Nigeria lives through me: The voice of a Nigerian in America

by Chika Uwazie

In all cases, the term Diaspora carries a sense of displacement; that is, the population so described finds itself for whatever reason separated from its national territory, and usually its people have a hope, or at least a desire, to return to their homeland at some point, if the “homeland” still exists in any meaningful sense.

In the previous generation after the civil war and deteriorating state of government, a mass migration took place in order to seek better opportunities abroad. It was done not only to seek better opportunities, but it was a survival technique in a sense, hoping to bring back a better life for their families  Through the decades, more and more Nigerians left to go abroad and became contempt with an improved lifestyle. They witnessed things such as clean streets, constant electricity, and a government that actually works for the people.

Slowly the mindset started to shift from the paradigm of America as being a place of temporary status to a permanent home for Nigerian families. The thought of going back to Nigeria began to seem unimaginable with the constant reminder of a corrupt government, waning education, and lack of infrastructure. But there comes a time in our lives when certain nostalgia sets in and you want to go home.

Taking a look at this current generation, it is clear that the youth possess the ability to migrate back to Nigeria and to restore it to the days of pre-independence. This was the time period in which agricultural was a thriving sector. It was a time where many people benefited from a free and solid education. It was even a time that our government was able to function in a harmonious compromise despite our ethnicities. I started off by stating that the Diaspora has the hope and desire to our homeland. Despite all of these opportunities, can we truthfully say that today’s generation of young Nigerians in the Diaspora want to make the effort to relocate back to Nigeria?

Whether we want to believe it or not Nigeria has encountered a brain drain, which has transcended into an uncontrollable trend of migration out of the country. It makes no sense that in America, Nigerians has been deemed as the most educated group, and yet who’s economy is benefitting? In order for Nigeria’s economy to suffice for the lack of highly skilled professionals, the government spends over 4 billion dollars annual to hire expatriates to fill in for these gaps. The International Organization For Migration (IOM) estimates that ‘”It would have cost the developed nations about $184,000 to train each of the estimated 3 million professionals educated in developing countries now working in the developed world, resulting in a savings of $552 billion dollars for the developed nations.” In essence, developing nations like Nigeria is giving developmental assistance to the developed nations, making the rich nations richer and the poor nations poorer, an analogy of pouring water from a drum into the river, springs to mind.

With acquiring all of these countless degrees, we are one of the greatest sources that Nigeria has. It is even now needed more then ever because Nigeria has hit a turning point in history. More than 50% of our population is under the age of 35, and the youths are making a stance in several issues concerning governance, health, infrastructure, and power. Too many Nigerians abroad have lost hope and I for one can no longer allowed pessimistic ideology to continue to clout my judgment of Nigeria’s future.

If we continue to stay in America for what is perceived as better opportunities how can we ever change the same Nigeria that we continue to complain about. Doesn’t anyone get sick from watching constant negative press about how once again someone got kidnapped; people die from bomb attacks, or money being squandered among the elite? How can we change Nigeria effectively abroad when we can not even name one successful Diaspora youth group that has put efforts towards Nigeria’s development? How are we impacting Nigeria by having town meetings among the Diaspora that never evolve to sustainable change?

As Leo Buscaglia says, “the person, who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow, and love and live.”  Yes, there may be lack of security, power, and governance but yet there are people living in Nigeria more resilient than ever. It is time that we rise above sending money back home and join the youth revolution in Nigeria that has  started with campaigns such as Light up Nigeria and Enough is Enough. Let us leave behind the days where we hide behind our blogs, facebooks, and websites criticizing Nigeria. No matter how much we may try to assimilate to western nation’s cultures we will and always will be Nigerians first. I didn’t say this task will be easy, because it may be the most difficult task you have ever encountered. I am willing to take the risk to make an impact on this country, the question you must start asking yourself will you?

8 Comments

  • eMJOY Mayowa says:

    #NewNig! Love it! YesGod. JOY
    By the way, #BB2011

  • chinyere biafra says:

    Dear Ms Uwazie
    This is a great time to ask the now generation to do some sole searching. But like it or not we may not see the exodus back to Naija that is required unless more electricity is powered to the neighborhoods where these professionals are expected to live and work

    Your article is a good segway though, to keep the young and restless refocused, and reenergized to the task at hand – building the spirit of Naija to pre-Biafran fervor

  • GOONERBABE says:

    Well-balanced article and on point! Good for reflection. You know, i recently asked myself that question because I have always fancied going home and being one of the youths that would make Nigeria a better place. I know, its a sacrifice leaving a a place with all the basic amenities of life but lets not forget that the countries in which we live in right now, its their people who are making a difference through hard work. The clincher for me is this: There is no way another man's country can be like your own. There are overt and covert ways that the system use in reminding you that you are a foreigner. Having said that, its pertinent to note that All the great nations of the world did not become great because one or two individuals worked hard but because they had GOOD GOVERNANCE. Therefore, I also believe the Nigerian government should create the right incentives and provide an enabling environment for those abroad who want to invest financially or contribute socially to our country. Nigeria shall be great and I believe that I will be a part of the success story. Ki Olorun bukun fun Orile Ede Nigeria, amin.

  • Kennisblegad says:

    Great content here. This is how the 50% of the population below the age of 35 years needs to think, act and talk every single day about Nigeria, especially the ones in diaspora. Enough of aimless and inactive criticism. But as paramount as it is to act individually, a collective effort will make a whole lot much more of difference. We need a movement through which the voice of the majority can be heard. 50% is an intelligible majority. Who is ready to start a movement, I am ready to be a part of it.

  • uche francis says:

    Ada ukwu,this is inspiring.For keeping hope for Naija alive and puting the issueof Diaspora home coming on the agenda,you have donewell.If you keep talking it,you will prick some hearts,attain a critical mass of likeminds and luanch a movement.Remember Marcus Garvey's philosophy?

  • Green white Green Fa says:

    For once, I have seen an individual who in her right senses articulated what I have been going through here in Canada. Nigeria is a great Country, her population is intelligent, how long are we going to be treated as second class citizens here in western world? I am tired of it. I want to make impact in my country, so many people want to do that too. I think this write up from this young lady kind of boosted my morale and I urge Nigerians to critically see the point from this article and make a move. Other Africans are looking up to us, we are a GREAT people and we can do this. May be setting up a committee that can bring all NIGERIANS schooling abroad and form a group, in alliance with Nigerian govt so that we can have a place at home and help build that great Country back to life again! Money we make here as an individual can only sort our present basic needs, but being patriotic to our beloved country will save a lot of souls. Thank you for this article and God bless Nigeria

  • Ava says:

    Lots of Nigeria youths are out there trying to fight for our country and the betterment of our government, but we must remember that change will not come in a day. We must not do one thing and just give up because we are not seeing any differences now..but our children and our children's children will definitely ripe the fruit of our labor. We must continue to fight for the betterment of our beloved country Nigeria.

  • Debo says:

    Great piece, real content.

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