It was a humid night in Nigeria on New Years Eve, 1994. I, as a young Nigerian boy, was doing my usual everyday chores for my dad, cleaning up around the house, and doing other things for my sickly mother, who had not eaten in days. We had never been a well-off family, and or middle class family. We were poor, and lived in the slums of Uyo, Nigeria. It was a very, very violent place to live, as everyone around us were just as poor. A lot of times people went so far as to kill each other for a bite to eat.
The place scarred me for life, the smell, the violence, the poverty, the hunger, every aspect of the place frightened me. The place definitely left a huge lasting impression on me. Even as a fifteen year US citizen, the place still haunts me too this day.
Anyway, my family had absolutely no plans with anyone else besides us. We had been saving all year, and we planned to make 1995 a year for innovation in the Aduba family. We were planning to have a few large pieces of meat, one large piece of bread, and some vegetables for me, my mom, my dad, and my six other siblings. We were way too poor to afford a good, solid meal everyday, and my mom often didn’t eat too save food for us kids.
It was a very dark time in our lives. The day was a drag as I was so excited for the upcoming feast. I could smell the meat being prepared by my dad, a skilled butcher and craftsman.
My mom didn’t work, she was a stay at home mother, preparing food, and taking care of my other siblings. Eventually the time finally came. The temperature had cooled, and humidity subsided.
There was a still breeze outside, and the sun had just finished gradually descending off of the horizon. The time was near for the food to be passed out, and to change our ways in the new year, as a family. I then recall waiting what seemed like forever, until the food was finally handed out to all of us eagerly waiting at the table. Mom, and my two sisters came swiftly marching into the dining room of our 525 square foot home, with humble smiles on their faces. They set the food down on the table, we said a prayer, and then dug in. The food was unlike anything I had ever tasted before in my entire life. The meat, so perfectly prepared.
The vegetables, rich and tasteful, and the bread was amazing as well. Everything was perfect, the food, the smiles, we were having a great time. We simply spent New Years together as a family. Eventually we had finished eating, and it was time to lay my head down too rest. The feeling of not going to bed hungry for once in my life was indescribable, and I couldn’t believe how amazing sleeping with a full stomach was.
Truly New Years 1995, was the best New Years of my entire life in Nigeria, and definitely one of my most memorable. Sadly, that day was one of my few positive memories from my days when I resided in Nigeria.