Jul 13, 2010

I Don't Wanna Go To Africa No More More More...

I've done Nigeria. I've done it twice. And I've slept next to it for 16 years. After my 2nd trip, I decided I didn't want to do Nigeria anymore. In fact, its fair to say I don't want any part of Black sub-Saharan Africa. Not anymore.

I went to find a place where I belonged. I was infatuated. Eager to melt into a culture where I would be welcomed & embraced.

I arrived & found how alien I was.

Lagosians chanted the Yoruba word for a white person as I walked down the street. It irked me to no end that my Nigerian husband was so tickled by it. In my husband's home town, the children peered goggle eyed at me in church & in my car window. By their expressions (what is that?), it was as if they were looking @ an abomination. Yes, I expected stares... but not to that degree.

By Nigerian standards I guess I'm not really Black. I'm something else. I guess. I'm clearly not white - my skin isn't even particularly light. Some people tan within only a few shades of their natural color. Not me. My arms I can go from Beyonce bright to Biggie Smalls black in days. Yet my hair texture & a few features reveals mixed heritage.

It has been 14 years since I stepped foot in Lagos. At the end of this month, I will return. God help me.

My children are visiting their father's home for the 1st time. I'm eager for that reason alone to co-navigate their brief immersion into Nigerian society & Yoruba culture. There's a lot I want them to understand & experience first hand.

The people are lovely.
The food delicious.
The traffic aggravating.
The infrastructure Third World.
The toilets traumatizing.

Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa.
Lagos is a hive. Cacophanous commotion. Actively chaotic. Grimy with smog.
The people are intensely proud. Loud. Aggressive. Ambitious. Opinionated.
The country is world-renowned for scams & corruption.
The culture gave birth to voodoo.

It's my 3rd visit. I don't want to go with my defenses up but... they're up. Way up. Can't help it. How many times can I expect to be told how fat I am? At least once for person who comes to greet & welcome me. And I'll probably meet lots of those.

So I guess I better brace myself. Nigerians are are what they are. Judgmental & not shy about telling you what you should be doing. But I can't turn off my American sensibilities in Africa any more than they can turn off their Nigerian ones in America.

I have a few weeks to practice the fine art of politely telling someone I'm beginning to be insulted, you can shut the hell up now...


Elizabeth said...

Nigeria sounds too overwhelming for me!
you write beautifully

my neighbor from childhood lived for many years in Nigeria and has such tales to tell.

I love Morocco but think I'm not bold enogh for the rest of Africa.
All best wishes

Elizabeth said...

ps two blogs you might like are

this is Janelle in Tanzania (latest post not typical or her best!!)



Reya in Washington


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