It’s been a minute since I came back from Nigeria, but this is a story I have been meaning to share. The things I’ll be writing about are not necessarily strange – at least, not to the average Nigerian in Nigeria – but what makes them strange for me is that prior to this trip, I had not been to Nigeria for 16 years, so it was strange (according to my mommy) that I loved these things so much. In no particular order, let me tell you about them. Perhaps, I’m not the only one who felt this way in Nigeria.
1. Dogs howling at night: Our neighbors had two dogs; one was Bingo and I don’t remember the other one’s name. It was generic, too. I mean, I can’t remember the last time I met a dog named Bingo. Every night, Bingo and his accomplice would bark and howl and howl. For the first few nights, it frightened me because I wondered if there was an intruder at the gate, especially because I was around and this was a small town where everybody knows everybody. Then I remembered that when I was younger in Nigeria, the belief was that when a dog was howling at night, it meant that there was a ghost or some kind of non-human presence. So instead of being afraid of thieves, I became afraid of the possible ghosts outside. And I remembered that our house help back then had told me about mystical (read: demonic) beings that were half human and half sheep, so then, I wondered if the dogs were seeing these beings. Eventually, I got used to the nightly howling and I came to look forward to it. In fact, it’s possible it helped me fall asleep on several nights.
2. Early morning crow of the cock: Igwe went to Nigeria a month before we did, and I remember speaking to him one early morning (Nigerian time) and I could hear the crow of the cock. I was so jealous. Here in America, unless you live on/near a farm or next to a weird neighbor, you wouldn’t hear or see a live chicken. Kids here literally take field trips to go look at chickens and goats. Chicken wey dey for backyard in Nigeria. So when I got to Nigeria and the cocks in our compound started crowing … I. Loved. It.
3. Speaking of early morning sounds, the Muslim prayer got me too: You know I grew up in the North, which has mostly Muslims. Our neighbors across the street were Muslims and we used to exchange food during our religious holidays. There was a mosque on our street, although not close, but close enough to hear that early morning Allahu Akbar. I hadn’t heard it for 16 years though, and then, on my first morning in Nigeria (Abuja), I heard it loud and clear. I was so happy.
4. The beer palours: In the LGA where my parents live in Plateau State, nightlife is a figment of one’s imagination. Unless you consider dark rooms with blue lights where they serve lukewarm pepper soup as nightlife. It wasn’t for me. But there was this particular place, and I don’t even know what to classify it as, but it was the nicest place in this LGA. It served drinks and some food and had TVs and loud music. The tables brought back memories. They were plastic and branded with Star and Gulder. Memories!!! My daddy is a loyal Gulder consumer. I, on the other hand, was all about the Amstel Malt and Orijin and Schweppes.
5. The incessant honking: I experienced this in the North, but I really, really experienced it in Lagos. At first, I was confused and annoyed. But after a while, it became music to my ears. Or at the very least, I stopped hearing it. And when I returned to America, I found myself tempted to honk for no reason. I quite enjoyed the honking, I must say.
The reason why I remembered this story now is because I miss Nigeria. It’s December so my Facebook timeline is filled with people traveling to Nigeria and leaving me behind. Is it fair? I want to go back, and I want to go back now.