June 23, 2018

I want to be an Abroad-Nigerian- Abiodun Kuforiji Nkwocha

I want to be an Abroad-Nigerian- Abiodun Kuforiji Nkwocha

It is the best sort of Nigerian to be these days.
Are you wondering who an Abroad-Nigerian is? Don’t be so quick to think that you know. Let me explain it.

Obviously an Abroad-Nigerian (we shall refer to as AN) is one that lives abroad. But that is not all. He may or may not visit Nigeria occasionally. His primary place of residency is ‘the Abroad’.

1. The AN was not born abroad. Even if he was, he was brought back home at some point and was schooled here before deciding to return where he was born as an adult. So the AN knows Nigeria very well. The thing to note is that formative years were spent in Nigeria.

2. The AN is a term that may seem broad as anywhere outside Nigeria is termed ‘Abroad’. But don’t be fooled. There are specific places that we consider to be core abroad. So they live in the United Kingdom, USA, Canada, Australia and some European countries. So Ghana (that can sniff the waft of Naija) is not abroad. South Africa would be abroad except for xenophobia. Kenya is East Africa and not Abroad. South America is not abroad as well…I can’t really explain this. The Asian countries are not in the picture; this is because when you live in their countries you stick out like sore thumbs and cannot be ‘prouding’ about assimilation. So you guys catch my drift?

3. The AN may have settled down in the part of abroad he is in. He is either a citizen or has his papers legit and will not be kicked out. So his feet dey ground. But he is still very Nigerian. He speaks at least one Nigerian language, is connected to the Nigerian community where he is and follows Nigerian news with keen interest (even more than Nigerians who live in Nigeria). He actively participates in conversations surrounding governance and social issues. They follow Bellanaija, Sahara Reporters, Nairaland, Instablog, Linda Ikeji and get breaking news seconds after it breaks. In a way, this is from nostalgia/homesickness. Or even from an elitist stand so that they are certain that they are better than the people still left in Nigeria.

4. Lastly, the AN is very active on social media and local commentary. (After tgey always have light and data)

5. Just thought of another one. They do not have an abroad accents. Even if they try to put one on, their Nigerianness will unashamedly not be shamed or silenced.
I admire these Abroad-Nigerians like there is no tomorrow.

Kilode!

From their DPs to their Bios, abroad is written everywhere.
University of Salford
University of Reading
Boston University
University of Alberta.
They are in the snow with winter jackets. Jackets that would be useless here. Nothing says I am abroad like winter jackets. They are also generous with the pictures so we are never in doubt of their abroadness.

There is no hating here just in case you are beginning to think in that direction. I am a lover. And in this case in love with their lives.

If you have ever travelled to oyinbo countries, the one thing that stays on your mind or tongue when you first get back is just how bad life is here in Nigeria. With time you adjust to no light, bad roads, striking hospitals and politicians playing “mole in a hole” popping in and out of different political parties.

Soon, you don’t even complain again…you are saving your energy for facing the peculiarities of living here.

The Abroad Nigeria is your extended version that will not stop complaining. I don’t blame them. When you live somewhere that eliminates a lot of the struggles that living in Nigeria imposes on people, you are in a good place to criticise continuously.

This is why I want to be like you. Removed from the daily grind and so I can speak about it without choking from the grubby hands of naija life around my throat.

I want my alarm clock to ring and then I wake up and place my feet into slippers waiting for me and pad around polished wooden floors which may or may not have a soft rug. I want to plug my kettle and not place it on the gas cooker. I want to lean on my kitchen counter with my 100% charged phone and browse through Nigerian headlines clicking my tongue at incompetence, corruption and looting.

I may not comment about the latest breaking story…at least not yet. I will then step into the shower knowing there is water with the confidence of an individual that writes ‘sapiosexual’ in his bio after using ‘hegemony’ in a sentence.

In the abroad, people do not have to go outside to fetch water from the borehole or the big reservoir drum most people have. Water is always from taps and shower heads.

I want to have the options of using my car, taking the train or going by bus to my office. Jumping kekes, okada, danfo buses or even winding through traffic, beggar policemen and bad roads has a way of starting you off in the morning with some anger. Not at the system, your anger is a limp dick when facing the system. But anger at fellow men on the internet and random strangers. This makes you stand turgid and ready to pump.

I want get to my office and work hard knowing that hard work is rewarded and the price of things will not jump by 50% before my salary lands. I don’t want to have to call anyone at home to ask if there is light or carry a 25L jerry can to buy fuel.

During my lunch break, with coffee in my left hand, I want to type furiously about excellence and the dearth of hard working people in Nigeria. I want to be angry at the fact that Nigerians do not like to do the right thing. I insinuate it is an individual failing that Nigerians don’t read, they cut corners and scam people. They should do the right thing because everyone knows how to do the right thing. I will wildly draw parallel lines comparing Nigerians to Abroadians. This will further make it glaring that Nigerians just don’t want to do things correctly.

I will refuse to remember that Nigerians are mostly victims. Their supposed middleclass isq still belaboured with meeting basic needs in a country that the system does not reward due process. I will forget that the last time I had to renew my passport, following due process might have meant additional weeks to get my passport so I had to pay someone to further frustrate those that cannot afford but to follow due process. I will forget that the minimum wage is a pittance and if people lived only on their official earnings, their kids will be stuck in dilapidated underfunded schools with teachers who can barely read. I will forget that the private schools will charge an arm and a leg to give a passable education to children who will finish and have no jobs because there are no jobs.

Nigerians may get angry at me but I will be quick to point out that I am a Nigerian and that I come home from time to time and that I have family living in Nigeria and so Nigerian problems are my problems.

I want Nigeria to be my problem by extension. I want to be able to send the dollars to my family, get my aged parents to come for check-ups and help our last born get an abroad education.

I want to be able to argue about natural hair as a political statement, being black and racism. I want to romanticise jollof rice and agege bread. I want to speak about my culture to a fascinated audience as they marvel at my authentic exotic ‘costume’. I want to be upset with the white people that wonder at how well I speak English or those that grab their bags a little tighter because I could be a Nigerian 419 prince.

I want to be an Abroad Nigerian without the daily wear and tear of actually living in Nigeria. I want to have children who are only Nigerian by blood and if they ever decide to go back, their accent and education places them a notch higher than other Nigerians.

I want to be an Abroad Nigerian…. Being a Nigerian Nigerian don tire me.

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11 Comments

  1. Lesley

    Hahahahahahahaha……I tried to be an Abroad Nigerian. I tell you I ran back home after two years. I got tired of Abroad Nigerians and Oyibo people complaining that the train is 2.5 minutes late. The most exciting thing that happened while I was pretending to be an Abroad Nigerian was a little old white lady running over a cat with her mobility device. Who can live like that? Nice one Abiodun Kuforiji Nkwocha (my darling Wife 😉 )

    Reply
  2. udybaby

    This is so spot -on , you hit the right notes on so many levels… easy reading , excellent writing. I chuckled to myself a few times a I read this… I’m definitely sharing🙈

    Reply
  3. Bo

    Absolutely loved this piece.
    You nailed it right on the head my only wish and prayer is that every Nigerian could be an AN.

    Reply
  4. Fola

    I am an AN and can identify with your write up. I smiled and chuckled whilst reading and it reminded me to be thankful that the trains sometimes runs 🏃🏾‍♀️ late but I’ll still arrive at my destination😜😘

    Reply

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