Oct 23 2006

In National Pride, Nigeria is No. 1

Category: Uncategorized<ADMINNICENAME> @ 3:17 AM

This Saturday morning my wife is braiding the hair of a Catholic nun from Nigeria. The two women are about the same age (mid-30s) and both live in the Bay Area, where liberal ideas dominate and tolerance is taken for granted. The activity is taking place in my living room, so I can eavesdrop easily. I once again am amazed by the enthusiasm Nigerians have for the own country.

“I love my country, Nigeria,” the nun starts off.

“I don’t care what Nigerians do,” my wife says. “They are the most
wonderful people in the world.”

“We’re all not cheats,” the nun says, referring to the negative image
of Nigerians as crooks.

“Nigerian are happy,”: my wife says. “They find a way to celebrate life.”

“I love life,” the nun says.

“If you don’t have money, you’ll still groove,” my wife says.

“Yes, you’ll always groove in Nigeria.”

“You’ll find friends, and enjoy life,” my wife says.

The nun smiles and declares: “I want to be reincarnated as a Nigerian.”

I have been listening quietly but now my mind is, as they say in
Berkeley, blown. Wow! She loves Nigeria so much she wants to be born again …as a Nigerian.

“You like Nigeria that much,” I say?

She laughs. “In this country, people are suspicious of Nigerians, but
most of them are fine,” she says. “People are only running from Nigeria because of poverty. There’s plenty of money in the country, from oil. The money is there, but it is in the hands of a greedy few.”

Greed and the violence men, she says, are undermining prosperity inNigeria. “Men get with anything,” she says. “They beat their wives. They take other women. They even bring them home.” She then tells the story of her late father who brought home many girlfriends to join his own wife and children for dinner.

A more pressing problem is male violence. “They kill people like chickens in Nigeria,” she says. “You kill a human being and no one questions you.”

Since the nun is married to Jesus, she need not worry about the antics of Nigerian men. “I’m happy to be myself,” she says. My wife adds that she waited so long to marry because “I didn’t want to marry and suffer.” In Nigeria, she says, “Women suffer too much.

For a less feminine but still sobering perspective on Nigeria’s problems as a national approaches, see the report on the country in the new Economist.

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