If you were to get an immigrant visa to America, what will you bring with you? Your Nigerian clothes, enough local ingredients & food stuffs? Your Fulani skin bags? What will you bring?
I brought all that. I brought my Nigerian made clothes, I brought enough food stuffs, Ogbono, crayfish, Egwusi, breadfruit, even dried fish. I bought Fulani jewelries and bag, braided my hair and packed my bag. I was migrating to the land of the free, the land many hope to see, the land those who have visited, come back after three months with an acquired ‘fake’ accent, change their dress code and never forget to remind you every five minutes that they have visited. I was packed and ready to hit American soil.
But what is enough to be packed for this journey? The Nigerian clothes that I have worn only once in the two months I have been here? There is really not many occasions for big sky-high gele and my expensive laces and even when there is, how well does that match with a jacket over it to wade off the cold? The Nigerian food that I labored so hard to pack is now history to my stomach or my braided hair that I couldn’t wait to get rid of so I can get a weave and easily blend in? So again I ask, what do you pack when coming to America?
If I knew then what I know now, I ll have just come with my handbag and the clothes on my back. Would have saved me a lot of extra stress. And you ask me why? I had my hair pulled so tight my head was hurting while I dragged along my two heavy luggages through many undressing and redressing security points, all so that in two months it will all be a distant memory.
Everything I know, have ever learnt, believe in is being changed to a point that it feels like they are all useless. Don’t get me wrong, it feels like but it isn’t because no knowledge is a waste. Yet, I have had to learn so many different things, the things I know in Nigeria about anything just doesn’t apply. I turn off light after me now like am programmed to do so, I cook Lasagna, enchilada, and tortilla like its normal breakfast because tea and bread isn’t normal breakfast here. On the plane I was asked if I wanted tea, I said yes only to have my tastebuds assaulted by ‘tea’, what we call Lipton, when all I wanted was just hot chocolate with milk, lol.
Everything changes once you cross MM1. But what do you pack when migrating to the big US? I will tell you what. Pack a large dose of God’s favor, and extra larger dose of God’s wisdom and seven Ghana must go bags of the Nigerian spirit. That thing that makes a Nigerian talk loudly about what they don’t know till they start making even those that actually know doubtful of their facts. That omo oba spirit that makes an alaye boy hold a billionaire’s container down until he is settled for no just reason except for just being a son of the soil. Yes, you will be needing a lot of that.
God’s favor to get you into the right places and meet the right help you need. God’s wisdom to show you how to act, what to say and how to use the benefits here to climb higher than those who already live here. Then, the Nigerian irrepressible spirit to shield you from being intimidated by what you don’t know, from being oppressed by all the long process of finally blending in and being part of the society and to keep you walking like a royalty because who knows better than a Nigerian, that once there is life there is hope of actually making it against all odds?
Thankfully I also packed excess of all these, so now I can confidently tell you, that’s all you need.
Words from me to you; the Nigerian spirit is a beautiful one! It makes you stand out, work hard and make it and be proud of who we are ’cause we know that that is the only way forward.
See you soon!
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This article was first published on 24th November 2011 and updated on June 25th, 2012 at 7:42 pm