CNN Attacks On Nigerians In Houston

by Paul I. Adujie

All Nigerians should respond to CNN’s offensive and unacceptable generalizations about Nigerians in Houston and Nigerian immigrants in the Americas as a whole. CNN claim to the effect that forty percent of Nigerians in America are into frauds and crimes is baseless. The spurious numbers are not based on empirical data or analyses.

Sabella O Abidde wrote an excellent essay titled Images from and about Africa, an article to which I wrote a rejoinder, A Response to: Images from and about Africa by Sabella Abidde and that was before my attention was drawn to the full impact of the CNN story about Nigerians in Houston.

I abhor all crimes and criminals. But that does not allow CNN, the press generalize about Nigerians and Nigeria. And law abiding and hardworking decent Nigerians should not feel the need to bow their heads in shame. I work eighty hours a week in New York City and there are many Nigerians who hold two jobs in America. The great majority of Nigerians in America are decent and dignified persons and we have no apologies to make to anyone for the behavior of a few Nigerians. We resent being measured and grouped with miscreants or criminal elements.

Unless the new logic is that all Americans should bury their heads in shame because of the frauds and criminal acts of Mr. Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling of Enron? All Americans should be ashamed for the criminal behaviors of the executives of Enron which joins WorldCom, Adelphia and Tyco, AIG, Halliburton etc, all of them, American companies that have engage in the most egregious corporate frauds.

Unless the new logic is that all Americans should now bury their heads in shame for the brutal killings by some American soldiers in Haditha in Iraq, and the now infamous abuses by American military personnel in Afghanistan or Abu Ghraib in Iraq and at Guantannamo Bay prisons in Cuba or the Mai Lai massacre in Vietnam. Decent Nigerians in America and worldwide have nothing to apologize for or be ashamed about!

We must be clear therefore, that every actions and words by persons or media that impact Nigeria’s image negatively, should warrant vigorous response from all of us. It is all about us. Regardless of who is president of Nigeria and regardless of what form of government operates in Nigeria at the given time.

It must be clear to all Nigerians, at home and abroad, that what affect Nigeria affects all of us. Nigerians must make offensive generalizations about Nigeria an expensive proposition or undertaking. There should be consequences and heavy price to pay by anyone who generalizes about Nigerians and Nigeria.

Africans must engage in self-definition and self-assertion, there are no alternatives! As we define and assert ourselves, we must also always respond to mischaracterizations.

Africans have been the recipients of an unfair amount of meddling, interferences and outright interruptions by external forces of evil. There are of course, in Africa, people who are human beings, like every other human being on earth, who are not in possession of plentiful virtue, but instead warped attributes or vices.

It has become exceedingly easy, sexy and even entertaining to be extremely critical of the African continent and its travails.

Africa’s litany of critics, are conversely unwilling to critically examine the role and impact of external factors, and external players that have created, that sustains and even exacerbates the crises and sufferings in Africa. Adversities and perversities have sources and causes remote and immediate, internal and external.

I wondered why he did not question why BBC, CNN, Fox etc never talk to or about Nigerian/African medical doctors, lawyers, bankers, stock brokers etc why the fixation and auto focus on adversity and perversity? Or the man bite dog angle? There is a stock exchange in Nigeria and there are brokers there, there are companies there. let CNN and the BBC talk about the Nigerian Stock Exchange for a change!

Let the Western media talk to some Nigerian/African doctors and lawyers and business persons for a change! Let the western media leave their voyeurism for a week and talk instead about marriage, birth, death, sunrise and sunset in Africa. Human angles presented without the usual gory adversities and perversities. Is there joy in Africa?

If you watch or listen to Western media long enough, you will start to believe that there are only wars and famine and ebola in all of Africa every time, anytime and all the time!

Cable New Network otherwise known as CNN worldwide, attained its reputation partly because it is trail blazer in many respects and partly, as well, because it practice journalism by the book. CNN became household name with instant name recognition.

