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My Journey Home Armando Pena Andrew Lam Faith Adiele
Introduction
Video Diary
Fire
My African Sister
Background
Faith Adiele
Your Journey HomeFor TeachersAbout the film
Faith Adiele
Introduction   
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In My Father's Steps

College — my first exposure to real live blacks! — came as quite a shock. When, on New Year's Eve, my uncle threw me out of the house, and a coup ended democracy in Nigeria for the next 16 years, I pulled the covers over my head and proceeded to flunk out of Harvard. When I awoke from my daze months later, I found myself in the Thai forest — head and eyebrows shaved, about to ordain as a Buddhist nun.

After my return to the USA and successful graduation, I dreamed about meeting my first Nigerian, a security guard who taught me how to pronounce my surname correctly. Suddenly, wherever I went, I encountered Nigerians, all of whom spoke reverently of my father. When, unexpectedly, I was offered a yearlong fellowship to the University of Nigeria, I scurried home to consult my mother. Handing over my father's love letters and instructive messages to me as a child, she cheered: Go!

Faith and her siblings Adanna, Emeka and Oke, during Faith's first visit to Nigeria in 1989.

Enthralled by the optimistic young Turk recounting the lived history of African nationalism and 60's race relations on the page, I left for Nigeria, determined to retrace his own return home after a decade spent schooling abroad. I found a country straining beneath harsh military rule and the corrupt legacy of colonialism. Narrowly escaping clashes between soldiers and university students sparked by worldwide IMF and World Bank protests, I discovered to my surprise that by African standards, I'm considered white.

As news of my arrival spread, I met my father — whose chest is home to both a pacemaker and a bullet — for the first time. Cultural misunderstanding and mutual suspicion plagued our attempts to reconcile. Once I learned that I — an only child for 26 years — had three teenage siblings, I redoubled my efforts and was rewarded by my father the chief's pronouncement upon introducing us: "This is your sister from America. You love her." My sister resembled me so much that villagers mistook me for her spirit double, a pale ghost returned from the netherworld. Together we traveled to our ancestral village, where I visited war sites and tried to uncover what had happened during my father's 14-year silence. On New Year's Eve, I was crowned princess of our clan.

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