In this essay I will reconstruct my first visit to Nigeria. The journey took place when I was seventeen in early 1993, during which time Nigeria was under the military rule of General Sanni Abacha. For the most part of my trip I stayed in Lagos, former capital state and still highly recognised as the commercial capital of Nigeria, although I did visit other parts of the country including Ondo State and Jos. Between this time and the time I left, in early 1994, I experienced and learnt a lot about the Nigerian culture. My main focus will be on the particular aspects of Nigerian culture that I saw as relevant to me as a teenager at the time, and also on my views before and after the journey. Up until the point of this journey I had lived most my life in the city of London and my cultural views were very much British. I was not very familiar with Nigerian culture, and the parts I was familiar with, which came mostly through my parents and other family members, were not very appealing to me. Thinking back now I imagine that one of the reason things like that did not appeal to me was because it went so much against the British culture which I had already related to; fully accepted as my own; and deemed as ‘normal’. For example eating certain food, not including chips, with your right hand instead of with a knife and fork. Leading up to the time I left for Nigeria, I had never really identified myself with the Nigerian culture even though both of my parents where originally from Nigeria. I was the first born of my mother followed by my two younger brothers, Steven and William. We were all also given Nigerian names along with are English ones; mine was Femi and my brother’s were Ayo and Bayo. My father was still studying along with working when I was born and my mother was working also, when I was about three years old I was sent to live with a white middle class nanny in a town called Warminster in Wiltshire. It was a common phenomena in Britain in that period to see West African being bought up by Foster parents while their parents worked or studied (Groody and Groothuues, 1977). I did my first two or so years of primary school in Warminster before my parents decided it was time for me to return to live with them in London. I was one of very few blacks in Wiltshire at the time, so apart from the occasional rare visit made by my par...
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... you is to experience it first hand. I found it much easier to accept traditional aspects of Nigerian culture when there where others, who like me were also infected with western popular culture, around me who appreciated also. I do not feel that this acceptance came from any sort forced group conciseness, but more from having the ability to choose aspects of the culture which I liked in an environment where my choices were more sociably accepted. While in Nigeria I also met a reasonable amount of other Nigerians who had had similar experiences while growing up as I did. Meeting with such people was one of the significant aspects of my journey as it enabled me to talk and laugh about some of the things I went through as a child which originally made me feel socially excluded. It also helped me to discover my cultural identity as a British born Nigerian.
Bammer, A, (1994), Displacements, Volume 15, Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana University Press
Kureishi, H, London and Karachi, in, Patriotism: The Waking and unmaking of British National Identity, Volume 2, Minorities and Outsiders
Watson, J.L,(1977), Between Two Cultures, Oxford, Basil Blackwell
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