How to Know if You’re a Stereotypical Nigerian

What we do is that we smile, every African man smiles… People don’t have to smile in a bad condition, that is making the matters worse, that is going into slavery.”- Fela Anikulapo Kuti, greatest African musician to ever live, argue with your fridge.

Hello there, do you want to know if you’re a Nigerian? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Since its inception in 1960, Nigeria has developed a name for itself, and in a way, so has its people. Due to our conditions, we’ve developed certain traits to cope with our harsh surroundings and better live with ourselves. Though, symptoms of being Nigerian may include high stress, chronic headaches, anxiety, extreme levels of anger and annoyance, high blood pressure, jail time if you speak out, jail time if you don’t, severe issues with authority, love/hate relationship with the West, abusive relationship with the government and of course, death. And now, in addition, you too can tell if you’re a Nigerian with just a few simple questions.

Are you held hostage by your religion? Almost to the point of a dark cultic relationship? Well, there you go, now you stand a chance of being Nigerian. Though, mainly a western religion, Christianity is one of the biggest religions here in Nigeria, and definitely one of the nails in our collective coffin. Sprinkled with numerous reports of sexual abuse, domestic abuse, rape, child abuse, extortion and others, the churches are taking our nation by storm. Though, some ‘Men of God’ haven’t stopped there and to add to their growing number of churches, they have now entered the education sector, building indoctrination camps — sorry, schools and universities to properly ‘educate’ the Nigerian youth. And, don’t be silly, of course they’re not affordable to majority of the Nigerian population, though the universities were built with money from Nigerians in form of tithes and offerings.

Doesn’t make sense? Well, sense left this land a very long time ago, now we’re left with Twitter motivational speakers/politicians.

And while these men and women sit comfortably in their private jets, sleep in their million-dollar mansions, they remind us, constantly, that our greatest reward is in heaven and that worldly possessions are inherently evil by nature. To further secure their power, they’ve even managed to turn suffering into a virtue. Suddenly, it is now a prerequisite to suffer, to toil in poverty before you can truly taste the success that they were able to get from our tithes and offerings. Yay.

Want to know how to be one of these great people? Read here on how to become a stereotypical Nigerian pastor - FIVE STEPS ON HOW TO BECOME A STEREOTYPICAL NIGERIAN PASTOR

On to the second question, are you easily swayed by the words of the rich and powerful who have proven time and time again to be incompetent leaders? If yes, well, sorry to tell you this, but you may be Nigerian. Funny but true, most of our leaders now were our leaders back then and they sucked then too. The problem is not particularly the age of any prospective leader (you can be twenty-five years old and still be as corrupt or even more so as any of our old heads), the problem is that we don’t have people with fresh ideas, fresh policies, that can actually lead us to a brighter future.

In a country with governors building statues with tax payers’ money, ‘commissioners of happiness’, being a fresh new candidate with a new insight could go a very long way. But don’t worry, an old politician who has definitely disgraced our country before will slowly but surely seduce the public into thinking otherwise and just like that, we’ll be back in square one.

Third one, do you have extreme moral standards that have no logical basis at all coupled with a failed legal system? Well, sorry bro/sis, you may be Nigerian. Though, a secular country, equal rights are something of a practical joke around here. Not only do we have an irrational hate of homosexuals backed by our ‘law’, our laws are also deeply sexist against women as seen in this thread here- Twitter thread. The homosexual issue is one that always got to me, I mean, some of the people who publicly hate them are Christians and for a peace-loving religion, they do seem to hate a lot of people: homosexuals, bisexuals, people who aren’t Christians, people ‘in their way’, people who don’t agree with Christianity etc.

But yeah, the hate definitely makes sense and is justified because, clearly, the gay people are the ones destroying our country, accumulating wealth and leaving us with nothing more than a wasteland as a country.

But never fear, if you have any trouble, you can call the police — actually, you can’t, they probably won’t take you seriously or may even compound the problem as seen recently with SARS operatives who are, at this point, just brutes with uniforms.

But don’t lose hope, you can always get a lawyer — but, they’re really expensive and with the economic crises going on, odds are, you won’t be able to afford one.

Hey, but there’s also the court system — though, even if you do find a way to prosecute whoever wronged you, our system favours the rich and powerful, so they’ll probably get off with a tap on the wrist.

Fourth, are you inherently hypocritical and speak without considering all the factors involved? Crises are not rare in our country as every other Tuesday, something horrible happens. And every single time, there is a party of people who somehow think they have it all figured out.

When faced with the extreme poverty of our nation, these people, mostly the privileged, shout, “Work hard! You’re poor because you’re lazy.” Well, dickheads, with sixty percent of our people being absolutely poor, messages like this are destructive, why? Look, for example, at the people who hawk things on the road. They stand under the hot sun, for almost or even more than ten hours, just to do it the next day. Some of them are little children who have no choice but to hawk. I don’t know about you but that seems like hard work to me, so why aren’t they all Dangote’s by now? Poverty is an internal structural problem in our country, a system that keeps the higher ups acquiring wealth and the poor suffering. To tackle poverty, we must tackle the system that keeps these classes so hugely divided.

When the topic of religious of extortion is brought up, these same people scream in response, “But in 2001, on April 26th at exactly 2pm, my church helped me build a robot that could cure my ailing health.” See, I’ll admit that it’s really cool that some churches are actually helping out but again, statements like this rather than helping the problem, just sidestep it. It’s like me telling you, I and nine others got shot by the police for blinking and you remind me of the moment that your car broke down and this really cool policeman helped you out, gave you a tow and even allowed you take selfies after. The problem there is police brutality, what you just said did nothing but talk about your own experience which differs hugely from the majority and what they face every day. If you’re paying attention, some of these men and women blatantly abuse power and damn their followers to a hell on earth using their religion as a whip to put them back in chains. That is wrong and that is what should be addressed.

Well, there are more questions but this is all we have time for today and by now, I think you’ve gotten a feel for what it means to be a citizen of this great country.

To be a Nigerian is to face untold injustices every day and stay quiet, even complacent in them.

To be a Nigerian is to hate your own brother and sister simply because they come from a different tribe from yours. It is to base all relationships on the religion of the other.

It is to scream in outrage at homosexuals but let your pastors go free with the rape accusations.

It is to love and hate the land you were born in, to adore and loathe it.

To be a Nigerian is allow your fate be decided by men and women — who you voted in and who actually don’t care about you.

It is to be born of the same blood that ran through your ancestors and heroes that died for you to be here. To be the latest in the line of great men and women who willingly gave themselves into service for the future of our country.

To be a Nigerian is to have the power of change buzzing at your fingertips and not use it, it is to allow your claws and teeth be cut off and removed by the sickness of conformity and power of authority. It is for class action, peaceful protests and other ways for the people to take power be lost in the past.

To be a Nigerian is to, in fact, forget that you are a Nigerian —a sole decider of the fate of your own country.

Anthony Azekwoh is a Nigerian-based author and artist. He has written five books so far, and is now working on the sequel to his fourth book Ṣàngó, Oya.