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Personal Experiences

Contest Submission: The African Woman, Essence of Cohesion

The air conditioner had broken down in Murtala Muhammed airport again. Hot, humid, surrounded by masses of bustling people, I grew restless waiting in the check-in queue. I guess my mother grew restless too, of my moans and hushed profanities when someone shoved me to get by. She pressed too much money in my palm ‘go get drinks and something to entertain yourself’ she said. Submissively I went to the overpriced magazine shop in the airport, looking around at the foreign magazines I realised my mum had already taken into consideration how expensive things were at the airport. A familiar book cover caught my eye “Half of a Yellow Sun.”

Tears, deep thoughts and the agitating feeling of being overwrought.

Profound contemplation, deep anticipation and justifications more often than not.

Relating, a sense of belonging, my history being taught.

Overwhelming pride over a beautiful, diverse country where century old battles are still being fought.

That was basic overview of the effect the book had on me. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a beautiful writer, my first experience of an African writer; I don’t think anyone could have been more befitting, a young Nigerian woman breaking down cultural and gender barriers all in one swoop. After reading the book (and rereading the book) I googled her and found her talk at the TED conference , her stance, speech and persona motivated me immensely to become someone as learned and respected as her. Despite the afro-centric tone I have expressed based on her literature alone she is prodigy, her culture makes her and inspires her and this is what truly appeals to me. Nigerian despite my British and Brazilian heritage, I am still a Nigerian. I love my country but I’m not always proud of it. It’s hard to be sometimes when the foreign representation of your country is basically corruption, terrorism and poverty. Even domestically issues such as tribal problems are still prominent, the Yoruba man has nothing in common with the Hausa man, the Igbo man hates the Yoruba man, the Itsekiri man detests all things Ijaw. And so on. The colonial scourge abides. “…my point is that the only authentic identity for the African is the tribe…I am Nigerian because a white man created Nigeria and gave me that identity. I am black because the white man constructed black be as different as possible from his . But I was Igbo before the white man came.” ― white Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun.

However Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie books are read by people of all tribes and the world renowned recognition makes us proud to be Nigerian not to feel pride for our individual tribes, it makes us harness national patriotism; something that barely rears its head in Nigeria. Tiwa Savage, Dbanj, Wizkid and the new breed

Nigerian musician appeals to all Nigerians irrespective of tribe or religion. African Magic is loved by Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo alike. The Super Eagles are supported by Christians and Muslims alike. The challenge is to capture that unique essence of cohesion in our music, our film and our sports and elevate it to the national arena. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has got the ball rolling by giving Nigeria brownie points on a global perspective. We need to create a new country out of the ashes of the colonial legacy, a country.

Submitted by: Aasiyah Jasmine Abdulsalam
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/AasiyahJasmine | Blog: http://censoredyetburning.tumblr.com

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