Some of my favorite quotes

“If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in character. If there be beauty in character, there will be harmony in the home. If there be harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation. If there be order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.” - Confucius

“Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them; but do not let them master you. Let them teach you patience, sweetness, insight.” - Helen Keller (1880-1968) American Writer

“Democracy, like liberty, justice and other social and political rights are not given. They are earned through courage, resolution and sacrifice.” - Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'” – Anonymous



Friday, October 17, 2008

Transition

Reader Beware: this is my first real post in almost 2 years... It will be long... And will cover too many "topics", but I'll still try to keep it concise :-).

Such a simple word, but with a myriad of meanings, depending on who you ask and the situation of reference. I have had a number of transitions during my relatively short lifetime:

  • from toddler to school-going pupil (to be honest, I can't remember that one :-).
  • from being a day primary school pupil in the middle belt city of Ilorin (i.e. living with my parents and making the trip to and from school daily) to being a boarding junior secondary school student in the northern city of Zaria, interestingly the city where I spent the first six years of my life. Being a "boarder" meant that I made the trip to and from school once a term – the trip to school at the beginning of the term, and the trip back home at the end of the term.
  • then to becoming a boarding senior secondary school student in the "empty" southwestern city of Igbokuta, a nook of the commercial capital metropolis of Lagos, where I was the black malo babe who sounded funny, lol! Igbokuta is a mountainous forest area, and in my school, we had hunters for security.
  • next was to embark on the gruelling and intensive 9-month Cambridge GCE A-Level program, which enabled me gain direct-entry admission into an undergraduate program in one of Nigeria's "prestigious" universities, and the true test of my understanding of what life should be all about.
  • my gradual transition into the world of the grown-ups (the end of enjoyment, if only I knew :-|) started with a 3-month assignment with UBA's IT group, a 6-month assignment with Infographics, and culminated with my full-time entry into KPMG Professional Services... oh, how grown up I felt :-).
  • the next major transition was the decision by my sweetheart and I to uproot ourselves from our beloved motherland to head for "God's own country" in search of further education, work experience, and adventure, all with the promise to return before the end of the decade.
  • four and a half years later, three and a half for him, that promise has been fulfilled, and we are back, back to where it all started, back to the society that shaped us into who we are and enabled us to go shine all the way across the Atlantic, as we continued to grow and improve.
  • the next scheduled transition is for the Man and I to take our 10+yr journey into its next phase of him being the olowo ori mi :-)... we thank God for His many mercies in our lives, both big and small, and pray that He keeps us all beyond that very special date.

I have not enumerated the smaller transitions that are embedded in each of those listed. With each of these transitions came lots of joys and sorrow as I learnt from the school of life that built on the solid upbringing I had received from home. I have learnt to sift the wheat from the shaft when it comes to human beings and made friends that have proven themselves reliable and consistent in spite of the distance and separations. I have learnt from every achievement, forced myself to get up from every blunder, been consistently humbled by fate, and have refused to give up on pushing myself harder, as I keep reminding myself that nothing good comes easy. I have learnt to shed my tears in private, celebrate my successes in public, and consistently put up a brave face (front) to the rest of the world so they can make way for me :-). To everyone I have come across during my various transitions through the journey of life, I say a big thank you, because each and every one of you, in one way or the other, has contributed towards making me the human being that I am now.

Transitions are never easy, and determination is the constant driver of how successful a transition would be, and of course God's grace. Change, no matter how sweet it may appear, requires one going out of the comfort zone and stepping into "alien" territory. The amount of preparation that has been made towards the anticipation of making that transition also helps a whole lot.

Enough of the preamble... let me dig into my latest transition. I will devote different posts towards the other transitions as my memory allows :-).

Adekalu ("the Man" :-) and I, after a series of discussions, deliberations and analysis involving decision trees and matrices (too much book, I know :-) made the decision at the end of March 2008 that the middle of July 2008 was a good time as any for us to return to our motherland as our mission to ilu oke had been fulfilled. The harbinger of the need to make this decision was because, in addition to the fact that we had originally planned that our one-way ticket out of Nigeria was indeed just one leg of a long-term return ticket, and we had by the grace of the Almighty checked off all the items we had on our list when we made the outbound trip, we had reached the point where we realised, and the Man very well articulated, that even though we were in the US of America, we were not willing to ditch our "Nigerianness" and behave like the Americans. So, instead of continuing to lament about how the Americans were very un-Nigerian (imagine o, those people dey their own jejeli and we wan go cause katakata), we decided we should accelerate our plans and return to the land of our ancestors to be in the midst of our people who share our values (of course, this is the system that made us who we are), at least for the most part.

