I had just landed, exhausted from the journey and anxious with the next phase I was getting into. All I wanted, was to pick up my luggage but I was shocked with the long queue I saw waiting to be cleared. While I was trying to count the number of people before me I heard ‘all those with EU passport follow me’ I smiled and I smiled again. I was having a seminar/group discussion on the topic of Colonialism a few days ago. Midway into the discussion the subject of nationality came up when a lady talked about an American festival; during the course of the debate, a guy said he was American(with the look that said yea, I know what she’s talking about). I found out today his statement got a Nigerian lady really really disgusted citing his thick African accent (I’m sure by now you know he’s African, he probably got the Green Card or something else), in fact she said he might be carrying his American passport around.
The episode at the airport and the Americanah got me thinking on the word IDENTITY. All the people with the EU passport had some privileges over those who had ‘other’ passports, the Americanah subconsciously dropped his origin which got the lady upset. Over the years I’ve seen some funny wedding pictures all in the name of getting a particular passport; while I may shake my head vigorously at it, the man in question is rejoicing over his new status.
A look at the society will reveal an increase in identity crisis, we have gotten so entrenched with Popular Culture (pop-culture) and it’s getting difficult tracing back to who we are as a people and what we believe in. Africa has often been called a nation and it always evokes emotions on the part of Africans but at the same time I’ve seen lots of Africans respond to the question of nationality with Africa. You hardly hear I’m Nigerian or Ghanaian and please if you have dual citizenship be specific of your country and stop saying African-American/British (guess I just ranted).
A friend told me of how embarrassed she felt when a friend of hers in Netherlands asked her about her culture and she couldn’t say much; she even vented out her anger when I told her parents in Nigeria send their kids to ballet classes. Is she saying ballet classes are wrong? No, but it’s not our culture. You may want to argue based on the line of interest and exposure but I will ask, can those kids comfortably showcase their cultural dance or render a folk song or give a little insight of their ancestral history. While we are busy giving our kids ‘international’ status our identity as a people is gradually phasing out. My aunt used to breathe down on me whenever the issue of language came up but now, I know better. if we are not careful, our languages will become extinct in the future. There’ll probably be a language museum where our kids are told of a language that once existed.
My mum likes to use Ibo proverbs a lot, often times at home we tease her by reciting all her famous quotes. One of the popular one she says is ‘I me onwe gi oke busu erie gi’ which simply means if you make yourself a rat, you’ll be eaten by a cat. Beyond Colonialism, let us all have some dignity and respect for who we are as a people and as a nation. No country is perfect, it’s a work in progress.
I’m from NIGERIA and I’m proud to be one. HAPPY BELATED INDEPENDENCE DAY!!!
LOADS OF LOVE