Half Nigerian, Unfortunately

Half Nigerian, Unfortunately

There’s something about this country that tends to piss other people off. My parents like to call it jealousy, but you see, I believe in calling a spade a spade. If there’s one thing I truly dislike, it’s when people just try to make themselves feel better for no reasonable reason.

I had never been more aware of my status as a Nigerian than when I moved out of it. Trust me, I had a lot of ugly experiences. I would be having a normal, casual, pleasant conversation with someone and the moment they realize I’m Nigerian they suddenly grow cold, right before my eyes. Some of them even stop talking all together. When I spoke in class, people, including the teacher would laugh. One girl once told me “No offense but, Nigeria’s horrible”. People would spite me for something so out of my control. More times than not, I was the butt of the joke. I could go on and on about my experience with bullying, but for what? For pity? Sympathy? Empathy? It’s over, and there was no one to save me then. When you’re nine and getting this kind of reaction, you don’t know how to deal with it.  I would go home and tell my parents about my frustration with Nigeria, and they would give me a long speech about reasons to be proud of my country. I could say that speech word for word, but trust me when I say, it doesn’t work. Not when BBC is blaring loud in my ears every morning saying a different story. So my young mind withdrew into itself. I hesitated before mentioning my country. I tried (in futility) to change my accent. I couldn’t and so I talked much less. I still have problems speaking in public by the way. When you remember your words being responded to by laughter, it’s…difficult.

I understand clearly, the ugly Nigeria. The Nigeria of Boko Haram, the Nigeria of corrupt leaders and selfish politicians. I mean, I practically grew up using these terms. In case you don’t know, it’s kind of hard to speak up for your country when you know that every word of what your opponent is saying is right. Yes, if you come to Nigeria there’s a high chance of getting robbed, or kidnapped; yes we have the crappiest team in the history of crappy soccer teams; yes we are with our own hands killing our own people.  Facing the truth is never easy, and that’s exactly what I’m doing right now.

The Nigerian government makes it hard to argue for Nigeria. And just for the record, my lips are tired of speaking the same old meaningless words. Nigeria is a vibrant country willed with potential, yes. I hear this from my parents more than I like. But when is that potential going to materialize into something? That nine year old girl had hopes. If someone told her that in 2012, Nigeria would be struggling with terrorism and would be way worse than before, it would have close to killed her. You’re probably thinking this is some terribly unpatriotic girl right? But I tell you, no one loves our country more than me. I used to believe in Nigeria, I really did. Love doesn’t fade away, but it does get weaker and weaker, especially when it’s based on little reason.

So listen, this is the voice of shattered hopes. This is the voice of a disillusioned fraction of Nigeria’s future.

You can say I let them win. I let all the people who laughed at my accent and tried to bring me down succeed. But in truth, I didn’t. I fought against them with all my strength and with all my heart. You should have seen me, this tiny short girl in the midst of bigger, older, hateful people.  Holding back tears, and anger, and sadness.  The only voice of Nigeria. Fighting, word for word, saying words I began to believe less and less. But you know what, when you fight with your heart, it gets weak. I don’t know when instead of them, it was myself I was trying to convince.

So I met this girl a few months ago, and she said something I would never forget. I looked at her fair skin, and curly hair and asked “what country are you from?” and she looked me in the eye and responded “I’m half French” “And half what?” I asked again, curious. And then without meaning to, she said the words that irrevocably changed a part of me. “Half Nigerian, unfortunately”.


31 thoughts on “Half Nigerian, Unfortunately” by Yeniee (@Yeniee)

  1. So u let others tell u wat u r. Anyway sha, nine year olds can b like dat.
    BTW d Nigerian soccer team is not d crappiest in d world, haba!

    1. As a matter of fact, I don’t. I obviously didn’t do a very good job with this if this is your conclusion. Thanks for reading though. :)

  2. I enjoy reading your memoir! You know why? Because it is also mine, somewhat. When I find myself in the midst of these outsiders, I play down my “Nigerianhood” and play up my “Humanhood.” I want to be judged as a human being, not as a Nigerian. Actually, when the judgment turns out positive, it is a plus to Nigeria. I don’t believe in this crop of leaders…wheher religious, political or whatever. They have dragged the country from the path of values to the den of materialism.

    1. Its quite sad really. And although I admit all this here, I might never any where else. Thanks for your contribution :).

  3. An honest recount. Personally my being Nigerian is not fortunate or unfortunately. It just is.

    1. :) Mine isn’t exactly unfortunate. Its just saddening at times, considering the many troubles we face as a result. @Myne

  4. I love your piece and I think you did a good job with it.

    Its sad to face the truth about our country, though its also good to try and find the good in who we are as a people and as a country. We should speak out against the bad, but we should also strike a balance and find the good that lies therein.

    eg- naijastories, see the crop of brilliant writers that its been able to find. There is still something in Nigeria to be proud of.

    well done.

    1. You’re absolutely right. Although that balance can be difficult to find, we should try to find it all the same. Naija Stories is precious. Thanks for reading :)

  5. I enjoyed this piece so much. I luv the part where as a nine year old you were fightin back tears 4 ur country.
    Sweet piece.
    Lactoo says so.

  6. There was a little girl just like you, she loved her country too, too dearly I most say.
    The love of motherland can tear your heart apart, but it can also make it only so large…
    I love that I can still hear your love for your country no matter how distant and frail it sounds.
    Don’t give up; growing up.