Even as we were excited about this new decision, and the anticipation that comes with every chosen transition, we knew it would not be easy. Re-assimilation and re-integration requires a lot of conscious effort and care to be successful. It requires managing ones expectations as well as the expectations of others. It requires a healthy dose of humility, as well as a lot of work to acquire and retain the support of subordinates, peers, and superiors who have not had the opportunity one has been privileged with. It also requires the management of one's behaviour so as not to come across as pompous and arrogant as every action would be viewed through the lens of "it's because she just came back... who does she think she is?" We started making lists of things we would miss about the temporary home we had made, and of course the things we would not miss. Some of the things that made the list of things we would miss are:

  1. consistent electric power
  2. sane driving conditions
  3. alternative options for transportation
  4. security
  5. being able to enjoy nature – parks, boat rides, etc

The list of things we decided we would not miss include:

  1. "huh"... that annoying response when an American does not understand what you're saying... well not to generalise, but it is a majority
  2. their individualistic style of living
  3. the feeling that one is not truly accepted into their fold, no matter how hard you try
  4. the lack of genuineness– for those who know, it is best exemplified by those smiles that do not go beyond the lips, and how everything is "awesome"
  5. having the bulk of friends and family separated from us by a teeming ocean!

Reactions to our decision have spanned the spectrum of "what?! why??? are you ok? what are you thinking? dem chase you ni? is something wrong with your visa??" to "you are so brave! I wish I could do the same. I wish more of you would do the same. way to go... the country needs more like you." Then began the job search process... oh my! HR! The thought of dealing with any of that species makes me shudder... wonder if the HR Reps of various companies get together to simply make the recruitment process difficult and annoy applicants. If you work in HR, I would like to "hear" your comments... maybe we've only been "fortunate" so far to meet the bad eggs :-|. I was too tired, after working like a dog the last 4.5yrs, to even think of working again, not to talk of deciding what type of job I would be interested in, to actually searching for that job. So I poured all my energy into supporting the Man's job search :-), as we know who would be paying rent :-). The Man finally got hooked up with a new job suitor (www.notore.com) the month before our planned departure... we could breathe more easily and look forward to making the journey. Up till D-Day, we still questioned this decision of ours, wondering if we were not making a mistake. Each time we questioned, each time our reflection told us we were on the right path.

So, we've been back for exactly 3 months today... it has been very interesting :-). We've had to make the usual decisions the most important of which was "where to live" – lots of factors went into make that decision: traffic, security, utilities, the usual suspects that would usually come at a price, and we decided that traffic was the most important, and luckily the final choice came with decent security. No luck with utilities. Luckily the house search didn't take too long, thanks to the power of networks, which thankfully we still have.

There are lots of mini stories I can't go into detail with in this post: from my first brush with LASTMA (yes o, and it wasn't the last :-|), to my first brush with the "owners" of the Lagos roads (awon omo onile), to resuming my status as a mad Lagos driver (God bless the engineers that developed the automatic transmission, power steering, and hydraulics systems :-) - I am now an expert on timing Lagos traffic, i.e. what streets/parts of town are safe to venture on to at different times of the day, all in a bid to escape getting caught in what could be a crippling traffic situation; however, even with all my "intelligence," I still get caught in a jam every now and again, which maybe slow, but is making progress. To the multiple reunions :-). To my experience with the improvements that have been made in various facets of the polity, to the things I observe as having not changed, to the things that have even gotten worse. We are still a society where appearance for the most part begets respect – I've learnt how to demand that respect in spite of my appearance – although the tone of my voice doesn't really help :-|.

On the home front, it has required a TON of humility to be able to return under my father's roof, which is run like a VERY tight ship, after spending over 5yrs in my own space, obeying my own rules, and working according to my own clock. As a consequence, I have observed that good behaviour and giving respect and regard to whom it's due regardless of how we perceive the fairness of their actions towards us, especially parents, has its huge rewards. As much as I wish I could do things my way, I am benefitting tremendously from the regimen and barrage of advice as I head towards setting up a home of my own. No one tells you the truth like it is like family members can – forcing me to acknowledge my true strengths and weaknesses, and helping remove any illusions about who I truly am. My reintegration has been accelerated as I help out with errands, and this time has also given my family the opportunity to see how much I have imbibed those lessons we fought about when I was younger, and they are now very comfortable with the fact that their job is done and they can confidently see me off on to my next life-long adventure.

This particular transition has been a lot more fun than pain... which has made it a success so far :-). There will still be a number of firsts as we go through different experiences. I hope to be able to put future posts about specific stories about the re-acclimatisation experience. Do I miss the USA? Not really... I had no solid attachment to that land in the first place. I miss some of the experiences, but nothing I miss is trumped by what I have gained by being back home. For good or bad, 9ja is home, and a Nigerian is who I am, and I believe I am fully ready for all the adventures it promises to bring my way.


 

Glossary:

Malo: derogatory description by southerners of someone from the northern part of the country.

Direct-entry: a process where an undergraduate gets admitted directly into the 2nd year of university due to some advanced post-secondary school qualification like the GCE A-Levels Certificate or a Diploma.

Olowo ori mi: the one who paid my bride price

Ilu oke: uptown

Jejeli: peacefully

Katakata: trouble

Awon omo onile: the "true" children of the soil

1 comment:

Wole Adebanji said...

Hey Miss Yinusa (for now),

Some great stuff- this piece of writing is fantastic. I sincerely wish you the very best as you continue on your journey through life.
We all go through various transitions in life, sharing a bit of yours has been wonderful, thank you.