I discovered these blogs (here, here and here)written by Cara Harshman aka Titi and her friend – They are 5 American students who are spending their gap year in University of Ibadan (greatest Uites!!) in order to steep themselves in Yoruba language and culture.
Most of you must have seen Youtube video (here) in which her Yoruba put some of us to shame J. Well, I read her blog once in a while trying to keep up with her gist about my alma mater. I must say I find her quite entertaining. I love seeing the pictures of UI and it is always interesting to hear new perspectives about things we prolly take for granted. Like her post about observing that her class mates jot the words of the teacher VERBATIM had me shaking my head. With hindsight, you realize that it is true. Rather than listening, assimilating and picking salient points, the Nigerian school system makes us robots in class. Half of the time, you are looking over your shoulder to see if your neighbor caught the last word/sentence from the teacher. I still do it. But I am improving. Lecturers providing FREE copies of lectures hardcopy/online PLUS a functional library help too.
Anyway, this isn’t a review of Titi’s blog, but her blog got me thinking.
When Oyibos (Westerners) go to any exotic location (e.g India, Africa), even the smallest child becomes an anthropologist, eager to write about the ‘different’ culture and society of his/her hosts. Their eyes are open to notice the sights and smells and sounds of their new locations.
Why then, does the opposite happen to us? When we are in exotic locations e.g. America, Britain, Norway (Black Panther!!!) we just jump right in and adjust like fish to water. Or like Asians who transport their culture to their new location, we seek out fellow Africans and stick to their cooking pots like glue? The familiar huh?
I rarely see cultural comparisons of the West and Africa. Not in the negative ways I see like when we try to run them down or insist that we too are better, but you know, well thought out comparisons. Where you find out the origins, ask your hosts why this is so? or evaluate why etc. We don’t take pictures of run down areas; again not being negative but just to show that like back home we have the rich and the poor everywhere. Are we afraid that if we do, we’ll be denied Visa? lol.
I won’t deny that the culture of care and maintenance of something as simple as roads can make you stop in your tracks, I mean the roads in my county Durham are always being re-tarred and what not. Not even major roads, just some side streets o! I am awed cause there I am looking and thinking – but this road looks fine na. What’s the fuss? Yes our poor maintenance culture in Nigeria can give you the disease of ‘mediocre expectations’.
I also remember the day I took the Apocalypse ride in Drayton manor, a theme park in Birmingham.
I kept thinking what if one of the bolts holding me in fly off? What if the managers of the theme parks in a bid to cut costs did not carry out a pertinent upgrade or replacement of parts? What if the maintenance engineer played hooky and did not do his scheduled maintenance check for the day/week? What if? what if? These are thoughts that are very legitimate in Nigeria but here less so. I mean what Theme park Owner wants to pay the claims if an accident like that should occur?? You’ll be bankrupt in 3 seconds.
So I must confess, with those Nigerian thoughts flying through my head I didn’t enjoy that ride. I was screaming not in exhilaration but more like ‘Oh Lord, if I survive this I won’t risk my life so foolishly again please’.
I guess I have to ask Him to overlook that foolish prayer cause I plan to go to Alton Towers sometime soon and I heard their Thrill rides are 'too die for' literally. And maybe Bungee jump or Sky dive. fingers crossed.
Anyway, what am I saying, let’s start looking at our environments with new eyes. Find out more about where you are. Understand their cultures. Heck write a book while you are at it. Take pictures of starving naked children. Okay don’t. But hey, we can be anthropologists too. We can host our ‘This is Britain’ series too.
And maybe, just maybe if the truth is told, Nigerians will stop running away from home in droves for ‘greener pastures’.
p.s. Ehh, @that last sentence - I am kidding right?
p.p.s. An Idea had just popped as I was writing this - Action - I am going to host a Tuesday specials of "This is Oyiboland". In words and pictures. I'll be nice don't worry. Just comparing and contrasting. And if you have tidbits, questions, pictures please forward to me by mail. I shall use, acknowledge and even gift :)!
What do you think?