The friends you have

One thing that I have not been able to do until recently is cultivate a close friendship with a fellow Nigerian, and in fact, this is still a work in progress. We can blame the area I live in for this: there were no other Africans (talk less Nigerians) in my grade of highschool (and only two other black people in my graduating class). So, I missed out on the opportunity to bond with friends over our strict parents who abhor sleepovers and drinking parties and expect “our studies” to take precedence over everything, including extra curricular activities, “hanging out”, and having a boyfriend (and in most cases God help you if you mention this as something you want to ‘experience’ to your parents!). It would have been nice to have been able to say “Oh, mom, I’m going over to Bola’s house—you know, Mr. and Mrs. Adebayo’s daughter?—to hang out” and have them nod or smile approvingly.

Anyways, I don’t want to give the impression that the alternative was bad, because it wasn’t. It was just different. For the most part my friends have been oyinbos, with a few visible minorities from countries in Asia, and a friend from Jamaica. In grade school my closest friends were oyinbo, and for the first part of highschool, I hung out with oyinbos too. They were born and raised in Canada, and their parents and grandparents were too. But then I became closer to some girls who were oyinbo but had emigrated from Europe to Canada in recent years and we found we had a lot in common and could even share stories of our parents’ belief in corporal punishment at least in our early years. It was nice to have friend who understood what it meant to know you were going to have to work to pay your own way through university, who wouldn’t say “Can’t you ask your parents for money?” when you tell them that you don’t have money to do this or that activity, who knew that you wouldn’t be getting a car for your 16th, 18th or 21st birthday, and understood that you might not be able to just hang out at the mall after school because you might have to go home and babysit your siblings for an hour or so, or that you actually want to chip in financially with the family when you can because you know what your parents are going through (or have gone through).

I was lucky: my close friends from highschool and I went to the same local university, so we were able to stick together and keep building our friendship, and to this day two of them are my closest friends ever, and know a whole lot about me.

While in university, I met other Nigerians: not very many, but there were at least three or four in my classes. I had a crush on one guy, Chibuzo, who I had a habit of running into only when I was dressed like crap but that’s a story for another day. I met one girl in particular, let’s call her Nike, who I knew was a fellow Nigerian (and she knew the same of me) but we both had our own group of friends and really didn’t connect enough to exchange more than the usual pleasantries.

I would later find out that we have a very similar family life and that our parents are friends, and we eventually started to run into each other at Nigerian parties. Since we’ve finished university, we’ve tried to get closer and gone out for dinner a few times, but we both have our busy and conflicting schedules, not to mention our longtime friendships with our non-Nigerian friends that take precedence.

In the last few years, I’ve wanted to become closer friends with Nigerians, but when you are trying to make friends when you’re older, it can be harder, since most people have established groups of friends. I have been lucky in the last year to meet some bloggers who I know I’d love to hang out with in person and gist with, but most of them live far away. Don’t cry for me though: I have met one really cool Naija girl right here in my city (not a blogger but she reads blogs) and now we hang out and are good friends (at least from my side sha).

What are your friends like? Are they from all over the world? Mostly Nigerian? Mostly non-Nigerian? A mix? Share!

21 thoughts on “The friends you have

  1. I'm first!!!! I guess I have get up at 4am just to be first on your blog. Noted!

    Girl this has been my "issue" also, majority of my friends are YT and I love them to death. I have got questions from ignorant people (Mark) asking me why I don't go out my way to make black friends. What an idiot.

    I have through blogging met some very like minded fantastic people, who if we lived closer, no doubt we'd be hanging out everyday. I get along with everyone (at least that I know of) and having one group of friends as opposed to another has really never been a big deal to me, you'd be suprised what you can learn when you surround yourself with enough diversity (as you have) So don't worry about where you friends are from, just be happy you do have great friends.

    And all you have to do is convince me to stay when I come visiting lol!

  2. Most of my friends are Nigerians..then I have a few Zimabwain and south African friends that I hang out …I don’t seem to connect with oyibos oh…Would love some gothic friends though..

  3. Given the fact that i grew up in naija and have only been here for 6 yrs, most of my close friends are nigerian. I also found when i got here that most pple in ATL don't like to mix (at least in school), so at the end of the day i end up being friends with other nigerians or africans. I don't have any white friends or african american friends and it's not by choice. They talk to u in class, but on numerous occasions i've had these same pple that would have a conversation with me in class, completely ignore me outside the classroom. Very baffling.

    I would love to have friends from all over, but it hasn't worked out that way.

