Bookie Life

Bookie. Book lover. Reader. Writer. Bibliophile. This category has posts that share tips and my musings about that bookie life. Starting a reading habit? You’ll find some useful advice here!

My Culture Shock in Umuahia, Abia state, Nigeria

My Socio-Cultural Exploration in Umuahia, Abia state.

I’ve spent 5 weeks in Umuahia. I’m here because of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). With NYSC, graduates are sent to a state within Nigeria for a year of service. I looked forward to spending time in Eastern Nigeria, especially my Dad’s state of origin-Abia. I grew up in Lagos State and spent most of 2019 in Yola, Abuja and Kaduna.

However, the past 2 weeks here disappointed me as I struggled with culture shock. Below I articulate these experiences.

Oha soup and Garri

Food

Food at the NYSC Orientation Camp at Umunna Bende wasn’t so tasty. I didn’t expect much but I got surprised in the state capital. Igbo and Calabar Soups are commonly sold in Umuahi, from eateries to bukas. My oh my are they richer and delicious than what I’ve eaten in Lagos. I haven’t gotten used to the minute salt or pepper used. I’m still getting used to first searching out periwinkle shells before swallowing. At markets, food stuff are super fresh, bulkier and cheaper. I find two things fascinating though. One, market traders who don’t own stalls sell out of wheelbarrows. Two, hawked drinks in traffic aren’t cold. I’ve only seen them cold once.

Language

One thing that gave me anxiety was fear of language barrier. In Umuahia people speak Nigerian English, Igbo and Pidgin. Often Igbo is spoken first but the average speaker will switch to English or Pidgin if you indicate you don’t understand Igbo. I’m taking Igbo lessons from a friend. Hopefully my Igbo will improve before the end of service.

Public Transportation

The major means of transportation in Umuahia include Keke (tricycles), mini buses (usually for longer distances within the capital) and buses which travel to other local government areas and otherwise Abia. The keke rides are cheap, N50 /N100 at most.

Recreation

People go out to eat and drink here. There are mostly eateries, outdoor bars, lounges. I’m on the lookout for delicious ice-cream. There is a mall with Deluxe Cinema, ShopRite and other stores. I haven’t found a literature/fiction bookshop. Just a few stall vendors of motivation, educational and children books. Eh nope.

Weather and Environment

Last week the sun made me reminisce about Yola. It gets sunny and hot during the day. At night it get chilly and foggy (midnight). I usually wear socks and close my windows. The atmosphere has a indescribable humid-chilly-dusty air that has its own scent.
Abia has a very hilly to valley topography with forestation. The main roads are tarred but with portholes like anywhere else in Nigeria. Accommodation is affordable; N5-N10k monthly rent for either a room or self-contain.

There are designated sanitation points with refuse trolleys where people go to dump their refuse. I am unaware of recycle companies or recycle collection points.

Tribalism

As a multiethnic, young Nigerian woman, tribalism is one thing I always experience around the country and I’ve visited 13 states. I was worried about how my identity would be questioned, erased or denounced. Abia state didn’t disappoint, sadly. Everyone does tribal profiling and it’s disconcerting. Once your name is asked, where are you from is the next question followed by harmful stereotypes. Yes, peolple have actively & rudely ignored my Yoruba name. Infact one man told me (after I said my full name) my Mum’s heritage isn’t part of my identity because she married my Dad. I found that very insulting, I corrected him that marriage doesn’t and shouldn’t erase a woman’s identity. We stopped talking afterwards. The tribalism here is outrageous.

I’ve only seen orange hibiscus here.

Religious Extremism

If there is one place I expected to be similar to Northern Nigeria in relation to religious extremism, it wasn’t Abia. I heard it’s worse in other Eastern states. Every morning school children singing praise and worship at the assembly ground wake me up like Fajr prayers. Businesses are named after Biblical entities. Even at the Ministry of Justice, there is a (shocking) 40 minutes church service every Monday morning before work commences. This is separate from departmental morning prayers. Let me not start on how every older person inserts a Bible verse in their comments insisting they deserve respect and obedience. It’s ridiculous. ‘Morals’ are monitored by everyone. There are churches everywhere. For people who are God’s own they have been rude, inconsiderate, judgemental. I hope people learn to be genuinely good people for just that, not for some reward from God.

