Sunday, 2 November 2008
The Snobbish Attitude of Most Nigerians
Now I'm not about to point fingers because I'm guilty of it to some extent but if I'm frank those were back in the day of limited knowledge. The days where I valued the 'foreign' stuff over homegrown or the expensive material things over the things that offered real value for money. Now I know better that showing class or sophistication does not have to include looking down on people or saying 'I am better than you'.
What informed this post? Well I had gone to see a friend of mine whom I only met just over a month ago. From the little I know of him, I gathered he was one of those people who had a semi priviledged background. He grew up in the Ikoyi/VI area of Lagos, went to Kings College and had a car even before he went to university. Someone whose parents were so liberal to the point that they would drink together and even allowed him to host wild parties in fully air-conditioned room with cigarette smoke dancing around the room. Till today he still carries on with that sort of life and his conversations mostly surround video games, girls and parties.
Let me give in a little background to this. In London most Nigerians live in the South East like Peckham, Thamesmead etc and in the East like Barking which are mostly area for working class people and immigrants. Most of the Nigerian clubs are also concentrated in the SE and East of London so you find a lot of Nigerians within these neighbourhood have a lot in common. Sometimes people in their bid to appear 'different' will go to the 'city' to party and mingle because this is where you mostly find white middle class people. If you go to city clubs you will feel like you really are in London because the crowd and music is different. When some Nigerians go to places like that to party they come back to boast to their peers about how they partied with 'cream girls' and city boys.
Such was the scene at my friends place on Saturday. He and his friend went on about how they went to a club in the city called Ink and the crowd was so much better that they have decided not attend 'gongo aso' clubs anymore. Gongo aso meaning clubs with heavy Nigerian presence and Nigerian music. They ranted on about how they do not feel like they are in London and cant even speak 'phone' like a real london guy anymore because they keep mixing with all these people who were fortunate enough to get a visa to London but cant speak good English. It was blatant that they brought that classism from Lagos where peeps from Ikoyi believe that they are better than those who live in Oshodi. They washed down London girls saying they are loud and money grabbing but one of them is married to a Nigerian woman. They gave examples of their friends who would not even speak to a Nigerian person because they do not want their 'razzness' to rub off on them and berated Nigerians for speaking their language too often.
I looked on in horror as these two people exhibited a lack of respect for anything Nigerian. I was so gob-smacked that I didn't even know what to say to them but in my mind I was thinking how pathetic they were. I admit that some Nigerian people put their fellow Nigerians to shame with their unpolished attitude especially in public transport. Some of them shout at the top of their voice when speaking to each other or on the telephone. In fact just last Tursday I listened on as one Yoruba dude gave a vivid description of how he slept with his girlfriend that he hadn't seen for a while and how thick his sperm was blabla and I thought this is gross. However I don't think this problem is isolated to the Nigerian community only. I see a lot of East Europeans who get on the bus and chatter on in their language and some British folks who just go on and on.
However what my two friends are forgetting is that the white man's way of life is not better than ours. While they clearly do some things better than us, it does not mean our culture and way of life pales in comparison to theirs. It is good to enjoy and appreciate a little bit of everything as this leads to a healthy balance in life. I believe what people should aim for is to be able to hold their own in any situation. If you want to party in 'chinawhite' with footballers and reality TV stars, well do so and not put down 'carbon' where Naeto c may just show up if he's in town. If you wish to wear a Georgio Armani suit, do so and not put down my 'ankara'. If you wish to speak in your British accent, please do so and not put down my own accent because frankly I ain't Bri'ish. There are more to people than meet the eye and no one human being is above the other even if our social status may suggest so. We are all going to die and be buried and our soul will leave our bodies. People should learn to feed their soul and their minds and not just their bodies. Karl Marx was known for capitalism, Newton for gravity, Freud for psychoanalysis and Mother Teresa for her humanitarian work, what will you be known for when you finally depart this earth?