When I look at Nigeria, I want to run away

Finally, when I look at Nigeria, I want to run away. I want to leave all traces of my heritage and this country behind and flee this madness.

I want to run far away from these people that seem to enjoy being crazy, and have passed their heated insanity to me. An insanity that blinds the eye to the true state of things and leaves the mind wallowing in false hope saying, “E go better”. Well, good for you. Wait for your better. As for me, life is way too short to keep deceiving myself.

I want to run away from a nation that is uninterested in helping itself. From one that says that it wants to build and develop itself but no one is interested in being a bricklayer; everyone wants to be the construction manager. We are waiting for someone else to do the heavy lifting. So we sit around the building site, singing the national anthem “This Nigeria sha, it is well”, watching one or two people break their backs as they lift the heavy blocks.  We are waiting for a better which will never come because one person cannot build a castle. One person cannot shoulder a nation.

I want to run away from lawlessness. I want to flee all the melodrama and trouble that seem to follow everything to do with this country. From the Olympics, to the budget, to Chibok and paying salaries, there is no smooth sailing.

I want to run away from the inherent anger that flows through our veins, an anger that has saturated my blood, that makes us ever-ready for an outburst. That creates vast storehouses of tears that flow out without warning when it all becomes too much.

I want to abandon this identity that seems to cause so much inconvenience wherever I go. I just want a quiet, simple life without all this stress and disturbances; without this chaos and lunacy; without so much death around me. I don’t want to manage life, as people seem to do here, constantly hurdling over one Nigeria-made obstacle after the other. I am tired of seeing us only surviving life, not enjoying it to the fullest.

Yet, I want to love my country. I am happy and excited to leave but there is a sadness I cannot shake off, one that’s very difficult to express. It depresses me that I want to escape the place of my birth. It is sad that my departure is a necessity (not just a want) in order to pursue my dreams and be well-trained in my field. I am upset – no, angry –  by the fact that there are so many things I am excited to run away from. So desperate am I to get away that I care little about leaving my friends and family behind once more. I wish it were different and Nigeria was normal and functioning, that I didn’t have to look elsewhere for an education, for peace and stability, for a life.

When I look at Nigeria, I wonder if we will ever get there.


Image|Runaway Bride|Source: buzznigeria.com


When I look at Nigeria, I want to laugh…and cry

When I look at Nigeria, I want to laugh and cry.  Like when the 2016 budget documents got lost, the most incredible mixture of emotions flooded my mind as I watched the ensuing soap opera that was more riveting than anything Telemundo and Zee World could ever offer.  If it were a film, I would have laughed my head out; but it wasn’t television.  It was real life.  Worst of all, it was my country.  How depressing.  Anyway, I did laugh hard with tears streaming down my face, pretending it was come Asian country far away.  When someone got arrested for naming a dog after the president, who still thinks this is a military regime, I did exactly the same.

But how can a place be so heart-rending and hilarious at the same time?  So annoying yet adorable?

When I look at Nigeria, I want to cherish it and detest it.  I love the blue skies, the birds, the flowers and trees.  I hate the smoke and fumes, the noise, the dust and litter.  I hate the days without electricity.  I love the hours spent with a good book, away from technology.

I adore the languages, the cultures, the art and colours everywhere.  I hate the shouting, the evil eyes, the showing off and the gra gra.  I am amazed by our innovation in the midst of adversity.  I am utterly perplexed by this underdeveloped mentality we have that I can’t quite put my finger on.

I admire the amusing boldness we have to do certain things; I can’t stand the rude audacity we have to do others.  I love the family, helping hands and sympathetic lamenters with their bottomless wells of advice.  I hate the gossip and the lack of respect for personal space and privacy.  Really, half the time I just want to rip people’s heads off; half the time I want to peck them.

Ahh!  When I look at Nigeria, I don’t know what to feel.


Image|Source: Nairaland

When I look at Nigeria, I want to be a doctor

When I look at my country, when I assess its perpetually sorry state and all its struggles, I want to become a doctor for Nigeria. I want to provide effective remedies for ailments that kill more than they should, and offer my services free for all. I feel like going back to school to study midwifery, and perhaps a few less children will die before they open their eyes.

I want to enrol at Law School on Victoria Island and be called to the bar. Eventually, I will become a fair, incorruptible judge. I want to be a police officer. Maybe I will be a commissioner someday and train up a selfless, competent force, pay and house them well so they don’t have to collect bribes.

I want to become an architect and design buildings that are environmentally friendly and won’t collapse with the slightest rainy season breeze. I want to be an engineer and finally fix that Third Mainland Bridge; to avoid the massacre that will come when it eventually gives way.

I want to be a teacher and perhaps secure a saner future generation. I want to be a farmer and run a kibbutz-style community, so people are well-fed, sheltered and have gainful employment.  I really want to create good employment, and be a fair employer. I want to be a boss at a top financial institution and give all my staff 4-day weeks and free medical check-ups, so that fewer of them die from stress. They will have paid maternity and paternity leave for a year and their jobs will be secure, waiting for whenever they wish to return.

I want to be the Minister of Tourism. With tourism, improved safety and security and better public infrastructure follow. I want to put us up on display for the world to see and celebrate our cultures, our languages, our vast history and diversity. I want people to dream of emulating our way of life the way they do Bali.

I want to be a philanthropist. I want to invest in people’s lives. I wish I had the means to sponsor our athletes, artists, archaeologists and historians; to fund key scientific research and watch the findings come to fruition and improve our quality of life.

Above all, I want to do all these things well, not for the sake of my pocket or for pride or to make a name for myself, but so that people finally live long, happy lives. I am tired of seeing unnecessary deaths, of seeing us take reckless risks with our lives, of hearing about robberies by people who are just hungry and desperate, of seeing the innocent trampled upon and the guilty praised.

When I look at Nigeria, I want to be a comfort and joy in this dark pit that is unattained potential.


Image|Source: 100r.org


When I look at Nigeria


My year-long episode in Nigeria is drawing to an end and I am drifting back to the UK for a year of research, but really I am realising that it’s just another year of postponing the future.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not afraid of the future. I’m just not excited about it.

I tend to be a lot more positive about the country while I’m away, mostly because people like to edit out the bad news from home. So look out for the upbeat figures of speech in my writing from September. Maybe this time it would be different and I’ll be more realistic because I’ve been here for long and not just a brief holiday as is usually the case.

I have learned a lot about myself and this country, and I find myself pausing in moments of reflection over the past year. I started this blog with the Straws on the Camel’s Back series, which detailed certain things I had been trying to get used to since arriving in Nigeria. Now, as I leave the country and resume a short but much anticipated life abroad, I find it fitting that I should start another series: When I look at Nigeria. I still don’t like writing in the first person and I hate writing about me; but I feel it the best way to express myself and connect with others. So I will be more personal and not my aloof self so that you can understand me.

This new series is about what I have learned and my current opinion of Nigeria.  It’s up to the reader to decide whether or not my sentiments for my home country have changed with time.

Look out for posts over the next couple of days.


Image|Source: RationalNigerian 🙂