Homecoming Series #1: Moving Back to the Freaking Hell Hole

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Written by Yasmin Damulak


In university, I was always one of those people who got ridiculously excited about coming back to Nigeria for the holidays. I used to count down the days and be a nuisance regarding this. I could not wait to move back to my beloved country for good because it was the only place I could truly picture myself settling down. The thought of moving back here, starting Law School, the NYSC experience and beginning my life here had me beyond gassed. I was so excited about the experiences I would have and the people I would meet (because as we all know, Nigerians are one of a kind).


Fast-forward to about a year and a half after and my standpoint has done a complete one-eighty as I have come to the realization that Nigeria is only good (for me) in small doses. The factors I considered pleasurable have become the things I hate the most about this country now. A temporary escape every couple of months is considered a necessity due to the hardships faced daily.


I spent my first couple of months here in Abuja. It surprised me how much I began to miss the really insignificant bits of my former life in England. I realized that my late night food runs to the 24 hour Sainsbury’s; the easy access to resources for schoolwork; the unlimited internet to stream my TV shows; shopping for outfits right before a night out; MÜLLER YOGHURT; ordering pizza at ridiculous hours of the night; and hopping on random trains to nearby cities to visit my best friends had become things of the past. This news hit me like a ton of bricks.


I moved back to my mother’s house in Lagos and quickly found out that this was where my REAL struggle with this country was going to begin. The minor challenges I faced in Abuja were just the tip of the iceberg. Some of the major problems I faced were:

  1. A constant lack of electricity and never-ending heat,
  2. Limited freedom, immobility and the lack of personal space,
  3. An incredibly limited amount of activities to do (everyday, it’s either drinks, food, movies or Vapors/Sip/57),
  4. Bad attitudes of people (especially with really crappy customer service employees) and;
  5. The general disorganization of institutions.


The biggest hitch for me, by far, was that of mobility. I was used to freedom and being able to pick up at 2am to get a taxi or walk to go visit my friends. There would be no questioning my movements and there was never a problem of transportation. Lagos, however, changed all of this for me. I do not know how to drive and even at the age of twenty-two it is impossible for me to get up and say I am heading out of the house at 2 in the morning, with my mother in the house. When I know I am not running mad!


Another difficulty faced, was adjusting to the mindset of the majority of people (or the ‘Homegrowns’, as they are frequently called). As mentioned before, I was used to the freedom. To show how reckless I was, I arrived here with a nose piercing (totally unapologetic), thinking it was my life and no one would care. Little did I know that my appearance was for the community and this was far from “fit and proper”. Evidently, I would not be able find a job due to hole in my left nostril that showed signs of irresponsibility and carelessness. I was told this a countless number of times by different adults (both strangers and family) and because of Law School coercion, I took the nose ring out.


Moving back made me realize the scrutiny we are put under. Everyone is judging you based on appearances and the pressure to fit into a box is real. The need for feminism is evident in our society as women are expected to have a particular thought process and are expected to not perform certain acts. Also, social media depicts this as a joke, but as soon as 2016 clocked, the question of “when are you going to marry?” became real. The amount of people asking me where my steady boyfriend is has become appalling. Marriage is supposed to be my priority.


Our beautiful country Nigeria has also shown me a general lack of care in institutions, which are meant to be highly regarded. I called customer care for my network service provider and was yelled at then hung up on by an employee. People are hot and angry and tend to take all the aggression out on others. You see this EVERYWHERE, especially in traffic, at banks and at your place of work.


At the end of the day, living in this country for over a year and a half has exposed me to the difficulties but I cannot fault it completely because it has made me a stronger and more patient individual. As a true Nigerian, I find myself “suffering and smiling” daily. To those moving back, the best advise I can offer you is PREPARE YOUR MIND FOR THE WORST!

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