I love our Nigerian sisters. My mother and my sisters are black Nigerian women. If I disparage black women, I disparage my own blood and myself. But this might be instructive for many Nigerian women (not all need this lesson).
I read Obama’s first book, “Dreams from My Father,” over a decade ago. In the book, he described his date with Michelle Obama, who had been assigned as his mentor. Although she was three years younger than him, he was, however, several years her junior professionally, as she was a third year Associate at the prestigious law firm of Sidley Austin, where he was interning.
He was not “on her level” at all – in fact in Naija (Nigerian) parlance, she was a “senior girl” and he was a “small boy.” She already earned today’s equivalent of “six-figures” in salary, while he still could not rub two pennies together as a student at Harvard Law School, where she had graduated three years before him. He didn’t come from a family with money, as the Ivy League kids she had gone to school with did. The jalopy he drove, with a huge gaping hole right beneath her legs under her seat, on their first date showed it.
To add insult to injury, he had to stop by a dumpster as he saw some used furniture dumped at the trash (a typical occurrence in America when people move), which he felt he could use for his apartment. He had no shame of his “broke-ness!” He didn’t take this double Ivy League high earning elegant lady to a classy restaurant on their first date. He took her to a run-down church, where he did his thankless work of community organizing. She saw his heart, and fell in love.
Michelle didn’t snub the impecunious Barack Obama. Because she empathized with him, although he had nothing, while she could pay his salary with change, (and she earned it herself too, and could have argued that if she did it, and he is older, why couldn’t he?) she had respect for him as a human being, and saw his dignity as a man. She believed in him.
That simple trust she reposed in a man her “inferior” on so many material levels, has led her to occupy an exclusive position – materially as well as in status and history. First Lady of the United States of America, the most powerful nation on earth, is no mean feat, whether you’re black, brown, white or whatever color they impute. It is universally recognized as a remarkable achievement by women of all stripes. Period.
While there have been black First Ladies and Queens of Kingdoms and countries in Africa and the Caribbean, Mrs. Obama’s status has its unique position in the hearts, minds (and perhaps aspirations) of all black women – Michelle Obama is the first and only black woman to occupy the position of First Lady of the United States of America, the most powerful nation on earth! Nigerian folks have been telling me, Nigerian women are all about the money, and now, some are called “runs-girls!” I don’t know, what the devil that means, but I hope they can see the future/big picture and beyond “now.”
There’s a Yoruba saying, “Eni ko dabi ola” meaning “Tomorrow won’t be like today, ” which is insightful…Be hopeful for a better tomorrow with that impecunious cab driver, you may love, but who is “not on your level” (occupies a lower socioeconomic station). He may become a Mike Adenuga, the Nigerian businessman, who once drove cabs to survive, but today has a net-worth of over $5 billion according to Forbes…Be a Michelle…be your true selves…it includes a heart of gold.