Black History Month
I bet you saw that heading and half expected me to talk about how we are going to protest and kick start a revolution either peaceful or violent that topples the current political class. We will do all this and have the country run by intelligent and politically awake youth who will take Nigeria to the promised land and we will live happily ever after. Right? Yeah sounds like something I would say or write 5 to 10 years ago. Naija has sucked most of the idealist out of me, Not that I don’t believe in the revolution, I think we are due one in this nation. Dear Tuface, smh. Enough said! I believe we all have a right to voice our grievances and put pressure on our political class to effect positive change. Now, would they listen? Doubt it! We are a nation that does not listen to gently and well articulated points or people that are way too gentle, we are the gra gra nation; a nation of Warri no dey carry last, of sharp lagos boys and bini boys, of mallams and Okoros who wont hesitate to cheat you in the market unless you “open eye” for them. This is Nigeria. Equal opportunity loudness, everyone is shouting yet very few actually make sense. Read the rest of this entry »
I wanted to write something in honor of Black History/Heritage Month which is celebrated February in the US. I m not in the US anymore, havent visited in some years but going to college there gave me an appreciation of black history and a more pan-black/african mindset. The other day I thought to myself, wouldnt it be interesting to name one of the kids I havent had yet Malcolm Xavier F so in essence he would be Malcolm X F and then give my other kid Martin/Martina. Anyway I was reading Obasanjo’s book and he made a point that struck me as true: Nigeria should have been the beacon of hope for Africa and heck the entire black race. Heck we should have been what Israel is to the Jewish race (clears throat before the Jewish mafia put out a hit on me, No antisemitism implied at at all), a sort of chosen people to show the rest of the black race and heck the world how it should be done. Read the rest of this entry »
I have not written in what to me seems like a while. I had initially set a target of writing at least once a week. I would love to blame school work but then I think I have been procrastinating on my writing. I have let school work, a budding social life and a general addiction to sports and TV get in the way of my writing. Also I did not feel like writing a Valentine’s Piece or about Whitney Houston (RIP).
To the topic at hand, Nigerian/African/Colored People Time. To give a little background I would say that I am one of the most punctual people you would ever meet if I can help it. I arrive in class 10 minutes ahead of time, prefer to go to social events such as parties and concerts ahead of time to scope the venue and relax before the crowd gets too much. General exceptions are when I am with a group of people. There is nothing that really pisses me off like trying to coordinate a group of people. Absolutely nothing. That is why some of the best time I have is going out solo. I am not that weird. I do like meeting new people, what I am not particularly fond of are people I already know who will show up late and act like it is the most natural thing in the world. Which brings me to the definition of Nigerian/African/Colored People Time,
In Nigeria it is called Nigerian time, I have even heard of Kenyan time, There is African time and in the climes of the USA there is Colored People Time. (a) – I really think the term Colored is antiquated and might give a clue to the historical origins of the term, (b) – If Colored refers to people of Color then it is surprising that the stereotype is not also associated with Asian people
Nigerian/African/Colored People Time is a stereotype created by God knows who (perhaps an observant racist?), which shamefully has some basis in fact that states that a group of people be they Nigerian, African, Black have a propensity to be fashionably late even when being fashionably late is undesirable. If you have an appointment with a person of the above stated group and the person is anything beyond the normal accepted limit (Normally up to 30 minutes) without a plausible apology then my dear friend you might have just witnessed Nigerian/African/CPT at work. The same concept applies to events where the organizers start the event sometimes 2 hours after the scheduled time without an explanation. You know what, I think Black People must have found out the secret of time dilation/travel or something because if someone shows up 2 hours late doesn’t that mean that they are already in the future while you are still mad that they weren’t there in the past on time (warped logic?)
It is a damn shame that this negative stereotype is one of the things I have observed that we of the African/Black diaspora seem to have in common. This is not to say I believe all people of color tend to be late, that would be racist against myself (or self-hating) but it is one of those things that make me shake my head anytime I witness it. It is absolutely unprofessional and frankly classless for the most part.
I actually started writing this because I went to a D’banj concert and I was pleasantly surprised that the event started an hour and a half after the doors opened. Now I do not know the protocol on these things. I just think that it is a shame that I have come to expect tardiness at Nigerian/black events that when something starts less than two hours after the announced time, I get excited. I find that I have become more forgiving of this behavior. I have subconsciously made a mental note never to arrive at a Nigerian social event before time. The best you will get from me is right on time. If it is a professional event, I would be there before time.
