I am used to thinking that when Nigerians step outside the shores of the Fatherland, they try to UPDATE(using the Nigerian slang), as in catch up(culturally, socially, etc..ialy) in every way of life: the difference between what is obtainable in Yankee and what is obtainable in Nigeria.
This is usually true, as a sudden change is always noticed when a Nigerian travels abroad for the first time, for example: he/she visits London for 1-week and comes back to Nigeria. Suddenly he/she starts talking about every hook and corner of the UK as if he had lived there for like 20-years.
Last week, my theory was busted. Before I tell you how, let me give you a formula:
If you meet a Nigerian in/outside of Nigeria: someone who claims to have lived here and there(Europe/America, Asia, Middle East, etc), the truth is that if you could just have a 1-hour conversation with him/her, the possibility that he/she uses: “when I visited/lived in America / Germany / wherever” in a sentence is about 90%. Nigerians feel so much pride in informing you about where they have travelled to / lived in.
When I was in: he or she wants to inform you that he is well travelled, so watch out for: 2-weeks in France, 3-weeks in the UK; I went to America for my friend’s birthday, I was a-week in Canada; I passed through Portugal, I remember when I was in China; when I transited in Malaysia……..blah blah blah.
When I lived in: he or she wants to inform you that he has lived “there!” and there is nothing you want to postulate about there(the country of your discussion is) that he/she doesnt know.
Now, its easy to know Nigerians who are Mr.Info / Miss Infos: try to count how many times within the 30-minutes / 1-hour of your conversation that “when I was in….. / when I lived in …….” pops up. If your result is like once in every 5-7 sentences, forget the fellow you are talking to. He or she is a professional bragger, he/she is as local as local can be, regardless of how many years he/she has lived outside Nigeria.
So I met this Nigerian, “Mr. Emeka” for this discussion about a month ago. He is one of those braggers I mentioned earlier. Mr. Emeka cannot but mention “Nu York”, once in about 5-exact sentences. Regardless of what we get to talk about: Nigerian/American politics, social life, marriage, life, events, news, whatever it is, Mr. Emeka must mention “Nu York”. After the 2nd time we met, I started wondering if Mr. Emeka has some mental problem – one that always pops Nu York out of his mouth even if what we were discussing has nothing to do with Nu York
ps: Nu York = New York.
He wasted no time in naming his friends in Nigeria, big boys like: ????? governor of ???? state, ???? governor of ???? state, this guy ???? in the national assembly, Mrs ????, wife of ???? in the Senate, ???? the chairman of ????, ???? MD of ???? bank, ???? who owns ???? petro station and ???? company. Mr. Emeka rattled out the names of his friends in the Nigerian Police, Army, Federal / public institutions, Airport, Prisons etc. The barrage of info was too much that I got tired within 10-minutes.
The buster came when he started talking about technology. I thought he felt that he really knew something. I would rather not repeat the whole “still-funny” ordeal, but Mr. Emeka has lived in Nu-York for “donkey-years” – in his own words. He doesn’t even remember when he arrived – that he had to ask “the mother of his son” – the date they first met; and then he tried to calculate some years prior to it – as his corect landing date.
The long and short of Mr. Emeka’s technology buster is that he has 2-computers (a laptop and a desktop), a blackberry phone, iPad, iPhone, Kindle in his house, a couple of other gadgets here and there. He has 2-internet sources. He has a huge HD flat TV on the wall etc. His ‘study’ looked like the office of a Chief Technology Officer. In fact, I know some telecommunication companies in Nigeria who do not have offices as standard as Mr. Emeka’s ‘study’ – and yet those companies can boast of over 200-customers.
Mr. Emeka is on Facebook, Twitter, almost every social network. He said that a friend created all his usernames for him and keeps his passwords. Unfortunately, Mr. Emeka calls himself “a very social person”. The first time I visited him, we almost couldnt talk as calls were coming in from left and right, while he attempted to make some.
Think about someone telling you “do you know I’m on Facebook?” – as if that was an academic achievement.
He went like: “I am on Facebook, I am on Twitter, I am on MySpace, I am on…., I am on …..” etc. He ended with “I am on every social network out there. Name it, I’m there”; and while he spoke to me, he used his fingers to count, as an official demonstration of how many social networks he was on.
Unfortunately: Mr. Emeka doesn’t know how to use the webcam feature of his laptop. He told me he has never used Microsoft Word and that all he does on his computers is “Facebook”. Mr. Emeka is so local that he visits just 6-websites. He counted them for me as: CNN, BBC, Nigerian Guardiannews, Facebook, New York times” and Google – and these have been saved in his bookmarks, such that all he does is just to click on them.
