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HOW TO KNOW A NIGERIAN ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD


Every nation has its own culture and idiosyncrasies. Nigeria is not an exception. We are a special country with special people.
Not only are we the most populous black nation on earth, Nigerians have a way of increasing the population of other nations through our somewhat nomadic lifestyle. There’s virtually no country still left on the planet where at least one Nigerian wouldn’t be found and they still survive somehow.
You can take a Nigerian out of his country but you can’t take the Nigerian out of him. You may know one or two returnee Nigerians AKA ‘I Just Got Back’ or ‘IJGB’. Some of these IJGBs (depending on their duration of stay abroad) may now prefer to dress and act differently. Some may even speak with new accents but give them some time, not too long, they will blend in – power of the environment.
Please permit me to digress a little.
Recently, Nigeria’s football legend Kanu Nwankwo was on foreign TV, first time I was hearing him speak in a while. As he spoke I kept wondering why his Igbo-itic accent hadn’t been refined all these years despite having spent over a decade playing in England. My mind quickly went to that his Star Times TV ad where he was singing “make una follow me…..’’ Have you seen it? Boy, that ad just literally reduced him to a joke! I watched it again recently and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Back to the topic.
People say this often; “when you’re in Rome behave like a Roman’’. It is probably because of that maxim many people try to blend in quickly to new lifestyles and cultures when they travel abroad, but that in no way changes who they truly are and I’ve found this especially true about Nigerians in diaspora. You’ll find it relatively easy pinpointing Nigerians when your paths cross in foreign countries. They may not literally wear sign posts but Nigerians are just who they are – with our mannerisms and all.
So what are these mannerisms? How can you recognise a typical Nigerian? I’ve put together a brief list to help you with this.
  1. They are boisterous
We like it louuuuud! From our phone conversations to family prayers we just prefer everything amplified. You hear two people conversing on the street and if you didn’t know better you’ll think they are arguing or one of them has hearing problem. Why can’t many Nigerians drive home their point without shouting? I’m not even talking about saliva baptism now (slobbering) – story for another day.
Until I started watching foreign television, I used to think debates were all about shouting. Back in the day, if you asked me what the synonym for debate was I would tell you shouting! So as a primary school student in Nigeria all I knew was how to shout down my opponents during debates and very little of how to formulate and articulate my points. Little wonder I was on the losing side most of the time.
Should our fondness for noise even be surprising considering the fact we’ve become accustomed to ear-splitting sounds that emanates from speakers of our churches/mosques, clubs end even DVD vendors everywhere on our streets?
  1. They hardly mind their business
I get it, it’s our culture to live communally and be affectionate. It is therefore not surprising to find neighbours chatting to one another. Adults also try to play the role of parents to kids when their parents are not present. These things have become so ingrained in us that we often don’t know when we cross the line and start prying into other people’s business through our actions and utterances. We are champions in giving unsolicited advice and making unwarranted comments.
The other day I was on a bus and a passenger’s baby was crying persistently. An elderly woman who sat next to me just blurted out;  “Madam give am breast na!’’
Then under her breath she said; “Young girls of nowadays sef!’’ – as if to say the lady with the baby lacked mothering skills. I almost took her on because not only did I find her comments annoying but also insulting. I never said a word because I was trying to mind my business too. Obviously it never occurred to her that the child might have been crying due to heat or other things and I also thought not everybody is comfortable sticking out their mammary gland to the glare of the public!
I’ve also noticed that it’s only Nigerians that don’t see the need to respect the privacy of personal gadgets like cell phones. They think one is being selfish or mean when he refuses to hand his phone over upon request. They often ask to see your pictures but most times it’s not just pictures they view. Personally, I don’t need to have anything to hide to turn you down: phones and laptops are personal effects, period! If you won’t feel comfortable using my toothbrush why should I feel comfortable allowing you peruse my phone?
  1. Multiple phone syndrome
You’re a Nigerian if one (phone) is found in your side pocket, one in your breast pocket and another in your back pocket! Even phone manufacturers wouldn’t do that. Nigerians care less about the bulkiness of the phones they carry and the inconvenience that comes with the use of many phones at the same time.
They also don’t care if they might be drawing unnecessary attention to themselves more so, with the spate of insecurity in the nation. This syndrome is managed better by the ladies, thanks to their handbags. But the guys seem happy looking tacky by even forcing 3 to 4 gadgets in one pocket .
Oh, bad network from telecom providers is often the alibi, but what about multiple SIM phones?
  1. Our craze for titles
‘’Do you know who I am?’’
Familiar statement right?
No society in the world likes their ego massaged more than Nigerians!
We pursue tittles as if it automatically increases the size of our bank accounts. I was wondering recently why I never hear muslims from other countries addressed as ‘’Alhaji’’ Or don’t they go to Mecca too? Also among the numerous chiefs in Africa why is it that only Nigerians insist on people prefixing ‘’chief’’ to their names?
When I go for events and the MC keeps going back and forth with never-ending list of guests (even those not present), I begin to get really bored. They do this often not minding they started the event late. I’m always like, “What the heck, go straight to the activities!’’ My problem with this practice is, once you start you never stop, you kind of feel obligated to call other names until you literally call the entire names of the people in a village. Who got time for that?
And mentioning only a few names disparages others. No one should show up at an event feeling less important!
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Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive. There are many more typical Naija-isms like:
  • Not respecting personal space
  • Not telling one’s age
  • Referring to all foreign names as English names
  • Lateness to events
With that being said, do you agree with the points mentioned? Do you find yourself (or people you know) guilty of one or more of the behaviours described above or are these mere stereotypes? Are any other key criteria for identifying Nigerians missing? Let’s hear it in the comments section.
i do hope i also get the inspiration to write about how to get to know 'UNILAG' students anywhere in the world your ideas and comments will be higly appreciated.
AYO IFEDAPO

AYO IFEDAPO

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