We are Nigerians; we live as colourfully as the content of a trash bin. Our shock absorbers have long expired; we take every day as it comes with its own peculiarities and indiscretions. The oddities and kinks we display on a daily basis define who we are. I hear that, from the streets of New York to the pubs in Ghana, everybody knows a Nigerian the minute he walks into a place, the minute he opens his mouth, the minute he makes his order.
We are flamboyant, loud, brash, proud…and spiritual. The Nigerian will “thank God” after he succeeds at defrauding you, while the other party (the victim) is left suicidal. From stolen wealth, he gives his tithe- delivered personally to his pastor and asks for hands to be laid upon him for more success.
It’s amazing, isn’t it?
At least an American will rob you and take your money to the club and malls to frolic and shop; but the Nigerian heads to church to sing and dance. He buys a Rolls-Royce Phantom, then marries his wife all over again- this time on a N28million wedding spree- it’s not love, it’s the ultimate show-off for those who had mocked him in the past. The Nigerian lives to intimidate the next man.
They’ll call it: 10 years of love dedication. She’ll wear the wedding dress she couldn’t afford in 1994, and gather all the frenemies she was too broke to entertain back then (and stuff some cake in their mouths to silence them forever), while the groom gets to brag about being the newest realest rich(est) nigga in town.
He’ll then proceed to get a few more women, side-chicks as they call them; he’ll bequeath them with Kia Optima saloon cars and two-bedroom apartments in Lekki. Three of them, aware of the other (but who cares; he is a rich spoilt brat and that’s all that matters in this economy) with a roster in his car on who gets laid on what night.
Of course, he buys his pastor a car and brings out enough money to finish the penthouse of the church.
That’s how confounding we are. But there’s more, so allow me to draw a list…
Customer service: In Nigeria, the customer is not king. The customer is the idiot who must learn to do things on his own. Customer service executives are dragged from Hades to attend to us. Agents of Satan- they are disgruntled, annoying, resentful, miserable individuals who inflict on the customer pain and drudgery. When you walk into a store to get something, you have to deal with the front desk officer- typically a young girl, looking like an empty sachet of milk. Her spirit has departed from her body and is going to-and-fro the earth, on a mission to find a spouse.
She’s there but she’s not really there; there’s the possibility that you will not be talking to a rational human being. She hates you for coming into the store to shop, for even having money to shop! She is upset that you have come to interrupt her fantasies (she was just about to kiss her groom on her destination wedding somewhere in Jamaica). She is irritated by your pretty face and happy smile; she hates your bag because it looks like it’ll cost quite a sum. She just hates you, and you see it in her eyes.
She is now your competition as she tries to show as much disinterest and disdain to you- the customer with the nerve to walk into the shop asking for the price of this-and-that. She wants to drive you crazy and turn you into a temporary bitter customer, that is the only time she can find fulfilment, when she realises she is able to tear off this sweet posterior and turn you to the animal she already is. She can deal with that- your nastiness, she just can’t deal with that sunniness you radiate. Anything to rattle you is just what she’s after.
If it’s a guy you meet at the reception, he’ll first ignore you, almost swat you off like a mosquito. He has a wife like you at home…this he gets to tell you when you ask him why he is so rude, so unprofessional. Some customer service dude once said to me: “Is it because I am sitting here, you think I am small?” These executives are so unbelievable they are yet to make the logical connection between me- the customer, and their next pay cheque. They think at some point money will fall from trees to settle their salaries.
Marriages: The marriage institution is full of rich mysteries and the pages get even more thrilling, on this side of the globe, as you flip. You’ll find a woman at the top of her career, earning the kind of money that will make your jaw drop, she drives an expensive SUV, travels abroad regularly…but still living with her parents and siblings in a stuffy two-bedroom apartment. She has been warned not to get her own crib or she might have to live the rest of her life regretting that action…a woman in her 30s squatting with family because, it is assumed that, Nigerian men cannot deal with the fact that she deserves her own space, her own comfort even while single; just like they cannot deal with the fact that in the 21st century it is proper to find condoms in a woman’s bag. You’d have to explain to the man why you live alone or else it would be that your nice apartment is a symptom for all the debauchery known to man. So you deprive yourself of certain comfort just so a man can smile your way and hand you a ring.
PS: These things are largely false, unless you are dealing with a certain type…all the restrictions we place on the woman is as a result of society’s need (populated by women, by the way) to shrivel as much as possible another woman’s sense of accomplishment. To a large extent, it has nothing to do with the mind-set of the Nigerian male. But what do I know… *sips tea*
Education: The educated Nigerian of a certain generation cannot write a full coherent sentence; he is not sure if it should be “has” or “have”, “being” or “been”. He rants about “luving a gal” “luking for moni” “gng out wit d boiz”. Schools are shut down eight months in a year; lecturers become petty traders, students become dreamers and nuisances at certain Embassies. They lose focus, lose the appetite to read and achieve. He is a hustler, no different from the un-educated street hawker trying to make a few extra bucks.
There are no libraries to provoke young Nigerians to read; our culture is flawed with the fast money syndrome. Nobody cares how you get it, just get it! We are grooming a generation of people with a hunger for success that has nothing to do with getting a job or running a business that yields at the right time; they have drugs ready to sell in Ukraine, they have contract files ready to present to Abuja through a mistress that is now the mistress of the man in charge; they have blood on their hands that justifies the expensive jewellery on their necks and the beast-of-a-car in their garage.
Politics: First the Nigerian politician sells his soul to the devil, takes his children to a safer country, then draws out his weapon and starts the mass rape on his fellow citizens. The monies we are talking about in this political chess game runs into billions of dollars- the kind that will ensure the next 10 generations from his lineage live in reckless splendour. Oil money, as slick as deceit. With that in mind, the politician sells not just his soul but his common sense. He cannot afford to think like the regular person, he is confronted with so much money he stays perpetually drunk. His utterances- a national disgrace. His actions- international blunders. But he is rich and he can buy a conscience from anywhere and at any convenient time.
And then there’s Religion. I shall dedicate a full post to this one soon. But in the meantime, if your God is a powerful someborri, and you know that Ebola will ravage your enemies but will not come near your dwelling, just type “Amen”.