It’s been months since I posted the last chronicle and I’d like to sincerely apologize for my prolonged silence.
I haven’t stopped traveling. Truth is I’ve been so critical of my writing lately, silently comparing my words to that of friends who are prolific writers. Paralyzed awfully by fear of not being good enough that I have many unfinished drafts but no published posts.
“So what if you’re not good enough?” A question kindly asked by Fu’ad played in a constant loop in my head. It is because of Fu’ad, my new friend, I have mustered a trailer load of acceptance to share this long overdue piece.
In Fuad I saw the male version of myself. Only unashamed of his imperfections, soaring easy on the wings of self acceptance. And freedom. I like to dance but held bound and afraid of what people would think, I stay rooted to my chair. Not him, Fuad creates the music and dances on like there’s no one watching.
This man is so brave that he ignored dire warnings to start an expedition around Nigeria, through all 36 States in a stretch. He chose to brace the dilapidated death traps called roads in the South East; sailed across Niger Delta waters tainted by ethnic militia, anarchy and oil spills; cut through the once vibrant agricultural region of North Eastern Nigeria now overrun by terrorist group Boko Haram. That he did that and even allowed me, a total stranger, join an exploration so grand is something that’s earned him superhero status in my books. I also owe him for this new-found clarity.
I joined the team of three – Fuad, JesuLoba and Chris – midway at Yankari Game Reserve, Bauchi State in North Western Nigeria. Here, Fuad and I spent a lot of time walking the game reserve grounds sharing life. It was one of those uncanny encounters because we had only met in person on the night of my arrival. All our earlier communication was limited to social media banter. But somehow Yankari provided us a safe place for vulnerability.
The trees at Yankari were sparse and between them grass sprouted out of the earth in tussocks. Wrapped up in the warmth of Mother Nature’s embrace I could easily divulge my innermost self doubts. As fluid as the blue waters of the warm wiki springs, my doubts flowed out of my head into a pool of acceptance.
“You can only get better by reading and writing more”, said Fu’ad as we watched a Dog Face Baboon attempt to steal food from a guest chalet. “As much as you are your biggest critic, find room to appreciate how far you’ve come. It can only get better if you keep trying.”
I bet I’m not the only person who needs to hear those words. A lot of times we brutally criticize ourselves that our self-esteem packs up a little box and vacates the premises. Going into the new year we need to stop entertaining crippling self-doubt, we owe ourselves more and imbibe a few lessons alongside self-acceptance:
What people will say is not your business
Dance even if you have two left feet. What Mr Can’t Mind His Business thinks of your impeccable dance moves shouldn’t concern you.
Keep friends like Fu’ad close
Sometimes we just need a little reassurance and encouragement. Friends and family who think you’re the best thing since sliced bread should be treasured. Nurture those relationships and on the really shitty days, draw strength and confidence from them.
This encounter happened in August but it took me five months to internalize the wisdom shared at Yankari Game Reserve and eventually click publish.
I hope you keep these words close to your heart, revisit them when crippling self-doubt rears its ugly head. It doesn’t matter how long it takes for you to believe in you.
Be assured it will happen.