I'm in Lagos Nigeria at the Farafina Trust Workshop. Though I'm a writer, I can't quite find the right words to use to describe how great this workshop is. Our teacher/goddess is Chimamanda Adichie. I've joined her cult. She is amazing in so many ways- beautiful, humble, generous, laser intelligent, fantastic teacher and very, very funny. I'm having a series of epiphanies about my writing that started with the reading of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao a couple weeks ago and being reinforced by what I'm learning here. I know the writer me that returns to Botswana in a few weeks will be different from the one that left six days ago (is it only six days?), I suspect the person me won't be the same either.
The other amazing part of this workshop is the talented, interesting participants. This morning for one of our writing exercises I wrote the small passage below:
She speaks of fingering and blow jobs and I think of differences. If I think back some weeks ago when I sat in my wintry office in Botswana and got the news I would be going to Lagos, to Nigeria, it seems a mental year ago. I try to remember what I thought Nigerians would be like. Religious- ala Prophet Joshua. Loud. Patriarchal. Conservative. And, oddly, in my mind everyone wore green like their flag and their football team. I wasn’t sure it would be easy for me to find friends here, people I’d have anything in common with. In any case, it was all about the writing, I told myself. I was going to Nigeria to learn how to write properly and that was all that mattered.
And the beautiful, sexy but somehow still innocent Buchi speaks about anal sex and nipple touching and I think about difference and actually, maybe more than that, similarities. Nigerians, I find, are very liberal, more than most Batswana, and free to speak about anything, and everything. In five days I’ve had conversations about sex and HIV/AIDS, the obsoleteness of the male species, discussions about politics and the adrenaline rush of being part of a mad mob. Crazy, free conversations like those I have at home with my husband and kids and friends. I expected to find strangeness here, but I was wrong, and the hope that has given me, may end up being the most valuable thing I take home.