Moving to Yola (When & Why?)
An opportunity to fulfill my dreams of career advancement and an opportunity to contribute directly to what I’ve been researching on for years came in form of a job offer in Yola. Leaving Ibadan for Yola meant leaving my comfort zone. My whole life had always been ‘Ibadan’ one way or the other. I was born in Ibadan and lived most of my life in Ibadan. I had my work, my law firm, family and friends in Ibadan and environs. In September 2016, I left Ibadan and moved to Yola. Prior to my relocation my work hinged majorly on child marriage and girl child education.
Life in Yola
Being a Muslim, I had my reservations about having to comply with the ‘supposed’ rules of North-East (I was of the impression that what the media reports were absolutely true). I was surprised to see that Yola is a mixed society with churches and mosques everywhere with an amazing acceptable level of tolerance and understanding. There is the freedom to wear whatever you want without being hounded.
The people are eager to assist you and will go a long way to make you feel comfortable, just like Ibadan people. Three years and counting, there are things that I have come to love. I marvel at how warm and receptive the people of Yola are. For instance, I needed to get a place to make my daughter’s hair and a lady from work offered to pick her every weekend to the salon and bring her back. She was doing this till I found my way around the town.
Secondly, I needed to get a particular item in the market one day and I was surprised when the person I asked for direction left his shop and took me to the exact place where I could get what I wanted. They are never in a hurry in this town, unlike the kind of rush and urgency I was used to (though not comparable to Lagos). There are the ill sides too such as reference to me as a Yoruba Muslim and the expectation to be able to speak Hausa within 3 months of living in the North.
Weather in Yola makes you crave for that Ibadan warmth – everything about Yola weather is extreme. At 6:30am the sun is up and blinding. You know that kind of heavy rainfall that still comes with heat and not the cold feeling you’re used to, that’s what rainfall is like in Yola.
Harmattan is something else. All these are bearable till you get to March-May. That’s the kind of heat you can never get used to. As in 46oC! The good thing is I minimize my exposure. AC coupled with fan at its highest and enough intake of water had been my bailout so far.
I love the clean air and the feel of nature around me. This is a green environment with less toxic pollution. The air is so clean and there is less noise pollution unlike what we have in the South West. This is actually a beautiful place to live.
I was shocked at the level of subtle discrimination with the classification of Yoruba Muslim, Hausa Christian, Fulani this and Bachama that, even among the elites. Initially that angered me but I’ve come to realize that, as humans, we are all entitled to our opinions and I’ve learnt to live with whatever peoples’ opinions of me are. I am not the type to correct opinions.
However I learnt from this experience that this is a major cause of ethnic crisis in this country. We have to learn to accept the fact that nobody has control over his/her tribe or the family we are born into. We have to accept the fact that we are humans and born equal before any other thing that we are on earth. This all comes down to perceptions!
Having served my fatherland in Kaduna, I understand basic Hausa but it’s frustrating when you go to a public office and they start talking to you in Hausa. When you tell them to speak English the first thing they ask is ‘how long have you lived here for?’ There’s the expectation that you should be able to speak when you’ve lived in the North for 3 months and above.
It could be frustrating when you have to deal with someone that neither speaks English nor pidgin. You have to resort to sign language plus the little Hausa I can speak. A particular experience was when I enrolled for a course and one of the lecturers deliver half of his lecture in Hausa. When you protest, he just ignores you. I had to resort to self-study. However an average person on the street is always more than willing to interpret for you.
Being a lawyer in Yola, I was shocked that the legal system here does not measure up to the standard in the South. I mean courts still use typewriters for orders and judgement. I still cannot get over that. The whole process here is completely different. I can only compare it to the 90s in the South.
How Yola Has Changed Me
Yola has had some great impacts in my life. Living here has brought me peace and healing. I’ve rediscovered myself and found every reason to want to live life. Above all, my daughter so loves it here so I couldn’t ask for more but be grateful to Almighty Allah for this opportunity of diversity.
What I Miss the Most about Home?
I miss everything about Ibadan. Those things we take for granted. My private practice, my friends and family, my volunteer programs and those occasional amala hangout with friends. Anytime I’m in Ibadan, I always wish I could pause the time and maximise the stay.
Ibadan would forever be home.
If you presently reside away from home and would like to share your experiences of life away from home, I would like to work with you to share your story on the #AwayFromHome series. Send an email to me at email@example.com