A few minutes ago, I concluded a chat with a French student in this University (on a different but similar international programme) who told me that I had done the abominable by putting my red wine in the refrigerator. “If you were in France,” she said, “you’d be thrown out of the country by now!” Oh, the French!
Checking my post mailbox this morning, I found an envelope postmarked from Pennsylvania. Since I wasn’t expecting anything so soon, I was surprised to discover in it Wole Soyinka’s Collected Plays 2. I had indeed ordered it a few days earlier from Amazon alongside books by George Carlin and William Shatner. That was fast delivery! The book wasn’t new, but it was in very good condition. Back in Nigeria, Amazon was never my friend since I didn’t have a credit card, and they won’t ship goods to Nigeria anyway. The book contained The Lion and the Jewel, Kongi’s Harvest, The Trials of Brother Jero, Jero’s Metamorphosis and Madmen and Specialists, that last one being an all-time favourite.
Today we saw the Chimamanda Adichie TED video talk in class for the first time. As I remarked to a Nigerian friend afterwards, the video was lovely, but in the end it wasn’t spectacular. I think I must have expected too much a response from the students, although in the end, I’m sure they were able to understand and appreciate Ms Adichie’s valid points in a way that they found interesting, and in a way to which they could relate. My own initial response to the talk, which was pride and exhilaration the first time I saw it, was – as I realize it now – because I’m Nigerian and, seeing her speak to such an international audience filled me with such pride. Why it did so, I can’t explain now. She hasn’t said anything new, but she has used many new ways to illustrate it. And that’s always a good thing.
Later in class, as I was about to receive a usb flash disk from a student who wanted to submit her Yoruba audio recording assignment, I felt an electric spark when I collected the disk. I was alarmed, until the other students told me it’s normal, calling it a “static” current. (Wikipedia calls it “the buildup of electric charge on the surface of objects” which is either bled “off to ground or are quickly neutralized by a discharge”). A few minutes later when I gave the flash disk back to her, it happened again just as our hands made contact, and I “freaked out”, to use American colloquial expression of shock and disbelief. That was one thing I have never experienced before, but I have no doubt that it exists, perhaps even in Nigeria, and all over the world, but I’ve never heard any personal stories. According to a few more people that I’ve asked, this is a rather common phenomenon in America which comes into play when one of the contact persons has spent much time making bodily friction with the floor with their feet or body, they are indeed capable of conducting electricity. I find that strange. I’m surely not touching anyone again soon. Time to go back to receiving assignments through email.
I miss home!