“I wonder the way you guys think a times; having Nigerian names doesn’t make me a bit Nigerian. I have grown to know no other country but Britain”. Man is not measured by the size of the chest but by the quality that comes out of him, hence, his nationality, pride, and patriotism are dependants of his heart and not on geographical location. The Holy book says in Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life”.
A friend from Northern Ireland introduced to me his girlfriend whom he had spoken highly of several times in my presence. He once told me that the lady is everything to him and that he wishes to spend the rest of his life with her. Since he’s white himself, when he told me once that her girlfriend is a Zimbabwean I immediately wanted to ask if she’s white or black but quickly cautioned myself not to give an impression, so I was eagerly waiting to meet her.
When the white Zimbabwean lady and I got talking I did not just discover that she’s black in the inside but that she loves Zimbabwe with passion and still very much ready to migrate back to Zimbabwe as soon as the despot Robert Gabriel Mugabe is ousted. She’s an economic migrant in the UK who was forced out of Zimbabwe by Mugabe’s excruciating economic policies but yet still proud to be Zimbabwean.
She was born in Zimbabwe and her use of ‘we’ when referring to Zimbabweans was to my heart delight. I looked straight into her eyes while we discussed hoping to find a bit of inconsistency. She spoke about Zimbabwe, Mugabe, and past leaders with so much authority and conviction. While the discussion lasted she repeatedly spoke of Zimbabwe as home. I have had a few black Zimbabweans as friends in the University and colleagues in places I worked in the past, but never met one that spoke with so much love, and hope for this sinking country, instead they delete Zimbabwe from their memories once they went pass the last immigration officer. The once not yet granted asylum statuses are ready to starve to death in protest against plan to move them back to Zimbabwe.
Since nationality, pride, and patriotism are dependants of a man’s heart and not on geographical location can we then compare the burning love in this white Zimbabwean to most Nigerian economic migrants that were fortunate to hold Charley’s mum property, the British passport either because they were born in the UK or because their parents migrated here some years back?
If you were not born in the UK and you carry a British passport you’ll still have wherever you were born in Nigeria clearly inscribed as your place of birth. People in this category are scrutinized more at all European borders before they enter the EU after every trip out. Even if you were born in the UK, at employment or college entrance interviews, or when you engage in discussion with the whites they’ll still ask ‘where are you from originally”? Your being Briton by mere ‘pali’ doesn’t make you white, you are still black whose descendants migrated by whatever means to the queen’s land, the earlier you are proud of your heritage the better.
British Nigerians are quick to tell you they are Britons even when they have the sergeant inscription (traditional mark) on their faces. I remember deliberately asking the Zimbabwean lady where she’s from, and without mincing word with so much pride she said ‘Zimbabwe’. For a lady whose parents were chased out of a land they have farmed for 30 years to still have such love for a country ……. its definitely a function of a heart that is the ‘wellspring of life’.
I have met British Nigerians who will give you a good fight if you dare call them Nigerians. An uncle who was on his way from Switzerland stopped over in London for 2 days while returning to Nigeria. He went out strolling in the evening and missed his way, so he went into a convenient store to get help only to run into a guy who was speaking Yoruba on the phone in a bus he took earlier. My uncle breath a sigh of relief, approached the stranger with a smile, and asked for how to find his way to Cheswick Park. The stranger did not respond so he thought he didn’t hear his first question and asked again in Yoruba, it was then the stranger now turned and replied “I don’t understand what you are saying”. My uncle now became uncomfortable and said ‘but I heard you speaking Yoruba in the bus ke’, by now the encounter was becoming edgy and the stranger who was already fuming uttered “How does speaking Yoruba makes me a Yoruba or Nigerian? Sorry I am neither Yoruba nor a Nigerian”. The Zimbabwean asked me if I speak any of the Zimbabwean dialects, when I said ‘no’ she was disappointed and asked if I can manage to speak Swahili. She was desperate to go local with me, but unfortunately we didn’t find a levelled ground in that part of the encounter so we continued the conversation in the queen’s language. Such are the hearts, black or white that are the ‘wellspring of life’, they will always want to be proud of their roots, blend very well in a multicultural society yet still identify with their culture.
A Briton told me that when he travelled to the US for an official assignment the first thing he did after landing was to look out for a close British restaurant where he could always have his dinner.
The Indians, Thais, Pakistanis, Americans, carry their countries in their hearts every where they travel to but alas most Nigerians drop them at MM airport before boarding the Boeing 747 across the Atlantic.