Nigerians in America – The Big Divide??


I think that in the US of A, there are 2 main sets of Nigerians, which are namely:

  1. The ‘I was born and raised here’ aka My parents are Nigerian, but I’m American.
  2. The ‘I was born and raised in Nigeria, and only moved to the US of A to attend college’

Apparently, there’s a divide of some sorts between these 2 sets of Nigerians. The people in Category #1 feel that the folks in Category #2 tend to act like because they were born and raised in the homeland, they are the tried and true Nigerians.  Meanwhile, the folks in Category #2 feel that the people in Category #1 act like a bunch of sellouts, with no true loyalty to their country*.

*According to what I was told.

I fall into Category #2, and can only speak from that point of view and I will say that from a personal perspective,  I don’t  quite understand the whole ‘My parents are Nigerian, but I’m American’ thing. Where I come from, you claim the hometown that your father is from. If your father is from Mbaise, and you were born and raised in Port Harcourt…you do not say ‘my father is from Mbaise, but I’m from Port Harcourt’. That, I cannot get with. However, I’ve never felt like I was better, or more ‘Nigerian’ than the ol’ girl or homeboy who was born and raised here. Granted, the typical born and raised in America Nigerians are on the same level of dryness cluelessness as non-Nigerians when it comes to discussing topics like boarding school, blowing Naija slangs and/or pidgin, true appreciation of Naija music and things that only a fellow born and bred in the homeland, can relate with.  But going to boarding school or being able to spit slang and fire pidgin left right and center, doesn’t make me better than the next individual.

I was once gisting with a friend of mine, who falls into category #1 and she expressed how sometimes she feels uncomfortable hanging around a group of the category #2 folk, because for one she doesn’t speak like them, and generally feels like she wouldn’t fit in. Infact, if I may even quote her, she said ‘I don’t talk like y’all’…and I asked her who exactly she meant by ‘y’all’? After all, aren’t we all Nigerians? With her use of the word ‘y’all’, she managed to effectively establish that supposed divide that separates the Nigerians in category #1 and Nigerians in category #2.  I tried to explain that I guess I could also walk around feeling like I wouldn’t fit in with the folks in category #1, because I do not blow ‘schwi schwi‘ phonetics and wasn’t born and raised in the US of A…but I don’t. In my mind, we are all one and the same, and I don’t regard that group of people as ‘them’.

I think that some of us tend to over think these things. The truth of the matter is that, we are all Nigerian…born and raised here or not. Unless you’re someone who completely chooses to divorce your culture and identify with something else, then in that case na your own palava be that.

And for anyone in category #2, who feels like the folks in category #1 are not Nigerian enough, I say look again. They are even the ones who go the extra mile to tattoo Nigerian flags on their chests and arms all in the quest to identify with their culture. And if you check the leadership of your local Umu Igbo Unite, Nwannedinamba, Calabar peoples association and Omo Yoruba association of North America, a good percentage of them are people who were born and raised here, but have a deep desire to be involved in their culture, so don’t be so quick to judge. And for the category #1 people who feel that sometimes we in category #2 may look down on you guys and think that you’re not Nigerian enough, I’d advise you to not overthink it. Half of the time, we aren’t even thinking that hard… (at least, I’m not).

With all that said, whether you fall into #1, #2 or somewhere in between…remember that in the end, we are all Nigerians repping that green, white and green.



  1. This article fails to mention that Group 1 do look down on group 2 and not because they think group 2 doesnt think they are nigerian enuff..a lot of group 1 people clown on group 2 cause they are too african..they dont want to be seen with seems like this article is blaming mostly group 2 which is false. anyway I aint even FOB just saying what I know from experience..I have seen and done it in the past

  2. You are right with the ppl in category #1 going above an beyond to tattoo 9ja flag ppl should def not look down on all of them and think they are not 9ja enough, but i feel like those who are in Category #1 that claim o I am american and my parents are Nigeria they are not the same as those in category #2 nw..they are not repping that green white green like the rest.

