Okay, this video has been circulating Facebook and some blogs. It shows a white man speaking Nigerian pidgin and some Hausa (In the video he’s basically saying that he’s at a club in Anambra and things are good etc). I mean he speaks it better than me and that’s not saying much to be honest. I cannot speak pidgin so let it not be news. When I first saw the video I thought, ‘This guy can speak pidgin better than me, in fact, he’s even more Nigerian than me’.
Usually I don’t read Youtube comments because they can be really ignorant, stupid, mindless, you name it. But this time one comment stood out above the rest. artgirl2002 said;
“I don’t know why Nigerians find this so delightful. This is not outta love for your culture. So quick to love and fawn over a white person. Nauseating.”
You can read more of artgirl2002’s comments here though I’m not sure I advise it. I’m not brave enough to go back (I only read the last 4 comments and this is Youtube, things are bound to get ugly)…
The above comment made me look at this differently though I do not agree with everything artgirl2002 said (she seems a little bit bitter). I had this conversation with my friend D yesterday today where I mentioned that I felt that even in Nigeria, white people are placed on a pedestal and are treated better than the locals. It’s ridiculous and saddening. Case in point, when I was in Nigeria last year I met up with a friend from primary school (side note: I remember she bullied me and made me cry but that’s in the past. Forgiven but sadly not forgotten). Anyway she mentioned that once she went into Transcorp Hilton which is a hotel in Abuja where everything is overly-priced and was in the bakery* however the Nigerian waiter/waitress chose to serve all the white customers before her. I was shocked and asked her when it happened and she’s like ‘Oh just last year!’ and I’m sure my jaw was on the floor. Can you imagine this madness?**
Why on earth would this kind of thing happen in an African country? I wonder if such abnormal activities have happened in other African countries. I had another Nigerian friend (I’ve got a lot of friends I know, I’m apparently a social butterfly) who has told me 1,000 times about her mother’s experience in Kenya where she supposedly went to an abattoir that served only Indians. I don’t want to put words in her mouth but she seemed to imply that this sort of thing didn’t happen in Nigeria. Well it turns out that I have living proof.
I should mention that I’m pretty lucky in that I’ve never experienced such things and I’ve also never experienced racism. Yes I’m sure I’ve encountered racist people, for example, I’m confident that the Taiwanese guy in a few of my classes is a big-headed bigot but no one has ever outwardly shown me racist tendencies.
I’m not lying when I say that I don’t understand this tendency that some Nigerians (and maybe Africans but I’m speaking from a Nigerian perspective) have to place white people above everyone else including themselves. It is stupid and can only be described as colonial mentality. Why on earth will you engage in your own oppression? Maybe I’m reading too much into the video, but right now, this thing has passed the video***. It is the comment that raised the uncomfortable questions and alternate explanations for the popularity of this video around my Nigerian friends on Facebook and the blogosphere at large.
Honestly when I first saw the video I expected other people to mock him for speaking pidgin. Kind of like saying ‘who does this white guy think he is?’ but I’m yet to see such comments. And if such comments exist then I will like to see them now please, thank you. All the comments I’ve seen so far were more along the lines of amazement at seeing a white guy speaking pidgin but could there possibly be more behind this thought?
I mentioned in the comment section of my previous post that I went to Nando’s with my friend D. D is from the Caribbean and I had a very revealing conversation with her in which I talked a lot about Nigeria and how I felt about this ‘white is right’ mentality. She thought it was just foreigners altogether that were treated better than the people themselves because we were on the topic of Chinese in the Caribbean and I told her there were also Chinese in Nigeria but in my experience, they tend to be looked down upon. In my experience Chinese are made fun of and ridiculed. To the people I talk to all Chinese are short with funny eyes and they are all slave drivers who do not pay people who work for them.
But with me being me, I look at it differently. Honestly I do not see China as a threat, well I’m currently researching that so maybe I’ll change my mind after I’ve discovered more. But from what I’ve read and seen with my two naked eyes, the Chinese are more respectful of us than the whites ever were****. When I go out to Chinese restaurants, I see Nigerians cooking and serving the food and I see usually a Chinese man or woman sitting in the restaurant interacting with the Nigerian customers or employers.
