There is no country in the world with the diversity, confidence and talent and African pride like Nigeria. — Binyavanga Wainaina
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being fed the effects and data of Covid-19. Yeah, the awareness is essential, but life still goes on, the founder of Zoom, Eric Yuan is making billions from the Pandemic, the Italians even in self-isolation still perform extraordinary workouts, and China, milks the situation further, by sending Covid19 aids to Italy. And, self-isolation is best for our medical system to attend to those in need. Yet, it’s confirmed that Chloroquine, cheap as it is, it’s the cure.
Can we have a brief change of topic, please! This article attempts to provide that change of topic.
I’ve come to realize that they are some things we own, but we get to only appreciate them, from other people’s perception of these possessions, how others view these things we own. And, the possession here, is my country of origin, Nigeria.
What do I mean, before 2007, when I left for Ghana for my first degree, I’ve only heard that we Nigerians, are only proud of Nigeria when we are out of Nigeria! I had no idea that I will be part of those statistics.
I was 17 when I got to Ghana, and I can still remember the discussions I had with other Nigerians when comparing the Ghanaian cuisine with Nigeria’s — those chauvinistic conversations. But, for me, the cultural shock, that shook me the most is the queue at the bus stops when accessing public transport. Why? You ask.
Well, I hope the above images explain my shock. From our polychronic view of time, it means that we get there when we get there, but we are prone to act on how we get there when taking public transport. Don’t worry we now have BRT buses, so the above images are relics of our advancement as a people — our next generation is lucky indeed.
This article has nothing to do with me reminiscing of my time in Ghana. Far from that, it is more about my present understanding of the Nigerian specie, specie because that is what we are. Let me explain:
Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographical expression. There are no ‘Nigerians’ in the same sense as there are ‘English,’ ‘Welsh,’ or ‘French.’ The word ‘Nigerian’ is merely a distinctive appellation to distinguish those who live within the boundaries of Nigeria and those who do not. — Obafemi Awolowo
Some Sung &Un-Sung Facts about Nigeria and Nigerians
1. It gave the world the first Miss World from Africa — Agbani Dierego
2. Its movie industry — Nollywood, is only second to Bollywood; it entertains Africa
3. It is the 7th most populous country in the world and most populous country in Africa
4. It is the largest economy in Africa
5. A Nigerian discovered the mental effects American football caused its players — Concussion, Will Smith play the role of the Nigerian Doctor Bennet Omalu
6. It gave the world the youngest and most nominated Billboard artist — Wiz Kid
7. A United States former presidential candidate changed her bio because a Nigerian commented on it — Hillary Clinton
8. There are over 500 languages spoken in Nigeria
9. It was the first West African Country with a national TV station — NTA
10. It gave Harvard its first African female president — ImeIme A. Umana
11. Data shows Nigerians are the most educated in the U.S
12. How do I go on without it seeming like a gloating rant?
It’s only a Nigerian that’s more French in France, than a French man — unknown
The Side Research
As an ENTP-A, from the 16 personalities test, it is said that I get my energy interacting with the world, which means it’s my nature to love social gatherings. And, this question I love to ask, when I meet a stranger after exchanging pleasantries, and it’s their turn to ask me where I’m from. I ask: Where do you think I’m from? Giving them items 2, 3 and 4 in the list above as hints.
It’s always a kick to hear their replies, some flatter my country, and give guesses like the UK, America, while some humble me and give guesses like Ghana and Jamaica.
Okay, Phesighyo, I get it, you’re proud of your amalgamated country, but why should I continue reading on — what’s the purpose of this article.
First, let me say it here I’m first proud to be an African, for the country that is a discussion for another article. Secondly, it’s an intelligent question you ask, and I will summarize its importance in the few paragraphs below.
See, I will be dis-ingenious if I deny that I have not experienced a sense of hostility from other Africans when I inform them, I’m from Nigeria. But, more importantly, in a social gathering when the questions section begins, I get that look, we give to persons, we Nigerians call ‘I Too Know’.
So, to understand the reason why Nigerians are approached with hesitation by other Africans, and why we are looked upon suspiciously by others across the globe — even if it’s been discovered the Nigerian Prince is an American. I took it upon myself to inquire from other Africans and an American.
My interview is categorized in 2 batches, the first batch, with two African friends, one from Central Africa, who I’ll call Nala, and the other from East Africa, who I’ll call Serwa — of course, these names are not their real names, I protect my friends’ privacy.
While the second batch, was more professional, with two friends likewise, where both have spent over 2 decades in the Scandinavian regions, and both have businesses of their own. The first is a Nigerian like myself, who I will call David, and the second friend, Clara, who is from the skiing nation that builds walls.
In the first batch of the interview, both Nala and Serwa have resided in West Africa for over a decade, which means they have both experienced being with Nigerians and other West Africans. So, my question to them was simple; What do you think of Nigerians compared to other Africans?
Nala, said, for one thing, you Nigerians are proud and arrogant, which I said, everyone knows that; tell me something else. For which she said, well you guys are industrious, smart and know how to make money. I said is that all, for which she added that while she was in another West African country, the ladies there find Nigerians to be more romantic, as they are the only Africans you meet that take ladies to dine and ask to know more about them. When I heard this, I was smiling from ear-to-ear, so I couldn’t ask follow-up questions.
While, Serwa, was more analytical, she said, well for one, you guys’ blood is too hot for we East Africans, you guys rush and want things fast. We East Africans, on the other hand, are calm and like to take things easy, but not you guys, you take up a room whenever you guys step in. She prefers to know us individually.
While, David wisely analyzed the situation, by saying: for one thing we Nigerians, from school to pursue excellence, and that’s why when we speak we attempt to use big words, which oftentimes we can’t pronounce right — I felt the pangs of guilt on that one. And, it’s who we are, we have the American orientation of extravagance in whatever we do.
He couldn’t have said better because I remember in one of my high schools, founded by the daughter, of one the founding fathers of my amalgamated country, Nigeria. We had a class, where she was responsible for teaching us elocution — if memory works well, the sole aim of this class was for we students to pronounce words clearly, with a British accent specifically.
Finally, she said; well I don’t know anything about being a Nigerian, but in this Scandinavian country, it’s important you know when you should be yourself and when not, as here it is more important you fit in than stick out. But whatever you do Phesighyo, be yourself, no matter how hard that might be.
Wherever you go, if you can’t find a Nigerian, a Chinese or an Indian, you leave there immediately — Unknown
I wish I could say the verdict is out, but I’m super sure my curious self is not satisfied, with my exploratory research. I will still dig deeper, that I’m sure of. But, for now, I believe it’s safe to advise my fellow Nigerians:
I understand you, as a Nigerian, have a lot to be proud of, but before you go off with your chauvinistic comments and recommendations, try to see the situation from a un-Nigerian lens: I know, trust me it can be hard, but it’s not impossible.
While to the Non-Nigerians, my advice will be:
Well if he is loud and extravagant in his gestures, believe me when I say it’s neither by choice nor by design, she/he has nothing to do with it, that’s how she/he is made where he comes from, he is devoid of a better way to act — excuse his excesses on my behalf.
Finally, when COVID-19 has washed down our throats, in this decade, like a bad taste in our mouths, and you happen to be around a Nigerian that lacks the Nigerian Ginger, ask him ‘Wetin do you, where your #NaijaGinja’?
Like always, I remain radically open-minded to your comments and perspective, to any flaws in my proposition.
By the way, in my last article, Climate Change vs SDGs awareness, I left a link for you to test your Climate Change and SDGs awareness, here’s the direct link to the form. I’ll appreciate your input in the form. Thanks in advance.