MUSINGS FROM AMERICA
This week, I am writing from America. For the first time in a while, I felt slightly like a fish out of water, when I arrived New York JFK airport. This was strange because I spent a major chunk of my life in America and all my degrees, including doctorate were obtained here. In addition, I braved it and flew the only Nigerian Airline with a direct flight from Lagos. Just so that there is no doubt, this particular Nigerian Airline (name withheld) was just as good as the other foreign airlines. The takeoff was problem-free, meals were standard, the legroom was sufficient, in-flight entertainment was captivating and the landing was hitch-free.
What am I really musing about? Let me use my normal lecturer (and Pastor) approach and give you six reflections or thoughts in my one week so far. Six is the number of man.
Musing #1 - Security Standards.
There is no doubt that security in America is tight. After the Boston Marathon bombing, there was heightened security. When we left Murtala Mohammed Airport, the security was nothing compared to what was on ground in America. We have a long way to go in Nigeria. Within a few days after the bombing, the two brothers responsible for the bombing were apprehended (well one killed in a shoot-out and the other in custody with gunshot wounds). How long will it take us to bring Boko Haram members to judgment, especially the ones responsible for church bombings, UN bombings etc.?
Musing #2 – Marriages in America.
While in Miami, I met some friends and a discussion ensued on marriages. First, there is a high rate of divorce both in America and Nigeria. However, the statistics in America is probably inflated by the divorce from other nationalities. In the discussion, the American woman was saying that she cannot be cooking and washing her man's clothes all the time. “That is only in Africa. Women ain't slaves here”, she added. I thanked God that my wife was Nigerian and we are living in Nigeria. Also, the State of Vermont last month became the tenth American State to recognize homosexual (gay & lesbian) marriages. So, Adam and Steve can now marry, Eve & Evelyn can now get married in at least ten States. I don't know if they will be using the nomenclature husband & wife.
Musing #3 - Public Urination.
After I picked up a rental car from Miami International Airport, I decided to drive to Tallahassee, the not-so famous capital of Florida. The eight hour trip was enjoyable and almost effortless because of the smooth multiple lane roads with no potholes. The only funny thing is that I needed to pull over about three times to urinate (abeg “piss”). However, it is an actionable offense to just stop by the roadside and whip out your private part. You must stop by a rest stop or filling station and use the restroom (toilet). I almost peed on myself trying to run to a restroom. Na wow for America. I did not have that problem in Nigeria, especially if I was driving a private car.
Musing #4 – Diaspora dilemma.
I had lunch with my children's pediatrician. He was very negative about Nigeria, and even his governor that was accepted to reasonably be working. What puzzled me was that he has not been to Nigeria for over a decade and was getting his news from the media and hearsay. The dilemma faced by those in diaspora is that some may genuinely want to come home, but are bombarded by obfuscated information. I was invited to address members of the Nigeria-America Foundation (NAF) in Miami and tried my best to alleviate their concerns and correct misconceptions about relocating to Nigeria. A very probing question to them is where do you want to die and be buried?
Musing #5 – NEPA did not take light.
While overseas, I try to be as Afrocentric (naijacentric) as possible in my dressing. Therefore, I brought a lot of native, especially resource control. The first day after my arrival, I looked in my collection of clothes, and even with my wife's excellent packing abilities, some natives were wrinkled. What came to my mind was “hurry up and iron before NEPA (PHCN) takes light.” Fortunately, the electricity company is not called by our own name and there was 24-hour light. After heaving a sigh of relief, I now asked myself, when will we get it right in Nigeria.
Musing #6 – We are victims and beneficiaries of technology in Nigeria.
What amazes me is the availability of technology, especially Asian made ones in Nigeria. There is no phone in America, I have not seen in Nigeria, even the new Nokka Lumia 920 smartphone and Blackberry Z10. However, these items cost more than three times in Nigeria what they are sold in America. Blackberry has the largest market in Nigeria and I am dumbfounded by its large following today in Nigeria. Some of us stopped using Blackberry in 2007.
More musings later, including “Praying in the Name of Jesus in America vs. Nigeria” and “Why I Love My Country.”
Prof Alex O. Atawa-Akpodiete is an author, Computer Scientist, Educator, Consultant, lawyer, Political Analyst, Public affair analyst & Social commentator. He has a Doctorate degree in Jurisprudence from the US. He has lectured Law, Ethics and Security & Intelligence Studies at the University level here in Nigeria and US. He also writes for a state daily newspaper & national monthly journal. He currently divides his time between Nigeria and USA where he runs a PR and an international capacity-building firm ATAWA GROUP. Contact him on 08138391661 or [email protected] He is also on Facebook and Twitter.