No Nigerian arrangement is permanent unless that which has been arrived at by negotiated compromise.
– Peter Enahoro, 1966.
About half a century ago, Peter Enahoro published a book titled; How To Be A Nigerian. I feel privileged to be among the few in my generation to possess this book and I am grateful to my beloved friend Chikaodili for its gift. It is a book laced with comedy and embarrassing but undeniable truths. What I find amusing is my ability to relate with most of what is being discussed in this book even though I am merely up to half the age of this book and my certainty that in a few years time, when my baby cousins learn to talk and walk, they too will be able to relate to what is written in this book. How Shameful.
Indeed, I find it shameful because it seems change is affecting other parts of the world positively except Nigeria. Of course, there have been a few changes here and there like my ability to write and post on the internet, the absence of queues at Nitel offices for a few seconds phone call, etc but the much needed change is still yet to come.
If change were to be personified, he would be a man with dirty locs of hair who can only be found in an underground prison and if asked when he got there, he will tell you he can’t remember but he will also tell you the last time he remembers working must have been before the civil war. If asked why he is locked up, he will say he has been blamed by parents, elders and leaders for disrupting the flows of ‘normal’ activities. Change will admit to having bore little children who are free but not properly nourished but are still trying their best to survive. Hence, the reason why we have access to better technology, feminist movements, disrespectful children and a recycled government among others.
Permit me to contradict myself once in a while because I am so overwhelmed by the contents of this tiny book. One minute I am laughing so hard, another minute I am shaking my head and the next minute I am puzzled because I am not sure as to what I want and I start to question if truly, Change is what I want or just a part of it is enough for me but what does ‘change partly’ even mean? It’s either I want to dye my clothe white or black for there is no dye created to dye a clothe in two colours or if I dye it ash will that be better? Hmmm almost like I’m on a patriotic emotional roller coaster.
Well, while Peter Enahoro went about to educate us on how to be a Nigerian, I will take the opposite turn and preach on how not to be a Nigerian. Before brows are raised and weird looks are given or before you even go to the extreme and close this post, hear me out mbok.
We’ve all been in a situation or witnessed a situation where a certain behaviour was attributed to that of a ‘Typical Nigerian’. Example, Temitope just purchased new packs of expensive lace materials probably worth
N12,000 but when she goes to sell it, she tells her customer with the leather shoes and designer bag that it costs N30,000 and adds “Mummy, you sef you know how much these things cost nau, as I see you so, I know say no be today you start to dey buy these things. This one sef wey you wear commot today how much you buy am? These things dey expensive and you know but I know say you get good eye”. Madame ‘kok’ shoe and designer bag will feel praised for being tagged as a big woman with quality taste and will not want to ruin her reputation so she laughs and agrees to buy it but at N25,000. Temitope packages her lace as she lends praises “Mummy, mummy… abeg show again o. My card dey inside that nylon”. Let it be known that Temitope does not know madame kok shoe from Adam and this may even be her first time of seeing her but madame kok shoe respects Temitope’s hustle so she deserves to be called ‘Mummy’ by Temitope. After Madame kok shoe and designer bag is gone, Temitope’s neighbour will comment “E be like say market sweet today” and Temitope will respond, “My sister, e too sweet. If I no do am so, she for over price the thing. Typical Nigerian, them must to bargain price”.
However, when an averagely dressed customer who wears rubber shoes because it’s the raining season comes to purchase the exact same lace, Temitope will say it is N20,000 and add “I never chop since morning so I no wan too talk for this matter na why I give you correct and better price”. If the customer insists on going below, Temitope will begin to get irritated but tries to remain reasonable, “Haba sister, you sure say you don buy this kyn lace before? the thing cost ooo.” The customer refuses to give in and insists on a lower price, so Temitope says; “Oya, last price na N18,000. I no fit reduce pass that one. I don try, my gain sef na only N800 and I dey do am because I know say once in a while e good make we own quality things.” Note the change of title for this particular customer – Sister. This customer does not respect Temitope’s hustle but is also a hustler in that field and Temitope knows this so she deserves to be called ‘Sister’ which is short for ‘My Sister in Naija Hustle’.
In conclusion, a typical Nigerian in this case is known for the following;
- Never giving the true price of a commodity
- Never settles for the price a trader offers. He/She must always bargain even if it means only a kobo is deducted at the end.
- He/She has different prices for different customers based on their status in the society, their dressing, their tribe and so much more.
- Wears simple clothes to the market to avoid being cheated. Some women even have market clothes and shoes. You will most likely find the market shoes tucked somewhere in her car.
How to Not be a Nigerian in this situation:
- Make sure all customers are offered the same price, better still, price tags should be used everywhere and not only in supermarkets.
- Take the first price without a bargain; there is no comprise.
- Feel free to skip from a relative’s wedding ceremony to the market, it will make no difference to your Naira.
I hope you have learnt how to not be a Nigerian, do have a wonderful day and Happy Democracy my Naija Patriots.