On the 29th of August 2004 I left Nigeria for the UK, which was to be my new home. I was 9 years old and felt sad because I was leaving my friends and family behind, but was excited to start a new life in England.
My first impression of England on arrival was that it was very… clean. Coming from Lagos, with its litter covered streets, London was a whole new world. Getting used to constant electricity too took a while; I’d grown up with NEPA cutting electricity all the time, but we had a generator so it wasn’t too bad.
School here was also strange to me. You see back in Nigeria, I’d finished primary school and would have been in my first year of secondary school if I hadn’t relocated. So getting told that I’d have to be in Year 5 here wasn’t very fun. To make things worse nine year old Tai found adjusting to the British system a bit difficult. I went from being loud and confident to very shy and introverted. I didn’t have many friends in my first year, and I used to ask my teacher if I could stay in with her during break and lunch times, because I didn’t want to face the loneliness of the playground. Sad times indeed. However feeling sorry for my younger self isn’t the point of this post. Nine years later, I’m 18 and about to relocate to start university, so I’m writing this to look back on the last couple of years.
Well I can no longer call myself shy and I have theatre to thank for that, as getting into acting in Year 8 helped me slowly gain back my confidence. I think I’m over friendly now to make up for those days I spent without many friends. This is probably why I can never stand seeing people by themselves in social situations, and always go introduce myself to them if I can. Everyone needs a friend, right?
So I lived in Nigeria for nine years and now I’ve lived in England for nine years. I know my grandma worries that I’m losing my roots as she thinks I’m becoming “westernized,” but I don’t think that’s true at all. Sure I can’t speak Yoruba very well, (never could when I lived in Nigeria anyway), I watch more British TV than Nollywood, get annoyed at the “even though you were born first your sister is still your elder” comments and cringe at how loud my parents are on the phone in public, but that doesn’t make me less Nigerian or more British. That just makes me Tai. I’ve embraced England over the years but no I haven’t turned my back on Nigeria. I miss it so much. My dual citizenship means I’m proud to be part of both cultures as they represent different parts of me.
Anyways, nine years. I’ve grown a lot, lost most of my naivety, went through SATS in year 6 then again in year 9, GCSEs, A Levels, accomplished a lot with God’s help, made some great and not so great friends, but deep down, this girl remains:
I’m still standing, so here’s to the next chapter of my life, BUZZING.