“I just came from America”: The familiar strangers are here again

by Eizu Uwaoma

First of all, don’t be offended for these are just my opinion. But to me, it’s deep and hurting how the best of our kind gets exported to foreign lands only for them to come back in minds and lifestyles really not their own. They return back changed with lost originality. From their attitudes to accents we sense a superiority complex that I find false and mutually destructive as I share this true story in relation to my point.

Years after; my friend Nasa came back and can barely speak her language.  She only speaks with a thick British accent these days. This sometimes leaves me in doubts on whether even the queen of England would understand her as I stared at the aged woman that was listening to her. Obviously she seemed stranded in Nasa’s world. Really, it had been a while as this woman who happens to be Nasa’s grandmother  cried in tears of joy,  hugging her  so tight with a distance that revealed lost  in the times of forever and perhaps never to be found. Nasa , is her name as “funkified” from her full name, Chinasa. Chinasa happens to be a foreign based Nigerian, the type that has traded everything in her that spelt original that even her mother’s mother could not reach her mind.  Is this the typical lost world of the average Nigerian in Diaspora? The foreign based Nigerian?

Sometimes I get stuck in conversations with Nigerians abroad on life, society and the change our country needs and what amazes me is their perception of our country and it’s so humorous the solutions they suggest. But really, this is not funny considering that they have already started returning or would return home to take over strategic positions in business, politics and leadership by the virtue of where they are coming from and the class they represent which is either connected, valued as most valid or fortunate.

Some, I must confess, are smart and promising and perhaps represents the best of our kind as young potentials of which everyone potentially is, except that being smart is such  a relative and relational term. And in this case what they know about the real world of Nigeria is too third hand.  Apart from the third party knowledge and the dangerous single story reports about Africa from the cable networks, friends and computer aided data. Now, Nasa (my case study girl), having been abroad for so long, seems to have almost lost touch of her own. Although She has loads of opportunities as good as she sounds but also, from the way she flaunts another man’s accent in exchange for her unknown mother tongue during conversations leaves her as either a rival or potential “MAGA” in the eyes of a “real Nigerian” as she’s quick to engage in arguments that compares her “Jand” and “yankee”with our Naija. These most times reflects no good.

Is it me or can anyone sense how she has totally bought into the white-man lies of a foreign based  cultural superiority away from ours? The same one who’s ideology, value, resources and even material  artifacts’ was stolen alongside the best of our kinds as slaves  in exchange for their religion years ago as these masters came in the name of Christianity and Islam as they came mainly for economic gains through parasitic means of devour but ironically called on God  and the saints to bless the journey of their slave trade expeditions to and fro Africa. And even after the end of the slave era came colonization which I think only removed the shackles and chains from our hands and necks only to be placed in somewhere even worse, our minds.   The same western propaganda, exportation and exploitation via a slave trade mentality  I still see as the best of our kinds gets exported by mind to a point of no return.

In Nasa’s world as days go by, I see how she finds it harder to be a true African at least, talk less of a real Nigerian. I see how she finds it hard to remember what Diaspora influences her to forget. She knows less about her country, her people, their dynamics and nature. She’s lost between her new world of the Diasporas and the backgrounds of her Nigerian heritage that goes fainter everyday as she trades it with the habits of the foreign land without self consciousness. She rather knows more about how the system here doesn’t work and is quick to flaunt her ignorance in suggesting solutions not peculiar to the real life of the people. Sincerely, she isn’t far from the foreign place she’s from when she expresses her big dreams of change with a strategy for charity. She’s always quick to group most countries into an entity she calls Africa, the same way her new found country does. And so just like her new found country, as usual, she might subconsciously look down on its people  or look up for change only as a fashion statement. She’d sometimes get real for some attention but deep within, she prefers her world, the world of the Nigerian abroad.

I am careful about the tone of these words as it stays on a delicate balance between what’s true and what can be termed as hating. After all do I blame her?  It’s the unknown cause and depth of posterity that should be looked at for the reasons for this. Matter of fact, enough of whether she’s the true representation of a true Nigerian which of course she’s not, considering that her immediate environment even in Nigeria is tiled and furnished with air, the freshness of Air conditioners and Thermocools. Her skin I admire as it stays smooth as the color of chocolate while she stays overdressed with the best designer clothes that only reveal the naked truth of vanity  and oh! How her accent makes her sound smart. My typical Nigerians are her “wannabees”, they call it “cool” and think “swagger” of her so it’d feel good to be like her. I’d think just like the so many other people who are also lost in the search for what is not theirs. So I don’t blame her, except that she thinks that Africa is the third world as defined by the yardsticks of inequality and exploitation just like her false perception that her Maitama in Abuja, Shell camp and GRA  of the Niger –Deltas and Lagos owned VGC,  Lekki, Ikoyi  and the rest of the Island are the main parts of Lagos because that’s more like what she knows. .

Her world is lovely like they say, with a case that is typical of the fortunate thousands of Nigerians exported away via iron birds only to become so civilized. But at least, Nasa, our case study here tries to comeback but just like most other of her type, she perhaps feels too civilized and trapped in lives and bodies not hers, traveling too deep into another man’s culture leaving behind everything that makes us and the details original to them.

For the sake of our journey to a promised land of hope and comfort to ourselves and generations after, this note quietly begs that you always remember what diaspora helps you forget, which is who you truly are, Nigerian and African.

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Comments (5)

  1. Interesting! When people with low self esteem have ano advantage, gbogbo aye lo ma mo!

  2. This is a poor article by any standard. The writer rambles, the editing is poor and she keeps apologizing. Mate, if you're not hating, you're not – just speak your mind. As to the issue at hand – false accents and disconnected Nigerians; I get that we sometimes go overboard, but when you do get to travel try speaking with your plain naija accent murdering all the pronunciations and see how far you get. While getting my degree it took concerted efforts to unlearn the murderous accent and achieve my current plain, almost unaccented English. I'm glad for it. And I need it as my work pits me with an average of 5 nationalities at any time. The comments I get are not that I sound British, but that my English is neutral – that they can't really tell where I learnt. Of course I have been accused of speaking "phoney" by some. Their wahala.

    I don't look down my nose at naija though, I love it. I speak my native language decently enough and understand it deeply. I roll with other returnees – we share a common thread, we came back ASAP and its to make a change. We learnt with the best and beat them, but we didn't stay on. We came here to excel again and in doing so make a change.. Whatever, now I'm the one rambling. Later folks

    I differ from your Nasa in one way though,

  3. Gbam!

  4. Nasa is damaged by a lack of self awareness. I am afraid to say that she's not widely travelled, she's just a villager who went abroad.

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail