Nigeria - My Family Travels

It was December 21, 2006, when I made a life changing journey to my parent’s home, Nigeria. Forcing me to appreciate my life thus far and leaving me wanting to modify my America lifestyle, this trip made a lasting impression. Although I was only 12 years old when I traveled, my conscience told me that something was not right and that I need to change the way I am thinking, for the sake of my life.

As soon I stepped on to the sandy floors of Lagos, Nigeria I felt a scorching heat take over my cool body. The temperature was too hot and I instantly started to complain. After I calmed down, my uncle arrived and drove us to his compound. Looking out the cloudy window, I began to wonder where the street lights were. The fact that there were no street lights and no one was controlling the traffic astonished me.  How are people supposed to maneuver around the city with no restrictions? When my family and I arrived at my uncle’s house there was no power and we were forced to use flash lights and candles in order to maneuver around the house. Have you ever taken a shower or brushed your teeth with only a candle? Most people in Nigeria have to use generators because the electricity is frequently and spontaneously going off and on. At night, as I shared a bed with my mother, I fell asleep to the sound of the nearby planes of the Lagos airport. In the morning my aunt told a story of how last year the airplanes flew so close to their house and actually shattered the roof. When we finished breakfast, my dad announced that we were going to visit my aunt, Nky, and my uncle, Joe, in Onitsha, Nigeria. As we traveled in a tight fit car, I observed the scenery of Nigeria. There was trash piled high everywhere, from ditches to people’s front doors, near the Amichi village. I also noticed that the ditches and roads served as toilets to some Nigerians. The man driving in front of us stopped, jumped out of the car, zipped down his pants, and started to urinate on the road. That scene was the most terrifying and disturbing scene I had ever seen in my life. After that it was hard to focus on anything else. When we got pulled over by the police my attention refocused. The “policeman” was clad in normal clothes and harboring a machete near his chest. After my father paid the “policeman”, he explained to me that Nigerian policemen are corrupt men that take bribes and pose as policemen in order to rob banks and steal from the innocent. As we finished our trek to my uncle’s house I reflected upon what had happened that day and realized how much of life I was taking for granted.

 Most Americans spend too much time worrying about what they don’t have. I’m no exception. This trip to Nigeria forced me start showing appreciation for I do own and concentrating on my needs instead of savoring in the wants. We should be grateful for the little things, like family and friends, or the fact that we have a disposal system and working toilets and electricity any time of day. These are things we believe to be inherent but we need to look outside our tiny box filled with things we are accustomed to. The little things are what most Americas have and take advantage of. They are also what I have learned to value.


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