Why does this matter to me? It’s because I’ve not seen this behaviour with other foreigners in Nigeria. Of course apart from the Lebanese but I still sense superiority when it comes to them even though I’m their customer (not to mention I tend to get leered at a lot but that happens to me a lot). I’ll also mention that I went to Kano once and my other good friend M.W took me to buy sharwama (a kind of wrap stuffed with meat, vegetables and spices) and she mentioned that the woman who was married to the man who owned the store was racist. I wanted to give the Lebanese woman the benefit of doubt but I could tell just from the way she looked at us that she wasn’t really happy with us even though she’s in Nigeria.
There’s a reason why I brought up different foreigners in Nigeria. The reason I was so amazed by the Chinese I saw interacting with Nigerians was just simply that they were interacting in the first place. In my experience, whites in Nigeria tend to seclude themselves, the Lebanese and Chinese interact with locals far more often. So my question is why is there not a video of a Lebanese or Chinese man speaking Nigerian pidgin and why are we not excited over that? I know such people exist but where are they? Lebanese have been in Nigeria for a very long time and most of them speak Hausa fluently. Again where are the videos and oh-ahs?
Really what gives racists the right to come to Nigeria (and/or Africa) in the first place? I know the answer; it is us (okay not really ‘us’ but you get the picture?). I think Africans in general are very welcoming and friendly but they usually don’t realise that this is not the way it is in other countries till they travel and get told to ‘Go back home’. Africans have been welcoming and friendly at their own risk and one only has to look at our history to see this. Don’t they say ‘once bitten, twice shy’? When will we learn? (And by we I mean the general populace not those who have attained enlightenment.)
Personally, I’ve definitely noticed a sort of stratification or hierarchy regarding the average Nigerian’s view of foreigners. And white is definitely on the top of that pyramid. Obviously people have told me that I’m overreacting and that they as Nigerians, are in support of multiculturalism and diversity. Can I call BS on that? If they really were in support of diversity then in my humble opinion, they would treat all cultures equally and not play any sort of favouritism.
The worst thing to me is putting white people or other foreigners over fellow Nigerians. Why would someone do something like that? Generally, Nigerian men treat me differently than my non-black friends. I would understand if the reason were different because as human beings we have different faces that we show to others depending on how comfortable we feel around them. What irks me is that they treat them with more respect. I’m called ‘baby’ a term which I seriously dislike, while my friends are called by their full names. I am constantly ridiculed while my friends get the most polite behaviour. I do not have to mention that I don’t socialize with these people any longer. D has told me that the same thing has happened to her though she is not Nigerian and her experience was much worse that I’m not sure I’m comfortable revealing it.
Another trend I’ve noticed is these Nigerian hip-hop musicians featuring white girls in their videos (and that’s another story though I’m fine with interracial relationships). If this is multiculturalism then why haven’t I seen Asian (or any other nationality) girls in their videos? Honestly I pity the children who have to grow up around this, they are probably going to have even worse identity crises than me! Not to worry I have a plan for Nigeria and all I need is to become the Minister of Education and some serious changes will take place. I’m a believer of the saying ‘knowledge is power’ and I have hope for not only Nigeria but Africa as a whole.
In conclusion, it is funny what this video of an Oyinbo man speaking pidgin has caused, this was a totally-unplanned-for post.
*Just so you know something else about me, I love cakes and sweet things and hate any form of animal flesh! I always go to Transcorp Hilton to buy their cakes, danishes, doughnuts and muffins though they are too expensive.
**My Nigerian self is showing clearly! What happened to her was pure nonsense!
***(something) has passed implies that things have become more important and serious. In this context I mean that the issue at hand is more important that the video.
****This is in ancient history, the first Chinese to sail to Africa was Zheng He in the 15th century. When Zheng He reached the coast of East Africa he traded with the people there. And he may have come back 5 times. This is not the case for other foreigners who came in contact with Africa. I’m yet to hear of a African slaves in China. I have heard of the Black Samurais though but that is Japan. And apparently the first Africans to reach China were taken there by Arab merchants as presents for royalty of some sort. I can only imagine what those African slaves went through.