Friday, April 15, 2011

Living and Loving a Foreign Country

There is a paradox, I believe, in the idea that a foreign country sometimes holds better treasures than the one in which one currently resides. I know that now after conversations with friends who have lived in this country for most of their lives. They all believe in the same thing: they need to travel out to other places in order to feel better about themselves.

Note the above: I have not told you where I am. The beauty of that only illustrates my point a little more. When I lived in Nigeria, the above paragraph was just as true as it is now that I live in a so called advanced democracy. All the friends I have made, black and white, all want to move either to Spain, or to Mexico, or to France, or to Holland. Anywhere but where they are at the moment, which they call home.

What this means, of course is simple. There is no place like... there, the other place. Nigerians want to go to the US and the UK. Americans want to go to Europe and South America, and Canada. Mexicans want to come to the US. And Jamaicans too, and Haitians, and Dominicans, and Cubans, and Columbians. Libyans want to go to Italy. Italians want to live in New York. Canadians want to come to the US (or not)... and the circle continues. The only thing constant through this theme is the constant of leaving home. Ulli Beier left Germany for Nigeria. Susanne Wenger died in Osogbo. J.M. Coetzee, a white South African finally left the country and became Austrailian. V.S. Naipaul was Indian, and then Trinidadian, and finally British - as British as any other Englishman. I am as weird sounding to an American if I say nice things about his country as he is to me when he insists that the country is full of shit and that he wants to get out asap to "anywhere but here." Sounds just like what someone living in Nigerian would say while living there.

No comments: