Where is my Motherland?

As I prepare to embark on a journey that I ironically haven’t mentally prepared to make, I thought what better way is there to grapple with my anxieties about traveling than sharing them on my forgotten beloved blog! I am currently packing (yet again) to move to a country I call my mother land despite having spent less than two months there in my twenty-four-years of life! I have accepted a television reporting job in Lagos, Nigeria and have a few more days until I’ll say adieu to my hometown Barnet, England. Question:

Since I am “returning” to my motherland, should I feel guilty about feeling slightly apprehensive about going?

Barnet is my hometown because I was born and raised in these neck of the woods. I attended nursery, infant, junior and secondary school in Barnet. I even half supported Barnet for most of my childhood — until I decided to remove the shackles of inevitable disappointment! In a nutshell, Barnet has always felt like home. Perhaps this is what rattled the cages of kids I grew up with that were angered that I supported Nigeria rather than England in the World Cup! To my fellow students, I was not only a traitor but off my trolley as well for supporting a country I had (at the time) never even visited. Bless their hearts — my Nigerian patriotism was probably too complicated to understand at the tender age of sixteen…

I grew up with my father telling me that on paper I am English but in my heart I must remember that I’m Nigerian. Aided by detailed lectures from my dad after asking questions such as how many states are there in Nigeria, I became deeply interested in Nigeria’s past, present and future. I didn’t travel to Nigeria until I was thirteen but from a very young age, I felt deeply connected to this far away place. In short — I’m a Londoner but a Nigerian at heart.

So as I soak in all the love I can get from my family and friends in the last few days I have left until I travel, I cannot rid myself of the feeling that I am going to miss my hometown more than ever. But why? After all, it’s not the first time I have had to say goodbye to my birthplace for an indefinite amount of time. I returned to London a few months ago– more than two years after moving to New York to study for a Masters. So what is it that makes this departure feel a million times more drastic? Funnily enough, it’s not the risk of armed robbery, shortage of electricity or even the increased kidnapping rate that’s got me rattled! Unfortunately it is the very industry I work in that has vastly contributed to my uneasiness about emigrating…

My sister was half amused yet afraid when I told her that because of all the Nollywood movies I had seen with demons fiercely present, I was scared most demons choose Nigeria as their home! Can you blame me?! If you have ever seen a Nollywood movie, despite “to God be all the glory” or “Praise be to God in the highest” and so forth being written at the end of a film, Nigeria is depicted as a God forsaken land! Watch the clip below to get a good idea about the use of demons in Nigerian films.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP7JlipXNnM&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Perhaps the fact that I’m a bit of a scaredy cat is partly responsible for my fear of confronting a demon. In Nollywood movies, shouting “Jesus” seems to be a successful demon repellant but I’m praying beyond measure that I will never have to test this out :l

Jokes aside, I have received mixed reactions from friends and family members about my decision to further my career in Nigeria. I have definitely taken both the negative and positive comments on board but I have been most moved by words of encouragement about my upcoming move. When I was told by an auntie that Nigeria needed reporters like myself, I was reminded about a conversation I had with one of my favourite teachers while studying for my A levels in sixth form. After telling my teacher about some sort of misfortune that had occurred in Nigeria, his response was along the lines of this:

People like you really irritate me. You receive education here and receive knowledge that could benefit your motherland but instead of going back, you stay here with all the other knowledgeable people and complain about the place you won’t even help yourself.

More than five years after Mr. Khan said this to me, I find all the encouragement I need to move to Nigeria in his bitter-sweet dig. Wow, writing really is therapeutic! If I can use my British charm to get blood out of stone (get politicians to talk to me for a story) and contribute to accurate news stories Nigerian’s want to see, then it’s worth me facing some demons — not literally, please God not literally!

Anyway, I’m off to get some last-minute injections from a clinic to keep me disease free in Lagos. I will leave you with a video about the very best state in Nigeria — Akwa Ibom.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1w7BotgXWc&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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7 responses to “Where is my Motherland?

  1. Beautiful! I want to go home now too :(. The video was fab and a really good song. Mr Khan sounds like a teacher of old, those who would make you think and never forget they are rarities now. We are the new generation we must be different from the last, and take what we have learnt and leave a positive impact on our country not just make money. So you JournoAlfred and leave your mark, who knows you be the Wole Soyinka of our generation. Always love your blog keep writing xo

    • Thank you sweetie! I’m finally excited to go! I’m really praying I can make my mark in Naij. Looking forward to your next blog post 🙂

  2. Love it! My favourite post so far… Really moving and honest.

  3. Ahhh, now I feel I have someone who I can relate to! Keep this blog updated and keep reading mine too (http://dkosei.co.uk/prodigana/)

    I’m so proud and delighted you’ve decided to do this. Leaping to Ghana has definitely been the BEST decision I’ve ever made. I’ll write you in full though so send me your email addy.xx

  4. Quite a piece.. As a British Born Nigerian Living in the USA, i endure all the negativity that comes with being identified as a nigerian. Inspite of these, i love naija to the fullest and also planning on relocating back some day soon..
    Take care Eno and Good Luck in Africa. Make ur mark in your mother/father land..

    The Akwa-ibom movie makes me wanna go there…But am still very loyal to EDO State..

    • I’ve already fallen in love with Nigeria — the good, the bad and the ugly side of her. As a journalist, its the perfect time to be here what with the security issues and removal of the fuel subsidy but a lot of Nigerians are angry with the news worthy issues…it’s been quite the adventure so far so I would recommend relocating here despite what many may say about the state of the country.

      Akwa Ibom really is lovely although I seem to spend most of my spare time in Calabar! I have friends from Edo state!

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