My name is Nkeiruka Mgbeoji. I am a mum of 4 lovely and extremely lively children. I also work as a lawyer. I moved to Vaughan Ontario, to meet my husband after we got married. Before then, he had lived in Halifax and in Vancouver for a few years.
QUESTION AND ANSWER:
Q. So, the big question, why did you move Back to Nigeria for good?
A. I always hoped that we would move back home. Moving out of Nigeria was one of the more difficult decisions marriage put on me. I never wanted to move outside Nigeria to live. I was satisfied to travel on holiday but to return to my real life. My husband is a Law Professor at York University in Canada, and in his Sabbatical year, we decided to go to Nigeria and see if it matched the fantasies we had built around it. Our children were growing and it was important to us that they grew up “Nigerian” and not “Canadian”.
It was a very exciting yet scary decision. I was happy to go home, but I also knew that I would miss my lifestyle and my lovely neighborhood and the friends I had made. Simple things like the park 3 minutes walk from my home where we hung out on summer evenings, the smell of the barbecue in the evenings during summer. Anyway, fortunately, he had a job offer for the year that meant we had a good financial buffer and could take the plunge with little financial risk.
Q. Are there similarities between the country you moved back from and Nigeria?
A. There are no similarities that are apparent. There are pluses and minuses to each one. Lifestyles are totally different.
Q. What are the challenges you’ve faced so far since moving back?
A. Different challenges at different times. As a mum, finding a good school was a bit of an issue. I learnt very quickly to look beyond the facade of a stunning structure to the substance of what the school offered. Traffic. Just moving from Point A to B became something to plan with near military precision. Going to market as well was something I had to relearn. The way the seller throws a price at you and expects you to haggle. I had kind of forgotten. And not having any clue as to what the suitable price for items ought to be, I’m sure I was cheated a few times, and utterly ridiculous in my pricing at others.
Q. What were your expectations and fears when you decided to move back?
A. I did not have many expectations. I just hoped it would be possible for us to like it enough to stay on and that I would not have to move back to Canada at the end of the year tail between my legs because I had really made so many boasts to my friends about the great benefits of moving back home.
Q. When did you move back and what have you been up to since you moved back?
A. I moved back in 2007 and because my husband held onto his job in Canada and still worked there full time, I became a “single parent” most of the time. With my children being so young, I made the decision not to work outside my home. I am not a business person so I was not doing any buying and selling or “small business” on the side. I was a full time stay at home mum.
Now I work as the Head of Legal for an Engineering company with a staff strength of over 500. I remember when I was a stay at home mum, people would say stuff like “what! you don’t have a job? I can’t stay at home doing nothing all day”. I used to think quietly that if you are a stay at home mum and doing what you ought to be doing for your family, you should have very little time to do nothing.
Now that I do more formal work, I try to juggle it all, but I certainly miss the hands on experience of parenting I had but I’m thankful I have the chance to do both. I have a healthy respect for anyone who chooses to do either.
Q. Coming back to Nigeria, did you ever feel like you needed to readjust to life back in the country?
A. Certainly. The Nigeria I left was not the Nigeria I returned to. It had become more cosmopolitan even in four short years People and their lifestyles had evolved and I had to step up my game. In day to day life, road rules had changed. There were strange one way roads in places I didn’t expect. I even got lost a few times! I who thought I knew Lagos like the back of my hand.
There was LASTMA and other new government agencies to contend with. Despite the development, there was and in many ways still is a shortage of leisure activities for parents with young children.
Q. How do you deal with issues such as traffic, lack of basic infrastructure and the power situation?
A. As far as the traffic goes, the only remedy is to plan. My home is far from work and my children’s school so on the average, I wake up at about 4am and try to leave home at about 6am to beat the worst of it. I keep pillows and covers in the car and make my children sleep as soon as we go in the car.
My estate has good water supply, so that is fine and for power supply, I recommend a main generator, a back up and an inverter. You have to be really prepared. I am not bothered by those issues. I just plan carefully and work around them.
Q. If you had to do this all over again what would you do different?
A. YES! YES!! and another YES!!! I truly love living in Nigeria. I love the big things and the small things. I get exasperated by things sometimes but I wouldn’t move back for the world. I have everything I want here. Possibly I am this way because I was raised here. Many people want a way out. Me, I truly can’t be happy living anywhere else. I like my lifestyle here as a “Madam” (lol) Oyinbo no get respect.
I like to walk into a supermarket and have someone wheel my trolley cart around. I like that I have a network of people to do practically any odd job I need done for an affordable price. I like the fact that my little tips to them actually make a difference that I can see. I love my job, the responsibility and the status it confers on me. I love it all. I love that in Nigeria, you can bend the rules. Police is your friend. . . . For a fee (lol) but I’m honest enough to admit that it won’t work for everyone.
Q. Finally, what advice would you give people moving back to Nigeria from the Diaspora?
A. I would say, keep an open mind. Be prepared to roll with the punches. There are challenges but hey, nothing good comes easy.