“Indeed, you must be responsible for the worst actions of other black bodies, which, somehow, will always be assigned to you.”
Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
My fellow Nigerians, I no dey sure say we understand wetin dey happen yet. I don’t think we get it. Not yet, at least. Malaysia is clearly not our home, right?
That is the only explanation I can have for why we act the way a lot of us do. Last year, there was the ‘viral’ video where a Malaysian was chastising a group of African residents in Flora Damansara says a lot. The allegation then was that a lot of the people there smoked, did drugs, drank and prostituted till the wee hours of the morning, all the time.
I have no idea if any of those allegations are true but there’s the African proverb that says that “There’s no smoke without fire.” Don’t even think about science right now, that was from a long time ago, okay? It just means that there had to be some iota of truth in what was said.
I’ve lived in Damansara. I have seen how some of us act and carry ourselves. You’re not Emeka or Ose in here in Malaysia. You’re Nigerian. African, even. You represent a country of more than 180 million people and a continent of over 1.2 billion people.
That may not mean much to you right now. For ages, our generation has complained about how terrible the image of the country is. Every single action you take outside your country is a ‘for’ or ‘against’ your country. And probably extends to the entire African continent.
You don’t even have to be Jesus Christ or whoever the holiest and most perfect person is that you know is. I’m not asking you to be someone else or to not be real. Be as real as you want to be. But at least be human.
This is even more crucial for us, being black and Nigerian. We already have our reputation. We’re expected to rob someone or scam people every time, on the streets, in the elevator, at work, while sleeping and even when we’re just standing by the roadside waiting for a taxi. Is it too much to ask that we surprise those people?
Malaysia is clearly not our home, that na why we dey literally shit on everything. By disrespecting our hosts, we disrespect ourselves. We’re not telling them who they are. They already have an idea who they are. We’re telling them who we are. The good news is that this goes both ways. If someone is racist towards you, they’re not telling you who you are. They’re showing you who they are.
I don’t know about you, my fellow Nigerians, but I was raised in a culture of respect. Respect your elders, respect your hosts and hey, you were expected to respect the neighbours (unless they were extra gossipy).
When I’m out and about in Malaysia, I don’t see that culture of respect in my fellow Nigerians. I see a group of people who believe that they’re owed everything. I see people who believe that they’re better than everyone else. Being better than everyone does not lie in you telling everyone else that you are.
It’s in showing that you are. Proving yourself. Fairly. Well, the world is not exactly fair to us, black people. But, it is what makes our success even sweeter. That is what black excellence is about—it is getting and staying ahead despite the extra effort that we have to put in.
It’s 2018, people. There are Nigerians casting their names and the country on the international music scene. Fairly. Go see the latest movies. Nigerians. Everywhere. Doing the same thing. Fairly. Or fighting for it to be so.
What are we doing here? Can we represent positivity? Hard work? Dedication? Style? Excellence? Can we? Or are we doomed to be perceived as scam artists and black money launderers forever?
I am not holier than thou. Nope. As a carried entity of the Ilya Port, there have been times when I have beat obiomangwa for kwashiorkor.
Malaysia is clearly not our home, right? Well, our Nigerian culture forbids us from being terrible guests. That is not who we are.
In case you forgot, we are Nigerians. Let us act like we’ve been somewhere.
I’m expecting shots to be fired, so just so you know, odeshi.