The direction of our lives continues to be based on the situation of foreign currencies and I can’t help but ask why? Why as Nigerians or Africans, we are not content with what we have; rather the lifestyle of others always seem better.
Before colonialism, Nigerians had a way of life; a way we were proud of, that we can call noble and it’s not dependent on importation. Before the Western culture labeled us ‘black and inferior,’ we believed in the quality of what we produced because WE produced it.
We loved the people we were, and we held this culture of ours so dear – because it was the only thing we had. We held this culture and lifestyle with a great pride and everything in it was beautifully ours.
We didn’t crave so much because what we had was enough. The people who craved more sold us for material things such as mirrors! When we place value on the unknown and disregard the known because we feel it is and will forever be ours… what a “see-finish” mentality!
Does this mean I want us to go back to the way we were? That is obviously not possible, because I know nobody will be game. I’m only writing to speak to our thinking minds, pushing it to ask US where we dropped all these things that are supposedly ours and all those things that made us who we are; and if we have dropped them, claiming to be civilized, who then are we?
I grew up watching movies like the normal Nigerian child, watching both foreign and home videos, and for some reasons, which I have identified as our need to reject who we are, we have come to hate our home videos. It’s funny how people who enjoy watching home videos are either our aged parents or people that we consider local. We have come to believe that our producers aren’t creative enough to act something extraordinary, they aren’t creative enough to act movies where shooting guns doesn’t sound odd, they’re not smart enough to create characters that think like Jack Bauer or Scoffield, or act a nice romantic comedies like we know the foreign ones to be.
But the last time I checked what is literature, it is suppose to be a representation of life, and so far as I know, this definition hasn’t changed. So it has brought me to the conclusion that as Nigerians we have no intention of accepting our reality because what we see in our movies are proper representation of what is happening in Africa, Nigeria precisely. These movies capture our trials and tribulations and I’m sorry, Jack Bauer and the likes of Scoffield aren’t in this reality of ours. Our prisoners don’t get represented by lawyers like Harvey of Suits, neither is there a master plan that can break you out of Kirikiri maximum prison. Our police are not always on time for crime and it is no news that some of them run at the first sight of chaos. This is our reality, and we cannot change it if we cannot deal with it!
It’s one thing to say the picture quality of a movie is not good, it’s another thing to bring our movie industry down because we believe the stories they tell are stereotypical. The question is, aren’t our lives sometimes stereotyped?
These are our realities, let’s deal with them and think of a way forward rather than prefer another reality, because preferring to watch a Hollywood movie where everything is perfect doesn’t change the reality back home. No! what it does is shield you from your reality and makes you unprepared when this reality eventually catches up with you. Unconsciously, you will live life trying to associate with a Nigerian reality you know nothing about, because you have successfully fed yourself a reality that makes you see your reality as superstition… until it starts happening to you, that is.
Our need to run away from who we are has become skin deep. From fashion, to beauty… We continue to run away from our reality as if running will change it to what we want. Well, I think we can’t continue expecting to become what we aspire without first acknowledging and accepting who we truly are.
The term “due’ in hair is a familiar term to Blacks. Due for what? More chemical? We relax our hair because we want to be like White people – with straight hair that dances to the songs of the wind. But after sometime, this hair struggles to go back to its natural form, its real state, and its true state. But because we can’t accept that, we continue relaxing and stretching it, faking it to meet up to the world’s acceptable standard. But just so you know that the way our hair cry to go back to their original form and we call it ‘due’ . That is the same way our realities are “due” crying for us to accept it so that we can grow better.
The Dollar and Pound are more valuable to a Nigerian than the Naira today; we have run away from our reality that we have decided to get other peoples’ realities even at a higher cost. We have decided to allow the number of foreign goods we possess determine our status and value in the society, and that is why a wealthy lady like Linda Ikeji would brag about investing in a foreign economy after making her money from Nigerians. Brag about buying a Hermes bag when we have quality leather bags by Nigerians at more affordable prices. We expect our country to grow but refuse to accept the things it produces, why? There’s a campaign going on about #BuyingNigerianToPromoteTheNaira but the children of these campaigners pay their school fees in foreign currencies… who are we deceiving? But we thank God for such campaign, at least we can start hoping to take pride in owning products from our land.
Because the growth of our country Nigeria starts with you and I. it starts with us changing our mindsets and believing in the authenticity of Nigerian goods, but if you don’t trust it, then by all means produce it! But let’s invest in this economy. It starts with us accepting everything we have and creatively thinking of how we can channel it into profitable ventures in the economy rather than selling it off to foreigners and buying it back after they’ve done good with these our natural resources.
This is not to say we cannot use foreign goods. It is saying we should reduce it. And I’m not saying new inventions aren’t good, I’m saying, new doesn’t make it better, and old doesn’t make it broken. This is our Nigeria; if you like, go to the end of the world and back, what you’ll get is what you give.
This country can’t be built by the strength of one man, but all men, in their various ways can putting forces together, putting our educated and intelligent Nigerian minds to work, and with years of experience playing global games, we can turn our local game to an international pacesetter, but it can only be so after we have accepted our reality.
I’d love to hear our constructive opinions on how we think we can better accept Nigeria in its totality, from good to bad, turning our ashes to a sellable beauty. I’m sure we all know how much we need our economy and name to grow.
About Linda Orajekwe