A Response

This is a response to an article on Facebook that my friend Shope Ogunkeye pointed me to. The original author is unknown, and the original location of the article also is unknown (at least to me). The Facebook version is simply a duplicate by someone else who saw it, was annoyed by it and decided to share. So we could all be annoyed by it. Lol.

Before you read on, I ask that you visit this link http://dcicons.org/forums/topics/a-letter-to-nigerian-parents and read a copy of the article there. Also please take note of the comments.

Now, assuming you have read the article, you are likely in one of two minds about it. You either think it’s a great article worth pondering (like the people on the forum), or think it’s a bad article with a few valid points (like myself). If you fall into my category, then you may choose to ignore the bad and ponder on the point the author is trying to make (like Shope) – and that’s all well and good.

As for me, I am too put off by the glaring generalisations and untruths in the article to even consider the point. So my response is to fix it.

Just to clarify, the aim here is to cut the original article down to size. Not to call into question the original author or to belittle his attempt to talk about something close to his heart, but to put the entire article into perspective. Stripping it of all that I know to be false or exaggerated.

Let’s start with his very first paragraph where he asserts that virtually all Nigerian students abroad do not work. As a Nigerian student studying abroad, I know this not to be the case. I personally work and so do the majority of my Nigerian friends over there. In fact, some of them work as many as 3 or 4 jobs depending on their financial situation! Those who do not work often either cannot because of immigration laws, or find it difficult to get hired. In the author’s defence, I will say that I am based in the U.S and not the U.K but add the caveat that my U.K based friends have all also worked. Many of them having to leave the U.K to do so because they could not get hired for the reasons mentioned earlier.

It certainly isn’t a matter of status-consciousness for the Nigerians I know.

Moving on to his second declaration about students flying only business or first class, again I know no such students. However, I do realise that as with my previous point, the fact that I don’t know of them doesn’t mean they do not exist and I actually believe that they do. Why I do is alluded to in his third paragraph where he accuses all Nigerians of stealing their money. Obviously this is untrue.

But what is true is that corruption has indeed run riot in Nigeria. As a result there are many millionaires and billionaires whose fortunes are built on stolen money. Some of them have children, those children go to school, those children get large sums as pocket money, and they may have flown first-class at least once. Still where there might be 100 or even 5,000 such people, that is as against a population of over 150 million. Most of whom do not to consider 200,000 naira “pocket money.”

If you then consider the rest of his article based on this fact, you realise that this author is addressing a minority as if they are the majority. A deaf minority at that, because I cannot imagine that there is an unscrupulous billionaire out there who will teach his/her children about hardwork and honesty when that was not how they “succeeded” in life.

Now, now, don’t throw away the article just yet. Somewhere in the midst of all this libel and slander, he actually gets around to making some real points. He talks about over-parenting and parents who finance their kids well into their 30’s. About how doing so encourages them to be lazy, lacklustre, and expect more than they deserve from the world.

Yet his solution to this minor problem is lacking, and his analysis of it poor. It does not take enough into account the Nigerian (and more broadly African) culture. Where, in the western world fending for yourself is the norm, in our world fending for your family and community is the norm – and as you fend for them, they also fend for you. It’s reciprocal, and it’s everlasting.

Trying to adopt the western approach to something that is ingrained into the very fabric of society in my opinion is just plain folly. Do I have a better solution? Heck no. Rather than focus on the minor problem caused by a minority of elitist Nigerian parents and calling it “the root of our national malaise,” I think we should focus on bigger and more pressing issues like electricity and education.

Damola Mabogunje

Software Engineer by day, Blogger, Poet and Author, by night, I spend my days writing everything from the convex comma, to highly complex code.

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