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Adefunke Ogunnisi: Lagos is Still Home! The Story of a First Time Traveller’s Trip to London

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dreamstime_m_74197723Growing up, I always imagined that London and America were just like heaven (a little exaggeration). For a very long time, Mrs A (our neighbour) was the closest we came to the Janded life. She taught us how to make Apple Pie and on a number of occasions she got my sister and I a few items from the UK. Although my parents had travelled on a few trips abroad, they had to take some time off any travelling to avoid any unnecessary expenditure.

Therefore, we did not have the luxury of travelling to the United Kingdom or to the States during the summer holidays. In fact, we referred to the summer holidays as Long holidays and the December holidays as Christmas holidays and not winter holidays. I wonder why we never called it dry season holidays, wet season holidays or harmattan holidays (side eye).

I remember once when Mrs A’s mum was in town on holiday from the UK. She casually mentioned that my sister and I were welcome to see her whenever we made it to London on holidays. Since Grandma did not get the memo, we decided to oblige her and just smile. On our way home, my sister Laby and I burst out laughing. The laughter was serious, no real conversations about the topic, just laughter. It just did not seem like London was in our future. Imagine the joy, x number of years later when my dad said he was taking us on holiday. Truth be told, he did not have all the money for that trip; but, in my father’s words, he wanted us to be exposed and to know that there was a world out there and that there was much more than what we saw every day.

So off to London we went. This was my first time on a plane. I was about 19 years old. In 19 years before that trip, the closest I had gotten to travelling were the trips to the airport with my Dad who travelled frequently to Dubai to get some merchandise for sale. I loved going to the airport, seeing people bid their family farewell (sometimes in tears, kisses, hugs or a combination of emotions). At that age, Murtala Mohammed Airport felt so much grander than its current pathetic state. This, however, was my own first trip and I was super excited. I watched movies all through the first flight and did not catch any sleep until we got into the connecting flight to London. This felt like luxury. At that time I did not know the difference between Economy, Business or First Class but even with my little travel history Emirates Economy is quite superb. It was definitely a grand way to start my travelling experience.

We got into London very early in the morning, went through immigration and hopped on the underground. My dad tried to make the trip as educative as possible, I remember he drew the map of the UK and highlighted London, Dundee and Scotland just to give us a sense of location.

Wow! This was it, London. The airport felt so much grander than Lagos. Everything looked much organised. There were proper signs on how to get to the underground, taxis etc. People minded their business a lot and did not try to be chatty at all. It was only end of July but the weather was cold for me so I carried my sweater along all the time.
There were some many “Park and Shops” around (at the time there was only one shopping mall in Lagos and it was a big deal. My Cousin took us sightseeing at the museum, London Eye, Trafalgar’s Square. My breath was taken away by the splendour of it all. The beauty was foreign to me, the quiet was even more alien to me. These were the things that fascinated me. Soon enough I started to notice the other side.

First, some parts of London can be really dirty. I did not imagine that there would be any dirt on the road at all. For some reason I imagined that it will be squeaky clean at all times.
Second, we bumped into a few homeless people and it was really hard to imagine how these people survived in the cold. Hungry, homeless and possibly hopeless.

Third, the really small sizes of houses. This was indeed the most shocking of it all. Even though my house was not a Palace, we had a fairly decent 5 bedroom house with a big living room and enough restrooms to go round. When we were younger, we had more than enough space to play around. The size of the roads baffled me.
Lastly, I could feel the difference between the London vibe and the Lagos vibe. Lagos was definitely much bubblier. Neighbours knew each other and interacted more than I saw in London.

I loved the experience of the trip but I missed home. We underestimate the amazingness of being Nigerians. The beauty in our ability to strive in hard times, our creativity, our diversity and our cultural heritage. Although we still have a long way to go a VERY LONG WAY TO GO in terms of development, we must not underestimate our potential as a people.

Home is not a location; it is the feeling and the freedom of expression that comes with being in a specific location. London felt like heaven in my mind. In reality, though it is a really beautiful place and is becoming home number 2, It has its bad sides.

Lagos is just lit…. home forever…….

Photo Credit: Michael Spring | Dreamstime.com

Adefunke Ogunnusi currently works in financial services as an Operational Risk Management Analyst. She discovered her love for writing in 2013 and has used writing as her private place. She is currently a member of Toastmasters international where she is being groomed on Public speaking. Defunke blogs at [email protected]

39 Comments

  1. Dams

    November 19, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    Lagos is lit! Nigeria is lit!
    We just need to step up and show the world what we are capable of.

