Second Class Citizens

By Stanley Bentley

Nigerian pastor bowing to a foreign pastor

Recently, I had a tete a tete with a good friend of mine who is an advocate of the black race, who detests anything foreign or white as the case maybe. She does not fail to register her displeasure with the African invasion by the white people. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in history, she has the facts and figures to make you loathe the white race. As far as she is concerned, the whites have no love for blacks, they never meant well and the relationship between them is always transactional.

If you tried to pinpoint how the blacks contributed in their mistreatment by white, she was quick to dismiss and defend blacks. Blacks did no wrong and are not capable of doing any wrong.

Blacks are a people with rich cultural heritage who coexisted peacefully and in harmony with one another. They have their own ways of doing things and were satisfied with the world around them. They were their neighbours’ keeper. A child belongs to the community who will be cautioned in times of misdemeanour and celebrated in times of achievement by everyone around.

The African setting, beliefs, norms and culture were totally different from that of their European counterparts. No thanks to linguistic imperialism, no thanks to media imperialism, no thanks to fashion imperialism. No thanks to the arrival of the intruders, the invaders of African hemisphere who caused this upheaval.

The coming of the white man put anything African under serious threat, dethroned our lifestyle and worse more gave the African brain a catastrophic somersault. If you are not thinking European, you are yet to start thinking. My friend would go on and on to enumerate the cultural genocide committed by the whites. I wish I could reproduce her words verbatim in this piece.

By and large, this uncommon friend of mine is not the only educated historian of our time. But she believes that a large number of others do not either know or think properly.

I agree with most of her sentiments, however, my question is; how long shall we play the blame game? Should a man who divorced his wife concern himself with whatever she does with her body afterwards? Should a plane crash stop people from flying? Should a football team continue to brood in yesterday’s defeat when another game comes up tomorrow? Time cannot stop because you are aggrieved. We have sent the whites packing; it’s time to move on.

Africa needs to develop. Africa needs to have a place in global economic hegemony. Africa and Africans need to be respected. They should break away from the scars of their colonial overlords. Africans should see themselves as equals to the Europeans.

Currently, the problems of Africans are not the wounds of yesteryear inflicted by their visitors. Africans as it stands now are their own problem. The truth remains that we would continue to be second class citizens if our leaders keep looting our collective wealth and dump them in a foreign bank. That is crazy! With such misdemeanour I wonder how these oyibo will regard us. If the rich continue having their weddings and birthday bash in Dubai, Paris, London and other foreign cities, then they cannot be wrong if or when they refer to us as savages, shenanigans or barbarians. We deserve whatever name they call us. Your oversea exploits does not in any way help your country. Imagine the people who would benefit from society weddings or parties if they are done here. I don’t mean those coming for food sake. I mean the caterers, printers, interior decorators, photographers, fashion designers, and laborers etc who would have done one or two jobs to get paid.

Furthermore, children of the wealthy travel abroad to get educated, that is a massive dent on our educational system. No one sees anything wrong with this attitude. The ability to do any or all of these is a status conferral in our society. In fact, if you dare complain, you will be fingered as a witch, the less privileged or an enemy of progress.

Recently, the president of Nigeria travelled to the UK to treat ordinary ear infirmity and spent two weeks. That is national embarrassment. A disgrace to all the hospitals and doctors in Nigeria. This is an honest message to other Nigerians advising them that whenever they are ill a visit to a Nigerian hospital or doctor is at their own peril. And this was a government that wooed the Nigerian voter with the CHANGE mantra.

Another unfortunate European virus which has corrupted our brains is what they call ‘accent’. It is so preposterous that even the so-called educated lots are guiltier of this. Our people are in love with stupid things such as accent. I feel ashamed when I hear such things as loving the British accent or American accent. It is even a mortal sin to speak a foreign language and the next person could decipher where you come from. Arsene Wenger speaks English with French accent and no one cares but when Kanu Nwankwo speaks English with his native accent, all hell will be let loose. They will call him igbotic. We have a problem. An identity problem. A serious problem. It is absolutely normal for L1 to interfere in L2. Your first language (L1) will always intrude in the usage of your second language (L2). But our people use this as yardstick to measure someone who is top-notch. This accounts for the myriads of copied accents by most radio and tv presenters. Anything domestic is substandard while foreign is ebeano. It is a clear case of a people with identity crisis.

The whiteman has not told us not to build our place. The whiteman did not ask us to loot our treasury and transfer to their country. We need to look into the mirror and see our problems.

To put your country on the map and make others take you seriously, you have to take mind-blowing steps. No one travels to Dubai simply because they have crude oil; to see the only seven star hotel in the world you go to Dubai, to see the tallest building in the world you go to Dubai. We need to believe in ourselves, we need to see ourselves as the standard and stop glorifying oyibo and vilifying ourselves, otherwise we shall remain global second class citizens.