  3. The categorization is not that simple. Even if we were to summarize, I would add the Nigerians that, despite being born and raised in America, identify primarily with Nigerian culture.

    In addition, some Naija folks born and raised in naija seem to think that spitting pidgin or a Naija accent makes one "official". But if you ask about the true characteristics of one's culture, they probably couldn't tell you. On the other hand, many Naija folks born and raised in US have no accent to speak of but could spit cultural facts, history, significance etc like the back of their hand.

    I also don't really notice too much of a divide at all… I think it's more of an i

    Overall, it comes down to personal identification, rather than categorizing a complex set of individuals who, for various reasons regardless of location of birth, identify with either the country of their fathers or the country of their birth.

  4. Some say, "When the Internet went up, the walls came down!"

    Nigerian radio is broadcast on the iTunes platform and

    like it or not, them are the ROOTS of rhythm. Not to mention,

    can't nobody shak-it like them African women.

  5. Ok Time for me to say what I have to say…

    Mgbeks… U brought up a very interesting topic. I personally think things have changed a lot since when I got to yankee initially… When I came, I know I experienced a lot of Category 1 peeps that looked at me like they were better than me cos I "supposedly" was running away from naija, and naija was just this terrible place that everyone was running away from. Not everyone in that category did that, but a good number.

    Fast forward to 2010, and thanks to media explosion, and all kinds of social networking sites, being Naija Naija is actually cool, and so we all take pride in it, including those born and raised here. Our celebs are now fine babes and fine boyz, and naija now has swag…lol.

    I personally don't look down on anyone, as long as u're repping… but I have to say I do hate, that statement, My parents are Nigerian but I'm American. Nonsense. Plus don't call me "fresh off the boat" cos I dey yarn pidgin…lol.

    Like someone said, some of the peeps born and raised here and far more interested in naija culture that some of us "immigrants"…lol.

  6. Actually, there is a 3rd type of Nigerian…the type that I fall under! The "I was born in America, but was raised in Nigeria". This type of person actually has a really hard time finding identity.

    Though technically I am an American, the fact that I was sent to naija when I was 5 and stayed there throughout high school should attest to where I'm from.

    But on occasion, you get these mean jerks that feel the need to point out that you are a "half naija"…wth is "half naija?" Someone once called me a "Nigerian", the same knuckle head also called me nakata…nna which one be this na eh?

    The things and the lengths people go to just to divide and draw a line between fellow Nigerians amazes me. I mean what's the point? Are we all not from the same place? Does being born in a hospital abroad make me any less Nigerian?

    • …and there is another category, which I fall under. I was born in naija, lived half of my teenage years in naija, and then lived the rest of my teenage years and have spent a great deal of my adult life in America. I have basically matured into a woman with a lot of American influence.

      Someone like me can camouflage myself and act Nigerian (when around Nigerians), and then be myself (around my American friends). However, I am (and will always be) a Nigerian woman.

      One HUGE problem: I started coming back into the "naija crowd" and boy, it's been so hard to fit in. Damn! I can relate to Nigerian-Americans. We can be very interesting people to be around.

  7. I think a third group should be added: Group 3 – The ‘I was born and raised here but I’m Nigerian.'

    I would fall in that category. Since I was a child my siblings and I were involved in all things Nigerian, including Saturday morning language class, countless Nigerian events and visiting Nigeria for a month every few years.

    However, as much as I try to associate myself with all things Nigerian, many people from Group 2 always try to look down on me. I've had several people blatantly tell me that I am not Nigerian because I was not born there. I've gotten into heated arguments over this issue because I think it's absolutely wrong to discriminate agains your brother/sister just because he or she were born in America.

    Once I was discussing about how Nigeria has potential to be great and one man told me that why do I care, that I am not Nigerian, it's not my country and I should not be concerned because Nigeria is destined to fail. I had to prove to him my extensive knowledge of the history, culture & politics of our country and warned him that people like him are why some Nigerian-Americans may shy away from other Nigerians.

