Are You Nigerian Enough?

Good morning people! Never have the Monday morning blues overcome me so strongly, damn it. Can every week end with a long weekend please? I much prefer this. Ugh. The only comfort is in the fact that this week is also a short week! God just knew what I could handle and finessed the whole bants for babes to be very honest. Anyway, down to the business of today…

So recently at work and over the long weekend, I seem to have been having a lot of conversations about Nigeria. Maybe it has something to do with our upcoming independence day, our lack of ministerial cabinet, our power supply… Who knows? All I do know is that whenever I have conversations with Nigerians about Nigeria, there seems to be a recurring theme and that is “How Nigerian are you?” You see for some reason, here it is not enough to just be from this our great nation; everything must always somehow devolve into conversation that I personally find tedious. However, I think I’m going to address it anyway because it bugs me and I really don’t understand the notion. So here’s how it usually goes; there are a bunch of people talking, chilling and trading stories sometimes these conversations get heated, especially when it comes to politics and then all of a sudden, one random party in the group decides to declare “You, do you even speak your language?”

That’s supposed to be the trump card. The line that says “If you do not speak your mother tongue then all your opinions on any matter involving Nigeria are invalid.” And I HATE that. I will unashamedly admit that I speak my mother tongue, Yoruba, haltingly at best, just to get that out of the way. However, I promise that is not my reason for hating the statement. For me, it is the undercurrent that it implies that really irks me. There is this unshakeable concept of “otherness” amongst Nigerians that I feel is even sometimes directly displayed in our lack of camaraderie towards one another. Everyone always seems to want to outdo the next person, and not in a competitive way that can then be attributed to producing growth, but in ways that cut each other down. There are Nigerians in the diaspora that have a fear of returning home lest they are labelled “Not-Nigerian-Enough” when really, some of these people speak their languages more fluently than other ciizens who have been in the country all of their lives.

Depending on who I am trying to relate to at the time, I either feel not-Nigerian-enough or too-Nigerian. The constant back and forth of trying to blend in and code-switch is extremely tiring and I know I can’t be the only one to feel this way… Am I? What does my ability to speak a language have to do with my opinions on financial or political matters? When the good people from international companies around the world come and tell us how to run our country, does anyone ask them stupid unrelated questions? The short answer is no. I suppose it’s a lot easier said than done to ask people not to judge a book by its cover, but before you ask someone an insensitive question about their language speaking abilities or upbringing, stop for a second and consider that it is possible you know nothing about the person, their background, their struggles or their accomplishments.

With all the immigration stuff going on and refugees fleeing their countries in droves, I could easily start a conversation on “What exactly is a country?” but we’d leave that for another day. Today I want to hear from you guys, have you ever been accused of being too- or not Nigerian enough? Do you believe there is a continuum on which a persons Nigerian-ness is determined? And how does it affect the way you relate to them?

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Assumption is the mother of all mistakes, mistakes are proof that you are trying, but simplicity... Simplicity is the key to brilliance.
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    Situations like this make me support Ultron in Avengers. Heck, if Ultron was real, i would wholeheartedly support the Ultron movement.

    We humans are what is wrong with this world. We want the world to change but we don’t want to change.

    My aunts and uncles do this a lot whenever i travel for a family occasion. I have never been in a discussion and have a party throw that question sha. I can just spit on your face.

    My name is Nosa. I am from Bini, Edo State. And i cannot hold a conversation in my native tongue to save my life. If you don’t like that, fuck you!!!!!

    September 28, 2015
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      KELS

      “if Ultron was real, i would wholeheartedly support the Ultron movement.” Really? The Ultron ideology with its extremities and everything, reallly?? Sigh
      Are you Nigerian enough? Very funny question, and whats funnier is the fact that most people tend to call others out on this based on their mother tongue prowess. Frankly i see no relationship between them. Rather i think its more of a question of patriotism, how much of a patriotic Nigerian are you? You give bribes, steal from the public purse, don’t vote during elections, fail to pay your taxes, disrespect civil authority, disobey traffic laws regularly, and the list goes on and on… Most Nigerians do all this and more without a second thought and its almost a generally accepted Nigerian behaviour. Even foreigners that come in, after the initial shock at the way things are done here go with the flow and call it “normal”. So really, how Nigerian are we?

