Disconnected From the Motherland

by Patricia Daboh

It is amazing to me that prior to marrying my Nigerian (Ijaw) husband I was so very disconnected from Africa–the Mother Land of all Africans and African Americans. Once in the course of receiving my Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management I took an African History course. I had several elective options of history courses in which to choose from, and I decided to take that one. Until that moment, I had known very little facts about Africa except that the first Africans, when captured and enslaved on ships, were brought to America and landed in Charleston, South Carolina. Living about an hour and a half from Charleston in Sumter, South Carolina, I had visited the African Markets where I saw Africans weaving baskets and displaying African garments and jewelry. I enjoyed walking through the African Market and marveled, like the Caucasian tourists were doing that the many items on the rows of tables were wonderful, full of vibrant colors and skillfully constructed. But I had no more connection to its history than many of the Caucasian tourists did, for I did not know much about Africa nor take the time to really learn more or become connected with any Africans. I mean I am not prejudice against Africans at all, but my family, which is extremely diverse consisting of African American, Jamaican, Caucasian, and Italians, did not have any experiences or interactions with Africans in particular.

I remember the first time I saw an African male was when I was a pre-teen growing up in Wildwood, New Jersey. He had come to Wildwood seeking employment for the summer months and stayed in a boarding house across the street from where my family lived. He boarded with a woman that I helped from time to time with her bus loads of people who would pour into her back yard, where picnic tables and umbrellas awaited them for a day of drinking, eating, and activities. They would leave her back yard and walk the five blocks to the beach, only to come back later and party–getting louder and louder as the evening wore on. The African man that I saw coming and going daily was very quiet. He did not socialize with too many people, and often I saw him sitting in his window as the sun was setting for the day, looking out as if he were sad. I wondered why he had come to a place where he did not know anyone. His accent was different, he was much darker in complexion than most people I knew, and not all that physically attractive. So to me, as a pre-teen, seeing Africa through his eyes was sad to me. I did speak to him whenever I saw him, and he was very friendly and seemed overjoyed that I cared enough to ask about his day. I have often wondered what happened to him, and I hope and pray he fared well in America. It was years before I saw another African person again.

Our family use to watch National Geographic all the time, and it was through that program that I discovered things about Africa. We loved watching the African animals in the wild–especially my mother. When they showed the African people, it was usually in the light of various tribes, who did not live in a civilized manner, such as we call civilized, for some of the tribes drank blood from cows and such things. When they showed the other Africans, which had evolved, for a lack of a better word, in their cultural rituals and behaviors, it was in the light of them being sick with AIDS, hungry, starving, lacking medical supplies and attention, walking miles for help and some dying along the way, and needing money, supplies, and missionary help for them to survive. So for years this was what I saw and knew of Africa. Sure, some Africans who could run exceptionally fast and long periods of time did well in America in the Olympics (which we admired), and some African models broke into the fashion industry as well. But in comparison to the many thousands of Africans left behind who faced poverty, hunger, and diseases, those successful Africans who made it were few.

In February, which is our Black History Month, was the time to purchase an African garment and wear it to some sort of celebration to salute our ancestral heritage. It is amazing how we did this year after year, and still we had no genuine and tangible connection with the Mother Land or its people.

When I told African Americans, who were my friends and co-workers, that I was engaged to my then fiancé, some of the first things they asked me is “Is he ugly, for you know those Africans are ugly?” Or they wanted to know if he could speak English, and of course, many of them asked, “Does he have AIDS”. I realize, through my personal experience in my past, and the many questions and negative comments concerning my engagement and then marriage to a Nigerian man, that many African Americans have misconceptions and prejudices against Africans. I told them if they can see the beautiful women and handsome Africans that I encountered in Lagos, Nigeria or see in the Nigerian movies, they would not assume that all Africans are ugly, for they are not! And as far as AIDS is concerned, does not America have many people that have AIDS also. No one should assume just because someone is from Africa that they have AIDS or carry a disease. But many African Americans think like that.

I was so impressed how many languages Africans can speak when I flew to Lagos, Nigeria to marry my husband. My husband speaks Ijaw (his tribal language), Yoruba, and English. Yet, most African Americans only speak English. Sure, we are required to take a foreign language to meet graduation requirements, but once we graduate and do not use what we learn, it is quickly forgotten in most cases. However, Africans live around various tribes and must do business with them on a daily basis–even it if it is to only go to the market and purchase a loaf of bread. Therefore, they educate themselves to other tribal languages in order to be able to communicate.

I observed how many Africans have adapted to their environment very well, for they endure high temperatures in the heat of the day. Once, my husband and I were driving down the rode and there were bush fires along the side of the road. I believe they started because the bushes were very dry and the temperature was high. Along side of those burning bushes, which burned in spots, walked women carrying buckets of water on their head with a baby strapped to their back. If African Americans were dropped off in that spot (along side of those burning bushes carrying a bucket on their head and a baby on their back) and told to endure, I know we probably could not! I came to, not only appreciate even more the many blessings that I have in America by having air-condition daily in my home, on my job, and in the car, but I also came to admire greatly the enduring power and determination of the daily survival of my African brothers and sisters. We just go to our faucets and turn on the water and it flows, but many Africans have to buy water for cooking, bathing, and cleaning and walk great distances (some of them) to get that water back home again.

My marriage to my Nigerian husband and my visit to Lagos, Nigeria has birthed an appreciation and great love for my African brothers and sisters. It is a shame that African Americans are very disconnected from the Mother Land, but look how long it took me to become connected myself. I am one African woman that will forever have one foot in America and one foot in her Mother LandAfrica!

