The Nigerians I Know

by E. Terfa Ula-Lisa Esq

I have read with gleeful entertainment the exploits and questions on the Nigerian Character from persons who have been given various tags from various persons fictitious and real; asking about the Nigerian Character. I think I also qualify as a Nigerian relationship expert and I think as a Nigerian, I can give myself that title. I was born in Nigeria, I speak three Nigerian languages. I was raised in Jos. Chose to attend the University in Benin, Law School in Lagos (I had no choice in that one o) practiced law all over the country especially Makurdi, Jos, Bauchi, Maiduguri, Aba, Abuja and Lagos; to mention a few major cities I frequented in my practice. I was for several years an elected member of the Bar Association in Lagos. I was in the eye of the storm in the famous Bar Elections in Port-Harcourt (Remember the Kuye/Dalhatu wahala?). Then I became a preacher and preached whenever and wherever my practice took me out. In short, I interacted with a lot of Nigerians, the good, the bad and the ugly. Now in the USA, I also interact with many Nigerians in the Diaspora as a Missionary and as an elected Trustee and Chairman Legal Committee of ANAC.


Having established my credentials as one who could speak as a relationship expert, and as a man of the people, you will notice that I am as Nigerian as they come, we love to toot our horn. Forgive, me folks, even if we are unapologetic in this regard, I will explain shortly. We toot our horn because; most persons of the world would not acknowledge us or our achievements. So, in tooting our horn, those who do not want to acknowledge us would say that we are arrogant, brash, pushy and controlling. Maybe they have a point. We are so controlling that we have control of the exploitation of our mineral resources, inclusive of Fanta, Danta-Cola, Coca-Cola and even Tin in Jos, Petrol all over the place and now gold and all the hidden minerals God in his mercy has not yet revealed their names to us. We are so controlling we let a guest into our house and let him have the master-bedroom plus the madam as a goodwill offering. In my little experience here in the USA, I have seen some really pushy women; including the not very educated types. Except for them; they say ‘you got attitude’.


Nigerians love children. Okay, hold it. Not the pedophilic way! The godly way, o. Never mind that some cultures marry them offor betrothed them early to collect bride price to pay for the boys’ education and at puberty so they are not corrupted by dirty old men. All the hypocritical civilized western countries had this culture too. The word ‘elope’ and the phrase ‘spoils of war’ all referred to forcing women into often unwanted marriages. Nigerians also love male children, to carry on the family tradition, so they make a fuss over them whether they have them or not. We are not alone in this patriarchal society. Look at how they did Princess Di in because of that ugly person whose name we cannot remember.

Nigerian Christians (the new wave Born-again type) love marriage. If you doubt it attend one Pentecostal church where one bro gets a vision, announces it and the sis gets the same vision and you would know what I’m talking about. Nigerian Christians, once they marry, do not believe in divorce. So whether male or female, they would suffer great abuse to maintain the family name intact and remain married. The divorcee is still on the fringes of Christian society and scorned if not in words in deed. I read somewhere that pastors encourage their members to divorce. That is not true. This is because, in Nigerian society, pastors are some of the most influential members of the society, and take the dissolution of any family in their congregation as a personal failing in doctrine. I know because I served one diligently for four years in Nigeria. A good name in Nigeria is still worth more than gold, divorce gives nothing but grief absent parents and a bad name.

Fake Marriages

From the time of the immigration to the USA, wave after wave of immigrants have found ingenious ways to run away from their sending societies and to settle in God’s own Country. The Jews, the Irish, the Italians, the Mexicans all worked their way into America. Some no doubt had some criminal background and some still do if you believe the media, but I do not believe that there was a presumption applied as is currently he case that every marriage contracted is fake and must be for immigration purposes. I speak from experience. The most fake marriages would not be by Nigerians if statistics are kept. I know a mixed couple, they have been married for over forty years, they have three children all with graduate degrees all doing very well. Their father is black, their mother white. They went back to Nigeria to live for a while so the children could acquire discipline good morals and manners. The son is a major share holder of a record company in the US. I knew of another family, the wife followed the man to Nigeria, they set up a group of companies in petroleum, hotels, hospitals and general merchant trading. The foreign wife died and was buried in Nigeria. And many more inter-racial families that produced mixed children we dearly but misguidedly call “half-caste” and held them in high esteem. Growing up, Nigeria youths love “Oyinbo”; watch American movies and can tell you all about their stars. The prurient that fantasized, did so with the aid of Playboy, Penthouse and the tall stories of the thriller Nick Carter; full of white women! Most of the Bond women were initially white. Charlie’s’ Angels were white. Is it any wonder that having been culturally colonized, Nigerian men would want to marry white? Why would it be that “Brothers Behaving Badly” because they marry white? (Full disclosure; my wife is…a pretty white female). Heh you need to see our gorgeous smart children.

419 Scams

As in all societies, there are those who chose the way of dishonor. There was the Italian Mafia, the Irish Gangs, the Mexican Gangs, and the Ku Klux Klan to mention but a few. You do not call all Americans KKK or all Italians Mafiosi. That would be prejudice. It is not right. I have read copiously about 419 scams. Before 419, there was the Drug Trafficking Rings that came up with all kinds of ingenious ways to hide drugs purportedly discovered by Nigerians. Note that Nigeria is not known to be a country that cultivates of manufactures hard drugs. Nigeria was only a transit center, and Nigerians made to be couriers of that dreadful substance, yet Nigeria got all the press. Nigerians per population know very little about computers. Some of their governors and cabinet Ministers (their educated elite) know not how to open their e-mail. How did Nigeria then become the center of computer fraud when majority of the elite do not know how to do a wire transfer. Years ago before I even understood computers, I saw movies like Wall Street, Risky Business, The Firm and one I cannot remember of a female con artist that fascinated me. I hate thieves, but Nigerian con-artists are nothing but a pest to those who are not criminally minded. The so-called Nigerian scam letters, I have received so many, and they are so fake that they shout at you like any pesky insurance, pyramid or free credit scheme. How a straight innocent person can fall for those exposed lures boggles the imagination.

In the sense that there is no set Nigerian culture since we have 250-350 different ethnic groups that may or may not know jack about their neighbor, we may have been the area where the Biblical Tower of Babel fell; you cannot say this is how Nigerians would behave. I have not even ventured to go into the concept of Ajebota and Ajepako, the rural and the urban, the North and the South, Itsekiri – Urhobo, Tiv – Jukun; Lagos Yoruba, Ibadan Yoruba; Ndigbo is a different matter – Odikpa risky. One thing you can take to the bank is that Nigerians have been judged the happiest people on earth because obstacle of no obstacle, we would walk arou

nd it, crawl under it or jump over it or plainly push it to the ground kpaa kpaa. We have challenges of poor health, bad leadership, colonizers, exploitatative and hypocritical friends, but we have learnt from experience not to give up. We may poke fun and share anecdotes of wayo dealings but that is not what we are as a collective. We are not ashamed of being Nigerian, we are not afraid of hard work and we believe in God (as found in the Pentecostals and other churches worldwide blazing the trail of faith) .Whether or weddant, NIGERIA GO SURVIVE!

You may also like

1 comment

okocj August 23, 2006 - 7:48 pm

Really cool! I love it!


Leave a Comment