I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t afraid of the word Nigeria. It was my tormentor, my nemesis and my destiny. Even the word was heavy so heavy that you had to split it into 4 to say it properly – Ni – ger – ri- yah
Destiny was another big word. Ever since Father told me that Des-ti- ny was waiting for me in Nigeria and one day we would all go back the thought lingered in my head like an unwelcome guest but in the eternal optimism of youth I convinced myself that that day would never actually come.
Images of deep dark jungles infested with tigers and lions had embedded themselves into my imagination due to watching Tarzan and Daktari on a regular practice. It told me all I knew about Africa – the place was chaotic; full of bumbling Africans who communicated in grunts and shrugs, fought against each and seemed incapable of any original thought or action unless Tarzan guided them, helped them or saved them from their predicament with his superior problem solving capabilities.
My father walked in and saw me crying. He smiled and came over to rest a hand on my shoulder as mother flung up her hands and said something in their language.
“Don’t worry Lola…..I can understand it’s all strange to you now but you will love it when you get there. Fresh food, lovely weather. He closed his eyes, “A place where people respect their elders and you are part of a family not just some body that fell out of the sky.”
I swallowed and blinked. “I don’t want to go.”
“Nonsense – you have been here for too long. I’ve always told you that this isn’t your country.”
Amanda’s eyes met mine and I bit back my reply.
I lived with the Alison’s – Amanda and Keith and their two kids – Peter and Kate and a big lazy dog called Mutley. Home was a three bed roomed semi in Portsmouth because my parents were studying and working down in London.
Growing up I never questioned why the woman who came to pick me up at school was white and the folk with the heavy voices who came down from London to see me every fortnight were Black. I just accepted it like the sky being blue or like the fact that no matter how far you walked the moon in the sky never seemed to get any nearer…
A kid at school asked me how I came to have a white mum. I told her I had two mums.
“How’s that then?” she asked blue eyes swamping her whole face.
Cause that’s just how it is. I shrugged. Just like the blue sky and the moon.