Does Good Naija Girl hate Nigeria?

One of my friends, a fellow Nigerian, asked me last week why I’m going to Nigeria. I told her the event that would be taking place while we are there, and she followed up her question with

u hate nigeria

She then asked me to list three good things that had happened to me in Nigeria and three bad things.

I was surprised by the first question, and my only response was to give a rhetorical “I do?” in response.

The next day, I asked her to clarify her reasons for asking the question, and the answers only made me feel more uncomfortable. She said that I never say anything nice about the country or my experiences there. I told her her words had triggered a blog entry: she definitely got me thinking.

It was never my intention to portray Nigeria or Nigerians as something I didn’t like. In fact, the whole reason I started this blog when I had another blog already was to become closer to other Nigerians, share my experiences as an immigrant born to Nigerian parents, who feels neither fully Nigerian nor North American, and learn more about Nigeria. I met this particular friend through one of my earlier networking attempts a few years back, so I think that’s why her words were still on my mind the day after I spoke with her.

My life in Nigeria can be broken up like so:

  • I lived there between the ages of three and six. I remember having good times there, though the memories of what I actually did are not particularly clear.
  • I lived there for six weeks when I was 14, when my entire family went to visit after being abroad for almost eight years. It was a whirlwind of visiting family and our parents’ friends.

A couple of years after the latter trip, I found a curious thing had happened: I wasn’t able to fully separate which memories were from 23 years ago, and which were from 14 years ago. I know which of my stints in Nigeria the big events happened in, of course, but the smaller, every day things I can’t quite recall during which of my times in Nigeria they happened. I’ve been meaning to jot down these small snippets of memory so I don’t forget any more.

Of course, if my friend thinks I complain about Nigeria a lot, and never say anything nice about the country or people, I have to look at what she could be basing that on, and it had to be the blog, since she said she had read my blog and since I don’t think I bash Nigeria when I talk to her. So I had a look and discovered some things.

I have written about why I want to marry a Nigerian man (here too), and expressed pride in my Nigerian heritage. However, I’ve also written about why I don’t like the idea of Nigerian men in Nigeria seeking love with Nigerian women who are exclusively abroad, because I think there are plenty of good women in Nigeria, and there is no need to look so far and wide unless you’re looking for something else too. I’ve complained about how Nigerian events that I have attended and helped at are disorganized and start late (Nigerian time right?), and how Nigerians are cheap and are always looking for volunteers to help out at formal events, but I have also commended Nigerians on their sense of community. I have complained that my relatives, in particular my cousins, are greedy and don’t make me feel welcome in Nigeria, but perhaps if they were asked they’d have some things to say about me too. I have commented on the tactlessness of some Nigerians, while recognizing at the end of the same entry that not all the tactless comments are meant to be mean. You agreed when I warned a reader that her Nigerian “boyfriend” was likely a scammer.

(The above is not an exhaustive list of all I have written negatively or positively about Nigeria and Nigerians.)

You have been there to correct my misguided words too. When I told you some things that I had never heard a Nigerian man say, you came back in the comments and told me I don’t know enough Nigerians, clearly, which is true! You set me straight on Nigerian reunions and corrected some of my Pidgin. You told me where to go for information so I’m not such a dummy on the topic of Nigeria. You explained that some of the things I considered superstitions are not that at all. You encouraged me to get more comfortable sharing my culture.

Writing this blog and reading your comments have enriched my life and my understanding of Nigeria and Nigerians enormously, and that is why I was affected by my friend’s comments. Hopefully those of you who were feeling similarly to my friend now know where I stand: I love Nigeria, I love Nigerians, but like all things, there are good and bad aspects. And because it’s human nature, perhaps I focused more on the bad. And like I say in my disclaimer, I’m always only talking about my experience, or some Nigerians, and not all are guilty of whatever I am complaining about.

Thanks for sparking an entry, B. To spread love about Nigeria and Nigerians, I’d like you to leave in the comments one thing you love about Nigeria and/or Nigerians. We’ll resume bashing the country tomorrow ;)

(Kidding!)

(Maybe.)