Other Observations
The city girl in me isn’t used to strangers greeting me…an interesting difference. People have been friendly, helpful and warm generally. However I’ve experienced a demeaning, snarkiness from older women (staff at LGA). I understand how power dynamics in a patriarchal society with unresolved generational trauma can create negative socialised behaviour but its still hurtful. How can I forget? The Patriarchy is strong here and compounded by religion and culture. I’ve mentally committed murder about three times. Let me not start with how men insert themselves into everything. The heteronormative culture here is choking. On my first day of work two staffs prayed I get captured here by a husband.

PS: these are MY personal & varied experiences. I look forward to more Socio-Cultural Explorations the next 8 months. I’ll share an update. I’m hoping for the better.

Thanks for reading!

Call ‘it’ Something podcast launch & other Life Updates.

Heyy Gem, welcome to February! My blogging break ends today! 2019 was a very creative year for me and progressive career wise. But also very hectic. I entered 2020 mentally exhausted. Although I published 3 flash stories I kept off my Instagram and WordPress.

This rest was needed. Apart from work and CDS stress; I’ve had time to introspect, reflect, do aromatherapy, rest and recharge. I’d have added tranquility but my neighbors dozen peacocks interrupt the silence with loud gawking, moans and scraping sounds. Hopefully I’ll introduce some of them to you.

I got out of my reading slum 2 days ago with Chef Cutegirl by Nicolette Dane. I’ve missed enjoying reading so I was delighted. I’d love to do a Life Update/ January Recap post. I’m still at Umuahia, Abia state for NYSC. Head over to my instastory to vote which post you want next!


Today I launched my Podcast, Call ‘it’ Something 🥳 Our first episode- MOVING IN TOGETHER is live. Here Mo and Amethyst discuss sex, relationships and self as a Queer woman living in Nigeria. I’m a co-host and we have biweekly episodes.

Give us a listen here! Get tips to help you decide to cohabit with your partner while maintaining your individuality.

2020

Great have you with me in 2020 Gem. Cheers to a new decade!


Click to see my 2019 Recap

Last book I got (as a gift from my Aunt) in 2019

Over 6,300 blog visits
• Published my first book, Stab Love With Flower Stalks
• Blogged flash stories, book reviews, opinion pieces, reading updates while at the Nigerian Law School.
• Read over 150 topics, Graduated Law School (2nd Class Upper) and got Called to Nigerian Bar.
• Content Creator for AkeFest19 and KabaFest19
• Performed 6 flash stories at Temmie Ovwasa Unleashed (I owe y’all videos and a review, forgive me!)
• Did a travel journal that kept you updated on my time at Yola, Abuja, Kaduna, Abia.

• Opened a Twitter account to share sex positivity; repost lit stories, poems and informative articles and more. I live tweeted for 2 literary festivals.

•Attended 3 literary festivals, ALitFest19 included.
• Photography skills improved tremendously.
• Promoted 2 books published by my friends and shouted out other creatives.
• Made new friends and expanded my network of creatives.

• Didn’t publish about 6 book reviews. Was too busy to participate in writing contests. Battled with anxiety that affected my Bookstagram consistency. Didn’t buy so many new books as I’d have liked. Low sales of my book. (check out #stablovewithflowerstalks on #okadabooks and BUY!)


Thank you for reading and making my 2019 spectacular Gem. I look forward to all the creative fun we’ll have this year.

Bookie Life Update: 26.11.19 My Call to Bar Ceremony

On 26th November 2019 at the Nigerian Law School Bwari, Abuja I was called to the Bar.🥳 Your Gem was called to the Nigerian Bar with distinctions. Yh, this bookie knows small book.🥳
On 27th I enrolled at the Supreme Court of Nigeria as a Barrister and Solicitor.

‘Everyone has their time. Yours will come into itself when it should. Be patient and proactive.’

Words my Mum told me over 6 years ago when my educational career took unexpected detours. My life generally has been a journey that keeps surprising me. I’m grateful for the many people, experiences and books I’ve met along the way.

Thank you for accompanying my adventures and enjoying my content as I juggled Law School at Yola. I appreciate your support Gem.

I encourage you not to give up. Cheers to new beginnings🥂

Throwback

Remember, time rewards consistency.

27 Nov 2018 I flew out of Lagos to resume at Yola Law School Campus.

First day at Nigerian Law School, Yola. A senior colleague and namesake who graduated from Yola said I should make history. I guess I did.


Thank for reading and your well wishes.