Oprah’s Campaign of Calumny Against Nigeria

by Paul I. Adujie

Oprah by this act, plays into the hands of those who have accused her of offering meticulous orchestrated and equally carefully choreographed shows to please her audience, an audience said to be overwhelmingly and predominantly White/Caucasian.

Why can’t discussions or conversations about identity thefts and frauds in America, be in proper big picture perspectives and done in contextual manner? Why blame it on the Nigerians? And why for instance, did Oprah not refer to the mugus on her show, solely, as American mugus? So that it will be the Americans versus Nigerians, on her show? Truth be told, the persons on that episode of her show, comprised, the crooks and the gullible.

Oprah’s attack and onslaught on Nigerians, is an ironically sad throwback, it is reminiscent of the mindless stereotypes and sweeping generalizations against peoples of African descent in Minstrel shows in America of yore.

What a sad irony? A person of African descent, as knowledgeable and media savvy as Oprah, would condescendingly generalize and stereotype her own Nigerian Kit and kin in Nigeria, Africa?

Oprah should be told not to hit anyone who is already down. Oprah should be told to be quiet if she has nothing good to say about Nigerians, her African relatives!

Nigerians, continental Africans and all peoples of African descent are minutely inundated with scathing and scorching negative world press. Without the rare luxury of presentations in positive lights. I assume Oprah is clearly and keenly aware of this luck of the draw for our peoples.

Our peoples, all through history, have not had the favor of dignified and respectful presentations of our culture and way of life, of our birth, death or marriage etc.

Some including myself had expected, imagined and assumed that, our peoples have common fate and have a common cause. Consequently, the first amongst us to have a high pedestal, such as Oprah Winfrey has created for herself, would inevitably, aspire to portray our peoples in the best of lights.

As oppose to, and instead of, joining the bandwagon and taking the easy and low road to the perdition of negative sweeping generalizations and stereotyping of our peoples.

How be it, that Oprah did not opt for the high road? How be it that Oprah did not engage in the more difficult and arduous tasks of using her worldwide platform to drum up business investments and tourism for Nigeria and all Africa?

Why did Oprah have to ply the low road? Why did she choose the route of maladroitly recycled garbage, recycling old news of the lowest negatives, and aberrant behaviors of a few Nigerians. Is it about television ratings, the Nielsen? Is it to whet the appetites of those in these parts, with unquenchable appetite for lurid dinner jokes at our expense? Or is it for the voyeuristic consumption of her worldwide audience?

Crimes and criminals are repulsive and are deemed repugnant and reprehensible by majority Nigerians just as the majority of their American counterparts do.

A majority of Nigerians at home and abroad, are law abiding, hardworking decent human beings, just like their American counterparts.

A majority of Nigerians are virtuous and decent.

It is our belief that virtues and vices are universal, as universal as the addresses of junk-mail senders and as universal as the addresses of Spammers – who frequently invade the privacy of our e-mail, addresses, soliciting, and making legal and illegal propositions!

Oprah and others, must ask themselves what percentage of their received junk-mails spam-mails are generated by Nigerians? Which will enable them to extrapolate and by extension, assert the castigations and labeling of 140 million as irredeemably corrupt or corruptible.

Clearly and certainly, therefore, its one thing to hold lectures, seminars and television shows on the evils imbued and encased in identity theft, advanced fee frauds, the perpetrators and the persons involved, are persons, who are for the most parts, comprised of crooks, the greedy-gullible sorts, who seek to take unfair advantage of us all.

It is however, quite another thing to hold television shows as CNN has done as ABC television done, as they engage in sordid campaigns, of which Oprah has now joined, and to describe in false pretense, in manners – as if junk-mails, Spam-mails and identity theft or even corruption are things peculiar Nigerians! In fact, I have been a victim of identity theft, and I am red-hot, fully blooded Nigerian!

What is worse? Oprah and others, have most ignominiously use these awful phenomena of junk-mails, spam-mails, identity – theft and corruption to label Nigerians and Nigeria for behavior that are not particular and peculiar to Nigeria.

Oprah and others like her, have extrapolated in their strenuous efforts to label and castigate Nigerians, and by extension, Nigeria as a nation of, 140 million as if, a nation of irredeemably corrupt and corruptible persons?

As a Nigerian, I worry about Nigeria‘s image in particular, the image of all Africans and all peoples of African descent in general. I often worry about our peoples image and how to transcend these negative images thrust upon our peoples. Negative images coupled with our peoples checkered history, has caused immeasurable pain and enduring damage, to our sense of self and self worth. These are indeed, un-quantifiable losses, to our peoples.

As Nigerians, Africans and peoples of African descent it is our responsibility and in fact our sacred duty to repel and throw off the negative and false images that have been thrust upon Africans and peoples of African descent.

