After 26 Years Abroad, Ikenna Azuike founder of What’s Up Africa captures the return to his “Roots” in an Emotional Video Documentary | Dishes on his Video Blog & Lagos Experience

For many Nigerians who have lived abroad for several years, the idea of returning home even for a visit is one that is considered with some apprehension. This tends to be more common among those who spent just a little part of their childhood in Nigeria before being whisked away to a foreign land. The memories are vague and one begins to wonder, should I or should I not return home? What would my former house look like? Would I see my childhood friends? Will they accept me?

These were some of the questions that ran through the mind of video blogger Ikenna Azuike, the founder of What’s Up Africa before he returned home recently to shoot the video “Back to Ikenna’s Roots“. During his recent visit to Nigeria, he shot an emotional video, showing how he retraced his steps back to the house where he grew up as a child, went to the same flat he lived with his parents and recalled some of his childhood memories.

Born in Surulere, Lagos 33 years ago, Ikenna attended Adebokun Primary School and St. Saviours School Ebute Metta in Lagos before moving to the UK with his parents when he was nearly 8 years old. Although before 2013 he paid a visit to Nigeria 15 years ago, this was the first time he was returning to the house he left as a child 26 years ago. The video which is a must watch for everyone, especially those living abroad.

But just before you watch the video, read a bit more about Ikenna who tells BellaNaija the story of his journey from Lagos to Amsterdam, and how he started his video blogging site What’s Up Africa.

My Family
My Mum is half German and half Ukranian and my Dad was born in a village in Imo State called Umunakanu. My parents are very loving and have always put me first. They lived together in Lagos for 11 years and then we moved to the UK. We are a very close family of just 3, unfortunately I don’t have any siblings. But I do have plenty of cousins based all over the world. I now live in Amsterdam, The Netherlands with my Dutch girlfriend and our daughter.

What’s Up Africa
After, I guess encouragement from my Dad (you know how it is with Nigerian fathers), I studied Law and worked as a Lawyer for four and a half years. But despite the financial security of that profession and the opportunities to live and work in London, Singapore and New York, I was very unhappy and wanted to do something more creative and fulfilling. So, much to the then dismay of my Dad, I decided to leave my Legal career and start a new one in Journalism. I joined Radio Netherlands Worldwide and pitched the idea to them for What’s Up Africa – a concept inspired by US Satirical News Show called ‘The Daily Show’. They liked it and here I am today. My Dad sees how much happier I am and what I’m achieving and is very proud of me, as is my Mum.

Ikenna’s Parents

Why it took so long to return to Nigeria
I was invited to come to Lagos to speak at a Video Blogger Workshop during the Social Media Week Lagos. It took ages for me to come back because I didn’t feel the intensity of needing to reconnect with Lagos. I have always had Nigerian friends and family close to me and I read about Nigerian news online. But about 3 years ago, I started to get an itch to get back to Lagos. I can’t explain why it happened all of a sudden, but it just did. Now that I’ve had such an intense trip back and I enjoyed it so much, I can guarantee that I’ll be back more often.

Differences between living in Nigeria and living abroad
Nigeria is full of opportunities right now. We as a people are entrepreneurial and driven, we are loud and proud. That’s a pretty exciting combination but although on an emotional and perhaps career level, I know I could enjoy life in Nigeria with my family (and it is something I’ve seriously considered since my recent trip), I know that right now my quality of life in terms of traffic, cost of living, proximity to my parents and friends is better in the Netherlands. The decision I have to make is which is more important to me at this stage of my life. Nigeria is not going anywhere so I may just have to be patient. If I don’t relocate now, perhaps next year or the year after that.

My perception of Nigeria
Booming! Economically, technically and creatively – but these huge opportunities are only accessible to a small minority of our population. 47% of the country may be entrepreneurial and driven but they are also illiterate. We need better, stronger leadership; we need to harness the power of our diaspora community, we need stronger institutions. We are on the right road and we have incredibly positive role models. But we have some way to go.

What the visit taught me
It has taught me that even though I may have Nigerian friends and family abroad, it’s important to stay physically in touch with my roots. There is no virtual or internet substitute in the world that can compare with walking Lagos streets, meeting and laughing with fellow Lagosians, breathing in the Lagos smog…

Lessons Learnt
To bring more money to Lagos next time. The city is expensive!

