Fela Kuti, shortly after his release from Nigerian prison. Los Angeles, CA. June 1986.
photo by Roger Steffens
My Nigeria So Far
Snippets of finally living back home after 9 years. Captured among family and friends between Lagos, Aba and Umuahia. There’s the heat, the traffic and no electricity, but all that fades for the better moments- Yagazie Emezi
Our parents were fashionistas
Looking at old pictures of my parents in Nigeria, I’ve come to appreciate how stylish they were in the 60s. They were looking fresh at every occasion. Apparently at Nsukka, people used to dress up to go to class. Even just a regular get together meant dressing up and looking presentable. It’s a bit odd to see them looking young and fly like that because I don’t know those people. I just know them as my parents, not those hip, fashionable young people in old photos. Apparently, after my sisters and I arrived, their hipness and fashion sense vanished. That’s what happens when you have children. See what children do? Do you see? haha
Wunmi at the Africa Now Music Festival
Click here for more photos.
My Igbo elders and their contradictions
Igbo elder - "If Biafra was allowed to exist and prosper, we would be number one in West Africa. The northerners were jealous of us. Look how accomplished we are. Nigeria is really a terrible country, we have nothing in common with the north. Why should we be one country? Biafra would have been a shining light. Hail Ojukwu! Igbo kwenu!"
Same Igbo elder when Nigeria wins a medal at the olympics, wins a football match, has a contestant in a beauty pageant, when a Nigerian does something major, or at an Independence Day parade - "God bless Nigeria! United we stand, divided we fall. Nigeria is number one." *waves Nigerian flag*
Igbo elder the next day - "These useless northerners are at it again. If only Biafra was allowed to exist, we would have been the shining light of all of West Africa. We shouldn’t be part of Nigeria. The north is a wasteland for muslims. See this boko haram nonsense? They aren’t right with god that’s why this is happening. We believe in a true god, our lord and savior jesus christ. Amen.”
Nigerians are forced to have low expectations
I was talking to my cousin in Port Harcourt today, and the conversation really highlighted how many Nigerians have been so thoroughly mistreated and unserviced by bad leadership, that things that should be a given are seen as worthy of celebration if they work momentarily as they normally should.
For one week, my cousin has not used a generator that much for electricity. He exclaimed that he had uninterrupted electricity for almost a week most of the time. It only kicked in twice he told me. He was thrilled and ecstatic about it. The expectations are so low that this is a cause for celebration.
Port Harcourt is not a remote village off the grid. It’s a major city. It’s the capital of Rivers State, yet there is still unreliable power. The fact that generators are still a way of life is a problem. It’s 2014, and we don’t have a grid system that supplies uninterrupted electricity to all. It’s not because of a lack of capital or knowledge. Nigeria has money and brilliance in spades. What are the powers that be doing with all the money that Nigerians are paying exorbitantly for towards electricity?
Nigerians are so used to the daily wahala of life that this seems normal. Having a generator that is. In fact, having a silent generator or the ones that aren’t that loud means you’re living large. Market woman selling fruits and vegetables isn’t living large like that to buy a fancy generator. She probably still has to use kerosene lanterns and torchlight when her family is without power. Nigeria is a country where even the wealthy have to buy generators, because while money continues to be looted and the divide between the wealthy and the poor grows, no one can escape poor infrastructure. Poor infrastructure is what cripples nations. It turns it into a shit show. That’s the thing about shit, it doesn’t matter if you’re a beggar wearing rags or an oga at the top wearing the finest agbada, when you’re knee deep in shit, you will still smell.
It’s not until you take a step back to reflect, or maybe leave Nigeria for a while before you really start to see the absurdity of it. Not using a generator much for a week is not wonderful. Constant, uninterrupted electricity should be a given for the most populated African nation. The ‘generator way of life’ is no way to live, especially when Nigerians are paying for electricity. What are they paying for?
A chat with Nigerian author Okey Ndibe »
I recently had a chat with Nigerian author Okey Ndibe. We talked about his background, his close relationship with Chinua Achebe, his experience as an immigrant in the US, and the time he was arrested for bank robbery.
