Those interested in what Christmas looks like in Nigeria should read this evocative piece by Lauren Halloran. While you are at it, check out Kevin’s description of typical Nigerian hospitality in his “Then Nigeria Happened” blog post. Faraway in the American mid-west away from the warm tropics of Western Nigeria, all I have is the perception of others of my (perhaps altogether imaginary) homeland. How do strangers see us? What has changed since all this years? What are the things that I – as a citizen of that land – have taken for granted and have assumed as part of the normal part of the landscape without questioning? What are the new features? What do I miss? What do the visitors see?
In November, I read another blogpost about a man who was going through Africa on a bicycle from London to Cape Town. Along the way he passed through many African cities and he wrote about them. The one that interested me the most was obviously his post about entering Nigeria for the first time. For someone coming with a British eye on a bicycle, what does he see? How does he see it? More, how interesting is it to travel through such a large continent on a bicycle? What was the desert like? What of the shores and the mountains? What about the weather?
The prospects of travelling opened up to me the first time I got on a bicycle – the small BMX-type that I inherited from my brother when I grew tall enough to get on it. How far will one go? And what lay out there? The idealistic cravings of those adolescent days have given way to the reality of cars, aeroplanes and internet pages, and we live every day through the eyes of others. Part in delight, part in envy for the authentic realities of their journeys and the occasional weather-conditioned limits of mine, we watch with required fascination. The world is not so big after all.