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T.T: What’s Yours is Yours! Value Your Identity

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I was out of the country on holiday and I happened to bump into an old friend of mine, who held citizenship of that country by birth. We were having a conversation which then led to a minor argument. The details of the conversation and then ensuing argument, first left me confused, then angry and eventually concerned.

Let’s call her Peju.

Peju: You know we foreigners in this country are suffering o.

Me: Haba Peju! Foreigner ke? If you call yourself a foreigner, what do I then call myself? At least you hold citizenship.

Peju: Forget the passport; I am still a foreigner, look at the colour of my skin

Me: Let’s not get this twisted. Are you referring to racism? This is a different kettle of fish entirely and I think both issues are mutually exclusive.

Peju: ko le ye e (you cannot understand) I cannot trace my ancestry to this country. So I am a foreigner.

Me: So at the airport, when you return from a trip and you are passing through immigration, what does the immigration officer tell you? I believe he says “welcome home.” I on the other hand, get asked why I am in the country, what I intend to do, where and how long I intend to stay.

Peju: The people in this country are trying to push us out. They want their government to take care of only their people.

At this point, I was getting a bit angry and I had to ask…

Me: Who are you? What are you? Do you not hold a passport? Why are you excluding yourself from the group entitled to enjoy benefits of citizenship? Where on earth could you possibly be sent to and on what grounds?

When after this, she still tried to convince me that she was a foreigner; I politely excused myself from the conversation and said “I’ll see you later”.

This conversation left me concerned and got me thinking about how critical self-identity is to human existence and our progress in life. One must know themselves. They must know who they are and be confident and sure about it.

Asides from knowing, they must believe it and act it. My friend Peju is not unaware that she holds citizenship, but for some reason she has not fully grasped exactly what this means and how it affects her life in a positive way. All she sees are limiting factors experienced by people who do not have the same privilege and opportunities as she does.

Peju will no doubt miss out on a lot of benefits and opportunities, for the simple fact that even though she holds a passport, she doesn’t identify as a citizen. Ironically these two go hand in hand.

My two cents: If you do not know who you are, how then do you know what is rightfully yours?

PS: An additional lesson learned from my encounter with Peju…. Do not waste time engaging in unproductive discussions or arguments. Once you know a conversation/ argument is headed nowhere, politely exit the conversation. It is both draining and a waste of time. Time better spent engaging in something more productive.

Photo Credit: Andrei Rahalski | Dreamstime

"TT is a graduate of Philosophy( hence her curious mind) and a Human Resources Professional. Two of her favourite things to do are travelling and writing. She is still work in progress and is trying find purpose in living daily. You can follow her on this journey on www.thenotes2self.wordpress.com. "

12 Comments

  1. Ephi

    August 1, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    What exactly made it an unproductive discussion? That two people disagree does not mean the convo is a waste.

    And yes, I understand Peju’s viewpoint. Just wait till a second generation “citizen” commits a crime and see if they won’t disown and trace your whole ancestry for you.

    • ND Babe

      August 1, 2017 at 2:05 pm

      I understand Peju, but you are dead on right. Mindset is everything. If you believe that they are out to deny you services, that perspective will shape your expectations, i.e., set a very low bar. That means when you receive rejection that has nothing to do with identity – such as that related to a lazy customer service person, or a clues new employee at an organization, you will couch it immediately as racism and walk away from opportunity. The push against you should not become the very barrier that is erected to prevent you from success. Let them erect the barrier. Your job is to see it and plan about how you want to get over it, under it or around it. That is what we Nigerians are made of. Tough shit. We don’t wallow in sorrows. we are relentless and wear systems down. Yes, used the right way, it is an attribute for high success. Don’t let what a white man told you define you. Let it prepare you instead for the high jump or digging exercise

  2. Steph

    August 1, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    I understand and slightly agree with Peju’s point of view. At the end of the day, as long as your names aren’t “American”, there is still that slight prejudice. I, however, do not let any of those hinder me from achieving or doing anything I want to do and have a right to do as an American citizen. It becomes a problem when people let such prejudices prevent them from taking advantage of their full potential.

  3. ND Babe

    August 1, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    “Clueless employee…”

  4. Ayewumi Ayodeji

    August 1, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    Thanks for the lesson … Hoping to meet with you one day Ma. #mentor

  5. lynn

    August 1, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    I find Peju’s perspective quite interesting especially for someone who’s not living under the radar in her country of residence. Her outlook is quite limiting and makes light of the achievements of legal immigrants (irrespective of generation) who are trail blazing daily and others who history will continually be kind to.

    She really need to start seeing the glass as half full, abi does she intend to commit a crime? i do agree though that her pessimism is quite toxic. abeg free her.

    Nice article by the way.

  6. Peju's advocate

    August 1, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    I think the author missed an opportunity to learn a thing or two from “Peju”. From the sounds of it, Peju is a British citizen. And if that’s the case, she made some highly valid points. Trust me, a Canadian or American passport will take you much further.

  7. Weezy

    August 1, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    Why don’t you respect Peju’s views of the country she lives in? You don’t live there, so how would you know whether she is limiting herself or not?

    I will never understand people who act like they know more than you about something They have experienced and you have not.

    • Weezy

      August 1, 2017 at 8:52 pm

      *something you have experienced and they have not*!

  8. SoniaPaloma

    August 2, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Lol… in this case, you the writer seems to want to force your views down Peju’s throat.
    She is the one wearing the shoes and knows where it hurts. Rather than you thinking she is limiting herself, have you actually thought to ask her exactly what she means by that? I mean she is the one LIVING there, not you who only visits.
    This is like people back home saying “Abroad” people have it easy, even when you are trying to make them understand it is not, it falls on deaf ears and that pisses me the heck off just like this your article.
    I really was trying to understand why you were so adamant on Peju limiting herself when you really do not know exactly what she is referring to in an in-depth form

  9. Sissie Remi

    August 2, 2017 at 11:43 am

    I just want to say that I really really really hope that I don’t ever have a friend like you this writer. I would rather die alone.

    You don’t live in America.
    You are a VISITOR.
    You do not go through the daily rigors of existence. Your American reality is fed on a steady diet of Martin Luther King chips and CNNaid.

    People, if you want the reality of the challenges one faces in this society, and are willing to actually listen, then ask those who truly live in the system everyday not those coming to view the beaches during summer.

    And writer, if there is anyone who should walk away, it’s anyone around you.
    I for one can’t stand self righteous know it alls.
    I find them irritating and extremely draining.

  10. lynn

    August 3, 2017 at 6:50 am

    I really do not think this write-up dismisses peju’s experiences. However, i believe it exposes the sheer pervasiveness of a negative or positive outlook.

    Peju’s experiences are not exclusive. However, while seconds roll into minutes, minutes into hours, hours into days, days into weeks, weeks into months and vice versa, people who have walked /are walking the same path, received/are receiving the same stare-downs, felt low from a not too pleasant side or direct remark and so many more scenarios are making several flavours of lemonade while Peju chooses to hold on to just lemons.

    My point is a negative outlook never produces a positive future. A shift needs to happen and the battle is in the mind.

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