First thing first, let me just say – Nigerians travel. If there is a place, country or county where people live, you can be sure a Nigerian has been there. One time I was in the transit lobby of an airport in Turkey thinking about how many more hours I still had to travel before I got home to my folks when I heard a couple speaking Yoruba behind me. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. It was an airport; it wasn’t anybody’s home.
My point is, Nigerians are mobile and that’s one of the things I love about us. In our travels, we meet people of different races, colours, nationalities, and languages but what do we do with the mobility, experience, and the frequent flyer miles? How does it influence our mentality and perspective? That’s what I want to discuss today.
Inter-racial dating/relationship/marriage: If you could, would you?
If you had the choice or opportunity to marry someone who isn’t from your country, state, local government, village, town or tribe, would you consider marrying them? Let’s remove every other factor from the equation, leaving just race and nationality. If your choice of marriage partner goes down to two people of different races, let’s say white and black, when will race become a factor for consideration? Would you consider their qualities, characters and attributes before considering skin colour?
In my experience as a black man in a foreign nation, dating can be tricky. Generally, and this is just my own observation, black women don’t date white men as much as black men date white women. Black women tend to wait for the right black man to come along while black men will go after anything in skirt or trousers. I’m not referring to black and white people from the same country like the USA, UK and other countries of such nature. I’m talking about situations where one person is a citizen and the other is a foreigner. Also black women don’t like it when their ‘good’ men choose ‘them white b*thces’ (PS: I’m directly quoting someone I know here), even though they’ve repeatedly rejected him because he’s ‘not good enough for them’. But what difference does it make? If you find a good man or woman who is perfect for you, would you let them go because they’re not from your village or race?
I dated a few people before I got married, both white and black and I’m going to share a few of my personal observations. Of the black women I dated (4 in total, I think) 2 of them were very demanding and the other two were not. Of the white women I dated (5 in total, including my wife) none of them were demanding. In my case I believe it’s a cultural/mentality issue, I just couldn’t help but notice. Sometimes differences exist between people that might not necessarily be due to their race. So when a beautiful woman came along, someone that was perfect for me, I didn’t look at race. I just went for the person I loved and could envision my life with because at the end of the day that’s all that matters. Would you have done the same, or you’d have preferred to wait for an African queen to come along?
Another observation I’ve made, also strictly using my personal experiences, is that people are different and it’s usually not about skin colour. Many women, as I’ve noticed, have a very high (and often unreasonable) material expectation of any man they’re going to marry, while others just want a man who has discovered himself and is not shy of commitment and responsibility. Some women will make it easy for you, some will not. These differences often, but not always come with race.
So if it comes down to it, should race matter? Let me know what you think.
Racism: Should history decide our ideas and actions?
Racism is a very controversial topic and one that doesn’t have a single explanation accepted by all. Racism, in simplistic terms, I can say is a bias against people of other races. Many times when we think of racism our minds immediately goes to slavery. While racism and slavery are closely linked, they’re not exactly the same. Many of our ancestors lived through periods when slavery, segregation and oppression were the norm, but anyone that is 100 years old and younger probably didn’t experience slavery in the dictionary sense of it. There’s no doubt that other mental, psychological and even physical forms of slavery still exist, but now it’s no longer the norm, it’s a crime. Horrific and despicable events of the past should not decide or excuse the actions of today. A white person isn’t necessarily racist just because his great-grandfather was a slave owner. Neither are all the people from the former colonial countries racist or oppressive. History should sometimes be what it is, history and nothing more. The actions of today should decide today.
So why are we (blacks) still very mad? I smile when young people make slavery references as if they lived it. When we picture racism, we see white people oppressing black people and that’s it, never the other way round. But blacks can be racist too, so can people of other races. In fact, there is racism in the fight against racism. Racism talks usually focus on white and black people, a recent example is the #OscarSoWhite movement, but there are other races apart from blacks and whites. People from most parts of Asia are neither white nor black, or even Arab but no one cares about that. There are Africans who are neither white nor black, they’re just who they are.
I’ve seen racism and it’s not fun, but racism is not a white thing, it’s an individual thing. I’ve met many people from same countries who are extremely different in their characters and attitudes. I’ve had someone scream at me for ‘not belonging here’ and others who have gone out of their way to be nice to me. That’s just the way it is. I’ve seen many blacks say they can’t stand people of a particular race or country for no real reason. If that’s not racism, tell me what is. I’ve had moments myself when I have thoughts in my head that sound like ‘stupid + name of a person’s country’. Bottom line, racism like every other social vice stems from the heart. What is in you is what you are and is what you do.
Ask yourself, are you a passive racist? Do you subconsciously judge others? Share your answers with me in the comment section.
Language, why is it important?
I remember a time in my younger years when I thought the world had only a few languages, English, Arabic, and the Nigerian languages. I automatically assume that any language that wasn’t English or Nigerian was Arabic, I was young and naïve. I remember the first time I left Nigeria for a non-English speaking country, it was as if I was on another planet. Oh, the days of sign languages when you know what you want but you don’t know what it’s called so you have to point. And other cases when you bought what you thought you wanted just because it looked like it, but as it turns out you bought something else entirely. Also, usually when I said I don’t understand or speak a language, people just repeat themselves in other words using the same language. It’s like using grammar to interpret grammar.
Language is a window through which we see people and see the world. It’s a spectrum that influences our perspective and ideologies. I’ve met people from different countries and continents who spoke different languages. I’ve been blessed to speak two major international languages and I can’t tell you how wonderful it is. If you have the chance to learn another language, do not pass it up. Language opens you up to new perspectives, people and a whole new level of tolerance. I realized that I understood people of my host country more and started enjoying and appreciating their good qualities when I was able to communicate in the same language with them. Remember how Fulanis sell cheaper to you if you speak their language? It’s the same everywhere. So if you find yourself in a country that doesn’t speak English, instead of isolating yourself and counting the days until you return home, try to make use of the opportunity and learn the new language, it’ll definitely make your life easier.
One mistake to never make is to equate language with intelligence. There are rocket scientists who don’t speak English or good English while there are pure morons who speak it fluently. The fact that someone doesn’t speak good English doesn’t mean they’re dumb. Language is just a way of expression and a means of communication. You might have the means to communicate but don’t have what to communicate. Only fools use themselves as standards on which to judge others.
People come from different races and places. They speak different languages, but these differences are not usually what separates them. In my short years, I’ve met and interacted with people from UAE, Latvia, Kenya, Belarus, India, Nepal, Ethiopia, Libya and probably other countries that I don’t immediately remember. What I can say for sure is that all those people were nice, intelligent and their race, language or and nationality didn’t matter at all. All nationality talks almost always end with the initial exchange of pleasantries and general biodata. Every other discussion after that is based on the attributes and knowledge we possess and/or share and not the color of our skin or the language we speak.
If you could, would you learn a new language just for the sake of it? And which language will you prefer? Let me know what you think.
This has been a very long piece but I hope you enjoyed it. Remember, tolerance is strength.
Image via Thought Catalog