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Linda Orajekwe: Maybe It’s Time to Start Accepting Our Realities as Nigerians

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dreamstime_l_45896304The direction of our lives continues to be based on the situation of foreign currencies and I can’t help but ask why? Why as Nigerians or Africans, we are not content with what we have; rather the lifestyle of others always seem better.

Before colonialism, Nigerians had a way of life; a way we were proud of, that we can call noble and it’s not dependent on importation. Before the Western culture labeled us ‘black and inferior,’ we believed in the quality of what we produced because WE produced it.

We loved the people we were, and we held this culture of ours so dear – because it was the only thing we had.  We held this culture and lifestyle with a great pride and everything in it was beautifully ours.

We didn’t crave so much because what we had was enough. The people who craved more sold us for material things such as mirrors!  When we place value on the unknown and disregard the known because we feel it is and will forever be ours… what a “see-finish” mentality!

Does this mean I want us to go back to the way we were? That is obviously not possible, because I know nobody will be game. I’m only writing to speak to our thinking minds, pushing it to ask US where we dropped all these things that are supposedly ours and all those things that made us who we are;  and if we have dropped them, claiming to be civilized, who then are we?

I grew up watching movies like the normal Nigerian child, watching both foreign and home videos, and for some reasons, which I have identified as our need to reject who we are, we have come to hate our home videos. It’s funny how people who enjoy watching home videos are either our aged parents or people that we consider local. We have come to believe that our producers aren’t creative enough to act something extraordinary, they aren’t creative enough to act movies where shooting guns doesn’t sound odd, they’re not smart enough to create characters that think like Jack Bauer or Scoffield, or act a nice romantic comedies like we know the foreign ones to be.

But the last time I checked what is literature, it is suppose to be a representation of life, and so far as I know, this definition hasn’t changed. So it has brought me to the conclusion that as Nigerians we have no intention of accepting our reality because what we see in our movies are proper representation of what is happening in Africa, Nigeria precisely. These movies capture our trials and tribulations and I’m sorry, Jack Bauer and the likes of Scoffield aren’t in this reality of ours. Our prisoners don’t get represented by lawyers like Harvey of Suits, neither is there a master plan that can break you out Kirikiri maximum prison. Our police are not always on time for crime and it is no news that some of them run at the first sight of chaos. This is our reality, and we cannot change it if we cannot deal with it!

It’s one thing to say the picture quality of a movie is not good, it’s another thing to bring our movie industry down because we believe the stories they tell are stereotypical. The question is, aren’t our lives sometimes stereotyped?

These are our realities, let’s deal with them and think of a way forward rather than prefer another reality, because preferring to watch a Hollywood movie where everything is perfect doesn’t change the reality back home. No! what it does is shield you from your reality and makes you unprepared when this reality eventually catches up with you. Unconsciously, you will live life trying to associate with a Nigerian reality you know nothing about, because you have successfully fed yourself a reality that makes you see your reality as superstition… until it starts happening to you, that is.

Our need to run away from who we are has become skin deep. From fashion, to beauty… We continue to run away from our reality as if running will change it to what we want. Well, I think we can’t continue expecting to become what we aspire without first acknowledging and accepting who we truly are.

The term “due’ in hair is a familiar term to Blacks. Due for what? More chemical? We relax our hair because we want to be like White people – with straight hair that dances to the songs of the wind. But after sometime, this hair struggles to go back to its natural form, its real state, and its true state. But because we can’t accept that, we continue relaxing and stretching it, faking it to meet up to the world’s acceptable standard. But just so you know that the way our hair cry to go back to their original form and we call it ‘due’ . That is the same way our realities are “due” crying for us to accept it so that we can grow better.

The Dollar and Pound are more valuable to a Nigerian than the Naira today;  we have run away from our reality that we have decided to get other peoples’ realities even at a higher cost. We have decided to allow the number of foreign goods we possess determine our status and value in the society, and that is why a wealthy lady like Linda Ikeji would brag about investing in a foreign economy after making her money from Nigerians. Brag about buying a Hermes bag when we have quality leather bags by Nigerians at more affordable prices. We expect our country to grow but refuse to accept the things it produces, why? There’s a campaign going on about #BuyingNigerianToPromoteTheNaira but the children of these campaigners pay their school fees in foreign currencies… who are we deceiving? But we thank God for such campaign, at least we can start hoping to take pride in owning products from our land.

