Any year I plan to visit Nigeria, I start shopping early for gifts, for the numerous friends and relations, who we always feel obligated to give gifts to. I continually clip coupons and go trudging in shops whenever they have sales. I also make lots of trips to the Dollar Store and everyone’s favourite store – Walmart.
For me, Walmart is like home, as it was the first shop I went to when I first moved to the US; it simply gives me joy to shop there. I admit that their clothes are not always the best quality, but at their price and the fact that I have a large number to shop for, it is always a bargain.
I shop for my family there as well, as their casual lines like leggings, t-shirts, night wears and some other consumables can be really nice. My reasoning therefore is that if I wear things from Walmart, I am not being unfair shopping for relatives from there as well.
Imagine my surprise therefore, when I observed that my benevolence was simply a waste of time. On my last visit home, I overhead my cousins trashing the clothes I got them from Walmart. One of them said, “I don’t want all these cheap Walmart clothes she keeps buying us. Does she think we are house helps? No be her mate’s dey buy person Gucci or dem no get Gucci shop for where she dey live?” I was livid and seriously tempted to tell them to return the clothes.
The sad thing is that these are cousins that spend time sieving through 2nd hand clothings at the local market. I had gotten them what I felt was a good collection – just the kind of outfits I would get for my teenage kids that they always admire. To think this was something no one ever did for me in my undergrad years in Nigeria. “This generation”, I thought!” See me see wahala. How many Gucci items do I have with my fairly good salary? Gucci is a luxury item – whatever made these people think that it is affordable on a regular for someone like me?
This same attitude from my relatives is replicated by some friends that I buy gifts for. These same friends visit and see how difficult it is abroad with working and managing the home. It’s not like when they visit they buy luxury items themselves. It is the same Walmart, Target, Gap, Old Navy etc that we all visit. Some of them even rent apartments in “Dollar Tree”! Yet, I am expected to give people Gucci as present when I visit home.
Some “intelligent” one’s go “ahn ahn if you don’t have money, you can use your credit card”. Is credit card free? Many foreigners have learned the hard way, after they ruined their credits and cannot buy themselves good houses and cars. This is what happens when one has a bad credit! I will not abuse my credit card to make anyone happy!
I hear this same story from other diaspora people when they return after visits home. While my own relations criticized me privately, some people have had relations tell them to their face that the items were below their standard. Some have had relations give out those gifts to other people, that they believe could wear such items.
The sad thing is that these same people have never and will never give me anything themselves when I am on my way back to the States. I would not say no to Ankara or Egusi or even Chinchin, but the belief is that I have it all.
Mind you I know that some of us abroad can give silly gifts. My 65 year old mum who has never had a scrap of make up on her face for her entire life was once given a set of contouring brushes by a returnee. “The Thunder…” Ok, let’s not even go there.
So the learning point all, is to give, but give as your pocket permits. All that time spent shopping, paying excess luggage, packing and repacking at the airport might not really be worth it. Some may just prefer money, so don’t even bother.
For me going forward, I plan on getting nothing for any relations when next I visit; I am damned if I give and damned if I do not give. At least, when I do not give, I will have the money in my account which I can use to buy more nice Walmart items for me and my household.
Photo Credit: © Artem Medvediev | Dreamstime.com