I HATE Charlotte!!!
Many of my friends already know how much I hate Charlotte North Carolina and how much I dread going there. It is like every trip I take to Charlotte, I get more reasons added to the list of why I hate the damned place, but family obligations force me back most, if not all that time. It is a very long story that goes back to the 1966, when the first man from Ekwe (my village) decided to attend college in this town. That was Uncle Obinna, who gets a lot of heat from his age-mates for not having fought in the Biafran War. It is so funny sometimes when he and his brothers, my other uncles get into an argument, the other party always throws in more punch when they say something in igbo like, "e gbala egbe" (have you shot a gun before) or "I gara agha/ I luru ogu" ( did you go to war?). They always say he ran away to college to avoid fighting and this would get him a bit upset and only escalate the ensuing drama, especially because it is usually his junior brothers, Uncle Mark and my dad who use it as ammunition.
The war came, millions killed and many villages in the east destroyed, but as nature would have it, my well situated village, in the middle of nowhere was safe. The only sign of war, as I was told during our regular 'Biafra Briefings' was when villagers would go to collect their children's' soldier pay from Uncle George, who was like a pay-officer, and when my dad, a lieutenant or colonel or something to that effect would bring a military truck with food for the starving folks.
Meanwhile, Uncle Obinna was concoting other plans. He decided to enroll my dad in college, so in 1970, my father came. From that point on my destiny was sealed and Charlotte would become my village away from my village as every person who made the journey to America decided to put up tent here, with the exception of some very smart individuals (my cousins in Texas)
There are almost 100 relatives of mine who live in Charlotte now and boy do they know how to be dramatic. In fact, I think when they talk about Greek drama and Shakespeare without talking about Adaure's Family, they are doing the world a disservice. Right from the day I was born, I was enrolled in drama school with my relatives being the teachers. That's probably how I learnt how to be a drama queen. There are so many stories that if I decided to move to Nigeria and get into Nollywood, I'll beat the record by churning 'high quality' home videos once everyday. There would be titles like Wicked Aunty, Lost Brother, Evil Brother, Nene and the masquerade Part 1, Nene and the Masquerade Part 2-The revenge of the Masquerade, Nene and the Masquerade part 3: Wrong Clothes, Black Python, Green Mamba, Oso Abiola: June 12 Migration, 7 Year Silence, The War of the Red Cap Chiefs, 2 Kings, The Proposal, Forbidden River, Forbidden Mango, Forbidden Love, Landed Property, Not in My House, The Bazaar, the Mourning, The Curse, Night Vigil, Ichuafo (or New Year's Eve), August Break, Village Meeting, The Palmwine Tapper, Women's Dance, Socialite, Electric Pole, Razor Blade, I.M(Ima Mmadu/Connections),The Born Agains, just to name a few. And if we ever had a deal with the Soap Channel it would be called St. Andrews (after the church in the Mission)
We never lack entertainment in my family, be it in Charlotte or Nigeria. From people beefing over one thing or the other, to towing the lines of tradition and not to forget land issues and marriages. Yes this is normal in many igbo families, but we take it to another level, worthy of Oscars and Emmys.
But it's become a hectic chore for me as a young person in the midst of archaic attitudes. Sometimes I just feel like getting into a tirade of obscenities at some of them, but I just have to drink some cold water and keep on trucking. I have now found myself putting in to practice the things I learnt watching some adults, most of which is diplomacy. You can't survive in this family without diplomacy because you'ld become frustrated into getting diabetes or high-blood pressure. Diplomacy, coupled with vigilance, is the very core of survival where I come from, otherwise the '1st Biafran Civil War' would have started in my village before MASSOB (Movement of the Actualization of a sovereign State of Biafra) actualizes this imaginary country they call "the land where the sun sets.'
Having lived in Charlotte for two years surrounded and guarded by these relatives, the city for me has come to mean so much misery and anguish. This place holds so many bad memories and experiences(and they only keep growing) that those two years have been blocked out entirely, it would take a shrink to get it revived. Sometimes it is unexplainable,and people can't understand, how much I loathe this place and why I never ever forever ever want to move to or live in Charlotte in my whole life. Even if they are picking gold on the streets in Uptown, i'ld rather gather moss in the bushes of Orange and Chatham county. Charlotte unfortunately represents every thing bad, horrible and miserable in my life. Every bad decision, starting with that of coming here in the first place, knowing what I might face, was made or has to do with Charlotte. In fact Hurricane Katrina should have hit Charlotte, not New Orleans ( The people i'ld save know themselves, others not on the list can drink water and drown for all I care.) I should have followed my gut instincts and gotten back on a plane to Nigeria, when on my first day I hit my big toe against the door post, and later that same day tumbled from the top of the stairs holding a 2 weeks old baby. Every normal Nigerian would agree with me that those were some vital signs that I missed...not so?
Anyways, that's history, but sometimes certain things just trigger reactionary emotions, reinforcing what I already know as fact, that I just have to vent. I'll be coming to Charlotte for family business for the next two weeks, and then a few other weekends in October for some other runs, (perhaps getting my last few glimpses of the Queen City for now because, and depending on how God tips the scale of destiny, I'ld either be too busy to care or millions of miles away in Africa, back packing from Cape to Cairo with a 'mobile technology notebook' and a Sony xl-1, to be bothered) Unfortunately that would mean losing my sanity momentarily and missing church; now that's when the jobless demons of mischief and up to no damn good creep up, like right now, at 11am, when I should be in church worshipping my God on a beautiful Sunday morning, instead I am typing some arrant raging nonsense and wishing evil on people instead of speaking blessings. That's cool though, the Big Dawg upstairs understand my frustrations and the need to let it all out...It's therapeutic.