LIVING AS A NIGERIAN AROUND THE WORLD

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Nigeria, located in the western part of Africa is the most populous black nation in the world with over 160 million people, and with about 521 languages and over 250 ethnic groups, Nigeria remains one of those nations vying for Africa’s unity. The nation is blessed with natural resources and so far has utilized it for little development. Gaining it independence in 1960 and becoming one of the few African nation to be a sovereign state then, Nigeria has since then established her own different cultures and religion. Christianity and Islam are the major religion in the country.

So far so good, we can’t deny the fact that so many countries haven’t experienced crisis and Nigeria is not an exception as we are always at the center of crisis, with the issue of secession, nepotism, kidnapping, corruption and so on, Nigeria remains among those states with unstable politics, economy and government, even though She has what it takes to make it stable.
As a Nigerian, we all have different training, experiences and goal and therefore should not be judged the same way as another Nigerian. Nigerians around the world have given the nation both negative and positive image, and we can’t say Nigeria alone, but the rate that this image increases everyday is just shocking.
Nigerians are nice people who always accept strangers with open arms but we can’t say that for all; all I know is that majority does welcome people well. It is excruciating how we get bad treatment from other people around the world and even from our so called African brothers.
Without doubt Nigeria and Nigerians have got issues and have even made themselves popular through scam or 419 and other negative things that are detrimental to the society. We have so many Nigerians around the world both young and old striving to survive. As I heard from so many people that are not Nigerians, they said “that Nigerians are everywhere, you see them everywhere, they are arrogant, aggressive, rude, proud and would do anything to survive no matter the condition” I cannot dispute that but the statement also has to do with every living creature on earth. We all have our own flaws and therefore people are bound to talk but they don’t realize their own faults too. In life before you point out other people’s problems first recognize your own so that you don’t get mocked.
As a Nigerian, I have never traveled to any other country aside coming to the United States but from what I have heard from others and research, I realized that we are among the most hated people not country. The most hated country knows itself. Wherever you go and tell them that you are a Nigerian you must notice a different treatment from those people. Sometimes you would be treated nice but most times you are treated like a terrorist because they see you as a cyber terrorist (you know what I mean).

Most Nigerians living in different part of Africa which they call their home will not tell you that it is a wonderful experience. They are treated like robbers and most times even disgraced; with the recent problem between Nigeria and South Africa, it is obvious that we are being discriminated. Nigerians in South Africa are killed and being told to go back to their country; this infuriates me because the South Africans sound like they don’t travel to Nigeria. It was the recent squabble between the two nations that made many realize that there are lot of South Africans in Nigeria working as prostitutes. And not to be disrespectful, most of these prostitutes are HIV positive. The nation was discriminating against Nigeria but they are forgetting that their people are benefiting from Nigeria and they get treated well. It is the same Nigeria that helped South Africa during the apartheid period and also contributed financially to this nation. We always try to act as big brothers to other Africa nations but they don’t appreciate it. Our government makes available to other African nations things that our own people lack. Displeasing ourselves just to please them but even at that we still get treated badly. Though not everyone in South Africa hates Nigeria but majority do. I could remember when Nigerians and South Africans were fighting in their country, how lives were lost, just so ludicrous. Nonetheless, whatever I say here can be disputed by anybody majorly South Africans on the basis of Nigerians constituting nuisance in their country but who doesn’t? You are forgetting that the hardworking Nigerians in your nation help build your economy too. Similar to the US how illegal immigrants are not wanted but they boost the economy of the nation and help in development even more than the citizens. A friend of mine told me that South Africans were afraid of Nigerians because we are scammers and that if I am in the midst of South Africans and say that I was Nigerian they would walk away from me. I was mad, I know that I don’t know what is scam and haven’t seen such in my life but to be discriminated like that by people because they know that other people not everybody in my country do these made me feel bad. I found it offensive and in response I told him what if I say that I am afraid of South Africans because of the diseases? though it sounded offensive to him but he forgot that he has sullied my own nation’s reputation in front of so many Black Americans too. It was a case of making Africa look bad in front of African Americans. This was the Africa that the Americans would love to go but now we are showing them the other side of that Africa, apparently we are not in unity. This would definitely convince them not to go and make them believe more on the violence that they have been hearing going on constantly in Africa. Though I have a friend from the Southern Part of Africa Zambia to be precise, I don’t really know much about what they do over there but the one that I know which is South Africa, I will say and say it over again. We are tired of being treated like that, this is no longer the slave era or the time of Hitler. According to Chimamanda Adichie an African and Nigerian renowned writer on her visit to South Africa she said this “And these are people who, like me, grew up in a Nigeria that was fiercely anti-apartheid. We all sang Free Mandela. In primary school, we collected money to free the brothers in South Africa. Perhaps this is the reason I found South Africa a disconcerting place to visit, in the end. I felt incapable of truly understanding it, ill-equipped to grasp meaning and nuance, in a way that I have not experienced anywhere else in sub-Saharan Africa. It cracked my pan-African idealism.”

