To Be A Nigerian

I remember having a friend who was Ibo but never spoke a word of Ibo except to her parents. Not that she did not like to speak Ibo, I just never really heard her speaking Ibo. Then we gained admission into Universities and she went off to University of Calabar and a few holidays or perhaps strikes later I saw her and as we were yarning, she was really interspersing her conversation with Ibo words and I was like "Wow, it took your going to Calabar to learn to be Ibo" and in many ways, that reminds me of myself because truly, it took my coming here to realise how truly Nigerian I was and wanted to be. None of this american accent and behaviorisms for me, I truly don't give a hoot. As far as I'm concerned, the greatest compliment I got paid was in Nigeria 1999 christmas when somebody told me, "Girl, you have not changed one bit, except gain a million kg" which, aside from the kg thing was very exciting for me.

These days I question all these things we as in Nigerians claim are "bush". What exactly is being "bush"? And how come it is with such pride that we elevate other cultures and dis ours ever so badly? I mean I'm not going to lie, I am guilty of these faux pas too. But these days, I am beginning to question some of those things I took for granted. For instance, why do I have to even use cutlery set to eat? I've got hands with fingers so what's the deal with that? Why do our men wear a suits when its hotter than hell's burning back in Nigeria? These are just examples of what I'm complaining about. All of a sudden, I consider someone else's traditions to be better than mine. Now what is wrong with that picture? The truth is you and I know better so please, before we put down something next time because it is "bush", lets ask of ourselves the question, "Bush to whom?"

So, while this might seem very obvious, but the true reason why we appreciate America and all its trappings is because we are foreigners. The true Americans do not really appreciate these things because they are normal to them so I think basically, thats another reason for us to be happy we are Nigerians. Every historian will tell you(I hope I'm getting this right) every empire has three stages, the rise, the peak and the fall. What will happen when Nigeria rises?(and for those of you who think thats impossible, watch and see)How many of you will suddenly want to be a part of the country you forsook so many years ago?

To digress a bit,I think I have two personalities. Both my names are my personalities. I am called my Nigerian name Chinwe at home but right before I was scheduled to go to secondary school in Nigeria I discovered my English name Stella and that was the name I decided to bear in secondary school. I think right then and there was when I tried to be something I was not. Stella was a personality that was less confident, less hardworking and less assertive. I think this personality went through a lot of hammering to be shaped into something that was "bourgeosie" or at least tried to be. When I graduated from secondary and stayed home a year and some months, I made new friends and met new ideas, I decided I wanted to be Chinwe. So when I went off to University of Uyo, I became Chinwe again. This time, I really had fun. My personality was bubbling. I had great friends, had wonderful dates and really, really enjoyed myself. Unfortunately, I became Stella again here because I did not want to have my name mis-pronounced a million times. It fit well but it did not feel like me, so I decided to live like "Chinwe" while I bore my English name "Stella". How well this has worked? I think it was worked marvellously. I have become as socially conscious as I think I will ever be and I am having fun. To me, this name changes reflected the changes I was undergoing in character building and I must confess it did not come very easy. But these days, I am glad to say I'm very proud to be all I am and what I am and I really hope everybody can say the same for themselves.

When you look at your self in the mirror, ask yourself one question, Is it really a crime to be Nigerian?