And the thing that I love about Nigeria is the richness of the cultures represented in the country (or is it considered collectively one culture?), which highlights how little I know about the country and specifically my (Yoruba) culture.

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27 thoughts on “Does Good Naija Girl hate Nigeria?

  1. I think you really love Nigeria more than those living there.

    There are a lot of reasons why most people outside the country and the G2 (second generation immigrants) love their countries more or are proud but are always being misunderstood by those in Nigeria who see them not qualified enough to criticize anything just because they are not in the country Nigeria.

    i shall come again on this your mail

  2. Hey J! First, I'd say that the first time I read your blog, I honestly thought you had spent a lot of time in Nigeria… reading your blog, I could feel the 'nigeria' in you{ not to mention the 'o' that we put in our sentences for emphasis.

    A lot of people have also written me off as not liking Nigeria{ and considering the fact that i am crazy about 'white' music } , meanwhile I write other people off as not liking Nigeria. Well, i guess there's a lot to all these.

    We, all of us, make up Nigeria, whether in action or in words. I have an American friend who came to Nigeria in 2000, left in 2005 with all the beef about Nigeria. She now prides to be Nigerian even though she's not Nigerian. I asked her, last night when she called me,why? And she told me, Nigerian's especially Yorubas are well knit…but the only thing is we are narrow minded.

    NARROW-MINDEDNESS IS JUST THE MAIN DISEASE HERE. Apart from that, I guess we are fine..{ I guess you can refer to my blog entry of yesterday}

    But I guess, if we, if others in the diaspora can embrace Nigeria, NOT OUTSIDE NIGERIA, BUT IN NIGERIA, I guess we'd better

  3. I love our sense of family…you know that despite the fact that they will run you bankrupt in a second..they will also be there if you are starving…

    I dont think you hate Nigeria or Nigerians otherwise you would never have joined our branch of blogville…

  4. I love our freedom…there are so many things we can do and get away with…even though it is sometimes abused it to the stage that it seems we are lawless

  5. In my earlier mail that was supposed to be the first comment I said;

    I do not believe you hate Nigeria rather you are just following a new trend of the G2 (second Generation immigrants)that love and are even more proud of their parents country of birth(Nigeria9 more than those living in the country now.However, the are seen as those not qualified to say they do not like anything there think less of criticizing.

    If you do not live in Nigeria anything you say of the country is seen as biased by those living there. Sometimes you are even afraid of saying that evil is evil when you are at home…………

  6. i odnt think you hate Nigeria, cos you just express the same concerns that most nigerians-home and abroad share.

    I like the sense of "home" i feel in Nigeria, there's really no place like home!

  7. My sister calls me the advocate of Everything NIgerian., I love all aspects most times but i find myself warning others of doing business with nigerians…. I guess i know i can handle any Nigerian cos being raised in Nigeria prepares you to be able to hustle any hustler.Of course there are bad things but there are also great things.

    ONe thing I love about NIgerians is the ability to have fun regardless.my best companies are Nigerian people..friend or not.

    One thing i also don't like about most Nigerians is the fact that people can be hypocrites which comes as a result of being narrow minded.

  8. I don't think you hate Nigeria or Nigerians. From the what I've seen you hold many of the same sentiments people born and bred in Nigeria have towards the country. You've said what you know and you've actively looked for ways to increase your knowledge, so what can be wrong with that? Even from reading your blog you haven't expressed hate/hatred towards Nigeria. She should go and sit down joo. I've seen people who actually hate, and do the pretend like of Nigeria thing, and you my dear, are not like that!

  9. It´s sad that it has become like that for you with your friends. In a way I understand them, It does not make sense for them why you should go to Nigeria when you hate the place. the whole situation is sad. BUT i also understand you in a way

  10. i looove naija.i like their positive attitude 2wards life.i like our neva say die attitude.i like d fact dat we r lively n streetsmart.i think we are also very intelligent pple.luk at our naigas in diaspora

  11. You actually come across like u like nigeria. I never got the impression that u didn't. You actually remind me of one of my sisters who left naija in 1989 and she hasn't been back since, yet she's still interested in everything including relearning how to speak and understand pidgin.

