Love Life is a Zikoko weekly series about love, relationships, situationships, entanglements and everything in between.

Love Life: I Moved To Nigeria To Be With Her

Bibi, 33, and Kelly, 27, have been dating for about four years. In today’s episode of Love Life, they talk about how they met online and transitioned from a long-distance relationship to a live-in couple. 

What’s your earliest memory of each other?

Kelly: I think mine is the first time we had drinks at a hotel in Dubai. I can’t forget it. Babe opened the champagne as we looked at each other. I was thinking, “OMG, we are actually here right now.” 

Bibi: I feel bad because her answer is cute and mine is not so much. I got to Dubai before her, so I had to pick her up from the airport. When she saw me, she was so nervous and excited that her bag dropped from her hand. It was embarrassing. 

So how did you two meet? What was before the Dubai trip? 

Kelly: We met on Instagram in 2017. Someone made a pussy challenge post and Babe commented on it. I thought that even if she wasn’t into girls, she wouldn’t be homophobic. 

Bibi: After the comment, I noticed that someone was liking my pictures. I checked the notifications and saw her picture. She looked nice, so I went through the rest of her page. I didn’t really understand how social media worked then because I went to watch her story, and I didn’t know she could see that I had viewed it. I posted a story a few days after that, she commented on it and that’s how we started talking. 

Kelly: It’s not everybody you meet for the first time you start asking personal questions, but we clicked. She told me things about herself, and I told her things about me too. We couldn’t stop talking. It was when she had to go to work, that we realised how long we had been talking. She lived in Canada then and I was in Nigeria, so it was past noon when she had to go. We continued chatting and became really close friends even before the subject of dating came up. 

Who made the move to go from friends to lovers?

Bibi: I was going through a bad breakup at the time and she was too. One day in the middle of our conversation, I told her I was going to marry her, that I felt like she’s the one. She said, “I bet you tell all the other girls that.” 

Before that, I was trying to find out if she was into girls or not, so I asked if she had a boyfriend. She said no and asked me the same thing. Then I asked if she had a girlfriend and she paused — I could see her online, but she didn’t reply for a few minutes. 

Kelly: You know how Nigeria is — you can’t just go telling everyone that you’re a lesbian.

Bibi: At the time, I was going through a tough situation with my ex. We had been dragging it out for months, and at that point, we had decided to let things go. But being who I am, I wanted to do it in person. I arranged for the two of us to meet in Dubai. 

I told Kelly about it and she was sad, but I assured her that I was going to keep her in the loop. We couldn’t even stop talking. Throughout the Dubai trip, I was on the phone with her. After I ended things with my ex, we continued talking and everything just seemed great. It was obvious we liked each other and connected deeply, but I am the type of person that you have to ask out, so it wasn’t official yet.

In May 2018, I arranged for another trip in Dubai for me and Kelly to meet. It was a nice trip for both of us. I remember us watching the royal wedding and feeling so emotional that we started crying. As we were crying, Kelly looked at me and asked me to be her girlfriend. 

What happened afterwards? 

Kelly: After two weeks, I returned to Lagos and she returned to Canada. It was very sad for both of us because we realised that we were in a long-distance relationship. Every three months, Babe would visit Nigeria, spend a few weeks, then go back. One time in 2019, she spent two months and when it was time to go, it was really tough. It took about six or seven months before we saw each other again. 

I knew I wanted to be with her, so we struggled together through it. Sometimes we would have fights and decide to break up because of the distance. It was hard, but we are here now. We’ve been living together for about seven months now.

How did that happen? 

Bibi: Last year, I decided to come to Nigeria for Kelly’s birthday because we had never celebrated any birthdays together. I was supposed to visit again in December 2019, but I stayed back to work so I could raise enough money for a nice time together. Then COVID hit. I got an email from the flight company that my flight was cancelled and they didn’t know when they would be flying again. Shortly after, the lockdown happened and everything started crumbling. 

Our fights got worse, and we weren’t sure if we were going to see each other again. When flights resumed, I got COVID and it was terrible. Babe couldn’t get to me and I couldn’t get to her. We started talking about what would happen if I passed on. I had COVID for about eight weeks, and even after I got a negative result, I was still down with post-COVID symptoms, so I couldn’t fly. 

After I got cleared, I wanted to come to Nigeria, but Nigeria had banned international flights. There was a flight going to Cotonou but when you got there, you had to use a bike to get to the border. I booked it. I also found another flight going to a South African country; I booked that as well. I booked a lot of flights because I was desperate. I was getting ready for the Cotonou trip when I got an email that they had updated their travel rules — I would have to get tested in Cotonou and spend up to a week there before leaving for anywhere else. 

How did you feel about that?

I was born and bred in Canada — I have never lived anywhere else, so I was really scared. Babe couldn’t come to Cotonou because of the travel restrictions in Nigeria. She was crying, worried about me going to Cotonou, but I was like, “Babe, we are going to do this.” Two days before the flight, I got an email that there was an emergency flight leaving from Canada and going straight to Lagos. In those moments, looking for flights, I realised that the most important thing to me was my relationship with babe. I decided I wasn’t even coming to visit anymore — I was coming to stay. 

