Takashi Tamai has always had something of an itch for Africa. The 31-year-old anthropologist has always been attracted by the continent's multilingual, multiethnic communities.

"The more mysterious I find something, the more I want to dig deeper into it," Tamai says. "Once I'm among people with unpredictable perceptions or behaviors, my curiosity makes me want to look into the reasons behind them. Nigeria was a treasure chest for me in that sense."

Such an approach to life made it difficulty for him to stay in Japan, the country where he was born and raised. His troubled family history — a childhood filled with arguments and the eventual divorce of his parents — discouraged him from looking deeply into Japanese families. He also liked how Nigerians were happy to assert their opinions, not something he encountered frequently in his home country.