    Easier said than done though!

  2. Chy

    November 19, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    According to one of our most renowned minds, A tiger does not proclaim his tigritude, he pounces!
    We don’t need these silly feel good articles about Nigeria where we subtly put first world nations down and talk about our big houses and how amazing we are!
    There’s no light, barely any potable water, people get beaten to death etc
    The economy is down the drain and corruption is normal
    Let’s actually work to make our country better and not continue with these lies

    • A Real Nigerian

      November 19, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      ROTFL HAHAHAHA

    • A Real Nigerian

      November 19, 2016 at 3:38 pm

      Lagos is a bumbling mess of crime, filth and frustration. Nothing lit about that.

    • moni

      November 19, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      Thank you funke
      great write up

      @ A great Nigerian I pity you
      AND those places dont have crime?
      U can imagine the shock on my children’s faces when i took them to NY for the first time
      They cant just get it
      why would their train stations be so filthy
      why will people be so dirty on the train – eating and throwing things down
      why are the houses so small
      why do we have one bathroom in a whole house with three rooms
      why dont they have their own gated compound
      why do they park on the street
      my people the questions were too many, I got tired
      They enjoyed a few other places like when we went to LA but at the end of the trip they concluded that Nigeria is still good mummy, we just need to fix a few things like “NEPA” and give jobs to those who need to work and we will be good

      God bless Naija
      God bless Lagos
      Naija you will rise and shine again
      very soon

    • A Real Nigerian

      November 19, 2016 at 6:38 pm

      At least they have functioning rail transportation almost countrywide, do you have that? No.
      Don’t people throw dirt around in NIGERIA at an even more alarming rate? And while they have the garbage man to come clean things up, how many Nigerian cities can boast of having truly functional sanitation systems? Yes, people throw things down, but do you see their cities or train stations AS dirty as ours?
      They probably don’t have gated compounds because there is a lesser fear of being robbed – something that is all too frequent in Nigeria.
      And as for the small house and one bathroom, that is what you could afford I guess.
      A few things like “NEPA and jobs”. HAHAHA! FEW but all too important. Compare things the unemployment rate of both countries. Compare the power grid of both countries.
      I would like to ask your kids a few questions about NIGERIA too.
      Why do lecturers collect bribes from struggling students?
      Why do 20+ states owe salaries and pensions?
      Why do we import refined oil when we have more than enough crude?
      Why does kerosene sell for 350 per liter in many states?
      Why do politicians seek to rob and oppress the very people they swore to stand up for and serve?
      Why are most of our roads bad?
      Why do children go to school under trees or in classrooms without chairs, doors and windows?
      Why do people sell their votes for loaves of bread and a little money?
      Why can’t people freely go out at night in soooo many places in Nigeria without a fear of getting mugged?
      Why do so many people lack access to clEan water?
      Why do so many children die from malnutrition and diarrheoa every year?
      Why are women looked down on and suppressed by society?
      Why do policemen collect money from drivers? Why are they complicit to a lot of crimes?
      Why do data packages cost so much?
      Why is there so much ethnic and religious tension?
      Why is our president a confused, incompetent man?
      Why does the government do nothing for its people?
      Why?
      KeeP on deceiving yourself that Nigeria will rise and shine. We are into a neverending night of pitch-black darkness and there is not going to be dawn. Ever.

    • Oma

      November 21, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      A real Nigerian and hadiza … Every day and any time someone say something good or hopeful about Nigeria and Nigerians you complain and say all sort …. If you are not helping to improve regardless of you are Nigerians or not you are part of the Nigerian problem and world problem at large … What are you personal plans to make Nigeria and Nigerians and the world by extension a better place … Stop your hate and complain , put all the hate energy to work and make positive change or else you are part of the problem

    • ATL's finest

      November 19, 2016 at 6:08 pm

      @ Chy ???????????U made my weekend & on that NOTE I won’t say anything else;)

    • Abi

      November 19, 2016 at 11:17 pm

      Where are the “lies” ? There are many facets to any story/ situation must it always be about the economic situation, corruption, negativity all the time?! So cos we are in a recession and have corrupt leaders etc we should all shave our heads and hide in the dark.
      This is simply an article which captures her love for her obviously imperfect country. It does not take away the economic situation, corruption etc.
      Perhaps if there were more people like her who believed in this nation and could be more positive, perhaps things would be better.
      “Her big house” smh, the way the article reads, she is clearly not being boastful… Smh.
      Go and write your own article and lament till kingdom come about the bad situation, let’s see if that helps to achieve anything. And by the way what “work” are YOU doing to make our country better? Mschew!

