Unlike a lot of my friends, I wasn’t born in Mayday Hospital. I was born in a modest hospital called Ayinke House in Lagos. My mum says it was one of the nicest hospitals in Ikeja. The state of it right now, would make you think otherwise. Until I was 4, I was a little bald Yoruba child who could pass for a Fulani child apparently. Nigeria, with all its problems, was the place to be. Being able to roam the neighbourhood with your siblings and cousins, without the fear of being snatched. Petting the stray dogs. Seeing a cat! Running to the shop next door, where Aunty had everything, from Zobo (the best drink on the planet) to Gala (an absolute snack). I don’t know about you, but being a child, where I lived was the best thing. Or maybe it was just my grandmother. I could climb the gates with my brother and no one would say a thing. If wanted to play with my dolls 20 minutes after, I could. If I wanted to stay outside all day, and let the mosquitoes feast on me (even though that’s not a really good idea because malaria can kill you), I could. This was Lagos.
I am an Ijebu girl at heart. The greenery, the pretty flowers, the fact that the town isn’t overly modernised and the harmony. The harmony amongst the Muslims and Christians in Ijebu is one of the most beautiful things you will ever hear about. The pretty horses on Ojude Oba. Eid. These are things that will stick with me for life. I only spent 4 consecutive years there, and a month each year after that.
Then I moved to this foreign land. The land of fish and chips, red buses and Queen Elizabeth. A land that took me seconds to fall in love with. It was almost like a fairy tale. “Ilu oyinbo”, as they would say. Who were these white people? Who were these brown people? Why can’t I watch Papa Ajasco and Sango anymore? I felt like I was on a different planet. It was staring me in the face.
Moving to England was a massive culture shock for me, as you have probably gathered. As I grew older, I started to despise my country. Why isn’t it more like England? Why isn’t it safer? Why can’t Nigerians be more civilised? I recently found the answers to these questions. ‘No’. Nigeria shouldn’t change because of the opinions of someone who has clearly forgotten where she came from. It should change for the benefit of all. Politics and all, but that’s a different story for a different day, ladies and gentlemen. The fact that the Danfo buses are death traps make Nigeria, Nigeria. The fact that the okada cyclists carry goats on their bikes makes Nigeria, Nigeria. I feel like what a lot of us who have moved countries forget is that we brought a piece of that country with us here. I realised that my mum is Nigeria. My best friend is Nigeria. I am Nigeria. Nigeria birthed my love for politics, photography, horses and relaxation. I got my chicken pox in Nigeria, I learned how to drive in Nigeria. No matter how long I spend in the UK, I will always be Nigeria. For this thought process…this lifestyle, Nigeria, I love you.
Lagos – A state in Nigeria, which is usually confused to be the capital.
Ikeja – A town in Lagos.
Zobo – A juice drink, made from fruits like blackcurrants and sold in a plastic bag thing.
Gala – The nation’s favourite snack, a beef roll. The packaging says sausage, but it’s a scam.
Ilu Oyinbo – Phrase used to describe London. Directly translates to “The Land of Whites”.
Papa Ajasco – a comedy TV show.
Sango – A TV show about the Yoruba religion, its Gods or “Orishas”.
Danfo – A yellow Volkswagen minivan/bus (a bit like the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo), a dangerous vehicle.
Okada – A motorcycle but 10 times more dangerous.
Featured image: Atypical Danfo bus conductor: Orekoko | wikimedia commons
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.
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