The longer I’m here the more I see the complexities of this nation. Initially this place is somewhere I wouldn’t mind visiting every few decades. A place where I knew I had family and could come to get my fix of culture, family pictures and root finding in a matter of days until the next visit. I love that my mom is having a blast and it’s been great to see people I hadnt seen since my pre-k days and even more exhilerating to see people that didn’t exist then. However, I’m trying to imagine if I could ever call this place my home and the more I ponder the more I realize the answer is no.
Nigeria is where I’m from, but America is my home. This POV would cause much derision if I spoke it aloud here. I feel as much a tourist as any other person, the only difference is that there’s a cousin’s bed for me to sleep in versus a hotel room. There are still foods I’ve never eaten, words that need translating and sites I need to visit in my ‘home’land. I always had a sense of disbelief when family or other native Nigerians would say “Nigeria is one of the riches nations in the world.” After looking it up, I realized there is a little ring of truth to that. Nigeria has the second largest stock exchange in Africa, the US’s larget trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa and is 31st in the world’s GDP. According to Citigroup, Nigeria will get the highest average GDP growth in the world between 2010-2050.
This makes sense as over the past few days I’ve noticed a fair share of BMWs and Benzs on the road. This is quite perplexing as I gaze down the street and see the car size potholes in the middle of the road. Every time I’m in a car it feels as if I’m on a mini roller coaster with the incessant bobbing and weaving. The amusement park feel is complete as children and adults carry buckets on their heads as they sell anything from roasted nuts to cold drinks to cds and socks – on the traffic filled interstate. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Then the news bulletin from tonight brought to the forefront of my mind what I’ve known but tried to forget – the government is too corrupt for its own good.
How is it that the country could be rich, but the people so poor? There’s such potential and yet much stagnation. Often I realize my flippancy towards Nigeria stems from grade school when children would click at me and ask if I knew what they were saying. Even in college some asked if I were staying in a hut on this visit. There were times when I saw this visit a chore and my coming trip to Europe a vacation. However, I’ve enjoyed my time and I’m glad I can see my country in semi-wiser eyes. There’s much maturity in store for me; though, as I’m still in search of the roots I’m supposed to find while I’m here. Which is something else that has been bothering me.
What exactly are these roots, how am I supposed to find them, and what do I do once I’ve got them?