‘Nigerians are everywhere, loud, domineering, flamboyant, untrustworthy and in your face ‘ the rhetoric goes on. As a fellow African I defend this, not because I have an invested interest in Nigeria’s oil or Nollywood industry, in fact I have never set foot on her soil, however some of the greatest people I come into contact with through my work and social life are in fact Nigerians. Diaspora life has a way of bundling us Africans together; we can tell each other from miles away, way before that African accent gives way.
Step back from the dust, heat and our everyday bickering and look more closely at the country and its people. Cradled in West Africa, surrounded by French speaking African countries, diverse tribes, cultures, languages, and far too many chiefs and swaga. Oh and the food! With a population of over 166.00 million people, the house is pretty full and so you are bound to get noise, a lot of noise, and the volume is not about to be turned down anytime soon, on the contrary.
With one of the highest literary levels in Africa, yes they are indeed everywhere, athletics, fashion, design, film and business. Just this year the counties lead economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was proposed for the World Bank Presidency. That’s huge. Her success speaks volumes on how far we have come as African women and the continuing challenges in the continent, especially for African women and children.
Nigeria, the home of African literature. As readers, where would we be today if the giant of African literature, Chinua Achebe had indeed lost his copy of ‘Things Fall Apart’ in transit from Nigeria to the London publishers? Achebe lived by his writing, he wrote from his heart, he had a way with African literature and we as readers dwelled and longed for more. Chinua Achebe did what he came here to do, he wrote, and so he will sleep well. His literature lives on.
Over the years the country has thrown other amazing writers at us. Helon Habila, Wole Soyinka and Ken Saro-Wiwa a writer and activist executed for stand on the environmental damage in the oil rich Niger Delta region. His gruesome death, a stain on all humanity.
If you haven’t read the ‘The Three wives of Baba Segi’ by Lola Shoneyin, then you have never laughed, and if you want to be challenged as a reader, tuck into Ben Okri, listening to Sade Adu and then ask a Diaspora again how much they miss home.
If Africa should have a Princess, it should be the amazing and utterly beautiful Ngozi Chimamanda Adichie, who dropped out of Medical School to purse her passion for writing, then nailed her country’s history of the Biafra War in ‘Half a Yellow Sun’. I often missed my tube stops when I was reading her book ‘Purple Hibiscus’. Some books should never end, ever! I am in awe.
“I encourage you to write about Zimbabwe” Ngozi Chimamanda Adichie said to me at an event in London early this year. My heart skipped a beat, and I feel a duty to write responsibly.
Chiwetel Ejiofor shines in every film that he does, recently embodying the role of Patrice Lumumba in the play ‘A Season of the Congo’. Nigerians are brilliant in theatre, they dominate the African theatre scene in London, I hand it to them.
Next time you are in a hospital (touch wood) look more closely at the name badge of the African Doctor and Nurses looking after you. They are likely Nigerian. Look at the staff going the extra mile in patient care, they could well be African.
Look at the domestic staff serving food to patients, she may well be Nigerian. Follow her to church and watch her dazzle the whole congregation with her figure hugging, African prints cut to measure, matching handbag and shoes and an empire of a head dress artistically erected on her head as the war of African head wraps descends upon London every Sunday. Diversity at its best.
Nigeria has its own challenges (name me a country that doesn’t). In Sub-Sahara Africa Nigeria faces a huge challenges with terrorism and the recent Ebola crisis raging around the region. It is the only African country that has not yet eradicated polio. There are huge efforts at grassroots level, driving initiatives, but that stuff