Earlier today I read this post & it left me feeling so frustrated, I had to speak against it.
First, let it be clear that Nigeria is not Angola, the issues of Angola’s past are not the ones presently living in Nigeria. Comparing the two and trying to match them is silly.
For those of you who didn’t open the link the title of the article is ‘How Nigeria Disappoints Africa and the Black Race’. Big statement, right? You’d think Nigeria had committed some great crime against Africa and Blacks everywhere but no, judging by the article what the author meant was ‘How Nigerians Living Abroad Disappoint Nigeria because they don’t live in Nigeria’. The article doesn’t tell the reader how Nigeria disappoints Africa or Black people; the syntax is only arranged this way so that it’ll grab people’s attention and lure them in to read what is otherwise a boring moan about famous intellectual Nigerians abroad.
I’m not going to pin point every single thing wrong with this article, there’s no need but I would like to speak on one thing in particular. Part of Onwuka’s (the author) argument is that Nigerians such as Chinua Achebe, Ngozi Adichie and Wole Soyinka are not helping their country as they should because they live abroad.
Soyinka is a Nobel Prize laureate. Achebe is the highest selling Nigerian & one of the highest selling African authors. Adichie has quite a few awards/scholarships under her belt and has spoken at Oxford University. These accomplishments were not given to these authors by Nigeria. I’m not taking away from the fact that Nigeria has had a part to play in their success, but Nigeria has not aided it as greatly as the rest of the world. If not for these authors (Soyinka and Achebe in particular) the rest of the world would still think Nigeria was a bush land. They are doing more for Nigeria than Nigeria is doing for them, all wear their nationality loudly and speak up on topics concerning Nigeria and Africa. They provide solid voices on Nigerian issues for the rest of the world to hear and understand. Only recently did Achebe release a historical account, one of the few, about the Biafran war.
Hands up if you know where Biafra was.
Hands up if you know how Biafra was born.
Hands up if you know why there was a war.
Fair enough, Onwuka’s main issue is that they’re not helping the current situation so, history books are not relevant. Wrong. In order for people in my generation, Nigerian or otherwise, to understand and possibly start a revolution they must know the history.
And what I really want to know is: what would these people be going home to (although Adichie does live in Nigeria and the US)? Boko Haram? NEPA? Witchcraft? Jonathan Goodluck? Corruption? Please. Achebe is an 82yo Igbo man who lived through Biafra, saw people murdered, friends die, and he should go back to Nigeria to fear that Boko Haram will kill him too?
I am an immigrant & I don’t consider neither Nigeria nor the UK my home. When I lived there I felt very excluded and although I felt exclusion here too, I’ve been able to find my feet a bit. There’s corruption here and there but at least I know I’ll be getting my student grants & loans here. I know that because my mum pays bills I will have electricity and water. Are these things guaranteed in Nigeria? Why, because I was born there, does it mean I have a duty to fight its battles? Nigeria doesn’t value its teachers, doctors, intellectuals (unless they’re rich); anybody who wants to better Nigeria is fed to the dogs. This doesn’t stop me loving ‘my’ country but it doesn’t make me want to rush back ‘home’.
Adichie, Soyinka, and Achebe have given me hope that it is possible to bring change to a nation even if you’re outside its walls. So please, e joh, ma so iranu, don’t speak rubbish. What has Nigeria done for Nigerians lately?