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Tallman February 6, 2009 - 7:18 am

I am an African-American man who has NEVER had any problems or misconceptions about Africans. I am originally from a medium sized Southern city, and I do not recall having ever encountered any Black people who said disparaging remarks about Africans. My family always encouraged knowledge of history, roots, self and others so from that I have always had a respect for self and others as well. I have worked for Nigerian employers and I am currently dating a Nigerian-American woman I met while in grad school years ago who I will marry. I say all that to break this stereotypical image that we-African Americans- overwhelmingly have issues with Africans.

The author of this article stated some things that I take issue with:

-You incorrectly gave an account of Africans in the Charleston area ( i.e: The African Market )-those people are not Africans but Gullahs/Geechees

Gullahs/Geechees are descendants of primarily Mende speaking people from the present day country of Sierra Leone. They are definitely African-American.

-The first Africans bought to this country were bought to Jamestown, Virginia. Interestingly enough I am descended from Black people from that particular region myself on my mother’s side. They were not bought to Charleston

Nevertheless, my girlfriend and I have talked about these issues especially how will our future children be perceived by both cultures. Interestingly enough, through our conversations it seems that there will be more resistance from people outside of her immediate family ( particularly the infamous gossiping Aunties ) who hold unfavorable views of African-Americans. It’s sad but unfortunately though I have never called a Nigerian man or woman a disparaging name, I have been called an Akata and I have had cold receptions by people at Nigerian weddings and other cultural events I have attended. I have looked at other Nigerian websites and some of the things I have seen posted there about my people, African-Americans, have really upset me.

Personally I think that we need to have greater interactions between our people. There are definitely issues of ignorance on both sides perpectuated by what I believe is a desire to see one another as distinct when in actuality we are not. Case and point, the state of Virginia had a substantial amount of it’s slave population imported from the Bight of Biafra and a lot were Ibo. Interestingly enough my girlfriend is Ibo. The years of interactions with her family whom I view as my family have been nothing short of comparable primarily I believe because of a shared cultural link. Examples that have made both of us chuckle are:

-My family makes Rice and Stew too ( albeit it’s a tad bit different )

-The cultural place of children as being humble in the presence of elders

-The reverence for elders

-The way how we view family members such as cousins as brothers and sisters

-The use of proverbs to make a point

And believe me there are many more.

I say all of that to say that we as Black people especially in the United States of America need to focus on our commonality rather than our subtle differences. When the day is over in the eyes of the wider society, we the African-American, Nigerian-American, Haitian-American, Ghanaian-American are all Black. The racist white cop who sees a BMW with a Black driver on a lone country road and decides to harass it’s driver will not be more cordial because the driver’s last name is Nnaji rather than Jones. Remember that my fellow Nigerian and African-American brothers and sisters, we are all in the same boat.

Karla December 2, 2008 - 8:26 pm


I could have not stated your point more effectively.

Just the other day, I was sitting with a young couple who were making fun of how culturally sensitive I am. They were making fun of the language difference in some of the Africans (specifically Nigerians) they had come across. I said to the male of the two, “Do you speak another language?” He replied, “No.” I said, “Can you go to any country in Africa and work, building any kind of business?” He lowered his head in frustration and said, “No, but…this is America and they should speak English like we do.” I responded further by stating, “They do speak English. You’re referring to a pronounced accent which in no wise indicates that a person doesn’t speak proper English; nor does it necessarily indicate they aren’t able to articulate themselves. There are people like yourself that are American and I don’t understand what in the world you’re saying.” He became somewhat insulted and didn’t know where to go from there. After recognizing that I was engaging in abject ignorance, I backed up before becoming too heated in a conversation that would yield no intelligible feedback. Paradoxically, this male has a prison record and speaks with as you referred to as, “ghetto English”.

What saddens me is how in America there is freedom of education. Our ancestors have bled and died to obtain freedoms under our constitution, which were supposed to be automatically granted to us as human beings. Yet, so many Americans especially Black Americans don’t take advantage of these liberties out of pure laziness and disinterest.

You mentioned that we don’t know the history involved in being called “African Americans”. This is true. In the 1980’s Jesse Jackson coined this term with the intent to link Black Americans to a ‘homeland’ origin/ethnicity (ie: Caribbean, Dominican, Indian or Italian). Formerly saying one is Black indicates a racial identity rather than an ethnic origination, as there are Black Dominicans and White Dominicans, just as there are White Africans and Black Africans. Overtime, I think it has become more and more confusing to African Americans because of the lack of education about Africa on a whole and ofcourse history. The average African American doesn’t even realize that Africa is not a country, but a continent. Furthermore, as you said, they would not be able to name four African countries or their locations. We’ve been indoctrinated with images from the media of the continent of Africa being one big Sahara with animals and tribal peoples running all around with AIDS in starvation. Even this in itself is education – though false, dripping with propaganda – education through the media nonetheless.

Hence, I continue to wholeheartedly underscore that education is key….and oh, how wonderful it is! Knowledge is powerful, enlightening and refreshing. To be negligent in affording oneself of its treasures is insanity! Education opens minds and broadens horizons. This world is significantly bigger than any one human being’s backyard! This world is becoming more of a global community with all of the technology and means of international communication. This website is a prime example.

