Ifemelu’s expected her monumental return home to Nigeria to be comfortable and as though nothing has changed since she left. Instead her return was a struggle. As it says in the book, Lagos “assaulted her” (475). This was because of the changes that occurred there while she was gone, but also because of the person she had become. After all, thirteen years had passed between when she left and returned. A lot can happen in thirteen years. And it did.
Ifemelu’s time in America was a time of exploring her identity and trying to find a place in society. For a long time she tried to escape her Nigerian culture and tradition in order to become more American to reach success in American society. She struggled for a while, but eventually was able to support herself. Eventually she returned to her Nigerian customs, which included her natural hair and her accent, and she continued her success as a fellow at Princeton. She explored her racial identity and relationships through her blog, which became an important aspect of her character. As time passed she grew further and further from her true identity, which is a Nigerian woman. Her Nigerian values were important to her and eventually she finally realized fitting into American society isn’t worth it to become someone she is not. She was not happy with her life and was ready to return where she belongs.
Her time in America was not something she regrets. She explored different relationships, visited different places, saw a different way of life, and discovered her identity. Upon her arrival to Nigeria though, Ifemelu was startled by how much had changed and how much she, herself, had changed too. Her tastes were more westernized, as she now preferred older buildings with exposed beams rather than new, glamorous houses. She developed a more critical, snobbish attitude, the attitude many Americans hold. This attitude was exposed when Ifemelu yelled at the renovators for not doing a good enough job on her new flat and yelling “Do you know who I am?” (487). While attending the Nigerpolitan meeting, a gathering for Nigerians who have traveled, she realized this attitude among the other group members and found herself more similar to them than she wished she was.
Returning to her home country after thirteen years had passed, Ifemelu was more exposed to the greed and corruption that takes place there. She was now an adult and the people she knew in high school and university were now the people that were mistresses, trying to reach success by being an “item” to rich men. When she was young the only relationship she was exposed to like this was Aunty Uju and the general. The attitude she got from America was not all that bad though because it caused her to realize the flaws in Nigerian society and adjust to them. Even though it was a hard adjustment to make, Ifemelu’s true home lies in Lagos and that is where she belongs.