give me my nigeria


Confession: I don't always keep up with Naija news because so often it describes a place so macabre I shudder to claim it. Plane crashes. Students killed by Boko Haram. Gang rape on a college campus. Gays banned. If I were not Nigerian, I think, I might never go to such a place. At least, the Nigeria in the news is a backwards place intent on annihilating itself. 

Far worse, in the Twitterverse, is the real Nigeria according to Nigerians. The story behind the story behind the story. I have stopped following certain people who have a tendency to explore every sordid, depressing detail. Go to hell, I think, and take all the other realists with you. Like the law of attraction, I have convinced myself that focusing only on the good parts will make the others disappear. 

My Nigeria is Chimamanda, Fela and suya. Please allow me this. Not the Nigeria of child marriage and witches, exorcism, a pastor's church burnt to the ground with the congregants inside, praying. When I read these things, I wonder what is the hope for this place and begin to give up. Especially when a prominent Nigerian author-friend of mine says he does not like his own country. 

It is a horrible place--yes, he uses this word, horrible. I do not say I am thinking about moving to Lagos. That yes, I also agree this place is sometimes horrible, but it can also be great. It is the optimist in me who thinks this, ignoring my aunt who wisely says there is no ambulance to carry me to hospital--with no light--when I get in a car accident. 

Yes, this may all be true, but please, give me my Nigeria.

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