It’s International Day of Happiness today, March 20th, the United Nations fixed date set aside “to inspire, mobilize, and advance the global happiness movement,” an indication that the world is intentionally and aggressively focusing on mental health. I want to send some happiness your way today and I hope it gets to you and achieves its purpose.
Growing up Nigerian is one of the best experiences in the world – not like I’ve ever grown up American or European or Caribbean or Middle-Eastern, but in my heart of hearts, I believe it’s such a wonderful experience compared to others mentioned above.
Argue with your ancestors.
Today, I want to reveal the experiences that caused us happiness growing up Nigerian. Majority of you will be able to relate to this post, some of you may not, but just take it as an opportunity to learn something about being Nigerian.
Opening an Ice Cream Pack and Actually Finding Ice Cream in It
This also goes for beverages. In a Nigerian home, nothing goes to waste. When your clothes are worn, they turn to rags, plastics bags with which items where placed in at the grocery store are kept at home again, to be used to take other things out, or at most, turn to waste disposal equipment.
So, when you finish your beverage or an ice cream, the pack is used for other things, namely: storage of seasoning, salt, or pepper; storage of foods in the freezer; or kept safely in the cupboard for an unknown use later in life. Imagine the happiness that comes with opening an ice cream pack and actually find ice cream in it. It feels like it’s Christmas!
Christmas Cloth is Ready before December
Christmas is a big deal in Nigeria! It’s not even because we are highly religious, after all, there are virtually equal number of Christians and Muslims in the country. It’s about celebration! Maybe because it signals the end of the year. Whatever! We just want to celebrate, and celebrate some more because we are celebrating.
Anyway, for children, wearing Christmas Cloth is one of the major highlights of that day. The depression that comes with not having a Christmas Cloth while other children have theirs, I don’t think anyone can explain it. But once the Cloth arrives, and before December? The rest of the year is made! You’re sure to pass that first term examinations.
When your Aunt or Uncle visits and Calls you Aside
This one can be tricky, because they may be calling to lash out at you for something wrong you did that your parents had told them about. But for the sake of International Day of Happiness, we are focusing on the good, because our mental health is important.
So, when uncles or aunties call you aside at a family ceremony or meeting, it may just be that they want to “dash” you money. Once it looks like this is why they are calling you, at that moment, your are in heaven, on earth
until your parents discover and call you aside too to tell you why they should hold it for you so that you don’t overspend. Then they throw in the “I’ve been using it to take care of you” card when you ask for it later. The end!
Report Card Rewards
Talking about passing examinations, do you know the overflowing happiness and joy mixed with pride that takes over you when you come first in class, and you know well that your reward is at home? Two pieces of meat, extra food, a bottle of soda to go with your meal, more money in your pocket, and being used as a point of POSITIVE reference for other children in the compound or street, these are some of the things you can get for coming first in class. You finally have two heads.
The Glucose After Inter House Sports Activity
Sporting activities are good for the body, the general feel good vibes they give off is also healthy for the mind. So, inter house sport time is a wonderful period in Nigerian schools. It’s playful, fun-filled and devoid of classes and or tests; how else can you define paradise? The icing on the cake will be the glucose you get immediately after an activity, especially races. Those of you who had no intention of representing your house but participated in the race just to get glucose you know yourselves, let me not disgrace you on (Inter) National
When you Find out your Mathematics Teacher is Indisposed
… and you have his test that morning, in first period. The way you march to your class, after Assembly, with vigour and joy, ehn! Nigeria’s quarter guard has nothing on you!
Mathematics is one of the most dreaded subjects in this country. Is it that it’s too difficult, or that the teachers are not making it easy? We should talk about this someday. Anyway, shout out to the people that can’t relate because mathematics is a walk in the park for them. I’m talking about people like yours truly.
When your Siblings fight for you, Literally!
Bullying is such a terrible thing, and sadly, it’s worldwide. But when the bully is bullied, how do you feel? Inexplicable, right? Better experienced than narrated. Imagine being beaten in school, and you go home to report (the incident) to your older ones and they storm the school the next day to teach the bully a lesson. Bruh! You’ll have all your organs jumping in ecstasy.
Parents do this too. I remember when a neighbour’s child was flogged by her teacher and she had serious injuries on her palm and fingers. Once the mother, who is also a senior flogger, saw the injuries, she knew that was beyond normal. She went back to the school, that afternoon. Well, the principal and other teachers had to save the perpetrator’s life back locking him in a class in the topmost floor. I heard the woman attacked him, albeit from the spiritual angle. End of story.
When your School Mother/Father is From a Wealthy Home
This needs no explanation. First, you know how money is respected in these parts. The gain is not just that you’ll always have virtually all you need, but that you can’t be bullied by anyone because even bullies bow at the mercy of money, some teachers too.
When your Older Siblings Take you Out with their Friends
The happiness is not because of where they are going to, but because you are rolling with “big people”. Even if your own is to just sip Zobo and listen to their conversation. It’s better than not being there.
Eating your Piece of Meat after Saving it Since the Beginning of the Meal
Ask Nigerians why they reserve their piece of meat, they don’t know, we don’t know rather. See, we value our protein because it is always in small quantity in our meals. Dodo (Fried plantain) can never be more than the rice, Moi Moi is never enough, the Akara (bean cake) can never be compared to the pap in terms of size.
So, maybe that’s why the piece of meat is reserved for the end. As a matter of fact, it shows a lack of home training if you finish your piece of meat before you finish your food. One guy said it’s the crown of glory you get for surmounting your mountainous food.
Phew! I’m done. Your turn. What made you happy growing up Nigerian?