China – August, 2014
Being mobbed at school by students when they saw a black person for the first time —
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Being blatantly stared at, and photographed without my permission —
*** CHECK ***
Community service trip where local kids flocked me to touch my locks —
* CHECK *CHECK* CHECK *
School Counselor, Mekisha Hugh, described moving to China in August, 2014 as: ‘Two of the most challenging years of my life.’ I already stand out being a black woman, but add having a full figure and dreadlocks and it multiplies times ten.
There were times when I just wanted to be left alone. Times when I wish they’d see me as more of a living, breathing person and less of an object, but after a while I got immune to the attention and simply ignored it. I focused my energy on my students and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. There was even one class that I taught patois and one day I heard a little boy telling another one at the back: “Yuh too badmind.”
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In 2016, I decided not to renew my contract and relocate. I figured, if I could survive China, I could survive anywhere in the world. So, I moved to Africa.
Nigeria – August, 2016
I’d always had the desire to live in Africa, but I always imagined it would be somewhere in Ghana. Nigeria wasn’t even on my mind, but when I got there it was a pleasant surprise as it was nothing more than a bigger version of Jamaica.
Abuja, the capital, had the vibes of a city while reminding me a lot of Mandeville. Lagos, on the other hand, gave me a Kingston vibe. Both nations have great weather with beautiful palm trees. The only thing missing from Nigeria was the beauty of our Jamaican beaches.
I enjoyed living in Nigeria for the mere fact that I could still eat a typical Jamaican diet. Breadfruit was in abundance in many areas; however, Nigerians will wait until the fruit rots then, they remove and roast the seeds and discard the rest.
When I tell my Nigerian friends what we do with breadfruit back in Jamaica they’re shocked.
Ackee trees can also be found in several neighborhoods. Nigerians think they are poisoned so they do not eat them. They call me crazy when they see me picking them.
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They love yam though. They roast it as well as eat it in a mash called fufu/swallow. They do not boil it and eat it with other ground provisions like we do.
I met some wonderful people in Nigeria, but another reason why my stay was exciting was the sole reason that it gave me ample opportunity to date.
THE LOVE STORY
I met my boyfriend on the same flight I took to Nigeria. He was seated beside me and kept pestering me by turning off my TV screen. Finally, I got really annoyed and slapped him. That slap lead to the start of a beautiful relationship that I will tell you about on Wednesday or Thursday … definitely Sunday.
Till then, subscribe to get stories of my experiences as a black woman living in Japan or stories of Jamaicans jaminating a ya’ad & abroad. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on FB & IG.
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