Sunday, February 17, 2013

Through My Kitchen Window

I am reading author Chinua Achebe’s newest book titled, “There was a Country – a Personal History of BiafraChinua is a well respected writer and poet. Perhaps his best known work is “Things Fall Apart.”

Born in 1930, he and I have something in common. We were both born in the part of Nigeria once known as the Eastern Region which tried to secede and form the new nation of Biafra. Achebe was born in Ogidi and I was born in Joinkrama. Actually our birthplaces are not all that close. His was on the northern edge of the area that tried to become Biafra in what is today called the South Eastern State. I was born in the most southern region near the ocean in a wild, jungle area in the Niger River Delta which today is called The Rivers State. Joinkrama where I was born was once referred to as “The Back Side of Nowhere” by missionary Jo Scaggs in her book. Aunt Jo, as I called her when I knew her, served in Joinkrama a.k.a. “the backside of nowhere” with my parents and was a big help to my mother the year I was born.

Achebe writes, "Most members of my generation, who were born before Nigeria’s independence, remember a time when things were very different. Nigeria was once a land of great hope and progress, a nation with immense resources at its disposal—natural resources, yes, but even more so, human resources. But the Biafran war changed the course of Nigeria. In my view it was a cataclysmic experience that changed the history of Africa."

Well, to me personally it was a cataclysmic experience that changed my personal history. The war ripped me out of the country of my birth – my happy childhood homeland and set me squarely back on US soil. The first couple of years back I was so homesick for Nigeria and the friends I knew there. I was an extremely unhappy little girl.

But then as time went by, I became accustomed to my new home in America and even grew to love it. I had many friends and experiences in the years that followed which I treasure also. And when I look back on my life, I marvel at all the adventures God has allowed me to have. From tropical Africa where I happily played barefoot, chasing lizards and eating guavas straight from the trees to quintessential Americana where I had the privilege of being a high school cheerleader for a state championship football team – my experiences have been many and diverse and I marvel at the God who has led me all of my life.

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