As an African immigrant to the United States, I am constantly amazed at the incredible number of African princes and princesses who live in the United States or shall I say who are made in the United States. As a non-royal person myself, I give respect where respect is due. I begrudge no one, not even self-realized royalty, the right to whine occasionally. I confess that I have to dig deep into the reserves of my heart to bear with self-realized royalty who originate from hometowns where there are no serfs at all. Let the truth be known. I am irked to no end when my ears become the receptacle for the outpouring of royal complaints and whining, especially when these royal ones have no clothes on.
The United States provides many an immigrant the opportunity to make financial gain by doing honest work and in some instances not so honest work. The very fact that financial gain resulting from honest work is possible should be celebrated. Wealth is relative and depending on where one begins acquiring personal wealth, ones perception of the actual size of ones wealth may be some what skewed. When a crawling child looks up at it’s father, the older man looks quite monumental. On the other hand, when a grown son stands before his father, his father doesn’t appear so large. Size depends on where you are and where you are standing. Too many of our self appointed princes and princesses have let their imagination anoint them future heirs to non-existent thrones because they have acquired wealth beyond what they ever thought possible even though the coffers would dry up without regular paychecks from those not-to-be-named healthcare facilities.
I am only a serf and I know so little about royal matters. I have always earned my keep. I remain appreciative to my employers for the compensation that they provide me for services to them. And at those moments when I am raptured into a state of salesmanship, I am grateful to those customers who part with their money as they take possession of my meager wares. I do not know about kingly matters. I am not at war with America over not aligning all their laws to suit my life style choices. Nigeria’s laws too often exclude serfs and are selectively enforced. I do not agree with all that goes on in the United States and so I registered to vote. I am grateful that I can speak my mind for the most part and that I can even participate in the political process without having to give anyone a “tip” to ensure my place or my safety.
I am a serf.I do not have a following when I go to Nigeria. The crowd waiting at Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos does not celebrate my arrival. Neither will the crowd at my port of entry in the United States celebrate my return. Outside of the singular person or two who come to retrieve my luggage and me in Lagos, only armed robbers anxiously await all travelers outside the confines of the airport walls. Since I am only a serf in simple clothing and I prefer pleasantness with airport staff to demanding “my rights”, luck is always on my side. My documents are often processed promptly and I am able to leave the airport in good time to reach my destination safely with no fanfare save for the traffic that all serfs must endure.
I am only a serf, not the “ever happy” Nigerian. I am not inclined to be loud or boisterous. I could never be mistaken for a relative of the Jolly Green Giant. I am unable to hide my dissatisfaction when my driver thinks the car is an airplane and forgets that I derive no pleasure from highway terrorism. I prefer to drive my car where speed limits are set and where I can go along at my “old lady pace”.In Lagos, I prefer to entrust my life and limb to taxi drivers. Have you ever seen a Lagos taxi driver in an accident? For me, the answer is not yet. Unlike the royals, my relatives will not whisk me around in their ambulances with blasting sirens so that I can get to Tejuoso Market to get my hair done. Unlike the royals, my “brothers” are not military men who will beat up anyone who will not let me have my way.
I celebrate life quietly. I try to walk tenderly on this earth. I am yet to find such person that I feel the need to impress except for myself. I have no one I care to compete with. I am competitive. I compete to be better than I was the last time. I set high standards for myself. I love the good things of life and I work to get them through honest means. My father was never a king. Nor was my mother ever crowned queen. The legacy my parents have left me is to build on what they have built and to work hard for my own. My charge is to hold my head high and to pass on to the next generation all that is worthwhile. I do not crave titles. I’d rather be considered salt of the earth.