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Onosen Mike-Ifeta: Dear Special Guest From Nigeria



dreamstime_l_10695125Dear Special Guest from Nigeria,

Owing to the fact that I live abroad, I tingled with thrill when you announced your intention to visit me from Nigeria. On the day of your arrival, we chatted well into the night, the stories were the same as before, albeit different versions; no light for days, the transformer blew out, the skyrocketing price of petrol, foreign exchange rate, kidnapping incidents and the almighty Lagos traffic. We gossiped about the girl whose bleaching attempt resulted in blackened knuckles, and about the neighbor who denied impregnating a girl only for the child to be born looking exactly like him. There was something euphoric and nostalgic about the first day of your arrival. I was excited to receive the lovely Ankara fabrics, braid extensions, and the other beautiful things you gave to me.
Okay let me be honest, your visit was exhilarating until I began to notice weird behaviour patterns, which I couldn’t bring myself to discuss with you, because of the fear of ruining our close relationship.

So at night time after you went to bed, I had an ear to ear conversation with my other half about your behavior. It was very critical to encrypt our discussion, so we had it in whispers for fear of being asked to return the packet of Knorr seasoning and crayfish, which we had already used to cook some Jollof rice and ayamase stew. Therefore, we bit our tongue, put our best foot forward and plastered a smile on our face, because we don’t want any wahala.
Special guest, let’s get into formation! The truth is, I would have appreciated it if you assisted me to be an excellent host during your stay, after all, you are my very cherished quest. As you noticed, unlike most people in Nigeria who have maids and other paid helpers, most of us who live abroad don’t have that luxury. I explained to you that although I have a Caucasian nanny, she is contracted to care for only my children for about ten hours daily. I know in Nigeria helpers are expected to work endlessly and tirelessly, but that is not the case in my home. I endeavor to be pleasant to my nanny; I tell her “please” and “thank you.” I do it out of courtesy, not because my mind has been colonized.

Frankly I didn’t want to hear about how you were missing Nigeria and your maids and how “you guys abroad, una de try o! me I no fit do all this work o!” No matter how hard it was for you to adjust, you could have just done your best. I was certain that if only you tried, you would have remembered how to pick up after yourself and your children. I was very disappointed that you didn’t do your dishes even though there was constant running water.
Special guest, since you came with your kids, you should have kept an eye on them, encouraged them to be respectful and less confrontational with other children and reminded them to clear their table after eating. They didn’t need to curtesy with their knees,  when they greeted me in the morning. No far from it;  I just expected them to be courteous, to say, “please” and “thank you.”

Obviously in preparation for your arrival, I cooked some delicacies to welcome you; but in all honesty, there was no way that I would have continued to cook for you on a daily basis. I presumed that simple meals like rice, sandwiches, etc. would have been easy for you to make. I didn’t think it was necessary for you to buy groceries. Besides, you didn’t eat a lot of food because I wasn’t cooking for you. So, there was no need to feel you had to replace any food. You would have been better off saving your money for your shopping escapades.

I was all right with taking you to the various shops that you wanted to check out, giving you suggestions on how to save money by going to designer outlets. However, I was hoping that you would learn the bus routes or call one of the uber drivers so that I could get on with my life rather than drive you all over town, every day all day.

On the upside, in spite of our differences I somewhat enjoyed your stay. Nothing beats the company of old friends and cherished family members. Obviously, my best efforts were not good enough; imagine for a minute the shock when I heard from our mutual friend that you felt I was a terrible host. I thought I did a good job of concealing my disappointment about your attitude, perhaps not.

How can we mend the situation, have you got any suggestions? My suggestion is that I should stop acting so pietistic and learn how to be a better host. I think you should also learn how to be a better guest. Things as simple as picking up after yourself, being considerate and respecting my house rules can assist me to host you better in the future.

Yours sincerely,
Your host in diaspora

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Onosen Mike-Ifeta writes from North America where she lives with her husband and two very boisterous boys. In 2013 Onosen decided to become a stay at home mom; she still questions the wisdom behind that decision, especially when the boys are screaming the house down and there’s no where to hide. Onosen is the face behind


  1. Ayoka

    July 13, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    There was that post by Atoke where people already vented their frustrations with both the host and the hosted. I guess this is another therapy session.