    • Abi

      November 19, 2016 at 11:21 pm

      Previous response for Chy

    • aa

      November 19, 2016 at 11:49 pm

      In life always see positive things. Yes ,Nigeria has problems but we are growing. Countries like America were not built under one day, they grew under time. That the problem with third world countries they just want to be great and not work for it. Nigeria is an amazing country to me.

    • tunmi

      November 20, 2016 at 1:25 am

      Thank You!!! Abeg let’s do more showing not telling. Your work speaks for you.

  3. A Real Nigerian

    November 19, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    “We underestimate the amazingness of being Nigerians.”
    What is amazing about being a Nigerian? The endless corruption, lawlessness and mediocrity you experience everyday?

    “we must not underestimate our potential as a people.”
    We have NO potential at all. Flee this wretched, doomed country while you still can.

    • LemmeRant

      November 20, 2016 at 6:01 pm

      Taking a cue from Chinamanda, I’d say: “We should all be refugees”

  4. Nakoms

    November 19, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    Don’t feel bad. She expressed her preference having had the opportunity to compare both places. And I agree with her. I’ve been to The states, dubai and London and if you ask me I prefer Naija. Note that I said naija. Lagos alone is not nigeria. while lagos is okay there are other towns in the country far better than lagos.

    Another thing I love about naija is I can move around in my country as a first class citizen.

  5. Nothingbutthetruth

    November 19, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Please home is home but major kudos to those who have been able to build thier lives and naturalise to citizens in countries with top 5 richest economies of the world like the united states and the united kingdom. Your children will be truly proud. Anywhere but nigeria please and that is the honest bitter truth. Except your father is bloody rich or a thief in politics, life for the average nigerian is hell. Everything is pretty much out of your reach. The supposed good schools are overpriced, healthcare is voicemail according to how you can afford and you keep taking your chances with quacks here and there who have packaged well. Decent clothes to wear at an affordable price na gist. Servicing your car na gamble. Your dreams are not valid in nigeria. Infact nigeria is a dream killer. No kind of prayer will land you a job as an authothracic surgeon or a bio technician on merit if thats your dream so you have to be a banker or become self employed doing makeup and gele or baking healthy snacks or sewing.. A 24 year old lady i met once has built a career in broadway shows she studied drama. She has now moved into her house, a 4 bed bought with her own money and a range rover on the side. She isnt in competition with anyone but herself striving to be better and become the show director. Enabling environment thats what her government has given her. At age 7, there are classes to teach kids how to write codes to build softwares. The average 7-10 year old in nigeria is learning how to dab or taking a selfie. There are challenges no doubt with living abroad especially if youve spent 20 plus years in nigeria but its so worth it and please dont be deceived not all nigerians abroad are cleaners, there are thousands of nigerians in large companies as doctors, system analyst, senior business partners etc. If you have the chance to build a life outside nigeria please seize it with your hands and legs afterall, ewedu and efo is available abroad too so we might as well call it home as well. Abeg leave story for nigeria. We dont have the liver to stand up for change so we will keep electing thieves to run the country and recycling failures and continue bearing and becoming more creative with surviving. Truth is life does not have to be that hard just travel around and see!

    • Blessyoumysister

      December 28, 2016 at 1:11 pm

      May God bless you for me. I moved to London 12 years ago bc i was unfairly suspended by my then employer – bank, for not recovering monies from a credit customer that i inherited from a previous colleague. What saved me was that i could use the computer and the grace of God. On going back to school here i found out that i knew nothing! Nothing! From my so called university education in Nigeria. Make una no de lie. Not all of us in London/abroad are suffering. A Nigerian is the MD of an airport in this UK. Will i come home, yes as an expat. Can i raise my children in Nigeria? God forbid! Their education and helathcare is free here. Make no mistake. Its not the garden of eden here but we live well. Well. We have light. We have good healthcare. School is free. All those speaking english – make una park well. Thanks for making me laugh so much. This thread is hilarious!

