How have y’all been? I know it’s been awhile, I apologize. I’ve been going through some things but we thank God, things are looking up. So, on we go in this journey of life, dusting off the cobwebs and the negative energy that comes towards us.
Now to the topic of the day. Like some of you know, I moved to the US a few years ago and one thing that people have constantly brought to my attention was my’ accent’. If I could have a dollar for every time somebody said, ‘Oh! What a cute accent. Where are you from?’ I would certainly be on my way to becoming a millionaire. As far as I could tell, I didn’t have one. But I guess anyone with a different tone in their voices must come from somewhere exotic, (at least that’s what I think). Then when I say I’m from Nigeria when they ask where I’m from, the next question usually is, ‘You mean Africa?’
I admit the first time I heard that, I did a double take. I corrected the individual who so happened to be African American but she looked at me like I had two heads. I went on to explain, that Nigeria is a country in Africa and Africa is not a country but a continent. Do you remember last year when Raven Simone said that she was from every continent in Africa?
I’ve had several similar instances where I had to correct people. Made me wonder if people didn’t study geography in school or whatever happened to Google? My hub always asks me every single time I ask him a question; ‘Have you googled it?’ according to him, everything and anything can be found through Google. Which annoys the hell out of me but I digress.
After we moved past the intrigue of where I’m from in Africa, statements such as I don’t look or sound like an African often follow shortly. And I’m flabbergasted; since you don’t even know where Nigeria is, how could you possibly know what Africans or a Nigerian sounds like? The response is usually, I speak English so fluently and at this point, I say my goodbyes and walk away. Girl bye!
I imagine that the power Hollywood wields showing Africa as a continent of starving kids wandering around in huts or bushes, usually afflicted with AIDS or Ebola in their movies must be the reason for all the mouth-gaping insinuations.
On one of my first job interviews, the manager had asked me the usual questions. Tell me about yourself, where you have worked etc, and when I described my background having worked and schooled in Nigeria, the UK and Dubai he was so intrigued. If only he had left it at that. He then proceeded to ask me if I often saw lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) I burst out laughing and said a big NO! He asked me why and I said because the animals are usually at the zoo. I then told him to look up Lagos on his Google app which he did and boy or boy the look on his face was priceless. He asked me if this was where I was from and I said born and bred. Safe to say I turned down the job and moved on to the next best thing. On my next job, I came across a customer who demanded to speak to the manager because ‘he couldn’t understand my accent’ which I had come to understand meant I was not telling him what he wanted to hear.
I asked him why and he said I didn’t speak English. Trying not to laugh was very hard for me at the time and so I got my boss who until this day is one of the most amazing people I had ever met and respect. He carefully told the dude that, I had explained the procedure and policy to him perfectly and he won’t change anything. He had two choices, comply or take his business elsewhere. BOOM!
I have come to realize that many Americans are only interested in their own environment, county or state much less other states in the US or the World or Africa or even Nigeria. While I would expect the average American not to know or understand anything about the African sub-continent, I would admit that what gets my goat is when other Africans particularly Nigerians play into the stereotype.
A friend of ours is so fond of doing that. During our many conversations with people, this person will tell stories of how he would see giraffes from his bedroom window or go walking with the zebra’s in the garden, in Lagos. I mean Lagos, Nigeria. To my gidi people, please let me know me if you all ever had the pleasure of walking with zebra’s in the sunset or have breakfast with hippos or hyenas. It’s a shame.
While I understand that Africa and Nigeria have had its share of doom and gloom; from corruption to wars and strife; I want people to know that is not all Africa is all about.
Nigeria is a beautiful country filled with a rich variety of people from different cultures. There are over 1000 ethnic groups in Nigeria alone, with their own dialects, cultures and traditions. From the hustle and bustle of the Lagos streets to the serene ambiance of rural Abeokuta to the cool air of Jos metropolis. I am happy to call myself a Nigerian.