Friday, 15 April 2011

The Coat of Shame

This past week, several news items have resonated with me. These are the news items:

(1) A London based Nigerian lady being convicted of £1.3m fraud
(2) A UK Channel 4 report on Edo state showing how girls take oaths that tie them to a life of prostitution and servitude in Italy

(3) Ex-governor, James Ibori being extradicted to the UK to face allegations of diverting state funds to British banks

Each of these stories resonated with me because there is something about the people involved that I could identify with. This is because If you asked me to describe myself - my origins - I would say...
        - I'm a Nigerian woman from Edo state who now lives in London.

With stories like these, everything about my origins can often be tainted by negative preconceptions:
     From Nigeria?..............Must be a Fraudster!
     From Edo State?..........Must be a Prostitute !
Indeed, when people living abroad hear negative stories about Black people, Africans, Nigerians etc we feel saddened and the usual reaction is that they have somehow shamed 'us'

However, I am making a conscious decision to shed this 'coat of shame'.

      I am NOT responsible for the actions of 350 million plus people. 

While it is fantastic to care about our fellow country men and worry about what they do/ do not do to portray a positive image of Nigeria; I will not be burdened by this. Life is too short to constantly be weighed down by things that are beyond one's control. 

So, when a Non-Nigerian recently mentioned to me that he gets numerous emails from Nigerians - daily - offering him get-rich-quick opportunities.
 I couldn't be bothered giving a diplomatic answer so my response was:                    'And what do you want me to do about it...........?'

I am ONLY responsible for the actions of ME .....and my kids. 
No more, no less.


  1. Very well said. I strongly respect your views on this.

  2. Word of the wise definitely. The reputation and the damage is quiet disheartening, and it goes further to perpetuate stereotypes about Nigerians collectively.
    I really hope our Govt will look at the resent activities as a tool to move the country forward.

    sheshh@ the person that gets get rich quick emails... sooo?? what does it have to do with you? greedy nitwit.

  3. i feel ur pain n we're all in it together, those abroad won't say ouch she's from Edo be carefull, all they know is that he/ she is Nigerian. it's such a shame seriously

  4. Totally agree with you on this one. We are individuals really, and for those who want to press the point, no country is a saint.

  5. @Maid of Heart:
    Thanks my sistah,
    Sometimes one wants to scream....BUT..Deep breath! *smile*

    I'm glad you see my point. The stereotypes will never end as long as such stories abound.
    I choose to live my life 'unburdened' by such preconceptions
    Regarding the government...mmmmmmhhh !

    @ Chizy K:
    Thanks my sister.
    Agree that '...all they know is that he/ she is Nigerian.'
    The matter tire me
    Anyway, live your life with good values is all I can ask of my sisters and brothers.

    @Myne Whitman said...
    Thanks for seeing my point. Agree that '....and for those who want to press the point, no country is a saint.'
    Well said.
    15 April 2011 21:45

  6. @Myne- i agree 100%. Whenever someone has something foolish to say about Nigeria, i provide them with some equally foolish about another country lol.
    I've given up hanging my head in shame. Rather i shake my head in disappointment, hope that it gets better and go on with my day.

  7. great points Naija Mum; though it is such a pain that these things happen for so many reasons, these are individual human beings that made those choices. But yet people think that we have to answer for them and not only that pay for their choices. I remember my husband and I watching a tv advertisement and it read on the bottom of the screen we do not accept credit/debit cards from Nigerians, only money orders. (hiss)

  8. @LadyNgo:
    LOL @... i provide them with some equally foolish about another country'
    Great tactic. I must remember that
    Also like your reaction of shaking your head in disappointment.
    Thanks for that

    @ Nenyenwa
    Thanks for the compliment
    *Long hisssssss* @the TV advert
    I no blame dem.
    As my people say - na because tree fall, na im goat fit climb am !
    Thanks my sister

  9. It irks me when people judge others solely based on their tribe, country, religion, race, etc.. but it is what it is. We can only keep hoping this negative stereotyping is eventually squashed.. xx

  10. its so annoying!!!! You didnt mention the Nigerian Pastor that had sex with a young boy!!!! When i tell people Im Nigerian they start to act funny around me like im about to do something bad to like you said im not responsible for the actions of my people and i believe one bad banana doesn't spoil the whole bunch

  11. Well said. The prostitution story was a painful reminder of the large prostitution industry within Nigeria. The sad part is the government isn't tackling the problem as seriously as it should. When I worked I with an NGO in Lagos that rehabilitated these girls, I was shocked at the large number of young girls, some barely in their teens, that were "imported" into Lagos area brothels from Calabar, Edo, and other areas of the South-East each week.Even more disheartening, was the fact that it was their parents, uncles, aunties, and grandparents that were selling them to the "madams."