    Hope u come back with better memories of naija this time. Good or bad, I LOVE naija. You gotta love it.

  12. I used to hate naija too but as I grew up I began to realise that Naija actually is and can really become a wonderful place once the educated and middle class sit up and begins to invest in the country instead of 4getting here and rooting for there (foreign lands)

    Thats why Im in cahoots with vision 2025

  13. I must admit you don't sound like someone trying to fit in — more like a Nigerian. Sometimes just one criticism cancels out all the good you see in Nigeria when perceived by someone else.

  14. ok, my sista, can I be honest? The reality is that for Nigerians who live abroad it is very easy for their frank opinion on Naija to be considered criticism. Things that are considered normal in Nigeria and would not merit a bat of the eyelid, can be very disturbing/disconcerting to the Nigerian abroad and when they begin to talk about it, it can be seen by some to be cynical and/or negative. So, just get ready for that. =)

    The fact is that in the exploration and discovery of your Nigerianhood, you have every right to ask questions and to make mistakes. We have all done it and will do it again. The key is that you are trying to learn and you are not trying to not condemn. I won't lie, the first post of yours I read was about Naiia guys online exclusively looking for women abroad. It threw me off because i thought you were jumping to some conclusions that i found uncomfortable. But, you were incredibly gracious in explaining to all of us where you were coming from.

    I think we Nigerians must not forget that people are allowed to have a difference of opinion and we might not always agree. But, I definitely do not think you hate Nigeria and applaud you on sharing the discovery of your Naijaness with all of us strangers and of course, your dear friends who read your blog. Your friend was at least kind enough to share her concerns with you, imagine the alternative, lol!

    Okay, I don yarn tyah! I dey go chop. Oh my goodness, did you go to incognito's blog? She soaked garri with vodka and I'm just cracking up at the thought!!!!

    Take care!

  15. @Charles

    Well thanks. I don't know if I'd say that I love Nigerian more than those living there because it's probably a case of the "grass being greener" or something.

    @Seye

    Thanks for the compliment. The truth is very different but I guess my time in Nigeria (and living for almost 30 years with my parents) has impacted my life enough that learning more about Nigeria is important to me.

    And narrowmindedness can be found everywhere!

    @Afrobabe

    I love our sense of family too! lol "run you bankrupt in a second".

    @Okey

    No, your comments aren't "off"; my blogging software is just sensitive and often makes me approve comemnts from different IP addresses or something if it doesn't recognize the commenter. Your original comment is posted now.

    @Rita

    Would you say we are able to get away with more than people of other nationalities?

    @bumight

    I think the sense of home is so important and I wonder if I'll ever feel that way in Nigeria. Right now I feel a bit like a chameleon who tries to feel at home wherever I am. I think if I start going there more regularly I'll feel more perfectly balanced between the two places.

    @FemiB

    Hey, Nigeria certainly won't be harmed by your awesome PR! That's an interesting thing about hustling—you're talking about being assertive and being able to hold your own when dealing with others right?

    Well the hypocrite/narrowminded thing certainly isn't limited to Nigerians right?

    @archiwiz

    My defender! I can see you saying "Sit down joo" in person. Thanks ma.

    @Emilia

    Well, I think what this did was help my friend and I realize that what we communicate can be seen a totally different way by the other person, so it was good from that point of view.

    I agree that if I did hate Nigeria, going there would not make sense, but what I was having a hard time understanding is why she thought I hated Nigeria when I thought that in general I didn't behave like someone who hates the country. It goes back to that point of how two people can have completely different interpretations of the same words.

    @i looove nigeria

    Yes o! We didn't get voted happiest nation on earth some years back for nothing!

    @sting

    Thanks. I'm really looking forward to visiting as an adult and being able to better deal with and reflect on my experiences.

    @Vera Ezimora

    lol you're hilarious! Keep on doing Nigeria proud—we all know you're probably the first to boast about the country to others (maybe not fellow Nigerians sha…) lol.

    @Afronuts

    Too ke? I don't hate Nigeria o!

