How about now?

I’m almost a hundred percent certain that former Miss Universe Malaysia, Samantha Katie James, was surprised at the predominantly negative reactions she received online from her comments. Her surprise will not have been from the negative reactions but that people condemned her thoughts that are supposed to be a shared idea in the community that she was raised in. It almost sounded like the people criticizing her are anti-racists. If I lived in a different country and only read the comments and saw the reactions online, maybe I would have believed some or any of it.

Sources: SAYS and New Strait Times

She even got angry before she apologized. Her anger at the reactions of her country people wasn’t feigned. It is the genuine expression of someone who has been betrayed. In her mind, didn’t they all laugh and make fun of the immigrant construction worker who has been forced to return to his country? Didn’t they all laugh and share hearsay stories and say how they were so lucky that the Black person did not make it into the elevator with them because they were quick enough to shut the doors as he approached? Lock the car doors in the center of a crowded open parking lot as the Black couple walked away minding their business? How could these same people now mock her for saying the same thing that they’ll have said, only in the confines of their living rooms, the elevator, or the parked car?

Source: Malay Mail

You know my favorite kind of racist? The correct answer should be that that is a trick question and that no one should have a favorite kind of racist but it is 2020, and unfortunately, no one can afford that kind of luxury. Anyhow, my favorite kind of racist is the one that I know, the one, like Samantha Katie James, who owns their ignorance or — what they’ll be quick to tell you — are their beliefs. Because the racists who hide that they are racists know that being racists is a testament of their ignorance and hate towards people who have done nothing to offend them but they are content with remaining racists as long as no one openly knows it.

And I understand, oppressed people oppress people, although some people seem to relish oppressing people at any chance they get. Many people who are regularly being oppressed pass that oppression to anyone they can. I have come across people who only respect you when they find that you are more fluent in the English language than they are. If, perchance, you so much as stoop their level in the language, you have given them the right to disrespect you. I have no idea how or when a borrowed language became a measure of intelligence or social hierarchy, but that is the world that we live in.

For many people outside the United States, the protests and challenges that led to it are strictly US problems. If you’re Black in the world, you know this problem because it is your problem and it has always been. Elevators being shut in your face, people crossing to the other side of the street, the stares, your Black body magnet suddenly activating car central locks as you walk past. That last one, I have never really understood, and this especially happens in crowded places. I would completely understand if it were a woman in a car in an empty car park and I (or any man) walk past and she locks her doors. That is safety first and understandable. In a crowded place with several people in the car though, what is your mind telling you is going to happen?

Samantha Katie James has been comprehensively flamed in the last few hours and she has “apologized,” which should calm everyone down. My issue with all of this is that it will be another ‘death of a celebrity moment’ — the few days following the passing of a celebrity when everyone, including those who have never heard of said celebrity, puts up a picture of said celebrity on their social media account for the likes or to be counted among their peers. The protests in the United States is a humanitarian issue. If you’ve ever lived outside your country and encountered any form of discrimination, you know how much you needed actionable support. That is the support that Black people need right now. Not just a show of hands.

If nothing, use this as an excuse to understand why and how Black people got to this point. I’m not sure how much I expect from you if I have to first convince you that I am a human being but use it to learn that Black people are people — weird to say but true. Not just go through the motions of Black lives matter and then shut the elevator door in my face or activate the central lock in your car when you see me tomorrow. Try to actually start to change. Try. And start. Because I know many of you have a long history of learning to hate Black people that you’ll need to unlearn. But how about you start now?

Source: @keilahhhjd on Twitter

I promised a few people an FAQ. This is that FAQ

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If you’re African and out of the continent, I’m sure you’ve been asked at least one of these questions or something similar about Africa or your country. I created this post so that you don’t have to answer those questions repeatedly. If you have other frequently asked questions, let us know and we’ll add them to the list.

Without further ado, we’ll get to the questions and answers.

Do you have Milo in Nigeria?

If you asking this question is what led you here, then take a full minute to think about your question. Don’t continue reading. There you go. Think about it.

Did you think about it? Did you realize that Milo is made by Nestle, which is an international company and as such will have the product in as many countries as possible, Nigeria included?

What you probably didn’t realize, however, is that a lot of the cocoa used for Milo and most of the chocolatey goodness products you love so much comes from Africa—4 of the top 5 cocoa producers are African countries. It is only just natural then that we’ll be allowed to taste what we grew and sold to Western countries to be refined and sweetened, and sold back to us.

Does everyone have guns?

Yes, we all do. Every Nigerian and every African. I leave mine at the airport when I go out of the country so that as soon as I get back to Nigeria, I can easily get it and jump right back in the streets.

Again, if you believed any of that, please don’t speak to me ever again. Thanks.

No, we don’t all have guns. Yes, it’s probably a whole lot easier to get a gun in many parts of Africa than in some other continents and countries, like Malaysia, but no, we don’t all own guns.

It is almost absolutely illegal for a civilian to own one. Typically, the street-justice-style Nigerian police force has been known to shoot and kill people on sight (and site) for possessing a gun. They’ll just claim you were an armed robber. At least, you were armed.

Is it safe in Nigeria?

