get frustrated at what looks to me like plain disorganisation and disrespect, for example; the fact that cutting someone up on the road is a national past time. Lane discipline means driving with the lane markings through the middle of your car so every car journey is potentially terrifying. Or let’s talk about customer service (which doesn’t exist); talking about someone standing in your face in your native tounge so they can’t understand but it’s clear that what’s being said is not flattering. Or providing a haphazard or pointless service (such as saying Happy New Year) and expecting a tip in return.
Then there are the things that make me stand out as a plain ‘a je butta’ (someone who eats butter i.e. lives a pampered lifestyle) such as peeing in the bush/public without splashing yourself, getting it on your clothes or exposing your arse (takes some skill). Or the quite obvious gagging when I walk past the pee-smelly bushes or clear lands. Include in this the “hell no” attitude associated with eating anything sold on the street or local buka (painful diarrohea stories from my trip last year) as well as several other little ‘isms’ that mean you always get ‘special’ (i.e. expensive and piss taking) treatment wherever you go.
On the flip side, the country is absolutely stunning. Last year it was Obudu Cattle Ranch at 6,000ft and luxury. This year, we went up Erimo mountain (two hours outside Ibadan) minus all the luxury. As a recognised nationally recognised Christian holy place, women are not allowed to wear trousers and no-one can wear covered footwear, so we hiked up to the top wearing skirts and slippers. It was quite tough, but getting to the top was fully worth it. The scenery was amazing and even the fact that we had to sleep outdoors and were not allowed to lay mats on the floor to sleep, didn’t take away from a beautiful clear night sky during a full moon.
It was an experience I’ll treasure, if not for the religious aspect, certainly for the spiritual aspect of connecting with sheer beauty in a country you can call your own, however basic the circumstance.
(The downside here being the tummy problems experienced with refusing to do a number two in the bush for 3 days!)
Oranges never taste as nice anywhere as they do in Nigeria. Colours are never as vivid as they are in Nigeria. Teeth are never as white as they are in Nigeria (a nation of Aquafresh lovers!!). Parties are never as fun as they are in Nigeria; we love to dance and will put many a nation to shame with stamina and bubbles (including in Church!). Basically, nowhere is quite like Nigeria.
I think I have to live with the fact that to be a Nigerian living outside the country, looking in, you’re gonna have issues. Being a Nigerian often means you have issues full stop; complaining being as regular a theme as talk of weather is here in England. But you have to appreciate that the place has a lot to offer, even if you have to ease yourself into it and learn how to shout, cut up, lane jump, bribe, tip, grovel, piss, dance, pray and fast like any other Nigerian. Easy peasy right?
P.S. Still can’t get over the power fiasco, that’s just a piss take. Rather that than Jeremy’s water issues though!