Disclaimer: This write-up has gratuitious use of the word Oyibo
You are at a restaurant, you have been there for 40 minutes trying hard to get the attention of the waiter, in the time you have been here she has come but has not even given you a chance to get in a sentence when she darts off again. You see your waitress moving up and down like a bush rat whose tail is on fire. You try to find another waiter but to no avail. A group of oyibos come into the same restaurant and instantly the waitress stops perambulating and stands at attention. She is now quite the stiff hen (cock). She puts on her best attempt at a fake smile and walks up to the group of “Oyibo” people. On closer inspection you notice that this group of “oyibos” is of Middle Eastern origin and their English is not too great but in spite of this the waitress puts on her best oyibo accent which comes across as some American/British/Ajekpako hybrid. I sense she would have been more accurate if she had imitated Borat’s accent. Nonetheless, she smiles, greets them politely and proceeds to seat them down, and takes their order. All this while, you have been waiting to get someone’s attention. It seems no one cares that you might be a millionaire who might actually bring in more service to the restaurant or buy more stuff than the oyibos. All they see is a young Nigerian in a t-shirt and jeans. It does not help that you are not the aggressive type to start making lots of trouble; you know the type of Nigerian who goes, “Do you know who I am? Eh?!! How dare you not serve me on time?!!! Do you know I can buy this place if I want to? Eh?! The president is my brother’s uncle’s sister’s niece’s godfather”
Maybe I should start a humanitarian organization or NGO called Crazy Nigerian’s Society for the Humane treatment of Nigerians in Nigeria because evidently the oyibo is a demigod that we all strive to please. Well I am sorry my pseudo-black power self cannot stomach such rubbish. I guess before I go ahead, I think I ll need to define what oyibo is,
Oyibo is an Igbo term I believe that has been incorporated into pidgin/local Nigerian speak to refer to foreigners typically white people or those of the Caucasian race. The term in many quarters has an extended use and has come to be used to refer to people of non-negro races which includes the Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern populations present in the country.
It is said that Africans and by extension Nigerians are very hospitable and welcoming people but riddle me this, where does hospitality end and blatant display of inferiority complex and denigration of people of your own country in favor of foreigners and foreign goods begin? I am not being xenophobic; at least I don’t think so. I just can’t wrap my mind around this behavior. It is a mindset that says the oyibo man should be given preferential treatment, the oyibo man’s opinion ranks higher than the opinion of your fellow country man. It is a mindset that says the oyibo man with basically the equivalent of a secondary education can be paid three times the wage of the average Nigerian worker for copying and pasting design documents from one folder to another. Bullshit. I definitely hold one truth self-evident that although all men were created equal, I have more of a right to be in my country and hence deserve to be treated as such. Ladies and gentlemen, I am not overreacting. Have you ever witnessed how the home countries of some of these people treat Nigerians? Watch the TV show UK Border Patrol. If that’s too far of a stretch, observe how we are treated at foreign embassies when we go to look for visas to travel. Heck, peep the quality of airplanes used to fly the Nigerian route as opposed to other routes.
It is ironic because I am of the opinion that few nationalities on the African continent possess the sense of national pride that Nigerians do, yet when it comes to dealing with oyibo people we lay whatever national pride we possess at the altar of the oyibo. What the hell happened to our damn national pride. I believe there are 3 culprits to blame for this.
Colonialism. You see the by-product of the colonial system was that it embedded a sense of subconscious inferiority in our people. This has manifested over the years in people speaking with ludicrous accents, a certain preference for foreign degrees which is not entirely unrelated to the current state of the nation’s education sector and a preponderance to believe the sky is red if it is said with a british accent. The abandonment of our traditional language, cultures and religions have helped to embed a strong sense of Nigerian/African as being inferior. Children were and are discouraged from speaking vernacular in schools. A lot of times, school uniforms take a western form and maybe have one day a year when children wear traditional wear. The juju and traditional religion were abandoned for the most part at the altar of Christianity.
Government. Yes it is a bit trite to blame Nigerian problems on government. However, successive governments have failed to formulate policies to develop the country and as a result a lot of the quality products that have been used in our country are made abroad. They have failed to develop our education sector hence a preference for foreign degrees. It has failed to develop our health sector hence the wealthy fly abroad for treatment. They have failed to accurately enforce a foreign quota system has resulted in a plethora of foreigners in the country doing jobs that Nigerians can do. This is especially telling in a country with high unemployment in Nigeria because these oyibos get paid twice or three times what the Nigerian would be paid so to be honest it does not make sufficient economic sense in my opinion. You also have Chinese companies that bring completely Chinese staff forces into the country including laborers, brick layers and so on. Do we not have bricklayers in Nigeria? The government has also displayed this inherited colonial inferiority complex by consistently supporting foreign businesses at the detriment of Nigerian entrepreneurs and startups. You have companies that come to our country and pollute our lands and seemingly go scott free. I dare any Nigerian company to pollute the gulf coast and get away with it. Heck I dare any Nigerian company to completely infiltrate and influence “developed” country policies the way some companies have in this nation.
Poverty and Ignorance. These two go hand in hand in explaining why I would walk into a restaurant and get horrid service while the oyibo man will get fawned over. Notice I did not say lack of education. There are people who have PhDs but aren’t really free of the inferiority complex. You see when a person is poor and has never met a poor oyibo man, it is fair for the person to deduce all oyibo’s are wealthy and hence he/she will shun his Nigerian brother in favor of the oyibo who is probably wealthier and “dash” him/her some money from his treasure drove of dollars/pounds. As for the myth of the intelligent expatriate, how else do you expect people to think when most of the things they use are not made in the country. Of course an ignorant person will view any form of technology as oyibo magic. Go figure.
I would like to think there was some purpose to my rant. I strongly believe there is a need to develop a sense of National pride that is not restricted to football or the insecure defense of our nation anytime a foreigner criticizes it. Our national pride should go beyond that, we should be proud to be Nigerian. We should be proud of our culture and heritage. We should be proud of our race and the fact that we are a hardworking and intelligent people capable of surviving anywhere and surviving anything. This is our most redeeming quality; we should bask in it and not let ourselves be intimidated in our country. It is our Nigeria, it belongs to us. Be hospitable to foreigners but lets treat our fellow citizens as co-owners of this great land.
Have you ever been looked over in favor of an oyibo? Do you think this disproportionality exists or is it the imagination of a young man who has lived in a racial society? What are the reasons for this behavior if it exists? What can we do to remedy this situation without resulting to xenophobia?