If you asked this question, I’m assuming you were probably hoping to visit the country at some point? And you’ve probably seen the news of all the kidnappings. You haven’t? Ignore that last sentence. Take the answer now; No, it isn’t really safe. At least not in relation to where I am now.

It’s not even very safe for Nigerians in Nigeria, and if you’re light-skinned or from anywhere outside of Africa, or even sound like you’re not African, then even more so. You heard about what happened to the father of Mikel Obi, the Chelsea football player?

Yep, that’s (almost) now a business. The government might as well ask them to register their kidnapping businesses and have them pay taxes. It could help generate national revenue when the oil exports end.

Do people wear shoes in Nigeria?

C’mon, did you really just ask this question? Where is this even from? From the videos of Boko Haram in war-torn villages? Those people are almost refugees in their own country. They’re trying to survive. You think having shoes on their feet is a priority?

There are also some tribes that want to maintain their original cultures and traditions who choose not to wear shoes. That’s their choice. Anyhow, we (most of us, at least) wear shoes. Some of us actually like nice shoes.

Do you live in, like, real houses or just thatched/mud huts?

We have thatched/mud houses, of course. We didn’t start out from the beginning of time building concrete structures. Many villages in Nigeria still have thatched or mud buildings. The cities, however, are like many other metropolises—they are/look urban.

Do you have lions (and other wild animals) as pets?

I can’t really speak for the entire continent or even my country anymore. I have found articles of some dudes and their hyenas. I can’t even….no comment.

What is Nigeria’s official language?

The English language. Some people also consider Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba (from the country’s three major ethnic groups) to be official languages.

How many languages/ethnic groups does Nigeria have?

There are 526 languages according to Roger Blench’s An Atlas of Nigerian Languages. However, Ethnologue indicates that of those, “519 are living and 7 are extinct. Of the living languages, 509 are indigenous and 10 are non-indigenous. Furthermore, 19 are institutional, 78 are developing, 348 are vigorous, 30 are in trouble, and 44 are dying.”

What’s a typical Nigerian food?

There isn’t a typical Nigerian food. Food group, though, starch. Different ethnic groups eat different things. But if I’m going to choose one, it will be whatever variant of fufu/eba/amala combined with one of the many soups.

If Nigeria is so great, why are you here?

Nigeria is a great country but it is developing and needs a lot of work. It’s old-as-fuck (almost 70 years old) but still growing, slowly. Very slowly.

What questions do you have? What (possibly ridiculous) questions do you get asked about Africa? We can include them on this list and maybe have a QR code that just directs people here.

Being Nigerian in Malaysia sucks and some reasons why I totally love it

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I love that I’m African. If that wasn’t good enough, I’m Nigerian. And black. But there are some things that are just not so great about being a black African man from Nigeria living in a foreign country.

Some of these things will jump up and attack me anywhere in the world (even at home) and some others, only when you’re in a country that has a non-black majority.

1. My passport has almost zero power. You know how the Singaporean passport is the second most powerful in the world? Yeah, mine is closer to the other end.

2. That means travelling is limited. To anywhere that requires that I show my passport and have a visa in it.

3. If I get past those two, it’ll be because I have a whole lot of money (which I don’t). For visa fees and to prove that I’m not going to “run away” as soon as I get there. This emphasises the two earlier points.

4. We have a reputation. Or reputations. Our artistry in scamming people from around the world and in “black money” is legendary and extremely embarrassing. Oh, we’re also known for being loud and aggressive. Not that there’s anything wrong with being able to command attention when necessary, our reputation just precedes us most times.

5. It’s significantly more difficult than normal to get a job. Getting a job is not easy for most people, but my Nigerian reputation makes it more so.

6. I don’t get the girl. There’s nothing in this list that screams I’m your best choice in the world. Ladies, no hard feelings. I understand.

7. I’m a cop magnet. I get stopped by the cops for ‘random/routine’ checks. All the time. Whether I’m in a car, or just walking down the street.

8. I am the aggressive one. It is expected that I can throw punches as and when necessary, sometimes with little to no provocation.

9. I get followed around the store by the security guard. Or the retail assistants. The extreme scenarios; they either think I can afford everything in the store or they assume I’m going to steal some candy for dinner.

10. Nobody wants to sit next to me on public transport.

Why I love being a Nigerian in Malaysia

1. Nobody sits next to me on public transport. So much more personal space for me!

2. See point 8. Most people assume I can throw effective punches as and when necessary, making me less attractive for the muggers and criminally inclined.

3. I’m automatically considered cool. Mostly. Although, I’m not sure if it’s because I’m Nigerian or it’s just a “me” thing.

4. I’m also considered tall-ish. Which is not something anyone back home would use to describe me. Here, I’m probably considered of average height, even leaning more towards the ‘tall’ end. UPDATE: I’ve started to doubt this point.

That’s not a lot of things that I love about being Nigerian in Malaysia, I know. Maybe it’s just me but I very much enjoy living here.

How about you? What do you enjoy or not about being where you’re from and living in Malaysia? Light up the comment section! Go!

My fellow Nigerians…

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“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.

We’re Nigerians

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 neighbors (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.