I almost burst into uncontrollable laughter when he asked me: “my brother, how does someone search on google“. I was like: what do you mean sir, search? He responded that he always hears people saying “they searched on google, they searched on google”, but he doesnt know how to “search”. So he asked me: what are they searching for, how do they search, how do they know that their search is correct?
While he talked, he went ahead and clicked on the google link in his bookmarks, and proceeded to ask me to “search something” now that google.com was open. So I told Mr. Emeka to type anything he wanted in the google search and click “google search”. Mr Emeka typed “Nigeria” and clicked google-search. He proceeded to ask me: “is that all? have I searched now?” I almost was like……”duh, who the hell are you? what the hell is wrong with you”.
What was on my mind really was as if I should remove my shoe and give Mr. Emeka a very dirty slap with it: sir, you mean with all these gadgets that you are surrounded with, you dont know how to “search on google”?, gadamn, and yet you have lived in America for donkey-years? and you are carrying black-berry around as if you are the manufacturer? and yet you want to go into Nigerian politics? and yet you have friends and classmates in every hook and corner of the Nigerian political elite circle?
I wanted to scream so loud as to get it into his head. Anyway, I didnt do all that. I kept my cool, but was really bursting up inside – while I answered his ridiculous questions like:
what is this website thing all about? please tell me? I mean, web-site. where is the site? Mr. Emeka was so interested in knowing how Mark Zuckenberg makes millions from Facebook, just 1- website. So Mr. Emeka asked me what will happen if he(Mr. Emeka) has 10-websites – as in financially, he would make more money than Mark Z.
what is this web? everybody is saying, web, web, web. what is web? Mr. Emeka actually wanted to know where he always “logs into” from his laptop when he checks his email.
I bought internet TV for my sons: Mr. Emeka says he bought internet TV for his sons, but he doesnt have the time to sit down and watch it with them. He wanted to know if his sons are watching TV or the Internet; and why he(Mr. Emeka) could not also watch the internet on his laptop.
where is facebook? where is CNN? Mr. Emeka wanted to know where Facebook and CNN were located: physically.
where is the internet? Mr. Emeka wanted to know the exact location of the internet, where the google search results of his “Nigeria” search were really coming from. In fact, he wanted to know if the Nigerian government were aware that he(Mr. Emeka) had searched about Nigeria – when the results came out on his screen.
is the BBC website in the office of the BBC? Mr. Emeka told me he had visited a BBC office some years back; and asked to see where their website was, physically. They told him it was on the internet and not in any office. So he wanted to know from me, if he can have a website in his office for his own business, so that when someone comes to visit him, they can also see his website inside his office.
It was a long list of ridiculous questions, no need to bother you with the list. After a time, I started pitying Mr. Emeka who had lived donkey-years in America, in Nu-York – where the whole world happens on a daily basis; but who in one way or the other got left behind. In fact, I started wondering how possible / impossible it was; how many people living in America could be in similar shoes as Mr. Emeka – technology wise, etc
While I dont expect Mr. Emeka to be web-savy at his age, I dont expect him to be asking me if the BBC website was in the office of the BBC. If someone who had lived donkey years in America is asking such a question in 2012, how then can we qualify “I have lived in…. / I have been to…”
Mr. Emeka has a yahoo email but doesn’t know about others: gmail, hotmail, etc; he doesnt know what Skype is, he had no idea that his laptop has a webcam / microphone. I wont bother you about his other gadgets as I spent days putting him through with the features of his blackberry, iPad, iPhone and Kindle. The only thing on Mr. Emeka’s kindle is “The Bible”, and when I used his blackberry to take a picture of the office where we were, he exclaimed “My God almighty, so this thing could take pictures and i didnt know”.
Mr. Emeka is in his 50′s, said he came to the US in his late 20′s. He has a big house, cars, is wealthy and I’m wondering how technology just passed him by. In fact, I wondered if he had been sleeping under the bridge in New York for 20years such that at his age, he doesnt know the most basic tech things he should know, even after surrounding himself with gadgets, and living in an environment where things are happening.
Meanwhile, he introduced me to the mother of his sons and I heard him speaking on the phone to another whom he calls his wife in Nigeria. (story for another day).
I had to ask him why “the mother of his sons” didn’t explain things to him – techy wise. He replied: I buy her own for her, I buy mine for me. She doesn’t touch my stuff. The woman na Oyinbo sha o, and I observed she was living large on her gold-mine (Mr. Emeka). Who won’t do the same, especially when hubby is an unrepentant Nigerian old-school.
His 2-kids, the eldest at 13-years are however current with technology. Their rooms are replica’s of their father’s ‘study’. On the day I bursted Mr. Emeka’s tech-bubble, I went home wondering if those kids grow up and mix with wrong people, they might sell their father – who won’t know when the password of his bank account gets stolen.
Your comments and opinions are all welcome.