    I hadn't heard about the Nigeria 2025 thing but I googled it and found this. Thanks for the info.

    @Azuka

    Thank you.

    @sherri

    Thanks ma. You aren't allowed to take a long hiatus anymore o!

    @solomonsydelle

    Thank you for your comment and your general message of it being ok to have different opinions, and how one should express it with grace and without shutting others up (my interpretation of your comment sha lol).

    I think your third paragraph is lovely. It's good to have a friend who isn't afraid to share her opinion and start dialogue, and in the end I certainly got more from the whole conversation than I thought I would!

    @AlooFar

    You must share more on this one day…perhaps on your blog?

  16. do u know i thot u were proper proper nigerian like grew up in nigeria and just left there for uni!

    i dont know what i love about nigeria but i know when i went home the last time i was happy like just unnecesarily happy and i just felt a sense of belonging and i was happy to be home!

  17. Hi GoodNaija, to be honest, sometimes you might give off the impression of the "sociologist" trying to "experiment" a situation rather than a person immersing themselves genuinely into a group to adopt it… (i.e when you mentionned going back to Nigeria, you didn't seem excited only slightly annoyed)

    But that's just an impression, and is certainly not your intent. To my friends born and raised abroad who want to understand their parents' culture, I give them this advice: just relax and enjoy it. Do not expect too much and don't hold too much in contemption.

  18. @Thandiwe

    This sense of home, that might be hard to express and define precisely, is something that I think a lot of Nigerians can relate to.

    @Ms Sula

    In person as well as online, It's always interesting to find out how you're perceived, even though sometimes this new knowledge makes you feel somewhat dismayed or surprised (due to it being the opposite of what you intended).

    Thank you for the advice. I see myself as preparing for more of what I experienced when I was last there more than anything, while hoping for the best and hoping that I've developed ways of responding that show a better developed ability to not let things get to me as much. I think because I'm sensitive about my weight, and I'm now an adult rather than a child who might have had a bit of "baby fat" leftover when I last visited, I'm apprehensive about the part of the visit when I see family members for the first time and they see me.

  19. one thing i realised is that a lot of people who didnt grow up in 9ja or have been out of 9ja for a long time have a very distorted view of 9ja and off course that is expected!!they some time think o 9ja is cool, d slangs are of d hook, they see pictures of everyone on facebook during xmas in 9ja and they see ppple weraing i love 9ja teeshirts and hand bands and the likes and they feel like men Naija pple are just d bomb jare!! on the one hand they see everybody else in 9ja as pests who want to pounce on their money!!I understand that it is hard to try and understand any culture you werent really raised in or raised partially in!!!but naija is just Naija ..Nigerians are just Nigerians..been Nigerian is not like trying to be a cool kid in school…

    I do applaud you!!you really seem to be genuinely interested in learning abt the 9ja way of life and i percieve ur eagerness to learn more things each day!!!!!

    I dont think i made sense though..have a wonderful stay in 9ja!

  20. 9ja is good n bad just like everyoda country. D only reason we get so pissed about it is cos its OUR country n we wish we cld be BETA. hopefully oneday we will, sometimes instead of bashing 9ja i say E GO BETA or GOD DE! I love 9ja!!!!!!!! We r a happy bunch and i dont know how to put it but dere's sth dat makes u tick wit joy wen u coming back to it. God de ojare!!!

  21. I'm just like you, haven't really spent any time in Naija, but it bothers me when I'm more Nigerian than people who were raised in Nigeria their whole lifes. True we have our problems but I ADORE my culture!!

  22. Hey girl! I Love the post! I complain about the exact same things you complain about girl! There's so much to complain about our country and country people LOL. We still have to thank God i guess!!

  23. Very interesting. I agree Nigeria and Naijas have problems. I have never lived at home and I visited only twice. I was born in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. and it has made me a pretty serious (somber!) person. Some Nigerians need to take their blinders off when it comes to seeing the flaws in America and race issues. Race is the foremost issue of this age but not too many naijas talk to me about current issues outside of Nigeria or Africa. Life will not let me ignore this. I wonder how others cope? Anyway, God Bless…

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