This piece is based on my own personal experiences so there tends to be some generalization.
Hi everybody, I am a Ghanaian lady who got married this year to a handsome, sweet and God-fearing Nigerian man. A number of people asked me if all the men in Ghana were taken but chale one cannot fight God’s will. I would not trade my husband for anything or anybody. I must say that Nigerian men are very confident and seem to be trained to take on responsibility at an early age (this is not saying Ghanaian men aren’t). They stand tall with confidence and are not fazed by hard and trying times. There seems to be a deep rooted belief that ‘one day one day’ all will be well.
I was quite surprised that my dad, who normally goes on and on with respect to his opinions, did not object to me marrying a Naija man. His first statement was “I hope you are not being pressurized to marry?” My dad and I are not really close but I loved him for that question. There I was thinking I was going to have to recruit my mom to fight this love war for me. I happily replied, “No.” He went on to ask the usual questions a father would ask and then he made another powerful statement, ” I really don’t mind if my children marry non-Ghanaians, the two most important things are the person should be honest and have a good temper”.
Wow, I was shocked that was all that mattered to him. I know my mom had already said that none of her children should marry non-believers but I was confused regards my dad’s words. I always thought he would be a bit tribalistic and worry about social status etc. His words made me realise that he may be more down to earth than he appeared. He had highlighted a fact that some women ignore. Yes, honesty and temperament does come to mind but not before looks, finances, job security and status to name a few.
Oh, so lest I forget, he also gave me examples of many Ghana-Nigerian relationships that have been successful and his one advice to me was to think of myself as a Nigerian when I relocate. It dawned on me that as humans, we react based on our experiences and beliefs as well as evidence of certain circumstances. My dad believed, tribe wasn’t an issue but rather the principles one guided his life with. His observation of successful inter-country marriages had also made him more open to the news I shared with him. All I can say is Thank God.
The pre-wedding period was not void of calamity but by Gods grace the wedding was a success. Did I mention that my maid-of-honour and I had promised to ‘whoop’ my husband and his best man on the dance floor (knowing that my husband was a total klutz at dancing). Eiiii, we received the surprise of a lifetime. My husband and I still argue about the fact that he deceived me into thinking he couldn’t dance to save his life. Naija really dealt with Ghana that day. But I give God the glory because my desire for him went a notch higher if you know what I mean.
Anyway fast forward to me relocating to Nigeria after the wedding.
I must say that the media has not done justice to Nigeria. In fact some Nigerians have not done justice to do their own country especially those who find it entertaining to tell negative stories pertaining to their country. Tales of armed robberies, girls Brazilian weaves being scraped off their scalp, cultists controlling school activities, cars being snatched in daylight, people being duped left right centre, unfriendly citizens who are always in a rush, mini buses (danfos) which never stop for passengers and people being bewitched created a kaleidoscope of fear which trailed me to Nigeria.
Allegedly, instead of the usual ‘Welcome to Nigeria’ sign, visitors are welcomed to the country with a big signboard saying ‘Shine your eyes’ which means be street-smart (I never saw this though). This did not stop me from putting on my ‘hard girl swag’ as soon as I stepped out of the airport. And by the way, the airport officials are really friendly and seem to love Ghanaians especially when they know you are married to one of their own.
My first thought as we were driving home was this looks like Ghana with a better road network and larger population of course. The mini-buses (danfos) scared me with their speed and recklessness but I was happy to see that they actually stopped to pick and drop off their passengers. Going into the neighborhoods, I realised there were also the motorbikes (okadas) and tricycles (keke napep) to contend with and I wondered if I could ever drive in Nigeria. Expressing my thoughts to my husband, he said “What is there? you will get used to it”.
Our home was comfortable and the neighborhood a peaceful one except those few hours (we actually had electricity supply for about 16 hours a day) the whole area was engulfed in the hum of generators. I had to quickly adjust to this and I bless my husband for having an inverter (battery which stores power) in addition to a generator set which ensured we had electricity 24/7.
I liked how well-planned areas were with salons, eateries, churches, fuel stations, supermarkets and the small local markets a short driving distance away. We could get anything we wanted without heading onto the express (highway).I was a bit anxious about going to the market, fearing alleged pick-pockets and rude sellers. On the contrary, I was met by friendly market-women whose aggression stemmed from their desire to make a good ends meet. They patiently explained things to me when I was confused and they taught me a few buying and selling expressions. I only seem to remember ‘e she Ma’ meaning thank you Ma.
I couldn’t help but notice that Nigerians (middle and high-class) hardly purchased street-food which was contrary to what I observed in Ghana. There were just some foods you would prefer to buy by the road-side including kelewele (spicy fried plantain), waakye, roasted plantain, kenkey to name a few and I craved them. I have seen roasted plantain (boli) and kooko and koose (akara) being sold in Nigeria but have not attempted to buy. Of course Nigerian suya has been a healthy option embraced by all and I begun to get used to it till the emergence of Ebola.
Churches in Nigeria are humongous and this is equally matched by their spirituality. It is amazing how deeply rooted their faith in God is. It is touching to see a man with his whole family going to church and worshiping God with all their mind, body and soul, regardless of their status in society. They seem to do it whole-heartedly and not because it is expected of them. This moved me to a higher spirituality level. During service, I sometimes edge closer to my husband, craving his warmth as I observed numerous couples adorned in garments from the same fabric. I must say that this observation of unity gave me a new perspective on marriage. Let me not forget to add that they love their country to bits, though they might be facing various challenges, and this shows in the numerous prayers that are offered for the country every single Sunday service and last Friday vigil I attend. God bless them.
Many months gone by, my husband reminds me to lock the front door after we get back from town and I go like ” oooho you too, who will come in ?” . Wow, I am sure many people will be shocked at a foreigner saying that. But that is just because Nigeria is not as bad as people depict it to be. I feel very safe day in and day out and my neighbors are really friendly people. I walk confidently with my Brazilian weave sewed on and I actually use my cell phone in public, including the busy market areas. I am not saying the crime rate is 0% but it is not so different from being in Ghana or China or the US.
Did I mention that I love Nigerian food? No wonder most of their men are so handsome and ‘fresh’ and their women are beautiful with glowing healthy skin. Their ingredients consist of so many greens, seeds and nuts, with a variety of spices. My Naija mother was so excited when I asked to eat amala and ewedu and even more delighted when I asked to learn to prepare the numerous dishes. Just yesterday I enjoyed some semolina swallow with egusi soup. Yummy!
Since I am currently applying for jobs, I have been mostly holed up at home hence was quite excited when my husband said his friend had invited us to his birthday party. Eish, I couldn’t wait. The first thing that struck me when we got there was how hospitable everyone was, checking to see if I was okay and being ever so friendly. Wow! I felt so at home and when the DJ started playing my jams, I pulled husbi to the dance floor. Staying on that dance floor for hours was made easy by the fact that Nigerians know how to groove. No fronting (forming) whatsoever.
This has been my experience so far and even though I know my sweet sexy husband has made my transition to this new environment quite easy, he couldn’t have done it without his and now my wonderful country Nigeria.
Stick with me for updates on my Naija observations in Part 2.