Reading, Nigeria, and my dad
I just finished the book “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and am sitting at my desk, still in Lagos (in my head). This was my second book I’ve read by her, after being entirely consumed by “Half of a Yellow Sun”.
I was introduced to Ngozi Adichie while picking up a copy of “Homegoing” by Yya Gyasi. A colleague had recommended “Homegoing” while I searched for black women authors to read.
Ngozi Adichie’s “Half of a Yellow Sun” was right next to “Homegoing”, and I purchased both.
Being in the world of nonprofit fundraising I meet a lot of people fundraising for organizations based in Africa, from hunger, to refugees, to wildlife and more. My desire to learn more about Africa along with reading new authors (to me) were certainly help by these books. I even started taking an African map quiz online to make sure I know the geography (my first attempt was a dismal 51%)!
While in Lagos or Port Harcourt thanks to Ngozi Adichie, I kept thinking of Nigeria and why it all seemed familiar to me. Through human rights work I was familiar with trying to save Ken Saro-Wiwa through Amnesty International campaigns as he faced execution (and was indeed executed in 1995), but that’s all I could remember.
Then a faded memory became clearer. My dad. Detroit. Art. The memories started to flood in as I remembered a visit to see my dad in Detroit soon after my parents had divorced. He took me to a visiting art exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts that was all historic, centuries old, art… from Nigeria! I remember spending so much more time looking at all the pieces and learning about them than I would have imagined when going in. I was mesmerized.
So mesmerized that I even purchased postcards of the art. I remember on the way home not being able to stop talking about the exhibit.
Years later, I sit at my desk fondly remembering that evening with my dad, watching his reaction while being in awe of the art and the history.
My learning process continues as I learn of the Nigerian civil war and the life of Nigerians who move to the US and return to Nigeria, through literature.
And I get to another chance to remember my dad.