Right away, I bought containers and started throwing my belongings in it, but because I had been booking flights, I was low on cash so I couldn’t send my stuff to Nigeria. I was worried about it for a while but one day, on my way back from buying another container for my stuff, my neighbour saw me and asked if I was sending it to Nigeria. He said he was sending a bus to Nigeria and it was empty. He asked to ship my containers with his bus at no cost at all. I jumped on it even though Babe was skeptical. 

I carried our dog, Coco with me and jumped on that emergency flight within a week. There was a lot of news about flights getting cancelled so I was really anxious about the plane actually moving. When the pilot announced that we were ready to take off, I was on video call with Kelly and  just started crying. 

I am claustrophobic. I get bad panic attacks I take medication for on flights, but that day, I didn’t care. 

I remember coming out of the airport and seeing this beautiful, amazing person holding a bouquet of roses. In that moment, I didn’t even care that I was in Nigeria and people are homophobic; I ran to her and started kissing her. Everyone was looking at us. Some people even shouted. That’s how I moved here. I didn’t even tell people at my office I was moving. After two months they asked when I was coming back, and I was like, you’re never gonna see me again. LOL. 

Was there any pushback from your family when you moved?  

Bibi: My family knew about Kelly already. My brothers are her biggest fans. I didn’t want to tell anyone about it when I was planning my trip because flights kept getting canceled, and I didn’t want to put my family through that roller coaster. 

After I boarded, I called my brothers and told them I’m going to Nigeria. They asked if I was going to be safe, and when I said yes, they said they understood and they loved us. When I got to Nigeria, I called my mom and the first question she asked was, “Where is Kelly?” I handed Kelly the phone. When she confirmed I was safe, she said alright, bye. They knew I was in good hands. 

What’s the best part of the relationship?

Kelly: I have a friend. I know it sounds silly. I was telling her this morning that I never had someone I could be this open and honest with. We’ve been in a relationship for four years, and I’ve grown so much that it’s not just about us being partners, it’s about our friendship. Every morning I wake up and I’m excited to hang out with my friend. 

Bibi: Aww. I have always been in relationships where I put everything in and didn’t get anything back. The best part of this is the matched energy. When we started talking, I told her every single thing about myself, even the embarrassing stuff. She was like my diary — I could go to her and pour everything that I feel without filters. Even when I do something wrong, I am able to tell her honestly how I fucked up and that’s very special to me. 

What was your worst fight like? 

Bibi: We’ve been in a relationship for so long but in reality, we haven’t because we haven’t been in the same space for a long time. Long distance relationships are perfect because conversations happen over the phone. I could call her when I’m upset and she would cheer me up, but she doesn’t get to see me on days I’m overwhelmed. When we started living together, we would have fights because we didn’t know certain things about each other. We got to a point where we believed that we were not compatible and decided to break up. I was going to move back to Canada and we were asking who was going to get the dog among both of us. It was a big deal, but she went on a walk and when she came back, we started crying. 

After a while, we talked about why we were crying. It turned out we both really wanted to be the relationship. We accepted that we didn’t have to be the exact same person we were over the phone — we could evolve, and we had to put in the work for the relationship to work. 

Do you remember what caused the fight? 

Kelly: On my way to the gym, I was using my phone. I recently started driving and Bibi always tells me to leave my phone alone. That day, I hit someone with the car. It made a small dent. 

Bibi: Don’t add small or big o. Just tell the story. 

Kelly: I tell Babe everything, but I knew that one would make her upset. One day, she saw the dent and asked me what happened. I told her I didn’t know how to say it because she would be upset. She said I didn’t know her. I didn’t understand. I thought it was about the dent, which was a small thing to me. 

Bibi: Driving distracted is huge to me because my brother died from an accident. When that happened, I felt betrayed. It wasn’t about the dent. I was worried that Kelly had something that she couldn’t tell me. I didn’t understand that she didn’t want to let me down. I didn’t see it from that angle — I was more concerned she kept it a secret. She was like, “It’s a car, I’ll fix it,” and I said it wasn’t about the dent. That’s how we started talking about how we don’t know each other. 

What is your favourite thing about your relationship? 

Kelly: I love how she makes my food. Babe is obsessed with how she serves her food. With her, it’s not just rice; she would have other things on the side like eggs, plantain in cute shapes that make it more interesting. Those little details are my favorite thing about being with her. 

Bibi: I have been through so much in my life. There are stories I don’t tell people, but since the first day I met this person, she has never judged me. I would tell her something shocking and wait for her reaction. Instead of judging me, she would say it’s okay. She would never bring it up again. She would assure me that I am a human being and I am allowed to live. If someone else brings it up around her, she would defend me. 

Another thing is that I live with a mental health issue. Anytime I have episodes, she would cry and ask God to put it on her. When I had COVID, she wanted to get it too because she didn’t want me to be alone in it. I told her you’re going to die o. Her getting it wouldn’t have done anything for me, but the fact that she didn’t want me to walk through it alone was everything. 

Rate your relationship on a scale of 1 – 10.

Kelly: 10. It’s not like we’re perfect, but we are us. 

Bibi: When it comes to relationships, a lot of people try to portray perfection, but queer relationships are so different. I was taught how to behave in a man’s house, but now I’m in a woman’s house and those rules don’t apply. 

I rate it a 10 because it’s not perfect, but I don’t want it to be because I feel like perfect is fake. Those hiccups we face helps me understand her more.  

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