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Homecoming: Visiting Nigeria for the First Time Ever

Legacy of Home: My 26-Year Return to Nigeria – An Uncharted Expedition Through Family, Culture, and Unforgettable Moments.

Introduction:

After 26 long years, I finally embarked on a journey to Nigeria, the land of my father’s roots. The catalyst for this heartfelt trip was a solemn one – the passing of my grandmother’s older sister. Facilitated by my cousin Kevin from Belgium, this voyage turned out to be more than just a pilgrimage; it was a rediscovery of family, culture, and the warmth of Nigeria.

The Unexpected Journey:

The expedition kicked off with a rendezvous in Amsterdam with Kevin, setting the stage for our onward journey to Nigeria. However, fate threw us a curveball when our scheduled flight was canceled, leading us on an alternative route that added a layer of complexity to our adventure. Despite the detours and extended travel time, the anticipation of reuniting with family overshadowed any inconvenience.

Moments from the trip ft. King Kev.

Joyful Reunions:

Upon touchdown, the airport reception was overwhelming. Among the familiar faces were Richie and Toby, cousins previously known only through social media. The excitement of meeting them face-to-face was nothing short of beautiful. However, the initial cultural adjustment was evident when we discovered that gestures of assistance came with a subtle expectation for American dollars, a currency that holds more value than the Nigerian Naira.

Exploring Lagos:

The initial days were spent in the vibrant city of Lagos, where we immersed ourselves in the lively atmosphere, reveling in the local nightlife and creating lasting memories. Lagos offered a blend of modernity and tradition, a dynamic backdrop to kickstart our Nigerian experience.

Journey to Benin City:

Our next destination was Benin City, where my father and uncle warmly welcomed us. A brief city tour provided a glimpse into the heart of Benin, and a stop for local cuisine allowed us to savor the flavors of the region. As night fell, we arrived at my father’s house, marking the beginning of a poignant reunion.

Family Ties:

Meeting my younger sisters for the first time was a deeply emotional moment, and getting acquainted with my father’s wife added another layer to the family tapestry. Benin City became the backdrop for a series of heartwarming encounters with extended family members – cousins, aunts, and uncles. The experience was a true cultural immersion, accompanied by clubbing, feasting, and quality time spent together.

Moments from the trip. 

Osagie with his younger sisters and their mom, Osagie with his father, uncle, and cousins, and Osagie with his cousins.

Cultural Shock and Shared Moments:

The entire journey, documented through videos shared on YouTube, captured the essence of my cultural shock and the richness of the experiences. From the bustling streets of Lagos to the familial warmth in Benin City, every moment became a testament to the significance of reconnecting with one’s roots.

Resilience and Reflection:

The unexpected health challenges turned my Nigerian sojourn into a testament to resilience. Amidst the chaos of hospital visits and therapy sessions, I found solace in the support of family and the enduring spirit of the Nigerian people. The experience not only tested my physical strength but also fostered a deeper appreciation for life’s fragility and the importance of health.

A Battle with Malaria:

However, amidst the joys of discovery, an unexpected adversary emerged – malaria. It stealthily invaded my system during the trip, laying dormant until I returned to America. The misdiagnosis of COVID-19 at one hospital in the U.S. added another layer of complexity, delaying the correct identification and treatment of the malaria, which was diagnosed almost 10 days later at another hospital.

The Unforeseen Health Ordeal

As the malaria intensified, it wreaked havoc on my body. Kidneys and liver faltering, I found myself in the midst of a medical crisis, undergoing a week of dialysis to sustain vital functions. The battle didn’t end there; physical therapy became a crucial component of my recovery, a month-long journey to regain the strength necessary to walk again.

Conclusion:

My first visit to Nigeria was more than a homecoming – it was a transformative journey that rekindled familial bonds, unveiled the richness of Nigerian culture, and left an indelible mark on my heart. As I boarded the plane back to Chicago, the memories of those 20 days lingered, forging a newfound connection to a part of my identity that had been distant for far too long.

The warmth of Nigeria’s people, the richness of its cuisine, and the unexpected health challenges became threads in a tapestry of life experiences that will forever shape my connection to this extraordinary part of the world. As I reflect on the journey, I carry not only the memories of joy but also the strength forged in the crucible of adversity.

Watch the vlog below to see the full experience!

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