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Eva Bozimo: Perceptions of Blackness

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I was watching an interview with Trevor Noah and Chimamamnda Ngozi Adichie at PEN America. And I was so intrigued by the conversation. Chimamanda is a world-renowned novelist and a major advocate for feminism. She has written a lot of books such as Half of a Yellow Sun, Americanah, and Dear Ijeawele. During the interview, she spoke about when she was in college in America; her teacher had asked them to write an essay. The teacher had asked who wrote the one he had in his hand, and she stood up. He was very surprised being that she was black. He expressed this surprise to her and she was stunned, thinking to herself, “does this man not know I’m Nigerian and we’re brilliant?” But what she didn’t quite understand at that moment was how being “black” in America was very different from her reality. It had a very negative tone to it. It wasn’t something to aspire to.

Blacks in US are less educated. Speaking fluently and coherently is seen as being too white, too polished, not black enough.

The average Nigerian is raised with a lot of ambition, to go to secondary school, university, secure a masters and to work at one of the conventional professional jobs. The average Nigerian is what the blacks in America might call the overachiever. Being black in America couldn’t be more different from the Nigerian reality. Going to college is a pretty big deal and working as a professional is a huge reach. Yes, they are always exceptions, but the average black in America is not very ambitious and is okay with working minimum wage jobs, having kids, probably not get married and they’re good. This is something that has been passed down to generations due to the racial oppression and whole other factors.

Trevor Noah is a brilliant South African comedian who brings an intellectual spin to stand up comedy. He is mixed race and was born in the period of the apartheid. When it was a crime for black and white people to mix.

In his book , Born a Crime, he spoke about not being able to walk on the road with his parents because it would raise suspicion and if caught they could get separated. He then spoke about the time he has spent with Nigerians, how he’d watch Nollywood movies with his Nigerian friends and he’d express his distaste for them and how he thinks they should be watching Hollywood movies instead, because they were better. His Nigerian friends would then tell him how they’d rather watch their own culture, their own people… because that’s what interested them. And he never understood why Nigerians as a whole were so confident in themselves, because he clearly wasn’t. He grew up in a country where, eve after the apartheid, there’s still an underline of racism, and they are almost taught to aspire to “whiteness”. The blacks are mostly poor and the whites have the best jobs and cars, so it’s almost normal to strive towards that and aspire to it.

This conversation had me thinking a lot, because I got so fascinated about how these two brilliant people who I look up to, so successful at their different fields. They’re both African, yet so different. I thought about how our environment plays a huge role in how we see ourselves, and how the world sees us; how being black in Nigeria was different from being black in South Africa and also in America – same skin colour yet very different perceptions.

Nigerians are the most confident people I’ve ever come across; I say this with no sense of bias. I sometimes wonder where we get this innate confidence. Probably because we’re a completely black nation, and race is completely oblivious to us, so we bask in our abilities and uniqueness.

Ethnicity is equivalent to race to us. So where other nations dwell on the colour of their skin, we dwell on ethnicity and religion.

Nigeria has a huge class divide, but even the average lower class Nigerian is just as confident in themselves as the middle or upper class. I remember watching a movie with one of our house maid years ago and she said “she never understood why most people wasted their money traveling abroad. According to her, she watches their movies but doesn’t know what’s so fascinating. She prefers Nigeria. Not to say I agree or disagree with what she said, but I found it so interesting, how someone of her status who had never been out of the country, little exposure was so opinionated and convinced in her beliefs. That right there is a typical Nigerian, and I think that is one of our best qualities.

I am definitely a fan of traveling, because I love the exposure to different cultures, but there’s just so much about Nigeria that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. This is a character trait I believe other countries refer to us as “arrogant”, because as much as how imperfect our country might be we are still very proud people and unapologetic about it and no matter where we are in the world we eventually dominate and conquer the territory.

My name is Eva Bozimo and I’m super proud to be Nigerian.

Love & Light xo

Photo Credit: pen.org

Eva Bozimo is the editor-in-chief of the life style site candid lips blog. She’s a freelance writer and can be reached for writing articles for magazines, blogs, script writing and reviews. She created her platform to raise the consciousness level of people and to spread positivity. Also to recognise the challenges we face everyday, especially in Africa.Find her on https://evabozimo.wixsite.com/candidlipsblog Instagram: @Eva.chanel/@candidlipsblog Twitter: @EvaChanel

16 Comments

  1. Anon

    October 1, 2017 at 11:03 pm

    Thanks for your article. Now waiting for the bashing from other Africans.

  2. Angela

    October 1, 2017 at 11:29 pm

    Ignirance shouldn’t be alluded as confidence. Nigerian are ignorant, arrogant and egoistic lots.

    • hello

      October 2, 2017 at 12:55 am

      sorry dear if it comes off as arrogant , its just confidence. ignorant about what exactly? ego? maybe, we like to show off especially after working so hard. come on its not that serious

    • Chidi

      October 2, 2017 at 10:08 am

      You are 100% correct, most Nigerians, mistake ignorance and arrogance for confidence. Most will boast and appear to be confident but posses little or no knowledge of what they speak of. It is quite disturbing that a nation like Nigeria celebrates mediocrity.

