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The Truth from a Nigerian Woman: Should We Go Back Home?
By: Ehimwenma E. Aimiuwu
March 7, 2009
 

 

We have heard all kinds of stories and opinions from all kinds of Nigerians that have traveled back to Nigeria for all sorts of reasons.  Some will tell you never to go back to Nigeria again, some will say it is our country and that Nigeria is okay if you have people in high places that can connect you, and others will tell you that Nigeria is the place to be and that their classmates are all living large with stolen or contract money.   You will also hear of tales about one guy who moved back to Nigeria as an expatriate and is working with some oil or banking company making $10,000 monthly and tax free.  I have seen some of these very people a year after their fans said they left for Nigeria for good to get the big deal, but they will later claim that they only went home to visit.  Nigerians abroad are in a state of confusion between going back home to Nigeria to make a descent living with their foreign education and raising their children, and staying on foreign shores to deal with racism, discrimination, and second class status.   

 

Many have said that it is better to be a one-eyed king in Nigeria than to be the two-eyed maid in America.  If this is the case, why are Nigerians not going back home and why are Nigerians forming the longest lines at foreign embassies in Nigeria?  Others will say that half a loaf of bread is better than none.  They reason that it is better to make a low wage with peace of mind and certainty in America than to go to Nigeria and live in a state of uncertainty, frustration, and depression.  People who hold on to the later school of thought also claim that even the rich in Nigeria usually have to leave the country on a regular basis for vacation to foreign shores just to get a fresh air away from a dysfunctional Nigeria.  In order words, the rich we envy in Nigeria are only in Nigeria because they have the opportunity to loot the treasury or do not have the papers or the skills to live comfortably abroad.  If this reasoning is true, then do not move back to Nigeria unless you are guaranteed a stable income and it is sufficient to move in and out of Nigeria whenever your mind, body, and soul cries out for a break to foreign shores. 

It was about 7 years ago that a Nigerian woman in her 50s came to the United States.  This is a woman I respect a lot and her husband is a very nice and wonderful man.  She came to take an extended break and in the process decided to take some courses to better herself in her field.  Soon, her two sons came to join her and they have completed their college education.   The husband was a well-to-do government officer for years in Nigeria and money is not really their problem.  He visits her regularly from Nigeria, but he believes that Nigeria is the place for him.  I guess he is too old now to be contending for the American dream and like most Nigerians abroad, we all look forward to the day we will retire to Nigeria.   

A couple of months ago, the woman finished her program and her husband and children expected her to return home to daddy, to the surprise of both friends and family, she refused.  She said that she was not going back home to suffer and that her husband can move in with her in America.  Many people will assume that maybe she found a younger boyfriend in America or she has become westernized and is now a feminist in her old age.  Others will wonder if Nigerian women can be trusted at any age in the civilized world or will the average woman choose to reject marriage and just date around if she had her own economic freedom.  I was actually surprised at her behavior because she was not a young girl who just left home for the first time to escape poverty that the wonders of America took her brain by storm.

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Soon, one of my informants went to her to interview her about why an upper class Nigerian woman in her late 50s would make a decision like this by choosing America over her husband in Nigeria.  Her response is the purpose of this article.   She basically said that despite the fact that they were rich and can afford to fly in and out of Nigeria as they pleased, have multiple house helps, build castles, buy hummers and jeeps, and have everyone calling them Oga and Madam with a driver, that she is requesting that her husband come stay with her in America.  The two things that touched me in her explanation that I want my fellow Nigerians to understand is that she asked what the purpose of money was if there was nothing to buy and what the purpose of waking up every morning was while knowing very well that you were dying.  She claimed that there are times that they had lots of money but there is not a trace of gas or diesel to buy to easy the discomfort of heat and the Nigeria Electric Power Authority (NEPA).  Also, that nothing works in Nigeria to the extent that there is no peace of mind in doing business or receiving good customer service in all walks of life.  She simply chose peace of mind over patriotism, and did not reject her husband at all. 

Does this mean that we should all run out of Nigeria and never return until after we retire from our foreign jobs?  I will say no if you can return back to Nigeria sooner to start a business to help your community.  I will plead with all reasonable Nigerians and advice them to ignore their Pastors and Imam and do two things in these drastic times.  First, always play the lottery responsibly.  A lot of the lotteries in America, such as the Mega Million, are used to raise money for education and the least you can win is $12 million.  I do not expect you to play more than $5 each time.  Always invest with wisdom.  Secondly, always invest in the business of culture.  The western world is always interested in diversity and ideas to make their country better.  This is the purpose of immigrants.  It is to exchange immigrant ideas for their cheap labor towards developing their already developed countries.  European Christianity and Arabís Islam has taught Africans to forget or shy away from their cultures, but this is where the Asians and Hispanics thrive in America.  Cartoons such as Dora, Diego, and even Sesame Street are all geared to make Hispanics and Spanish more acceptable to American children, and they are selling their culture in the billions of dollars each year. 

 

Nigerians and Africans in the Diaspora must wake up from their slumber and use every talent God has given them to promote their culture intellectually.  This is what sells because no one else can package it like we do.  Our culture is our secret product.  In whatever we do that must be original and competitive, package it with our unique cultural touch and create a need for it through advertising.  Most importantly, have the courage to buy cable advertising in your locality to reach as many potential customers as possible who would never have known that you existed.  This is the only way we can acquire money legally and have the economic might to return home sooner to make a difference in our various localities in Nigeria.  Nigeria as it is now is basically a dead country with all our patriotism put together. 

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