Recently at an event, I shared my story and how I celebrate my two cultures - Nigerian and German. From when I was eighteen months old to the age of fifteen, I lived in Kaduna, a lovely city in northern Nigeria.
I am continuing my journey with this appreciation of a country that taught me a lot and contributed to who I am today. In this blog post, I will share the top 10 principles Nigeria taught me that prepared me well for life.
#1: Appreciate your community
I grew up in a mid-sized extended family and a large community. I have so many lovely memories with people I'm related to and others that were very close to my family. Often, I wasn’t sure who was a blood relative versus a very close family friend. The saying that it takes a village to raise a child was very evident in the way I grew up.
#2: Work with what you have
From observing the people around me growing up, I learned to be very resourceful. The concept of making the best with the resources that were available is one that I fully embody today. I know that I have something that can be used to make bigger things.
#3: Enjoy good food
My fondest childhood memories are associated to meals with my close and extended family. The times we spent together bonding over meals are engraved in my mind. Till today, I still love to cook and eat with my loved ones and friends. Nigerian food is definitely my go-to food.
#4: Be kind to everyone
In Kaduna where I grew up, almost everyone was connected in some way. We knew that if we met someone, we had to be nice to them because we never knew when our paths might cross again. On my journey so far, being kind and respectful has opened many doors and connected me to great people.
#5: Share what you have
The ability to share with people around me is one that I learned from the great examples I observed. Growing up, many people were open to sharing food, space, knowledge, and experiences. Seeing the sacrifices others made for me, I’m happy to share with people around me today.
#6: Laugh a lot
My smile and laughter are deeply rooted in my Nigerian upbringing. When I think back to my favorite moments growing up, there was a lot of laughter. One thing I carefully guard today is my happiness.
#7: Celebrate life events
It seemed like there was always a party or celebration around us. Whether it was births, weddings, graduations, birthdays, there were many occasions and reasons to celebrate. In my life today, I have translated this principle into celebrating achievements as much as I can.
#8: Appreciate diversity
Growing up in Kaduna, I had the unique opportunity to be surrounded by people from different regions of Nigeria. I learned how to respect different languages, food, religions and cultural norms. Going on to live in different countries, I have been able to build upon the solid foundation I had.
#9: Be positive and hopeful
As I make progress in life, I appreciate the lesson I learned about being hopeful. My faith continuously fuels my aspiration for a better future and hope that everything will work out for good.
#10: Be a strong woman
In my family and community, many strong women worked hard to cater to their families. They were a core inspiration for the woman I am today. I'm very fortunate to have had some great role models in my life.