Three flights and two days later, I’ve finally reached Nigeria, my father’s home country. It feels like it took me a lifetime to get here. When the wheels hit the ground, my heart starts racing. As I fill out the immigration form and wait in line, my hand begins to shake. I don’t even care that the airline lost my bag. I’m finally here, and I’m just happy to be here.
A man in a black suede blazer and pink oxford shirt motions me forward, and I walk up to the immigration services window to hand over my passport. He keeps the passport and instructs me to get in line. Once I make it to the front of the line for non-citizens, a uniformed immigration officer confirms my name, “Asemota?”
“Yes, that’s me.”
“Are you Nigerian?” he asks with both recognition and confusion.
“Yes.” It’s a question I get a lot, but it’s usually in an entirely different context — the guess-your-heritage game commonly experienced by many people of color in the United States. He is not guessing though. He is certain that I belong here but confused by the origin of my documents.
“Where is your Nigerian passport?” he asks.
“It’s my first time here,” I answer with nervous excitement. My heart is pounding.
He nods in understanding. “You should get your passport while you are here,” he says in a kind tone with a straight, I’m-still-a-goverment-official face. It comes off matter-of-fact as if he is reading off a mentally-stored itinerary to me. But I recognize his relaxed conviction as an instruction to claim my birthright.
“That’s the plan,” I half sing the words in my usual, but now seemingly out of place, cheery tone.
He stamps it and hands my U.S. passport back to me. I walk through the gate, right past security. That’s it. I’m home. And I’m just happy to be here.