    • Oversabi

      July 14, 2016 at 1:31 am

      Chai. Thank you! I could have written this verbatim. My relatives even think I hate them because I dont leave my job to take them around. I travel every 5-7 days and I am constantly talking to intelligent audiences when I travel. I cannot afford to not prepare for my talks. I dont even have time to shop for myself because I am constantly developing speeches and preparing for my talks and the follow-up work. So expecting me to lull away at the mall touching every darn fabric is like me asking you to commit murder. Try and be considerate. Tell your hosts to drop you off or now we have uber and lyft, use it with all those tens of thousands of dollars you carry so freely in your purses. This is a “true word” write-up. Please dear Nigerian visitors that are guilty by Onosen’s account, we all work in accountable organizations abroad. For some of us that God has helped to grow small small in these orgs, we may not be reeling off dollar notes like you Nigerians but our absence from work will be very obvious. So we have to plan our calendars 9 months out with vacation time embedded in there. Unfortunately because we are frequently exhausted and want to truly escape reality, we tend to spend most of that time on some island somewhere far away. You can join us on that island. You are welcome. But dont expect us to drop everything we are doing because you are arriving on Tuesday at noon at an airport that is 2 hours away. Sigh.

  2. 345Cash

    July 13, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    Always an interesting topic. Seeing that we’ve had something similar posted before. But how about the reverse? When those in diaspora visit and complain about every darn thing? I guess we are different for obvious reasons. Let’s stop complaining. When in Rome, act like the romans.

  3. wendy

    July 13, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    I think you forgot to mention the ones that come to your house. They Don’t want to pay hotel Bill but yet dem go insult u join am… By saying what are doing here… Why are u wasting your time.. Una just dey suffer..I cannot live in this neighbor hood. I cannot .. I cannot

  4. LiveWire

    July 13, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    Well I never saw Atoke’s post. Thanks for posting this subject matter again because it is an on-going situation faced by many many Nigerians living abroad. My pet hate was always when the “visitors” kept leaving all the lights in the house on even when not using that room or rooms. Turning off lights when leaving an empty room was not even considered. But we love the all the same.

  5. See

    July 13, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    Dear writer,

    People are not mind readers. While it is normal to assume that people should instinctively know how to behave as guests, you should remember that people are raised differently and may see things from a different perspective.

    Communication is key, without which relationships will fall apart. The ‘buying groceries’ was a gesture to show appreciation and understanding. And if you wanted someone to learn bus routes, you should have simply said so. Communication is key.

    Disclaimer: I don’t even know wether the story’s fact or fiction.

    • See

      July 13, 2016 at 9:15 pm

      And I also think if you had asked the guest to feel free to cook up a storm, she may have happily done jumped at it. Leaving a guest without food and without asking them to cook if they like just doesn’t cut it.

      Again, I’m assuming here.

    • le coco

      July 13, 2016 at 10:19 pm

      I agree with you on that one.. The writer has some really valid points.. but as far as good. It’s common knowledge tht Nigerians are territorial about their kitchen..For a lot of us our kitchens are our thrones .. so the guest may not wnt to overstep. I personally don’t like it when people stand cooking in my house upandan. because I like my kitchen a certain way. so I endeavour not to enter someone’s kitchen unless I am permitted to by my host. imagine someone just entering ur kitchen, opening ur pot and dishing food. I think it’s weird.. I wldnt like someone doing tht in my home. The writer shld endeavour to make such things clear .

    • StoneColdSteveAustin

      July 14, 2016 at 12:32 am

      @see, did you read the article very well or you rushed to comment, typical. The ‘buying groceries’ was sarcasm, they weren’t actually bought. ??

    • Kara

      July 14, 2016 at 1:46 pm

      All these people who don’t ‘get” it yet act like they do. IT WAS NOT SARCASM!! RE-read and rethink.

