We are asked to use our maps as our muse. To tell you about where we’ve come from. About where we’ve been and the places that we have not been to but would like to be and how all these ‘where’s‘ have shaped who we are through our connections with them.
Now, this is a tough choice for me, because my roaming heart has roosted in many places. Some sojourns brief and some for extended periods of time and yet it hasn’t stopped roaming.
I have fallen in love with them all. You may question ”how can she fall in love with so many things?” I will tell you that I believe in going wherever I go or doing whatever I do with all my heart.
I will tell you that falling in love with many things, makes you see the beauty of these things/places/people beyond the peripheries. If you care to say; why would you invest so much emotions into this places? My question would be, Why not?
I choose to love the places that I have lived or been to because I go there, not seeking for things to criticize about their culture or place, but seeking to understand, to know more and to appreciate more.
Thus, all the places that my feet have rested on, have one way or the other decorated my heart.
Join me for a brief and quick jaunt with the GPS of my heart and see these places through my rose-spectacle vision.
I flit like a delicate butterfly;
Over expanses of space and through cycles of time;
I perch on many lovely petals;
Inhaling intoxicating fragrance;
Sensitized by lushness and soft feels;
It draws a sigh from me;
When they say hello!
University of Nigeria Nsukka: A peaceful, sleepy enclave situated in Nsukka, which is a small town and Local Government Area in South-East Nigeria in Enugu State.
The place of my birth and where I lost my milk teeth. A home to thousands of great academics who have passed through it’s corridors and are dispersed all over the diaspora doing great exploits. From The First President of Independent Nigeria – Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, to Nobel Laureate – Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie, my humble self and so many others.
Let us wander a bit down the red earth beaten path of this charming campus of academics which my parents were part of. I am doubtful if our GPS would work, but I can follow my nose because it knows.
Lovely bungalows occupied by university staff, line the campus quarters streets, from the twining streets of Fulton Avenue to Margaret Cartwright, from Alvin Loving to Eze-Opi crescent, from Odim Street to Mbonu Ojike; just to name a few.
The bungalows are only separated by well kept Cashuarina hedges, Queen of the night flowers, Purple Hibiscus, Honeysuckle plants or Bougainvilleas. The whistle of the swaying whistling pines pierces through the air frequently. It is also a breezy and cool town.
A community where everybody knows everybody else and their business. Birthdays, marriages, deaths, successes and failures were shared alike. A place where you know that Mr. Francis the shoemakers daughter would be getting married next Saturday and a communal bus is obtained to convey neighbours for the event. A place where Mama Uju was sure to inform you when Uju has put to bed and she is off to stay for weeks of ”Omugwo” in her daughters house.
It is a town that reminds me of mango trees heavy laden with fat juicy fruits, of sweet sticky cashew fruits, of the best bananas this side of the planet, of lazy summers spent with friends, of the cold harmattan seasons when red dust curled up in the air painting us in light earthy dust and we glittered like happy urchins.
Nostalgic recollections of school days and bicycle races, of promenades and church bazaars, of picnics and the end of year parties, something was always going on and you could smell Christmas around the corner coupled with the pursuits from local masquerades.
All escapades were duly taken note of and oftentimes, an honorary auntie or uncle was willing to straighten you out even before your parents were privy to the embellished version of your hell-raising ways. Of course, this will be followed by more straightening from your parents and sufficient catechism to exorcise every rebellious spirit that might be festering in you 🙂
By the way, the Reverend is probably not just the towns priest but also a good friend of the family, so your confessions had better be sanctified enough not to make him suffer palpitations.
A brief detour through Enugu, the city of my undergraduate days where I discovered my nubile young self. Getting up to mischief that would definitely turn our Reverends hair white in an instant. The city where this young girls heart first knew what it meant to feel deflated. My first independent move away from daddy’s sharp eyes and mummy’s apron strings.
If you ask me, I will always tell you that I am first and foremost a Naija woman, secondly an Achi native (my homestead), thirdly, an Nsukka child fourthly a Lasgidi babe and lastly a citizen of the World.
Lagos my Lagos: One of the most fascinating metropolis that you will ever visit. You hardly have an idea of what to expect next minute. It is the largest city in Africa, teeming wall-to-wall with people, bumper-to-bumper with cars, noise and pollution beyond belief. Highways and flyovers are jammed with hold-ups and go-slows on top, and tin-and-cardboard shacks underneath.
It is the economic and cultural powerhouse of the country, with much thanks to an absurd wealth of oil money, it has an exploding arts and music scene that will keep your ”yansh” gyrating far past dawn at ”Owambes.”
Lagos holds a lot of good memories for me; from my working years at The French Embassy and British American Tobacco to the actual succumb to throes of love for my husband whom I met in Lagos, before he whisked me off on a whirlwind nomadic journey.
If you’re headed to Nigeria, you’ll have no choice but to jump right into the madness here.
One day, I shall talk about the stints in other places:
Of France and a romantic dalliance;
Of Switzerland and the quaint apartment on Rue de Geneve;
Of London and Liverpool and the tale of the accents mingled with near drowning episodes in Earl Grey Tea;
Of the West African States, the neighbours like brothers;
Of Amsterdam, Brussels, Strasbourg and the likes;
Of Johannesburg, Cape Town and my thoughts;
New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Baltimore, Houston, California, Austria, Venice, Kenya, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Sao Tome Principe, Istanbul……..the GPS of my heart is really busy.
I wander through life;
From place to place ;
From State to state;
I am no rolling stone;
I do gather a lot of moss;
They cling to my make up as I roll along;
A resting place for many who come along;
As they listen to tales of the big green acres.
© Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha
Omugwo: The birth of a baby In Igboland and other eastern Nigerian ethnic groups means that the nursing mother and child has to be ministered unto by a very close and experienced female relation. In most cases, the person who takes care of her, is her mother. If the mother is not alive or around, her step-mother performs the functions.
Yansh: Your backside.
Lasgidi: Another name for the city of Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city.
Naija: Naija is another name for Nigeria, the patriotic name for Nigerians to show their strength and smartness.
Owambe: It (party) is happening here.