The panel between Bisi Adjapon, Bọbọ Omotayo, and Misan Rewane is moderated by Yinka Ibukun. It is a lively conversation around what it means to be a repat, navigating spaces, and trying to find your identity, home, and a sense of belonging when you’re othered in both spaces that are supposed to feel like home.
It kicks off with a question on whether it is useful to distinguish between Africans in the diaspora and Africans at home. Bisi Adjapon responds with anecdotes to highlight how it could be useful only if we are open minded. “The two experiences can be similar yet different,” she says, “both sides have something to learn from the other side.” She speaks about bringing new ways of teaching and learning new ways of interacting with students the first time she returned to Ghana to teach in a secondary school.
When asked about what it feels like to come back, and why come back even, Bọbọ Omotayo says that even though he wasn’t quite accepted in either place—the only black boy in his school for 5 years, feeling rejected at home because he’d become too much of an ‘oyinbo’—he decided to come back and stay in Nigeria because racism was too raw.
On the differences between working and running a business in Nigeria and outside the country, Misan Rewane says that trust, establishing relationships, and the need to have a backup plan are more pronounced here. “Nigeria is entrepreneurship on crack,” she says.
The conversation becomes a bit tense, as is wont to happen when politics comes up. An argument almost erupts between Bisi and Bobo, with Misan—who had earlier said she embraces the Serenity Prayer—sitting it out.
An audience member asks about code switching: how much does it happen? how necessary is it? The panelists agree that it is a necessary part of communicating with people in whatever setting they’re in. Misan emphasizes that language is a connector and if you can’t speak how the people around you speak, you’ll be excluded. Codeswitching helps you adapt. Bisi gives a practical outlook saying that you must codeswitch so you’re not cheated in the market for example.