Yes peoples, Nigerians really are EVERYWHERE!
When I showed a non-Nigerian friend the wedding pictures from my recent trip to California, she was a bit taken a back! “Are there really this many Nigerians in California?” Well the short answer is yes! Nigeria isn’t Africa’s most populous country for no reason, there are a lot of people. So many in fact we can’t keep count, where are we now 150 million? 170? 200?!
One thing that does always make me giggle, is the overwhelming sense of sameness. Nigerians do their best not to change, no matter where they are. Now don’t get me wrong, this is very different to not speaking the local language or somewhat integrating into the community, but more to do with the basic tenents of running a home and preserving culture.
For example, walk into a Nigerian family home in any country in the world (and I mean any country) and you will stand a 60-75% chance of coming across a chest freezer. In said chest freezer, you will stand an 80-90% chance of coming across a large tupperware container containing stew with a variety of 3-5 different types of meat. This is normal you say, every household has some planning, pre-cooking, freezing….does every household have a chest freezer?! Well most Nigerian homes do!
Take the wedding weekend as another example. My Aunt, mother of the groom was flying in from Chicago. Groom, his bride and various friends were flying in from the East Coast. Myself and a few others provided some international contingent and most of us stayed at a very nice Radisson Hotel. Aunty had a suite with a living area and a little kitchenette which meant she could entertain various guests and prepare the gifts for the bride’s family. What I didn’t expect (but in hindsight should have known!) was the familiar super-size cooking pot that usually presents itself at Nigerian parties to be sitting on the cooker of the little kitchentte. I didn’t expect the fridge and freezer to be packed with pre-cooked food, frozen in large tupperware and brought all the way from Chicago ready for consumption. My Aunt basically ensured that other than our room costs, not one guest at that hotel for the wedding paid for breakfast, lunch or dinner. She cooked yam and egg for breakfast, spinach, stew and rice for lunch and if you fancied it she would make you pounded yam…..IN A RADISSON HOTEL! Even the opportunity to stay in a top ranking hotel for 4 days could not bring my Aunt to conceive of people paying for food. And I have to say, myself and all the other big bellies who wandered in her room thanked her for it! It saved me money and gave me this warm fuzzy feeling about the reliability of my peoples!
I did have some sympathy for the guests on the same floor, you’d think a wedding block means they put all the wedding guests on the same floor and spare the rest of the hotel from the noise and delicious aromas of Nigerian cooking, but alas, we were spread across three and pretty much disrupted the whole place for 3 days straight.
And while I’m on the subject of Nigerians not changing let me pay homage to Daddy Bloggs. My mother told me a story the other day that nearly had me wetting myself (this is nothing new where my overly strict, difficult and wonderfully random father is concerned). My father first came to England around about 1973-74 closely followed by his wife. He came first as a student and over the last 35 years we’ve pretty much lived outside Nigeria. So, earlier this year, my parents took a trip to Spain for a few days. One day, they were hungry and my mother suggested they go to McDonalds. My Dad said no, she ignored him and went anyway. This is the conversation….
Mum: What do you want?
Dad: What do they have?
Mum: Can’t you see the menu?
Dad: Nobody gave me anything (question 2 is usually where my father begins with defensive).
Mum: Have you ever been to McDonalds? It’s up there where it always is.
Dad: What kind of silly question is that? Anyway, what are you having?
Mum: Big Mac meal.
Dad: I’ll have the same.
(move forward in the queue and get food)
Mum: Go and find us a table while I get sauce
Dad: Where? Everywhere is full.
Mum: Anywhere now, just two spaces.
Dad: Look, I don’t know where you want me to look
Mum:…..are you sure you have been to McDonalds before?
Dad: (totally over the top at his exposure) Look, why should I eat this rubbish? Do you know what it does to you? I’m an African man, I don’t eat this food.
Mum: Husband, in 30 years in Europe, you have never entered McDonalds? Kai! Wait till I tell your children!
Ok, so maybe I made up the last bit, my mother was actually mortified and felt my Dad was totally arse backwards! I personally, have no issue with him never visiting McDs, its more to do with the fact that my Dad only ever eats Nigerian food. Fish and Chips are a rare snack that must be followed by a ‘small’ portion of pounded yam. From an English perspective I’d liken this with always following a take-away meal with bangers and mash just so you know you’ve eaten well.
Speaking of which, the photo there comes from this food blog by Alhaji’s Cuisine. Absolutely making my mouth water..mmmmm…..
I’ve got tons of comedy material on Nigerians…now if only there weren’t so bloody many of us, I might even be able to write a book and make some money out of it!