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Returning to Naija? Culture Shock, and Personal Struggles

If you are returning to Nigeria after spending some time in another country, particularly a developed one, be prepared for the reverse culture shock which will surely hit you. First of all, a lot of people will dodge you because they perceive that you are here to ask them for a job. Ha! Then there are these fun points to consider.

1. There is no constant and consistent electricity supply. Be prepared for power cuts and excruciating heat. For example, last night, I spent the night hugging a coke bottle in a bid to cool off and get some sleep. Carry your phone charger around and be prepared to charge it in your car, in restaurants, at work, even in church. Water supply is also a luxury, the city mains in Nigerian cities and towns barely work. People have taken laws into their hands and have what we call bore hole, which is a deep well with a water pump that distributes water to the entire house.

2. You must have two phone sim cards because you see, one network will shut down, and you will miss that job interview. You will also miss that contract you have been sowing for. Equally important is the purchase of 2 different internet sources, don’t believe the adverts on billboards. Some poor naive JJC actually believed something about one provider and bought their modem because of an advert hahaha. A word is enough for the wise.

Source: Commons Getty Collection Galleries
Source: Commons Getty Collection Galleries

3. To drive here, forget the driving rules you learnt during the theory and practical tests that you managed to pass “in abroad”. To drive in Naija, you better play those car racing games on your Ps3 or whatever series your neighbour allows you to partake of occasionally. The practice will help you to effectively weave in and out of traffic appropriately and dodge the owners of the road. Traffic rules and traffic lights are discretionary, pray that your instinct proves useful for when to and when not to obey them. If you like, try walking casually across that zebra crossing on the road. You will be dead in minutes. You may find that the drivers prefer to speed up upon approaching a zebra crossing, it means “move move move”.

4. When you go into the banks, restaurants, government offices, you are an annoying relative who is disturbing them. Forget all that nonsense about you bringing your business, or your tax paying their salaries (do you even pay tax?) Are you the only one? This is a country of 170 million people (methinks there are more of us), someone else will bring business to the banks and restaurants and airlines. We are so used to being treated badly that we just get on to it. Have you had the waiter watch and discuss Chelsea, while saying to you “Order nooow” and then ask for a tip? Have you had a local airline delay and cancel their flights without saying a word to their partners. Be clear about what you want and insist on it. Goodluck…

5. Sorry if you look foreign i.e have an accent, or look fairer than usual. Better get a tan quickly and learn to speak with a Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa accent, whichever comes to you naturally or prices will keep going up.

6. God bless you, or we thank God, or God is faithful, does not mean that man is good or that woman should run your business. People pray to God and rob you at the same time. Religion in Nigeria does not translate into goodness. Don’t be deceived.

7. If you are a woman, you are fair game. Why have you not married? Why have you not had children? It is well, etc. Everything male will flirt with you and treat you as fair game. You may have a bit of respect if you have children in tow or a ring on your finger, but men will act weird; old, young, married, single, colleagues,etc. Be prepared.

8. Your old mum or dad will be treated with tremendous respect and kindness. Our attitude towards older people is very sweet, unless they have dementia, then they may be a witch and their senile rambling is them confessing their witchery and all the people they have killed.

Urbanization. Source:www.spyghana.com
Urbanization. Source:www.spyghana.com

9. There’s no need to discuss religion, women’s rights, or anything progressive such as online shopping for groceries (meat, vegetables, God forbid, are you not ashamed to buy meat online? If my wife does that, I will chase her back to her father’s house, etc). “It is not our culture” to do anything differently than the everyday norm in Naija.

10. Finally, there is a huge sense of entitlement that you will notice. That person did not help me. He did not employ anyone. When I was struggling, that my uncle went and bought another car, he wants to be the only rich person in our family. Maybe he bought the car because he works very hard and saved to buy himself a nice car?

Finally, if you are female, and a man tells you that he loves you (as you may hear without knowing anything about the person and vice-versa) thrust one or two plastic gallons or cans into his hands and ask him to prove his love by buying you a minimum of 10 litres of petrol for your car, and another 10 litres for your generator, nobody has time to do love where there are significant queues for petrol. I rest my case