Asun, Jollof rice, Shoprite bread, Pepper, Plantain chips, peppersoup!
HAYYYYYY! I miss Nigeria.
I cannot wait to go to Nigeria and see my family and friends because I have so much to share with them: my new clothes, my new jewelry, OH! My new nose stud!
EHN? NOSEGINI? NOSEWETIN?
DIGIDISH KPPAKATA AKPAKO KOKOMA BOBMARLEY SONGSOFSOLOMON
What you just experienced there are the sounds of music I expect to hear from my mother’s clashingsymbollikeslaps as she instinctively reacts to the glistering stud on my nose. I even had to tell my sister to keep her away from the airport.
Some might think it is for fear that onlookers might call social security when they see her beating me
(LOL! they never halla)
In reality, I am scared that other Nigerians might ask what happened, then equip themselves with all sorts of weapons of mass destruction they store in their hand bags; ready to join in the massacre. Such weapons include; heels, eba stick, eba, youknowtherest.
But that all comes down to one thing…
Sorry, It all comes down to many things but number wan is “WHY CANT NIGERIANS MIND THEIR DAMN BUSINESS?”
Yes, in the United States of A, lots of people are scared of making eye contact with everyone else, including the squirrels. For a population of more atheists, they look up to the heavens and down to hell far more than expected.
One day when this one girl was going about her daily life trauma called “walking out of her dorm”, she was trying so hard to stay away from the nightmare, “eye contact.” Unfortunately she did not plan for the worst when she bumped into me. Consequently, she began to deteriorate. I mean the layers of worn out youth started disappearing from her face- she lost all her color. She looked as if she had seen a ghost because she was dying, or I was a zombie and I didn’t even know it.
Inside, I knew she felt like
But outside she really looked like she was losing oxygen
In a slight panic, I began to smell the necessary things (armpits, breath, hair strands). I had to because I was so bewildered; why would another human being lose breath over human contact? One theory would be that she was racist…
…but this babe was blacker than me though.
And that was how that theory was immediately dismissed.
Eventually, I picked up my self-esteem lying under the footsteps of the girl who had just found something very wrong with my body (contact). Heavily burdened with too many low selves-of-steam, I continued my journey to the soda(sof drink/mineral) machine in the basement.
When I got to the machine, I quickly put in my 2 dollars 25 cents because I knew that was the price of my Vitamin Water (Energy flavored). Sharply sharply, my energy juice spiraled down the metallic mallam that handed me my drink.
As I enjoyed the revitalizing power of my chilled Vitamin Water, I knew the problem.
WHY WOULD I NEED ANYONE IN THE WORLD IF I CAN GET THAT SORT OF GOODNESS FROM A MACHINE?
Back in Nigeria, in order to get what I want, there is always a human body I have to go through. It is either one slightly overweight, thickly lipglossed Bukky at immigration or a mildly underweight dry-skinned Musa standing behind his zinc shack (or wooden shack if he is a big boy #shackflow #phuckyoshack).
In order to get a drink, I would need to master the skills of social communication in the appropriate context. For example, If I were in Balogun market, I would hardly ever buy the same drink for the same price more than once. This is because prices could differ based on even skin color; not everyone always wants to impress the “oyibo pepper”. Prices could also differ based on accent because anyone who speaks “SUPRI SUPRI”(i.e has a foreign accent) is a JJC (Joiny Just Come) who knows nothing or has plenty money to give. By the way, if you plan to go to a market with your Harvard Law School accent, and you know that your pocket isn’t as heavy as your accent, please bleach it from your tongue before you ask “How much is…?”
Considering all the social skills Nigerians need to obtain shelter and food, how can we be afraid of eye contact when we know that one American girl’s nightmare is another Nigerian girl’s golden trick for lowering the price of “faux Dolce & Gabbana glasses” from 2500naira to 500 naira.
Okay after all this long tory what does this mean for Amebo Nigerians…
Owing largely to such small talk Nigerians often fall into believing the manipulative or genuine compliments give them family status to every customer. The extreme cases exist in Nigeria’s political arena. For my anthropology class, we read “Navigating Nigerian Bureaucracies” by (US born and bred) Elizabeth Eames. It is an ethnographic paper that claims favoritism in Nigeria is less of corruption and more of a culture. Although I hated that paper from the topic , it hit a nail into my hard head: Nigerians really have an amebo culture. Not because it is an inherently Nigerian attribute, but because we cannot get access to any products without going through already biased humans.
My fellow Nigerians, we all know that my uncle’s stepmother’s half brother’s uncle’s sister’s niece’s daughter’s imaginary friend’s cousin is my “relative.” It is only in Nigeria where someone can attach himself or herself to your family tree by passing by the house; LENDING you one tin-tomato-cup of garri or even waving you bye bye (it might have even been the person beside you).
