Flew into Lagos this afternoon, I walked into Nigeria today.
I did not take this walk alone – it was the effort of my community (ies) that made this possible. Jasmynn packed nearly 600 books to begin the deconstruction of a haven she could hardly bear to lose. Alissa snuck up on me from South Sudan and disturbed my all-to-dangerous peace – packing research in the process. Burma called and offered her help, sleeping on sofas while they were there, and then coming back every day until the deed was done. She brought Victor who installed a battery that resurrected a car that had sat dormant for two years. Victor brought Vince whose brilliant skill put in a headlight that I had been assured by two trusted professionals was impossible to use, and did it beautifully. Vince brought Billie, whose strength, enthusiasm and spiritual grace helped to get us over the finish line.
Kris mailed a box when my heart could not let it go, bought food, bought sofas, and bought washing machines. Her mom, Pat, ran seams that I had struggled for a year to sew.
Maria’s professional attention to detail brought Bernardo and Rosa and Co. so that the house was so clean it echoed when I left. And I did leave – with the help and support of LaNell, my dear sister-friend, yesterday.
So I walked into Nigeria today.
The walkway from the plane which before in my experience has been some kind of plastic stuff was here covered carpet of an amazing midnight blue with medallions that appeared with the rhythmic regularity of a blues aesthetic. The carpet said, “Welcome to Nigeria” and announced the company that put it there. The walkway was lined with people in electric green vests waiting to service the plane, I guess. But before we turned the first corner, there were smiling people who, when I looked my smile into their eyes, said, “Welcome home!” And somehow I believed it.
I cannot speak Efik or Yoruba, Ibibio or Annang. I cannot cook Egusi or Fufu and I probably will be useless in the market.
Still, I believed it.