Hardly Home But Always Reppin' (Trip to Nigeria)

Ojukwu Centre
Owerri, Imo State

I never thought in a million years that the last time I'd visit Nigeria would be in 2007. And the next visit would be in 2019. 

I blame social media.

It's true. Hear me out.

Thanks to the wonderful worlds of Instagram (most especially, Instagram), YouTube, Twitter - and to a lesser extent, Whatsapp -  I can, and continue to, live vicariously through my family and friends who live in Nigeria or frequent the country constantly. Added with the fact that I've visited Nigeria damn near every 2-4 years since I was a baby PLUS have lived there for four years during my formative teenage years, well, let's say I was Nigeria'd out.

I still proudly rep my Naija (nickname/slang for Nigeria) side all day every day. However, there were other cities and countries to visit. My parents were not happy. "As an ada (meaning 'first daughter' in my native language, Igbo), you should visit at least once a year. It's not good what you're doing." Mind you, for the most part, I've stayed in contact with my extended family and the friends I made in high school (big up FGGC Owerri!) throughout the years. Thanks, social media and Whatsapp! So it's not like I had disappeared. But to my parents, it was damn near an abomination. (High key, they were hoping my visiting every year would garner me a husband. But that's a story for another day.)

Festival of Lights
Remember, Christmas season.
Abuja, capital of Nigeria
If you sent fabric to a tailor months in advance only to arrive and it still isn't ready for an upcoming event,
did you really visit Nigeria?
I wanted to purchase this immediately.
The tailor refused. It's a showcase piece.

December 2019, I escorted my mom to Nigeria to bury her mother, my grandmother. This was mentioned on here briefly in my 2019 recap. Mama, as she was affectionately called, pretty much was my Mom when I lived in Owerri. She and Papa (my late grandfather) raised me and my siblings during those four years; dealing with growing teenagers frustrated that they were living in a country they've visited periodically but still unfamiliar. I'm sure those were some trying times for my older grandparents, too. But we survived, mainly because of Papa and Mama.

So while this trip was meant to be a homecoming of sorts for me, it came along with a humongous sad reason. And for that, I truly couldn't enjoy my time there. 

Somewhere in Owerri.
#TeamFourEyes aka cousins.
This was taken at a 'Service of Songs', an intimate gathering for nearby neighbors to celebrate Mama with her family.
Owerri, Imo State.
It was two days before the funeral.
Cool art pieces inside of a hotel.
Owerri, Imo State.

My Mom and I made a quick visit to my village in Owerre-Nkworji, Nkwerre LGA, Imo State.
These pictures are currently hanging in the formal living room inside of my father's family home.

'Rona season has enlightened me; it made me realize I need to savor every moment during the storm. Case in point - prepping for this post trying to find photos was a struggle. Your girl didn't take many. In my head, I didn't see this trip as a vacation so why did I need to take photos? Additionally, 2019 was a horrible year for me dealing with personal issues, health issues, and my father's recovery from hip surgery (all three mentioned in the 2019 recap as well). Yes, I'm the lady who takes lots of photos while on vacation...and I'm also the lady who treasures great moments off camera, too, while on vacation. I can do both.  Anywho, I wished I wasn't so hard on myself and appreciated the lighter times because there were a lot.

Thankfully, our hotel in Owerri was nearby a huge tourist attraction.
This is called the Heroes Statues located inside of Ojukwu Memorial Square.
These huge ass statues represent prominent African leaders.
It's not an attraction the residents are proud of  because they believe the statues should've been prominent Igbo leaders.
For the most part, a few Igbo leaders were recognized including Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe.
He was the first president of Nigeria.
Oh how I wished I took advantage of this sculpture!
Owerri, Imo State.

This truly feels like it was 3 years ago when it was only 7 months. A lot has happened this year to make me think this way. While I'm sad it took me so long to go back home (and only because of  a death in the family), I'm glad it happened. Nigeria is a chaotic, hot, energetic, stressful, jovial, different beast of a country. And I can't wait to visit again for an enjoyable vacation. See, enlightenment. Can't say when, especially with this whole lock down/shutdown/travel ban, but hopefully, it won't be another 12 year drought.

R.I.P Mama