One of the biggest turn-ons I’ve experienced with Nigerian men/people is that they are some of THE most educated, hardworking people in the world! I have friends that are Nigerian that drive cabs, work blue-collar jobs or have small businesses, yet they have degrees in Engineering, Mathematics and Economics! If anyone were to engage them in intelligent conversation, they’d be pleasantly surprised! Thus, the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” I don’t say Black Americans aren’t intelligent– ofcourse not! I just think that we need to go beyond our nationalistic education and absorb other cultures to further accentuate our perspective of the world and the contributions we may make in it.

Patricia December 2, 2008 - 3:18 pm

@Karla, I appreciate your comments and understanding about what I was saying in my article. I wanted you to know what I created a “folder” labeled “Beautiful Comments”, and your comment is the first to be placed there. It feels good when someone reads your words and can identify with what you are saying. I also think it is a shame how our African History is NOT willingly taught in our schools, but it is offered, if it is offered at all, as an elective. If our parents are not educated about where our ancestors came from and do not take the time to tell us, and most of the Geographic Specials on television show Africans in a unfaborable light, then how are we to know anything positive about our own people. We are taught all the negative things about Africa (AIDS epidemic–as if we don’t have an epidemic right here in good old USA; hunger, fighting, etc). The good aspects of Africa are not taught. I am learning about Africa through my husband and my ever-growning African family, friends and associates. I am glad that you have met a wonderful Nigerian man, for there are many out there (contrary to many of the negative things one hears about Nigeria and Nigerian men). God bless you, Karla. And again, thank you, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to comment and share a part of your life. Patricia Daboh

Karla December 1, 2008 - 1:28 am

I think your submission was very well written. I could definitely relate.

I am a Native New Yorker and very culturally aware of many different ethnicities and cultures around me. However, here in Atlanta, it’s extremely segregated. One can live a very secluded life.

I think your experience as far as education about people in African nations is not unlike the education of many Americans. I think it is a shame. I also feel somewhat cheated by the American educational system in that I was not taught the truth….(about many things) The fear I felt when I first met a Nigerian was unsettling…and for what? For ignorance! All I could think of was all this negative stuff that I’d heard over time. Now as an educator and a counselor, I refuse to be governed by fear based on a general consensus of ignorance! I want to know the truth. Isn’t that what makes one educated – an avid pursuit of the truth? I welcome the opportunity to share with others what “the real deal” is when it comes to African nations and peoples. I also look forward to being able to assist other culturally diverse populations in marriage and family therapy when I establish my private practice.

A year ago, I had quite an exhilarating awakening: I met a very tall, handsome, Nigerian man that swept me off my feet. He had a very deep voice with a heavenly accent, tinged with British flavor! When we met he was a Consultant. He has two masters degrees and he speaks at least 3 different languages, one of which is German and fluent English. He’s extremely well-traveled globally; a very distinguished, stylish gentleman. He loves my family and he’s very affectionate. He did not need papers or a green card from me or anything. He didn’t con me or scam me or ask me for any money. I never had to go into my pocket to help him pay for anything. He didn’t try to jump into my pants or move in with me or concern himself with how much money I was making. He didn’t have a criminal record or a string of baby-mamas or bills he wanted me to help him pay. He sang to me and made me laugh like no tomorrow. He’s youthful and knowledgeable, trendy and sophisticated. We prayed together, discussed our children and planned many things. He introduced me to everyone both here and in Nigeria. He asked nothing of me, except that he would be able to trust me always.

In fact, after meeting him and developing a very close relationship, I realized how many other Nigerians I knew around me. Quite frankly, there is good and bad in every country and culture. No one culture, race or ethnicity should be put down on a whole. However, I think complementarities are experienced within certain cultural values relative to what an individual finds important. It’s very hard for a Black professional woman to find a Black American man that has some of the ideals, values and commitment ethics I’ve seen in some Nigerian men. I like the fact that certain cultures understand what is involved in taking care of a woman, maintaining close family ties and achieving the best possible life – not for purposes of self-indulgence to points of glutton’s excess, but to make a difference in other lives everywhere. After being with him, I foresee great difficulty engaging again in a romantic relationship with an African American man.

It’s so important to me that my Nigerian guy understand the cultural differences between us, so that they don’t hinder the greatness that can evolve from our union. For me, money is nice; I love beautiful things, but my heart is not governed by the value of money. My goals are more altruistic. I used to think that he was very materialistic but I’ve taken the time to understand his culture, because he’s important to me. I had to learn we have similar altruistic objectives; however his cultural background lends to a different pursuit, expression and retention of these goals. I think he’s fantastic! I constantly remind him to focus on the future and the things that money can’t buy…the intangible things that when he’s old, he’ll want to know matters. I want him to be assured that there will be someone by his side that will care for him to share in better and worse. Hopefully that will be me!

sultan November 25, 2008 - 11:05 pm

wow!every contributor here has made great points!as for me,im fully Nigerian,based in the US currently,and i know for sure,i will certainly marry a non Nigerian…most probably an american/partial american!i love my country,i love and respect Nigerian women,but my desire to marry a non Nigerian…has always been my inner preference….i have always had this mind right from when i was little!people marry foreigners for different reasons, but 4 me,its always been an inner urge/desire to see my children have a cojoint of global cultures.some say ‘i just want to cause problems for my children’ but i dnt belief that.i mean marrying a Nigerian is not a guarantee that my children will not go thru the challenges of life too.its just the way i am and feel.i hv thought hard about it, and i know that is what will give me that intrinsic fulfillment(of course i must marry for love and all the right reasons)

Jamara Newell November 21, 2008 - 3:52 pm

I like the authors writing style but she relied on so many of the faulty tropes one hears but never experiences I have to say it sounds made up. Considering how common African American – Nigerian relationships are especially on college campuses I find it hard to believe she came across these reactions.

