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Yankee To Naija: Thoughts and Experiences

Posted: Thu Dec 12, 2019 5:02 am
by Abdul-Rahmaan

After reading a thread on Nairaland titled (Naija to Yankee: Thoughts and Experience), I thought I should document my move in the opposite direction. I thought this would make for a nice read because it’s the opposite of what’s going on now with everyone seemingly fleeing Nigeria.

I left Nigeria in July 1986 to get a degree in aviation and complete training on becoming a commercial airline pilot. Having never seen a computer before I left Nigeria I was instantly hooked by computers and programming when arrived in the USA and I changed my course to computer science. My first program I leant was Turbo Pascal.

But I’m jumping ahead. Let’s go back to 1986.

Stay tuned.

Re: Yankee To Naija: Thoughts and Experiences

Posted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 2:21 am
by Abdul-Rahmaan

Welcome back.

I want to quickly explain the why's. Why decide to go foreign and why USA. Because it seems like folks are just dying to go to any place.

After finishing high school, I worked for a bank with the intention of growing within. Back then correspondence schools were very common. You'll graduate with a UK degree without leaving Nigeria. While at the bank I worked at the foreign exchange department which put me in close contact with a lot of foreign students. And there the seeds were sown.

In Ibadan where I lived primarily, and where I retired to, there were lots of social scene for the young adults. We had the two zoos, Leventis, UTC, Kingsway, etc We had Odeon, Scala, Queens and KS cinemas. So there were lots of things to do here. So my move wasn't for lack of social activity or job. I say all this to paint a picture of the Nigeria that I left.

Very quickly, back then most of the public transport were brand new Toyota, Datsun and Mitsubishi. I am talking tear rubber taxi cabs. Even the buses like Urban, Coasters were new. Motorcycles were few and far in between. One of the saddest things I see now is old people, entire families on okapis. Very painful. The Nigeria I left would never allow that.

Lots of coups in the 70/80s so I am used to military rule. Believe it or not there was much orderliness in the community. Army was always present, the military Gorvenors were always showing up unannounced at various places. We had Operation WAI. War Against Indiscipline.

In part three, we'll quickly go to the USA and then come back to Ibadan. There's no need to stay to long in the USA, to me it's humdrum.


Re: Yankee To Naija: Thoughts and Experiences

Posted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 8:24 am
by Abdul-Rahmaan

America wasn't my first international visit. I had my eye opening experience that lif ecould be better when I visited UK and Switzerland during the bridge between graduating grammar school and starting work. Let me just quickly say here that it's almost a religious experience when you will first experience a working society.

I flew Alitalia from Lagos to Los Angeles (with a stopover in Rome). I was the only black person on the flight from Rome to Los Angeles. Some of the air hostesses were genuinely intrigued and I was treated very well. In fact I was invited to the cockpit when they learnt I was on my way tot he US to train as an Airline Pilot. This will never happen again due to terrorism. Sadly.

I travelled in July so the weather was perfect in California when I arrived. Though I've travelled before to Europe but the USA was a whole different animal.

The first things that I noticed were:

People were friendlier
Streets were wider
Cars were bigger

I left Los Angeles and went up North to San Jose to my school. On the first day of class I found the computer lab (remember I have never seen one in person and up close before).

I started hearing about Microsoft, Windows, Bill Gates, etc and I was hooked. I immediately changed my course to computer science. I still got my Private Pilots license but never made it back to the cockpit as an airline pilot. No worries.

The first time I went back to Nigeria was in 2006, exactly 20 years after I left her. Friends, I was in massive culture shock and actually contemplated going back to the USA on the next available flight. I really did but my Mum talked me out of it. Things were now different in Nigeria. Much different. Much worse than when I left.

{I'll add some pictures of my 2006 visit later}.

After my initial confusion, I loosened up and started enjoying myself. Once I stopped looking at everything from an American perspective then things were alright. Manageable. I toured some of my schools, old joints and work place. Quick hint: whatever you do when you get overseas, never relax and always strive to do better because your mates that you left behind are not slouches either. They are also coming up and growing. Some of my friends were enjoying things like drivers (one for oga and one for madam), servants, etc. One friend basically just lent me a "spare" Range Rover and driver (I declined because I wanted to enjoy Nigeria as a regular Nigerian).

After my two weeks vacation, on my way out I decided then that I wanted to retire back to Nigeria. From that decision I visited Nigeria almost every year, some years more than once.

I got married twice in the USA, got divorced twice, bought many homes, built some homes, had a rewarding career, did all the expected things, paid my taxes, etc. Nairaland is filled with similar stories so no need to bore you guys with all that.

I may refer back once in a while to the USA but for the most part we're done there. Nigeria is the koko.

We move.

