After almost ten months in Nigeria I decided to relocate back to the United States. And after all these months – and in spite of the general scarcity, insecurity, misery, anarchy, depravity, and sadism that characterizes the country – I still love it. I love my country, I love Nigeria. But regrettably, love, nationalism and patriotism are not enough. It is not defeat, but pragmatism and common sense that nailed my thinking. I have done all there is for me to do to fit in and have a comfortable life; but sadly, things are not working out the way I expected (in terms of employment, contracts, and a few other necessities).
I left Nigeria for the US for the first time by way of Spain, Portugal, and Brazil in the summer of 1970. It was the year the Nigerian civil war ended. The ninth FIFA World Cup took place in Mexico, with Brazil beating Italy 4 to 1. Gamal Abdel Nasser dies and Anwar Sadat took over the reign of Egypt. Soviet author Alexnader Solzhenitsyn is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The world’s population stood at 3,692,492,000, and that of Africa was 357,283,000. And some of Africa’s great — Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and others were beginning to impact the global scene.
This time around, I flew into the US by way of London and Amsterdam where my two ex-wives live. Though a changed man, I once believed in and practiced polygamy. That was in the 1960s through mid-80s. In today’s world, multiple-marriage is no longer acceptable; but having a mistress or a concubine is. Some men I know in the US, UK Germany, Sweden and Canada wish the law permits polygamy. That way they won’t have to keep sneaking around from one bed to another, hiding their illicit acts. There are several advantages to multiple marriages, with only a few downsides. What these advantages and disadvantages are, I am not going to say. Let’s leave it to the imagination.
If at all possible, a man should have one wife, plus a mistress. That’s it. In places like Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and in the Washington DC area, there are Africans with multiples wives. It is an informal arrangement no one says anything about. Some “housewives” know about their husband’s other wives, but simply keep quiet about it. But in some cases, the wives are not aware of the other women even though in generally women know men are generous when it comes to things like that.
Even so, some women — for lack of a better word — are as terrible as men in their taste for adventure and promiscuity. They will hit whatever needs to be thumped. By the way promiscuity in itself is not a bad thing. One ought to be able to sleep around, but just be sure to sleep with the right persons in terms of class, intellect and overall social standing. There was is guy in Ibadan — a medical doctor, married to a lawyer — who is in the habit of banging only his housemaids. And then there is an acquaintance in Kaduna: a noted investment banker (his wife a law professor), who was always doing it to fish sellers in the local market. Sometimes you can never tell with some men. Anything in skirt will do.
I arrived in South Dakota two weekends ago. It is my new base. And I am just about to open a used-car lot. I am also in the process of exporting Chinese made goods to the ECOWAS market. Surprisingly, there is not a single Nigerian in my neighborhood. I guess this time no one is going to be complaining about how loud and brash and unduly aggressive Nigerians are. I can’t begin to tell you how many times fellow Africans have complained about how Nigerians engage in self-promotion and other self-serving endeavors. Some Africans say these things about Nigerians out of anger and jealousy; but at most times they say it out of respect and measured wonderment.
And I cannot begin to count how many times I have heard people from all walks of life speak of Nigerians as though Nigerians are a different group of beings; as though they are God’s chosen children. Within such circle the Nigerian identity is like a key, a pass that allows one into restricted and forbidden zones; at other times and in other circles being a Nigerians is an impediment, a mark that says “watch out!” Either way one look at it, being a Nigerians is a privilege, a blessing, a curse and joy all rolled into one.
Now that I am back in the United States of America — and you may call my move a defeatist move — I intend to shed my inhibitions and then summarily acclimatize. I have been a Nigerian-American all these years. The vast majority of my friends are Nigerians. I watch mostly Nigerian movies and listen to Nigerian music. I wear mostly Nigerian attires when the weather permits. I think in Yoruba and Ijaw and in Pidgin English. I don’t remember ever visiting the home of non-Nigerians, especially non-Africans. But from now on, I want to fully integrate, become an American in body and in soul.
My new found love and affinity for Americanism aside, I will always remember Nigeria. I will always love her. But the time has come for me to embrace all the opportunities, ideas and ideals that America has to offers. I work hard and pay my taxes, I obey the law by playing by the books, and I vote and engage in other civic duties. I do everything and believe in everything American. Why after all these years have I held myself back, limited myself from partaking in the American dream. It is never too late to begin now.
God bless America and her people. God bless Nigeria and her people, too.