Unknown October 15, 2008 - 6:14 pm

You know what you are ignorant yourself for making the comments you stating in your reading because for one we are african americans and we are the same aficans and african americans the only difference is we were separated from each other by whitesssss so get your facts straight whoever you are and you are just as ignorant as the americans you call ignorant if you think we are racist there is always a reason behind someones thought and the reason some african americans are ignorant to the facts are because in certain parts of the us the whites control the schools systems and what is being thought too us american africans and they filtered our minds with all the negative bullshit about african yeah we may have just belived them they also dont teach the bible in our schools which is wrong because the bible tell you why you were separated with different laguages and different countries the whites fed you all bullshit about us just like they did to us and we too beleived just like you did, we have some damn good wives that dont give men headaches and if you did give any one a headache it because they are perputrating the exact african style that you so call say they are not part of when they deal with more than one women which I belive is rediculous have one mate keep one mate and that is the reason why aids and hiv is spread thru out the country because of multiple sex partners and drug addiction aid was also create by a white person in the military base in maryland and it was tested on a african because they wanted to destroy all blacks period african or american blacks and that is why people belive that all i can say is you need to do your background check becuase if you think you can judge a person with out true facts your wrong just like all racist people no one is saying you need to educate anyone but at least you will know why they believe what they belive an just maybe you come to realization as to why people are igornat to the faacts baby just like you have a poor part of africa we have a poor part is the us designed by whites to limit our learning abilities and to create us to hate each other so they can make us destroy each other so they can continue to take over the damn world dont you know that whites dont like us african american or african reason they be nice and deal with the few they do is becuase you have what they want from african the natural resources oil and other things and they have to get along with someone in order to receive those benefits.

Lorielle Batiste February 20, 2008 - 3:39 am

I love your comments to Patrcia’s article. Even though, you tried not to pick sides, it was obvious that you were more partial to have Africans are viewed and our misconceptions of all Africans ( not just Nigerians). It is nice to know that you did acknowledge how Africans are also ignort to the history and all that was overcome here in American. The truth of the matter is, we did not ask to come here. I guess our ancestors were at the wrong place at the wrong time. LOL! Some of the comments and views you made about African-Americans and how Africans that come here view us, are true. However, one must always ask themselves, if I was born there and eperienced the same things they have, how would I be? the truth is you do not know. It is wasy to look at someones actions, behaviors or predjuices and judge, but it is not until both sides have walked in each others shoes, will they understand. Growning up with a single mom who has sacrafice everything so that I was able to go to school, I know how hard it can be living in the US and tryin gto get ahead. People from other countries come here and think it is so easy, but they have not had to live here ther whole life and do not have families that have trapped in a stuck way a life in which the US is built around. Once , people from other countries have been here for 20 years are more, they might start to experience what I am talkng about. Well, with americans ( blacks in particulary) multiply that by 5. What I mean is the US is on the outside appears to be the land of the free where everything is possible. However, the system is design for it to come to you easy, but in the process you might loose it quick or be in debt all your life. In blacks case, this gets passed down over the years and creates a cycle. This is something that people from any other country that come here do not have to experience.

Lorielle Batiste February 20, 2008 - 3:18 am

To: Mrs. Adaeze Ochonogor

Your response to Patricia’s Article is written very well and many of the things you say are definately true. I am a creole black female her in Houston, Texas. Due to the large African ( particularly Nigerian) poplulation, I have experienced all of this. I will admit, I have been guilty of not the name calling, but getting frustrated with the cultural differences. However, I constaly work on myself and try not to pint the figure. By reading your article, I can tell ( even though you did not say it), that you also have negative views of African- Americans. However, I do not judge you for that. We all have different backgrounds and history that shape our views and thoughts. It is a hard cycle to brake. The truth is that Aficans are the same way they accuse African- Americans of being. We are all guilty of it. In fact, I often see Africans racism against othe Africans and tribes. As far as you saying that Asians, Spanish, and Whites do not comment on features and looks with in there on race, that is no true. Asians have alot in common with blacks. They are extremely prejudice against other asians because they are darker, larger noises, big feet, etc. Spanish people face the same things. If you really talk to many spanish people from any country as well as asians they can tell you many stories that will sound similar to what we as blacks go through. Hispanics in America are prejudice against Mexicans. So, do not choose blacks and say that they are the only one guilty of this, because the truth is that everyone is. We probably just focus on our on kind more , because that is what is in our face most often. On the flip side of that, Africans ofetn fo the same thing they complain about to African-Americans. Just like there might be things they do not know about Africa, there are many sub cultures and ways that Africans just do not understand because they did not grow up here. It is a two way street. I often encouter Africans who do not understand or who are ignorant about my creole culture. they might have heard of it, but do not truly know all the history and the cultural aspects of it. This comment in know way is to be confrontational and we might not agree on everything, just please open your eyes that all cultures and races face the same problem and everyone is guilty of what you have single African-Americans only of being. To do that would be naive and not being true to yourself. If everyone admits that some of there beliefs, views, and actions at some point have or can be ignorant, we can all start to better ourselves, not as a race, but as mankind.

