I think that in the US of A, there are 2 main sets of Nigerians, which are namely:
- The ‘I was born and raised here’ aka My parents are Nigerian, but I’m American.
- 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.