To inaugurate my blogging adventure, I’d like to present a series of essays I wrote during a critical eight months of my life in Nigeria, between 2006 and 2007. I had traveled there to carry out my dissertation research. Much of it was spent in my hometowns of Benin City and Warri, with short periods in Ibadan and Lagos. I use the word “hometowns,” because I spent my childhood in these cities. My family left in the mid-1980s, when the military coups were ramping up in frequency and violence, and life had become unbearable for many families. Since our departure, the United States has become my home, but I still have a sense of rootedness in Nigeria. My relationship with Nigeria, and with the Niger Delta more specifically, is complex and complicated. This complexity informs how I move in the world, not claiming to be from any one place while feeling at home in several. This sense of multiple belongings has become a typical mode of being for many people living in the twenty-first century, so my experience is certainly not unique. My awareness of this sensibility was provoked regularly during those eight months between 2006 and 2007, and the essays that follow reflect my observations and ruminations during that time.
I originally sent these essays to a group of close family and friends through emails. It was the most efficient way to send things from Nigeria at the time, where internet connectivity was patchy and electricity was not reliable. The series was not very thoughtfully called “Diaries of a Mad Wanderer” (or DMW), and it was structured as a series of journal entries. I had plenty of down time, and saw so much each day that I documented my experience with great commitment and discipline. What follows are edited versions of these original journal entries, shared with loved ones.