    • EXACTY you hit the nail on the head. This is especially true here in Houston. I was always raised to be a Nigerian. My parents shielded us from akata culture even though we lived in USA because they did not approve of the way black americans behave. We were only raised around nigerians. Group 2 looking down on us is plain stupid. Many of them WISH they were born here. They would avoid all the immigration issues they endure with work visas, school status, and marrying to stay in the country. After all why did you come to USA? Trust me I have been to Nigeria many times and loved it. But the fact remains that Nigeria has problems and people leave there for better things and I don’t blame them at all. My parents left and now the new generation is leaving. It makes no sense to come here and look down on nigerians who are born here. We in group 1 are too Nigerian to fit in with akata yet too american for nigerians in group 2. We really only fit in with group 1 which is a small number. We need to all stick together and embrace our great heritage. Period.

  8. The racial divide politics in America are amazing. First it was White vs Black, Then Latino Vs Black, then Light skinned Black Vs Dark Skinned Black, then African American Vs African, Now Naija Vs Naija. It's obviously been brought on by years of political and press programming, but you can still rise above it. We are always are own worst enemy. Seems like it doesn't even matter where we are.

  9. Its the parents fault, they shouldve instilled pride in category 1 so they love their homeland & rnt afraid 2b associated with it. Its the only thing that separates them from the akatas… anywho, i'm category 1, and I always say, "I was born in America, but my parents are Nigerian, so I am Nigerian too." I've never actually been there, so sometimes i feel like an imposter, and get jealous of category 2 from time 2 time, bc they fit in better. As for me i dont fully fit in w/ category 2, and i pretty much can't stand akatas, so i end up befriending more whites, azians, indians, category 1s, and category 3s (that have been 2 nigeria but have been more americanized)… the only race i don't like is most mexicans and most ghetto black americans.

  10. In whose astute interest is the continued existience of Nigeria as a nation, fellow litrate African brothers and sisters, the old political generations except for just very few have failed us totally, what type of Nigeria do we leave our own children, and their own generation ? I call on all abled bodied Southern East and Western Nigerians of today to prepare to bear Arms against the Northern oligachy and all their fellow Boko Haram brothers from where-ever, War is very necessary somtimes in other to have perfect peace, progress and prosperity,

  11. Already the Northerners are waging war on the rest of the country while we in the South wail and bury our deads. We in the South East and Western entity refered to as Nigeria of today do not need the North in any way to survive or move forward, If history is to be made, it is now or never, enough of the lootings from the rich Southern West /East to feed the lazy Northern illitrates, the time is now to bear Arms and strategically organise ourselves to fight for our perpertual freedom and right to self determination, we don't need a national referendom for this, Let the Federal Republic Of Biafra come to birth, Let the Federal Republic Of Oduwa (..or whatever name they choose to call it ) come to birth.

  12. I bet anyone just like in Libya a lot of Nigerians in diaspora will come home with cash and kind to fight for the freedom of their region, this is what we need now not tomorrow, and not some meetings and delibrations in some air conditioned rooms or auditoriums, the fights and talks should be on the battle fields now, let cowards run away with their stolen loot, but true blue blooded African warrior stay behind to fight to restore the honors, dignity and the tradition stolen from his people. Long live the Federal Republic Of Oduwa, and long live the Federal Republic of Biafra.

  13. I know this is an old post but I wanted to contribute to the topic…..I fall into the #1 category. I am American because I was born and raised in the U.S. but I identify myself as a Nigerian. When people ask me where im from I say Alabama. When people ask me what are you I say Nigerian I don’t consider myself a Black American. I pride myself in being Nigerian because Black Americans do not have a culture but I do. Growing up in American as a Nigerian child was difficult because of the ignorance of people and yes at one point I would try and hide it to avoid getting picked on by regular American children and that is something that U.S. born Nigerians have in common we understand what we had to go thru with regular black people because we were different. I still remember having a teach in high school ask me if I thought I was better than them bc I was the only one who could truly say I am an African American…..I may not know everything ab Nigeria but I don’t know everything about the U.S. either lol All I know is that my parents are proud Africans and so am I…