    About distancing yourself from bad news, it's sometimes very hard to do because the prevailing attitude is to describe entire groups of minorities by the actions of individual members of the group. A white boy misbehaves and everyone gives the boy a sideeye for his behavior. A black boy misbehaves and everyone starts talking about how black people don't know how to act in public....Smh.

  12. *hi5* my fellow EDO sistah!.. WETIN CONCERN AGBERO WITH OVERLOAD? abegiiiiii? Make everybody bear im papa name..shikenna!

  13. yessoo,
    I am ONE person. I can not be responsible for the actions of other Igbos, Nigerians, Africans, or Black ppl in general. I can only answer for myself, so NOBODY should ask me anything as if i represent any of those groups. WE ARE Individuals!!!!

  14. lol @ 'And what do you want me to do about it...........?'

    I don't blame u @ can get very frustrating, but what r we to do about it? As u rightly pointed out, we can only be responsible for our's and our children's or wards' behaviour...May God help us to be the change we want to see.

  15. @kitkat:
    Agree that 'We can only keep hoping this negative stereotyping is eventually squashed'
    Thanks dearie

    @Sisi Yemmie
    Yes o I forgot about the pastor story. These examples came to me because they happened this week. Mmmmm.....I guess each week brings its own Naija-related 'news'
    Gbam re: 'one bad banana doesn't spoil the whole bunch'
    May God give us strength to remain positive.
    Thanks sis

    Thank you for pointing out your first-hand experience of how the guardians of these girls push them into prostitution.
    That's why I feel the guardians should be targeted.
    The situation is quite upsetting.
    Anyway, let's do our best to be positive reps of Naija in our own lives.
    Thanks my sistah

  16. @Ibhade:
    I agree everyone should bear that the own name but the challenge is that when you are living abroad, Naija people are judged by the few bad eggs among us.
    Thanks sis

    @Chizzy D
    I feel you my sister. The thing tire me sef.
    If its not one thing, its another.
    I feel like walking around with a placard that reads 'Abeg free me, no be me do am' LOL

    @Anoda Phase:
    Glad you see my point. The wahala is too much jo!
    I'm with you re: 'May God help us to be the change we want to see' Amen and amen
    Thanks sis

  17. @Ibhade:
    I agree everyone should bear their own name but the challenge is that when you are living abroad, Naija people are judged by the few bad eggs among us.
    Thanks sis

    @Chizzy D
    I feel you my sister. The thing tire me sef.
    If its not one thing, its another.
    I feel like walking around with a placard that reads 'Abeg free me, no be me do am' LOL

    @Anoda Phase:
    Glad you see my point. The wahala is too much jo!
    I'm with you re: 'May God help us to be the change we want to see' Amen and amen
    Thanks sis

  18. This is so on point.
    We are individuals and should not be punished for our country man's wrong doings.

  19. well said sista, much on point.....and i love. love, love ur smart answer....."Wat do u want me to do abt it" to borrow dat one.....the annoying part is dat dey neva recognize the good things abt our country....mschewww....

  20. Unfortunately, even as 'black people' we have lines of segregation tearing us apart each day. Tribalism within the country and even ethnicity within the same geographical boundaries, its just sad.
    However, like Ibhade said, let everyone be held responsible for their action... bear ur father's name

  21. @Lara:
    Thanks my sistah
    I pray we all live to see this situation change one day.

    @kiki morena
    Re: the answer...LOL
    Very unlike me, I have to say
    As you said, they will ignore the good news. Well, I guess bad news travels faster abi?
    Thanks my sistah

    Totally agree that the lines of segregation tears we 'black people' apart
    If its not tribalism, its regional politics
    If its not the slavery issue, its what shade of black you are.
    Even up to hair - are you natural or weave wearing.
    The issue tire me oh!
    Thanks for commenting

  22. I love you Sista!! Ride on!

  23. It's true; the best way to feel undisturbed no matter what happens, especially in situations like these, is to only feel the responsibility you bear alone and not carry others' stupid shame through empathy or crazy act of ethnic oneness.

