when Uncle Udeh said, “Welcome home.”
File under: Things I miss about Nigeria.
The further I get from my visit in Nigeria, the easier the place becomes to love. I’m no longer consumed by the billowing black smoke in the sky from people burning their garbage in the streets, nor the dismay of turning on the tap to find that we no longer have water, nor the unforgiving heat that brought violent dark rashes to my neck, forearms and the back of my right knee.
The further I get from Nigeria, all I can think of is my first night in Makurdi, when all the family nearby arrived to greet us, and Uncle Udeh, my mom’s brother, said, “Welcome home.”
I was loved before I even got there.
I also remember Aunty Martha telling me, “You people are white” a few days earlier in Abuja; then her four-year old daughter telling me two weeks later, on Chistmas day, that I was an “oyinbo” while comparing her dark skin to my own like she didn’t fully believe it but mummy said it so it must be true.
I’m almost finished with Americanah. This book is everything I could have asked for and more. Every experience I’ve had as the only black person in my class/school/grade/office has been validated with this book. Simply because somebody else experienced it and wrote it down. Things like this to me are empowering; these things are my feminism.
And yet, the book has not filled everything for me. Chimamanda writes of a Nigerian woman, born and raised, experiencing America. As much as I could relate, I’m a Nigerian woman, born and raised in Canada. A different kind of hybrid. Experiencing Nigeria felt so alien to me. As much as I belonged (as per the words of Udeh), I also didn’t (by the words of Martha). There’s a different string of privileges and disadvantages with this kind of hybrid identity. I hope to write about it more.
Anyway, I’m heading back to my book. In case you couldn’t tell, I highly recommend it.
Whiteness and the Privilege to Travel the World
I’m always keeping myself busy. Between being an assistant photographer at a wedding this past weekend (yeah, apparently I’m a wedding photographer now), working Monday to Friday 9 to 5, and trying to keep up the shop, I’ve been pretty exhausted. But thrilled. Now that this set is up, I can work on creating new pieces. Actually, I have a shelf full of graphic novels, poetry books and novels that I really need to get to, so maybe it’s just time to sit down and read. I’m so used to putting things out there that I forget to pause and just take things in.