They say “home is where the heart is.” This saying can never be truer. As a Naija (Nigerian) boy living the American Dream, I remain a son of the soil at heart and always find it liberating whenever I visit my hometown.
I had the brief opportunity to go home in December 2015. Unlike many other holidays, this one was different.. Very different.
The three weeks visit to the City of Uyo, Akwa Ibom was to help my mom with a major project of decorating the city for Christmas. This was unlike something we’ve ever done before and man… it sure was a learning and humbling experience. With time not on our side, we had to learn and adjust on the fly. We had good and bad days, probably more bad days than good. But when there is a will, there’s always a way.
Over the past couple of years I have seen Akwa-Ibom state transform from a rich oil producing state with little to no future transformative vision to a state that realized its potential and decided to leverage its resources to transform its people, think, and do big things.
Past pictures I had seen of Christmas lights and decorations in every street corner and major traffic circles made the city of Uyo unrecognizable. I couldn’t imagine the little city I left in 2002 had grown so much over the years. Roads paved, bridges built, hotels, restaurants, night clubs.. The list goes on. People of vision had flooded the state and like an artist with blank canvas, you could see their beautiful artwork come to life.
This was the challenge we were faced with.. How could we possibly execute such a daunting task? How could we do this for the first time and get it done in 3 weeks? Did we bite off more than we could chew? Was this a big mistake? Lord help us!
At the end of the day we were victorious. Non stop work from 7am to 3am literally everyday. Lots of coordinating, delegating and yes, screaming and cursing. Lol!! WE GOT IT DONE!
I would say my biggest takeaway from this experience was my new found respect and appreciation for the female brain. The things my mom has been able to accomplish with her company is astounding. Never have I ever seen a woman that can multi-task like Mrs. Ime Essien. It was just amazing! This made our bond stronger. Knowing I was there to support her was reassuring to her even though half the time I was clueless lol!! But we both gave each other hope and support.
The city looked so beautiful. Christmas lights on street poles, tents lit up with angelic precision, Christmas figurines, trees, music… right on time for Christmas. The city was transformed into winter wonderland (African winter)
Christmas was definitely in the air and the people loved it!!
Unfortunately I didn’t get to spend Christmas there. I had to return to the US to spend it with my wife and beautiful kids who I couldn’t imagine being away from on Christmas. But on the way out I had to get together with the little sis and hubby for a last minute Lagos turn-up. We partied hard on my last night in Naija. It was fun!
This was a wonderful experience and I am so proud to be Nigerian, and even prouder to be an AkwaIbomite..