Although it might often look senseless, and pointless for people to exert energy on flogging hell out of a child that isn’t theirs, there is a very big reward to their “altruism.” The big reward comes when they look for the simplest link that gives the a very undeserved right to request or DEMAND a “helping hand”. This helping hand will usually transform into all of a helping body by the time the “relatives” are done. Thus, when my mother is beating me, others feel like they have a stake in “correcting” me as well because I might be their daily bread in the nearest future.
There is science involved here bruh! Years ago, a great scientist WD Hamilton proposed that altruism (doing good deeds) functions on a formula where the cost of the actor must be less than his/her benefit.
I had such a “EUREKA!” moment as my teacher used squirrels to elaborate on his point. If I had known, I would have willingly created a PowerPoint with all the hawk like “family” members (blood or garri related) that have used straw to suck the life out of my mother’s bank account. Those relatives feel no remorse because to them, they already paid through their efforts to discipline us wayward ones. For when she shouts “CHIAMAKA WHY ARE YOU STANDING BESIDE THAT BOY?” or when she stops me in the mall to tug at my “Godforsaken” short skirt, she has used all her disciplining efforts for my good.
Ladies and gentlemen exhibit A of that skirt…. -______-
You see, when my teacher explained “Cost to Actor” he also used the example of birds who come back to help their parents/neighbors provide food and security to their kids; some sort of extra hand. But to the Nigerians I speak of, the right and only place for that extra hand is inside the pot of Jollof rice we cook every Sunday.I remember this aunty who stayed in our house till thy Kingdom come biko! As the altruistic actor in this case, her most expensive action was to help my parents teach us the value of generosity as she constantly dished out threats of death to anyone who attempted to change the DSTV from Channel O. Firstly, we all know that Channel O was for failed Kwaito musicians (#falsegeneralization).Secondly, those same parents threatened us near death experiences if we ever watched channel O. Alas, years later, I get into college; she calls me and says “My daughter! We will be coming to visit you oooh..inugo?”
When did I become your daughter? After you did nothing but break my parent’s rules, and sleep in our house, then eat our food, you think your stay has earned you a decision making right as a family member?
With such Nigerians, the cost they put in is so little, it is uncomparable to the benefit they expect- their motives rarely seem genuine. Everyone hounds in on Nigeria for corruption, but how else will the 120,000naira earning civil servant pay his children’s school fees, his nieces’ and nephews’ luxuries and employ the whole village youth council that have been waiting for a way out of their unemployment? Funny to think how after addng their onto the exhausted eye bags of senators , they scream, “IT’S GOD” and celebrate their newly awarded contract.
Encouraging a woman to compromise her integrity is NOT God: IT WAS YOU AND YOUR “JUST TO REMIND YOU SIR” PHONE CALLS! Although Networking is often compared with favoritism, I can safely say it is not expecting your “uncle” to place you, with the 100 jamb score, over a hardworking young 300 jamb scorer, working hard without the “helping hand” that some of us want to overstretch.
Yes, many of the people I go to school with treat me like I am carrying Apollo inside my eye. Yes, they might deteriorate if we ever get trapped in an elevator. However, they know that no one is going to put their head into their business-to help or not. So, unlike the common scenery of an aunty being glued to the TV, you would rarely see that girl who bumped into me whiling away time, satisfied with exercising her fat fingers on the DSTV remote. In fact she would keep running: running past me, and trying to outrun the other “selfish” competitors” who understand (and often overdo) what it means to be an individual person with an individual life. How many times in the United States does a total stranger throw a scarf on your head in the middle of a Catholic mass shouting KPOCHI ISI GI! HAIIIN! UMUAKA ANUWA A NE ZUZUKA (COVER THIS HAIR! AHN AHN! THESE CHILDREN NOWADAYS…ALWAYS MISBEHAVING!). Yes, it is a true and cool story, (for Americans and others wondering) no I didn’t sue her…
That obsessive American patriotism that many strongly dislike is a pride that usually comes from self-satisfaction when each American does something that contributes to the success of the state. However, when we depend on daddy’s 11th cousin’s dead grandfather to solely take care of us, it becomes too easy for our gratitude to start and stop with that dead grandfather (if he is lucky). We need to stop listening to people with big names and titles (e.g Erizabet Eames) that tell us that navigating bureaucracy is our Nigerian culture. No, I am not saying we should abandon the community life we cherish. But, I am saying that it stops being fair on the one person actually feeding the rest of the community members; it leads to laziness; and ultimately ends up fertilizing all sorts of corruption.
Just like my aunty, those individuals who would want to join my mother to discipline me for my nose ring would feel so satisfied because that is the start of their relationship with a potential immigration worker, boutique-owner, weave supplier, or president. Often, they are not even expecting much from you, as long as you are a person you will be the valuable lipglossed Bukky I call when I need to skip that long line at the visa office or the Musa that will reduce the price for corned beef. Note: These relationship were formed and cherished when that one beating they gave me taught me the lesson that brought me back from my wayward life. NOW I AM HEALED!
INDEED, the cartoon network I wanted to watch would have encouraged me to join bad gang and sniff cocaine but channel O made me see better. Thank you aunty.