America: A Love/Hate Relationship?


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?

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3 thoughts on “America: A Love/Hate Relationship?

  1. i disagree with a lot here. there is nothing wrong with welcoming clinton and bush but why in the world should we allow them to build a military base here? that is comparing apples and oranges. we should be diplomatic but we shouldn’t be fools.i disagree that nigerians think anything inherently african is bad. um our values e.g. respect for elders (though found elsewhere) is inherently african so …? Besides who is throwing away dance forms? As for architecture, I give you that but if you cared enough you would find there are indeed people in Nigeria who are interested in preserving our architecture and read or contact themDreadlocks are very african, in the yoruba community at least, we even have a special name …I know what you are driving at and believe me I have pondered it too, but i think you are thinking about it the wrong way. Anway I sense a lot of problems stems from the school curriculum – (those crafty colonial masters lol)and overzealous western religions. what we learn in school about our heritage is woefully inadequate. and our parents, other members of society don’t tell us anything because it’s pagan. we are so empty its easy for america and other countries to fill us. more and more often, i find myself wishing i’d done my undergrad in nigeria. i’ve rambled, but remember it starts with what you teach your children!

  2. I was going to say something but reading Funke’s comment made me forget exactly what it was ^_^I agree that Nigerians have a love/hate relationship with America {as they do with all things they want but are bitter that they do not have} though…and that there are many ways in which that relationship manifests itself…

  3. Something I have to comment on:When I mention to other Africans (especially older ones) that I have a boyfriend, they always ask me if he’s Nigerian too. When I tell them that he’s American, I always get the ‘white or black’ question following. lol I dont know if any other Nigerian gal experiences the same thing. My own family could care less who I date.I have never known any African who thinks that all things American are good and that all things African are bad. I wonder what kind of mentality that is though.

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