I grew up in Enugu, Nigeria, West Africa, where an obsession with travel is not expected from “decent” young girls. Though the Igbos are unarguably the most-travelled Nigerian tribe and are in fact rumored to be the Lost Tribe of Israel, to most people including my darling family, it didn’t and doesn’t “feel right” for any female to be so passionate about traipsing around unknown territories, trusting random people & making unapproved travel arrangements without a husband or older sibling. People who (luckily) don’t have the wanderlust do not understand that’s its as much a part of travel addicts as any serious addiction.
I often get asked, “How did you get bitten by the travel bug?” And “When did you discover your keen passion for Tourism and Travel?” The very people who restrained me from travel the most, were the same people who inadvertently put it into my little head. 😃 My Parents, Sebastian & Anna.
I grew up in a middle-class family with parents who loved education. My dad (a Banker) & Mom (an English & Literature teacher, school Principal and lifelong educationist) had lived in London for many years before relocating back to Nigeria. They wanted the best for their kids and in each home we lived in, we had a designated Library room filled with books. I was awkward, tall, gangly and ugly which led to me being painfully shy, super-introverted and feeling like the ugly duckling of the family. To avoid social interactions, I fell rabidly in love with books especially books deemed “out of bounds” or “too mature” books which included forbidden ones (hi Mary Udemah who supplied me with Harlequin and Mills & Boon books in elementary school 😂😍) My shyness plus an abundance of books around from my five elder siblings meant that I became a bibliophile, spending days and nights huddled away in weird spots with books. Under the lace tablecloth-covered dining table, in the garage, behind the sofa, in my room, anywhere I could dodge the regular world was my safe space. A turning point in my life was in my Primary 3 when I was bullied a lot by four of my classmates. I turned further inward and read avidly, so much so that my English abilities skyrocketed even more. For fun, I was reading and completing comprehension exercises from my sister’s senior high school Integrated English textbooks, six grades above my level. The Bible and our Encyclopedia Britannica set were my ultimate favorites for a long time. Books became my life, my best friend and my passion. Waking up and going to bed, all I thought of was books and that was my state of being when I met The Swiss Family Robinson, the book that changed my life.
Yes, my passionate zest for adventure was sown by The Swiss Family Robinson by #JohannDavidWyss. An amazing book which took me out of West Africa and into an unknown land filled with animals and plants I’d never heard of and an enterprising family with children marooned on an island. READING A BOOK transported my mind out of my location and made me a curious bibliophile for the longest time (I had to wean myself when my addiction to novels started jeopardizing my academic exams at the university 😂).
Culled from Wiki: It was first published in 1812, about a Swiss family shipwrecked in the East Indies en route to Port Jackson, Australia. Written by Swiss pastor Johann David Wyss and edited by his son Johann Rudolf Wyss and illustrated by his son Johann Emmanuel Wyss, the novel was intended to teach his four sons about family values, good husbandry, the uses of the natural world and self-reliance. Wyss’ attitude toward education is in line with the teachings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and many of the episodes have to do with Christian-oriented moral lessons such as frugality, husbandry, acceptance, cooperation, etc. The adventures are presented as a series of lessons in natural history and the physical sciences.
The SFR opened my elementary-school mind to worlds unimaginable and I dreamt of becoming an air hostess or an archaeologist, jobs that involved exploration of cultures, history, new places and extensive travel.
Thus, it all began with the SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON as my first Influence.
What would you credit for influencing your love for travel? Is there a book that has changed the trajectory of your life? Please share your story in the Comments section.
Continuation Post: My Why…. Part 2