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Onosen Mike-Ifeta: Dear Special Guest From Nigeria



dreamstime_l_10695125Dear Special Guest from Nigeria,

Owing to the fact that I live abroad, I tingled with thrill when you announced your intention to visit me from Nigeria. On the day of your arrival, we chatted well into the night, the stories were the same as before, albeit different versions; no light for days, the transformer blew out, the skyrocketing price of petrol, foreign exchange rate, kidnapping incidents and the almighty Lagos traffic. We gossiped about the girl whose bleaching attempt resulted in blackened knuckles, and about the neighbor who denied impregnating a girl only for the child to be born looking exactly like him. There was something euphoric and nostalgic about the first day of your arrival. I was excited to receive the lovely Ankara fabrics, braid extensions, and the other beautiful things you gave to me.
Okay let me be honest, your visit was exhilarating until I began to notice weird behaviour patterns, which I couldn’t bring myself to discuss with you, because of the fear of ruining our close relationship.

So at night time after you went to bed, I had an ear to ear conversation with my other half about your behavior. It was very critical to encrypt our discussion, so we had it in whispers for fear of being asked to return the packet of Knorr seasoning and crayfish, which we had already used to cook some Jollof rice and ayamase stew. Therefore, we bit our tongue, put our best foot forward and plastered a smile on our face, because we don’t want any wahala.
Special guest, let’s get into formation! The truth is, I would have appreciated it if you assisted me to be an excellent host during your stay, after all, you are my very cherished quest. As you noticed, unlike most people in Nigeria who have maids and other paid helpers, most of us who live abroad don’t have that luxury. I explained to you that although I have a Caucasian nanny, she is contracted to care for only my children for about ten hours daily. I know in Nigeria helpers are expected to work endlessly and tirelessly, but that is not the case in my home. I endeavor to be pleasant to my nanny; I tell her “please” and “thank you.” I do it out of courtesy, not because my mind has been colonized.

Frankly I didn’t want to hear about how you were missing Nigeria and your maids and how “you guys abroad, una de try o! me I no fit do all this work o!” No matter how hard it was for you to adjust, you could have just done your best. I was certain that if only you tried, you would have remembered how to pick up after yourself and your children. I was very disappointed that you didn’t do your dishes even though there was constant running water.
Special guest, since you came with your kids, you should have kept an eye on them, encouraged them to be respectful and less confrontational with other children and reminded them to clear their table after eating. They didn’t need to curtesy with their knees,  when they greeted me in the morning. No far from it;  I just expected them to be courteous, to say, “please” and “thank you.”

Obviously in preparation for your arrival, I cooked some delicacies to welcome you; but in all honesty, there was no way that I would have continued to cook for you on a daily basis. I presumed that simple meals like rice, sandwiches, etc. would have been easy for you to make. I didn’t think it was necessary for you to buy groceries. Besides, you didn’t eat a lot of food because I wasn’t cooking for you. So, there was no need to feel you had to replace any food. You would have been better off saving your money for your shopping escapades.

I was all right with taking you to the various shops that you wanted to check out, giving you suggestions on how to save money by going to designer outlets. However, I was hoping that you would learn the bus routes or call one of the uber drivers so that I could get on with my life rather than drive you all over town, every day all day.

On the upside, in spite of our differences I somewhat enjoyed your stay. Nothing beats the company of old friends and cherished family members. Obviously, my best efforts were not good enough; imagine for a minute the shock when I heard from our mutual friend that you felt I was a terrible host. I thought I did a good job of concealing my disappointment about your attitude, perhaps not.

How can we mend the situation, have you got any suggestions? My suggestion is that I should stop acting so pietistic and learn how to be a better host. I think you should also learn how to be a better guest. Things as simple as picking up after yourself, being considerate and respecting my house rules can assist me to host you better in the future.

Yours sincerely,
Your host in diaspora

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Onosen Mike-Ifeta writes from North America where she lives with her husband and two very boisterous boys. In 2013 Onosen decided to become a stay at home mom; she still questions the wisdom behind that decision, especially when the boys are screaming the house down and there’s no where to hide. Onosen is the face behind

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