Uncontested Belonging

In The Guardian Comment blog, Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has a post about her love for Nigeria, despite of, or perhaps because of, all the problems she sees:

The road is full of huge potholes and I get a little jumpy, and wonder what it takes to fill them up. This is why religion is a thriving business: people travel from a town to another without a mishap and it becomes a miracle, a testimony in church, another reason to give money to the pastor.

We stop to buy a newspaper. The major headline is of another man who has been arrested by the anti-corruption body, EFCC. We wonder what he has done to offend the president; everybody knows the EFCC investigates people with who, as we say, the president has a quarrel.

On the back page, there is the fiery face of the leader of the Nigerian Labour Congress, a man I much admire, who quaintly calls himself “comrade”. The federal government has decided to sack 33,000 workers, a “right-sizing” they say, rather than a downsizing. There is a resigned bitterness in my parents’ tone when we talk about this. They are retired university staff, both owed years of pensions. Now they are paid 60% of their pensions each month. Last month, they went for a verification exercise, where poor and unpaid pensioners were made to travel to Enugu and stand in the sun for hours to be counted, to prove that they were not “ghost” pensioners. Two men died after that. One was a lecturer, the other was an electrician at the university who had often done the electrical work in our house. Yet as our car swerves to avoid the potholes on the road, I think how I love being home. I love this flawed place. I love that this is where my belonging is least contested; this is where I care the deepest.

Adichie’s new novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, comes out in the U.S. in the fall.