Nigeria for Dummies

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 notes—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. ;)

9 thoughts on “Nigeria for Dummies

  1. Lolll try reading the punch newspaper online should get an overview….

    I found a dummies book for facebook once, you never know, there might be one for naija!

  2. lol, dont matter what country I'm in Politics as a whole is never a unifying topic. (That and religion). We are mostly liberal when it comes to American Politics in my family (Go Obama) but when my brothers-in law and Uncles almost come to blows over Nigerian politics it just makes me wonder if any of these men are getting one single kobo from whoever they are so passionate about.

    Even during the Obama/Clinton nonsense (yes it was complete garbage) I stayed out of it. It was annoying to see people of the same views divided over color, which is EXACTLY what they turned it into. Color. Ignorance of any kind pisses me off. So where was I? Who, by the way is the President of Nigeria??

    You who want to marry a Nigerian man, you better get informed on Nigerian politics kiakia!! lol

  3. @Naijababe – never heard of Punch until now…thanks! We'll see how informative the site is.

    @Abbie – I'm with you on politics. And please—I will tell my husband that Naija politics is something he can discuss with his buddies…I am not interested!

    PS – I know the president's name because of the Naija forums…it's Yar'Adua. Anything more involved than that I don't have a clue.

  4. So funny you wrote this post. I have a Nigerian Politics 101 message that i send to new readers of Nigerian Curiosity when they request it. lol! It helps get them up to speed. But even more important than that is that i was writing a Nigeria-related list that i abandoned some time ago. I should get back to it. I'll let you know if and when I publish it.

    Take care and I'm giving you a serious round of 'gbosas' for knowing independence day. loL!



  5. I love naija politics…well its a love hate relationship and i guess I learned about it as i grew up. Anyway i was back in naija for my sisters wedding and they had all these undertone so called rules and guides…I had to let them know that when i get married ..and he is Nigerian..they should please give me a hand book on the do's and donts. Anyway one time i wanted to learn about the Nigerian Civil war and i did not want to read no long ass history books, i read Half of a yellow sun.(.great read includes everything drama, romance, actions, tragedy, comedy) anyway i felt like i needed more knowledge since it was kinda novel. I youtubed and watched a lot of documentaries on it and i was fascinated by the stuff i learned…..without reading any boring book that is.

  6. good idea, GNG,

    as much as I would like to see a Nigeria for Dummies book, just like many other books that could put any dummy through one thing or the other, I dont think there would be a good book to put you through 'Nigeria' as a whole, its people, culture, politics, etc., especially what I call "how to flow" in Nigeria. Maybe that could be the title of a good intro-book, huh. Believe you me, Nigeria is complex and complicated. Seriously, Nigeria is not for Dummies. Even those that have lived in Nigeria all their lives are still Dummies when it comes to knowing the ins and outs of everything, how much more a JJC like you and me, and many others who want to know about the fatherland. Talk about being street smart for once. You've got to be in Naija to learn the real deal.

    the best way to learn about Nigeria is to read the papers online. Such would give you a general idea, but never the 'koko'. Koko means the real thing.

    its good to note however that you are interested in Nigeria and its news. Happy googling about it.

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