  24. Very true. It's probably the best way to keep sane when flooded with news about "bad" Nigerians abroad.

  25. @Ginger
    Love you right back sistah !
    *fist bump*

    @Strong Self
    True talk re 'its the best way to feel undisturbed no matter what happens'
    I feel empathy but definitely not responsibility
    Thanks bro

    You have used the correct term 'flooded'
    That's exactly how I feel with all the negative Naija news *sigh*
    I pray our kids wont have to go through all this. Amen

  26. its funny how they are quick you use the actions of a few to judge all.

    lovely blog...first time here

  27. @The Young Radicals
    True talk. I guess it's easier to paint all with the same brush.
    Thanks for the compliment

  28. Abegii! Make dem go siddon! Like someone said, I have decided to be answering back.

    1.Stranger: How come Nigerians are so dishonest?

    Me: How come the British never minded their own business, always looking for a country to CONQUER/colonize?From Nigeria to Jamaica to killing the Aborigines in Australia to inhabiting South Africa? (all na shakara to put the person off)

    Stranger: Nigerians are bloody fraudsters.

    Me: What?! Americans are bloody serial killers and ....

    Etc.. as in I am tired of all the stereotypes especially those referring to blacks.

    Stranger: Why is Africa so poor and diseased and wretched?

    Me: (na mouth o)Africa is poor cos the white man interfered with our progress during slavery. If not for that, we will have our own version of civilisation (like the Asians) today afterall we had our system of government, etc before they came and disrupted the natural flow of civilisation.

    And besides the white man has his own civilised/advanced diseases/syndromes/disorders too, innit?

    Stranger: Why are black people so violent?
    Me: Please, they are constantly provoked and made to feel inferior 'upon' the fact that it was the white man that entered ship and came to Africa looking for whom to enslave.

    They enticed and deceived innocent, naive African villagers and destroyed tens of millions of destinies and now I HAVE TO FEEL BAD FOR THEIR ACTIONS? What the nerve!!! .... What if you were born black?

    As in nobody can make me feel bad for what is not my fault.

    Stranger: Why are black people so black like like charcoal and so ugly?

    Me: Black is a sleek and captivating colour, if you hate it so much why wear it?

    Black is beautiful and we only need more designers to create more blackcolour-friendly clothes/textile shades for us (like the pic in the link below) to really appreciate the colour on a living being. Most designers design in shades for white/light people only.

    Naijamum, I am ready for them. I am tired of hearing stupid comments about Africa in my working place, about how we carry buckets of water on our head, etc. I had to lie that I am Ghanaian one time like that.

    Anyways, nice article.

  29. @Anon.
    Thanks so much for your interesting, heartfelt and honest comment.

    Re colonialism: The legacy lives with us. Even the recent presidential election has illustrated how deep-rooted the North-South divide is.

    Re Stereotypes: I guess bad news always travels fast. However, some of us perpetuate this stereotype. Nigerians/Africans have a long way to go when it comes to self-love. I cant count the number of times I have wondered why Nigerian musicians fail to celebrate African girls in their videos? Again, why do so many Afro-American and African celebs bleach?
    If we dont love ourselves, how can others celebrate us?

    Re Poverty...Our leaders have a lot to answer for also. As long as they divert funds abroad and misuse aid funds, we will continue to be a country with untapped potential

    My dear, I like your style (re answering back) jo.
    If u no guard your house, u dey ask tiff make im enter.

    Thanks so much

  30. Hi NaijaMum, I have commented on your comment, lol. Right now, I am in Dagenham, will be moving up and down. My email address is

  31. Wow! This is so in your face but, Hey...
    I totally love it!

  32. @Sosexy
    Thanks sis
    Sometimes one has to hit back.

  33. Generalizations are so dangerous oh- it clouds our minds and gives us wrong pre-conceived notions. And so many of us do it :(


  34. @The Corner Shop:
    Totally agreethat generalizations are dangerous.
    And yes, we are all guilty :(
    Thanks for your comment

  35. hmmmn...let's keep playing our part where we are n when we can n show 'them' that there r still some good ones/stuffs. That's the reason for the re-branding project though i've never been a fan of it cos it's not addressing the root-u don't re-brand a country without a brand per se.So best be the best wherever possible...Nigeria will florish again.Nice read!!!


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