So tell us, do you have an itch to come back to Nigeria? What would you love to do if you have a chance to come home anytime soon?
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Ikenna Azuike is the founder of What’s Up Africa, a provocative and entertaining programme about African news, initiatives and people. He created it in Feburary 2011 after feeling frustrated by the unbalanced and often inaccurate portrayal of Africa in western media. What’s Up Africa is produced by Radio Netherlands Worldwide. For more information, please visit www.facebook.com/whatsupafrica | www.youtube.com/ikennaazuike

45 Comments on After 26 Years Abroad, Ikenna Azuike founder of What’s Up Africa captures the return to his “Roots” in an Emotional Video Documentary | Dishes on his Video Blog & Lagos Experience
  • her April 3, 2013 at 11:22 am

    this actually made me cry, would be so nice going back home someday soon.

  • candyjay April 3, 2013 at 11:23 am

    im really proud of you! i cant wait to go home this summer tho

  • temitope April 3, 2013 at 11:37 am

    he’s really cute and fresh

  • Retrochic April 3, 2013 at 11:41 am

    why is he crying, he is a guy joor

    • Hope April 3, 2013 at 11:51 am

      And? It doesn’t make him less of a man. In fact, it shows that he is secure in his own skin.

      mchewwwwwwwwwww

      • cicimileko April 4, 2013 at 4:20 am

        well said hope, male or female, a good cry refreshes the inside and shows lovely appreciation.

    • Bunmi April 3, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      That landlord is wicked lolll- Why do you get so emotional? If you haven’t left home you will never understand. Nigerians at home will not understand. They are busy trying to make money, make sure they are safe, provide water and power for themselves because the governments will rather use the money for these things to do surgeries and buy gifts for people. There’s no place like home. Those memories.

  • MKM April 3, 2013 at 11:53 am

    i actually cried *wipes tears*

  • Berry Dakara April 3, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Haven’t watched the video yet, but nice interview :)

    You guys should see his fake Nigerian film trailer – I NEVER LOSE -youtube.com/watch?v=O-6hndWFg0o from 1:27.

  • Keziah April 3, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    I am so looking forward to coming back home this summer holiday ! its gonna be liveeeee

  • igbo canadian April 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    i have an itch o!!!! am going back this summer for 4months! Ph where u at??? lol i can’t wait mehn

  • igbo canadian April 3, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    so ikenna is lagos your roots or imo state?

    • choi April 4, 2013 at 1:43 pm

      Please go and park! And while you are it, learn some English! Talking ’bout is Lagos your roots…SMH

      • I no send February 8, 2014 at 7:52 am

        :) :) :) dies of laughter LOL

  • nich April 3, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    the truth is that one cannot deny his roots………my take is that if boko haram is defetaed, nigeria would be better 15yrs from now. but the game changer would be the realization of eko atlantic city. this is one thing that i know will inspire many nigerians abroad to return home or visit more often.

  • Joan April 3, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Awww Okanlawon Ajayi, Surulere. This got me emotional mehn, now I want to go see our old place in Itire too on my next trip home lol. I wonder how it looks now.
    Sometimes, it’s good to just remind myself of where I am coming from and know that whatever blessing I have now is from God.

  • pynk April 3, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    aaw how cute! its sincere! i love the part where he says “Mr. Alhaji”!

  • TRUTH April 3, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    SUCH A HANDSOME MAN, CRYING MADE HIS SEXINESS GO WAY UP FOR ME!

  • nnenne April 3, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    this is cute and emotional.

  • m.h April 3, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Lere boy confirm but the guy can cry for African..

  • chichi April 3, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    aww, so if he left when he was seven and is coming back after 26 yrs, that makes him 33??..damn he looks good..

  • t April 3, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    I think about this kind of experience almost everyday of my life in America. I left home a while ago and I can tell you that I still miss my old friends and the neighbors that helped raise me. It takes the whole street to raise a child where I come from. I am planning on visiting Nigeria in the near future and I will make sure to stop by our house in Apapa and my grandpa old ground in Yaba.