Patricia Daboh January 8, 2008 - 4:12 pm

I remember my 5th grade teacher.

Kandie January 8, 2008 - 2:24 pm

Hear Hear my brother…that is the answer…we are all pawns in the game until we learn to love each other. White people still manage to divide and conquer. In American it is light skin against dark skin. Internationally its, African AMerican against Africans….wake up people….we are a house divided that is falling no matter how you look at it. Africa is one of the richest countries in the world yet they suffer. African Americans have all the resources to succeed at their disposal yet we are sluggish in our pursuit.

Patricia November 20, 2007 - 9:26 pm

COMMENT MADE ON 11/20/07. I have learned as a writer that there will be some people that will really hear and appericate what you are trying to relay through your words, experiences, and heart, and there are others (like yourself) that do not see the meaning. I am not going to try and justify myself by trying to convince you that I love Africa, for that is not important to me. What is important to me is knowing that I simply do. I am Black and no amount of years of being married to my Nigerian husband can make me fully African, for I was not born in Africa. My family is extremely diverse culturally. One brother is married to an Italian girl, and the other brother is married to a Jamacian girl. Both my nephews have children by white girls, and I am married to a Nigerian man. I also come from a line of Irish and Blackfoot Indian (wow!). Should I just throw all those other cultures (especially the ones that are directly in my family through birth) to solely embrace my African heritage. I am Black, a descendent of African, Blackfoot Indian, and Irish (all three). When I married a Nigerian man, I did not, and will not just forget those facts, for they make me who I am too. I am also not in a contest to prove that I love Africa, African people, or anyone.

As long as I know that I do and

God knows that I do, that is what counts. No more tears when I write, for my writing comes from my unique experiences and my heart. If you are offended by it or feels I contradict myself, then that is just that–your persoal opinion. However, I feel good about anything I dare to share with the world, and this is one of those articles. God bless!

Patricia Daboh

Anonymous November 20, 2007 - 7:54 pm

Have you really sat down and read what you have post on this site. You contridict yourself many times. You say you love Africa but from what I have read you feel very low about Africa and it culture. I really think you need to appreciate it for what it is. I encounter my first African in college and because of the way that I was brought up. I befriended him. We had a good friendship and I enjoyed listening to what he had to say about his culture. I also have a cousin that is Nigerian and I love him just as much as I love my American born realitives. Now that I have married an Nigerian and have visited Africa I can appreciate what my fore fathers went through. I want to learn as much as I can about the culture because I have and always have had personal interest in my hertiage because my Grandfather was an African and once I was told that I wanted to learn of my culture because I wanted to know about what my Grandfather experienced. As far as my husband and I are concerned I am an African. The US considers me an Afican American but that is for goverment purposes only. To them I am Afican. To me I have been and always will be AFRICAN. Because up my religous background I been taught that we are all God's Children regardless of race, creed, or national orgin. From this article I gather that you only recently accepted your African culture because of your marriage to a Nigerian. I am shocked to learn that you are just now accepting your hertiage at this late date. Were you not taught Black History in house. I understand you have multiple races in your extended family. Do you think poorly of them and their hertiage? Why is that you think so harsh of the African culture and the way they live. I went to Nigeria myself and rather than expose the proverty that I saw, I chose to talk about the beauty of it. Some of the things that I saw that I felt were not familiar to me I chose not to comment on or judge. What I saw made me realize that I was spoiled to the White man's way of living. I know that my family members once lived this way as well. I remeber times when I was a child that we had to carry water into the house. I even drunk well water. I remeber when we got our first indoor bathroom and didn't have to go outside to use the bathroom. So these things were not foreign to me. I think that we as Americans should travel abroad and experience the beauty of other cultures. To learn from them not demoralize them. America is not perfect and we have our own issuses of proverty to deal with. We have some the same issuses of proverty here as you seen in Nigeria. I plan on return to Nigeria as often as I can. I really enjoyed myself while I was over there. Nigeria is home as well as America. I am a Nigerian citizen by marriage and American citizen by birth and I love both.

IKE EZIOKWU July 26, 2007 - 9:42 pm

My comment is for UDUAK and Mrs. Ochonogor, I have little time. But I wish to a say a few things about your responses.

1. Black people (worldwide) are not ready to confront white people on the system of racism white supremacy which is the ill of all ills that all global white people suffer from.

2. ATTACKING black people in a system of racism white supremacy is counter-productive. Its like two prisoners who fight while the guard is away, although they both are in the same prison.

3. According to counter-racist logic, everything that has happened to black people (worldwide) that shouldnt have happened to them, based on evidence, can be attributed to white people.

4. AFRICANS or BLACK people, who are categorized all as non-white in this system, dont confront white people about what white people have done to put them all in the circumstances that they are in.

5. SELF-HATRED is symptom of the system of racism white supremacy.

6. ALL AFRICANS (NON-WHITE) should see white people about the problems of all black people, and also the problem of all AFRICANS.




Uduak Ekanem July 10, 2007 - 7:32 pm

Hello Patricia

Your article was very interesting and also very informative about the misconceptions African Americans have about we Africans. I also commend you for being very candid and honest about your own experiences in Nigeria while visiting your future husband.

Your article raises very serious issues about two different groups of people – African Americans (Black Americans) and Africans. Yes, we are two different groups of people – We may have similar physical features but we come from two very different cultural backgrounds. The moment we begin to understand that we come from two different cultural backgrounds, then we can begin to appreciate each other and acknowledge the struggles we have gone through because right now we are very ignorant of each other.

