This is the ‘what was that like‘ series, where I discuss significant events in my life and share on my blog. Today’s post will shed light on the first couple months as an immigrant from Nigeria living in the United States.
“It doesn’t matter what the questions is, all that matters is how it hits you.” ~ Madeleine Blais
The United States was meant to be the land flowing with milk and honey. I expected the world to smile back at me, and be received with glitters and flowers. Well, that was my vision of the country after staring at TV screens and imagining living next to Hollywood.
Growing up in Nigeria meant that most of the population looked like me. Yes, there are immigrants in the country for business, family ties, as a refugee, and of course, love. However, majority of people were black. My introduction to the international community was usually through the box of my Television. The international community was noticed in specific regions of the country. Since Lagos State is a tourist destination and business mogul, it was common for foreigners to settle there. However, the situation in Nigeria is different today. I recall seeing people from China, Lebanon, USA, Europe, and scattered Indian communities. Most people identified based on their tribe and social-economic class.
Upon my arrival to the United States, I had to drop my title as ‘Igbo’ (the name of a tribe in Nigeria) and pick up a new identity as black. This carried weight – it was both sweet and sour. I was exposed to an alternative portrayal of my history. I became a product of 200 years of labour, segregation and forced crucifixion. I learnt that people may hate the skin that I wear. Also, the indigenous community here lost their land and culture in exchange for crosses around their neck.
I learnt that there are banks and corporations. And the majority of laws are for their interests. I often wished that I could have a brochure upon arrival to the United States. It is not as glamorous as it looks on the TV commercials. They too have flaws. And I too will learn how technology has created a new sense of dependence. The news each day will remind you of how guns are used to settle conflicts and there is some war on drugs. I also learnt that maybe I should develop a fear for certain kind of people – they produce terror. But I dare not question the American government of their intention when they invade these “countries of terror”.
Change is hard. Being mocked of your ‘accent’ is challenging; something that was baked and eaten right from birth. I began to mimic the people around me. They often sounded like they have a mouth sore or worse, clogged nostrils.
But after being rejected and experiencing prejudice, you will learn self-love. You will build confidence. You will silence the voices that try to rob your royalty. You will learn to fight the demons that speak in your head. You will build yourself. You will begin to speak life to your destiny. You will accept that you have a part to play in your community and new country. You will also learn about other countries around the globe and expand your options. The United States is like a sea of cultures; a rich global community. You may learn a new language other than English. You will also teach people that English is an official language in your country of origin. To all the immigrants or future migrants, I hope you meet good people. I hope you will be able to settle and find a home in this foreign land.
Copyright ©2017 Kihek productions
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