    • seriously

      October 2, 2017 at 7:45 pm

      I totally agree. How long will Nigerians arrogantly boast in their academic achievement yet nothing to show for it. That arrogance and egoistic mindset is the cause of the dysfunctional behaviors that have become the norm. instead of learning, you feel like you know everything because you are too high your horse to admit to your mistakes, there’s still room for growth and strive to be a better human being. Nigerians have used degrees and religion to cover up a whole lot of sins, and atrocities.
      Nigerian’s definition of success is having a big house, drive a luxurious car and show off to your imaginary enemies hence the emphasis on getting a degree to make more money. With all the acquisition of knowledge, there’s still a high level of ignorance and lack of common sense neither has such achievement led to innovation and invention. Once a person has money or degree(doctor, engineer, and lawyer), he/she is not held to any standard of character, values, and expectation. A person is revered based on education and money(doesn’t matter how he/she acquired the wealth)

  3. Just look at

    October 1, 2017 at 11:59 pm

    The average lower class is just as confident as the upper and middle class. Proof that you have not really spent time outside your social class. I am Nigerian and I can tell you that your statement is a big lie!

  4. hello

    October 2, 2017 at 12:51 am

    this article makes a lot of sense. i live in the states and everytime a customer meets me at my work place , they go like “let me guess, you are from Nigeria” and then you hear them say, oh my doctor is a Nigerian, my partner at the law firm is a Nigerian. i totally agree with you, we dominate and we keep pushing even with all the negativity. every nigerian i have met is either out of college or in college.

  5. Just saying

    October 2, 2017 at 1:34 am

    This is a rather self inflating article with patronizing elements towards the black Americans. You need to catch up on many books to understand their social dynamics. Upon all our over achievement what has our nation got to show for it.??
    By the way, going by real data and statistics, we have more illiterate than literate citizens and our once 100% pass rate in WAEC has dropped below 50%.
    The only place we excel these days is entertainment, events and partying. Don’t come here and generalize Nigeria by the 1% exceptional ones that do well in foreign countries.

    At least African Americans are bringing home Olympic gold medals…Im a Nigerian and I love my country and yes we are very positively spirited and proud which is a great thing but don’t engage in comparisons with other cultures that you aren’t well informed about.

    • 12Step

      October 2, 2017 at 5:07 am

      Thank you so much for your reply.
      Someone upthread said Nigerians are ignorant ands someone else called him/her out for it. But it’s true. We assume we are better than every body else. We go to their countries and dare to call the shots without respect for their own culture and way of life as a people. Our innate smartness is also our undoing as a people. We became proud in a very negative way, the writer failed to mention that even Chimamanda noted this in the interview. One would think the the country as a whole should be a desirable country by now but no, we are still battling with problems that the most other countries, even those with less resources than ours, have left behind years ago. And don’t tell me how we are a young country. We are nearly same age as Ghana, Benin, Togo, etc (I intentionally mentioned those ones) but you only need to compare their society with ours to understand why we send our children to school and sometime relocate our whole families to live there.

    • Angela

      October 2, 2017 at 11:30 am

      What entertainment though? The music industry is disco club for the tone deaf and mild retards who enjoy noise pollution. Nollywood is utter crap with ignorant, arrogant, exponentially boorish actors with producers, directors and scriptwriters alike. Nigerians, get off your high horses.

    • Eyeroll

      October 2, 2017 at 8:55 pm

      I wish i could like this a thousand times. I read this bullshit article and shook my head. Nigerians rarely have enough range to discuss race issues and that is just the fact. But we insist on talking loudly about things we don’t know enough about. Yes we a brilliant bunch of people. But there are many things we also do not know. And we should accept that with humility, be quiet once in a while and actually listen. Then maybe we can learn.

  6. Torch

    October 2, 2017 at 10:49 am

    I am not proud to say this but in my undergraduate days, I did internet fraud. The ones where you put pictures of white men and lure women into a relationship and get money off them.

    I ‘dated’ about 80-100 women in my peak days and I can tell you that Americans generally are lazy. It’s not about being black or white but about the system that’s patronizing them. I hacked one white woman’s email and she was talking to her daughter about how she’d divorce me after 1 year marriage and take all my money and her daughter was in support although the script flipped on them sha.

    I’ve ‘met’ black women too who are just ok with the Walmart, CVS, Kroger job. They don’t study further unlike Nigerians who will be studying while already on a good job. I’ve met very rich white women and rich black women too but most Americans are alright with the minimum paying job, have kids, don’t marry (even tho American system favors a couple than single especially for tax).

    I stopped fraud tho. I’m now a coder.

    • LemmeRant

      October 2, 2017 at 1:13 pm

      And what has that got to do with the article above?

    • Jade

      October 3, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      The same country you are able to do the internet fraud, na your papa country? No
      The same Americans you call lazy built it.
      A functional, structured, advanced system can’t be built by lazy people.
      You can’t use a small percentage of people who fell for your nonsense, who you were surrounded by to judge a whole country.

  7. Tanonymous3

    October 2, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    This Trevor guy is so not my cup of tea. Just rubs me the wrong way

    • LemmeRant

      October 2, 2017 at 1:13 pm

      And what has that got to do with the article above?

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