Your first gray hair, turning 30…40….50! At some point in our lives, we start experiencing things that seemed so far off. As these experiences come and go, they fade into the past and we store them safely within the confines of our memory. Some memories are forgotten and eventually replaced with new ones while others remain underneath the surface, waiting for a trigger to unleash their impact on our lives.
Our early memories, the ones that have probably left the most impact on our lives, have a habit of finding us changed by subsequent experiences. We marvel at how different we are, how changed the world is. Earlier this month, I got into a conversation about where we are headed as a country and what accompanied the usual moaning and groaning about the current state of affairs in our present day was a simple statement that stuck with me:
Growing up, we used to have people to look up to. We don’t have that anymore.
One can argue that there are a number of people to look up to today but this is hardly my point. The statement was merely a trigger for my early memories; the memories of growing up with little idea of any troubling political atmosphere. This month has thus been dedicated to that cross section of memory, experience and impact. Today I would like to recall (and celebrate) those memories that link me to Nigeria and, as I do so, I invite you to do the same.
The innocence of career planning at the age of 7, from wanting to be a dentist to an actor, to a screenwriter and finally a movie director.
The hope and belief in the place of my birth, the jingles and PSAs that suggested we were the best nation on earth.
The acceptance that food was served in order of age, the understanding that the youngest was to be pampered.
The hollywood rumors mistaken as facts
The crossover to two digits: 10 years old!
The special meals that took forever to make and the adults who visited and finished them
The temporary best friends and secret crushes
The party dresses and tight shoes (the party packs!)
The space to play, the friends to play with
The tales by moonlight series on NTA
The birthdays celebrated at school and the preferential treatment that came with them
The wicked elementary school teachers and the kind ones that made the difference
The sick days that felt like mini holidays
The long weddings and (sometimes sucky) food
The cool aunties & uncles
The long phone calls during summer vacations
The dances, the laughs, the crying
The trips to Mr Biggs
Eavesdropping on conversations
Party jollof rice
The smell of Mama’s homemade chin chin
The sound of “knockouts” during New Year’s Eve
The long afternoons before NTA resumed
The rain…the smell of the rain
The fruits and their seasons
The cramming, the tests, the days that flowed
The ability to do anything!
For the sake of brevity, I’ll leave the rest for you! What memories do YOU have of growing up in Nigeria?