The Most Memorable Place I’ve Ever Been

A group of co-workers came to me one day and asked,” Divine, what country are you from?” I answered Nigeria. Another one asked,’’ Where is Nigeria?” I replied Africa, and he said,’’ ooh… you are from Africa?” I giggled and said yes, then the other lady said, ‘I would love to visit this country Africa,’’ I looked at her and laughed. It is funny how some people think or rather have the mentality that Africa is a country when it is actually a continent that has over 54 countries. Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa. Because of the large population, it is considered the giant of Africa. Nigeria was colonized by the British Empire (United Kingdom) and became a Bristish protectorate in 1908. Colonization lasted until 1960, when an independence movement succeeded in gaining Nigeria its independence.

Nigeria has 36 states with three main languages: Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, and some other ethnic languages. English is our lingua franca. 90% of Nigerians speak and understand English. I come from a small village called Imo where we speak Igbo. We lived in another state and travelled to the village every Christmas holiday to visit my grandmother. This was like a family ritual until we moved to the United States. This is a place I will forever love because of the good and wonderful memories it brings to me. The village to us is where our grand and great grandparents is born and raised. We get to see and spend time with our cousins, aunties, uncles and other family relations, it was like a family reunion. I can remember vividly how my little cousin would always cry whenever they were going back. I consoled her some of the time and my granny would buy her a bracelet to calm her down.

My granny would always cook different types of spicy and delicious food throughout our stay. She made local foods like Eba and soup, fried rice, most especially the Jollof rice which happens to be my favorite. I admire her cooking talent so much. Sometimes she would call me to help her in the kitchen, which I never hesitated to do. She taught me how to make a couple of dishes that up until today I could make with my eye closed.

There was this chicken that belongs to our neighbors that woke us up by 6.00am every morning, which wasn’t funny at all. I usually extended my sleep to eight o’clock. When I finally I woke up, I would take our custom-made broom that was made from palm leaves to sweep the compound and do some other chores. After that, my granny would take me and my older cousin to her garden to harvest some vegetables and corn. On our way there she told some funny stories that happened in the village. She will do anything just to see us smiling whenever we are with her.

There are a couple of cultural events that I love to watch. One of them is the Masquerade Dance. Masquerading may involve one-person team, or a team made up of instrument players, vocalist, dancers and the masquerade itself. Most masquerade is covered head to toe with some piece of clothing and bamboo stales. Finally, a wooden mask is worn to cover their face. Some masks are designed to be beautiful, intimidating or downright sinister. Most masqueraders claim to have some mystical powers and are constantly competing to see which one has the most mystical powers whenever they appear together, especially at village squares or funeral. My brother and I would always come early to sit at the front row, so we could get the best view. After the dancing comes the masquerade parade where a group of huge men accompany the masquerade around the whole neighborhoods. During this time, no females are to be seen outside their homes because if the masquerade sees you anywhere around the village, he will chase you with a stick until he catches you. If you were able to escape, good for you. To be on the safe side, I would go to granny’s room upstairs and watch them, which was a funny and interesting sight to see. My granny would always scream my name “Divine?” and I would scream back “yes nana!” This was just for her to confirm I was in the house.

Another event I loved watching was the soccer competition where one group from each village compete with one another. This is the part I find most interesting because soccer has always been my favorite sport. After the competition, the winner gets to host the next year’s event. I remember in 2005 my cousin and his team members won this competition, we were so happy because he got to host the next competition which took place the following year.

I got to spend my Christmas holiday like this for the past thirteen years of my life. It was an unforgettable experience of my life. This place brings me joy and laughter, I love the language and how people interact with each other. My granny was also a big part of the reason I fell in love with this place, her love and selflessness toward us is just incomparable. She taught me a lot of things that I will never forget. I miss and love her so much. Moving to the United States I knew I wouldn’t be visiting my village for a very long time. Maybe when am done with school I will, who knows? ……