Special days… today or everyday?

#Africa Dayby Lian OkolieMay 25th, 2020

Africa Day

Now I'm not one for all these bank holidays, valentines day this, mothers day that. Since I got older even christmas made its way unto that list. Not because I can’t love, don’t have faith or don't have kids, on the contrary. I just feel you should be able to feel and demonstrate anything you demonstrate on specific days all year round.

Maybe the reason I feel this way is because I don’t regularly receive gifts on said days unless I do some reminding. Till date I haven't received a mother's day gift. I do get a regular message from my eldest but that's about it. There's no... ‘don’t worry stay in bed, I ‘ll take care of the kids today’. To be fair, which is part of my point, Brice does do that on other days when I’m tired or when he's not working. But today made me think about the whole concept and I realised it's not all bad... I guess.

Having a day set aside to commemorate certain things especially in this day and age when we can often get overloaded by deadlines, weighed down by our workload and/or inundated with stress. If people can pay attention to dates (yes Brice I’m talking to you. The kids are too young, can't blame them) it could work. But don’t feel like you need to stop expressing joy and gratitude on other days too.

Another thing that made me think twice about this whole special day thing is today, the 25th of May 2020. Africa day. For some reason it coincides with Memorial day in America (a day to remember). And it has led me to think and remember my history.

I’m embarrassed to say I don't know much about my Nigerian history. I'm clued up on tradition and culture. But certain aspects of my history are fleeting memories that I find it hard to capture and retain.

I know when my mum came to london I know, my dad drove a cab to help pay his way through University. I know where my parents are from, I’ve been there (albeit not for a long while, but i’ve been there). Things like that. But when it comes to the reason why they left, or how they left Nigeria and got to the uk, I have no idea. I do know it had a lot to do with the Biafran War but the actual details elude me.

When I was about 10, I remember my mum; aunties; uncles; and grandparents would tell stories a lot when we had family gatherings e.g birthdays, christmas etc. Sadly the stories didn’t stick. I only remember snippets. One thing I do remember is, during the war, all my aunties and uncles were separated and sent to live with family friends etc. My grandparents got to london somehow then eventually came back for their kids. Now it's all those gaps that need to be filled in. The how’s, when’s and why’s.

The other day my aunty was talking to my cousins and myself about the fact that there is a story to be told. She said we should find out about it, especially what happened in Nigeria before they left the country. And I guess since I haven't really paid much attention to Africa Day, this would be a good time to start. Now don’t get me wrong Africa day is not the day I find out about my history. But this year I will say thank you to Africa Day. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to remember… to delve deep into my history, in order to understand it more before it’s too late. Sadly my mum is no longer with us but I do still have my dad, as well as aunties and uncles who I can still go to for that information.

Yes I am african, I am african everyday, Nigerian to be precise. but thank you for giving me the opportunity to remember to look back. I’m not sure what Africa day means to you, but for the first time, this is what it means to me.

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