NIGERIANS ARE NOT RACISTS!
First of all, it is a difficult task trying to tag any Nigerian as a racist. Yes, Nigerians are a complex group of people. In actual sense, they might be guilty of many crimes they are being accused of. However, if you know Nigeria and Nigerians very well, you will realize that racism is not something Nigerians understand very well. It’s not just that Nigerians are not racists, in fact, more often they don’t even understand what racism is all about.
I know I cannot speak for a whole nation. When I speak in general terms in this article, I am primarily relating to the average statistics. On average, Nigerians are not racists. They could be anything else but not racists. I have had a lot of experiences to prove this. I have been living on this planet earth for 50 years, 30 of which I have spent outside the shores of Nigeria. I have seen Nigerians in different situations and circumstances. From the complex to the ridiculous, yet racism is not something that could be attached to them.
I remember when as a 19 year old lad, I in the company of about 300 other students arrived in Europe for the first time on a government scholarship. We met a very huge pool of international students in the then former Soviet Union. In my university alone, we had people from 99 countries of the world. 99 countries? I think that is a good test. It is a good enough stage to test yourself out including in the area of racism.
That was probably my first experience to see how people from other nations related to races. We Nigerians, either Igbos, Yoruba, Hausa, Ibibio, Ijaw, Ogoni, Edo, Idoma, etc. were all taken aback to see that the black students from South Africa for example were very resentful of the white population they were meeting in Europe. Other people from French speaking countries kept complaining about why Africans were poor and blaming Europeans for it. Again, Nigerians could not understand this because Nigerians were used to blaming themselves and not Europeans for their plight.
We also noticed that some other smaller countries in Central Africa and the Islands, were paying too much regard and respect to white people. Again this was totally unfathomable to us. Nigerians were different. They were confident. They saw themselves as equal to people from any race and nation. Kenyans, Namibians, and Zimbabweans for example, talked about how all the investments in their nations were being taken over by Indians or white people, but again Nigerians were surprised. Nigerians didn’t have this kind of sentiments. When needed, Nigerians respected their white hosts and when needed they also didn’t hesitate in getting involved in some fracas or fist fights with them.
Whatever you say about Nigerians, their questions were not questions of race, but questions of honor, respect and dignity. They were giving that to other races and they expected to be treated the same. Even though Nigerians were constantly involved in some fights with their European hosts, this was not because they were racists, but because they demanded respect. If other African countries would simply let bygones be bygones, Nigerians would not allow those kind of moral and ethical demands to stop them from retaliating for any injustice done to them.
I hope this article is being read by our European brothers and sisters. I myself have been involved in bringing large groups of Europeans, Americans, Scandinavians, Russians and other nationalities to Nigeria. There have been mixed feelings every time. My experience is that whenever our European brothers have tried to engage in some act of belittling or debasement of their African hosts, there has been a sharp resistance if not a violent refutal of such acts.
To be continued tomorrow with the following points:
- The popular misconception of Europeans about Africans.
- The divide and rule tactic of rulership in Nigeria.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CHURCH AND NATION
By Pastor Sunday Adelaja.