Josef Adamu

Journal

Nigeria (2018) — More Than Vacation

“Don’t worry, we’ll go soon,” were the words my parents repeated each Christmas season as my siblings and I hassled them about a potential family trip. “Soon” never came, and it confused me as to why, at the age of 24, I still hadn’t met my family back in Nigeria. My cousins had tried to connect with me via Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, but the communication never lasted due to time zone differences and other factors. My elder sister, Patience, had gone back twice in the last five years, though my brother and I have never really been back since we were babies. You can already grasp how important this trip was to me, I told myself it had to happen! By November, we had finally gathered the money required to not only buy our tickets, but to also slowly begin to plan for our trip (i.e. accommodation, vacation plans, malaria pills). However, this trip meant much more than hanging out in the tropical weather and eating the finest cuisine. Nigeria is home, a country that I’ve been proudly representing here in Canada my entire life. I will FINALLY be faced with the culture, lifestyle, environment, energy, and most importantly the people, for the first time ever! THIS WAS A HUGE DEAL! I began to make plans with various creatives and old friends that I’ve been fortunate enough to keep in touch with over the years.

Finally, on December 31st 2017, we landed in Abuja. The heat slapped me as I left the airport and walked towards the car we were being picked up in. The energy from the people asking to help carry our bags and little children selling peanuts was unmatched. The locals could literally sense the foreign aura from the way we walked, the way we talked (even though we barely spoke), and our innocent eyes as we wandered throughout the parking lot. I felt like a king! As we drove off it began to sink in that I have finally made it back to Africa. The trees, the people, the sweat, the radio stations! The MOTHERLAND. A beautiful continent built on extravagant culture, high energy, competition, and most evidently, HUSTLE!

For the next week or so, we enjoyed the cultural differences we were faced with. It was an eye-opening experience to see the kids of both Abuja and Lagos congest the streets as they tried to get money from oncoming traffic. When it didn’t work, he/she was on to the next car, and the next car, literally all day long. During photoshoots we were often asked to pay an unexpected fee to “use the location” when truthfully, the land didn’t belong to these onlookers. EVERYTHING IS A HUSTLE. I can’t say my mom didn’t warn me. Personally, it was a beautiful thing to witness! I took these experiences and wrote them down because I knew that in one way or another, those moments will inspire an idea in the future! I was literally getting lost in my Notes app on my phone from jotting down all the dope stuff I saw.

However, the memories didn’t end there. The most vivid experience certainly came at the conclusion of my trip. The last few days were dedicated to settling down and visiting family members that we’ve been meaning to see for over two decades. There have been so many family disputes that led to this postponed meet but that no longer mattered because it was finally happening! We left the Business District of Abuja and headed towards Nyanya, which was notoriously known as the “slums,” of the nation’s capital. As nervous as we were, a hint of excitement was running through my body as we approached the compound. All the social media messages, and short phone calls began to playback in my head. We finally entered the home and as much as I didn’t show much emotion, my mind was reacting to every moment! Imagine a room filled with 20–25 family members that are literally waiting on your arrival! Words can’t explain! We spent hours with our half brother, cousins, and aunts. At times, communication was not the easiest, but we made it work through common humour and Nigerian pidgin (Nigeria’s version of Broken English). I was finally in the midst of my actual extended family. It meant everything to me discover that they knew about Sunday School, they knew that I’ve been in the creative field for years, they knew about my transition from Flygeria to plain old Josef Adamu. I was humbled by their living conditions, and my brother and I made sure we gave them what we could before leaving the premises. I needed to see them smile, I wanted to see progress. The trip to Nyanya put me in another space mentally. I look at life a lot differently, even though I had only spent 3–4 hours at their home. The way they cherished our presence, and offered the little they had, proved to me that life means so much more than one could imagine. I disliked the fact that my parents sort of hid us away from our extended loved ones, although, I respect the fact that my parents have been doing everything they can to help them out financially.

We concluded the visit with a meaningful prayer, and after taking one more look at the environment, I told myself that this is only the beginning. Change is on it’s way! Now that I am back home in Canada, the visit to Nyanya has been the only thing on my mind. It will continue to be a driving factor in my life. I am so thankful that my 25th birthday was spent eating kola nut with Mallams, bribing the Okada men with 200 naira notes, and physically spending time with kin. What a blessed start to 2018!

NTR: Whatever you do, GET OUT and TRAVEL! Whether you’re traveling to your parents’ native land or enjoying a week away from work. We occupy such a small portion of the world that we often forget that there is so much more fascinating places across the globe! Do it now, you won’t regret it! These stories will live on and help you grow as an individual. Thank you Nigeria! I loved every moment of my time at home! Until next time!

Joseph AdamuComment