I wanted to name this “the dummy’s guide to writing about Nigeria while abroad” but then again I thought, the dummy in this case might be me. Sometimes when you have left the fatherland you lose touch with what is on ground, you either chose to be overly dramatic when discussing your home country or you glamorize it. Glamorize? The word I m looking for escapes me but basically you are over positive about everything about your country which isn’t a bad thing. You just seem to never be objective about anything related to your country. In both cases you are suffering from some form of the grass is greener syndrome.
Think about it. For some people who ‘huzzled’ to go to obodo oyibo. Here you are at the place you were fasting and praying to get to. You even summoned holyghost fire from the heights of heaven to grant you green card. And you get here and you proceed to over-insult your host country to shege and in your mind’s eye the streets of naija are paved with gold. Ingratitude at its finest. If it is up to some of you and the way you describe naija, it is the new Jerusalem prophesied in the book of revelations of the bible. On the flipside there are those who like the Apostle in the bible who once exclaimed, “can anything good come out of Nazareth?” they never have a good thing to say about Nigeria. This is still a form of grass is greener syndrome as you are accentuating the bad about your home country with the perception that the grass you are standing on is presumably greener. Either way you think the grass is greener on one side or the other.
Now what is the remedy? Why is it even important? Well some of us social commentators about Nigerian issues who live in obodo oyibo (Ghana sef na obodo oyibo for some people going by the way they behave, shots fired), have a habit of misrepresenting Nigeria either for the better or worse. Here are a few tips to be a better Nigerian social critic from abroad.
First, before I go ahead. Not everything in Nigeria has to be seen from a tribalistic prism. Stay there thinking one group is oppressing the other, corruption and chopping of national resources is no respecter of tribal affiliation. Enough about that, the first tip to being a better Nigerian social critic or commentator is to read Nigerian news from varied sources and Nigerian boards such as the Village Square do not adequately substitute for news because some of the posts on such places have the poster’s personal opinion much like this blog. Get your news about Nigeria from varied and reliable sources. Typically you could get on the Channels TV Live stream, check out Thisday, The Nation, Sahara Reporters, Punch online, daily trust, in fact a good site to have is the Nigerian Master Web, it collates all the Nigerian Newspapers online.
Another tip is to keep in touch with family and friends in Nigeria and get personal accounts of things on the ground as a Nigerian living in Nigeria sees it. When you lose contact with your naija homies and write about Nigerian things, there is a higher likelihood that you will sound like a colossal douchebag with a superiority complex and a fake sense of importance who feels big because he is in obodo oyibo. Tscheww. Keep it real; keep in touch with your Naija peeps.
It doesn’t pay to be overdramatic. Sure it makes for an interesting read because everyone loves to see a train wreck but don’t pretend to care about events and causes that you don’t really care about. You come out looking like a big fake and due to lack of passion about the said topic, you sound out of depth and over simplistic in your analysis of issues. Typically when I m not overly informed about a matter it pays me more to give a disclaimer.
My next point might sound silly in of itself but bear with me. When in the obodo oyibo, keep your social circles mixed, don’t always hang out with a group of people who are always naija bashing, people who make naija sound like the land of milk and honey (typically these people have lived in a bubble), people who are in the owambe set (their naija-ness is to live from one owambe to another), people who culturally isolate themselves from the culture of their host country (cultural exchange gives you a different perspective on your homeland) and the people who always have some grand scheme to improve Nigeria which they haven’t thoroughly thought out (over-idealistic bunch) amongst many types I have come across in my short lifetime.
Anyway, Those were my two kobo (cents is un-Nigerian so I said kobo jo, free me!). Do you have any other tips that will help some of the Nigerian social commentators who just open mouth and talk about Nigeria to be more objective when talking about Nigerian Issues? I m sure I missed a lot.