I bet the title caught your attention. It would catch any Nigerian’s attention. We as Nigerians officially have our very own negative stereotype. Just like all Arabs are potential terrorists, and all Mexicans are illegal immigrants that live with their whole extended family in one bedroom, and work for less than $5 a day, all Nigerians are now scammers.
It’s a very sad portrayal of the citizens of a country that has the most educated group of people in the United States, and boasts to be the giant of Africa. The sad reality is that although there is a lot to brag about in Nigeria, and we have citizens that are outstanding in every aspect of life, we’ve been categorized as a bunch of scammers and con folks that are all about 419 on the internet. In every major city in the US, and in most of the western world, when you count the top 10 professionals in any major professional industry, you are bound to find a Nigerian’s name somewhere on that list. From schools, to the work environment, Nigerians are excelling in all that they do. So why does the media use a few bad eggs to categorize a whole country of about 150 million people?
A couple of years ago, after ABC ran their special on 419 scams in Nigeria, Oprah on her show mentioned something to the effect of being careful around Nigerians, because we are all scammers. I mean, someone as exposed as Oprah, should not be making such ignorant statements, but hey… we all vex for about 10 mins, and continued with life.
A couple of weeks ago, the movie District 9 came out, and although I haven’t seen the movie, I’ve heard enough about the gang of Nigerian 419 scammers with their leader named, Obasanjo. Yeah… I don’t think I need to watch the movie to get irritated. I was going to watch it, but I decided that I wont give my $10 to support a movie that potrays my ex-president and the nation as a whole a bunch of scammers. I’ll bootleg it, or wait till it comes on TBS.
Today, a friend of mine sent me a link to a PS3 commercial that threw in another random reference to Nigerian 419 scamming. The line was “YOU CAN’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU HEAR ON THE INTERNET OR I’LL BE A NIGERIAN MILLIONAIRE BY NOW.” I’m sure that video will be floating all over the internet for the next couple of days. This one in particular really upset, because I know the number of Nigerians(including myself) that have had Sony Playstations the day they came out, and the number that will go buy more in the future. It’s kind of sad that Sony would have to stoop that low for a advertising gimic. Here is the video clip for those that want to see:
Now let’s flip the mirror. We as Nigerians don’t help our cause in trying to dispute this stereotype. When the song of the year for 2007 is “Yahoozee!,” and “I go chop your dollar” was everyone’s favorite song, and “Maga don pay” is danced to at every club, and naija party, we really don’t help our cause. I’m not saying that these artists are to blame, cos I must admit the songs are very catchy, and I love them too, but all I’m saying is that when you’re on the outside looking in, and you see a group of people singing “Maga don pay!!!… Shout Alleliua!!” it doesn’t really look like we have a problem with 419. Heck, it looks like we celebrate it, and encourage it. Imagine telling your British friend what the meaning of the song is, and trying to explain to him or her why everyone in the club is dancing to it, and popping champagne. Yeah…Most of us wont find it very easy to explain. So how can we really vex when someone says Nigerians are 419 scammers. We celebrate something and get annoyed when someone else makes a statement referring to the same thing we celebrate. All I’m trying to say is that, some of the blame falls on us and we have to start correcting that.
Scamming is not something that started in Nigeria, and we’re not the only country that has scam artists. If you want the truth, a recent study showed that Nigeria is actually not the country where most scams come from. The United states is number 1, followed by the UK, and then Nigeria is number 3. I know I was surprised when I saw it too…lol. I personally believe that this stereotype goes beyond the fact the Nigeria has a high scam rate. There is a slight tint of racial prejudice to it, and a tint of “I can’t believe these N***ers have been scamming us for so long” also. Let’s face it, the typical oyimbo man wouldn’t expect a black person to outsmart him in anything… even in a crime like scamming, and the “Nigerian scammers” have been doing it since the 90s.
So as I conclude one of the most random posts I’ve ever done on jaguda (Ironically I was writing my 10 things I love about naija series), I’d like everyone to take a min to sign an online petition to have SONY remove their PS3 ad (Click Here), and the next time you are dancing and partying to “Yahoo…uh oh”… or “I go chop your dollar,” think about the image you are potraying to others.It is not necessarily what you want to see being spit back at you.