    • Oversabi

      July 14, 2016 at 1:43 am

      I disagree. I grew up in wealth in Nigeria and I came here and first lived with an Americanized uncle and aunt. By virtue of my home training, I knew that my job was to blend in and not allow my aunt to ever ask why the hell she invited me. I can remember the number of times I washed a bathroom in my father’s house. But guess what? I was cleaning my aunt’s bathrooms every weekend. I was the daily chef bringing them Nigerian foods they had forgotten. Mind you I had not cooked in my parents house for at least 6 years before I left home because we had a chef and I was working my first job and spending my evenings at hangouts with friends. My food was so good [relative to their American food] that my uncle advised me to never allow a void that will cause my aunt to cook. I was the chef for all their Naija village meetings that my aunt hosted occasionally. She liked my jollof rice, egusi soup, fried rice, and stewed goat meat and she did not have to hire a caterer. I used my boarding house skills with hair braiding to save her expensive visits to the hair salon for her 3 daughters and 1 niece. Yes. I became the hair stylist. Meanwhile, back then in Naija when money had value, I used to spend 100 naira a week getting my hair done. I saved her money because I was jobless and she was working, and there is no darn reason why she should come home and not find relief when a full grown female is under her wings not paying bills. When I found a job and had to leave town she was offended. She asked me why I wanted to leave and if I was unhappy. But, I made her understand I had to become independent and was on a mission. She loved me and I had come to love her as a mom. That is how you stay in someone’s house. You figure out how to make them not feel burdened by you. You make them believe you are an asset they cannot afford to lose. For you world travelers with 17 househelps, you dont have to clean the toilets of the madam of the house but please clean up after yourself.

    • BBB

      July 14, 2016 at 9:01 am

      “That is how you stay in someone’s house. You figure out how to make them not feel burdened by you. You make them believe you are an asset they cannot afford to lose.”

      Thank you

    • Ella

      July 15, 2016 at 6:59 am

      In fact eh, u really over Sabi as your name implies. That’s really how to be a guest. And like you said one doesn’t have to go to extremes but just being civil enough is really enough. ?????

  6. kilipot

    July 13, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    Here we go again! It’s just plain culture/ lifestyle difference. No biggie.
    Learn to express yourself to your guest. A lot of visiting Nigerians also have a lot of horrible things to say……so. I dunnp

  7. Lou

    July 13, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    Once in a very blue moon, you read an article that makes you feel the writer got into your head before writing.this is one of those!!

  8. xxxx

    July 13, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    Well, I can’t be staying at your place and be starving or be cooking my rice all the time. I will label you a bad host. Shey u will eat y don’t u make it plenty to include your guest. That is hospitality nothing else.

    All this oyibo mentality, u grew up here. Remember how your mother used to entertain relatives, even the most annoying in-laws and cousin. That’s how we do it. Learn from her.

    Plus it’s 2 weeks maximum -be nice. You would come to nigeria one day and expect me to be by ur side 44/7 or you would be bored.

    Lastly you can gently nudge ur guest to pick up her dishes. Kind reminders pls. It’s 2 weeks. If she no hear be out of town on her next holiday.

  9. o

    July 13, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    But where are you guys seeing such guests from? I say “please” and “thank you” to my help/nanny/security in Naija and NO, I don’t need to think your mind has been colonised, I know it’s simple courtesy. My daughter says same even to the help here, so saying it when we go on vacay isn’t a problem. I always clean up after myself. And who needs someone to stop living cos they’re in town? Def not me. Journey planner is there, thank God for TfL and national rail websites. (Moving around is difficult in the US except NY, but there are cabs). I’m out most times doing touristy stuff and I mostly do only breakfast at my host. Dinner atimes.

    Maybe you people have been hosting people that don’t have a life/job in Nigeria. Because I don’t put my life on hold when my abroad ppl visit and stay, and definitely don’t expect anyone to, when I visit them. I’m sure not everyone is like me, but the way ppl keep talking about this issue, you will think every single person that visits the abroad is a difficult guest. Abeg jare…..

