Art of Tea - Tea of the Month

Medina Dugger – Diaspora Person of the Month

Q Can you please introduce yourself and tell us who you are?

My name is Medina Dugger, I am a freelance photographer.


Q Please take us through your background and how you got to (the country you lived in before coming back home)

I was born in the U.S. but my parents were free spirits and we moved around to different cities and states every year. I first worked as a nurse in in the NICU where I took care of premature infants however I did not feel I was fulfilling my life’s purpose. Photography has always been a love of mine, since I was 8 years old. I decided to strengthen my knowledge in photography in 2010 and moved abroad to Paris where I studied at the Speos Photographic Institute. It was there I met a friend who was from Lagos. She guess immediately I would fit in and love the city. It took me a year before deciding to come visit but once I did I was hooked.


Q So, the big question, why did you move to Nigeria for good?

Every time I leave Lagos, even when I’m ‘tired’ and feel ready for a break, only a couple weeks pass before I find myself underwhelmed and missing the rhythm. My family is what I miss most when I’m here, but I’ve met some wonderful friends and expect my family to visit more in the future. There are few places as visceral or engaging as Lagos. As far as home goes, Lagos feels as much my home as anywhere else I’ve lived. I’ve never met a city where I felt a greater sense of inspiration, purpose and fulfillment. There is no place like Lagos.


Q Are there similarities between the country you moved from and Nigeria?

For sure. The more I’ve seen of the world (and people) the more similarities I see. Especially with globalization, social media etc. The specifics of a country may look and sound different but generally speaking there are a lot more commonalities.


Q What are the challenges you’ve faced so far since you moved here?

Aside from the obvious, (electricity) some of my other challenges have been keeping cool while driving in traffic, dealing with sound/air pollution from the generators (making something like a walk or bike ride at times unpleasant) and the recent inconvenience with the fuel scarcity. The price of goods/living in Lagos is by far the largest challenge. It’s the most expensive city I’ve ever lived in and beyond prohibitive.


Q What were your expectations and fears when you decided to move to Nigeria?

My initial fears had to do with the fact that I had never been to Nigeria before and had very little knowledge other than the message perpetuated by mass media which is mostly negative. I worried about whether I would be safe, if I would be welcome and fit in here. Luckily I felt welcome and safe from the moment I arrived. I made amazing friends and contacts through my job at the African Artists’ Foundation. My expectations were to experience the city for myself and contribute to the art scene which is exactly what happened.


Q When did you move to Nigeria and what have you been up to since your move?

I moved here in 2011. I  came to work for an organization dedicated to the promotion of contemporary African Art, to change the dialogue about Africa and drive positive social change. When I initially moved here I just expected to stay for 6 months. I was hired as a project coordinator for the African Artists’ Foundation and Lagos Photo Festival. After 6 months, I continued on, learning more about Nigerian art, and curating.


Q Coming to Nigeria, did you ever feel like you needed to readjust to life in the country?

Yes. It’s still an adjustment for me, but it’s important in life to be able to find peace and balance in different situations so I appreciate the challenge.


Q How do you deal with issues such as traffic, lack of basic infrastructure and the power situation?

By being as prepared as possible. I charge my devices when I know I’ll have power not when they run out. Now I am freelancing I plan my schedule to avoid busy traffic periods of the day. I try to stay on top of things like getting water for the house, getting fuel etc so if there’s a problem, I’m ok. At the end of the day, friends are always there to help out. I have a bike, I can get around if I need.


Q If you had to do this all over again what would you do different?

I would bring fewer things from abroad and just live using what I can find locally. It’s a challenge but liberating and less hassle at the airport.


Q Finally, what advice would you give people moving back to Nigeria from the Diaspora?

That you won’t regret it if you are ready to put in your time and work hard. Lagos isn’t easy but the gratification is priceless with a job well done. The city is unique. There are so many people doing interesting things and looking to collaborate. The biggest issue is respecting the timing of things and finding balance between work/play/relaxation. There’s so much going on now it’s hard to focus and to convince yourself to sit your ass down at home sometimes. It’s important to stay home some days. It’s important to have a place you can go to chill and take a break if you need to get away from the hustle. Because Mon-Fri the hustle is real. Do you hear that? It’s Lagos calling!

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