I’m Nigerian American! Let me tell you, we third culture folks have it rough some days. Rotating rehearsed response scripts between being American, Nigerian, and the most annoying, not Nigerian enough on a frequent basis. The “you aren’t really Nigerian” statement from my fellow Nigerians is most disconcerting as it carries a serious tone of judgement. Why so bothered, you ask? Because my Nigerians had magical dust sprinkled on them at the time of creation. Ask anyone. It’s quite true. Phrases like, “naija no dey carry last” and “Omo naija ni mi” should not be taken lightly. Who wouldn’t want to cling to all the excellence that is associated with Nigerians.
Nigeria is a beautiful chaos. The traffic, the motorcycles, the flowing garbs in various hues of reds, blues, yellows and greens will captivate you. There are currently over 182 million people in Nigeria. The giant of Africa certainly doesn’t carry last when it comes to procreating (insert side eye here) I’ve found some of the funniest people in Nigeria. If you ever spent a day on the streets of Lagos and didn’t find some event worthy of laughter, I’d strongly suggest that you check your pulse. No seriously, you should. There is always something to laugh about. A look to your left and a driver is beeping his horn telling the motorcyclist how he looks like ‘the head of a goat’ because he didn’t move out of the way quickly enough. A look to your left and the conductor of a truck overloaded with passengers is screaming while hanging recklessly from the vehicle with one hand, “Oshodi Oke, e wole e wole, ko si change o” It’s a sight to behold!
If you have plans to visit Africa and want to really experience ‘Africanness’, I’d recommend you skip Kenya and South Africa (for now) and head to West Africa -more specifically- Nigeria.
In Lagos (the former capital of the country) you can go salsa dancing, grab a local drink at a pepper soup joint, or head to a nearby beach. I’d recommend heading to one of the local markets to grab some artwork and fabric. Some of my favourite well tailored dresses were made in Lagos for less than $50 bucks. #truestory
The food is one of my favourite cuisines (nope, I’m not biased) in the world. If you want spice, I’d recommend the pepper soup. Nothing else could clear up your sinuses like some goat pepper soup. Remember to bring along some tissues, you’ll need them! Definitely try the suya. Suya is traditionally made with beef grilled over an open flame seasoned to perfection and served on a stick. Think of suya as a kebab but exponentially better in taste. Looking for something on the sweeter side, I’d recommend some puff-puff. It’s dessert but not quite dessert. Try it and let me know what you think!
I would be remiss if I didn’t write about the corruption, lack of consistent electricity, and the pollution that continues to plague the country. But what country doesn’t have its share of headaches. Nigerian continues to find its proper footing in the global arena. For all of its flaws, it is still is a place that would make your heart come alive almost instantaneously.
What To Do: Have an outfit tailor-made.