I am now going to inform you how we Africans (mostly Nigerians) think about African Americans. There is a proverb that says " The truth is a bitter pill to swallow" and I am going to tell you the gospel truth. Africans that migrate here to the United States mostly look down upon African Americans. They regard them as people that have no culture. In the 1960's and 70's a name was created by African students that came to study in the U.S to refer to African Americans as "Akata". I have been told that this word "Akata" is actually a yoruba word that means "Stuborn Monkey". This derogotary word is still being used today mosty by West Africans to refer to African Americans. I am very sure your husband has heard this word before. As far as I am concerned this word falls in the same category as "Nigger". Africans that are in the U.S sort of have this superiority complex towards African Americans and even people in the Carribean. They believe that they (Africans) are the true "Africans" in every sense of the word and as I earlier said, they look down upon African Americans as lazy people with no ambition or cultural identity.

I am not taking sides with any group – African Americans or Africans. I believe we both have to learn from each other.

We Africans can be very ignorant also. We migrate here to the United States but we don't want to acknowledge the struggles African Americans have made that made it possible for black people like us to come here and make a life for ourselves and family. Most African immigrants don't even know of Jim Crow laws that existed in the south that institutionalized racial segregation and made it the law. All we know is the slave trade – that blacks were put on slave ships and shipped to the new world. We don't know the history of the country we have migrated to and how unfair America was to black people. I myself was very ignorant when I migrated to this country in 1993. It wasn't until I started watching documentary shows like PBS – "The rise & fall of Jim Crow", "The murder of Emmitt Till" and other important programs that I suddenly realized how ignorant I was of American history and what black people have gone through here. African Americans indeed have paved the way for Africans like me to migrate to this wonderful country. How ignorant I was!!! I was blind but now I can see!!!

African Americans on the other hand are also very ignorant. You call yourselves "African Americans" but you don't know anything of the African continent? Why? Pick up a book!!! Go on the internet!!

Why do you call yourselves "African Americans"? Is it because you want an identity? People in the Carribean don't even refer to themselves as "African Carribean" and yet their culture is even similiar to the African culture. Even the blacks in Europe (London to be exact) don't refer themselves as "African British". They rather prefer the term of "Black British". White Americans can go ahead and refer to themselves as "European Americans" because it's obvious that they all migrated from Europe but they are not insecure of their identity as African Americans are. In the 1960's when my parents were students in this country blacks were first referred to as "Negro" then "Afro" but now it's the politically correct term "African American" I was shocked to read that some people were asking you if your husband was ugly and could he speak English. Please inform those people that if it wasn't for the trans atlantic slave trade that ocurred they would be speaking a west african language (Most of the slaves were taken from West Africa) and also most likely would have a darker skin pigmentation. Also remind them that Africans have their own language – English and other European languages (French, Portugese and Spanish) are the colonial languages that were imposed on us by the colonial and slave masters. The slaves that were shipped from Africa weren't speaking English when they arrived on the shores of Charleston South Carolina. They were speaking an African language. I am appalled that African Americans will have this superiority complex towards Africans and ask such questions about whether we speak English when they themselves don't speak the "Queens English" but the now popularized "Ebonics" or can I say "Ghetto English". It will surprise you to know that when parents in Nigeria send their kids to the U.S to study they tell them not to socialize with black Americans because they don't want them speaking what they regard as "Ghetto English". Wearing an African traditional attire during black history month doesn't make one more African or aware of Africa. Take a trip back to an African country to see for yourself instead of relying on the discovery channel that shows nothing but malnourished children. There are thousands of malnourished black children here in the United States that we never get to see on television. Discovery channel will never should you middle class Africans that have regular jobs, attend universities and are very knowledgeable about the outside world despite the fact that they live in a third world country. Ask an African American to name five countries in Africa and you will be lucky if he or she can even name two but yet they refer to themselves as "African Americans". There is more to just having an identity for the sake of having one. One has to know more about your roots – dig in a little bit. Take a trip and see for yourself what Africa is really about – It's not all about "We come from Kings and Queens" – There is more to it – Visit Ghana, Senegal, Togo or Nigeria where most of the slaves were taken from and shipped across the atlantic. Visit the local people and see more what africa and the african people are all about and then that's when you can appreciate where your roots are and why you call yourself an "African American"

Patrica please pardon me if I appear to be very harsh but I just want to say it as it is. The point I am trying to make here is that both groups of people – African Americans and Africans have to come together and learn more about each other because right now we are totally ignorant of each other. We shouldn't rely on common sterotypes to make opinions of ourselves – Bottom line – We are all BLACK and live in this country together. We should learn to live in harmony together as the "One People that we were originally supposed to be" Please say "AMEN" to that my sister!!!!

I would like to get a response from you. Be expecting me to comment on your articles. My regards to your husband and stepson. Have they arrived in the country yet?

Blue Penn July 9, 2007 - 8:01 pm

To commentor#5 maybe you should examine the ills that plague most African societies rather than your ego-ethno-centritic tirade against African-Americans. Once tribalism, ethnicide, government corruption and fake elections are laid to rest on the continent you may be in a better position to critique African-Americans until then you're just blowing bad wind in a hurricane.

It appears to be a common occurrence on a lot of web-sites(African) that this "African vs. African-American" or vice-versa is a recurring theme. Africans are always the victims of A.A. hatred and from the Black American publications I've read there usually made mention of A.A.'s reaching out to their A-bretheren but unfortunately the reverse is never stressed. African immigrants appear to be catching a lot of hell from A.A.'s in America, Jamaican/Caribbeans in England or Europe and more recently from the Black indigenous-native Aborigenies in Australia.

