Defining Home

My friend, M got married on the last day of August. Now, since she is practically a sister to me, this meant I had to visit Nigeria after a VERY long time. Coincidentally, on our way back, M, her husband, siblings-in-law, and I were all on the same plane. After the most chaotic airport experience in Lagos, we briefly talked about what home meant. How could home be so...hostile? Annoying? Stressful? In addition, the woman that sat near me from Lagos to Paris narrated her frustrations with the system in Lagos and vowed to not return home.

Interestingly, before all of this, the Luvvie situation got me thinking a lot about what home meant to me. Some background on the Luvvie story: Luvvie made a joke on Twitter (like most people do) about an African American musician. And before anyone could say Jack Robinson, people (some African Americans) questioned her blackness, told her to return home to Africa. The same sentiments of neo-nazis, really. People deemed her unqualified to speak on African American culture and pretty much told her she wasn't black enough. The same way the neo-nazi would say those of us with darker skin hues would never be American enough. Now, all of this was said to Luvvie who moved to America when she was just 9; whose formative years were all in America; and who frankly, probably has no recollection of the Lagos/Nigeria she left behind. To better understand the Luvvie story, check it out here. Is it possible some Africans haven't educated themselves enough on racial history and black American culture? Hell yes. But when white people say I'm not American enough, and black people say I'm not black enough, you know I gotta sit and think about where and what home is. What does home mean to me?

Lagos will always be home. By default. Yet somehow I had a more difficult time fitting in that I thought. I thought it would be a perfect fit like my pajamas. But I had forgotten roads and struggled to identify major places. I passed by my secondary (high) school and felt no tinge of nostalgia. The driving drove me crazy and the potholes worsened my motion sickness. Is it weird to say people just...stared...a LOT? Nonetheless, Lagos was still familiar. I took a local flight from Lagos to Port Harcourt, and the pilot introduced himself (or herself, can't remember now), it was weirdly cool for me that it was a Nigerian name. That everyone knew how to rightly say my name. All of that felt...normal.

The funny thing is I'm probably (almost certainly) not as American as Luvvie. This means that the African Americans who abused Luvvie would definitely tell me to go back home. And for a minute during the Luvvie debacle, I started to wonder if I would ever be accepted in America. After all, people still ask, where are you from? And when I tell them where my family lives in America. They say, no, where are you really from? Hmmm interesting. America is home. America is where my family is. America is where my phone automatically connects to wifi. Hell, I am incredibly privileged to have more than one home in America. America is where I found a career[path] I love. America is where I found my voice; where I better understood justice and equality. America is where I truly understood my spirituality, and frankly, where I re-found God. America gave me a world class education. No one can take that from me. Ever.

When we landed in Charles de Gaulle airport and I saw my city on one of those announcement TVs with our time of departure to the United States, I screamed, “home, soon!”

A week before then, when I was landing in Lagos and I saw the view of the cityline, I thought “home, again!”

I'm incredibly lucky and privileged to have more than one home, and the world is globalized such that it doesn't or shouldn't matter as much anymore. Home is where my heart is. Home is when I am with people I love. Home transcends bigoted views. And make no mistake, I am black, blackity black, blackity blackity black. That my progenitors were not slaves does not and will never nullify my blackness. So what does home mean to me? No other person can define what home is to me. Home is wherever the hell I want it to be.



1 comment

  1. Haha I finally came back to this post that took me everywhere. Luvvie’s page - where I read 3-4 posts, M’s engagement post, posts from that day down to this while reading some linked articles like the Chimamanda one 😂😂. I’m finally back here. It’s 2023 and tbh I get slightly tired of people asking where I’m from especially in work settings and I’ve decided to answer based on how I’m feeling. Sometimes, it’s Lagos Nigeria and other times it’s Duluth, GA. Some legit get upset when I say it’s the latter. Lool smh they’ll be fine. I understand asking in some instances as it makes for good conversation really especially if it’s somewhere one is familiar with or just to learn something new but always know when it’s asked in the wrong way. (Is there a way to get notified on follow up comments? Can’t seem to find it)