My Nigerian Experience – Ljiljana Kostic

It is a general knowledge that countries outside of the African continent receive very biased, skewed and limited information; and therefore, have inadequate knowledge about what life is really like here. The western world is fed with images of poverty, epidemics, crime, underdevelopment and just a glance of beautiful Safaris and animals.

When I decided to relocate to Nigeria, the unpleasant images dominated my expectation. To my greatest surprise, Nigeria demystified those stereotypes. The beauty of its complexity and diversity is enchanting and breathtaking.  Nigeria has it all! Living here is akin to exploring several countries at once.

There is nothing you can’t find in Nigeria!  From the ancient tribes living in huts to the lavish modern houses, the fanciest cars, the highest levels of education…Nigeria is endowed with mountains, beaches, rainforest, desert, amazing nature, and diverse people; Creative youths, the most beautiful fashion, nightlife, culture, incredible arts…Nigeria has it all! Nigeria is a country of contrasts.

I must confess that I was amazed at my first arrival in the capital, Abuja; what a beautiful city!  It really is no different than any European capital or city in the United States of America.  It is a place with opportunity for all.  I am amazed to see how people from every part of Nigeria, ranging from different States, cultures, tribes, religions live in peace and harmony.  I was also surprised that the city donned with so many architectural styles that you get overwhelmed with a feeling of traversing several continents at once. I learned that previous governments contracted western and local companies to design and develop the Abuja; Asians, Turkish, American and other nationalities equally contributed towards the creation of this first-class city. 

My initial plan was to stay in Nigeria for a year, but I quickly became “trapped” by Nigerian “magic”.  The stories of Nigerian history, tribes, culture, beliefs and languages lured and enticed me.  The beautiful nature, amazing arts, and creativity have become a part of me. In Abuja, I get to enjoy arts, theatre, fashion shows, supermarkets, dining, and business but also still be part of Nigerian culture, traditions, and history.

What I definitely love the most about Nigeria are the people! Happy Nigerian people! The people are welcoming and have accepted me as their own and are always happy to help, chat, work with and interact with me. In their usual hospitable nature, they have given me a Nigerian name, a title and taught me everything about their customs and traditions. The resilient Nigerian people, who no matter what happen in their country, remain strong, positive, faithful and happy. The strength and resilience of Nigerian people are immeasurable; their tenacious belief is so fascinating that they can certainly teach other nationalities a thing or two about persistence.

I am often asked why I love Nigeria. How is one supposed to answer that question? It is just like being asked why you love your husband, or mother or a best friend. All the things we love have faults, but we love them despite. We see something in them that others don’t. We love the way they make us feel.  I love the smell of Nigeria. I can’t explain the smell, but I know I love it. I love how green it is and all the incredible, unknown sorts of trees and plants that grow here despite the intense heat during the dry season.  I love the laugh of its people, their songs and the way they dance even when there is no music playing.  I love the colours of their traditional clothes as much as I love the colours of the sky above Nigeria- always new, unexpected, perfect blends.  I love the loud and exciting way Nigerians celebrate God, full of faith, but are still afraid of “juju” magic. Nigerian people are warm, loving, caring and full of life. There are so many intelligent, creative and talented people here, it is amazing!

I have found a second home here. Nigeria and its people have given me so much and I always try to give back as much as possible.

This year, I have decided to use my voice and my blog www.lilianakstory.com and Instagram profile liliana_k_story  to show people abroad what Nigeria is really like and all the beauties it possesses. I want them to see that life here can be amazing and that Nigeria is so much more than the negative stories that we watch on Television and the internet.  I want them to see another side of Nigeria: nature, the culture, the education, the traditions, the history, fun and amazing people.

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