Because the growth of our country Nigeria starts with you and I. it starts with us changing our mindsets and believing in the authenticity of Nigerian goods, but if you don’t trust it, then by all means produce it! But let’s invest in this economy. It starts with us accepting everything we have and creatively thinking of how we can channel it into profitable ventures in the economy rather than selling it off to foreigners and buying it back after they’ve done good with these our natural resources.

This is not to say we cannot use foreign goods. It is saying we should reduce it. And I’m not saying new inventions aren’t good, I’m saying, new doesn’t make it better, and old doesn’t make it broken. This is our Nigeria; if you like, go to the end of the world and back, what you’ll get is what you give.
This country can’t be built by the strength of one man, but all men, in their various ways can putting forces together, putting our educated and intelligent Nigerian minds to work, and with years of experience playing global games, we can turn our local game to an international pacesetter, but it can only be so after we have accepted our reality.

I’d love to hear our constructive opinions on how we think we can better accept Nigeria in its totality, from good to bad, turning our ashes to a sellable beauty. I’m sure we all know how much we need our economy and name to grow.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

My name is Linda Orajekwe, a graduate of English Language and literary studies, Lagos State University. I love reading, writing and talking. I am a proud African naturalista who believes that Africans can only be great when we learn to embrace our rich resources from books, food to culture.

23 Comments

  1. Enough!

    March 3, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Enough about Linda Ikeji please

    • fixnigeriaseries

      March 4, 2016 at 2:29 pm

      That is ALL you got from this article???!!

  2. beauty

    March 3, 2016 at 10:49 am

    Those eyebrows on the model though, lol…

  3. Elvis

    March 3, 2016 at 11:06 am

    The article was awesome!

    I indeed learnt alot especially with your reference to the Movie Industry, it is so condescending to see Nigerians criticize the Nollywood industry oblivious of the fact that we are telling our stories and we are being authentic about it and as God will have it, despite the plethora criticism, the Nollywood is still burgeoning and considering the fact that it was built from scratch.

    ‘This is our Nigeria; if you like, go to the end of the world and back, what you’ll get is what you give’ That is a quote worth meditating on….So true!

  4. mrs chidukane

    March 3, 2016 at 11:15 am

    Imma let your finish but this article is flawed, really flawed. The Ankara you wear to form africana is not of Nigerian design and is not produced in Nigeria so unless you wear adire all day long even up to your bra and panties, you are part of the problem.

    That I own a chanel bag doesn’t mean I won’t buy Nigerian. I’m not Linda’s biggest fan but it’s her money, her choice.
    I don’t relax my hair because I want to be like white people, I do it because I’m very lazy and It’s super convenient and easier for me to manage. I’ve done the big chop 3 times in 4 years and always gone back to relaxers because of this. It’s also my hair and I can chop it all off if I choose.
    I don’t give my children English names along with their Igbo names because I’m ashamed of my language. I do it because I love the meaning of the name and also because I can. If you’ve ever run a business in Nigeria, you’ll know it’s not as easy as saying produce and bla bla bla. I for one will not watch a naija movie with no storyline that has part 1-5 and buy clothes from Nigerian designers at exorbitant rates so I will be applauded for being proudly Nigerian.

    • GraceOfGOD

      March 3, 2016 at 3:03 pm

      Good afternoon dear Sister, I am a Cameroonian lady who just LOVES Nigeria a whole lot. I did not want to comment but I had to due to the UNFAIRNESS I am seeing here.
      1. “Imma let your finish but this article is flawed, really flawed. “: tell me do we have PERFECT THINGS on this earth done by HUMAN BEINGS? The last time I checked the answer was NO. So it is OK if the author was not able to make this GREAT ARTICLE PERFECT for you Ma’am. It BAFFLES me how we FOCUS on the DETAILS rather than the REAL MESSAGE.

      2. “The Ankara you wear to form africana is not of Nigerian design and is not produced in Nigeria so unless you wear adire all day long even up to your bra and panties, you are part of the problem.”: The author NEVER SAID we should STOP using foreign stuffs, rather she said we SHOULD REDUCE the consumption of foreign things and MOSTLY USE our OWN. There is a BIG difference there Ma’am.

