I’ve always thought of my Dad as a sort of Yoda figure. He knows everything about everything and has an annoying trait of being right a lot of the time. In my life, the phrase “Dad knows best” isn’t just an adage but a way of life.
But when he suggested I move to Lagos, I seriously started to think he’d lost it.
I mean it sounded ridiculous.
Move to Lagos? We should be discussing how I’d eventually move to Paris to work as a correspondent for CNN, while balancing my duties as an Arsenal shareholder and wife to Thierry Henry. You know, tangible, realistic things. Not moving to Nigeria.
Sure I’d been there a handful of times and it was always fun. Fun to see family, to attend functions, to drink Coke out of glass bottles. But that fun had a time limit, approximately two weeks. Then the electricity issues started to get annoying, the traffic: frustrating, the constant curtseying: a pain, the bribing everyone: ridiculous. After two weeks I needed my reality back. I needed the Tube, Mcdonalds, Topshop and functioning internet.
I was extremely happy living the Nigeria-lite way. So why on earth would he suggest this? I guess even Yoda has his off days, I thought shrugging it off.
Fast forward a few months and I was drowning in a vat of self pity. Broke, unemployed, living in my 14 year old room and seriously wondering if my Masters degree was really just a very expensive, shiny piece of paper.
In the midst of my wallowing a friend invited me out for ‘tea and sympathy'(also known as beer and complaining), I was telling her about my latest existential crisis, which had been triggered by an article I read about Nigerians being the happiest people in the world. We got into a conversation about happiness and somewhere between the bar and the bus stop agreed we’d make a documentary comparing attitudes on happiness and depression in our respective countries of origin. A few months later, we did just that.
The two weeks I spent in Lagos were like none I’d ever experienced. For one, there were no funerals/weddings to attend and I actually got to explore the city by myself and I found myself quickly addicted to the energy and insanity of the place. Suddenly my Dad’s idea didn’t seem so crazy after all.
I mean, why not try it for a year? If I hated it I could always come home. And it could be great, shooting documentaries, writing articles, getting to know a whole new side of Nigeria and all that good stuff.
Then again, I had never lived in Nigeria before. Besides family, I didnt know anyone. I had no friends there. What would I really do there anyway? I had no connections. Not to mention that according to every news station available (and the Foreign office) Nigeria was a pretty dangerous place, full of kidnappings and terrorists. It would be a mad idea to leave the security and sanity of home for all that. Right?
Perhaps, it is and yet here I am anyway. Living in Lagos, because in my reality “Dad knows best” isn’t just an adage but a way of life.