Often, I write or aspire to write positively, deliberately positively, about our peoples, because, knowing as I do, from experience, that our peoples do not as yet posses the medium to broadcast our images positively as CNN and the BBC do for the US and UK respectively and Oprah and others most probably, already knows about this dearth of positive images of our peoples in the American and European or so-called Western Press.

I am charitable and objective enough, not to assume or even think that Americans own, hold trademarks, copyrights or patents and exclusive preserves to criminalities – whether of murder, frauds etc. Nigerians hold no such trademarks, patents, copyrights and exclusive preserves in advance fee frauds or 419 and other crimes. Americans and America are not perfect. Nigerians and Nigeria are not perfect. There are virtues and vices in America; and let us be clear and fair about it, just as we have them in Nigeria.

Nigerians worldwide must reject the unfair labeling and castigations by Oprah and her cohorts. Nigerians worldwide, do in fact reject these negative characterizations and the gratuitous insults that emanate from such. Nigerians and Nigeria, will surmount these e

vil campaigns! Nigerians must not be willing to lay down and die or just roll over, as these castigations and unfair labeling are being stacked and piled upon us. Arise Nigerians, Nigeria!

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Mutumu Dogo October 31, 2011 - 3:50 pm

…can you give me the name of one nigerian who has done or desisted from doing something to erase this image of nigeria? Where are you going to stand to change the corruption propensity of nigerians: some people believe the churches (all the churches) are worse, so is the judiciary, and worse are the so-called law enforcement agencies. nigeria is a right-off as far as basic honesty is concerned. the white man should come back and quickly too.

DJ Sobanjo October 14, 2008 - 7:50 am

I read this article with great interest. I have also read the responses and it all seems to be coming together for me.

I did not see the particular episode of Oprah so I can’t talk too much on that but from what I’ve read it seems that Oprah was highlighting the advanced fee fraud that most of time is from my country Nigeria.

I agree that not all Nigerians are con artists. I know I’m not and I have lots of Nigerian friends who walk with integrity. However you can not deny the fact that when it comes to advanced fee fraud Nigerians are at the forefront.

When it comes to pirated movies, it’s usually the Chines at the forefront, and when it comes to Paedophilia, it’s probably the Brits. But does that mean that every Chinese person is a dodgy DVD salesman or every Brit is a paedophile. However the perception is that every Nigerian is a con artist.

Personally, I have no sympathy for people who are conned by these con- artist as it has been said that to fall for one of these email scams(I get a lot of these emails myself), you’ve got to be either extremely stupid or extremely greedy, most of the time it’s probably both.

I would say Nigerians need to clean up their reputation and the whole world should cut Nigerians some slack.

Maybe Oprah should have been more objective on her program, or maybe Nigerians are reacting just because of Oprahs credibility and the impact the program will have on Nigeria and Nigerians.

At the end of the day, people will get to know you for who you are regardless of where you come from.

unknown, USA August 20, 2007 - 8:48 pm

At a time when Americans are committing heinous crimes against children and women, nobody has tagged all Americans as murders. So, why call all Nigerians rogues because of the sin of a few bad eggs? Oprah regularly tells her life story: how close relations sexually abused her, how she walked the street (Americans’ euphemism for prostitution), etc., but nobody has ever deemed it fit to tag all American men as incestuous because of Oprah and others’ experiences. She did drugs—just like the typical American teenager, but nobody has cast all American youths in the mould of drug abusers! So, why should an individual that is supposed to know better sentence a nation to odium for the infraction of a tiny fraction of its population? I urge Oprah and her likes to disabuse their minds about Nigerians. Be wary of requests for money from strangers, and if you fall for a scam, blame your greed and not Nigerians.

Patricia August 20, 2007 - 6:01 am

Just as the comment #1 said, are you relaying the "ENTIRE" comment made by Oprah? No, you are not! She said "not all Nigerians are scammers . . . etc".

