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 houseâ€”you know, Mr. and Mrs. Adebayo’s daughter?â€”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!