Re: Yankee To Naija: Thoughts and Experiences

Posted: Mon Dec 30, 2019 6:57 pm
by Abdul-Rahmaan

I left Nigeria in 1986 and didn't visit until 2006, a solid 20 years away. When I landed at Murtala, it was at night, I came out of the airport to basically darkness and moreover it has been twenty years since I saw an unbroken group of black people. I has a frighteningly semi religious experience. I felt like turning around and getting back on the plane. But I calmed down.

The next morning I had calmed down. Somewhat.

Some of the things I immediately noticed in Lagos were:

1) My Mum had grown much older. She wasn't that fearful authoritarian anymore. I just kept looking at her. Even though she had visited the USA every two years or so but here in Nigeria she was in her element. Age is a wonderful thing.

2) The roads were bad, really bad. I was shocked that there has not being any improvement in 20 years. As if time stood still.

3) The drivers were horrible. Frankly downright dangerous.

4) Even though I was used to USA police officers carrying side arms and changing to rifles when necessary, seeing Nigerian Police basically carrying around AK47 type assault weapons was comical and downright dangerous.

5) Driving was an extreme sport, where people are prepared to have a collision. It seems.

6) Power outage. I haven't experienced a power outage in 20 years. It was shocking and a little bit scary to have all the lights just go out. Okay so during some of the earthquakes in California we did loose power but you had a full crew of Southern California Edison (California NEPA) working 24/7 to restore power. They had representatives going door to door to apologize and offer assistance to senior citizens and others that need solutions. Some people need constant electricity to stay alive. When I left Nigeria in 1986 it wasn't this bad. We had a schedule, a rotating schedule of sorts.

I've always hated Lagos, not really sure why. It has been this way since I was little. So I was happy to head out to Ibadan where I was sure things would be more normal.

A side note. We chartered a vehicle at Ojota I think to take us to Ibadan. My Mum doesn't drive, so our family car was no longer working since my younger brother whom I left in Nigeria was also already in the USA. So ask yourself, what preparations are you making for your parents comfort when you flee?

As we drove towards Ibadan I noticed that the toll booth are gone. They were there when I left. I thought it was a nice change.

There were some alarming potholes on the road and I though only a maniac with a death wish would dare travel the road at night. Please understand that the only potholes I've seen in 20 years is when I go off road in my 4X4 as a hobby. To see one on the road where actual regular vehicles were plying was a shocker.

We entered Ibadan and again no toll booth. Nice.

Then it hit me all of a sudden that they've bastardized my peaceful Ibadan. What happened? Where did all this people come from?

Anyways, as we drove up Ayefele, towards Challenge and Molete to go to Oke Ado, the reality that they did screw up Nigeria somewhere along the lines. Ibadan is now a dirty mess.

We arrived home and I went up to my room to see all my old stuff. I wanted to see my old posters on the walls, my address book, etc

Were they there?

Onto the next part.

Re: Yankee To Naija: Thoughts and Experiences

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 8:03 pm
by Abdul-Rahmaan

Now, we are in Nigeria, Ibadan specifically. I will not compare the USA to Nigeria but only reference when i find it necessary. The USA is light years of Nigeria and Nigeria can never match the USA in a million years, my personal opinion. So let's just dey our dey and they dey their dey :D

This is not to say that Nigeria will not make improvements. She will but it will be at a staggering low pace. You can have peaceful existence in both places or hard existence equally in both places. Messrs Dangote and Otedola are in Nigeria. Joe the whino is on skidrow in Los Angeles. May our blessings find us where ever we are at.

What I want to do in this part is introduce you to a few people. None of them knows me but they have an impact on why I decided to make my move when I did. Not all of them are in Nigeria, some are in Ghana and other African countries. I link specific videos that were of interest to me.

Jasmine Ama - Ghana
I watched a lot of her videos on Ghana.

Kulu Vlogs - Northern Nigeria
I watched almost all her videos.

Tayo Aina Films - Lagos, Nigeria
I watched a lot of his drone videos.

If you watch only one video, this is it.

The Returneez
I watched a lot of the series.

Just to put this out there.


Re: Yankee To Naija: Thoughts and Experiences

Posted: Wed Jan 29, 2020 8:37 am
by Abdul-Rahmaan

These are just random pictures of when I revisited Nigeria after 20 years. There were no Micras or Keke yet in Ibadan but sadly Okadas were already working. Cellular phone was also starting.

A funny story about cellular phones.

It was refreshing to see the dating youths having access to cell phones, in my time no cell phones and you just had to go on a visit to see someone.

I was schooling at Ogun Poly and left Abeokuta to go and visit a girlfriend at UniFe. On getting there I was told that she just left and was going to visit someone at Abeokuta. I quickly made my way back to Abeokuta to get a message that a friend came from UniFe but has gone back.

So enjoy that cellphone in your hands