I do not know how many fraudulent e-mails I receive from Nigerians asking me to cooperate with them in reference to large sums of money and how many Nigerian men, who do not even know me, want to marry me–who am already married to an upstanding Nigerian man and awaiting our reunion when he comes to the United States. Of course not all Nigerians are scammers, AS OPRAH WINFREY STATED, but the fact is that some Nigerians are. Some Americans are scammers, thiefs, and liars as well. But Nigerian scammers are becoming a big problem. Not one week passes without an attempt to manipulate my hardf-earned money out of my hands through lies–and I am not the only African American (or American period) that receives weekly e-mails of this nature. Unfortuntely, it is these types of behaviors that make all of Nigeria look as if the only thing they do is try to steal. It was ALSO equally hard on me when I annnounced my engagement and then flew to Lagos, Nigeria to marry my husband due to Nigeria's reputation. I am ALWAYS in defense of Nigeria, for I love my huband, love my Nigerian relatives, and love Nigeria period. I get tired of ANYONE just assuming that because someone is Nigerian that they are a thief and a liar. It is so prejudice, and I hate that type of stereotyping. What I do not like about your aritlce is that you are quoting "half truths" about what Oprah Winfrey said, who loves Africa so much in that she has donated millions of dollars and built a girl's leadership academy in South Africa to show how much Africa means to her. You are trying to butcher an innocent peson, who has invested an enormous amount of money into Africa. Why not publicize her ENTIRE STATEMENTS in order to give a realistic view of what was really said on her show. I saw the show personally, and I know she continued to emphasize, greatly, that the incidents that were being discussed on that particular episode in no way means that ALL NIGERIANS are scammers or a thief. To me, you have done yourself a "great injustice" as a writer, for misleading people, through incorrect statements, against a person who has, and still is helping Affrica. As a fellow writer, I would hate to evoke false emotion into readers built on lies. I hope this is a mistake on your part and done out of ignorance. When you actually read or listen to what she said, you should submit a retraction and an apology for what you said.

Prince Kennedy Iyoha August 18, 2007 - 10:36 am

Mr. Adujie. Thanks for ever being so patriotic, and advocate for the Nigerian state. My opinion In relation to the supposed attack of Madam Oprah Winfrey, using as an example some dubious Nigerians, engaged in criminal activities, to represent the entire people of this country. it is my humble opinion, that it is better to speak out about this wrong doing of our people, so that many Nigerians suffering stereotyping reprisal in many parts of the word, because of the criminal activities of very few idiots. You most know that many innocents Nigerians are suffering in different parts of the Europe, because of the criminal acts of their compatriot that has spoilt the place before their arrivals. I will be bold to say, that most of these bad eggs are manly from the Ibo tribe, and followed with the Edo’s, and Deltas. The proportions of the involvements of people of the already mention tribes in criminal acts, and enslavements of their own people to prostitutions, is well over the involvements of all the other tribes in Nigeria put together.

the first commentator, informed that madam oprah winfrey’s acknowledge in her arguments, that it was not all citizens of our own country that engaged in criminal activities. Her statement was, “I know that not all Nigerians are scammers or commit thefts and that there are literally millions of hardworking, honest Nigerians”. The above statements means that madam Oprah is not singling us out base on stereotyping reprisal, but informing the general public to be aware of people engaged in scams and other crime related activities. Brother Adujie I believe it is necessary to speak out about the wrong of our people and that the government of our country should send our security operatives behind them. There is an adage that says “Good name is better than riches”.

The state of Gambia is a signature to the Ecowas accords, and therefore can not issue visa to citizens of member state. Citizen of countries that formed the ecowas community, have free movements within the community. I therefore wondered why Professor Abba Gana Shettima should require a visa to visit Gambia. In my visit to Gambia last year, I was detained in the boarder of Senegal-Gambia, by the Gambian immigration police, alleging that it was because of the A.U. summit that was to take place in a week’s time. I agued informing the immigration police about the Ecowas chatter, and that hence I am holding the Nigerian passport, I do not require visa to enter the country. Finally, I have to give out one hundred Euros to the officer in charge who informed without shame, that it was in Nigeria that the learned how to take bribe. With the hounded Euro note, one of the officers escorted me to the ferry that took me across the river Gambia to Banjul. In my two weeks stay, I realized that Gambia is an extension of Nigeria.

I agree that the clients or supposed victims of the scammers are themselves guilty of the very same offense.

Anonymous August 15, 2007 - 4:43 pm

This is the kind of crap the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa, should be suing Oprah for, He instead is trying to weaken EFCC.By the way Oprah is not special, she was just at the right place at the right time. I could have been any Nappy Headed African American woman that got her contract back then!

Anonymous August 15, 2007 - 1:49 pm

You said "What Oprah and her cohorts are doing to Nigerians and Nigeria, with these frequent stereotyping and generalizing, should be exposed for what they are! "

I watched that episode of The Oprah Show to which you are referring. If you had watched the entire episode, if you watched it at all…and I'm not convinced that you did, you would have heard her statment that she knows that not all Nigerians are scammers or commit thefts and that there are literally millions of hardworking, honest Nigerians. In fact, she said that the purpose of the show was to just expose some of the oldest and most pervasive scams ongoing. That piece happened to focus on Nigeria.

How said that some, not all, Nigerians refuse to hold their brotheren accountable for their crimes. Oprah did not engage in any such stereotyping. Your words make it painfully obvious that you didn't even see the show for yourself and have drawn false conclusions based on what you probably heard from someone else.

For if you did see the show, this article is truly nonsensical.


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