A Year After..What Life in Nigeria is Really Like

Last year March, I was packing up to move from my life in New York. I said my goodbyes to friends over lunches and dinners. I hung out with my brothers. Then, it was time to make flight preparations and travel back to Nigeria. The flight experience was long but interesting. You can read about it in my post: On My Way Back to Abuja.

Now, I’ve already told you What I appreciate about Nigeria from life Abroad. So, I’ll tell you my thoughts on the good and the bad about life here.

Though presently, I’m situated in Nigeria, I’m not fully acclimated. The nature of my upbringing was always packing in and out of Nigeria so my mind often wanders. I contemplate memories from New York, how excited and hopeful Manhattan made me feel. Then, I think about the beauty and culture that I wish I immersed myself in Mexico City. Then, the great and mesmerizing Hungary that I hardly knew…

There are some days when I don’t question the other lives I’ve led. I think Yes, I can see my life in Nigeria, having a family here and being involved in humanitarian work. Then, there’s this other part of me that craves and dreams of a“writer lifestyle” where I am not bound to any one place. There is that part of me that wishes I could travel anywhere, everywhere and just write. A part of me silently prays for such an opportunity to be entirely free and capable of traveling anywhere I desire…For now, this is how I see life in Nigeria.

Life in Nigeria is Simple and Hard

This is Wuse Market in Abuja.

Life in Nigeria is both simple and hard. It can be simple because I am unburdened by the pressures of having to prove myself the way I felt in America. I am unburdened by the visa stresses that comes from being a foreigner that’s trying to make another country your home. I can wake up and be relaxed. I’m not on a student visa anymore. I’m not on an OPT work year anymore. I’m in my own home.

However, life here is hard. There are political, social and cultural challenges. A majority of people are not pleased with the way the country is run. Therefore, knowing that I’m back from America can at times leave me with a lost and regretful feeling because the truth is some people here are desperate to leave. From the uneducated to the educated. From the young to the older with families and children, they are looking for a way out. So yes, the reality can sometimes make me feel trapped. Then at times, I feel determined and motivated to make an impact. I sway between those two mindsets because I’m not perfect.

Life in Nigeria is Colorful and Holy

Life in Nigeria is colorful and holy. People take pride in their culture, language, dressing and religion. Culture and language is a way to bond with others. Religion also plays such an important factor in our lives here. It is a common thing for someone to say God or Allah in reference to their condition.

Now, the same thing I respect about this country also happens to be the cause of it’s problems. Tribalism is an ever-present issue. People believe that those from a certain part of the nation have more power and influence than they should. People also believe that a certain religion might be trying to be more dominant over another. What makes us stand out is what also divides us.

Life in Nigeria is about Laughing it Off


Nigerians are funny people because we don’t take ourselves too seriously. People are always willing to laugh about the condition and nature of things in the country. It is common to hear phrases like “That is Nigeria for You” or “Welcome to Nigeria” in response to somethings like when the light goes out, when there is a strike or endless excuses made when a politician is caught up in a corruption scandal.

Now, though we can easily laugh at ourselves, I’m also disturbed by laughing at conditions that don’t change. It’s a sad thing to see beggars. It’s a sad thing to know that people are desperate to leave Nigeria. They take dangerous routes and make questionable attempts in order to get out. It’s a norm for people to believe in a better life outside Africa, in Europe and America. To me, there can be a lot of complaints about the condition of life in Nigeria yet we laugh about it. Certain jokes can be funny but then it’s not so funny when there’s a lack of progress or suffering over the same issues.

So those are just a little bit of my thoughts about being back for a year now. If you live in Nigeria or have ever visited, what are your thoughts on life here?

Isioma Ononye

I'm a blogger, freelance writer and news enthusiast. I'm passionate about personal development and I'm a book lover. AIso, I care deeply about feminism. My bliss is found in words that move me, nature and chasing my dreams.

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