  10. nnenne

    July 13, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    The solution, Stay in a hotel/ motel/furnished room. See family and friends when you need to.
    Explore, shop at other times. That’s what vacations are for.
    I have families in Lagos and Abuja but I stay in a motel/ hotel whenever I visit those cities.

  11. Abuja Bored Girl

    July 13, 2016 at 11:35 pm

    The writer comes across as too harsh, you sound like you didn’t want the guest visiting in the first place. You’re so eager to defend your stay in the US. The part where you said you didn’t like your guest buying groceries just put me off. For crying out loud, the guest was just trying to help.
    If you don’t want anyone staying with you, kindly just say so or communicate with your guest your expectations.
    My dear naija people when going to the abroad, please stay in a hotel or get a rented place and stay.

    • Corolla

      July 14, 2016 at 2:15 am

      The part about the groceries, it is called sarcasm!

    • Kara

      July 14, 2016 at 1:56 pm

      LIE!! Its not sarcasm. It is what it is.

  12. Naijatalk

    July 14, 2016 at 2:15 am

    I hope that when you also visit Nigeria, you will pick up after yourself, your husband and children and not expect the house help to do so for you. I hope you will speak kindly and courteously to all the hired helps. I hope you will offer to cook and buy groceries. I hope you will hire a driver, get your own car or learn the bus routes; better yet use uber. I hope you will extend these same courtesies to your Nigerian hosts.

  13. Corolla

    July 14, 2016 at 2:31 am

    I have had some amazing guests. Guest who go out of their way to cook for you, help you out, and just generally make you happy that they are visiting. However, last year, I had the guest from hell. She complained about darn thing. If it wasnt about the “horrid” American food, it was the fact that she had to take the train with scores of dirty people. At any chance she got, she mentioned how she was balling in Lagos and had a driver.

    I typically don’t store unhealthy snacks, and high carb naija food, but I went out of my way to cook naija food for her. Once, the food I cooked and stored in the fridge finished, and as usual, she complained. I texted her from work that there were ingredients to cook Naija food in the fridge and pantry. This girl told me “I don’t cook. In Nigeria, I don’t even enter the kitchen”. Sigh!

    If I had time in the morning, i’d make her breakfast. She never for once helped me, or even kept me company in the kitchen while making her food o. My thing is, if you are balling in Lagos, why are you coming to America and staying with me in my “jagajaga” one bedroom apartment? Why not go to a hotel and flex there? We get that you have people picking up after you in Naija, and you dont lift a finger to do anything, but knowing that we poor, struggling diasporian don’t have such luxuries should make you the guest, be as low maintenance as possible.

    • D

      July 14, 2016 at 7:57 am

      Please, the next time she is your guest show her the way to subway or give her the number to call for pizza delivery.i can’t recall cooking breakfast for my guest not as a student outside naija or a madam here in naija except for my parents or parents in law.

  14. Single Shalewa, Bitter Bintu!

    July 14, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    This issue has been overflogged on blogs. Your host(s) in Nigeria or outside must have ASKED you before coming over, if you know you’re not great at having people over at your place (yes, there are people like that), kindly give them an excuse and let them go elsewhere. Instead of both parties feeling miserable at the end of the visit, a simple No, I’ve got exams or I won’t be in town would have sorted everything.

    The writer talked about her guest not cooking. I beg to disagree, i won’t tolerate any guest walking into my kitchen to cook or acting like a field marshal in my house. Please don’t feel at home, it’s not your home. Same way i’d travel to obodo oyinbo and not be cooking anyhow in your kitchen – UNLESS you specifally give me the permission to.

    Human beings are different; siblings, friends, cousins etc – we’re not alike. I run from wahala, i won’t inconvenience you, same way i don’t expect you to make me uncomfortable.

    Not sounding biased, folks from outside Nigeria actually expect people living in Nigeria to bend over backwards for them when they travel down here, so it’s always befuddling seeing they’re the first to pen articles like this. Cos I’ve NEVER read an article written by a person living in Nigeria complaining about this particular issue. LOL!
    Please point me in the right direction in case you’ve read any that was written by someone living in Nigeria.

