April 13, 2009

Identity Crisis...All things Nigerian

This morning... I'm not sure what drew my eyes to this post... It was saved in my drafts since August 5, 2006. I just thought it was interesting. I used "great" a lot in the post... almost like I was rapping (trying) or something LOL... and the thing is I dont recall feeling like this... Without this post I wouldnt recall some of these people that I mentioned. I guess that's why it's good to keep a journal... offline or otherwise... it helps you remember... It also helps you acknowledge how far you've come... ways in which you've matured. I dont even know why I ended the post the way I did... I must have been feeling silly on that day... anyways... Just for kicks, and in light of the UnNigerian post by Kafo, I thought I'd publish it unretouched... title and all!

Everyone has probably talked about it and maybe even dealt with it. How do you answer where you're from? Some people get mad because the person doesnt answer in the expected way. e.g. A Nigerian asking another one who is clearly Nigerian where they're from and that person answers "Canada" or something off like that. What determines where we are from?

This is a question I had to struggle with. This is my experience.


In America, typically when you're asked where you are from, they typically mean the state. I arrived in the States when I was 12, right after I'd finished Jss 3. Being so young, I was quickly integrated into the culture. Developed what some see as that annoying "valley" accent...used "like" with every other word. Then I moved back east and people would ask where I was from...easy..California. Then I moved back to California...and when people asked me where I came from...easy...from back east...I mean that was where I just came from right?

I never had to deal with this in Nigeria. I was simply from Lagos. A supposedly "true" lagosian...even that story has its comma. Only one of my parents is really from Lagos. I may not have been lagos born but I was Lagos bred and I loved it. As the years rolled by, I distanced myself from everything Nigerian. I didnt realize I was changing but I did. Somewhere along the line I didnt want to be considered Nigerian. This wasnt a conscious decision...I no longer had the accent, I didnt know any other Nigerians except my dad and his random friends and my brother who I doubt remembered how to even spell I-k-e-j-a. I heard alot of bad stories about Nigeria. It seemed Nigeria was Hell. I heard people were running mad, shooting down everyone on sight...banks being robbed, houses being demolished by robbers...I mean I was scared.

But then something happened. I went home. Actually I was forced home. I thought I was going to die. I say "home" now but I didnt consider it then as such. I hated that I was being sent to Hell. From Murtala to home, everything looked dingy...the cars, the roads, the houses...everything looked smaller and old and decayed. I couldnt believe I would be in this place for 3months. I didnt even know anyone. I had since lost touch with all my friends from AirForce.

My cousins live right behind me...we coined "wireless" before cell phones became popular. So I hung out with them. They had to come around the corner and "pick" me up before I would go to their house. Imagine such fear!!!

Slowly though things started to change. I spent alot of time at Dolphin Estate with my friends Seun, Femi, Ayo and it was great. Chilled with Leggy, Gandhi and 'em...it was great. made friends with some "big" boys and it was great. I ran up the phone bill and it was great. I had been reborn. I went to Tejuosho and people were calling me their wife and it was great. People would stare at me and my clothes and it was great. All my aunties and uncles came around and it was great. In short, I loved being in Nigeria.

I went to Dansol. Had to take the bus and that wasnt so great. I never really took the local transportation when I lived in Nigeria so this was different. But I made friends and it was great. It was sooooooo easy to make friends. I fell in love with Isimi, Osondu, Dipo, Tolu, Odi...yeah...it was great. And it was somehow. I got two well paying jobs with no connection and it was fabulous.

I became a Nigerian
I loved the sense of community
Loved how easy it was for people to gather round
or maybe it was because im a fine girl...with no pimples

What an ending!
I can say now that whenever anyone asks me where I'm from, I say Nigeria. Identity Crisis...Solved! I cannot imagine saying I'm from somewhere else. It just doesnt taste right. I Love Nigeria... issues and all.

Do you have any posts or maybe an old journal entry that makes you cringe, cry, laugh or wonder what you were thinking?

Have a happy Monday!

FYI: Answers to the Rebus puzzle in my previous post are: Back to Square One; Two left feet


Kafo said...

have a blessed week

Remi, United Kingdom said...

Nice post...

Navigated through from Light-her-lamp - Jaycee's blog.

Have a great week. :-))

naijagirl said...

good piece
I keep a journal and its always amazing the stuff i discover when i go over them. Like you, i dont remember what/how/why i made some entries, but I always come with a greater understanding of life or things.
In naija, you claim the state of origin of your parents (specifically father)irrespective of where you migrated to or where you were born, over here, you claim the state where you were born, and like you said, you keep going back and forth about where you are from.
where are you from? where are you originally from? where are you......onyibo too dey ask many questions.

UnderCover07 said...

Nice post. I came to Yankee 'bout 3yrs ago, and until then I had never rili had to tackle the question;"Where r u from?"

Been in New York all d while, but whenever am asked whr am frm, beaming wiv pride (sometimes...lng story sha) I say NIGERIA. And the d qstns jst kip coming after dat. Where is that? So is Africa a country? How long did it tke u to learn English? Did u experience the war?

Y'all knw how it goes...lol.

PS: I kip a journal too!!!lol

naijagirl said...

ok i have managed to go through almost every post here. Can you update the he says, she says series....i am hooked
pretty please

Fanny said...

Nice post. Indeed, 'Everything was great!' lol. I liked that part, how old where u then? Very funny.

JustDB said...

Thankfully I've never been away from Nigeria to have a real identity crisis.... Found an old post i did based on Al Mohler's 13 critical dimensions of biblical manhood that basically jolted me back to reality this March and woke me up to the fact that I needed to resolve my black sheep issues ASAP..

NoLimit said...

:-)...your post made me smile...it's amazing how we evolve with time!
I have a couple of journals I wrote to get my heart of some "would have been" issues!
loving your post...I love my 9ja too!

kuesooM said...

I can so relate. Still trying resolve my "crisis"

justdoyin said...

very nice...and though an old piece, is still very relevant...

I sometimes refer to my old journals/write-ups and can't beleive I've got such good stuff hidden in there...

lol @ everything being "great"...

I'm also proudly naija and when asked where I'm 4rm, like 2 proudly declare "Nigeria!"

Fortunately though, unlike Undercover, I've never been asked whether Africa is a country...whaaat? Most people I meet seem to know that Nigeria IS in Africa, that Nigerians speak very good english and don't have to learn it when they travel abroad, and that though Nigeria is a very corrupt country, there ain't no war!


wow, from 2006, huh?

Nice post, sha. No identity crisis over here either!

Hope all is well.

MyPenMyPaper said...

Good, good. A lot of us are thinking about home. Can I say that again. Maybe something good is about to happen. Much of what I was asking in my post here:

I wanted to make a comment on Kafo's UnNigerian post, but as I don't do blogger....and anonymous comments arent allowed at Kafo's....

One thing I do not like in Nigeria is this idea of asking which state you are from. The thing just pisses me off. I'm like, what has 'the state you come from' got to do with it? I've observed however, although sadly, that we are all Nigerians when we are outside Nigeria, but once in Nigeria, we become Ibo, Hausa, Yoruba and what have you. Isn't it unfortunate.

nice post. Lagos is beautiful.

hey girl, the in-way of introducing yourself these days is by saying: I'm Naija.

anybody who doesnt know the connection between Nigeria and Naija should go and sleep.