      September 28, 2015
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      Ife

      “if you don’t like it, fuck you !!!” hehehe no chill fam !

      September 28, 2015
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    Oh my! I really hate the whole “Do you speak your language” notion. I remember some guy who looked down on me and said how can I become governor if I don’t speak my language. Not like I have plans to become governor but who is he to look down on me because he has a thick ibo accent courtesy of his so called mother tongue.

    FYI, I actually speak my language but like to act otherwise to listen in on conversations. Lol

    IS IT NECESSARY TO FLAUNT YOUR LIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA? Read my opinion here http://alocovivavoce.com/2015/09/28/is-it-necessary-to-flaunt-your-life-on-social-media/

    September 28, 2015
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    joe

    Hard guy

    September 28, 2015
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    Chris

    Well, I just have to bare my mind on this issue albeit from a different angle cos as similar thought has been bugging me for a why now and there’s no better time to share my thoughts. I’ll still try to pen down my thought actually and I hope it gets published on here.
    Me thinks today’s post should have been tagged ‘What Makes you Nigerian?’

    Is it because you were born and raised here that makes you Nigerian?
    Or like today’s post, is it your ability to speak your native language? (Foreigners learn out language and they speak it even more fluently than some of us. Does that make them ‘Nigerian’?)

    What exactly defines us as a nation?

    The Americans have ‘The American Dream’ to look forward to. Every American will say they want to live the American Dream. What is the ‘Nigerian Dream’?

    I feel a honest look at this question, what makes me Nigerian will solve all this hullabaloo of speaking ones language or not.

    September 28, 2015
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      Chris

      TNC. I beg put an edit button. I already pressed post comment before realizing plenty typos. Pls ignore them. Before somebody finish me for writing bad English.

      September 28, 2015
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        No one will finish you though. Typos happen. If we allow everyone to edit their comments, that could lead to chaos..

        September 28, 2015
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      11

      The Nigerian dream is to drive a Gwagon and live in Lekki or Ikoyi ?

      September 28, 2015
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        Hahahaha.. Spot on.

        September 28, 2015
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        Chris

        Nice one!!!????????

        September 28, 2015
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      Oma

      The Nigerian dream is to go to school, study a “professional” course, graduate then go abroad and hammer. That’s the Nigerian dream.

      And its a damn shame.

      September 28, 2015
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    I love Nigeria with all my heart, but there has seldom been a day in my life when my Nigerianness hasn’t been called into question. I speak Yoruba to near fluency, despite spending half my life in America. There are plenty of children growing up in Nigeria today who can’t say that and they never left!!! Yet, I’m the one who gets ridiculed for how I associate the country and my Yoruba heritage.

    The great irony of my love for Nigeria is that I have learned far more about the country, its people and history living outside of Nigeria than I ever did or could by living there. That a tremendous tragedy in my opinion.

    September 28, 2015
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      Chris

      Tola, you’re very correct. What we do instead is bicker and cos strive with all our useless jesting especially youths of today. Yoruba boys are this. Ibo guys are that. Have you tried to understand the culture? Have you tried to learn what makes them unique? Did you even try to appreciate other cultures? You don’t necessary had to agree with other people’s culture but don’t make it a tool for banter. Respect them for it and look for ways to live at peace with other people.

      People say it’s all a joke but like my Yoruba folks will say “Idi ere ni a ti ma nmo otito oro” >>>>”Na for play we dey know true talk”

      September 28, 2015
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      Bami

      “The great irony of my love for Nigeria is that I have learned far more about the country, its people and history living outside of Nigeria than I ever did or could by living there. That a tremendous tragedy in my opinion.”

      This is everything.

      February 18, 2016
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    In class nd lectures on!! Will check back pretty soon o nd hopefully by then d comment section will be almost filled up #sneaks back out*

    September 28, 2015
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    I think the first step to solving this particular question is to define this: What exactly is being Nigerian? When that is defined, then you won’t need to be graded on your level of Nigerian-ness. You will grade yourself.

