Growing Up Fearful in Nigeria // Ukamaka Olisakwe


You must must read this beautifully touching, poignant piece, "Growing Up Fearful in Nigeria," by Ukamaka Olisakwe in the New York Times. Her debut novel, Eyes of a Goddess, was published in 2012.
"I left Kano to live with my husband in Aba, a southeastern city near where my father grew up. The air here, I discovered, bubbles with the people’s unrestrained, stomach-clenching laughter, and for the first weeks it made me jittery. I couldn’t put my finger on why. It was not just the southerners’ boisterous talk, or the shocking Western way the women dressed. Here, girls could wear skirts so short they dared not bend over; their makeup stood out like street signs. And when they talked to boys, they stared them straight in the eyes...I realized then what had made me feel unmoored: the absence of fear. I had learned to live with fear in the north. It had become a second skin, and losing it had dazed me. I missed it and the boundaries it set." -- Ukamaka Olisakwe, "Growing Up Fearful in Nigeria"
I have heard stories about how beautiful northern Nigeria was before all the violence set in. It must be heartbreaking to give it up and watch it reduced to bits, piece by piece. Powerful reading. --AL.

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