This post is part of the Verastic In Nigeria series.
Going to Nigeria is something that I have been wanting to do since I arrived in America. Every year, I was sure that that was the year I would finally make it to Nigeria. In 2014, I was very sure that 2015 was definitely the year I’d be in Nigeria, but then Ada Verastic was in my tummy, so that plan changed.
At no time did I ever imagine that it would be 16 long years before my feet touched Nigerian soil again, nor did I ever think that whenever I did touch Nigerian soil, I would be doing it with a baby strapped to my chest. Not just any baby, but my own baby, one that I carried and gave birth to. Insane.
I cannot explain it, but when my feet touched Nigeria, there was a kind of peace and familiarity that overcame me. I know, I know, peace isn’t something that people generally relate to Nigeria, but please, indulge me. There were lots of disappointments and frustrations in Nigeria, and there were many, many things I did not like, but they all felt like organized chaos. I did not like them, but I knew them.
I spent one month in Nigeria and my life changed in ways that I did not plan or expect. I had many, many deep and revealing conversations with my parents where I found out things about me and my family that I never knew – like how as a baby, I was knocking very hard on death’s door. In the exact words of my daddy, “You were not to live.” I cried that night. I woke up the next morning, and I cried some more. I was so grateful to God for keeping me, and at the same time, I was remorseful for the countless times I felt like He was not with me. Even as I type this right now, I don’t know how many battles He’s fighting for me.
And I wept because as a mother now, I began to imagine the pain and panic my mother was facing when she thought her one-week-old baby was going to die. I have always thought my mommy was a strong woman, but now I know she’s stronger than I thought.
Maybe it’s because of this news of how I was not to live, or maybe it’s because of my mommy’s early-morning gospel music, or perhaps, just the Hand of God, but I know for a fact that He drew me closer to Him. I found myself being in His presence a lot more often. I felt wholly surrounded by Him. I was not afraid.
There were other less dramatic changes like my decision to become a stronger and more vocal cultural ambassador because as a Nigerian who has spent most of her life in America (16 years in America; 11 years in Nigeria), I was disappointed that I sounded and acted more Nigerian than some Nigerians in Nigeria — who have never even left Nigeria. I was disturbed that people were impressed by my insistence on eating Nigerian foods and buying local Nigerian products like Dudu Osun soap. No, they were not impressed; they were shocked. And so now, more than ever, I have decided to be even more Nigerian, to use my platform and my influence to expand and appreciate the Nigerian/African brand because we are truly amazing.
Too many times, I was in awe of my people. Our infrastructure sucks; our government sucks. Our economy — what economy? But the average Nigerian still finds a will to live. And in spite of the difficulty, they still get up every morning and hustle. And hustling, there are levels to it. The man who is hustling for a fifty million naira contract is not on the same level as the man who is hustling to sell five oranges in one day. And the question that rang in my head all day, the calling that God put on my heart was how can I make a difference? I’d like to think that I made a difference in the lives of the people that were around me, but only God can confirm. What I know for sure is that I have only just started.
I recorded myself a lot while in Nigeria. At first, it was awkward for me because I thought I looked really strange talking into the camera all the time. But then, when I got home, I would replay some of the videos and I would be really glad that I captured that moment. The more I recorded the videos, the more I wanted to record them. Videos have a way of preserving the moment and telling the story — in a way that words and pictures can’t. And after a while, your mind might forget little details, but the videos remain the same. Videos breathe life. I imagine Ada Verastic and her confusingly identical twin brothers gathered around the screen one day, watching their early lives and the time their mother’s boobs were perky.
Soooo … it is with shaky fingers and an excited and nervous mind that I announce that starting next week Wednesday, September 28th 2016 (and every Wednesday after that), I will post a weekly vlog about my life. Think of it as a Verastic Lately kind of update. Sure, I’ll still blog about my life, but the videos will give you (and me) something that my words can’t. Am I so afraid of what I just committed to that I think I might faint? Yes. Absolutely. But I’ll do it anyway. And I’m blogging about it today because if I wait any longer, I might change my mind.
I have much to learn about YouTube/vlogging, but we can learn together. And if there’s something you want to suggest that I do to make my videos better, I’m all ears (or eyes). Meanwhile, if you click the image below, it’ll take you straight to my YouTube page where you can subscribe and be first to know when I put more of my business on the internet of things. Because if there’s anything the internet needs more of, it’s Vera’s life. Click below.