  7. Very powerful and beautifully written too.

    So far I have not had to hide my nationality but I guess some people out there are having this experience. Thanks for pointing that out, maybe if we all thought about that we would act better.

  8. Powerful and well written, it struck wishful chords in me, I totally understand and can relate with your experience. I know one day soon our story will change, then there shall be no more half Nigerians, we are either Nigerians or not Nigerians…

    1. Amen to change. Thanks for reading :)

  9. My dear sister,

    Please don’t be a graduate of the College of CNN and BBC News. A lot of our citizens and leaders are, and they’re fucked up. Sometimes Black Americans wonder who’s more fucked, them or us. I swear what these outlets of disinformation have done to us and are doing to our children’s minds is criminal.

    Detox your mind, my sister. Go back and travel the entire country. Read up on your country. Nigerians are one of the smartest humans on earth. Oh, you don’t believe me? Investigate some of the most sensitive entities in the Western world and you’d find Nigerians there. America and England seem to know this, and why we don’t know is a mystery. Some of the history of this hip-hop culture that’s blown up all over the world has its origin in Nigeria. Oh, you don’t believe me? Investigate. That’s your homework.

    The best educated immigrant community in the USA is Nigerian. The Nigerian culture can be felt everywhere you go on this good Earth of ours. Go to Brazil, heck, go even to good old Russia. That car you drive overseas is probably fueled with Nigerian oil. That soap you wash with might be made with Nigerian palm oil.

    The 1 percent criminal minds who happen to be Nigerian have taken hold of the leadership of our dear country, and some of them are running around the world, ruining our good name. This, however, does not speak for the 99 percent who are decent and go about doing their best to survive and represent.

    But if you got ALL your information from Western media and books, then the reality of the 99 and 1 is flipped. Nigerians are one of the most fascinating people on Earth, and all you need to do to see that is to go to the country and travel the unbeaten path. Ok, you can’t travel? Visit NaijaStories.com. I have a feeling that Myne knew this and that’s why she dedicated her site to just Nigerian tales.

    I could go on and on, but I have a feeling that you get the picture.

    So next time some punk gets in your face and wants to bug, tell them to fuck off, for the ones that know, the ones that are deep in knowledge, the ones that are well-learned, show REVERENCE when the name Nigeria or Africa comes up.

    1. @howyoudey Thanks a lot. This actually helps. And it makes me happy that there are still people out there like you…who are still passionate about the Nigerian cause. Its when we the weak ones feel like this that the strong like you pull us up. In some ways, you’re right. Maybe the ratio there is more like 60 to 40 though. At least…what with all the kidnappings lately. But mostly, you’re right. The truth is, I won’t be on a site called Naija Stories if I wasn’t at least a little proud to be Nigerian. Thanks again. And I do love Nigeria.

  10. A good read.
    Well done.

    Their loss if they don’t like Nigerians…

    1. @tadethompson I’m glad you think so. :)

  11. Your work is passionate and engaging and it is unfortunate that you had this experience.

    I grew up in England and was never made to feel ashamed of my country. The rare racial slur maybe; but whenever I mentioned where I was from, the response was usually ‘I have a friend/colleague/in-law who is Nigerian.’ I wondered why they told me this but I was never really surprised. Nigerians are friendly folk.

    1. That’s actually ironic. Considering the fact that I’m right next door and people appreciate Nigerians more so far away. I’ll never understand how Africans turn against Africans. Thanks for reading :)

  12. It’s a pity. Stand up to them. You can never erase who you are. I enjoyed your story.

    1. true… Thanks a lot for reading :)

  13. Nice write up yeniee, but truth be told no matter how much we deny our roots we are all Nigerian, even when we go from Yewande to wandy or from Ekaette to kate, it changes nothing. The last time i checked there are still people in Iraq(not like i support the violence in Nigeria) so if you are a Nigerian all hope is not lost believe in yourself forget CNN reports, other countries are much more corrupt and violence prone than Nigeria its just that these countries are more developed than ours so they control the news. proudly Naija

    1. True…thanks for reading :)

  14. This is nice @Yeniee.The only thing I would change is reasonable reason.It doesn’t sound right to me.
    Just always remember who you are and where you are coming from and be proud of it.It does matter.What others will say about it does not. That girl’s comment was disrespectful. My kids are half French and half American and I want them to cherish both cultures and background. Also remember that change is sometimes slow.It doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

    1. wow thanks a lot. Your comment is really helpful and it makes a lot of sense. Thanks for reading too :)

  15. “In the heart of our land is glory
    And our voices will tell the story
    We must believe this story wholly
    And we must not fail to show it”

    Tell the Nigerian story boldly… https://twitter.com/Africaontherise

  16. lol….i find this funny..nd sincere. It is true…i struggle to b patrotic..it’s very difficult to love a country dat doesnt love u back, if u knw wad i mean.
    Anyway i love Nigeria bt i do not believe in a better tomorow, vision 2020 and all d ‘unreasonable’ hope they say they hv for Nigeria. I believe in today…i belive in what i see, afterall seeing is believing.

    Good job with the naration!

  17. Nice write up nigeria no matter what is being said negatively is still one of the best country that you can feel love. Thanks for defending ur father land even if it means fighting back your tears all this is just for a moment because a better nigeria is coming forth

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