My First Trip Back to Africa
I recently completed a 12 day trip to Nigeria, after a 15 year ‘hiatus’ from being in the country. I am originally from Nigeria, but I have never been back since I left the country as a child. As you can imagine, a lot has changed! But that’s not the reason why I write. I write to show just how much God totally exceeded my expectations around this trip.
I had a specific reason for heading to Nigeria – family celebration; but before I arrived in the country, I listed seven things that I personally wanted to happen for me while I was there. I submitted my desires to God, and had thought to myself, “if and when these things happen while I’m in Nigeria, I will be more than satisfied.” Well, my trip has ended and I truly am more than satisfied. I’ll share some details about a few happenings.
Because of certain life goals I have, I wanted to experience what doing business is like in Nigeria. I wanted to know the sort of choices business leaders have to make given their environment, what challenges they face, etc. That’s a tall order, considering I was going to be in the country for 12 days; but here goes the story. My father remembered an old colleague who started a business right around the time my family left the country. 15 years later, the business is performing at the top of its field in the country, catering to the majority of its market, and branching out to other nations. I didn’t know this at the time of I was asking.
We scheduled a day to visit the company and I was hoping for at least a 45 minute conversation with someone knowledgeable enough to talk about the company. I reasoned that everyone’s busy, so it was necessary to make the best of the time given. The visit ended up being around 3 hours. Our arrival was met with a homecoming, followed by a breakdown of the company’s history. We then had a tour of the company’s office and factory. In the process, I learned how the company has grown to be the force that it is today – from market factors, to partnerships, to difficult decisions the company lead has to make. I was totally blown away – I experienced more than I imagined could happen.
I really dig this one. I love fashion, and for the past few years, I have been keeping tabs on rising stars in the Nigerian fashion industry. I wanted to have a first-hand taste of Nigerian designers’ work, and hopefully build a network there. So, I targeted a few of the designers and set apart a day to visit their boutiques. The results? I visited two boutiques where I met staff that were willing to help me learn more about the designers and the industry in Nigeria. For anyone that cares to know, these designers are putting out exquisite work that I haven’t seen on fashion runways in the western world – and that’s saying a lot!
It turns out that one of the designers is sister to one of my mother’s friends. On a day when my mother went to visit her friend at work, I tagged along and guess what? The designer just happened to be there. When she learned about my quest, she looked at me and said, ‘God really must have ordered your steps because I wasn’t supposed to be here today…and I was just about leaving.’ She stayed a while longer and talked to me about her business and experience. She also showed me some new concepts she was working on. Once again, I was blown away by how God orchestrated this.
All in all, my Nigerian experience brings life to a scripture I’ve been meditating on lately. Psalm 24:1 says, ‘The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” My personal revelation of this scripture is: The earth is my Daddy’s and everything in it. Therefore, no place, no height, and no individual is off limits for me, His daughter, to reach. I hope this encourages someone out there.
Now to Him who is able to do more than we can ask, or imagine according to His power at work within us.
I’m back in the US – sitting on my bed as I write this, and thinking back. Not that I didn’t know this before, but America is a great country. Sometimes it takes going elsewhere to realize how good we have it here. When I walked into the US airport, I looked around and thought to myself, “my eyes are so underwhelmed.” I’ll explain what I mean. Nigeria was satisfying, but at every moment, you are bombarded with a lot of chaos (in Lagos, where I stayed). Whether it’s the bumpy roads, or the rampant traffic that causes arguments among drivers; or the market seller that tries to haggle you out of your money; or the inefficient airport system that results in disgruntled staff and travelers, etc. There’s a lot to look out for, so your eyes are on full time duty.
Not so in the States, for the most part. I walk into the US airport and I’m greeted by TV ads welcoming me to the country. The customs line in the airport is clearly demarcated and driven by technology. I get my bags at carousels that actually do work automatically. I get home and expect to have electricity and internet on tap. There’s so much order here and I admit, it makes life a little easier. I won’t go into the pros and cons of living in both countries. All I can say now is that I’m glad to be home, and thankful to God for a wonderful trip.