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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

#NigeriansinDiaspora- Tobe's Story

Nothing adequately prepares you for life in diaspora. With immeasurable joy, big dreams and plans adequately in place, there is no room to plan for a "shock absorber" for the disappointment and unexpected dangerous life curves that can weaken your faith, if you let it.

I began my beautiful journey in 2008 and I am grateful to have been brave enough to leave the comfort of my family and friends. I had no experience living away from home, thanks to my parents who vehemently refused to enroll me in a boarding school while in Nigeria. The main reason why I left home was because I wanted better for myself and (thanks to Nollywood) I knew that Nigerian schools, with their bullying, cultism, and trading sex for grades, was not going to work for me.


I value relationships, so before I left, I went to the village for my ancestral blessings-visiting grand uncles and grand mum; freezing those moments in pictures, and relishing in their parting words of wisdom. I was happy for the things that would come but deep down in my heart I was also afraid of the graves that I might come back to. America was supposed to be everything I imagined it to be-work hard, be nice and your life is set; except it did not always work out that way. Alabama was my first touch down and I realized immediately that I was different,which should have been a good thing but no, my skin color, accent, poise, life lens and beliefs alienated me from everyone. It was tough, lonely and rough. I sought out to look for my fellow Nigerians because I needed a sense of belonging with a community I could identify with. When I found them, the loneliness and home sickness began to ease a little bit.

This relationship with Nigerians I met along my way, friends and families that adopted me, began to reinforce my self-esteem and strengthened my life stride. I began to tell myself that it was ok to be a black Nigerian woman in America. By being myself, I found other people like me and then I became comfortable with having non-Nigerian friends as well. An interesting thing I found on my journey in diaspora is that our green passport unites us here more than it divides. I didn't care about ethnicity, all I sought for was someone, anyone, from Nigeria to find comfort in.

 I learned more about Nigeria while living in diaspora than I did back home. I also learnt about the African continent as well; thanks to my African friends. Because my first foundation was rooted in the Nigerian community (I met good ones) when I came here, I almost didn't miss home that much; but just the people at home. Having Nigerian friends was my hinge to keep moving no matter what obstacles came my way. It also helped in expressing my confusion and resolve my cultural conflict.
To these angels, the woman you kept afloat since 2008 is grateful to all of you.

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