  6. Nothingbutthettruth

    November 19, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    Please home is home but major kudos to those who have been able to build thier lives and naturalise to citizens in countries with top 5 richest economies of the world like the united states and the united kingdom. Your children will be truly proud. Anywhere but nigeria please and that is the honest bitter truth. Except your father is bloody rich or a thief in politics, life for the average nigerian is hell. Everything is pretty much out of your reach. The supposed good schools are overpriced, healthcare is voicemail according to how you can afford and you keep taking your chances with quacks here and there who have packaged well. Decent clothes to wear at an affordable price na gist. Servicing your car na gamble. Your dreams are not valid in nigeria. Infact nigeria is a dream killer. No kind of prayer will land you a job as an authothracic surgeon or a bio technician on merit if thats your dream so you have to be a banker or become self employed doing makeup and gele or baking healthy snacks or sewing.. A 24 year old lady i met once has built a career in broadway shows she studied drama. She has now moved into her house, a 4 bed bought with her own money and a range rover on the side. She isnt in competition with anyone but herself striving to be better and become the show director. Enabling environment thats what her government has given her. At age 7, there are classes to teach kids how to write codes to build softwares. The average 7-10 year old in nigeria is learning how to dab or taking a selfie. There are challenges no doubt with living abroad especially if youve spent 20 plus years in nigeria but its so worth it and please dont be deceived not all nigerians abroad are cleaners, there are thousands of nigerians in large companies as doctors, system analyst, senior business partners etc. If you have the chance to build a life outside nigeria please seize it with your hands and legs afterall, ewedu and efo is available abroad too so we might as well call it home as well. Abeg leave story for nigeria. We dont have the liver to stand up for change so we will keep electing thieves to run the country and recycling failures and continue bearing and becoming more creative with surviving. Truth is life does not have to be that hard just travel around and see!

    • EagleEye

      November 21, 2016 at 2:01 pm

      You are too correct! I dont like this ‘hopeful’ talk of ‘Nigeria is great’ and shii. Great when please?Great according to what standards? If people still die in the best hospitals (I lost someone in July in this purported best hospital due to an endless list if careless and avoidable mistakes) and we have no hope of a better future due to the crass class of leaders (thugs) we have, then no hope there. Seize the opportunity to get out while you can if gambling with life is not for you. Its not worth the headache. Make a life for yourself and your posterity outside if you can….they will thank you for the option you’ve given them.
      Is Nigeria home to me? Yes, But so is London. I am glad Im not there while human beings and basic life and living standards are continuously eroded by the leaders we have that are meant to guide the country. Lit ko….

  7. Busola I

    November 19, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    Well done! I really enjoyed the article. It’s nice to be able to live both realities either Naija or London 🙂

  8. Eastprince

    November 19, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    no worry just drop me for London forget the rest. make I no bring long talk

  9. Nothingbutthetruth

    November 19, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    Bella people take time to comment. Stop swallowing my comments i dont like it.

  10. aa

    November 19, 2016 at 11:56 pm

    I can so relate to your story. lol. You never know what you have till you lose it

  11. Sylvie

    November 20, 2016 at 2:08 am

    Dundee is in Scotland. Lmao! Listing “London, Dundee and Scotland like they are completely different entities is laughable.
    It’s like saying “Abuja, Lagos and Victoria island”.

    This whole post seems fabricated.

    • Adefunke Ogunnusi

      November 20, 2016 at 9:34 am

      Thanks for spotting that. You have an editors eye don’t you. You are absolutely right – that should have been london, Dundee and Glasgow…

      Av a great Sunday.

  12. aj

    November 20, 2016 at 5:27 am

    “Home is not a location; it is the feeling and freedom of expression that comes with being in a specific location.”
    Love this quote because it’s so true! I definitely feel more at home in Nigeria than the US!

  13. labi

    November 20, 2016 at 6:49 am

    Good read girl “thumbs up” we keep staying positive for those that don’t have anywhere else but Nigeria!!!

  14. Amebowhosendyou

    November 20, 2016 at 10:35 am

    @nakoms let me stop you right there

    …..you move about as a first class citizen

    First class citizen- according to google your friend oh means SUPERIOR; GIVEN OR ENTITLED TO PREFERRED TREATMENT OR HANDLING.

    Please explain how anyone in nigeria (apart from the thief people children INFACT all join) are first class citizens

    You are still harassed by thieves in traffic
    You need to know someone of influence to get a job
    Traffic wardens still harass uou for bribe
    They cut salary in your office you still sot down for thesame job
    Youve been at same job for 10 years no promotion but abike is MD’s cousin and started work 2 years ago and has now been promoted but you’re first class citizen.
    You are your own ambulance- if youre sick you use your car to carry yoirself to hospital and pay your own money for less than average service.

