t Tell me Nigeria Isnt Cursed”

By Akin Ojumu

That an immigrant from a shithole country like Nigeria would experience a culture shock as he arrives in a civilized society is only natural. You can’t come from the chaos of your homeland into the absolute concord of the foreign land and not feel dizzy. The sudden transition from disharmony to harmony is bound to leave you woozy.

Like many who japa to the foreign land before you, you are disoriented for a number of years as you adjust to life in an environment radically different from your homeland. From the weather, landscape, and language to food, fashion, values, and customs, everything is strange and weird.

One of your initial mind-blowing experiences occurs during your visit to the grocery stores. As you walk in, you are left dumbfounded by the sheer massiveness of the supermarket and the tidiness of the environment. While you are still trying to absorb the immensity and neatness of the store, you are hit in the face by the vast array of products neatly arranged on the shelves. There are rows upon rows of goods and products of all kinds.

Then comes the time for you to choose what to buy. What should otherwise be a simple case of you walking up to the shelves and picking the items you want becomes an extremely challenging ordeal. Unlike your homeland where the options of products available are few and far between, here in the grocery store in this foreign land there are varieties of different brands and different variations of the same brand of the same product. Which to choose becomes a difficult task. You are left shell shocked and overwhelmed. Not knowing what to do, you ask for help from the courteous grocery store attendants.

With the help of the attendant, you finally know which items to pick. Then comes the next shock, the price of the items. To your greatest surprise, they are so cheap that in your Nigerian mindset you become suspicious, wondering whether they are playing 419 on you. For instance, a whole fat chicken sells for $4.99, a bag full of tomatoes costs $2.99, and for $10 you can buy a whole goat to take home. Spending just about $30, you can buy enough to make a pot of soup filled with goat meat to last a fortnight.

Then comes the greatest wonder of all.

As a Nigerian used to perennial fuel scarcity and long queues at the petrol stations, your first thought, when you find an empty fuel station in the foreign land is fuel shortage. You can’t imagine there’ll be fuel and the stations wouldn't be packed with people jostling to fill their vehicles.

So, you are astounded to find there’s in fact no fuel shortage at all. Again, you look around and wonder why there are no fuel attendants standing by the pumps dressed in uniforms. Then the self-service signs on the pumps catch your attention. It suddenly dawns on you that over here in this foreign land it’s do it yourself. You drive up to the pump, slot in your cash, credit or ATM card, and voila, you start pumping away, as much fuel as you desire, no fuss, no muss.

Another source of culture shock for you as a japa Nigerian in a sane society is your experience with the mobile phone services. Coming from a country where nothing works but by prayer and fasting, you naturally expect the mobile network providers to be dishonest and their services unreliable.

Again, to your surprise, in this foreign land the options of mobile services are limitless, and everything is straightforward. You purchase the service contract you want, pay a monthly fee for your phone and data, and you are good to go. The phone calls are crystal clear and the internet connectivity, steady and superfast.

Yet, this is just a glimpse of what you enjoy as a Nigerian in your japa destination, there’s still more to come. But even with the little you’ve seen so far, your mind is flooded with questions, “What’s wrong with Nigeria? Why is it that Nigerian leaders can’t replicate this manner of running a society? Is it that we are cursed?”

To be continued…


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