I used to think that life would be so much easier if I wasn’t Nigerian, if I was just normal. Then, I wouldn’t have to represent Nigeria to the people around me. I would just be me. Even little things like my name would be easier:
Tosahuemwenmwen Osama Nehikhuere
People are always shocked and obsess over how long my name is, asking me how it’s pronounced, and to be honest I used to hate it. It made me feel different, like people only saw me as a different name and a different face.
I used to hate that a lot of people couldn’t even pronounce the abbreviation ‘Tosa’ correctly (I’ve gotten Tosha, Tulsa, even Joseph) but now I appreciate the fact that I have a name that’s so different and meaningful. My first name actually means “Because God loves me” and my middle name, “God is good”. But I still go by Tracy when I go to Starbucks.
I learned a lot about hard work from my parents. They both grew up in the same village in Nigeria and both their fathers died while they were still young, meaning they had to take responsibility for their families while studying and working on the farm. They both wanted to leave the village and see what else was out there, even when most people stayed in the village for their entire lives. They moved to America, where they had me; they wanted to have their kids in America so that they could have more opportunity than they had. I grew up in Sugar Land, TX, surrounded by different cultures.
When I was 12 years old I went to Nigeria for the first time and was shocked by how strange it felt, where everyone was culturally and ethnically the same, how there were no boundaries created by differences.