By: Elizabeth Iwunwa

Hi, I’m Elizabeth! I am a second year Psychology major and a Chemistry minor. I was born and raised in Lagos, western Nigeria. My parents are originally from the East and grew up there. I am an introvert and legend has it that I always have been. I draw strength from solitude, quietness and calmness. That being said, I am quite outgoing in social situations. I had a happy childhood. Every time I think about my childhood, it evokes memories of dance, food and lots of relatives. Growing up, everyone including me thought I was going to become a medical doctor. This is because I was the child who would be by myself in a room reading (forget that my baby sister’s grades were consistently better than mine). I was an inquisitive child who was and still is curious about my world.

One vivid memory I have from my childhood is a bomb blast at Ikeja Cantonment in Lagos. I was down with a fever that evening and my parents and I were on our way to the hospital. We had almost gotten there when we heard this deafening noise. There had been an accidental detonation of military high explosives at a storage facility. I remember that as my dad tried to turn the car around quickly, one of the tires got stuck in a gutter. While he tried to get the tire out, the hordes of people running to safety drew closer and closer. I sat still in my mother’s arms. Thankfully, the tire was dislodged fast enough to get home safely. We came home to a house full of relatives who had run there for safety. That incident left hundreds of people dead and thousands more displaced.

Time passed and I made it to high school. I attended a Christian high school where we learned and memorized Scripture every week. I am forever thankful for that experience because those six years became the bedrock of my faith. The last two years were by far the absolute best. In those two years, I was also in boarding school. Considering the fact that there were over a hundred girls in one facility, I expected drama. And drama I did get. In grade eleven, I was appointed Food Prefect of the girls’ hostel. Although I had my heart on the post of Head Girl, I was pleased to serve in any way I could. In that period, I learned the use of initiative, accountability, honesty and so many more things that guide me to this day.

Growing up Catholic, meant going to mass at least once every week without fail. It also meant classical music. My parents thoroughly enjoy Handel and Beethoven and have taught me to do the same. As the first daughter of my family, particularly in my culture, I had certain responsibilities by default. I was to fill in the spot for my mom and hold things down when she was away. That has contributed to my overbearing sense of duty.

Tea was also a huge part of growing up. Both mom and dad are tea drinkers and I am too. I find myself sipping tea when I’m alone thinking and meditating. The safest spot in the world is my mind. In there, I can own up to my shortcomings and be free in the knowledge and truth of who I truly am. On some days when I feel inspired, I write poetry. I enjoy all forms of art and think that it is a positive means of self-expression.

Music has a special place in my heart. Although I enjoy classical music, I also enjoy soul music and gospel. I treasure soul for the way it puts my thoughts and emotions into words and melody. Gospel music lifts my spirit. I like to think that I can be G.I Jane in one instant and Mother Teresa in another. These are qualities I find in my mother as well. As I grow older, I find bits and pieces of myself in her and my father.

I love tennis and basketball, although the only time I ever made a basket was in grade eight at P.E practice. One of the best things about being African is being from a rich and diverse culture. I really enjoy African literature, most especially those by Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Adichie, and Sefi Atta. I love how I understand the dialogues and perspectives seamlessly.

I have many dreams and hopes for the future. Until then, I guess there’s more to me than meets the eye.

If you want to contact me, just send an email to eiwunwa@upei.ca.