I am more British than I thought I was.
You see, when you have dual citizenship, you exist in this weird limbo of feeling like you don’t really fit in anywhere. Confused? Allow me to explain.
Whenever someone in the UK asks me where I’m from, my automatic response is “Nigeria,” because even though I’ve lived in England for most of my life now, I still don’t feel “properly” British. I always assume that this is what people are getting at when they ask where I’m from, because even though I don’t really have a Nigerian accent anymore, to the majority of them I’m still a foreigner.
However, everytime I’m on holiday abroad and people ask where I’m from, I tell them I’m British, because it’s when I’m away from the UK that I feel like people accept me more as British. And this has been shown to be true, because I rarely get the “But where are you really from?” response when I’m abroad.
I didn’t think this would be the case when I returned to Nigeria though, as I thought that the feeling of total belonging that I don’t have in the UK would be present when I was back in my country of birth. But the Nigeria of my childhood is no more.
So much has changed! On the up side, yay for progress, because things like cinemas and shopping malls weren’t many when I still lived in Lagos, and now they’re everywhere. Technological advances have also brought better phones, laptops, and WiFi access to Nigeria, another yay, but it made me sad to see that some of my favourite food places have waned in popularity because of the likes of Dominoes and KFC, grrrrr.
One thing that hasn’t changed though, is how much money talks in Nigeria. There are still huge disparities between the rich and the poor, and corruption is still a massive problem, as bribery culture is very much a thing. With regards to infrastructure, there is a lot of work that needs to be done, and it would go a lot quicker if government officials didn’t pocket a lot of the money…
I am more British than I thought because after 13 years of living the UK, the patriarchal society that exists in Nigeria is not something I can tolerate anymore. My brother being allowed to get away with more simply because “he’s a boy” is not okay or fair in any way.
I am more British than I thought because being away from the British polite culture and the extra-ness of queuing etiquette made me realise that I’ve been taking it for granted.
I am also more British than I thought because no matter how much I tried to show my family that my Yoruba has actually improved since I’ve been in the UK (shout out to grandma for insisting we speak Yoruba to her on the phone), all they did was laugh and tease me when I spoke it- apparently my accent still wasn’t right. Peak.
So where does this leave me? Well I guess I don’t have to be one or the other; I can be both Nigerian AND British, because no matter how far away I am from it, Nigeria will always have a very special place in my heart. It’s a part of me, and living there for the majority of my formative years has played a massive part in who I am today.
Finally, TFC, I love you; I promise it won’t take another 13 years till we’re reunited ❤