What's in Your Wallet? A Nigerian Proverb

9:05 PM missusmonroe 0 Comments

This is why we work so hard.

For the "better life" sentiments, for our legacies. This is why mediocrity isn't accepted and never encouraged. Honestly, you don't fully grasp the urgency and aggressiveness of it all until you're there, until you're in it. My mother;s words from when I was young will probably always ring in my ears, "do not forget where you came from" as where you came from is important. It is identity.

In my early youth I used to think this simply means to not deny my heritage, to be proud of being Nigerian, but a few years ago I realized the depth to it. It means to use my uobringing and the people oh who I am and are from as a compass. Not to forget where I came from and what it means to walk that soil, not to forget the people and habits of my origins and move as though I don't have any bearings. In lames terns, What Would Your People Do? Not to get lost in the enticement of emigration and belonging" where you forget what differentiates your people from everybody else in this world. That's fucking pressure.

The crazy thing is, it's really only pressure if you want to be your own person. Where's my voice in all of this?

Don't get me wrong, Naija was an incredible time, I truly wasn't expecting the caliber I experienced even with knowing it would be a blast and I'll get to the rundown of that further. However, I think it would be unjust to not speak on this notion of a lack of acceptance for how people come. As this year was Ghana's "Year of Return" as I'm sure everyone has heard of at least once by now, it's suitable to say this was sort of the theme of the diaspora this Christmas and New Year season. Although Nigeria is always swarmed with generational natives or first-time goers, this year was particularly different. And in the home of tradition then no mann's land of motion and energy, the rejection of expression or simply anybody and any notion "unlike" surely discourages visitors from returning. Because once you stop partying long enough and actually put your ear to the conversation of why everybody's eyes are on you and giving you funny looks, you begin to ask yourself a question that lingered in my brain as the cabin doors closed and the flight attendants scuffled to their duties, with all of the crude humiliation defended by "this is not what we do here" quips, who would actually like to willingly return?

Nigeria always teaches me to be shameless, to be proud of your difference. We have so much national pride, it's literally a notion of why would you want to be anything else? (we good over here vibrational energy you feel me) Shameless. Which, let's be clear, is actually somewhat difficult to practice there. I think that's a great part of the reason we breed such enigmatic people, "creative", "different", "hungry" people, it's rebellion really. Rebelling against all of the "you're supposed to do"s, all of the hierarchical expectations and surviving yourself, self doubt, self worth, self harm even.

It's a mess at first, just doing any and all things in hopes of finding happiness and joy from them in the downtime of simultaneously appeasing family ties and legacies in the corners of your mind. It's a mess because for a long time you'll think you're doing these things for everybody, you and them. But in reality, the reality you're absolutely aware of but have convinced yourself isn't the whole truth so won't necessarily speak on unprompted, it's for "them". It's to make "them" who made all of these sacrifices, all of which you didn't even ask for, proud of you. I'm reminded of this every time I excitedly step back on my soil and honestly I'm not sure if it's what I'd exactly call unnecessary, because it's made me and so many others into the inspiring people we are today but we had to fight to get "here".. but then again it's also the take of if all of this shit was encouraged and actually supported would we have yearned and gravitated toward our path? I'm not so sure.

I do know that Nigerians are fighters regardless, we fight for what we believe in and sometimes what we don't believe in but are passionate about nonetheless. Even in our rebellion we are native.
I wonder how we'll raise our (y'alls) kids... for some reason I heavily believe they will want to become healers and negotiators (doctors and lawyers alike).

In the end I believe it is all about support, that's what we've all always wanted. That's why we'll do things we don't enjoy for years because to do the opposite of that would have said support from those who literally birthed and raised us whisked from the bottom of our feet. Imbalanced. That is until we succeed.

When I opened my notepad to begin writing thoughts about this trip in order to form phrases, sentences, and paragraphs that would become this post I found that I just had a bunch of phrases and couldn't complete any of them. To be all dandy and recap the frills just wasn't sitting, it literally wasn't producing. I will and actually want to go into the wit and humor of our trip but this just felt right. Right now.

We're moving forward. It took us a long ass time to even get to this space and the motion is not over. But we definitely still have work to do, we can't deny that and it would be a disservice not to speak on it. It all starts and will continue with us going back home.

xxoo missusmonroe