I arrived in Abuja in the rainy season of 2019 – my first time in West Africa, and my first experience living away from home aside from university.
Abuja has been the capital of Nigeria and the political seat of power since 1991 in a move to expand economic activity beyond Lagos and to neutralise political tensions between the North and South. As a citizen of the ‘Republic of London’, I struggle to name many places outside the M25 but I still feel at home hearing a Mancunian or Midlands accent and I am grateful for the cultural references that lay foundations for sisterhood with Black female friends from the UK or US who also live in Abuja. Added to this, Nigeria is one of the biggest student-sending markets in the world, so re-engaging with friends I met at university has been key to settling in. This community has made Nigeria home.
But in reflecting on the growth and grounding experience Naija has been, I realise that home is not only about the people who make us feel at home. It is deeply linked to who and where we are; our physical environment is important to how we navigate and feel comfortable – how ‘at home’ we feel.