As I sat in my room looking out of the window, the view of the lake with ducks and swans gliding on the surface of the water was beautiful. The tall, brownish green trees at the edge of the lake and the birds perching from tree to tree were a wonderful sight to behold. Although the lake was small, there were warning signs which hinted at the fact that it could be dangerous.
It amazes me when it rains with hailstorm at the same time. I wonder how the fishes in the little lake behind my room manage when the water is covered with ice, and how the swans and ducks still manage in the water. It is sunny one moment and you feel like wearing a cool clothe, the next moment you are freezing.
As I ponder all these in my heart, my mind flashed back to home.
Home, sweet home.
They say home is where the heart lies,
and I strongly believe that. I try to have a mental picture of the little stream few meters from my house in the staff quarters where we leave. The bushes and overgrown grasses, the tall palm trees, the crooked path leading to the stream give it a wonderful perspective for the artist. I smile as I visualize my little cousins dashing off to fetch water from the stream together with other kids in the neighbourhood. The striking thing I appreciate here is the communal living. These kids call and wait for each other in virtually everything they do. You can’t but scold them occasionally when it becomes so unbearable for you to wait.
Further down the memory lane, I remember the good old days when as kids we share a lot – food, house chores, clothes and … you name it. My parents take turns in giving out portions of food, fish and meat to us. It amazes them how we all end up sharing even the smallest chunk. I also remember quite vividly the habit of looking out for each other outside the home. We stick together and that is home, for even you worst enemy at home is your best friend outside. That makes our uniqueness as Nigerians and Africans.
Such lifestyle is quite different here in Europe. I can’t have my favourite abacha, nkwobi, isi-ewu or mmai ngwo. I can’t lay hands on roasted yam with palm oil, salt and pepper, roasted corn with pear etc as much as I want it. Such delicacies make me salivate and long for home.
We all long for a better life, being Y2K compliant in terms of technology etc. We long to be whites in black skin. Is that possible? We have not realised how impossible that is. We come to Europe and change every unique identity we have - our sense of reasoning, accent, family bond, and everything that makes us unique. Life here is no doubt beautiful, wonderful and everything you can think of, but you make it unique because you are simply just unique.
I believe in holding tenaciously that good quality, attribute, character etc which makes one unique. That I guess is culture which stands you out in the crowd. There is nothing as bad as loosing your unique identity because one who looses such is lost for life. It is said that a people without a culture is as good as dead. In other words while embracing modernisation and what have you, remember the unique features that you can always be proud of. Love and cherish it.
In Soyinka’s Telephone Conversation, he portrayed the discrimination blacks suffer in a foreign land, which still exists till date. When I first came to UK I found it very strange in the mechanical and artificial smiles one receives when walking on the way which barely lasts for 2 seconds. I observed it was mainly from whites and when I enquired from friends who have been here longer, I was told it was a strategy of reducing discrimination. What a strategy!
We are so blessed that we don’t even see it because we all look with the eye of man. Can we for one moment borrow the eagle’s eyes and see where we are and where we should fly to. Some of my white friends here who are really sincere will tell you that one of the reasons they love Nigerians is because they are the happiest people on earth. But we do not know that. The average Nigerian is happy even in the current situation in the country. But that is not to say we should fold our hands and endure the bad economy. Other people see a lot of potentials in us and yet we fail to get through to where we ought to be. Now that bothers me.
I still believe in Nigeria for the better. All hands should be on deck to Restore the Dignity of Nigeria. We can then be free as the air and flying like the birds, not affected by cold just like the swans and ducks on the beautiful lake view behind my window enjoy the water in season and out of season. We can also enjoy our local delicacy.