CNN however is fast becoming a bastion of shoddy and sloppy journalism. This erstwhile dignified and respectable cable television network with international reputation now wallows in sensationalism in its reportage. CNN now practices yellow journalism of the worst tabloid types! In recent times, CNN has had to retract series of false and inaccurate stories

On behalf of Nigerians in the Americas and on behalf of Nigerians in the motherland and worldwide; we must protest the offensive and stereotypical portrayal of Nigerians by the Cable News Network, CNN. Media houses are increasingly desperate for advertisers dollars. And as a result, they resort to sensationalisms and voyeurisms to attract readers and viewers, which in turn attract advertisers or sponsors.

We are outraged by CNN’s cavalier and most perversely convenient presentation of some Nigerians in Houston alleged to be engaged in unsavory activities. CNN’s presentation created the impression that Nigerians have a particular bent for identity theft crimes.

It is my belief that such portrayal is malicious and a demonstration of lazy journalism.

CNN is supposed to be a highly esteemed news network. I am are very disappointed that CNN chose to castigate and label Nigerians and Nigeria as CNN did, in a manner that suggested that Nigerians in America and Houston in particular are engaged in criminal activities in a pervasive way. Why does CNN paint Nigerians with such negative broad brush generalizations?

Nigerians are hardworking people and law abiding citizens in America and elsewhere in the world. It is journalistic irresponsibility on the part of CNN to portray Nigerians in Houston as if they posses a peculiar predisposition for identity theft crimes.

And as such, CNN has in an intellectually lazy storyline, portrayed Nigerians in Houston as some sorts of monolithic lot. Watching that CNN feature, one will come away with the impressions, that Nigerians in Houston are a bunch of bad guest in their host American communities. If a Nigerian medical doctor or a Nigerian lawyer was to say that she believed that Nigerians in a particular locality in America constituted forty percent of her particular profession, would that make it true, especially when such assertion is not supported with empirical data?

I am are certain that CNN and the rest of the world know or at least, ought to know that there are virtues and vices within every community on God’s earth.

I am are certain, as well, that CNN knows or has reasons to know that there are Nigerians in Houston who have excelled in various fields of human endeavors. There Nigerians in Houston and all over America, who are medical doctors, lawyers, nurses, taxi drivers, security guards.

CNN ought to be interested in Nigerians who have contributed immensely and added value to Houston and other communities in America that are host to Nigerians.

We suggest that CNN do a follow up story about Nigerians in Houston and other parts of America who are doing positive things.

There are Nigerians who are volunteers.

The overwhelming majority of Nigerians in Houston and other parts of America are law abiding, tax paying and voting neighbors of others as Americans or resident aliens.

CNN ha

s engaged is gross misuse of its renowned medium to disseminate stereotypical information about Nigerians. CNN engaged in an extremely perverse generalizations regarding involvement by some Nigerians in identity theft.

Were the folks at CNN interested in a fair or balanced story, CNN would have sought Nigerians in Houston who are involved in legitimate work. Some Nigerians in Houston and throughout America hold two jobs simultaneously.

CNN’s depiction of Nigerians in Houston and all of America, as specializing in fraudulent activities, including identity thefts is most offensive and unacceptable.

There are over two million Nigerian citizens residing in the USA, including bonafide Nigeria-American citizens and permanent resident. CNN and the world should be aware that the average Nigerian immigrant in America has a college degree and higher education in comparison to most, this, according to the United States Census Bureau.

Nigerians in America are employed and they continue to make meaningful contributions and continue to add value to their local communities here America. It is mischievous and a disservice to peoples of America and Nigeria, for CNN to create these wrong impressions about Nigerians who are in fact model immigrants.

CNN has engaged in pedestrian journalism with its generalizations about Nigerians. We are sure than CNN would not generalize about Italians Americans because of a few who are involved in organized crime or Mafia. And I am sure that CNN will not portray all Colombians in America as cocaine dealers, because of the act of a few Colombians. CNN knows that it will be wrong to portray every Afghan in America as a Taliban terrorist!

Nigerians worldwide object in the strong terms to CNN’s false and stereotypical depictions and negative portrayal of Nigerians carte blanche.

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Funke June 24, 2009 - 2:31 pm

Dont you see that white people dont steal?! I dont think so … i think that CNN has never really been known for doing the right thing anyway they just like to gloss coat things with a white wash gloss. Theft is not nice and thieves unless they repent and restore 7 times what they stole..will burn in Eternal Furnaces dont get me wrong, but we do need to call it as it is, if a white man steal he stealing.Some white folks boradcasters will tell you that that is not what it is.