    You are not a first class citizen. WAKE UP! Obviously you are still sleeping!.

    Why people still dey go jand or yankee. Some go and never come back. If people dey use cane flog black people for street why dey no still dey come back. Story! Am a first class citizen – who dash you!

  15. Letmeexplain

    November 20, 2016 at 11:18 am

    Having read through the comments, i can say that there are 4 classes of people here;

    Choose your class to understand why you have the opinion you do about ‘the abroad’.

    Class 1
    Those who have been to UK or USA on holiday/school or whatever but have no family member or friend residential in thier destination. Your experience of ‘abroad’ is therefore limited to your finances, within the confines of your hotel or local surroundings around your school or wherever you live or lived. However there is more beyond where you are so you may be referred to a waka pass.

    Class 2
    Those who have been to UK or USA on holiday/school or whatever and have a family member or friend residential in thier destination who does a somewhat small job like palliative care or cleaning or post office. Your experience of abroad will therefore be limited to what your guardian exposes you to – small local clubs, cheap supermarket ‘extra value’ food. Where to find the best thrift shops etc. Daily use of public transport – tube, train, underground etc.

    Class 3
    Those who have been to UK or USA on holiday/school or whatever and have a family member or friend residential in thier destination who does an average job – customer service, administration, works at the mall at the tills etc. Your experience of ‘abroad’ will be similar to class 2 but more improved. You may have access to private transportation, occassional treat trips to cinemas but on a strict budget. Shopping for clothes in the malls. They have a good life but no unecessary luxury.

    Class 4
    Those who have been to UK or USA on holiday/school or whatever and have some family member, cousins, your full generation, loads of friends residential in thier destination who i will call ‘chairmen’ of ‘the abroad’ . They are the stock brokers, the surgeons, the software developers, the senior directors at kpmg. They live in sprawling 5 bed 5 bathroom houses. They are not afraid to spend money. They drive the range rovers and the G wagons. They know the best hotels and spas. They work hard for thier money and are not afraid to spend it because they are assured of thier next pay cheque. They pay for your meal and your shopping sometimes.
    Your experience of abroad will be informed (if they are nice people oh). You will understand how the system abroad works. You will understand how they have been able to build thier amazing life despite all the bad talk we nigerians talk of living abroad. It will hit you hard as you finally realise that you have been cheated all your life by your country. It will become evident that there is actually parts of the world where ‘hard work still pays off’.
    Yearly pay rise and promotions are regulars and guaranteed in thier careers. Funny enough to the owners of the land – the americans or English they may appear to live an average life.

    If you belong to class 4, i can guarantee you are low key planning how to check out from naija while people are arguing lol!

    FINALLY – Choose your class and it will become evident why you have the opinion you do about abroad.

    PS- Utmost respect for all the classes above for thier individual hustle. No intention to talk down anyones hard work.

    • LemmeRant

      November 20, 2016 at 6:08 pm

      All these can also be said about Nigeria and infact any country. Your level of income plays a huge role in how you experience the world around you. Whether Nigeria, US, India or Cotonou.

    • Blessyoumysister

      December 28, 2016 at 1:21 pm

      Spot on! I fall under class 4 by the way. Holla when you’re in town and i’ll hook you up. ?
      Not everybody here is a cleaner. Stop believing the single atory.
      This thread is hilarious. Thanks BellaNaija.

  16. Amebowhosendyou

    November 20, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Bella bella abi recession don reach your dormot? Where are the comments.

  17. LemmeRant

    November 20, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    Taking a cue from Chinamanda, I’d say: “We should all be refugees”

  18. chic wen sabi

    November 20, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    @nothingbutthetruth. I think I will agree with you. In sweden there is no human descrimination. Everybody earns salary and everybody is equal. ( when will that happen in Naija, abi a law was made today on it). An environment that children below 18years of age are properly taken care of with free healthcare , education is free, even with the so called naija politicains that made promises who has fulfilled theirs? everything is organized. Who govt don epp for naija.
    One thing that amazed the most in sweden is that you can exchange your empty can of drinks and get some few coins from it.. This is done to encourage healthy/ clean environment and aids recycling.
    My pipo if abroad good for you stay there, if vice versa stay here. However, there is no place like home.

    • tunmi

      November 22, 2016 at 2:08 am

      We used to have that in Nigeria. I remember doing that with the coke glass bottles pre-2003

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