15 October 2007

I am a returnee!

My name is Gbenga Badejo. I will be your blogger from now on. The name of the blog is 'Postcard from Lagos'. It will give you a taste of life in Lagos and Nigeria - politics, the economy etc - from my perspective and hopefully from those of selected others. I shall endeavour to make it as interesting and insightful as possible. I will also, time permitting, do a weekly blog. Please log in regularly. I shall also be thrilled to hear from you!

I have lived in England for nearly two decades and I still feel I do. However, having spent more time in Nigeria this year than in England, it appears I am a Lagosian now and have almost fulfilled my homecoming ambition. There have been a few challenges along the way - leaving a comfortable lifestyle to the uncertainty of Nigeria and also being regularly absent from our home Church where I have been in leadership for years. Giving that I had frequented Nigeria in the last year, leaving, though hard, had been rehearsed and bearable.

Another aspect to the story is my lifelong interest in national development. Last year, I published a related book titled ‘Not a Wasted Generation’ - the theme of which was the need for all Nigerians to fully engaged in developing the country. Having prescribed this as non-negotiable for all Nigerians, I couldn't observe things from the sidelines. I didn't just want to talk about it, I wanted to be in on it. So I joined what I now refer to as the 'laglon' group - those shuttling between the lagos-london route.

On Sunday 30th September, I went to the birthday party of a friend's daughter at Victoria Garden City popularly known as VGC. There I met with other returnees from the United Kingdom and at least one from the United States. One has only been here for two weeks and there was a couple who moved back over a decade ago. I listened attentively as they spoke. All of them were glad to have made the move back home. The Lagos traffic, the heat, and even armed robbery were no deterrent. They all seemed to chorus the same belief that home is a better place to be.

The most intriguing person was Bidemi who arrived just two weeks ago. Save for attending Law School followed by National Service in Nigeria many years ago, Bidemi is as English as they come. He was born in England, raised in England and did everything else in England. He speaks in unmistakable English accent and his siblings and mum live in England. However, he loves Nigeria and has made the move back home. He is unrepentantly a Nigerian and loves the life, the people and everything that comes with it. He has even got a car and drives himself in Lagos. What audacity! I respect and admire him.

Everyone narrated their stories, what led to the move, and how they have coped with the challenges. At least three of the returnees had or still worked with telecoms companies - MTN and Celtel being the chief absorbers. All have their families with them in Nigeria although in most cases, the move was staggered for family members. No one has any regrets. We ate, we talked, we laughed, we sang and prayed as the day ended and we dispersed. It was a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon. PS - the cover photograph is not of Lagos, borrowed as a backdrop, it however shows how Lagos may look like one day. PostCardfromLagos