Nigeria is a funny country. We seem to be very good at being bipolar. As a girl now in her twenties, I hear a lot more often talk of marriage and homemaking. I always marvel at the oldies saying, “Oh don’t worry, you can marry whoever you want,” and then, in the same breath, “but don’t you dare bring home a boy/girl from that tribe/village.” I could launch into a whole other post on this issue, but I’d rather focus on my original topic. the great US of A.
When talking about America, Nigerians suddenly develop bipolar disorder. We love to laud their technological advances, their election of Barack Obama, their working infrastructure, and their great schools. But then, we look down on their more casual dress sense, the way they talk, their apparent lack of morals, and, most especially, we hate anything that can be termed “African American.”
For example, parents are proud, and tell everyone that their daughter is studying in the US. But then, when a Nigerian in the US relationship problems, they ask if the boyfriend/girlfriend is American, and then assume knowing looks when the answer’s yes, as if to say, “You see? They should have found a Nigerian person to date.” It gets worse, though, especially if you decide to start to act like a “black person”. Once that happens, you’re done for. You’re the black sheep who’s forgotten what your mother taught you, and you need serious prayers. I can just imagine my parents’ reaction if I ever return home with dreadlocks…
More examples: We welcome Clinton and Bush into our land, yet we refuse to allow them to build their military base there. We embrace their music, movies, art and architecture, neglecting the art forms that are Nigerian in origin, from before colonial times; and yet, we deride those who decide to become musicians or dancers – we consider them people without real jobs who are just wasting their time. I think what disturbs me the most about this whole thing is the fact that we strive to maintain some aspects of our culture (traditional values, language), and throw away all the others (dance forms, architecture, etc). Anything – or rather, most things, that are American are good, and anything that’s inherently African is bad (another topic that I can write a whole other post on). Does that make sense to anyone? I don’t mean are there reasons for this phenomenon: I mean, is this the way Africans should think? I’d like to think not.
See, this is why people who work in global health are concerned about mental health in developing countries. Nigerians is crazy, yo. LOL.
I’d like to ask Sugabelly if she could write about the phenomenon of hating things that are inherently African, and anyone else if they could write on inter-tribal love/hate in Nigeria. Can we talk about these issues, please?