Blitz the Ambassador feat. Seun Kuti - Make You No Forget
Nigerians are expert maneuverers
If you’re a Nigerian, then you are an expert at maneuvering. Even if you never thought of yourself as one, you are. You’re so awesome at maneuvering, you don’t even know that you are maneuvering.
We all know that it is customary for Naija relatives back home to ask for money. Things are tough, and when you are abroad, it’s fairly common to kick back a few bucks if you can spare it. I understand. I complain about this from time to time, but I really do try to help. Especially with family having a very tough time. The thing is that people think because they share DNA with you that you are obligated to finance them indefinitely. I can’t imagine the kind of wealth my parents would have if they weren’t financially supporting tons of people who are still not grateful.
Because of things like this, Nigerians have to maneuver. We have to evade other Nigerians. Nigerians don’t tell a lot of people when they are traveling. Word gets around fast. You don’t want to arrive at Murtala Muhammed airport with people expecting you to make it rain dollars, euros, and pounds. So we are secretive about our moves. We move in silence. Nigerians don’t want to go through the hassle of other Nigerians (usually family) trying to shake them down. Many Nigerians living abroad keep quiet about visiting Nigeria because of this.
It’s not uncommon for a Nigerian to visit Nigeria and not tell some family members about it or that they are in Nigeria. "Shhh - abeg, don’t tell Auntie that I’m here oh! This is a confidential matter. If someone calls, tell them I am busy studying for exams for my graduate studies in America and that I will get back to them later. You hear me? I’m not here. I don’t exist. If someone saw me in Ikeja, it’s a lie. God punish those liars. Waka!"
They can’t speak freely about their travel plans because they know a shakedown is coming. If not that, then it will be other things. Are you unmarried? Then you will be harassed about why you are not married. Did you gain weight? Then you will be met with "Why are you so fat? Fatty bum bum. See your yansh." Who wants to deal with this? I’ll be with the other evasive Nigerians, avoiding this interrogation. Please, don’t tell these tyrants about my whereabouts. Only close relatives will know, and they too are maneuvering and being evasive.
I am a Nigerian and I am an expert at maneuvering. If you’re a Nigerian abroad, you probably are too.
Nigeria expunges history from curriculum due to lack of tutors »
Nigeria has removed history from its school curriculum. Official reasons Nigeria advances for expunging history as a course of study are that students are shunning it.
The country also claims the decision was necessitated by the fact that there were few jobs for history graduates, and there is dearth of history teachers.
The decision has been met with criticism with many describing the reasons as mere excuses.
Critics have said that Nigeria’s abhorrence of history is not new. There is no official account of the Civil War, reported the Vanguard newspaper, Wednesday. “When we obliterate history, we should also destroy our artifacts, burn our museums and monuments, heritage sites and archaeological activities. A generation of Nigerians without knowledge of history would not appreciate these treasures,” the paper captured in an editorial.
“How does a country proceed without a knowledge of it heroes and heroines? History is not just a study of events and dates, it provides analytical insights into social formations, anthropological developments, inventions and innovations that shape humanity.
“If we do not want to go the way of the Bourbons, we must restore the study of history in our education curriculum and make it compulsory to rescue generations of our society who cultural dilution is making rootless,” the publication stated.
This is where we are in Nigeria. You can’t convince people to learn about their own history and themselves. I’d love to say that this is a surprise, but it isn’t. We don’t learn from our mistakes. We keep repeating it. We have learned nothing as a nation. Absolutely nothing.
Nigeria still doesn’t properly acknowledge Nigerian World War II veterans. Most are dead, and their narratives died with them. Most Nigerians don’t know that Nigerian soldiers fought in World War II, and why would they know? No one teaches them. It’s not part of our curriculum. They don’t know that it was Nigerian brigade of 11th African Division from the Royal West African Frontier Force that defeated the Italians, and then captured and occupied Mogadishu, the then capital of Italian Somaliland. Mussolini’s Italian forces had no defense.The Italians were defeated by the Nigerian forces. Who talks about Nigerians defeating Mussolini’s army? Nobody. We should talk about things like this and they should be taught, but they aren’t.
