Almost 5 complete months in Nigeria and I haven’t been randomly gunned down in the streets by ruthless police, kidnapped by armed hitman, or possessed by the incantations of a juju doctor, I guess for that I am thankful. Someone was telling me the other day that sometimes people go to church and the pastor simultaneously rings the bell whilst calling out the enemy/offenders name, and then bad stuff happens :s I hope I haven’t made too many enemies . Anyhoo I still cant really say that I am enjoying the country. Everyday still feels like a chore, another weight on my anchor dragging me down into the bottomless abyss hat is Naija. I know it sounds depressing but sometimes that’s how I really feel, like Nigeria may as well be plunged into darkness, so little progress has been made that the light at the end of the tunnel is too dim for me to even perceive, yet I am constantly reassured, don’t worry Bim things are getting better. Starting to wonder whether the picture perfect smiles plastered on these multiple faces, as they once again regurgitate this line, are for their own reassurance rather than mine; the face trying to convince the brain that they are happy, and ultimately Nigeria will be okay. Regardless, I’m not falling for it and doubt I’ll ever be convinced till I start to see with my own very eyes some progress, concrete evidence that this crumbling empire is being rebuilt with sturdy bricks rather than the second hand filth many would prefer to use just because it would profit them. But the problem is how does one eradicate corruption in a country where corruption itself has now become the culture? so deeply ingrained in the ways of society that the absence of corruption would be corruption in itself, if that makes sense. It’s sad but I feel that in order for things to change someone would have to pull a Ghana and eradicate all of the higher corrupt powers, but even then would there be any point? the greed is so strong that it could flow through the blood of the younger generations; a weed that could weave itself around the most righteous of people. I would be naive in thinking that I could just come into this estranged country and charm people to such an extent that they would bow at my feet and relinquish themselves of all unrighteous ways. Unfortunately Nigerian people have proved a tad more ignorant and difficult to charm than most, thus for now, all I can do is offer my prayers and cultivate ideas for the future.
So rather than being this aimless radical activist (totally inspired by Fela by the way) I figure that for now I will protest implicitly,educating myself on the literature of Nigeria, for a time when I will be called forth to play a part in the ascension of my country. Note how I am now addressing Nigeria as ‘my country’ To be honest I must admit I was in serious denial, fiercely protesting whenever anybody tried to link me to this place they call ‘my father’s land’. What’s up with that anyways? I am just as much my father as my mother, in fact even more so, she carried me around in her womb for 9 months and it were her meticulous eating habits that provided me with the nourishment to grow and even survive till now, so why not call it my mother’s land? Nigerian’s are so chauvinistic it pisses me right off, but I’ll talk more about that later. Ultimately what I’m trying to say is that whether I like it or not Nigeria is a part of me so I better embrace it right? it’s not like my name gives me any leeway to fake any otherwise. To be honest I only recently and reluctantly came to this revelation. My experience in Naija so far hasn’t been very enjoyable, but because I have a whole load of family here I was lucky enough to find one uncle who is heavily connected and could direct me towards a place to embrace the India Arie in me. And over the last few days that’s exactly what I have been doing. Trying to find out how being stuck in Naija can turn into a more enlightening and enriching experience.
And I think I’m in love! ‘The life house’ in Victoria Island is THE SPOT. Went with my friend to sit in on a musical performance.The place is welcoming and relaxing I cant help but vow to return. You walk in from, the dustiness, pollution and rollercoaster roads to a place of tranquillity; oil lamps glowing on benches, freshly cut grass adorned with exotic palm trees, and a chic and simple hut decorated with beautiful artistic pieces. It’s the kind of place you would just go to lose yourself. Forget about the hustle and bustle of Nigeria and appreciate some of its FEW good points. Like the talented musicians. The other day some pianist came to accompany a new jazz artist. Personally If I saw dude in the street I would avoid any eye contact, since he appeared a lil disheveled. His hair hadn’t been combed for lord knows how long and he was convulsing seriously to the beat, banging his head violently as he mashed up the keyboard. All I could think about was dodging the grains of dandruff and other debris that were flying from his hair and catapulting in all directions, but everyone else seemed to enthralled by the serious tunes he was producing. Is it wrong that it all sounded really out of tune to me? kinda like when a lil baby is enthusiastically yet randomly bashing tunelessly at the piano keys. But each to his own. Every melody seemed to be sugar sweet to the other listeners who savoured every last bit of it, dancing along to the beat and zealously applauding. It made me think that maybe just maybe I am so used to a certain type of westernized music that I’m not appreciating this true, raw talent. Is my exposure to Naija changing me?
So I came again, but this time to a jamming session. Nothing serious or expensive. Just a time to sit down, kick of your shoes and appreciate the sweet music produced by the band. This time I truly felt like I was in my element. The most comfortable I’ve felt in Nigeria so far. The room was half empty apart from the band and a few people scattered around and relaxing on some cushions, whilst sipping on some gorgeous cocktails. As soon as the band started doing their thing I knew it would be a night to remember. They played the tunes of soooo many talented artists like KC and JoJo, Lauryn Hill, Beyonce, Stevie wonder, John Legend, Neyo and sooo much more. By the end of t.he night I was dancing around and drunkenly singing into the microphone, along with the 6 or so other people that occupied the room. Initially I was cautious and afraid of what people would think of me if I tried singing and the whines of a tortured cat escaped from my mouth. But one of the guys said “go ahead. Have fun. We’re a family here”, so I did just that and had a whale of a time. By the end of the night my happiness had turned to melancholy, and hearing all of my favourite tunes brought back so many memories of home, leaving me floating in a sea of nostalgia. OH HOME how I do miss you. But I was called to Naija for a purpose right? I’m constantly tryna remind myself just that. In the end, by gods grace I will leave here a stronger person.