“I Couldn’t Keep Staying in the Circus That’s Lagos” — Abroad Life

August 5, 2022

The Nigerian experience is physical, emotional and sometimes international. No one knows it better than our features on #TheAbroadLife, a series where we detail and explore Nigerian experiences while living abroad.


This week’s subject on Abroad Life is thankful he’s an American citizen so he could swiftly move to the US once Lagos began to stress him. In a year, he’s on the career path he projected for himself and even making music on the side. 

When did you decide to move abroad?

The actual decision was made in 2019, but because I’m American, I’ve just always thought about moving here to connect with that part of me. I’ve stayed most of my life in Nigeria. I went to school there until I got my master’s in 2018. I know the streets, I can speak Yoruba, pidgin, I’m a proper Lagos boy. And although I often came to the US on holidays when I was younger, it’s not the same as living here. 

How are you an American?

The greatest gift I ever received was my parents having me in the US in 1995, which granted me automatic citizenship.

God when? So why 2019?

I finished my master’s in architecture in 2018. Then, I finished NYSC in 2019 and hit the streets to hustle. Quickly, I found out one thing — Lagos is a circus. 

LMAO

From horrible bosses to the roughness of the city to no electricity to people refusing to pay me for my work because I was young, I experienced everything. 

When did you eventually leave?

2021.

What happened in between?

First of all, COVID. But it gave me an opportunity to pick up the music career I’d dropped for years. I used that period to make music and film about my experience in Lagos, how Lagos — and Nigeria — hinders the progress of young people.

Did you have to quit your music career when you moved?

Nope. The plan was to come here, get a job in my field — architecture or construction — grow my career and still make my music on the side. 

How’s that going?

Pretty great. I’ve got a job here as a construction manager — someone who receives a project on behalf of a client and makes sure all documents and processes are intact before the actual building begins. And the money is good; or at least, far better than what I would’ve made in Nigeria.

And the music? 

I’ve made progress. I’m even in the process of making an animated video for one of my songs as we speak. It was definitely the right choice to move.

Does it make sense to ask about your expectation vs reality?

Yes, because before I came in 2021, the last time I was here was when I was a teenager in 2009. When I showed the immigration officer my passport, she was shocked but happy to welcome me back home. There was definitely some culture shock. 

Like what?

Food. Greens, specifically. You know the entire “Beans Greens Potatoes Tomatoes” thing everyone shouts when it’s Thanksgiving. Yeah, those greens are just leaves and salt. They taste horrible and watery. 

LMAO

Another thing I noticed was things are more serious here. Even on the basic human interaction level. I like to call America the United States of Opportunity Costs, Litigation and Firearms. And I think these three things shape how people interact. Nobody wants to talk to you if you can’t make them money, people are scared of interactions because it’s easy to get sued, and so so many people have guns.

But I enjoy the great infrastructure like good roads and internet, and the many commercial activities like clubbing I can engage in. 

Do you see yourself staying for long?

I guess time will tell. It’s pretty confusing now because Maryland, where I stay, is cool, but it’s expensive. I don’t want to stay in one place all my life. I won’t say I see myself returning to Nigeria, but I want to be able to move around.


Want more Abroad Life? Check in every Friday at 9 A.M. (WAT) for a new episode. Until then, read every story of the series here.

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