You know what I need?
A guide to the country of Nigeria for dummies (you know those Dummies books, right?). I’m not just talking about geography; I want to know more about all aspects of the country. I guess this book would be called The Dundi United’s Guide to Nigeria or something similar. Unless you are a political and history buff, or have parents who are, many who were born and raised abroad are likely not well versed in what’s going on in Nigeria politically, and it’s not for lack of trying in some cases (although in other cases Nigerians who have been abroad all along just don’t care so much about it). I haven’t really tried to be aware of what is going on but don’t hate me just yet: I blame it on the fact that politics bore me.
I am not at all politically inclined, and even though I have lived in Canada for almost 23 years, I still don’t know the ins and outs of the politics of the country. When the time to vote comes, I make an “informed choice” based on those lovely summaries that newspapers put out in the months leading to the election, so I could vote Conservative one year, then Liberal the next. It’s sort of like studying for a test from somebody else’s study notesâ€”while it isn’t ideal to study from someone else’s notes, it can be a time saver as you don’t have to do the work of writing your own notes.
I would like to be able to converse about what is going on in Nigeria with people one day, not to the point where I’m having deep political discussions every day (yawn) but to the point where someone can mention a political party, or a contentious issue, and I can scrape together a few intelligent sentences that show that I have a brain and I know what’s going on, albeit vaguely.
So, in order to become a semi-informed Nigerian, where should one start? Reading a (brief) history of the country would be helpful, just a bare bones history of how the states came to be and why and how the different tribes/groups settled where they did. We own a couple of old books on the subject but I have to admit I’ve never enjoyed reading history books that don’t have some romance thrown in. And also, them history books are so thick! Don’t ask me why I can read a historical romance book twice as thick in a few days sha yet can’t read a history book. I haven’t even looked at any of those books in years (and I certainly never finished reading more than a few pages of any of them!). I know very little about the significant events in the history of Nigeria, which is a shame, so the first step would be to find out how Nigeria ended up being the country it is today, and learn more about what we’re known for (besides oil and 419).
(Clap for me: at least I know we gained independence on October 1, 1960.)
If you ever go on an online forum for Nigerians, you will likely see a topic or section devoted to how the country is doing politically, economically and socially. There are always calls for change, the airing of opinions on the validity of this politician or that politician, and opinions on whether this or that initiative will work in the Nigeria of today. Everyone seems to have an opinion too on what exactly Nigeria needs. I always peek into those discussions, read the names of politicians I don’t know anything about, then bow out, embarrassed that I haven’t yet looked up anything on the current president, and that I don’t have a concrete idea of what would help Nigeria. An end to the corruption would be great but that is such a Miss America response, and so vague: it’s like asking for world peace for Christmas.
Someone hurry up and write that Dummies book sha…remember it’s for those of us who didn’t grow up in the system so it has to be short and to the point so as not to overwhelm us. ;)