Happy new month to you all! Words cannot express how grateful I am to have finally gone to Africa, the Motherland, to begin this new year. Some of you may know that my father is from Nigeria and
this trip has been long in the making, 26 years, 7 months, and 7 days to be exact, but who was counting? 🙂 It is an experience I will never forget for so many reasons. Leading up to this trip I did quite a bit of traveling in 2016, and I plan to share about those trips in another post soon. However, when I sit back and compare all of my travels thus far, simply none compare to this “return” to Nigeria.
The media has portrayed Nigeria and Africa as a whole, as such a desolate and hopeless place at times. It is simply not the complete truth. While there are many improvements to be made in terms of development and economy (like any other country) I have witnessed some of the most beautiful sites, people, and spirits/drive. Let me give my disclaimer, I ONLY went to Nigeria and only three different areas within the country. My experiences shared here will only be from I experienced in Nigeria. I can barely begin to imagine what great experiences the rest of the continent has to offer.
There seemed to be one common spirit or mind of thought of everyone I encountered there. Drive. Hustle. Optimism. Confidence. What ever word you choose to describe it, you would definitely find it there. I am not definite that I have chosen the correct words to justify what I felt while being there. Honestly, I am in awe of the drive that I witnessed. I met some people who lived in poverty but you would never know that based on their smile, confidence, and the manner in which they carried themselves.
Outside of witnessing this incredible spirit of the people, I was able to dispel some many of the things I had heard about Nigeria/Africa before arriving. I do not consider myself a photographer but I love taking pictures and I admire them most when individuals are captured in their natural elements, unsuspecting. So I will include a few of the pictures here to illustrate my thoughts and feelings.
In Africa there is beauty to be seen, beauty that can surpass that of many places. Beauty that cannot be seen nor captured by any magnitude of lens, but rather felt. There is culture, customs, traditions, smells and languages that have deep roots, roots that delve down into the depths of the earth.
There are sites to be seen: mountains, structures, buildings, the hustle and bustle of the city as you weave in and out of traffic. You can witness the “hustle” of the people as they go about their day-to-day lives. All while inhaling the smells of suya being grilled, scotch egg being fried, and exhaust fumes trailing from the okada (motorcycle) that just whizzed by. You can hear the echoing of those calling out “Madam!” advertising their ‘market’ bidding you to buy from them at a “special” price.
Most importantly there are people there. Not just oil, gold, diamonds, and other exports, but people. People that are so vastly different in just one area but still share something in common. Poor, rich, dark, fair. People dressed to the last detail while others, not so much. Traditional clothes mixed with “English” clothes and styles from across the world, while people are sashaying as if the street became their runway. You can attest to the crafts and the art that tell the emotions, the stories, and the observations of those who made them.