All my life Nigeria was on my mind and now I finally had the chance to visit my homeland and experience where I am from. This was definitely one of the most adventurous and emotional experiences I have made so far – and more are yet to come! During my stay I realised many things, here are five lessons Nigeria taught me.
1. Our mothers are human beings.
We know that, I mean… it’s so obvious, what else should they be? Yet, we tend to forget that they don’t live to be available for us 24/7, day and night. They nourished us to a certain maturity, then helped us unfold our wings to fly higher than we thought we could. Even though we can count on them, we shouldn’t take their unconditional love for granted. Sometimes we forget that our mothers are women with a past, women with dreams and ambitions who work hard to earn that cheese and dish us some good dinner. We travelled to Yenegoa, passing Mbiama which is a small township where my mother and her family fled to whilst my grandfather faught in the Biafra War. Mbiama is a poor township that probably hasn’t really changed over the centuries except for more dilapidated cars and different market days. She did the same hard work the young children there still do: Carrying heavy groceries, woods and more on her head, rushing after the passing cars hoping that a passenger would take a glimpse and buy something off their hands, taking care of younger siblings. It’s not a cliché, it’s reality. This was the moment I realised our mothers have more stories to tell than just how their day and work was. Take a minute to find out and you’ll be surprised what journeys they made.
2. „God is with the people.“
As I set my feet on this country I got ill in so many ways immediately. Mentally, because I was not used to how things work over here. I wasn’t used to bribing every single person and definitely was I not used to machine guns wherever you look. I was lost… Completly. Within a few days I lost about 3 kg and fought with diarrhoea, stomach inflammation and rough skin. You might guess why… My mother told me to make sure I use tab water only to shower. Believe me, you wouldn’t want to use it for anything else than that. Unfortunately, I used it for brushing my teeth and payed the price. You can imagine what a strong immune system my fellows here have, no doubt! From barely passable roads to infants nearly falling into ditches: My fellows seem to be in the right place at the right time. Whenever a truck nearly fell on a car, but for some reasons did not – thank God – I realised more and more how right my aunt was when she said:“God is with the people.“
3. Take nothing for granted – NOTHING.
I am always thankful and appreciative, you hopefully, too! However, I was so used to Western standards that I subconsciously took for granted how blessed I am to have electricity, warm water and a roof over my stubborn head. All that 24/7, whenever I want, as long as I want. Many people start their day here at 5 a.m. and sell goods at their market stalls till late in the night earning maybe some thousands of Nairas. Sounds much, huh? But 400N is approximately 1€, I’ll leave the calculation to you….
4. Selfless giving requires maturity.
I made a pledge: I will be „faithful, loyal and honest to serve Nigeria with all my strength, to defend her unity and uphold her honor and glory „. I am unendingly happy to be part of a youth empowerment project in Nigeria. This will let me experience my homeland more and at the same time give something back which has an impact. I must confess, I hesitated. But my initial anxieties will not stop me in uplifting my country as much as I can. I experienced so much unconditional love, care and selfless giving. I am so excited to soon share more information about our upcoming project with you!
5. Stay true to yourself.
Apart from selfless giving I also experienced misogyny as well as people who do not leave any opportunity to expose somebody. Oh, yes and they do it just for the fun of it. And that hurt. I was ashamed, angry and so lost in a country I call my homeland. On the other hand, the love I receive is more powerful than any hatred could be. In Germany I am proud of who I am. Now, I learnt to be proud of who I am in Nigeria as well. I may still be the white one here who doesn’t speak her mother tongue. They’ll be surprised how fluent I will speak my mother tongue by the time I return…