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10 Common Misconceptions about American Born Nigerians

Updated: Nov 3, 2017

While on my trip to Belgium back in August/September 2017 I was being tested on my Yoruba and just how Americanised I am. It lead me this list (semi rant) about things in my culture I am constantly approached questioned and even ridiculed about, like all the time lol.

  1. We have no interest in anything Back home.

I hear this one all the time. The natural assumption is that we have little to no interest in our culture. When in fact, that is just the opposite of what the truth is, at least in my personal case. I have deep seated interest in Nigeria, reconnecting, doing business, giving back and leaving a legacy. I have interest in relearning about my culture and sharing it with the world by way of different platforms.

2. We don’t want to speak our native tongue.

This is one of the funniest ones to me because indigenous Nigerians have this conversation

script down to a science. In my experience, they’ll often say things like: “You didn’t want to learn,” ascribing all blame on the offspring instead of both the child and the parents, for perhaps not speaking the native language in the house and ensuring that the child speaks it. Or another one is: “The Spanish speaking and Chinese 1st generational Americans are speaking their language.” Well in my opinion, that is true but why don’t these critics ever ask why they are able to and its not translating the same for us Nigerians?

3. We don’t understand our language.

This goes hand in hand with my point 2. In my youth, I frequented Nigeria on family visits for a month or 2 or 3 at a time. I grew up in Celestial Church of Christ where I read and sang in my language Yoruba from infancy to adulthood (please don’t judge me, I’ll explain my personal experience with that later). I have overheard many a conversations of Nigerians speaking my language unbeknownst to the knowledge that I may not speak Yoruba well but I understand it! Just because I don’t speak it the greatest doesn’t mean I can’t understand.

4. We don’t know the Culture.

SMH. I don’t know how many times a Nigerian has said to me some basic Yoruba word, as if to test me in the most basic of the Yoruba language. I’m like Bawo ni? (How are you?). LOL, is that all you got?! Yea, I said got.

5. We don't know what hard work is.

Yea. I'm taking this misconception personal lol. Why do you think this? It is not my fault that my parents migrated to the U.S. before I was born and I was afforded differently from you being born back home. At the same time, please realise I am aware of the tremendous set of hardships Nigerians must deal with and I have deep compassion for it all. However, my empathy for another's struggle or work ethic does not cancel out my work ethic because I was American born. In my opinion, there are no real guarantees no matter where your start point in life is.

6. We have no intention of returning back home to Nigeria on any level.

This is funny. Why? Because the irony is I feel like a great amount of Nigerian born are obsessed with western culture. It makes me laugh to see certain Nigerians try so hard to be Americanised or to assimilate in an unnatural way though. Maybe they think because they are so obsessed with America that we have no interest in visiting at all. This just isn't true. In fact, there is a very big movement of Black consciousness and this reality that more and more of us want to know more details about our history. There is great pride in it all.

7. We can't eat with our hands or can't handle pepper in our food, better yet we don't eat our cultural foods.

This is why I laugh so hard when I see a grown Nigerian man pick up a fork to eat pounded yam with soup. Like, are you serious? I personally prefer amala and ewedu, yes, eaten with my hands, but to each his own, I'm not judging. Although, I will say if anyone is pulling anyone's Naija certification card, I would be in this case.

8. We can't handle really hot weather and prefer cold winter weather to hot summer weather.

Everyone that personally knows me knows summer is my favourite season and that I'm addicted to pepper, #Jussayin Just because I know how to better handle an American winter because of necessity and experience does not mean I now prefer it to my fave summer season weather.

9. We don't have any problems....well because the streets are made of gold, now!

Our problems are not the same but we have them unfortunately. We are not breezing through everything with ease like so many think. We are working ourselves like slaves to provide for many people usually.

10. We're not cultured at all.

Whatever that means #isssaLIE. If one expects another who is another land to still remain exactly the same, to a tee, that is a person who is unreasonable in their thinking and that has unrealistic expectations.

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