Ambassador Ugwu, those are the children we raised – TrendyNewsReporters
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Ambassador Ugwu, those are the children we raised

It is a popular saying that home is where the heart is. If you ask some people, they’ll tell you that home is where your life investments are. Some hold the strong opinion that home is where you were born while others believe that where you feel safe and at peace is home. There are many others who posit that where you are grandly celebrated and not just tolerated is a place to call home. Don’t these all make sense? But where, truly, is home? A young man I was when I chose to leave Nigeria to live in the US. America was a land unknown to me. It was a strange space. But I opted for the unknown and the strange. Spanning over three decades, the unknown became familiar. It became a home. It became a land I love. It became a land that rejiggered my destiny. A place that rewarded my hard work spanning over years. A place that hauled at me opportunities that were rare finds in my own country. Now, the strange land is where my three boys know as home. The only place, dear to their hearts. The only place in their calculations and preparations for the future.

But why have many Nigerians refused to call Nigeria home after they emigrate abroad? Why did they shake the dust off their feet at the departure point of Nigeria?  Why did many of our beloved cut off links with their country when they settled overseas? Well, everybody’s experience with home is different. If you are often immersed in the good side of Nigeria, Nigeria is good and Nigeria is home. If you frequently taste the ugly, wrecking, and killing side of the country, any other escape route becomes your home even if you have to do dirty jobs and slave off on menial salaried assignments for a living in a strange land.

Let me give you a peep into this truth. Nigerians, who live abroad, have this ravishing urge to return home to live. It’s an undying feeling. But the thought of returning home, especially in these times and seasons, is also unnerving. The insecurity is unnerving. The hunger and poverty you see on the faces of hapless Nigerians are unnerving. The business and economic climate swinging like yo-yo are unnerving. Just like Nigerians at home, those abroad are also disgusted about the state of the nation. The picture is not encouraging. Nigerians doing well abroad in many career fields get the motivational clarion call: “Come back home and let’s rebuild Nigeria. We need you. We want your expertise and experience.”  But in the last ten years, a few of my friends who responded to the call have been killed. Five were in a close shave with the Grim Reaper. If you’re not kidnapped, you are duped or robbed. A friend on a visit to Nigeria told me a few days ago that since he touched down about two weeks ago, darkness had enveloped the nation with no power supply. At gas stations, the price of petrol has gone through the roof and petroleum products are mostly unavailable. He said he had difficulty sleeping at night because there was no light to power the air conditioner that’ll help ease the pangs of the burning weather. He wondered how Nigerians survive the pervasive pain. And you wonder why many run when they can? A home is a place you find respite and rest. But if a place you call home cannot provide the essentialities of life, human beings are pushed to find them somewhere else. It is the law of nature. Legendary poet, Maya Angelou, poked my spirit with the word she once wrote, “The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”Home aches in you because it is safe to be called home. I will not blame those who have decided to call other places their home. To each his own.

The hearts of many people who travel abroad never left their homes. They set for themselves a time frame to sojourn outside and return to where their hearts are. For them, a strange land is only a bus stop, not the destination. You must know when you are at a bus stop and when you head out to your destination. It was the story of a young man who traveled out from Lagos to Ukraine in 2000 in pursuit of a university degree. He resided in Kyiv for four years and after graduation, he attempted to leave for California. He didn’t get an entry visa into the US and instead headed out to the UK. He worked in the UK for another five years, made good money, connected with a few business merchants, and then returned to Lagos. This was before the current war in Ukraine. Today, he is who Nigerians will call ‘a big boy’  in the country. I read his story recently in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, “Even if I had gotten the visa to go to California from Kyiv, I knew it would have been a bus stop.  Anywhere out of Nigeria is a bus stop for me. Nigeria is my destination, and God has blessed me here.” That was the young man’s submission.

For those who have made their final call never to return to their home nations, I feel you. But think about the blowback on foreigners after Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine. Consider the massive surge for refuge in neighboring countries unfriendly to black people and the inhumane treatments meted out to them. Within 24 hours of the Russian assault, affluent and rich foreigners living in palaces became homeless. The rich became poor. The employed became unemployed. Ask the big Nigerian pastor who made Ukraine home for forty years. Sunday Adelaja said some things that should make the wise think deeply. He had so much in a foreign land but he had to leave them all behind to live.  “I may never see my church and people again,” he said. Now he is in a hideout in a European country. Going back to his home country Nigeria is not an option. He has nothing much to lean on at home. What happened in Ukraine can happen anywhere in any nation of the world where you are considered an alien in spite of your long stay there.

Where one calls home is an individual judgment call. I am not ashamed to enlist in the platoon, which believes that home is where I was born, where I learned to crawl and mastered the art of walking; where I belched out my first hoot and coos like a baby and where the roots of my extended family are firmly established. For me, truth finds its resting place in my affirmation that Nigeria is a sweet home. Home may be tough and rough today but a beautiful tomorrow can change the entire perspective and dynamic; don’t you believe that? I do! And I hope and pray. Amen!

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