      3-“That I own a chanel bag doesn’t mean I won’t buy Nigerian. I’m not Linda’s biggest fan but it’s her money, her choice.”: THANKS A LOT for the Info about you owning a CHANEL BAG. Can I know HOW this information is RELEVANT for US particularly for this TOPIC? Again please check point 2.

      4- “I don’t relax my hair because I want to be like white people, I do it because I’m very lazy and It’s super convenient and easier for me to manage. I’ve done the big chop 3 times in 4 years and always gone back to relaxers because of this. It’s also my hair and I can chop it all off if I choose.”: Ma’am you CANNOT buy PEACE OF MIND. You said it is your hair therefore your right and choice so WHY are you JUSTIFYING yourself? You are just trying to APPEASE your CONSCIENCE. DEEP DOWN you know that it is WRONG, it is called LOW
      SELF- ESTEEM. I also SUFFERED from it and might STILL BE. So you are NOT ALONE.

      5-“I don’t give my children English names along with their Igbo names because I’m ashamed of my language. I do it because I love the meaning of the name and also because I can.”: Humm this is very FUNNY. The last time I checked our AFRICAN NAMES also HAVE a MEANING, VERY GOOD ONES. So Ma’am again it is LOW SELF-ESTEEM.

      AFRICANS we need to STOP this. Some women here are MEAN with the AUTHOR just out of JEALOUSY, because this is NOT coming from them. Sorry but I had to SPEAK IT LOUDLY.

      @Linda Orajekwe

      Good afternoon, I just want to say THANK YOU for your GENUINE POST, we are on the SAME page. Please next time try to make SURE that the picture you use is “ADEQUATE” to the content in order to AVOID CRITICS from people who are ONLY here to make NEGATIVE CRITICS no matter what, people who are just JEALOUS for NOTHING. No ONE is PERFECT, we all have our GOOD and BAD sides BUT WE should ALL try to BRING our CONTRIBUTION for the BETTERMENT of our CONTINENT. UNITED we STAND and WIN, DIVIDED we LOSE. We are AFRICANS, PLEASE let’s EMBRACE our CULTURE, let’s be PROUD of WHO we REALLY are and ENCOURAGE each other. I am very SORRY if I was TOO HARSH, I could not control my emotions. Have a BLESSED DAY you ALL and ONE LOVE from Cameroon.

    • mrs chidukane

      March 3, 2016 at 3:57 pm

      @Grace, Looooooooool! You totally missed the point of my comment but imma let that slide. God bless

    • Mara

      March 4, 2016 at 4:27 pm

      I agree… for me the focus should be on the message of the article (which I found pretty thought-provoking), not on defending our personal choices. I don’t think the writer is questioning our right to choose what to do with our money and our bodies at all, but rather calling on us to think of ways to exercise those rights for the long-term benefit of our country.

  5. Samuel johnson

    March 3, 2016 at 11:31 am

    I’m not a fan of buying Nigerian made goods just for the sake of it, while you aren’t explicitly stating that I think it’s being implied. We need to make our products sellable, we need to be innovative (not just copy and paste) we need to study and take advantage of the plurality of cultures in our country. As concerns schooling abroad, I think as Nigerians we should know that for a good number of students and their sponsors(parents, guardian..etc), if Nigerian schools were of such excellent quality or without strikes and other malaise, then who really wants to study abroad? It’s also a mistake to think that all Nigerians studying abroad are wealthy, wasting our foreign exchange and have no intention of coming back to Nigeria The question maybe we should be focusing on is ” WHAT HAPPENS WHEN OUR STUDENTS FINISH THEIR STUDIES ABROAD?” Are there financial institutions to get loans to start a company/float an idea? Are there employment opportunities? Is the environment conducive? etc.

    • fixnigeriaseries

      March 4, 2016 at 2:37 pm

      “I’m not a fan of buying Nigerian made goods just for the sake of it,…” – this right here, is the Lazy-rade we Nigerians sell ourselves again, and again, and again!! You guys just don’t get it, do you? And that’s how a perfectly progressive discussion on #buynigeriantogrowthenaira in the heat of the dollar rise drama got truncated, because people got too lazy to think. Nobody is asking you to buy inferior, but this is a fact that we must face up to, and fast: there is a very strong and indisputable correlation between local consumption and national economic growth. An economist can come around to break down the science, but this is the fact! We are going nowhere fast by maintaining this “nigerian goods are inferior” rhetoric – it is just plain laziness, simple! As the author said, if the product is not to your quality, what is stopping you from getting into production yourself, or at least influencing the process if you are not inclined. This attitude of import-dependency, of pure consumerism, that we have has made us a laughing stock even with the people we are trying to impress with our foreign goods. It’s not helpful, and it’s not healthy for the economy. Period.

