The whole thing reminds you of that fable with the blind men and the elephant. Perspectives.
For a country as diverse as Nigeria, perspectives are all too important. Nigeria is different things to different people but more often than not, as we learned with David Cameron, it is the negative quips that often make it to the front pages.
In a bid to present a rounded offering of what the world thinks, here are 10 quotes about Nigerians that reflect what people think about the motherland.
(1) “There is no country in the world with the diversity, confidence and talent and black pride like Nigeria ” — Binyavanga Wainana, Kenyan Author.
Wainana is one of Africa’s best and most popular writers. In response to the anti-gay laws in Nigeria and the continent at large, the Kenyan published “I am a homosexual, mum”, a short story which supposedly was his way of coming out as gay.
Commenting on the Nigerian laws passed by the Nigerian lawmakers in 2014, the Kenyan praised Nigeria for being a stalwart of black pride and identity.
For many Africans and just about everyone with pan-African views, Nigeria has become representative of African culture and identity as the continent’s most populous and arguably most culturally prominent nation.
(2) “Am I feminist? I don’t know. I’m not really sure what that is. I am all up for equality to a certain extent, although in the home, I do feel this is where the mother excels and the man needs to step back a bit. My family is from Nigeria. and this is our culture” — Anthony Joshua, British-Nigerian Boxer.
Anthony Joshua revealed his old-fashioned approach to domestic life in a 2016 interview with ES Magazine.
Suffering a crisis of identity is not rare for Nigerians in the diaspora but very often, family values are passed on to new generations.
Sadly, like with Anthony Joshua, it is often the belief that the woman is a natural nurturer and as such, must excel at keeping the home.
It strengthens the perception that Nigeria is a heavily patriarchal society, a supposition that is not far from the truth.
(3) “There isn’t a class structure in Nigeria; there’s a tribal structure and prestige as far as money is concerned” — Sade Adu
In May 1985, the sultry Nigerian singer sat down with Jessica Berens of SPIN Magazine and shared this tidbit. It’s easy to see why Miss Adu would say this.
The gulf between the rich and the poor in Nigeria is vast and clearly defined that it is nearly impossible to claim any form of economic class structure.
Her statement only emphasise the perception of Nigeria as a country where money is the ultimate currency and prestige and respect are tied to wealth.
(4) “ Well, Nigeria has played a constructive role in peacekeeping in various parts of West Africa. But unless and until Nigeria itself is democratic and respects human rights, it too may well be a source of much greater instability as political repression limits the ability of the people of Nigeria to achieve their full potential..” — Susan Rice
When Nigeria is referred to as the giant of Africa, it was the expectation that the country would lead from the front and become a template for the stability and success of African nations.
It is in that context that Nigeria is still viewed by many who seem to hold us, time and time again, to a standard higher than we hold our selves.
Yet, quotes like this reflect the knowledge that Nigeria could be much more save for the economic and political problems that have held us back and continue to limit us from realising our potential.
For a nation seen as the jewel of its continent, this underperformance has the potential to affect the entire continent.
(5) “We had a very successful cabinet meeting this morning. We talked about our anti-corruption summit. We’ve got…leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain"
“Nigeria and Afghanistan are possibly two of the most corrupt countries in the world,” — David Cameron
When David Cameron was caught saying the above in a conversation with the Queen of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury and House of Commons leader, John Bercow by UK television network ITV, Nigerians were understandably outraged.
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Most of that anger was directed at Cameron for making such a wide-ranging, insensitive comment, but more so for the Nigerian elite who have earned us this reputation with several under-handed deals and a history of corruption in government.
Yet, the one thing we could not do, for all our anger, was to deny its truth.