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Before you Japa

Nobody is saying do not japa. But what I am saying is that before you do, you should count the cost in as cold and calculating a manner as you can. Because it is literally a jungle out there.

In Nigeria, you can just turn up at your friend or family’s house uninvited for a visit. You can even turn up uninvited to stay with your family. You can’t try that abroad. Your brother may call the cops on you. They are very individualistic and have firm boundaries. It may take a village to raise a child in Africa, but in Europe and America, children often have to raise themselves because both parents work, and weekends are spent at Mcdonald’s cinemas, football games, or museums.

And since children are not taught to appreciate family bonds, parents grow old and are dumped in an old peoples home, so their children can live their lives without the inconvenience of caring for them.

Family and communal life are treasured in Africa. But it is not encouraged in Europe and America. Many children do not even know their cousins. A cousin in the West can be defined as a stranger you see, if at all, at weddings. And neighbours can die in their homes and be undetected for weeks.

Of course, your relatives abroad will want you to think they have it better than you. Unrefined human nature is focused on competition. You have to be enlightened to have a mindset directed to cooperation. But life in the West is not a life for the faint-hearted.

For the most part, young people in the West have low regard for your age. And if you don’t purposely train your children to have respect for their elders, they will turn out like the kids they relate with. Yes, their awareness levels are very high, as is their IQ. But their EQ can be very low. Their phonetics is on point, but their human relations is, well, pointless!

And if you are the type that looks down on your culture and language, you WILL produce self loathing children abroad, who automatically look down on any African with an accent. Their disdain grows when the African speaks their native language and wears his or her cultural wears. In hating that image, they are cluelessly unaware that they are loathing themselves.

Disneyland is often touted as the happiest place on Earth. But that is not exactly true. It is the most exciting place on Earth, and it gets you carried away as you are overwhelmed by floods of pleasant memories and reminiscences that connect with various stages of your carefree childhood. But as exciting as it is, it is not as happy as Africa.

Think of parties in Nigeria. Of when you went to your hometown and were treated as special guests and showered with unconditional love. Think of visiting relatives and how they literally killed the fattened chicken or goat just to welcome you. Remember how you gathered around newspaper vendors as a member of free reader’s association. Cast your mind back to how you used to run to the door or gate shouting ‘Daddy oyoyo’. Let the rivalry between Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey and King Sunny Ade on the one hand, and that between Alhaji Agba (Sikiru Ayinde Barrister) and Ayinla Kollington, bring back memories of all the Fuji ropopo you danced with fellow neighbourhood teenagers. Recall how your Muslim neighbours brought Ileya food for you, a Christian.

Life in Nigeria was sweet. It is still a delight. Life in Africa is still sweet. Take it from me. There is absolutely no part of Africa I have not been to.


Credit: Reno Omokri

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