  4. I did my Uni in the Southern part of African (not south africa) and i made friends with people from Kenya, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Zambia etc Nigeria inclusive. I really enjoyed the fact that i got to mix with people from other countries, it was really enlightened..infact one of my closest friends up till date is Ghanian (ok thats still close home, I know)

    I have never really been able to mix with core oyinbos (British)…i dunno why but we dont gel..i think its cuz i think most of them are fake (I know i sound During my masters in the UK, I mixed well with the Chienese, Greeks, other Europeans but not the British.

    Overall most of my friends are Nigerians and I love them to bits!

  5. most of my friends are nigerian and then a couple of African-americans, and other african countries. My closest friends are nigerian though.

    ….at least on blogsville you have all the nigerian friends you could ever wish for!

  6. Hmm, My naija friends are friends that i grew up with in naija and we came here to study but they are all far away form me but we try to hook up once a while on trips and vacation.

    My local friends i'd say are more of a Nigerians in my area so i have ghanian, zimbabwe,cape verde, bulgaria,american oyinbo (im not too fond of akata…i know thats bad but i have not come across one to be friends with) Liberia, japan, India…just a whole mix. And i am always the only one that does not have another fellow nigerian to speak another language to.

    By the way Nigerians are the best people to hang out with..they are totally fun people all the time

  7. "I had a crush on one guy, Chibuzo, who I had a habit of running into only when I was dressed like crap " ….aint this the truth! and the day u looking spanking hot from head to toe you dont see anyone you know.

    I have a few Nigerian friends, most of them I met after university. While I was at school I hung out with anyone and everyone so I had a nice mix of friends but none of them where really close.

  8. Well the story for me was very similar till a few years back. I lived in Nigeria till I was 9, but went to a school run by an Irish women, therefore lodsa Oyinbo kids went there. Then I moved outta Nigeria to the Middle east., and there where NOOO nigerians my age there. So I learnt to build friendships with different people. Then I move to Canada and go to University and BAMMM am surrounded by soo many Nigerians at once. It was overwhelming at first and I didnt get along with alot of them but now well almost all my friends are Nigerian. I still have loads friends from different places. Hanging out with Nigerians is alot of fun, but having other friends that are really close to me from other places just gives me that balance I need.

  9. I had the great fortune of living in Nigeria and outside. I also come from a very diverse family – Yorubas married to Igbos, Efiks married to Kalabari, Nigerians married to Cameroonians, Nigerians married to foreigners, and the complicated list goes on.

    Anyway, I think that those and additional factors are the reason why my friends run the gamut in terms of their nationality, tribe and mother tongue. I think it is important to make acquaintances with people from all over because their experience can be eye opening. As for making friends at an older age, well I don't know.

    My hubby teases that I don't have enough oyingbo friends though. I wonder why that is because I know quite a lot. That could be a topic to write on. lol! Okay, my mind is beginning to wander and that always gets me into trouble, so I hope all is well with you and yours. I am going to give in and do that hair post because I am getting quite a few messages. Will let you know when it goes up, my sista. Let me know what if any progress has been made…

  10. I've always lived in Nigeria, in PH, so my friends are predominantly Nigerian. One thing I have learnt is that being open and not prejudiced helps in making more friends from other parts of the world. I had the opportunity of meeting a lady from Tripoli and I was a bit conservative about getting close to her because of her muslim religion (she was completely covered). But I tell you, when I came close to her, I enjoyed her company, and I realised she was a great and loving friend to have. That experience made me open up to the oyibos (not all are racists afterall) and i have been able to make more close friends in them.

  11. Well most of my friends are Nigerians and I have a handful from other parts of Africa…I don't know why o! but I don't really have oyinbo friends as such except for work mates I've really bonded with…even in saying that,the relationship only exists within the 4 walls of the office…sad as it may sound!

    But my nigerian friends are from everywhere o!

    yoruba,Ibo,Hausa,Urhobo,Bini,Ishan,Igala,Idoma,Tiv…just name it!

  12. I have a mix of close friends, ranging from Spaniards, kenyans, ghanaians, nigerians and mix of other africans and a few americans (oyinbos). My closest friends today are nigerians, ghanaians and kenyans, somehow these friends have similar experiences growing up so it makes relating to them easier, but apart from our past experience, we also have similar future aspiration. As Africans we have seen the state of the continent and we have dreams of contributing positively to that loving continent that raised us or least live above mediocre standards that might exist in our countries (that beacon of hope for anyone watching).

    For me I am a friendly person so I interact with everyone (Americans inclusive) but because of the ignorance some have about Africa, they tend to act somewhat different (be it in guarded speeches or ignorant ramblings). I do however try to educate as many as possible as I interact with them, but that initial disparity makes it a little hard to be real close friends with them. My issue with Americans is that they learn politeness but not respect, so they could be asking the most disrespectful question but in a polite way and think they are in the right. And when it comes to Africa I am a bit sensitive on the issue so that makes respect for Africa the soil on which our friendship can grow. The American close friends I have might not know the long and short of Africa, but they respect Africa and coupled with a personality I can relate with, and trust, there is nothing stopping us from being close friends.