Ghana, who we claim to be our closest ally, but are only blindfolded are no different from the South Africans. Ghanaians complain about Nigerians everyday because they feel that we are not good people. They think that they are better than us and want us to give in to their superiority. Every Ghanaians first impression once they hear the name Nigeria is 419, negative impression about people makes you do negative things towards them and this has been seen among most Ghanaians towards Nigerians. They complain that we are rude and proud, that really doesn’t make sense because so many people are. You can’t use some people to judge the whole nation. Neither should you use our government to classify our people. Ghanaians bemoan so much about Nigeria but they still watch our nollywood movies, they used to owe Nigeria about $150 million for crude oil supplies and depended on Nigeria for about 90 percent of its petroleum needs. We have helped these nations so much but we get a bad treatment in return. I hear stories of Nigerians beaten mercilessly in Ghana. Come to think of it , a Nigerian schooling in Ghana pay differently from Ghanaians and I mean they pay way higher than them. One Nigerian’s student school fees can be 5 of Ghanaian students but the case is different in Nigeria; Ghanaians pay the same as Nigerians in Nigeria. It bothers me that our people get treated this way by others who are quick to forget our importance in that continent. Today the Ghanaians complain that there are so many Nigerians in Ghana and that even the ones born in Ghana don’t say that they are Ghanaian by land but that they still claim to be Nigerians. Is that a problem for them? they are quick to forget that even in Nigeria that an Ibo person born in a Yoruba land even without knowing how to speak Ibo still claims to be an Ibo person. Back to the issue of Nigeria dominating population in Ghana, we have so many Ghanaians in Nigeria and we know how we treat them. I could remember my Ghanaian classmate Israel Bansi, he was treated the same by everyone if not better than Nigerians. Everyone liked him and he felt at home. Though we laughed at his accent openly but within us we loved the accent. He had his bad experiences in Nigeria stressing back to when some area boys collected his BlackBerry but this problem is seen among so many Nigerians. I couldn’t imagine myself treated so nice like Israel in Nigeria going to Ghana based on what I have heard of the country. But I still believe that some Ghanaians love Nigerians, obviously seen in the partnership of Nollywood and Ghollywood but then they still have problems too though I don’t want to go to that now. But the ever unending question is why do Ghanaians love to hate Nigerians?

West African Nations in general still need to learn how to love each other. I know that we Nigerians have problems, even me too. We always feel so superior to other African nations which is not good but we still got them at heart. We care for them more than any other country and that is not like I am assuming, but I know that for sure. If our government could give electricity to other nations why we lack it in my country what would you call that? a stupid benevolence or what?.
In the Eastern and Northern Africa we still experience the same problem. The Eastern Africa would rather prefer a white foreigner to a black foreigner and one might wonder if they are really Africans. The Northern not much has been heard of them on discrimination but they still got their problems.
My advice for African Nations is that as Africans we should learn how to live as one and not treat others like rags. We should work towards African development and unity rather than disunity.

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The average Nigeria experience in the western world is not even perfect. They have got their problems too. We get treated like nothing in UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and so on. There have been cases where Nigerians are killed in Germany, France, Holland and so on but their governments do not take it serious unlike when their citizen is killed. But when someone from one of these countries is killed in Nigeria they want answers from our government and label Nigeria a state of violence. Maybe they feel that we are inferior to them that’s why we see so many of them treat us like slaves because they still think that we are in the slave era. Let’s remember that we are created by the same God out of his own image and likeness; meaning that we are all created equal. I could remember when the former president of Nigeria was interviewed in London, how the interviewer was asking him questions like he was nobody. The president made this indelible statement, “if I was a European leader you wouldn’t talk to me or question me like that” Now we call Nigerians rude or arrogant but you forget that these western countries are more arrogant than we are. To ask the no 1 citizen of a country silly monotonous questions is just so sick of the person. Upon these treatment by countries on Nigerians we still don’t mind going to their countries and being humiliated all these are what our government has done. Our government has failed and should be ashamed of themselves; mismanagement and bribery remains the order of the day.
In the United States this problem is not still different. I heard some African American girls say one day about how they will severely deal with any Nigerian guy that misbehaves with them. Though not all of them treat Nigerians badly but Nigerians don’t find it easy in their country. Most of them are afraid of us, they feel that we might either harm them or take away all they have. They see us as dangerous liars and greedy people. My saying to them is if we are Liars and greedy what would you call your politicians, what would you call your government? No man can claim to be perfect, absolutely no one or even nation.
Asia is the only place we find it easier without maltreatment because they are self reserved people who do not care about what you do but won’t pity you when you break their law.
In a nutshell I would say that the reason why they complain so much is because we are almost everywhere in the world. But is it a crime to travel to other countries? Was and is there any law against such? It is true that what some Nigerians do them hasn’t been all that good but they just have to endure such because it happens. It is not like we are running away from our country but because our government has made the land unfruitful for her people. That’s why we have had lots of brain drain in our country and the western world with the brain gain. Emeka Emeagwali of Microsoft is a Nigerian, Adebayo Ogunlesi owner of Gatwick Airport is a Nigeria, The richest black man in the world Aliko Dangote is a Nigerian; just name it. Africans complain of Nigeria giving the continent a negative image but they are forgetting that if Africa ever had an image whether positive or negative in this world it is mostly by Nigerians. You can go and check the legends of Africa and there you would see the history.

As a Nigerian around the world you don’t expect to be treated as a king, expect different things from people; our strive for recognition and the failure of our government to deliver has made us global villains and we are now learning how to live with it. Though we Nigerians are the catalyst behind how other Nigerians are treated in such a way but that doesn’t mean that everyone should get the same treatment. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Please people let’s be pragmatic for a better world.
So many people may criticize what I have written but that’s fine with me. You have the freedom to dispute any fact if you are not okay with it just as people have the freedom to travel around if they are tired of staying in one place. I know my government is corrupt but that doesn’t mean that I should hate my country; it still doesn’t mean that we can’t change, we will with time. I will always advocate for my own people anytime any day. I love my country and will never deny being a Nigerian; this is where I was born, where my parents grew and have lived. I will continue being patriotic to my nation and also pray for a positive transmogrification in my country. It shall be well with Nigeria, it shall be well with Africa and the World too.

By Alex Okeke

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