My argument went something like: this is the case of single story (as Chimymama succinctly coined). Nigeria isn’t one of the most crime-addled countries in the world; but, a look at the news (both in and out of it) would have you believe that it is. Yes, we are in a bad situation with cyber crime, but we’re not any worse than other countries we’re emigrating to. I went on about how what these other countries have over us is what I was suggesting: a media cleansing. A consistent badgering of headlines detailing the strides Nigerians both in Nigeria and the diaspora are making. Nothing necessarily huge; even the day-to-day drudgery, that no doubt makes a difference, would do.
Her idea was that I was Not All Men-ing. She believed that this was one of those things middle class people complained about, lamenting that they couldn’t get visas because of a collective bad reputation, and not because of assessed documentation.
Of course, that’s bullsh*t. The idea that only middle class people go to embassies seeking visas is one only self-righteous middle class people have. It’s like when that topic came up on Twitter, the one where Candace Owens talked about how Nigerian-Americans are the most successful ethnic group in the US, and what Nigerians had to say about it was that it’s because it’s the middle class who emigrate. It’s bullshit because it’s false, and it’s false because so many hairdressers and market-women are taking loans and getting into debt to send their children abroad, give them a better life. How many of us don’t know Segun from Civil Engineering who hustled his butt off to make it to America? Yet, we keep spouting untruths about how it’s a middle class issue.
I reiterated why we need to Not All Men it, why we need to sell ourselves and state clearly our value, because that’s what every country is doing. They promote their best parts and people, allow the bad to remain background noise. But you know the Nigerian media. Bad news sells, so bad news is hammered on.
Then she sent me this tweet about why we don’t need to prove our value to the world because of 80 bad eggs, as America doesn’t go around apologising for every mass shooter.
Of course, another bullsh*t. Especially that analogy, America not apologising for every mass shooter; it is as if there isn’t a power imbalance there. As if American movies aren’t on our screens showing us daily how great they are, how wide their roads are, how brilliant their scientists are, how tall their buildings are. As if when we see American hackers, they aren’t somehow portrayed as cool villains and not common criminals. They know we’re the ones scrambling to get visas to their country, and not the other way around. They know it’s their businesses and citizens that invest in ours. Yet they sell themselves tirelessly. You know why? Because they need us to believe they’re great, because that’s how they become even greater.
So, yeah, this is a narrative we need controlled. We do need to sell ourselves, prove our value. Not All Nigerians the shit out of it. Everyone else is doing it.