  6. Kosi

    March 3, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    You had to go there didn’t you! Sweetie, saying that we relax out hair to look white is oh so ignorant. I relax my hair cos it makes my life easier. It’s convenient. I watch foreign movies because they’re refreshing,a break from the realities of Nigerian life that I face everyday! That’s why you drink cold water on a hot day. please don’t write with bias abeg. And thank you Mrs chidukane, I just liked Ur comment.

  7. Tell me

    March 3, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Ms Writer but you did not mention one Nigerian movie and its famous characters, yet you went ahead to add Jack and Scofield to the mix lol (Picking on you). See these things are beyond this patriotic movement of yours, the government needs to step up, the people need have confidence in the leadership, people need to be happy with their reality to accept it and embrace it!

    Not the hair argument! please! No!

    Leave Linda Ikeji alone please, you might have been worse if you also where in this grass to greatest grace of hers.. Just like Mr. I hate social media and attention seekers of yesterday, what makes you sleep at night, might keep the next awake the whole night, stop being a Judge and a Jury in matters you have no jurisdiction over..

    And yes oh! Thank God I am not in Nigeria, ah! wahala country e oti poju..

  8. ElessarisElendil

    March 3, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    “Before colonialism, Nigerians had a way of life; a way we were proud of, that we can call noble and it’s not dependent on importation. Before the Western culture labeled us ‘black and inferior,’ we believed in the quality of what we produced because WE produced it.”

    ???????Why?????

    Historically, we were dependent on importation too, so much so in fact that back in day the Oyo empire used to trade one human being for three horses. Sorry, to pop that bubble but international trade has been a part of human history since 2,500 BCE.

  9. Alias

    March 3, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    Dear Writer,

    You meant well for this article but you executed it poorly. You have tried to explain complex matters with simplistic and mundane reasons. I appreciate your patriotism but to assume that Nigerians are being ‘unpatriotic’ because of how they respond to so many different aspects of life is to be in danger of telling ‘a single story’.

    I remember begging my mother for a relaxer at age 8 just because the pain from combing my hair was unbearable. I’m pretty sure at that age, all I knew was Simbi goes to School and Eze goes to school, I did not have the intention to be white. I just wanted to be pain free. I love our Nigerian movies just as much as the next person but we do still have a long way to do in developing our stories. Even Americans and other foreign media produce bad movies and when they do so, people criticise them. Criticism and excellence is not exclusive to any one industry.

    Yes we need to buy more Nigerian things but as Nigerians we need to work on improving our products too. We can’t continue to cut corners on quality and expect everyone to comply. This is 2016. The year where Olajumoke’s picture went viral, everyone is exposed now and every single country is trying to move forward and improve.

    The way we can all better Nigeria is to provide constructive criticism to our companies. if Nasco cornflakes is dropping the ball on its quality, people should write and complain so that they renew the formula.

    In the end, a free country is where the citizens are free to choose the kind of lifestyle they want and desire. Spend more time truly finding out the reasons why different Nigerians do things differently. You will find out that we all make different choices for different reasons and it doesnt make us love our country any less!

  10. Naijaandyonder

    March 3, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    I agree with you Alias, when I was younger and wanted to relax my hair I had no idea what white peoples’ hair was like, I mean I had seen white people but I didn’t pay attention to their features, it didn’t even register in my head that they had straight hair, all I wanted was to have my hair done easily without pain and see the full length of my hair. I am natural now and I love my natural hair I used to be indifferent towards it I just thought it was hair, now I am able to take care of it and its thriving thanks to natural hair tutorials unlike before when I had no clue what to do with it, to say every one with relaxed hair wants to look white is false. People should be free to do whatever they want to do with their hair without being judged, although I know there are some people who relax their hair because they have been brainwashed to believe that their natural hair is not beautiful.

