If you’re like me and you have the tendency to romanticize everything in your life, you’re probably romanticizing Nigeria too. Perhaps you feel nostalgic of the childhood you had in Nigeria or perhaps you long to see for yourself where your family comes from, or maybe you’ve read everything that Chimamanda has ever written and you’re curious to see what the Nigeria she writes about is like today, whatever your motivations might be, the bottom line is that you’re thinking of moving back. Your emotions are valid and you should always do what makes you happy but before you buy that overpriced plane ticket to Lagos or Abuja, here’s what you should know:
If you’re planning to move in with your parents after having your independence abroad, prepare to be frustrated
Everyone’s heard some variation of the “as long as you’re under my roof, you’ll obey my rules” shtick. I can’t tell you how many times my parents have said this to me and how many times I’ve resisted the urge to roll my eyes. Living with your parents may come with several constraints, depending on how liberal (or not) they are, how old you are, and whether or not you’re male (a lot of Nigerian parents let their sons do whatever they want while the rest of us watch with envy). One of the biggest challenges you may encounter with your parents is them controlling your movement. So how do you toe the line between respecting your parents and still doing what you want? Honestly, I’m still trying to figure this one out. My personal philosophy when it comes to this is that there are times when it’s worth it to push back, and there are times when it’s not. Try to figure out the difference between the two. You have to remind your parents that you’re an adult sometimes so be assertive. When you need them to take it easy on you, do something they would like: buy groceries, take them out to lunch, pay for Netflix or DSTV and watch it with them. Once they’re happy with you, it’s easier to get them to let you do what you want. If you’re not working and you’re just sitting at home all day and eating their food, my dear, I don’t know what to tell you.
If you enjoyed taking walks when you were abroad, don’t try this in Nigeria
I used to live in a metropolitan city so if I needed to go somewhere within walking distance, I didn’t bother taking a car (I’m also still learning how to drive so maybe this is the real reason I was walking lol). When I first moved to Lagos, I thought I could do the same thing here. Once, I walked to a restaurant near my office to get lunch. I saw on Google Maps that it would only take 6 minutes so I thought it wouldn’t be a problem. By the time I had dodged several zooming okadas, a fallen electrical pole and open gutters, I knew that I wasn’t walking anywhere again. Coupled with the fact that by the time I got to my destination I was sweating like I had just run a mile. Walking at night is also out of the question. With the level of insecurity in the country, I wouldn’t advise anyone to do this. It’s just not safe.
Getting an Uber (or Bolt, Move or whatever new ride-share app they’ve come up with) will always be a hassle
If I’m being honest, this is probably the most frustrating thing for me on this list. In whatever city you’ve come from, you’re probably able to request a ride, get matched with a driver and quickly be on your way. This will most likely never happen to you in Nigeria (I’m not exaggerating). Rideshare drivers here always call to ask you where you are and where you’re going, even though your pickup location is on the app and they’re not actually supposed to know where you’re going (for security reasons). If they don’t like where you’re going they may cancel your trip, or worse still, ask you to cancel. There was one day I went through eight (yes, eight!) cancellations before I finally got a ride. I could go on and on but I’m now a bit sympathetic to the plight of rideshare drivers after I listened to a podcast interview with the funniest Uber driver (but only a little bit). Be very grateful if you have your own driver. And if you drive yourself, Godspeed because driving in this country is serious wahala.
Be prepared to hear “Savings or Current?” at least 10 times a day
I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more annoying phrase in my life. You’re always going to need to buy something. Always. There are a number of unplanned expenses you would possibly encounter almost daily. You might pop into a supermarket to buy plantain chips and end up picking up a couple of other things that your mom has called to say you “need at home.” When you get to the register and you hand the cashier your card, you’re going to hear, “savings or current?” On your way back home you’re going to need to stop for gas because apparently, even when you fill up your tank, it’s going to run out before you know it. At the gas station, you’re going to ask the gas attendant to fill up your tank again and when it’s time to pay, you’ll hand them your card and once again, you’ll be asked, “savings or current?” You’ll be lucky to fall asleep and not hear “savings or current?” in your dreams. I’m not joking, this could actually happen.
The internet service is getting better but is still quite bad
Depending on where you live, you will most likely encounter abysmal internet speeds every now and then. Is this a First World problem? Yes, but so is everything else on this list.
Stay away from dating apps, unless you want to get scammed
If you’re single and looking to meet people, don’t go on dating apps, especially not the familiar ones you used to use abroad. I hear there are some homegrown dating apps that are legit, but to be on the safe side just avoid all. If you want to meet people, go out. I think the best place to meet people is at small gatherings of friends, like a house party, a small beach party or something where everyone is a friend of a friend. For your own safety, avoid all dating apps in this country.
You will lose power sometimes (even if you live in one of those estates with “24-hour power supply”)
One time I was in the middle of an online exam and the power went out. I was waiting for my remote proctor to ask me what happened but luckily for me, they didn’t. I had to hold in my laughter. After the power goes out, brace yourself for the horrible sound that will come from the generator and will go on for hours until the power comes back. Now that is actually best case scenario. Worst case scenario, you don’t have an alternative and you have to wait for “NEPA to bring back the light.” You might be waiting for a very long time. With the power outage comes unbearable heat and boredom. No power means no TV, and in most cases no Wi-Fi as well. If this happens to you, don’t torture yourself. Just go out. Come back hours later and if you’re lucky, the power might have come back and if not, read a book.
This list is far from exhaustive but at least you get the gist. Tbh, even with all of this, I don’t regret moving back at all; there are lots of things I enjoy about being back (and I’ll share that in another post). I don’t want you to think I’m discouraging you from coming back, please come if you want, but whatever you see when you get here, just take it like that.