    PS: Not every African you meet would be that good friend, some might even scare you to the point you might think of complete disassociation. But persist, because good friends are worth it, even through the rash argument…:-)



  13. When I was younger/ in high school, all of my school friends were oyinbo but I had a lot of "cousins", Nigerian friends that grew up with me.

    When I went to college, I made mostly Black (non-Nigerian, let's say) friends, but still had some of my cousins around. And in grad school, all (really most) of my friends were Nigerian/African.

    Now that I' m older, everyone has moved on. I still keep in touch with them (MySpace, Facebook and the lot), but most of my friends are still Black. Not because that's what I'm actively seeking , just what happened. I do crave some multiculturality (is that even a word) now and again though.

  14. I grew up in Nigeria so a lot of my close friends are Nigerians. But since coming to the UK, I've made friends with English, Ghanians, Chinese, Italians, Indians, Jamaicans, Polish and the lot. I tend to see the person and their character rather than their country of origin so I have good friends from many different places.

  15. when i first got to SA with my siblings, we moved into this student complex where there were quite a number of naijas, i made friends with non-nigerians but i had no choice but to be friends with the naijas as well, even tho i was kinda warned against it..they proved the warnin right n showed my siblings n i 'pepper', so we kinda became cautious of the naijas here..

    my closest friends r a zambian n a south african/italian..the naijas here r too problematic, its unbelievable..ofcourse there are a few good ones, there have to be, but i guess once bitten, twice shy..

    wud want to hear the story bout chibuzo!

  16. Gosh I have such a diverse mix of friends. But my closest friends are Nigerian, Hispanic, Liberian, African-American White American,Ivorian and Angolan.

    PS: Petition to do away with having to enter our email addresses, etc! I've been trying to post this comment for a Hot minute.

  17. Umm… you forgot to mention me.

    Haha, my life is the same. Mostly white friends and a lot of Asian (hello Vancouver) and a few others mixed in there).

    In Uni, all the black people on campus (and when I say all, I basically mean ALL… it was a small school) basically lived in my roommate and my room. My roommate is Nigerian and some of the black people were too. :)

    It's kinda funny though that all the Nigerians in Vancouver and the surrounding areas know each other or know of each other.

  18. well, i am not but i could relate to this post. I am originally from Burundi but i was born in Belgium and grew up in Ghana, Senegal and Kenya…

    i only have 2 Burundian friends….one of them we've known each other since we were babies and the other i met her when i was 15…..

    we share the same background: none of us lived more than 5 years in burundi….

    As an adult, i know jt is difficult for me to make Burundians friends because as you said they already have their own set of friends but also they think i am way too different:(

    anyways, just wanted to share my perspective. I love your blog! i'll be subscribing so i won't miss a post

  19. I think growing up in CA it's impossible to not have a mix of friends from all over. I have friends from just about every major country in the world, India, China, Vietnam, Japan, Puerto Rico, Columbia, Bosnia, Ukraine, Russia, Australia, lots of Canadians!!! Oh and of course, Britain, France, Italy, and Spain… Togo, Ghana, and Nigeria…. and of course MEXICO as CA is like 1/3 Mexican or something like that. Actually in the US in general, everyone's an immigrant! It's not something I even think about anymore. Like someone said above, at the end of the day all that matters is that you have friends who truly love you.

    *cue cheesy theme music* ;)

  20. Your parents were just like mine lol.

    To answer the question, most of my friends are Nigerians.

    I have other friends from elsewhere (Asia, Europe, South America and so on).

    It's kind of tough being friends with people that

    don't value the same thing you do.

    I have a friend that i have known since 04

    She's African American

    Sometimes last year,

    she moved to another state (about 6 hrs away) to get married.

    I was really mad at her because I felt marriage was not something you just rush into… you're supposed to have family, friends, and loved ones to share the joy with you.

    Besides it was too soon and the guy was wayyyyy younger than her.

    She did the drive thru wedding

    She's currently divorced and she has a son

    The marriage did not even last to 3 months.

    She's back in town as a single parent. .

    She's still my friend

    I was there and I always will be there for her.

    It's hard when you try to share your views on certain issue with friends and they don't seem to reason with you..

    I fear that she's gonna rush into another marriage

    which might bring this same result.

  21. lets just say be glad you have friends…have not been here in a long while…glad to see u're fine!!

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