Nigerians are known to migrate and settle in different countries of the world. They create huge impacts wherever they go. They encounter different reactions from the natives of their host communities: in some places they receive positive reactions and in others, negative. No non-Nigerian has a neutral opinion about them.
Most at times, Nigerians are excluded from some foreign economic activities that will benefit them financially. Some non-Nigerians easily break off communication with anyone they find out to be Nigerian; they are sceptical about having any dealings (be it financial or not) with them (Nigerians). However, a different attitude is usually met if the foreigner will benefit from the Nigerian. Yes, foreigners don’t cut off Nigerians when they (the Nigerians) have something to invest in their (the foreigners’) businesses. This is just the bitter truth.
I don’t really blame those people that have reservations in their dealings with Nigerians because I believe that either they had or they knew people that encountered bitter experiences in the hands of the few bad eggs among the 200 million Nigerians. But, it will not be proper to judge the whole populace because of the offences of a few.
What motivated me to drop this piece is the recent South African xenophobic (or should I say Afro-phobic) attack on Africans from other countries. This greatly affected Nigerians living there. We keep receiving gruesome video clips about the loss of lives and properties of our people. In as much as we have been warned that some of those videos were greatly doctored and all, I still believe there are some atoms of truth in each of them.
Aside this, Nigerians are being attacked in other African and non-African countries. The offence of one Nigerian is meted out in several Nigerians. But all these need to change. The world needs to know who a true Nigerian is. It needs to remember the name ‘Nigeria’ with some unique qualities that cannot be found in any other place. It needs to view Nigerians from another angle. It is our duty to start telling the world who we truly are. We need to let them know that we are not that picture that is wrongly painted by the misguided few.
I will like to start by stating some of the factors that shaped Nigerians into what they are today. One of these factors is their diverse but unified cultures. Yes, Nigeria is estimated to have about 250 ethnic groups and 500 indigenous languages. Each of these ethnic groups has its own culture; but all these cultures speak with one voice. For example, no culture advocates laziness, stealing, kidnapping, killing and any other form of social vices. All Nigerian cultures value honesty, hard-work, resilience, preservation to human lives and so on.
Another thing that makes Nigerians unique is their religion. At least I can categorically say that the religions that exist in Nigeria encourage natives to be hardworking, honest and resilient. The religious organisations around here make it known to their various worshippers that each person will be held accountable for his live here on earth. This sort of information greatly influences the life of every average Nigerian because when someone grows up hearing so much about Hellfire for the bad and Heaven for the good, he will have no choice than to try to live a straight honest life.
Parental upbringing is also worth mentioning here. Parents don’t want to raise children that will not be independent in the future. Most parents raise their children with the sole intension that their children will be there for them when they (the parents) grow old. This means that parents teach their children good morals and values that will see them through life challenges. Besides, Nigerian parents raise their children using ‘strong hand’; laziness is not accommodated in any Nigerian home.
Some people may look down on the education system of the country but they fail to realise the good this same system is doing them. The truth is that the stress and pains people pass through while in school helps them to be resilient – they don’t let their challenges and failures weigh them down because they have encountered similar situations at school.
Most Nigerians have that natural hustling spirit because of the socio-economic situation of the country. Things are hard in the country. Nothing ever comes in a platter of gold – an average Nigerian believes that ‘nothing good comes easy’. In fact, in Nigeria, you suffer to make money, and you suffer to spend it (go figure). The challenging thing is that if you don’t struggle (or should I say hustle), poverty will come and dwell in your homestead. So, naturally, Nigerians hustle because they want to survive. So when next you see a Nigerian and you are wondering why ‘he likes stress’, just understand that it has become a part of him.
The last thing I would like to touch in this section is the peer influence. Naturally, every Nigerian wants to do what his ‘mates’ are doing. When it is time for your age grade to do something, it is expected that everyone within that age bracket partakes in it. For example, when your mates start working, you too will have to find a job. If your mates start gaining admission, you will also want to go to the university. Besides, you don’t want your friends to call you lazy, or worst, a failure. So you work hard to be where you are supposed to be.
Ok, now I want to list out some unique qualities that exist in almost every Nigerian. There are so many of them, so bear with me. By the way, there are some I believe I must have missed out. Kindly include them if you remember any. Honestly, the world needs to know who we truly are. So, here we go:
a. Every Nigerian knows that he has to look for a source of living because no one will do that for him. At least, Nigerians know that their government doesn’t pay people for being jobless.
b. True Nigerians don’t hold anyone responsible for their failures (except the village people, lol). Nigerians take blames for their failures and accept praises for their successes.
c. Nigerians are ready to work at lower salaries or sell things at cheaper prices. Their interest is to keep the money flowing in.
d. Nigerians are always looking for ways to improve on themselves. They have this adage that says, ‘better soup na money make am.’ So, Nigerians know that the only way to obtain better sources of income is by working and improving on themselves.
e. Nigerians are ready to leave their comfort zone in search of better livelihood. Have you ever wondered why Nigerians leave their comfortable homes to move to other locations where they will live in shacks?
f. Nigerians have good entrepreneurial skills. They may not be perfect in this skill, but every average Nigerian is a potential entrepreneur. This could be attributed to the country’s socio-economic situation – almost everyone in this country has sold one thing or the other. So, most Nigerians have been in one form of business or another.
g. Nigerians are industrious. A Nigerian starts working hard from the day he came into this world. His mother will allow him to cry hard before she lifts him; so tell me if that isn’t hard work. So, these people are not afraid of work.
h. Nigerians are accommodating. Honestly, if anybody wants to talk about Ubuntu, they should start with the Nigerian society. No matter the part of the country you are, you will be welcomed and treated well so long as you respect their culture and values.
i. Nigerians are resilient. I stated earlier that the education system shaped them that way. But, it is not only the education sector that did that job, every institution in the country made sure that the citizens are never afraid of hardship. So, no matter what befalls a Nigerian, he will always find the strength to push forward. It is hard to break a Nigerian. To them, ‘every disappointment is a blessing in disguise’.
j. Nigerians always seek for knowledge. They may be sceptical about new inventions, but they don’t feel threatened by them. They don’t discard something new if they don’t understand it; they rather take their time to study it before accepting or rejecting it.
k. Nigerians celebrate success. Usually, success in Nigeria is measured through financial and academic achievements. Because people that are deemed successful take special places in the community, every Nigerian wants to be there. The good thing about Nigeria is that everybody is given equal opportunity to be successful.
l. Nigerians are bold. They are not easily intimidated. Their society respects and acknowledges everyone irrespective of his financial and social status. So, Nigerians grew up knowing that they count.
m. Nigerians value lives and properties. Murder and suicide are abominations in the country. Please, don’t tell me about the Boko boys and herdsmen, I don’t really understand what’s going on there.
n. Nigerians are very spiritual. Yes, they think about Hellfire and Heaven when doing anything. This is why they don’t joke with their moral values. Besides, one of the things that kept many Nigerians going is the knowledge and faith that a Supernatural Being is looking out for them.
o. Finally, Nigerians are hustlers. I think this explains why they work hard and smart at the same time.
These are just a little description of who that Nigerian man or woman you are seeing over there is. Nigerians are unique intelligent honest and industrious people. We are not bad people. We may have a few bad eggs but they don’t define us, rather the above qualities do.
Give every Nigerian that comes your way a chance. I bet you, once you meet and relate with them, you won’t want to deal with any other person.