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Going Back Home

Owerri, Nigeria

Owerri, Nigeria

Being a bridesmaid at my friend's Igbo traditional wedding

Being a bridesmaid at my friend’s Igbo traditional wedding

Look in the mirror.  Who do you see?  Your race, your culture, your citizenship?  For me, I have always had to balance my American citizenship with my Nigerian heritage.

In the Summer, I went back to Nigeria for my friend’s wedding. It was a long time coming. Ten years coming, in fact. The last time I went was for my grandmother’s funeral, which wasn’t a joyous occasion, so I didn’t get to experience it the way I wanted to. This time around I had a lot of expectations. For the country and for myself. Instead of Lagos, I was going to Abuja which I heard had the feel of the States and it did.  A little bit of Texas with the wide highways and a bit of Cali with the palm trees flowing from side to side.

But this time around I had changed too.  I wasn’t 19 anymore, and I had fully embraced my Nigerian heritage. The family I was born in, the ogbono and egusi soup, the black soap and shea butter, the braids and twists, the pidgin and Queen’s English, I had finally accepted. I also embraced my American influences. The place where I was born and raised, the fried chicken and mash potatoes, the Dove soap and Nivea creme, the updos and curls, the ebonics and American English, I was not ashamed of.  See being a Nigerian-American, wasn’t always comfortable for me. Having to delicately walk the fine line of my birthing place and my family’s culture was a challenge at times.  Some said I wasn’t American enough, some said I wasn’t Nigerian enough, but I learned that I am rightly proportioned the way God created me to be.  I have the best of both worlds.

Nigeria is as much my home as America is.  Going back home allowed me to appreciate both influences on my life. Knowing now that both homes have positively influenced the person I am today.

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