…musing about some of my favourite things about being Nigerian
Many of us maintain a love-hate relationship with Nigeria.
But truth is we have many reasons to enjoy being Nigerian and living in Nigeria (for those who do). For all the reasons we put forward, we have just as many for hating the Nigerian experience. It’s paradoxical: the same reasons they could put forth for loving Nigeria are the same ones others could give to explain their dislike.
Nigeria may not seem like the best place to be at this time, but some people swear that they would rather not live anywhere else. Some others are quick to remind you that there is a high influx of foreigners trooping into the country, so why are Nigerians leaving? Others will point to signs of investment in infrastructure and business, while some others will remind you that international lending organisations like The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) believe in the country enough to consider it credit worthy.
Whichever side of the divide you find yourself on, you will admit that you have a list of reasons that make you happy or proud to be Nigerian. Here are some of mine:
Culture: We have many indigenous cultures, each with its language, cultural observances and traditions, ceremonies, dressings, and history. I am always happy to meet people from different tribes. One learns something new, and this enhances exposure. We are an anthropologist’s dream, but we have not adequately exploited our cultural wealth. Many of our indigenous tribes are at risk of extinction, and we have not adequately documented their histories. It would be lovely to have a National Museum of Nigerian cultures. Each culture would have its section filled with artefacts and historical information.
Arts and Entertainment: We have vibrant art scenes in our major cities, at least I can say for Lagos, Abuja, and Portharcourt. From art galleries and cultural centres to theatres and concerts, there is always something happening. Many less formal entertainment venues exist in many major cities with various types of entertainment on offer. Sometimes under a tree, they often feature beer or palm wine, with fish pepper soup or whatever local delicacy is available.
Food: The best food on planet earth has to come from Nigeria. You would understand what I mean if you have spent at least a week outside this country without eating Nigerian delicacies. Many are acquainted with the popular ones like Jollof Rice and Fried Rice, swallows like Amala, Eba, and Pounded Yam accompanied by many of the tasteful soups such as Banga, Egusi, Ofe Onugbu, Miyan Kuka, to mention a few, but have you tried brabisco, Abacha, Gbagba Fofo, and Ekpang Nkukwo? How adventurous are your taste buds?
Music: Our music has gone full circle. From when we had huge cultural influences in the songs artists such as Fela, Bala Miller, Christy Essien- Igbokwe, Osita Osadebe, and Ebenezer Obey performed to when our artists wanted to sound foreign and gave us pure international wannabe vibes. Now, we are back to infusing our culture into our music, and we are not the only ones who love it. Artists such as Burna Boy, Tems, Wizkid, and Yemi Alade have huge audiences home and abroad. Nowadays, a DJ can play a full party set with just Nigerian songs, and no one would get bored.
Nollywood: We have come a long way from the days of Herbert Ogunde movies and the NTA TV shows and movies shot in Jos that reigned in the 70s and 80s. Independent producers like Lola Macaulay and Amaka Igwe took programming up a notch from the late 80s before Nollywood was born. The industry has since grown in leaps and bounds. From telling predictable and outlandish tales presented in hurried productions to featuring more realistic and structured stories highlighting better acting and higher quality production. With players like Africa Magic/ Multichoice and Netflix, the bar has been set even higher.
Fashion: Hands down, Nigerians are the most fashionable Africans, we no dey carry last! Our parties are never complete without some form of asoebi, whether it is lace and aso oke or George and brocade. I just love how one encounters so much matching colour once you enter into an event hall, it could feel like walking into a scenic painting. I often wonder why we have burdened ourselves with corporate wear for business purposes, we have so many wonderful and professional looking traditional attires we can adopt.
Parties: Once a few people are gathered together with good conversation and refreshments, any hangout can turn into a full-blown party. And we always have a reason to celebrate: you are getting married? Time to turn up. Your child is turning one? Where the party @? Your grandparent just passed on? How many days will the burial events take? Our unspoken mantra has to be “life is for the living”. Though I am not usually a fan of the noise and activity at parties, I appreciate how it adds to the overall experience.
Community: We often take this for granted but when we are out of the country, we realise its importance. We still have a good level of support from family and friends, whether financial, social, or even spiritual. Our communal nature has become a defence against our poor social systems and many would be in big trouble without a community of some sort. In our right senses, we are usually our brother’s keeper.
Industry: Many Nigerians will always find a way where there seems to be no way. We can be energetic and resilient once we set our mind to it, and we do not allow many things to faze us. Country hard yet many people will dig deep and look for legitimate ways to meet their basic needs. Any wonder why many people have side hustles? A key testament to this is our informal sector which is thriving despite the many challenges that business owners face.
We have a lot to be proud of and thankful for, irrespective of the challenges that we have faced and currently face. Let us always look for the good and seek ways to promote our cultures and our country. Nigeria can be the America or Canada that many of us desire to be in but, Rome was not built in a day, neither was it built by one person.
We have to be ready to put in the work that will produce the country we desire: this is the way I see things today.