    Even though I have never had this question put to me, I think it is just better to be human first before considering being Nigerian, or whatever other nationality. All these colorations distort our perception of people around us. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t be bothered if someone says I’m not Nigerian enough. That’s their headache, not mine. But if you question my humanity, then I should be really concerned.

    September 28, 2015
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    Ah good topic. I’ve not experienced the scenario you painted, but I’ve had to learn my native dialect when I was younger because I wanted to. The jabs I receive today is for my inability to speak Yoruba despite being born in Lagos. But what’s my business with that one biko?

    Anyway, I’m more interested in this:
    “Everyone always seems to want to outdo the next person, and not in a competitive way that can then be attributed to producing growth, but in ways that cut each other down.”–

    This is a mounting problem and it cuts across our sexual, tribal, religious, political, educational definitions. The sexual one irks to no end.

    Basically if a conversation veers off what’s important and aims to qualify my opinion/action based on silly, unnecessary definitions, I take my leave. Can’t be bothered with these things.

    September 28, 2015
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    stubborn geh

    I still got the “You cant speak your language?” question on Saturday and its really annoying. When asked, i asked the guy why i was being blamed for it. I lived with my grandparents at different times and they just refused to speak the languages to me (urhobo and agbor). At one point, i refused to go on errands for my grand mum if she spoke English to me but she simply threatened to swear for me!!! (she had stroke so she was really grumpy). Currently i speak Yoruba, french and i was able to pick small Hausa, a month after NYSC camp. So the problem isn’t me. If anything i have an ear for languages. I just wasn’t taught…and no one should give me the stupid line that comes after this explanation: “ehn if you really wanted to learn, you would have learnt it naa! go to your village and learn”. Yes, I’m jobless abi? Forgive me i’m still vexed.

    September 28, 2015
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      Uche

      Your reply went to Cher

      September 29, 2015
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    Cher

    Ahhhhhhh I don’t think its only in Nigeria it’s everywhere !!!!

    My mom is black American and my Dad is Nigerian . And for me it’s hell on both sides . As in the black Americans in my family are always telling me I’m African or I’m not black enough , or condescending remarks about my dad and other Africans . Whereas when I visit Nigerian ( which I freqent a lot yearly ) I get the same thing .

    I feel like the statement is so stupid . When people even say that what’s their point , what do they gain ?

    Is there some type of test you have to pass to be “Nigerian enough ” ? I really wonder for some people.

    And I’d like to add im just enough of both although I consider myself just a tad bit more Nigerian !!!!!!

    September 28, 2015
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      Uche

      Hi. You’re from Agbor? I’m usually excited when I meet someone from Agbor. Nice to meet you.

      September 29, 2015
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    Naija Babe

    hmm nice question.I also fall into d category of one who dosnt knw hw to speak her language,and its not any fault of mine ,I assure u.My dad is igbo ,my mum itsekiri, and I was born in d north.I am a fluent speaker of d hausa language,I understand almost everything am told in Igbo, but no mater hw hard I try,I can’t seem to produce those igbo words I have swimming in my brain.
    Igbo was not spoken in my house ,at least not to us kids but to other Igbo folks around us.my dad dosnt even say ‘bia’ to us by mistake.
    As I grew up,people mock me,but I defend my self by saying all least I can speak one Nigerian language dat u knw nothing about.although I could give anything to go back in time and put more effort in learning my mother tongue,I still feel dat language does not give u express ticket as a Nigerian. in fact in d north,its a fast ticket for been murdered. those who can speak kudos,but don’t lord over those who can’t.

    September 28, 2015
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    Kunmi O

    “There are Nigerians in the diaspora that have a fear of returning home lest they are labelled “Not-Nigerian-Enough”” – Yo! I struggled with this for a while, and then one day I just thought:

    1. I know who I am.

    2. Ya’ll don’t pay my bills.

    September 28, 2015
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    As far as I’m concerned if you speak English and/or Pidgin you’re Nigerian enough.

    September 29, 2015
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