  11. Frosh

    March 3, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    Well…

    I get the point of this article, while it is true on both sides, Nigeria really needs to wake up, and before the people is the government, those were the ones who sold us out, robbed us and caused us to loose faith in our nation in the first place. Nigerians are some of the most intelligent people world over yet we run from our own. While we need to pick up ourselves and develop, the government has a major role in this as well, in restoring hope to Nigerians, in building faith in the Nation and showing we the people that we have something of value to hold on to…. In reorientation and trust building, I believe every Nigerian deep down loves Nigeria but some have simply lost the will to fight anymore….

    Writer you wrote well and I support you but truth is anyone who falls down would get up better if there was a hand stretched out to pull them up!

    The government, banks, oil and business magnates, the dangotes, the otedolas and WE THE PEOPLE have to all come together to make naija work!

  12. nunulicious

    March 4, 2016 at 12:29 am

    This article almost made me cry. The majority of the responses here makes me so sad.

    Our history teachers did us a great disservice, because right from childhood, they taught how we were barbaric and how the white man saved us from ourselves. For instance, they told me about Mary Slessor, how she stopped the killing of twins but they did not tell me about the Great Wall of Benin (This was one of the two man-made objects seen from space when man first orbited the earth, described as the greatest man-made structure on earth pre-mechanisation and 4 times as long as the Wall of China) And yes, I mean Benin in Edo state Nigeria)

    They told me about the pyramids of Egypt but didn’t tell me about the Nsude Pyramids in Udi, Enugu. They told us how they invented ships but didn’t tell me about the Dufuna Canoe-The 8000 year old boat found in present day Yobe in Northern Nigeria (waaay before “the white man” could even float across the river in my backyard)

    My point is, right from birth, we are wired to choose them over us and the way forward is to ask questions and occasionally defend your self; defend your country; defend your values and culture. As a Nigerian, the history in your genes and the greatness within you is so terrifying to them that they constantly try to put you down (ask CNN, BBC and etc) They know once we embrace our uniqueness and learn to tell our story, we would turn the world upside down (why is Nollywood so successful?)

    Write on Linda, Wake up Nigerian youth!

    • Mara

      March 4, 2016 at 4:30 pm

      Well said, we really need to love and fully embrace ourselves, our culture and our history. No one will do it for us.

    • Morenike

      March 5, 2016 at 10:59 pm

      I’m impressed with your comment, the major point is for us to appreciate and place necessary value on our locally made things. Seeing some people pin-pointing unnecessary things shows we still have a long way to go.

  13. Naijaandyonder

    March 4, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    @nunulicious thank you for this information, it so sad that we Nigerians are not taught about things like this in school rather about how a white person came and did this or that, I feel so angry at the Nigerian government right now, we need to learn about our history before colonisation and slavery. Please do you know any trusted website that talks about Nigerian history and African history.

    • Zee

      March 4, 2016 at 4:54 pm

      Libraries can help too. Try ZODML.

      @nunulicious…take 20 for that comment. Our government and teachers have indeed done us a great injustice by teaching European history and calling it African or Nigerian.

  14. fixnigeriaseries

    March 4, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Writer, I know you meant well, but I’m sure you realize that by touching the “sacred cow” – the relaxed hair – you have touched a nerve in a proportion of your readers. And it’s not your fault really – I for one don’t get why we are so touchy about the hair issue. You may have your personal reasons for putting straightening chemicals on your own hair, but if we want to be honest, that whole industry is built on underlying rejection of what the black man considers “natural”. It’s the bitter truth – you can take it to the bank. I relax my hair, but this is a fact I must accept. And facing and owning up to hard and bitter facts is how we move forward, not playing the ostrich. Again, you’ve spoken truth. I pray we heed and arise, to our prosperous potentials, as a race. God bless Nigeria.

  15. Nikiewhyte

    March 5, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    This is an interesting piece, and I wish to give my opinion to the writer of this intelligent article. Looking at the movie industry, I think a number of producers irritate our interest of watching home videos by their constant repetition of the the same story line. In as much as we know it is not easy to produce a movie, they should not be in a hurry to produce movies that constantly repeat the same story line, all for the interest of just making money, but should take their time to think creatively, thereby getting their inspiration from everyday life so as to often come up with good stories having interesting titles that will capture the interest of the people. Otherwise, I will keep hissing at their efforts even as a Nigerian while I enjoy my bole and groundnut… Those hungry producers I think should imitate good intelligent producers like Kunle Afolayun, Stephanie Linus, Omoni oboli and of course Genevieve Nnaji to mention but a few.

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