I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Patricia Machele Daboh, and I am an African American woman. Recently, I married a wonderful Nigerian man in Apapa, Lagos, Nigeria. When I flew to Lagos, Nigeria on December 31, 2006, it was the first time I had ever flown, it was the first time I had traveled out of the country, it was the first time I had not been surrounded by my family or friends, and it was the first time I had taken a chance to marry a man that I did not met in person prior to the wedding. We met over a Christian dating service. When I met him, I had been communicating with someone else, who presented himself as being Nigerian also. He was not the man he presented himself to be, and I was getting over that relationship, and then came my husband, who first, became a dear friend. Prior to my communicating with a Nigerian man over the internet, I had not spoken to one before, I had not really heard about Nigeria’s reputation for being credited with many dubious schemes, and I had not even considered marrying outside of my race.Yet, my husband won my heart with his kindness, love, and friendship.
Of course, when I told my relatives about my engagement to a Nigerian man, whom I had never met, who lived over 5,000 miles from me, they started telling me, in detail, many horror stories about woman flying to met men who presented themselves to be one thing and turned out to be another. I was met with much resistance. My relationship with my Nigerian fiancé was not was encouraged by family or friends at first. Family and friends took it upon themselves to constantly quote something new they had heard about a Nigerian. I understood their apprehension, for after all, prior to meeting my husband, I had been lied to by another Nigerian man. Yet, there was something real and special about my husband, and I was going to take a chance on love and life. I finally had to put my foot down by letting people know that I was going to marry him, for it was my life, and if no one had anything positive to say, then do not say anything at all about my decision. Once my family and friends realized that I was serious about marrying him, they backed off with their comments, and I know prayers were going up on my behalf.
When I arrived in Lagos, Nigeria, I felt as though I had stepped out of 2007 and back hundreds of years. Observing Nigerian men, women, and children carrying buckets of water on their heads was amazing to me. Seeing howvery few, if any, traffic lights or signs to direct traffic in an orderly fashion was a surpriseto me. I had been to New York a few times, but the crowds in New York did not compare to the multitudes I saw in Lagos, Nigeria. The public transportation, which consisted of mainly poorly maintenanced yellow buses with doors missing and mufflers that had thick, black smoke billowing out of them, was shocking. In America, those types of buses would not be allowed on the street, and yet, Nigerians crammed into the buses eagerly to catch a ride to their destination.In the countryside surrounding Lagos, Nigeria, I saw Nigerian men urinating openly in public, as well as one woman who squatted down and urinated too. Mothers bathed their children openly in public in a tub, and woman walked around without and with a bra on in public. The market place was a constant wonder to me, for it was always crowded and bursting with action. I had read where Lagos, Nigeria lacked good sanitation systems, but what I did not realize was that they had to get rid of the trash some way, and that way was to burn it on the sides of the roads. I wondered what that type of pollution would do to someone’s lungs year after year. I was not use to seeing policemen stand across the roadway with large weapons in their hands. In America, we would see this if the “SWAT” team was called in to subdue a situation, but it would not be a daily occurrence.
I found the Nigerian people to be beautiful, humble, loving, and kind. What I had not anticipated was to see the level of poverty, which plaques Nigerian people. Lord, my heart broke to see the conditions of many of the people. Many of my new relatives were very eager to learn about America and asked questions about the way we live from day to day. Many were surprised that we do not have our electricity turned off on a regular basis like they do.
I love my Nigerian husband very much, and I am eagerly waiting for his arrival. Recently, just last week, I received the approval notice for he and my stepson to come to America. Of course, he must undergo interview procedures in Nigeria, but at least they have been approved on this end.
I also love Nigeria. Now that I have been there, seen my brothers and sisters suffering and struggles, I will never be the same. I cannot just come back home and simply forget what my eyes saw, ears heard, and heart felt.
I read almost anything I can get my hands on about Nigeria. I order Nigerian movies, for they make me feel close to the people there. I pray for a better Nigeria, a peaceful Nigeria, a prosperous Nigeria, and a well-ruled Nigeria. Although I am African American, I feel Nigeria coursing through my veins and heart, for it has touched the core of my being. I really love Nigeria—even with all of its imperfections—it is still beautiful to me!