I woke up yesterday to horrific news of the Xenophobia happening in South Africa and my heart was saddened. It was saddened even further when I heard about the violence in Nigeria where people were attacking South-African owned businesses, stealing and all that evil forgetting that these are Nigerian-owned properties and Nigerians work in these places too!
Sigh. Nigerians lost abroad and at home too💔💔💔
Before now, I have had moments when I questioned my being a Nigerian. No, not like I doubt that my mother is my mother or my father is my father 🌚🌚
But I have many times wondered why I am a Nigerian.
This is the first time I would be out of the country for an extended period and it has opened my eyes to stereotypes about Nigerians that people all over the world had.
We had a session at school the second week I arrived where we spoke openly about stereotypes we had/have about one another. I think it was a really helpful one. My school is a diverse one with about 16 nationalities across staff and students. Here’s how it was done – when a country is mentioned, people talk about what their stereotypes are and then the nationals from those countries share their experiences and personal tales. It was sometimes very different from the general perception. I learned a lot.
Read also on the unhealthy nature of stereotypes: https://diaryofalagosgirl.wordpress.com/2019/05/19/yes-i-am-from-aba-no-money-doesnt-control-my-heart/
When it was turn for Nigeria. the whole hall went alive with hands flying in the air. Everyone seemed to have an opinion about us. Some were good like Nigerians are fun, energetic, good dancers blah blah but a lot of them were bad… Things like Nigerians are con men, there a lot of fraudsters in Nigeria, Nigerians are loud, Nigerians use juju (black magic), yoruba demons are plenty there (Yes, every one knows about Yoruba demons. Thanks to the Twitter wars… we forget Twitter isn’t owned by Nigerians. We forget how we tell our stories is how people would see us) and a lot of those other things. I and the other Nigerians here shared about ourselves and how these things do not tally with our persons. That was the first time I heard in real time what others think of Nigerians.
Then, I spoke with my other Nigerian friends outside the country and some who are home but are vastly travelled and it was the same, even worse. I have heard of cases of people being victimised, marginalised and even framed up for crimes just because they are Nigerians. I have also heard of friends denied of job opportunities, harassed at airports because of the green passport. People have even been killed just because they are Nigerians.
These has led me to ask: Is it blessing or a curse that I am Nigerian???
I would not lie, I am thankful I am Nigerian even though I desperately wish things were better back home. Maybe because of the hardness of the country, Nigerians are often very rugged. After having to read with street lights and other uncool conditions in the federal universities back home, it is no surprise when we travel out of the country and excel in a perfectly working environment. I had a discussion with a friends three days ago and she said how she likes the Nigerian spirit… how we are expressive and aggressive towards opportunities, how it was admirable. Even though she attributed it to our population and how if you don’t learn to struggle, you might be left behind, it made me smile. If there is one thing I am proud of, it is our resilience.
I love our people, our culture, the food, the parties, the Lagos spirit! I miss winking at fine men in Lagos traffic and having a great laugh at the initial confusion 😂😂😂. I miss the small chops and night life. I miss the parties, aso-ebi drama. I miss the morning rush. Nigeria is incredibly beautiful and blessed with many resources. I love being a Nigerian even though it an like an abusive relationship. Many things are wrong and can be better.
Again, I wonder if it is a curse. People have a flawed perception of Nigerians all over the world even in Africa! Before you go on and blame them, think about how badly represented we are. A Kenyan friend the other day told me of how con men parade and cause troubles in Nairobi hence her stereotypes about Nigeria. I had no words when she was done with her experiences. We are over 200 million Nigerians. Clearly, we are not all that because there are people like me and other hardworking Nigerians who are not anything like what we are perceived to be. A few weeks back at school, someone randomly said something about Nigerians being late comers and I was personally hurt. Because for over two years of working in Lagos, I have left my house before 4:45am everyday on the average just to get to work in time. Many other Lagosians, Nigerians do this on a daily basis just to ensure they are at work in time. It is very painful when you have built such a culture and you are being viewed in such a light. That day, I was so pained. Lol, it hit me really bad.
You know, it’s these little things and the big things too that has made me wonder why I am a Nigerian. Like you hear somethings and you want to ask God, what did I do to deserve this country?? Nothing just seems to work.
But I would not lose hope. There are manyyyy Nigerians out here working hard, smashing goals and taking territories. Instead of crying over the frauds in our midst, I choose to celebrate and tell the good stories.
Even me, I don’t understand why I am such an optimist when it comes to Nigeria. I have fierce belief in Nigeria, and in Africa even if it doesn’t look like it now, I know it would all make sense one day. Until then, I have decided to be a good ambassador of my country, in my actions and my conversations.
I do believe God doesn’t make mistakes. Even though some days, I am uncertain in my being a Nigerian is a blessing or a curse, I know for sure my being a Nigerian is not a mistake. My goal is to do all I can as is within my power to make Nigeria a better place: whether directly or by changing how we are viewed out here. So help me God!
Featured Image source: BuzzNigeria.com