No one, it appears ,ever makes reference of the relationships that work between A's and A.A.'s but stress heavily on the negatives.

poshposh July 9, 2007 - 4:20 pm

The article,response to the said piece is like different people put blind folded at different sides of an elephant.Everyone saw the animal from different points.Some saw it from the trunk describing it as very slim and long,others felt the feet,expressing it's sturdiness,for some it was the side,therefore descibing it as being huge and untouchable.Following the writer's piece since she wrote here has been very enlightening,entertaining,emotinal,informative,political,racial,religious and most importantly RESPONSIVE.

Responsive because,it has people responding.After reading all implusive,angry,intelligent,rasict,insensitive and sensitive pointthe matter is that everyone istitled to their own opinions,however anyone feels about that.Every respondent made very valid points and raised pertinent questions that require deep soul searching to answer.

Owena July 9, 2007 - 4:57 am

@ Julius. Na wa o! I have not been to Jo'burg before but which part of Lagos is like NY?

@Patricia. Many thanks for your observations in this particular article but don't you think it would have been better served on an African-American board, confronting those who have ignorant attitudes about Africans rather than informing us? Don't get me wrong. I, as a Nigerian woman enjoy reading your experiences about being married to a man from a totally different cultural background but at times it does seem to me as though you are trying to elicit some sort of praise for going against the norm of your people from us when really many couldn't give two hoots about it. You are one of millions who have done so; In fact I believe that in 20 years or so a good percentage of the worlds population under 30 will have some fresh Nigerian blood running through their veins..lol! I already have Jamaican, Jewish and Oyibo English young relatives and it is a thing that is becoming the norm now here in the Western hemisphere where Nigerians are concerned.

I am probably speaking for myself but if you must write about it how about telling us how you yourself cope with having a Nigerian husband, especially someone who, I assume, from reading your posts has never been to a Western country before? Correct me if I am wrong on this aspect. How are you coping with being married to man that you initially did not meet before deciding to marry him? Does he want you to become more ‘Nigerian’ to fit in with his way of life or is he willing to become more ‘American’ in order to fit in with yours? How do you communicate with his family, his mother etc? Has he met your family yet and how have they received him? Are there some things that you DON’T like about Nigerian, or specifically Ijaw culture and feel that you can’t get with? Of course feel free to tell me to mind my own business if you find the above questions too intrusive as it is not my intention to offend. In any case keep on writing because even though I did not find this one particularly informative, the others in my opinion are highly so.

Mrs. Adaeze Ochonogor July 9, 2007 - 1:17 am

You see Patricia, though your article is well written, everything you said in your article is something we Africans already know. The ignorance and the hatred towards Africans by Black Americans is something that we Africans are long aware of. And frankly speaking, as a result, there are Africans out there too that do NOT like Black Americans. I can't blame them because why like a group of people who don't like you? I was still in Europe when I found out from friends who have visited the United States (but don't live here) that this hatred is going on. I was shocked because I did not know that human beings can be so ignorant and hateful over nothing. I even had an acquitance of mine, an international model from Kenya, back then when I resided in Europe, tell me that she can NEVER reside in the United States because she will face far more rascism than what she is facing in Germany. I asked her how so? she said that in Germany, you only have to put up with white people's rascism wheras in the United States, you have to put up with rascism from white and Black Americans. In other words, a double dose. I definately see her point now that I live here. I realized that American whites (those that are not rascist of course) are much better people than Black americans. Black Americans are some of the worst set of rascists that I have ever met in my life. Your people complain about white people's rascism but your people practice equal or more rascism than the whites that they accuse of being rascist. Talk about being a hypocrate! Black Americans have problems with white people being rascist towards them and calling them n*ggers but they have no problems calling Africans "monkeys", "AIDS stricken" (how ironic since it was reported that in the United States, most HIV victims are Black Americans and NOT whites, hispanics or Asians) and "ugly" and that we live on the tree. All I can say is this, as long as black Americans continue to be the rascist hypocrates that they are, they will never find peace here in America. We have an adage, that says, "A child who does not let its mother sleep will not sleep also". Black Americans will continue to suffer rascism in America as long as they continue to make other black people's lives miserable. When I go on other Nigerian forums, I noticed that each time there is a controversy which involves a white person making a rascist statement about Black Americans, most of the forumites who are Nigerian/African DO NOT sympathize with Black americans. Sometimes, they even take the side of the white person who made the controversial seemingly rascist comment. Why should they sympathize with a group of people who treat us worse than the whites And whom we have NOTHING in common with other than the skin color? And so what if we have the same skin color? Pigment does not shape one's mind. It is someone's culture, ethinicity and the society one grew up in that shapes us as individuals. As far as I am concerned, I don't even know why Black Americans call themselves "African Americans"? that is an insult if you ask me! You don't see the white americans calling themselves European Americans now do you? we all know their ancestors came from Europe. How many times have you heared a white American make deragatory comments regarding the European's looks? Never. Because they know that they share the same physical features. How many times have you heared the Asian American or Hispanic American make deragatory comments about Asians in Asia or Latinos in South America? Never! Because they know they share the same physical traits. Black Americans are the only ones who make deragatory statements about the African's traits even though we share the same physical traits. Is that normal? no. I seriously believe that maybe the black people here in America have a mental problem. And that is why I sometimes think that their ancestors did NOT originate from Africa. It can't be. Why Black Americans have the African's physical features remains a mystery to me! I wish your people did not have our features and hair texture. I really wished! As for what julius said regarding educating black Americans, I say puleese! educate what? Is that my duty to educate ignorant black people from the west? Black Americans can think whatever they want about Africans for all I care. The same way you cannot change the rascist minds of those white people who are rascist, so I cannot change the rascist mind of the Black American. Like En vogue sang in their song "free your mind and the rest will follow". Though that song was meant for white Americans but I think Black Americans should take their own advice. I don't have time to educate anybody. People can drown in their pool of ignorance for all I care. I just feel sorry for those Africans marrying Black Americans because they don't know what they are getting themselves into. They are better of marrying whites if you ask me. With all the head ache that Africans have to endure from black Americans at their places of employment, at school, colleges and universities, even in church, the last thing the African needs is to marry that head ache into their lives. That is the quickest route to an early grave. There is nothing worse than marrying a person who is a member of an ethinic group or nationality that dislikes your own people. Nothing worse if you ask me! As a matter of fact, I would never want to marry into a family that is rascist. It does not matter whether the rascist is black or white. I don't like the idea of procreating with someone who is the offspring of a black or white rascist. That will be the biggest mistake of my life. I hope Africans open their eyes when they choose life partners and choose carefully. We don't want to end up with children that tomorrow will grow up and consider us monkeys who live on tress. LOL

