I have had enough of Nigeria and Nigerians.
Oh... you thought I meant the other N-word. No, no I meant Nigerians.
The word used in the assistance of the oppression and subjugation of black people and now used as a noun, adjective and verb, is a topic for another day.
Nigerians are everywhere... actually Nigerians and Ghanaians are everywhere. You cannot escape them.
Their music fills the silence of a bus ride, it provides the perfect soundtrack to a night out or even just hyping yourself to go anywhere.
Their movies are somethng out of this world. If you have never watched a Nollywood movie, pray and make sure you watch the ones that have witchcraft during the day so you can slee at night.
I really don't mind Nigerians. I love their novelists (shoutout to Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie), I love the idea of Lagos and I want to experience Nigerian culture one day.
But I'm tired of people asking me about life in Nigeria.
Homeslice, I've never been. So I wouldn't know what it's like back "home" in Nigeria.
Every year I’m asked about my life as an international student, which I don’t mind.
The accent and the fact that I repeat numerous times that I am from Kenya just doesn’t help people realise I am not Nigerian.
I get it, Kenya and Nigeria are sort of similar. They’re both in Africa, have founding presidents that are considered pan-africanists, they have the letter “a” at the end of their names. One is in the east and the other in the west. Even I would be confused.
However, it is really insulting when you confuse Kenya and Nigeria. These two countries are at war… a dominance war, a war of culture and most importantly sporadic twitter wars.
So when you confuse the two, it’s a blow to the chest because it means they are winning.
They are being recognized more and that is simply unacceptable. They already have the music, the movies,the corruption reputation and they’ve made it to numerous World Cups.
Sure Kenya has the runners, an almost worthy record of nepotism and corruption,tea and coffee,Lupita Nyong’o and half of Barack Obama. We’re also about to get that oil money so we can ball out, but people still don’t know that east is different from west.
I think what is most frustrating about the whole thing is that Nigerian culture is predominantly considered African culture. In the famous words of Dej Loaf, “let’s just be honest, let’s just be real.” When people think of Africa, they are really thinking Nigeria or on occasion South Africa.
The Dashiki’s are Nigerian, we just say it’s African. Afrobeat is one hundred percent West African. Everyone knows Fufu and Jollof but do they know Ugali or Sadza? Do they know Pilau and how it is just as good as Jollof?
At this rate, should we blame Nigerians? The Kenyan in me is tempted to say yes.
But what if Nigeria is the African version of America? A cultural giant.
You know how American music is considered R&B, pop or hip-hop automatically, while we get Afropop or World music.
Why is it we can name American states and cities, while they may not be able to realize that Kenya and Nigeria are different?
Their culture is kind of world culture, they influence the way we act, think, dress and even communicate with their music and movies, so they never really have to learn about the rest of us or meet us half way because we are already attuned to some of their characteristics. In a similar way, Nigerian and to some extent Ghanaian culture is African culture. We try to catch up to the way their creating music that we don’t really have a distinctive Kenyan sound. They have Nollywood, what we have is fledgling but still not at the Nigerian level.
Is it that they hold so steadfastly to their culture while some of us are quick to let go of ours?
Or is it simply being an ocean away from the world’s culture that they are much more memorable and able to exert their influence on the rest of us?
Or is it because “black culture” is to an extent American culture and these are basically the brothers and sisters of West Africans?
I don’t know. All I know is I am tired of people asking me about my country, “Nigeria.”