Sunday, 17 July 2011

So my hubby was going home! His first homecoming for fifteen years and he was both excited and nervous at the same time! It would have changed for him.

Amongst the Igbo's are strong bonds of kinship and brotherhood as evidenced in the maintenance of cultural groups, town unions and community development associations in distant lands wherever they are. Though Igbo's may be widely travelled, they do have a strong home coming mentality. Many towns where Igbo's stay in Diaspora usually feel homesick during the festive periods of Christmas when they all go home to their various villages to celebrate with family and friends. Some communities observe a mandatory mass return every three years. This is a chance for the people to take stock, get to know each other again and, of course, receive the blessings of their ancestors for the coming year‟s challenges

The village of Nteje in Anambra State is my husband's 'village'. Now don't get me wrong when I say village. An African village is a very different thing to the UK village it is made up of some 10,000 people. That does not include those in Diaspora. Therefore, whilst I am in Nigeria I am under the protective custody of every Igbo person there as is their way. So I should be very safe indeed.

You see in Igbo culture I have not just married my husband but his family and the whole community. I am, therefore, known as 'our wife'. The more I come into contact with indiginous Igbo's the more I come to fully appreciate my husband's upbringing. They say it takes a whole village to raise a child and that is true whether in the homeland or in Diaspora for an African. To think that so many people want only the best for you is difficult to comprehend for a simple Oyibo (white person) like me. I once asked my husband what does it feel like to be surrounded by so much love? His answer; very reassuring and comforting.

Occasionally I get glimpses of this in the way I have been welcomed and accepted into the culture, for all intents and purposes I am now Igbo and Nigerian to boot and known as 'our wife'. I hear the cries of horror from my Oyibo sisters as they automatically think that I will become second class or have to walk 10 steps behind my put your mind at ease the Igbo's worship their women and treat them with the utmost respect. Wives and mothers play a very important part in the Igbo culture and are not only equal in status but revered. Igbo men are very generous and loving and the family is everything to him. He will pay very close attention to his role within the family and is very hands on. The average age seems to be about 30-35 for an Igbo man to find a bride. He takes the task of finding a bride very seriously indeed and will take his time finding the right person to settle down with. Not surprising then that divorce is rare in Igbo society as once he has married he concentrates on providing for his wife and family and this becomes his raison d'etre.

A girl could do a lot worse than choosing an Igbo man but be prepared to get to grips with the culture and make frequent trips to his homeland.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Before we can get to all that lovely travelling there is the preparing to do....and boy oh boy is there a lot.

Vaccinations alone are an issue. I think we have to have every shot bar one and that including Rabies. Best be safe than sorry though! Hubby isn't too impressed as he's not keen on having shot as he has a needle phobia. Hey ho...he'll thank me for it when he's bitten by a leopard or some wild animal!

On top of that we have to think about sunscreen. I've bought shed loads of Factor 50 and Factor 30 deciding that the Factor 50 should be ok and when I take a tan that Factor 30 is a must for the time we are out there. I've also bought plenty of Deet bug spray to protect us from the nasty mossie's and an additional mossie net to be sure. The tents will have them but I'm not sure what condition they will be in so i'd rather have double protection thank you.

Next on my list is a decent hat...noooo not the type you wear on Blackpool beach but something robust and that will let the air flow through and can be dampend down for added cooling in the harsh desert sun. I have also invested in a scarf that looks like a tube as this will be useful for protecting my head and shoulders from the sun and for when we are in Muslim areas I can cover up out of respect.

Shoes are a big problem. I can't carry shoes for every occasion boohoo. So i've decided to take a pair of walking sandals which are practical but not the nicest looking things. I can then buy things as we travel.

Any clothes that we take need to be easy to wash and dry and minimum iron but also keep me cool during the day. I've decided to take a tracksuit for sleeping in as it's very cold at night and can be frosty in the desert.I think given the severity of the sun it may be wise to take something to cover me when wearing a costume...not least because time has taken it's toll and I am no longer a lithe teenager for jumping about in a scanty bikini on beach days! My excuse is sun protection at all times! The Muslim bathing costume shown here is looking very appealing just now!

It seems sensible to take a mixture of shorts (knee length) to hide the chubby legs and longer ones for the evening to stop the mossie's biting and also if we are in Muslim areas. I plan to buy a lot of local clothes on the way as I am sure they will be cheap and practical.

I will take my Naija national dress though as I love getting the opportunity to wear this and buy more when I hit Ghana...there is a definite elegance and style and you can basically design the outfit yourself, although I need to be more adventurous with this.

Add on to all that a first aid kit, cameras and bits and pieces we will soon exceed our 10kg limit each in the rucksack!