DeNitra June 8, 2006 - 3:07 pm

I loved the report about Nigerian scams on CNN! It is my hope that they also address immigration fraud in the near future.


Asuquo Ema June 7, 2006 - 1:17 pm

What does the Enron scandal have to do with the CNN report on Nigerians in Houston committing identity fraud? I will always quote this saying "The truth is a bitter pill to swallow" and the truth is that Yes! there are a minority of Nigerians in this country that engage in nothing else but fraudulent activities. It's unfortunate that these minorities among us are the ones that always make the headlines. That same CNN documentary also pointed out that Nigerians are one of the most educated immigrants in this country even more educated than their white counterparts and so I don't think they were being biased aganist Nigerians.

The earlier we recognize the truth, the better it will be for all of us Nigerian immigrants here in this country. The same way we Nigerians are always quick to defend our reputation should be the same way we should be quick to get rid of the bad ones among us.

Ben Idris Alooma June 5, 2006 - 3:30 pm

Let's call a spade a spade. The Enron catastrophe in USA was totally exclusive of Nigeria or Nigerians in America. The Enron issue was not and should not be an excuse or license for nonsense for Nigerians in America (or anywhere in the world for that matter) to engage in fraudulent activity, drug dealing, 419 scam, credit card forgery, identity theft, criminal engagement, etc. Americans are Americans, Nigerians are Nigerians. Once an individual steps outside his/her country's geo-politcal boundary, each person is an "ambassador" of his/her country of origin. Granted the Nigerians involve in such criminal activities are very few but they still represent a sample of the entire Nigerian populace (statistically). Those criminal Nigerians represent Nigeria one way or the other, take it or leave it. Nigerians are just corrupt animals from their president(s) to their minister(s) to their governor(s) to their pastor(s), yo their imam(s), to their chief(s), to their professor(s)and all the way to their street beggar(s), period.

Those hardened criminals featured on CNN, even had the audacity to deny commiting the stated crimes, when their activities were clearly documented on video, for God's sake! Bunch of liars too! These are the same set of Nigerians who would be running around boosting, bragging, spraying, and squandering money on vanity.

I would expect the writer, Paul Adjie, as an intelligent and respected Nigerian to propose how Nigerians must remove the logs of corruptions in their eyes first before pointing at other nations internal pecks. Write or tell the truth and let the devil be ashamed. Why didn't you point out some good nationals in America who are not known for hardened crimes, for example the Jews. That notwithstanding, if all other citizens are known for commiting crimes, why can't Nigerians be known for not partaking in crimes?

Finally, I must confess that on the other hand, I know many hard working, truthful, respectable and dependable Nigerians all over America. Many are Doctors, Engineers, Professors, Chemists, Journalists, Pharmacist, Bankers, Entrepreneurs, etc. These very professional people are respected in their various chosen fields/ careers. These people must make sure that every bad element (rotten Nigerian) is flushed out of the community.

As the saying goes, " …. when the air is clean everyone breaths comfortably. All it takes is for one person to have foul air, the entire environment then stinks…". Alright, I made that saying up but it's a truism. Those minority bad Nigerians are truly making the majority good Nigerians look very bad. Get rid of them, expose them regardless of their position or your relationship with them —- president, minister, governor, pastor, brother, sister, son, daughter, friend, husband, wife, uncle, aunt, cousin, nephew, niece, club member, ethnicity, church member, mosque member, secret cult member, …….

Enron issue is completely unrelated to the CNN documentary. There is nothing to resent. Your country men and women commited the crime as charged, with prove. At present Nigerians can only defend themselves individually as non-crimnals. Good, progressive, enlightened and patriotic Africans must unite to clean up Africa and Africans — geographically, politically, medically, academically, morally, materially, physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, infrastructurally, militarily, etc. The back door mentality of expecting or thinking that the "whites" are going to develop and purify Africa is a major catastrophe. Until African countries have patriotic citizens and viable governments, the western world would continue to have field days on the continent and the inhabitants of or from the continent. Therefore do not blame CNN, look at the source. " A lame man was told that the load on his head is bent sideways. He answered, "you are looking at the load on my head while you are blind to see my legs below"


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