Sunday, August 28, 2011

What Nigeria Does for My Heart

Our people say:
Yoruba: A kì í fini joyè àwòdì ká má lè gbádìẹ.
English: One cannot be given the title “eagle” and yet be incapable of snatching chickens. - Yoruba Proverb.

Nigeria is where I was born and grew up so there are so many things that go on that I'm used to, unlike a visitor who would be intrigued by a mother carrying a baby strapped with a wrapper on her back or by a nomad man and his herd of the cattle in the middle of the street or by a family that chooses to close down an entire street to throw a lavish funeral or traditional wedding ceremony.
Nigerians have been fighting for a long time. All we've known how to do is have our defenses up and be ready to protect ourselves since we have very little protection from elsewhere. This is very evident in the customer service and the general attitude from commercial transport workers and the road users. However, Nigerians are extraordinarily resilient people and against all odds, the spirit of family and oneness exists among everyone. It’s no wonder so much wealth and so much poverty have been able to co-exist. The man in the cramped, Indomie-panted storey building in the heart of Lagos keeps hoping that one day, he will be like his neighbor in the skyscraper along the Eko Marina. Once, I was returning from Rebuilding Lives and there was a Keke NAPEP driving at top speed across the Third Mainland Bridge. That in itself is not unusual but there were seven people inside the Keke and one man hanging onto it from outside. By the time I got out my camera, it was too late to get a picture. L But Nigeria is home to many contradictions and Nigerians will thrive no matter what is thrown at us.

The climate for Arts, Literature and Theatre is being restored slowly but surely. I am grateful for this. I was able to attend a good number of such events. I’m glad for the accessibility, even though there’s a lot of room for improvement.

The LifeHouse on Sinari Daranijo street, Farafina Trust (and Kachifo Limited), Silverbird Group, Taruwa, etc are some of the innovations that deserve credit for hosting book-readings, concerts, literary workshops and thorough libraries; mostly for free.
NakedSha and Aderonke Williams Adeosun (read her published story here) at E.C Osondu’s book-reading for Voice of America.  

I was in Port Harcourt city twice this summer. If you were born in Port Harcourt or have lived there at all, you understand that there is only one way we eat bole (roasted plantain). This food originated in the West amongst the Yorubas but is eaten there with ekpa (groundnuts). In the south, however, fish is first coated with palm oil and pepper, and  roasted alongside the plantains. Then a special sauce is prepared and the entire meal is covered in this sauce. In PH city, bole is a meal. I had missed bole and fish (as well as isi-ewu, ekpang kukwo, native soup and isam (periwinkles)) and I enjoyed all these while I was there.

Bole and Fish

Rivers Native Soup

When someone travels, they usually do not unpack their bags entirely while they visit the new place until they have returned home. Nigeria is that place where my suitcase is always fully unpacked. It’s where I can let my anchor down because I know that I – or my heart, at least – will be there for a long time. I miss it every day even though I’m having a fantastic time where I am now. I miss the praise and worship in church, the weddings, the laughter, the food, the family, the richness and diversity of culture and the never-ending traffic [well, maybe not]. Before I make sense of time, I’ll be back home to where the inspiration for my stories never ends.

Unlike Furtado: I’m like a bird, I want to fly away. BUT, I know where my home is and, I’ll be back to where my soul is.

^^ Morning of day 1: I wanted agege bread so badly. My sister and I went all the way to the main junction to find some.



  1. :) You made me jealous of your visit to Nigeria. I miss home so bad too! It's nice to see you passionate about the revival of arts and literature at home. Cheers!

  2. Now you've gone and made me nostalgic for Nigeria, lol. Glad you had a nice time dear.

  3. Iwo kan lo gbadun ni Nigeria ni tie ni. lol. Agege wetin? lol

    - LDP

  4. I love the bole and fish, yum yum

  5. Thank you. :)

    Yup, yup, Okeoghene.

    @LDP, ha, Agege something oh.

  6. Sounds like you had a fab time. I've never had bole and fish. Would like to taste what it's like. I'm familiar with bole and epa, lol.

  7. Thank yu, Adura and Muse.

    Adura, you need to taste this thing.

  8. I love your pictures. And the points you made about Lagos was spot on, however its not the same as Abuja (at least the part I live) maybe its bcos of what el rufai did, but everywhere seems so planned, road drivers so sane accepting the traffic lights and no beggars on the street..Again like I said maybe its due to EL RUFAI which means some people somewhere are homeless displaced and struggling for survival

    Great blog, long time no visit me

  9. Mena, long time oh.I am still your visitor jare, no mind me.


  10. wow!!! I've gotta say dis: UR BLOG IS ON POINT

  11. Nigeria is indeed a country of contradictions. Salivating at the food pics.


Your comments are my maggi!