It wasn’t until Al Jazeera and BBC started discussing African soldiers fighting in WWII campaigns in the Pacific that the conversations began. They also tracked some surviving veterans. And of course, Biyi Bandele’s ‘Burma Boy’ book was also instrumental. For over half century, their stories were dormant. Why couldn’t the Nigerian gov’t preserve and maintain these narratives? Why does Al Jazeera and BBC have to fly down to Nigeria to discuss Nigerian history? This is a failing of our political leaders and our education system.
If you want to be a Biafra scholar, outside of speaking to veterans, survivors and their families, you’re going to have to learn outside of Nigeria. A lot of the usable archival material is not in Nigeria. Yakubu Gowon destroyed a lot of it. He had no foresight about the importance of things like that. There are no real resources implemented for teaching about our own civil war. It’s not part of our curriculum. Theology is though. That will get beaten into you.
Decades later, here we are again. Scrapping our own history and coming up with excuses why, as if there is a valid reason for abandoning your history. We never learn.
I’ll be at the after party until further notice. Thanks.
Nigerian artist Joseph Eze’s (b.1979) portrait series deals with the intersection between Nigeria’s politics and the female body. Click the images for the title and date
Great Benin General Ologbosere after his capture in 1899. For a couple of years after the British army decimated Benin, the Edo general, Ologbosere, added a new dimension to the combat by moving loyal troops outside the city, from where he launched a barrage of attacks on British outposts.
Ologbosere and his guerrilla fighters hid among villages and towns that supported Edo insurgency. The British expedition retaliated with bloody ferocity. British troops burned these supportive locations, destroyed villagers’ crops, detained their youths, and incarcerated their rulers. Weary of these heavy reprisals, some villagers betrayed Ologbosere and delivered him to the hands of the British troops.
The arrest of Ologbosere and other fighters including Chief Ebohon did not quell the anti-British campaigns. It further drove the fighters into the underground, escalating a conflict that remains unresolved till today.
Read more here
Adolphus Opara born 1981 in Nigeria, is a freelance documentary photographer based in Lagos.
“Missionary activity in Africa, coupled with the recent growth of the Pentecostal movement, have contributed to the widespread misrepresentation of traditional religious practices in Nigeria. Indigenous philosophies and the belief systems that influence daily life have been either ignored or disparaged. Emissaries of an Iconic religion is an ethnographic documentation of people in disappearing traditions and aims to redress this cultural negation.”
All Africa, All the time.
Bottom right looks like Iya Osun
1953 |The Head Wrap Collection, is more than just a line of beautiful one of a kind headwraps, but a celebration of African culture and all the women who are confidently pushing this diverse culture forward.
Our pieces are handmade in Nigeria, and handpicked by Folasade Adeoso through out local markets in Nigeria making our collection one of a kind and timeless.
We are proud to have our products come from Nigeria. By doing so we are brining a sense of connection to the country, the culture and Africa as a whole. With that in mind, we will always offer 100% satisfaction and our products come from 100% quality guaranteed.
The Head Wrap Collection is perfect for everyday fashion, dress up, parties, traditional ceremonies, women on the go and those who love to mix and match patterns.
About Folasade Adeoso:
When I am not busy creating or coming up with new ideas for my brand, you will find that I spend my time always trying to enjoy life as much as I can with family and friends or simply by myself. After the death of my Father, Austin Adebisi Adeoso, who passed away of cancer January 10, 2012, I decided to fulfill my dreams of creating art and expanding myself as a brand.
About a year later, in 2013, I traveled to Nigeria for the first time since I left for Canada with my parents at the age of two. During my trip to Nigeria, I discussed with my Aunt that that my peers in America loved when I wore my headwraps and inquired on where and how they can get one of their own. The very next day I found myself in the middle of a neigbourhood market in Lagos alongside my Aunt handpicking beautifully patterned headwraps to start off my new business ventures.
The brand name”1953” came to mind during the trip back to Nigeria. When I landed in Nigeria, family greeted me by saying, “Welcome to your Father’s land”. 1953 was the year that my Father was born, it became the year Nigeria became my Father’s land. This is in honour of him, a piece of him that I can now pass on to my own family.