Well, let’s fast forward a few years… Virtually overnight, I became a celebrity in a place I never really thought of as a child: in Nigeria, or as most Whites unfortunately put it… in 'Africa'.
What made me a 'celebrity' were neither my poor football skills nor my average looks (although I have to say my 'natural hair' attracted a lot of people, especially children lol), but mostly my skin color. As the only white student in the whole of my university, I got a lot of requests: Many people tried to befriend me and asked for my number, my story, my help, my money and my sisters (lol). Since even total strangers approached me to 'snap' with them, my face is probably on dozens of Nigerian phones.
In addition to the requests, I also got a lot of lovely offers: people invited me into their homes, cooked for me, offered me their advice ("beware of people from this or that tribe”…), gave me their business cards, introduced me to their extended family (“see my brother”), invited me for burials, traditional weddings, church services etc.. One time at Shoprite, a random woman even offered me one of her (way too young) daughters…
Especially in the beginning, all these offers and requests and the pressure of being stared at almost constantly were just 'too much' for me. I did not know how to respond to the daily requests, I was not sure which friendships I should deepen and how to remember the countless faces and names – Chidera, Chiamaka, Chinedu - all these Chi-names sounded so similar to my German ear…Although I got all the attention many kids and youths dream of, I felt overwhelmed. I just wanted to blend in as 'just another Nigerian', but my background was obviously too different to make that possible.
So what did I do? All these things drove me into prayer. I prayed for retentive memory so I could remember the names. I prayed for love and strength so I could approach each person with care and my full attention. I prayed that God will help me behave well, since I knew people watched me closely. I prayed against arrogance and for humility, so that I would be genuinely interested in my fellow-students.
And I prayed for what I now call 'small-small guidance' (I learnt that in Nigerian English you can repeat a lot of adjectives (sharp-sharp, fast-fast etc.). Often we only pray for guidance in big things (“show me my soulmate, O Lord", “give me a job!!” etc.), but I think it is wise to be open for God’s guidance in small, day-to-day activities: to actually ask God which friends I can visit today, to ask for opportunities to bless people, to ask him what I should do with my weekend etc. All too often we just follow our “autopilot” or our intuition, instead of listening to the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit.
Being in Nigeria reminded me of my need to include God in all areas of life, because I felt helpless and I needed a lot of wisdom on how to handle all the requests (e.g. “Does this person really need my money? Many people warned me against duping…. God help me!”). And how God answered my prayers… I got to know some amazing friends I could really trust. Once a girl I hardly knew came to me and said “Sebastian, I’ve observed you over the months and it is amazing that you only found actually good friends”. God also gave me a peace-of-mind and an inner security that helped me through my day-to-day life; a sense of joy and courage that enabled me to interact freely, knowing that my Daddy is watching over me.
Now that I am back in Germany and my celebrity-time is over, I still try to follow the valuable principles I’ve learnt in Nigeria. As a white guy among millions of other Whites, I get far less attention. Nonetheless, I do need God’s help and “small-small guidance” in a myriad of situations and questions that arise on a daily basis.
And let me tell you one last thing: don’t desire to be famous too much, abeg. Yes it can be nice at times, but it does not really fulfill you, it does not guarantee you true friendships and it can be quite stressful. Be content with how God made you, be a vessel in His hands and let Him do the rest. :)
aka 'Sabba Sabba' aka 'Sabs' (Keep the names coming guys :-)
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path" - Proverbs 3:5-6
I hope you enjoyed reading! Chronicles of Sebastian comes up every Wednesday. You can read Sebastian's first post HERE to find out more..
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