My experience relocating to Nigeria from Uganda

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By Gloria Okezie-Okafor

She’s Ugandan but her love for Nigeria is quite deep. In fact, it shows in her almost two decades of marriage to her husband and her embrace of the Nigerian culture and delicacies.  

A lively character and paragon of beauty, Christine Muhenda-Runsewe is a makeup artist, skincare therapist, trainer and consultant. Her world revolves around the cosmetics, and she’s excited to talk about it. 

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Relocating to Nigeria four years after her marriage to her husband, Christine says: “My skincare business was birthed out of my exposure to the harsh weather. I tried out different products on the market and nothing gave me the results I was looking for, I had to make a research and eventually I found the right product but not in Nigeria. I traveled to make further inquiries about the product, tried it out and the outcome was amazing. I started getting so many complements about my skin and this got me thinking about recommending it to my makeup clients, and that’s how business started”.

But before her skincare business began, Christine was a makeup artist. “Beauty first is a passion for me, and being in Lagos opened my eyes to the great opportunities in the beauty industry. It’s one thing I do effortlessly,” she said.

Christine was also an award recipient at the Baobabs Awards, which took place in Lagos. “It was an entrepreneurship award. I was nominated for creating jobs for young Nigerians and inspiring many through imparting knowledge in the beauty industry. As a company, we have trained many Nigerians through our class sessions, one-on one-trainings, organisation workshops etc.”

But, it didn’t all come so easy. Hear her: “My experiences relocating to Nigeria as a Ugandan are quite many. Nigeria as a nation is a great country with so many opportunities that encourage one to put their talent out there. The numbers are quite amazing; the population of Lagos alone is my whole country. I was a laid back person but Lagos turned me to a go-getter. It’s no place for the lazy bones because there’s so much money to be made in this country. It took me time to adapt to the food, I’ve never ate spicy food but I love it now. 

“I just didn’t understand how a country so wealthy as Nigeria is not bothered about having the right infrastructure in place, from the airport to the road network to electricity; those were some of the strange things I came across and have learnt to live with. I later realised that Nigeria as a people is about ‘me and my family’,” she observed.

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Talking about her greatest moments in Nigeria, Christine said it all revolves around her faith. “My greatest moments have been about my faith. I never could have imagined Nigeria as a praying country that puts God first, in schools, offices etc. I was used to the image as seen in Nollywood. I’m so grateful I am here; my faith has grown tremendously.”

Nonetheless, Christine’s beauty career is not just about women. She also has men and children in her line of clientele. For her, beauty is essential for everyone; it is a part of living. She has this to say: “What inspired me is seeing people believe in themselves and rise up to make their life inspiring for others, and the trend goes on. Also, seeing a lot of young creative Nigerians doing the best they can to make this country a better place in every aspect – the fashion designers, music industry, movie industry, beauty industry, it’s mind blowing. The drive to become better in every individual I have come across is amazing. Nigerians are so enterprising.”

According to Christine, a lot has happened since she relocated to Nigeria some years ago. “But what’s remarkable is that it has been from glory to glory. I met my husband through my cousin living in Canada while my husband lived in the US. We decided to relocate to Nigeria four years after.

“A lot was so different for me, the food was too spicy, the Yoruba culture seemed hard for me to understand like when it comes to respect, someone just a year older than you is your aunty or uncle by culture. Then the native wears are like an identity. The language has been a challenge but I have been learning gradually.

“Nigerians as a people are very happy despite the situation facing the nation, they’re very warm, hospitable, and very hopeful people. The future of Nigeria is so bright. The rush of Lagos took me time to cope with; I wondered why everyone was on the fast lane. Lagos makes you realise that 24 hours and seven days (a week) are not enough, I am gradually catching up,” she stressed. 

Christine Muhenda-Runsewe has had topnotch people in her list of clientele, and the numbers are building. Her products are her own creations. And she is a proud brand.

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