Patricia July 8, 2007 - 7:30 pm

To answer the person who made Comment #3, Yes, I distinctly remember first seeing an African male when I was a pre-teen growing up in Wildwood, New Jersey. I did not say that I recognized him solely by his physcial appearance (that is no where written in my article), but his accent, and his appearance (he dressed in African attire), allowed me to identify that he was from Africa.

Why are you offended by my "honest account of my journey toward discovering my African brothers and sisters and the Mother Land?

I am being very honest about the fact that it took me years to really realize that I was very disconnected from Africa, which was a result of, in large part, how Africa was portrayed on television specials I saw growing up.

I defend my husband, and especially Nigeria, with its reputation continually. He is the love of my life, and Nigeria is a "burning passion in my soul".

You may not like what I said, and you have a right to your opinion, but I am one honest African American woman that is saying that many African Americans have misconceptions and prejudices against Africans. And I discovered this, shockingly, when I became engaged and married to my Nigerian husband. How do I know African Americans have many misconceptions and prejudices against Africans, by the many negative comments and ridiculous questions I am asked about my husband and stepson. My own mohter refuses to let them come into her house once he gets over in America–how sad!

You are fighting me for my honesty, and here I am fighting for my husband, stepson, and Nigeria's acceptance. Now I find that totally amazing!

Anonymous July 8, 2007 - 4:25 pm

its amazing to me that you can actually remember when you first saw an "African" are we physically so different that we can be noticed before we speak?

Anonymous July 8, 2007 - 12:06 pm

The White man who controls the media (BBC, NBC, ABC, CNN etc) and what you see and know about the world around you, want to continue to keep us (Africans and (African-Americans) divided by stirring up hate, distrust and shame amongst us. They have always being doing it. Even in africa. we call it 'divide and rule'. The average white reporter comes to Africa; Nigeria, kenya, Uganda etc stays in the Hilton Hotel, Sheraton and several other state-of-the-art hotels that rival those in the Western World and when he is going to do his reporting, goes to the villages and hamlets that we (Africans) dont know exist in our country and report! Several of my friends that work in the Western media have told me how during editorial conferences, when they bring up the idea of bringing positive stories about Africa, such suggestions are always dismissed or ignored becoz that it is not news worthy! Some continue to shut up and put up. Others decided to leave when it became too much for them. When America wonders why they are so hated around the world today and I marvel. Britain do the same but they are more diplomatic, subtle and devious about theirs. America is 'in your face!' Its becoz of their arrogance and pride. They believe and behave as if they are better than others even in their hosts' country. Mind you, Im not being jealous. There is no denying America is a great country but must they rub other peoples noses in it? They are some people that you do that to that will just look and you and do nothing, instead just hope for a few opportunities to be allowed to be the same (great) but there are some others that couldnt care less about how great you say or think you are and want to kill, maim and destroy all things American. Im definately not a sympathiser of such groups but until America changes the way it looks and teaches about other cultures, its going to continue to have these problems.

As for you my sister, I commend you on bothering to reach out to know about African(Nigerian) culture. Keep it up. God bless you. I wish you and your husband many more (united) years together.

Julius July 7, 2007 - 7:56 am

Your piece was excellent. I have had a lot of problem trying to reeducate some of my african american friends that Africa is not just a land of thick forest and animals, I told them that if they get to Lagos or Johanesburg they will hardly be able to differentiate it from New York. I really don't know why my african american brothers dislike africans so much, my brothers discriminate against me more than the whites. I think one of their believe is that we are here to steal their jobs, but no africans in general work hard, they study hard but my african american brothers and sisters just refuse to go to school, yet they accuse we africans of stealing their jobs. I hope one day they will learn that we need eachother. And Patrice, thank you for enlightening your people, please tell them that we love them, we want to connect with them, we want to help them find their real root, tell them to stop looking down on us because some of us are extremely smarter than even the whites they submit to. Finally, tell them that motherafrica awaits the unification of the entire black race. God help africa and africans.


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