  • Ayo Elizabeth April 3, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Very emotional. Sob sob…. Back to memories…

  • KELZ HENRY April 3, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    when the landlord said ‘why are you so emotional?’ …i LOL-ed. I remember my mum used to be, and still is confused when oyibo people cry at certain things…the present generation are oyibo-nised though,we cry when we get our results and have done well, we cry when we move into a new apartment etc. our parents never understand, we should be happy and dancing. lol

  • Sita April 3, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    ‘St. Saviours School Ebute Metta” !!!! Wohooo i went there too!!! Alma mater FTW!! All the best kids come out of SS-Ebuta Metta :) The railway kids doing it big lol

  • Myne Whitman April 3, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Reminded me of our place in Enugu, went back there like 15 years ago, wonder if it’s still there. Nice nostalgic pictures :)

  • missthang April 3, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    thanks for this video was so excited to see what surulere now look like,i grew up in surulere and it was an awesome experience. seeing shitta and adeniran ogunsanya with onilegogoro and so on, *sigh* av missed naija !!!

  • victoria April 3, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    awwww…he just uped his sexy by crying… :d and he is cuteeeeeeeeeeeee…lol why do u have a gf. :(

  • Bee April 3, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    I’m going back home def, haven’t watched the video, but you know how love can’t be explained? That is exactly what I feel for Nigeria. Honestly, yes the cons is way above the pro, but I can’t explain what keeps pulling me back. That is why I never try to convince others to come home, because if you feel the need, you feel the need. I have one life to live, and my country is where I see my happiness, even though I consider the same things that he mentioned.

  • Afrik Lounge Radio April 3, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    Nice!!! Love this guys skits with Naija Runs-Babe.

  • Jay April 3, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    First thing I would do as soon as I step my feet into Nigeria again is go to suya bar.. *sigh* I miss Nigeria

  • ms lala April 3, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    I left when I was ten ……I miss home I miss my parent apartment…I miss my school Maryland convent private…..am so Americanized its freaking sad but deep down inside I miss home …i miss the suya …I miss my neighbors being so friendly and running around with their kids ….I never felt like an only child in lagos until i moved to Cali when I was ten …low key america is a lonely place

  • yeni April 3, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    Would love to see all ma friends again in Naija.. miss them all x

  • omo April 3, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    This guy is fine, talented & funny. I just believe he has a bright career/future ahead. Goodluck bro. I look 4ward to the day my 2 legs will land in that country again after 10 years. WOW! how time flies.

  • omo April 3, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    I believe his emotions are from some deep awesome memories (he even said it in the video). So, i find nothing wrong with it. It will be emotional 4 me too the day i’ll come to back to naija ( MOTHERLAND)… i mean just seeing the amazing journey of my life. It’s very moving to see where u come from & even compare it to where u are now in life… like Ikeanna just did in that video. GOD IS AWESOME!

  • tokunbo April 3, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    the landlord sef! Typical naija man..”U will give me ur dad’s phone number”

    Famzing things! LOL

  • NNENNE April 4, 2013 at 2:24 am

    …And I cried too.

  • Temizzy April 4, 2013 at 9:59 am

    awwwwwwww, you guys lets not cry too much nau.

  • anthonia April 4, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Couldnt hold back tears as well, was emotional for me. Nice research at least he met his Landlord alive and the apartment existing . Am sure his next video or visit will be about his Dad’s home town , hopefully

  • deetz April 4, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    he is beautiful, damn a breath of fresh air. don’t have the chance to watch now but i will be later.

  • Nok10 April 4, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    @ Tokunbo – abi o, not even ‘could I have your dad’s number’ Just dey command the guy, reminds me of my uncles, lol!

  • glo April 5, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Awwwwh…..made me almost cry in the office…liked that he kept it real.

  • META April 21, 2013 at 8:00 am

    @retrochic,so guys dont cry right…am so srry for you warped idea and notion about masculinity.

  • Karen December 19, 2013 at 5:43 am

    Man.. this is so emotional. I went home last summer after almost 10 years away from Nigeria. Immediately i came out of the airport and saw my parents waving, i started crying. Home is where the heart is, especially when its a place filled with good memories.

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