In general I have a principle that works for me when it comes to appointment and events. I arrive on time in case of any unforeseen problems. If it is a date. I rather be there 20 or 30 minutes ahead of time to make sure I find the right place. If it is possible see what the menu prices are so I am mentally prepared. Scope out the neighborhood and get comfortable. I might even get a drink before my appointment/date arrives. This makes my life easier and instantly puts me at ease. When the person arrives, being there on time shows that you cared enough about the person to be there on time. If you ask me not only is CPT unprofessional it highly not sexy or attractive.
If you are Nigerian/African/Black, do yourself a favor do not be late to things you are making all of us look bad. Be a positive role model of how things should be. Rep your hood and I mean that in the most positive of ways. Its 2012, America has a black president, a lot of African countries have black president. So can we try to be on time? Thanks.
In the end, life is short. Make the best use of your time. You never if you have just 21 seconds to go.
I have a friend with whom I have what you might call a running argument/debate. My friend, a Nigerian like myself in the US believes and categorically states that he is not black. This debate or argument is nothing new to me personally. It is something I have encountered time and time again ever since I graced the shores of this country. The question, “Are you black” makes many an African quite queasy if you ask me. I am a firm believer in everyone having a right to their own opinion in the same way as I have mine.
This topic has come to the fore of my mind because as we all know we are celebrating “Black History Month” in America and as much as I truly believe that I am black, since I didn’t grow up here I don’t think I fully understand the implications of being black in America. I might have a little idea but most likely not enough. I really do appreciate the focus on African American culture and in some cases African cultures during the month of February. It see the month as a celebration of culture and a history wrought with struggle for freedom and equality. A story that is far from over. I admire the Men and Women celebrated during this month. I think the achievements of say MLK, Rosa Parks, Huey Newton, Malcolm X, WEB Dubois, Maya Angelou, Angela Davies, Stokely Carmichael and so on are not only a source of pride to the African American community but should be a source of inspiration to people all over the world, Africans included.
So I chose to celebrate Black History Month. I might even wear one of those “dashikis”, funny how I never heard of those until I came to the US. I strongly believe that I am a black person. Yes I do not share the same cultural history as the people who refer to themselves as black in the US but I am from Africa. I am from the continent where upon which the descendants of these people came from. Yes the cultural similarities that remain between us are slim at best but that does not mean I am not black. If you define black by the amount of melanin in one’s skin then my dear friend I am black. I am blessed with melanin. I feel I don’t need anyone’s permission to identify myself as black. The question is how do I define black? I think for me black has come to denote people of African descent. I know that in some way all mankind is of African descent and for that I love you all but I am referring to the people who are of recent African descent (dating back to 500 years) and who have even the slightest of cultural or physical similarities with people currently living in Sub-Saharan Africa. My identity as a Fali man is a subset to my identity as a Nigerian which is a subset to my being a n African which is also a subset of being black which ultimately is a subset of being a human being.
Growing up in Nigeria, I am very sure I wasn’t very racially conscious, well at least not as much as I am now. My only experience with black history was watching “Roots” as a child. I think the US is very racially conscious society. There is definitely racism and of course it seems that race boils underneath the surface of many human interactions. It is almost impossible to ignore race in this country much in the same way it is impossible to ignore ethnicity in Nigeria. Nigeria is an ethno-relgious conscious country. An atheist who answers the question, “where are you from?” in Nigeria by saying “I am Nigeria/African” is seen as a very weird person. Go figure. Initially when I came to this country, I will admit I was hugely disappointed by the disdain I received from the “black” community. I still get this attitude sometimes from people. I chose to handle this disdain by embracing the higher reality of one “black” people irregardless of where one hails from. I see you as cousin. Other people chose to dissociate themselves from this black identity because of the lack of acceptance and mutual respect hence I suspect why some Africans are quick to tell you “I am not black”. Which is really a shame because, the person talking might darker than a shadow but go figure, in a “one drop rule” country, a really dark African is not Black?
What do you think? Are Africans black? Or should the rest of the world surrender the word “black” to mean strictly Americans? Shall we hold a requiem for the word black, like some group did for the “N word”? How do you define black?
Happy Black History Month Between. Here is some Eddie Murphy for you
Scene from Trading Places Starring Eddie Murphy
Eddie Murphy Doing Stand up
Trailer for Coming to America (One of my favorite movies)