Nigeria(ns) Sef

Even in the most terrible of situations,
these people build humour.
You might wonder whether it’s a coping mechanism.
We wonder too.
It seems almost innate to make jests in a storm;
and more so after the dusts have settled.
Afterall, it is the more you can do while trying your best—or after.
Viktor Frankl might be proud.

My generalisation may be incorrect, but the average Nigerian feels entitled to the proverbial ‘national cake’; the one those in goverment—and their croonies—have been feasting on for longer than the youths can remember. The youths have learned too. And a good number have successfully tried to partake of the global cake, sometimes considering it the easier option.

In a country like Nigeria it can be difficult to properly identify those most in need of the covid-19 foods palliatives. Certainly, there are poor people that don’t look as poor and ‘rich’ people that don’t look as rich. We’ve heard of a one-legged man who begs for alms; he has a house, nice clothes etc. People struggling in their hussle, and who may not even have a piece of land to build a house on happily give him money; apparently he’s cool, standing in traffic…. Please don’t take this the wrong way.

There’s no country like Nigeria.

So a warehouse was found in Lagos last week, or thereabout, with foodstuff branded as palliatives for the 2020 lockdowns inspired by a desire to stave off the mysterious SARS-COV-2 virus touring the nation. It was looted. People have been scouring other states for similar warehouses. About a week before that I came across two pictures placed side by side. One showed packaged noodles distributed as palliative while the other, nice looking meals packed for those in the ‘endSARS’ … protests. The message was clear. Now partially vindicated by the discovery of the warehouse(s). We’ve at least seen where [some of] the money went.

Stop the burning and looting, biko! But they will not be consoled—even after. The miscreants have taken over. I fear some of them are the same people contributing to insecurity at some bus-stops … when it’s dark—usually.

It now seems like the art of governance is tantamount to the art of personal enrichment. Where the people in power create schemes to skim—no, shovel—national/state/local government income into their personal/family and croonies pockets. (I’ve heard randomly that one former governor is an innovator in this field of studies.)

Those ‘under’ them in government, perhaps now, so as ‘not to carry last’, have their methods too. You may have to pay transport money to someone to move your file through/to the required desk, for instance. The issue is now systemic; having a life of its own. People could even get hired/fired based on how well they maintain the status quo. Certainly, that makes good business sense. The business of goverment is business afterall. It just has been largely for the benefit of a select—the special ones. Bad still, the private sector is not spared. Yet, the many awesome and smart and honest and pleasant … Nigerians keep the ball rolling.

I heard someone exclaim jovially, “Omo, wahala dey!” (meaning that there is trouble), while discussing possible solutions to some of Nigeria’s pressing problems. In all, we closed with “Nigeria go better”, (taken from a song) a phrase of hope, but in reality sometimes spoken with a tone of resignation—well, not today.

The Nigerian Eagle has landed (spoken as a prophecy). We fly green-white-green.

Not the stereotypical Nigerian….

Watching runner runner a few months ago on one of those satellite channels fond of showing ‘old’ movies…. These words stood out: Dean Monroe telling the protagonist, “what you touch, touches us.” And this is why muslims from Arab countries may get extra attention at Western airports because of some potential association with terrorism.

Stereotypes are powerful. They tell us what to see, how to see, how to behave….

Foreigners who commit crimes stand out. If it happens often enough and the crimes are usually of a particular kind, it gives grounds for locals and law enforcement to stereotype them. Additionally, news of major busts of foreigners could be like plane crash events. With the consequent fixation by the media, this news helps fix the idea in the minds of locals that the average Nigerian in their country is very likely a scammer.

In an international social gathering, a Nigerian attempted to initiate a conversation with a Briton. The Brit asked him pointedly, ‘do you want to dupe me?’ That would’ve been okay if he asked only once. But he soon started sounding like a broken record. And the conversation that was not, ended. The Nigerian understood where the Brit was coming from: from direct experience and from hearsay.

A happy as usual Nigerian once passed through two airports in a connecting flight, happy as usual. He passed through the scans in Dubai without any alarms going off. In the UK, however, their body scanner was triggered by who knows what. He was asked to go to the side to get patted down. There was amusement clearly on his face but they weren’t smiling. He was left thinking about why he was given special treatment. Because he smiled too much, he hoped. He still had on the exact same clothes in London as he had in dubai—with nothing remotely metallic on. Perhaps their scanners were more sensitive to ‘je ne sais quoi’. Could they be manually triggered? Nigerians are now getting suspicious of ‘them’.

Do you currently associate some stereotypical behaviours (good, interesting, bad, or ugly) with Nigerians. Have you ever met ‘not the stereotypical Nigerian.’ Replace ‘Nigerian’ with some other country of interest.

Regards,