    • stayingsane

      July 15, 2016 at 12:07 pm

      Hmm where do I begin. A bad guest or host is a bad guest or host pure and simple and after a short while the relationship is strained. I have learnt (following my personal experiences as a guest and host) that when you agree to host a person you go beyond and above what you will normally tolerate and if you are incapable of that, politely decline. When you are a guest go out of you comfort zone and make your self an asset. That said there are really few perfect guests or hosts.

      What I do find interesting is this slant to bad Nigerian guests, like we Nigerians suddenly forget what makes us uniquely Nigerian, the good and the bad, the loud and boisterous. If this Nigerian is close enough for you to host then you must have something(s) in common??? So now you had an uncomfortable experience and I suspect that the negative comments you heard about your hosting ability sparked the need to write this article, but wait have you had a discussion with your “friend” who should have been more important than this article or you chose to avoid that face to face conversation. Why did her kids have to be mentioned in here, you do realise that you have implied (at least to those of us with a little imagine) that her children do not have home training (as our Nigerian mothers will say). Or perhaps I am being presumptuous and maybe you did have the one on one talk with her.

      I have friends who live abroad and come to visit in Nigeria and all we hear is this your country is so hot, hen the water is not even running from the taps, OMG no light, this can never happen in so so and so (enough already!) But that’s okay, I have learnt to laugh it off (maybe not, seeing as how I can go on and on). However, that is not even as bad as the fact that you call us (when you need our help) to let us know that you will be arriving on so so and so day (for airport pick up and drop off) you tell us where you have to go to see your in laws that you just have to visit and we oblige (yes we may work in a country that is not as accountable as yours but we do have bills to pay considering that we are our own government and generate light water security etc). We oblige not because we do not have anything better to do but because we want to, because we believe that our special guest is no longer used to this environment and we want to make things as stress free for them as possible. And then when we get a special guest who turns out to be not so special we vent right behind their back (we all do it, well most of us).

      Where am I going to with this article (yes, its no longer a post) why are we (and believe me I am guilty) unable to handle conflict, why do we view conflict as entirely negative, why do we become passive aggressive instead of just addressing an issue and moving on. Guess what, if the friendship does not survive this or any other (conflict) then you have outgrown the friendship and may just need to adjust and review your relationship.

      So when next you have an opportunity to host a friend, ask yourself am I ready to be a good host and real friend even if my special guest turns out to be the guest from hell? If the answer is no, then don’t.

  15. Single Shalewa, Bitter Bintu!

    July 14, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    *Your guest in Nigeria or outside (first line)

  16. molarah

    July 14, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    How about people just learn how to communicate more openly about their expectations of others, rather than silently suffering and then coming to rant about the experience on a platform that the person who mistreated them may not visit to even read and learn from? The most they will do is say you are wicked or inflexible, those words don’t leave wounds on anyone’s body and save you energy and resources in the long run. I think the problem comes from wanting people to always have a high impression of you. If you don’t have the money or energy to wait on guests hand-and-foot, let them know abeg. I’m sure even your closest family – parents and co – are more considerate of how they behave when they are at your house: it’s now one random fellow that may not even blink if they hear you are broke or sick you want to kill yourself over. Abeg, life is easier than all of this. Communicate your expectations evenly and nicely at the earliest occasions possible, and let people know what you can do and what you can’t do for them.

  17. Paul

    July 14, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    I live in the US and can connect perfectly with your story. Good writeup

  18. Gzoe

    July 14, 2016 at 11:36 pm

    I think it being sarcasm will be dependent on if the story is a fiction or not

  19. Titan

    July 29, 2016 at 5:12 am

    Well it’s about damned time someone said this!!! I’ve had visitors allow their kids bully mine while they smile condescendingly saying “my son is strong o! Why is yours crying?? I thought he was a big boy?!” Or “your young son is quite fat! Look at mine! It’s all in the tight control I keep on his diet!” All this while they’re scoffing the fresh rice and designer stew with plantain I have offered them with a cold drink on a silver platter!

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