Disclaimer: This post is not meant to personally insult individuals who may recognize themselves in some of the examples. It’s just my reflections on what I think may be a very complex issue.
One thing I really admire in Nigerians is the winner attitude. “We can, we’re the best,” etc. And I find that in Nigeria, when something seem about to fail, it somehow get pulled together at the last minute in some very creative ways. I’m talking about day to day and work situations mainly.
So it’s therefore a bit puzzling to me that although there is this refreshing “we’re great” attitude, there is also a tendency to have a slightly unhealthy obsession with white people. I’ll mention a few examples.
I was talking to one of my young colleagues when he said “You white people are just a lot better than us. We just destroy things and we’re not organized like you.”
Another time, I was with the first female friend I had in Nigeria as she proudly proclaimed to her friends that “I’m busy. I’m actually with my white friend.”
The final example is quite recent. I overheard another friend’s friend asking her why she hadn’t told him I was white before we met.
In all these situations I felt a little bit awkward. Why is me being white so special? And why would anyone say they’re not as good as a white person?
I’m not new to self-criticism of my own race. I think white people as a race can be quite full of themselves and walk around as if they own the earth and anyone is supposed to serve them. But I don’t see white people as less able to be friendly than black people. And I’ve met individuals of both black, Latino and Asian people who walk around with a sense of false entitlement. So it’s not your colour that determines how nice you are. Although I can appreciate that a lot of racial discrimination is carried out by white people.
Generalizing an entire race is very dangerous. I said to my colleague who claimed all white people to be better than black people that if young people across Nigeria were thinking like that, the country would never develop to its full potential. Luckily, many young Nigerians are seeing potentials and are doing great things in the country. Some are even moving back from Europe to start businesses and that’s awesome!
Like with individuals, every people have its good and bad points. And it’s good that we’re not all the same as we can learn from each other’s differences.
When I came on to the Nigerian music scene, there were a lot of blog comments about white people coming to take over yet more things in Africa. And that Nigerians should stop worshipping white people.
I totally agree with the latter, though worship is a little bit of a strong word. But if we go back to examples two and three, where my colour seemed to be a big deal, I can appreciate that somebody would use that term. Example one is an even clearer indication of this. By the way, these people from the examples are intelligent and well educated, so I’m guessing this view on white people goes a lot deeper than just education. And I will not claim to fully understand this issue.
One thing I’ll tell everyone despite who they are is love yourself and only focus on being the best version of you. You don’t have to be your people, your country or your colour for that matter. As supportive commenters did point out, I came to Africa because Afrobeat is what I know how to do. I urge you to do the same. Do what you excel at.