My Time in Nigeria

A reader had asked me to describe my time in Nigeria and what it was like and if I would or wouldn't move back and why or why not? So I shall do my best to recall my time and feelings then.

For those who don't know, the summer of 2009, I think I had what felt like the closest I would ever be to a nervous breakdown. I had just had enough of everything, most especially my job which I hated and was not even in a field that I wanted to be in. I looked around and realized if I didn't do something, I would end up so unhappy and still in this situation in another 5 years. So I did the typical thing most Nigerians who hit a wall in America do - quit my job, packed up my stuff, put it in storage and went to spend 3 months in Nigeria. And so it began.

I have to say that, that summer ranks as one of the best, if not the best summer of my life. It was the one time I had minimal responsibility and was able to let loose. I had a job for the summer at a startup telecommunications company (that is now defunct) and did the commute from the mainland to the island everyday, most times driving. That was a pain.

The biggest adjustment for me in Nigeria was the mentality. I just couldn't get with the program and I always felt like a fish out of water. I am sure if I had stayed longer maybe I would have gotten with the program? but man I wouldn't want to. I always think Nigeria changes you for the worse. Most people were so self centered and so materialistic and so concerned about appearances. An excerpt from a blog entry I posted back then:

I don't know what I was expecting when I came to do my little stint in Nigeria but I thought getting used to missing my little yankee comforts would be the biggest thing. But I decided, the biggest thing for me is getting used to the mentality. See, back in Yankee one of my pet peeves is when a fellow Nigerian tells me "You are so americanized"(wtf does that even mean?) but over here I think I can understand that statement. It could be because I am in Lagos but it seems everyone has that "one up you" mentality ie it feels like everyone wants to pull one over on you. I know its hard out here and everyone is a hustler but it's like humanity has dissapeared.Everyone is in competition with each other and not in a healthy way, in a materialistic way. lol, the sense of humor is also quite different, so you could find yourself laughing by yourself sometimes unless you have a fellow returnee with you. Nigeria still rocks tho!"

I still agree with the above (except for the Nigeria still rocks part). To combat this, I have to confess i hung out mostly with fellow returnees. I have to say that it is true that "Ain't no party like a Lagos party". I had a good time while I was there. Networking was like a 24/7 job, everywhere you go, you are trying to make a connection and there really are a lot of ambitious people. Speaking of that. It's amazing how there are ambitious people but at the same time there are the people who don't think outside the box in the office place. They just stay within the box and do as they are told. I found this frustrating. Dating or should I say attention from the opposite sex is never an issue in Nigeria. Now the quality? A whole different issue. I remember a guy who was on my case and it wasn't till I got back I realized he was a father of 3. 

So all this was 6 years ago. I always feel my time there doesn't make me equipped to give an objective opinion because I had a end date, it was a short period of time and it was a reprieve from my real life. Back then, I couldn't wait to come back right after graduation and live in Nigeria. But I had to look at it with realistic eyes. Would I move back now? Never say never but it isn't a preference right now. As many opportunities and things people say there are I still don't think Nigeria is for everyone and it is not for me right now.

For one, I think it would be too much pressure for me. I feel like living in Naij takes a daily amount of time to put up or keep up appearances and yes I am aware you can avoid that but I think it gets to you eventually. I don't want a life like that. At this age, I would like to be able to live in my own truth and not feel some type of way about it on a daily basis.

The Healthcare system - this is a big aspect in my life and I would like to live somewhere where I think I can trust the system. With everything going on with my mom and also thinking that this system killed my aunt. I have a special amount of resentment for Nigeria for this. To me, it represents a lot of things so wrong with our country and it infuriates me.

The simple things - the things that really should be simple become such a huge task and add stress to your life. simple things like customer service, justice system, things that should have structure that a nation with so many intelligent people should have but lacks is very frustrating. Everything is so expensive but necessary. You have to buy gas for gen. You have to pay shitload for internet that may or may not work. Human beings just generally not using common sense.

I always say the three things that could move me back are: family/dire circumstances, bad ass job with shitload of money and if I marry someone who wants to move back. Addressing #2, that's kinda standard. for all the cries of there's money to be paid, I think only a select few are fortunate. In my circle, most are trying to stay afloat and there's no millions being thrown at them. The jobs aren't just sitting a barrel waiting to be picked. If you have rich ass parents with a home, a car and a backup waiting for you. why not? You at least have a safety net while you pursue what you are looking for. I don't have that luxury so #2 would have to be given for me to even consider.

In summary, can i live in Nigeria? Yup. Do I want to? Nah not right now. I don't have a fondness in my heart for the country at the moment and it's just not for me right now. Maybe in another 10 years I could have a different story, afterall 5 years ago I was ready to move.

Sorry this is long but I hope I answered your question Anonymous Reader. If you have any more specific questions, I will be happy to answer them. I was there summer of 2009, so you can go back to those posts maybe I wrote some things there you would like to read.

How about for you guys out there, would you move back? For those that moved back, would you want to move back overseas or you love Nigeria?

Have a blessed week.


Berry Dakara said…
Hehehehe, as someone who was sick of her job and didn't see any growth in the future, I also moved back in 2011. The exception, as you know, is that I stayed. But guess what? The only thing that keeps me sane is the knowledge/belief that I'm only here permanently temporarily or vice versa. I just can't see myself here forever and ever. Do you want me to cry?!?!
Kash said…
Good points you made there. I definitely don't love Nigeria, but I've definitely adjusted a lot compared to when I first moved in September 2013. If I had the luxury of just visiting the US every 4 months or so, I would be very very happy, but since I don't I'm just dealing with it. I would consider moving back if I got a job in my field making GOOD money or if my significant other wants to move. So for now i'm just here. It's easier now for me though because most of my friends are returnees (and from my same city too).
Anonymous said…
This was exactly what I was looking for when I asked... Thank you very much!
Clara said…
I've loved going back to Nigeria the two times I went, but I also realised that I was too "eccentric" to fit into the kind of culture I found there. Even though I kind of had idealistic thoughts of me going back there eventually to raise a family, I quickly realised that I probably would crack from the stress of it all. I sadly haven't spent enough time there since we left it seems... :(

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