Believe me, there is no Nigerian who can tell another Nigerian how being Nigerian really is. Okay pause…rich people may find it hard to fully understand, right? After all, they have nice cars, live in nice houses and have more opportunities thrown their way.
Cool, they are better than average Nigerians. But that still does not mean the social, political and economic factors that affect average Nigerians cannot say “hello” to them once in a while.
Let us start from Social factors. A rich “child” can be taken mistakenly for a thief in Oshodi market and beaten till death point (See, that’s where you are getting it wrong, they don’t always stay in their cars). Weird example right? Well, Just sayin’.
Jungle justice in Nigeria does not easily decipher the rich between the poor. Some factors actually don’t care about social status.
Sure, rich people have money to buy almost everything. But they still have to buy it at the same price other people are getting it, or even at a more expensive price.
So before you think Being Nigerian and experiencing the things Nigeria presents to us does not affect rich people, think again.
But honestly, we are not here to talk about rich people.
So what does Being Nigerian really mean?
Being Nigerian means you were “fortunate” enough to be born in a big old-ass country with more than 200 million people, with many natural resources than a lot of countries combined, and with those resources mined, controlled and used by a group of people who we elect because they said they want to “lead us”. LMAO.
I think, for the sake of clarity, we should just say they are “leading” our resources and not us.
I am not going to go on and on about how bad the government is. We can all write a 365 paged book about that. But this does not mean we didn’t contribute to this factor. So here is it:
Being Nigerian means you may not have cared enough to vote the moment you were of voting age, because the country is so bad that you believe your single vote will not change anything, or because (and this may even be a credible reason), there is no worthy candidate to spend the time under the sun for, waiting to put him in office.
So at the polls, everyone is basically playing the game of voting the better devil. Or, in most cases, the devil with more money.
Is it then safe to say you are politically apathetic because you are Nigerian?
In the biggest chance that you got to experience the #endsars protest and concluded that the governance of Nigeria is so terrible that, it is ironic that government who has a sworn duty of protecting the lives and properties of her citizens, is doing the direct opposite.
This may have geared you to make plans about voting for the “right” person in the next election.
True, political consciousness is on the rise but still not enough to enlighten the populace about how political participation is actually the ultimate tool in ensuring the kind of appropriate democratic government we want.
Being Nigerian means you are very hopeful for a revolution that overhauls political systems. But, not everyone is actually prepared for the reality of how “democratic” undemocratic governments fear revolutions that will get them in serious trouble.
There is the MKO Abiola example for anyone who is wondering if this is possible.
So, while Being Nigerian means having great expectations for a revolution of a democratic system, we might want to prepare ourselves for the outcome of this revolution.
Nigerians and the Art of Reciprocity
Growing up, we watched our parents/guardians talk about reciprocating what their friends or families have done.
“She visited me today, remind me to visit her too”
“They came to our son’s wedding and brought money. We should go to their daughter’s wedding too and give them money and gift”
Being Nigerian means you assimilate this Art of Reciprocity and even if you don’t know it, it becomes something you do.
No matter how subtly and no matter how much you don’t pay attention to the fact that you are doing it.
The times you visited your friend because he visited you too, or plan to get someone something on their birthday because they did so on your birthday too.
This Art of Reciprocity is not bad, but it does come from ulterior motives of expectations too. Like:
“If I am doing this, I better get it back during my turn”
Nigerians- we love our gatherings! Eating…oh sorry…Eating free food at ceremonies. Now, it doesn’t even matter if it’s not Saturday.
But you better fix your event on Saturday or they say you don’t have enough money to cater to the “populace” of people that are coming and that’s why you’ve fixed it on a week day.
There is always the party to attend- Weddings (This one is a “sure banker”!), naming ceremonies, house warming and birthdays. As long as there is free food and lots of talking, we are there!
But we all know it’s not about the free food and talking alone, right? It’s also about showing off. Nigerians actually have to show off more at events because, like I said, there are so many factors working against our success.
So if anyone’s sons/daughters “defy the odds” and comes back home with a good job and a nice car, they’ll be so ready to attend the ceremony, not only as a proud parent or individual, but to show, that they’ve have gotten it all right in comparison to others.
But you gotta be careful what you boast about, so that all “dem mamas” will not make your child trek from America to Nigeria.
Being Nigerian means you may have done Jamb many times- not because you are not brilliant but because they sent you to a Centre that always has “affected results”.
Or, you met the cut off mark and the University, for whatsoever Crazy reason, refused to admit you. So you better fast and pray, because “the witches” here are not from your father’s house, they are from complete disorder of educational systems.
Now, let’s fast-forward to the point where you get admitted. You meet new people, but this doesn’t have anything to do with you Being Nigerian. The indicator is the conditions you live in on campus- rain-flooded dormitories, bed-bug infested rooms, rooms with big rats, rooms with cockroaches.
Some students even claim to have up to five animals who take turns in their rooms eating, biting them and when they’ve all gotten skinny and all that, eating their shoes and clothes. I know, it doesn’t sound nice at all.
Oh…there’s even a school where about 8 students are allotted to a single room. About 5 more students decide to come and “visit” them till the end of the semester. (Don’t call them squatters!.. They are on a visit). I won’t mention the name of the University, but the initials are OAU.
■Nigerians and the contemporary world
Being Nigerian means you find yourself easily adapting to and assimilating too much of foreign culture- America to be precise.
There is always the pressure to be developed, to change our way of thinking. To evolve and behave “advanced” like Americans. Their music, their way of thinking, their many sexual orientations and even their way of doing business.
We are always so eager to see Nigerian artists collaborate with foreign musicians- Americans to be precise, because we know it’s a step-up to Afrobeats and a step-up our development.
Weird, but many Nigerians now appreciate art because we heard it’s cool to appreciate art, and when you appreciate art, you look like an intelligent person.
Appreciating art is not wrong. But art has not always been and is not only a painting by brush, pencil or paint.
We love going to the movies now and it is fast becoming a culture. You should see Ventura on Christmas day…
Being Nigerian means you better be ready to “horn” your talent because there are few blue-collar jobs and even fewer white-collared jobs. We have so many comedians, dancers and lip syncers on Instagram, Tiktok and You Tube.
Being Nigerian means if you don’t know your talent yet, you’d better learn a good skill. Cos omo, our president say job no dey again.
What does Being Nigerian mean to you? Let me know in the comment section.