My First Visit to Nigeria

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In this essay I will reconstruct my first visit to Nigeria. The journey took place when I was seventeen in early 1993, during which time Nigeria was under the military rule of General Sanni Abacha. For the most part of my trip I stayed in Lagos, former capital state and still highly recognised as the commercial capital of Nigeria, although I did visit other parts of the country including Ondo State and Jos. Between this time and the time I left, in early 1994, I experienced and learnt a lot about the Nigerian culture. My main focus will be on the particular aspects of Nigerian culture that I saw as relevant to me as a teenager at the time, and also on my views before and after the journey. Up until the point of this journey I had lived most my life in the city of London and my cultural views were very much British. I was not very familiar with Nigerian culture, and the parts I was familiar with, which came mostly through my parents and other family members, were not very appealing to me. Thinking back now I imagine that one of the reason things like that did not appeal to me was because it went so much against the British culture which I had already related to; fully accepted as my own; and deemed as ‘normal'. For example eating certain food, not including chips, with your right hand instead of with a knife and fork. Leading up to the time I left for Nigeria, I had never really identified myself with the Nigerian culture even though both of my parents where originally from Nigeria. I was the first born of my mother followed by my two younger brothers, Steven and William. We were all also given Nigerian names along with are English ones; mine was Femi and my brother's were Ayo and Bayo. My father was still studying along with working when I was born and my mother was working also, when I was about three years old I was sent to live with a white middle class nanny in a town called Warminster in Wiltshire. It was a common phenomena in Britain in that period to see West African being bought up by Foster parents while their parents worked or studied (Groody and Groothuues, 1977). I did my first two or so years of primary school in Warminster before my parents decided it was time for me to return to live with them in London. I was one of very few blacks in Wiltshire at the time, so apart from the occasional rare visit made by my parents I was just about completely oblivious of Nigerian culture. At first I hated living in London. My parents tried to incorporate as much Nigerian culture into their, mine, and my brothers lives as possible. At home they conversed in Yoroba our native Nigerian tongue. We ate Nigerian food, although my Brothers and me preferred to use forks rather then our hands. In fact we ate so much Nigerian food, such as pounded yam, eba, and rice, we became tired of it, and we could hardly wait for the rare occasions when my mother would fry us some chips or cook spaghetti. On special occasions, such as a birthday party for one of my numerous ‘ cousins', every other person from Nigeria seemed to be my cousin in those days; we were expected to don one of they many Nigerian traditional Garments. My Mother or one of my aunts had always made a point of bringing back one for each of us each time they went to the homeland. Also when going out with my Dad he would always insist on having one of his Afro beat or Fuji cassette tapes playing. At home he and my mother enjoyed watching Nigerian made films or soap operas which me and my brothers could not enjoy because we could not understand and the quality was really poor compared to the film technology we were used to. In school most people did not seem to know that Africa was a continent. West Africans were not commonly referred to as Nigerians, Ugandans, or Kenyans all were Africans. There was that many Nigerians in London at secondary level at that time (Goody and Groothues, 1977), the majority of blacks that surrounded me were West Indians. The term ‘West African' was...
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