Culture Shock

The first time I experienced culture shock , I was 8 years old and yes my memory is fantastic [smiles proudly].  I had travelled home to Otukpo for Christmas with my family. Now if you’re Nigerian you know what this means. For those who know not, a lot of us live in big towns or in places where work takes us and our families but come from differing usually more rural parts of Nigeria. This was the case for a lot of our parents although things are a little different now as most of our parents live in big cities.

Anyways, when the end of year holidays come around, there’s usually mass movement around the country, people going home or going to see family etc…. depending on your dynamics.  Nigeria being a third world country, these places are typically poor so its not unusual for the kids living in these places to reflect the environment …..  Now my relatives in Otukpo [my hometown] were mostly educated but I believe they were the exception…

So back to me as an 8 year old …….I remember the first time I didn’t fit in. We had gone home for Christmas and I’d run around playing as I usually did … this day I’d followed the “home kids” to the stream to swim and we ate plenty mangoes and oranges .. I developed skin allergy for days and I had diarrhoea for a century….. it was so bad I remember my dad cut our holiday short and the kids, not a single itch or headache, after spending new years day in bed I quickly realized that I was different….

The next time I experienced culture shock was boarding school… That will have to be a separate blog … anyways I cannot tell you how shocked and bewildered and confusing boarding school personalties were to me. The biggest shock for me in boarding school where “Lagosians”. In their rawest and most unapologetic form. Trust me this refined batch we see now didn’t exist when we were 9 and 10 year olds fresh in secondary school. I Know i came from a sheltered home so nothin prepared me for the “bang” that was Lagos kids.. Now i went to a military school so some of the kids had that “barack vibe “.. from slangs to insults, dance steps and food ….  You gotta love Lagosians and their energy….. I went home a changed person. ( I think everyone needs to experience boarding school early in life before the ‘airs and bougieenes’ sets in; it’s a phenomenal life changing experience.

Next shock was Jos Plateau state. My mothers family is largely in Jos. Jos is in North-central Nigeria I grew up In Port-harcourt, Rivers state ( the southern most state)  The northern region in Nigeria is very very different from southern Nigeria. Anyways, one day a relative told me I was rude and badly behaved because I was behaving like a southern girl because I called sombody “aunty (herfirstname) as opposed to mama( her first childs name)…you can imagine my shock cos I had no idea there was a diff between me and other teenagers but as I discovered these people in these parts are quite religious and pious (so much to unpack) and it didn’t matter that my mom preferred us referring to people by their names not their kids names …. so here I was a 16 year old like a fish out of water.Anyways I quickly adjusted before I disgrace my mothers good name.

University didn’t shock me that much to be honest, boarding school had already demystified meeting strangers for me. But the first day I saw a lady fully clothed in the burka….. t’was at night I ran for dear life….lol!

The next one was marriage. kai!!! Marriage will shock you. I don’t know how else to say it; it will shock you to your toes….

The most recent has been living in another country ; I’ve realized that despite my so called exposure I was as myopic as my Nigerian experience allowed. The first thing I confronted was being Black (I had never really thought about my race) the next is religion… our relationship with God in Nigeria is very unique and you will question a lot of your default beliefs. …having kids, after being here I agree that people should never be forced to have kids if they don’t want to. I’ve seen some rather disturbing things and finally I realize how much I like familiar food.  there is so much more to learn in this life.. I look forward to dismantling all my biases and understanding God creatures in the purest form.




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