I was sitting in traffic disgruntled and trying not to enjoy the traffic show on WAZOBIA FM too much, it’s actually funny, especially the corporal punishment and since I wasn’t driving and my blackberry battery was red, I was forced to look around me and observe the goings on which is something I rarely do while seated in a moving car. Before you act all shocked, why would you spend your car-ride looking out when you could be looking at the person seated beside you or looking up as your camera clicks away or looking down as you reply a ping or update your twitter or bb status? Alas on this particular day, I could do none of these so I looked out the window hoping to find a sight for sore eyes in the dreary evening traffic…
What I saw, had me confused, curious and horrified though it wasn’t new. It was a black long beast, with tiny windows and through the windows all I could see was un-ending darkness and it had swallowed up plenty men. No, I wasn’t dreaming. As a child, I had seen this particular beast and assumed the men it transported were criminals, murderers at the very least, whose heinous crimes warranted such vile transportation. This beast made the yellow and black molue look like a luxury. Twenty years later, there it was again and this time I asked rather innocently who the people were who were forcibly transported in such a suffocating enclosure on wheels. The answer shocked me even further…they were workers for a popular German construction company being transported from their sites after a long day. This was a German company’s alternative to a staff bus??? I was mighty
disappointed. A black maria couldn’t be any worse. It hadn’t been that long ago that Airtel had been all over the news because of the controversy over slash in salaries brought about by a change in management. Foreigners again!!!
Yes, historical slavery has been abolished but it has given way to a modern form of slavery that is silent and barely perceptible yet deeply rooted in our every day lives and swept under the carpet by those who could actually set us free. Nigerians have become like South Africans before they were liberated. We have allowed foreigners come into our land and make themselves fat on our resources. A few bad men sold us again into slavery, governments were bribed and now these people do to us what we could never ever dream of doing to them in their country and yet we are grateful for any little left-over they hand out to us from our stolen inheritance.
They are given preferential treatment by the government, by the police, at the embassy, everywhere. They can afford things the average Nigerian could only dream of and live like kings amongst us. They say our Naira is devalued but it seems it’s not the only resource in Nigeria that has been devalued. Unconsciously, the average Nigerian kisses ass, once the ass has pale cheeks. Yet these foreigners look out for themselves like tourists in wild terrain sticking together for dear life. My friend C who works in a Lebanese construction company was telling me how a plumber was brought in from Lebanon and paid five times the salary of the Nigerian plumbers and could not even perform the simplest of duties.
Why have we as Nigerians been tricked into cheap labour? I was offered a job at a Lebanese clinic a while back and the HR guy spent long minutes on the phone trying to make me agree to a hundred thousand naira less than the agreed salary just because he thought he could get away with it. He was a Nigerian too and it was quite sad that he would go through such lengths to sell a fellow citizen short of her due. While serving in Akure, many of these foreigners frequented the big hotels, a couple had paid for luxury suites for two years, cash down. They were barely educated handy men in their countries who had left their wives and children behind to come and strike gold in Nigeria and lord it over highly-educated folk who worked so hard each day and yet were paid so little. In the job market, people shied away from working for Indians, Chinese and Lebanese because they worked you hard and dry for every Naira you were paid. Why do we allow this? At the airport, we treat them like kings yet at their airports we are rough-handled like criminals. Have we no shame? Why are we in a relationship where we are taken for granted and abused? No wonder the youths in some parts of the country were enraged, though misguided as violence is never the answer to a problem neither is kidnapping, they actually had a point. I wish they had gone about it in a more civilised manner so that their voices could be heard rather than being labelled as militants. My friend K studying at a university in Ghana would ping me for medical advise because the doctors there would not readily treat her as she was a foreigner. In Nigeria, I don’t see doctors discriminating in that manner.
The slavery doesn’t stop there. There is another form of slavery that we impose on ourselves. A long time ago, our ancestors were called coloured people, slaves, niggas and were beaten, maltreated and made to suffer and years after, we still felt the scourge of racial discrimination and our afro hair became a big black bush of defiance making a statement. What was once a sign of our rich bloodline, now became a flaw we would rather not talk about. We tried to hide it but we could hide it no better than we hid our dark skin and big noses. It was our heritage, it was our curse. It kept us enslaved for years and made us different from those who regarded themselves as superior, from those who sailed into our continent and took over our lives. Our tormentors were reportedly pale faces from the West and since we couldn’t beat ’em, we longed to blend in a bid to join them and acquire the pseudo-modernisation we had misconstrued to be the ideal lifestyle!
Yes we were free, old heroes with kinky black hair, shouting they were black and proud till their voices were hoarse, had fought with every breath they had to give us a chance but here we were, wanting more than a chance. We wanted to be like the people who had once enslaved us and seemed to win the race of modernisation. The Western culture had taken over almost every aspect of our lives even to our detriment and this could only be seen as a self-imposed slavery. One far worse than the first kind of slavery which was imposed by others because this particular kind gave us a false sense of being better than the next person…
The modern-day Nigerian will wear leather in the most humid condition, sun shades at night, a suit in the scorching heat, brazilian hair that costs three to five times the minimum wage, hair-dos that cover our natural hair causing it to be damp, smelly and unhealthy, perm our natural hair with chemicals even from a tender age, wear fur in a tropical country, bleach their skin at the risk of skin discolouration just to seem lighter and closer to the pale-faces, diet to be a size zero just to look like Miss Teen America, adopt a fake accent and slangs just to belong, wear heavy, gaudy jewelry just to look like a gangster from Brooklyn, have a million tattoos and piercings just to seem fashionable and we claim to be a liberated country. What happened to the old ways, everything old looks ‘country’ now, aka ‘razz’. Nobody wants to be left behind. We don’t wanna be old school but are we doing ourselves good? I visited a house a while back and the mother thought stuffing her young kids with KFC treats for lunch and dinner was a sign of good living. Needless to say, the kids were overweight. And quite unfortunately, while the Western world is moving beyond their mistakes and adopting a ‘Less is more/Save our World’ mentality, we are eagerly filling their old shoes, becoming a dumping ground for their below par technology, feeding ourselves fat with their junk food and killing our part of the planet with our non-recyclable litter. Even the women haven’t learnt the elegance of makeup that isn’t loud or colourful or jewelry that isn’t chunky or cheap-looking. We watch our famed goddesses on TV and falsely imagine they have natural beauty when they have put on tons of make-up to get a look that makes them seem like they have almost no make-up on. We assume they are naturally thin and envy their genes while we struggle into our jeans forgetting that this people have integrated diet and exercise into their busy lives. When will we throw off the shackles for good and embrace a liberty so refreshing that the world will have to stop and stare? They take our good but we take all they have to offer, mostly the bad.
We need to find ourselves, glory in our sense of identity, show the world what they have always suspected, that we are way smarter than them! Let’s stop showing up on the most wanted list, let’s stop using our great minds to commit crimes that baffle the CIA, let’s stop using our creativity to make ‘fakes’ of originals (Aba) instead of sticking our customised brand names on our amazing goods. We are a great people, the sooner we carve our names in history, the better for us all. 2012 dey draw nigh oh!
Enough said! I’m black and I’m proudly Nigerian!!! 🙂 Have a great night peeps…xoxoxo 😉 😉 🙂