Photo Credit: Courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. Ofuani (Country home, Ubulu-Okiti, Delta State, Nigeria).
This picture reminds me that there is beauty everywhere and in everyone. There are countries that have been written off, but I have learnt to turn a deaf ear to stereotypes and information that have negative impacts and can turn one’s judgement into an essay of bias notions. In my home, we have the potential to be beautiful but sometimes it seems like we are afraid of our light, and all we can do. In fact, I attended a book jam recently where the host asked us to explain in our own words what we thought the quote for the day meant. After debating and discerning, that the Author meant sometimes people are afraid of how great they could be or having to live up to high standards, which we all know is very difficult and demanding, some of the members couldn’t help but laugh with wry humour. To them the Author was talking to us. They felt defeated, asking when things would change if ever. I was the youngest person in that room that evening and somehow I had the confidence to give a poem talking about my love for my country. A country is only failed when its citizens no longer believe in it. A country is a thing, and its citizens are the ones with the power to choose if it will be an important or useless entity. There was a time in my life, when I really felt lost. My family travelled a lot to different countries, so it was really no big deal to me then. I could not understand why people yearned to be citizens of other countries when those other countries had their own problems to deal with. Either way I joined. I disliked going to my village or involving myself in country activities.
2 years ago, my Dad forced me to come to the village with the family. Of course I was reluctant. I was still very young and very ignorant. By the time we arrived, I was amazed by what I saw. I saw everything in a new light. From that day till now I have been really proud to call myself a Nigerian because it wasn’t Lebanese, German or Swedish architects that made our village as beautiful as it could be, it was Nigerians. Maybe if we believed in ourselves a lot more, tried harder to see all the things we can accomplish as one, we would indeed be one of the top countries we admire so much.
How have my views changed?
Quite honestly they have not. Being in the U.S. has only helped me develop them further and living here in order to receive a solid education has reinforced my beliefs. The grass does indeed look greener on the other side but I say and ask truthfully, if we want our grass to be as healthy and luscious looking as that which we envy why don’t we adopt practices that help the growth and progress of ours?
I have come to realize that a human being is a human being anywhere. A little over 7 billion people, all unique but the same. People ask me if moving here was difficult for me? or if I experienced culture shock? I am very privileged to be able to say no to both of these questions. In my opinion I am yet to move anywhere officially and my home will always be in Nigeria. As for culture shock, I experienced no such thing but what I did experience did shock me. In my country, we are all black and hopefully proudly Nigerian but what I have seen here is that there are different interpretations of being American and even the concept of freedom is ambiguous. Note that I say none of these things to offend anyone but simply to state that nowhere on this earth is without its flaws or imperfections and to demonize a country or its people because it is perceived to be more flawed than others is as silly as letting someone’s skin colour, sexuality or gender define them.
I only wish for there to be true love, respect and peace amongst all men, women and children and to live in a world where respect is sincerely earned and not withheld or given for the wrong reasons. If I was to state a reason why I blog this would be at the top of the list; to give a voice to those who are either too afraid to speak or face confrontation for the views they hold.
I am now a year away from being considered a young adult, still with a long way to go and a lot to learn. One’s freedom of speech should not encroach on another’s freedom/rights/bring verbal harm to their person. Once again, I hope this inspires other people to want to be a part of their country’s development and see it get to where it should be in all aspects.
Written: Friday, July 27th 2012.
Updated 1st: Tuesday, February 25 2014.
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