By Patrick Dele Cole
NIGERIANS generally like Whitemen. They see Whitemen as rich, coming from an orderly civilised society who are here to help Nigeria. The smile of welcome starts from the airport, “welcome oga, wetin you bring for me?” Nigerians expects the Whiteman to dole out money any and every time, afterall he has dollars and pounds and euros. He knows that the Whiteman would live in the best hotels or in the most expensive areas of the city – what we called GRA (Government Reservation Area) in any city: in Lagos he would live in Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Apapa and lately Lekki, never in Mowe, Iyana Ipaja, Lakwe, Bogije, Eleko, Ibeju, etc.
The Whiteman would have a driver, a steward, a nanny, a washerman, and a security man at his gate. For the Nigerian, a Whiteman is anyone who has come from the Europe, the Americas, Asia and China. He would eat in the finest restaurants, patronise the most expensive night clubs, and belong to the most exclusive clubs.
There is a general sense that the Whiteman is wealthier than most Nigerians and if you work for him you are lucky, you may cheat him because he has too much money. He pays more and treats his servants better. The Whiteman represents what most Nigerians want to achieve, especially they want to go to Europe and America to make money, since they cannot see themselves making money in Nigeria. I doubt if there is any Whiteman who has not been approached by a Nigerian to get him or her a visa. Thus, the Whiteman is at the pinnacle of society.
The Black Nigerian who wants to visit Europe or America is in for a shock. The reception he gets at the point of entry, if not hostile, is certainly suspicious and definitely not friendly. The Nigerian Blackman arrives with little money; he has come to work and/or go to school in the hope of a better life. He will find accommodation in the poorest part of town, miles away from the good life he hoped for. Nevertheless he perseveres, works hard, sometimes at two or three jobs.
At the beginning of his sojourn, he is likely to be cheated out of the small change he brought usually by his own kind. At work, he is paid less than his fellow workers, mainly because he has no work permit or simply because his boss can get away with it. He lives in constant fear of being stopped, searched and questioned by the police. In the United States, he would face the unspoken hatred of the police. The Afro Americans he meets may be proud that he is an authentic African but not for too long because he would soon be competing with them for jobs, women, men, etc.
Now the above is about the people who actually have visas. But most Nigerians travelling overseas today have no visas. They are subjects of human trafficking. There are thousands of Nigerians with sweet talks about knowing somebody who knows someone else who can get them a school, a visa and even accommodation when they arrive at the gates of paradise in Europe or the United States. These agents charge up to US$20,000 to arrange these papers. How often have you heard a Nigerian, male or female, who is waiting for someone to arrange travel papers for him or for her?
Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis Drake were great captains who commanded ships to the so called new world at the bequest of the Queen and speculators who have paid money to outfit the vessels. Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci were similarly outfitted by Queen Isabella of Portugal. The seas were filled with other pirates who were not so successful. I am told by the Oxford Dictionary that thieves who have vessels and roam the oceans are called pirates. But these vessels arrived in the New World of America and the Caribbean, etc. without visas and definitely without the invitation of the Indians or Caribbean inhabitants.
The Whiteman took what he wanted from the Indians and Caribbean, settled in their country, declared that these new countries were colonies of Europeans and proceeded to exploit them. They stole; they raped and performed many outrageous actions. The killing of the local population was horrible and unabated: yet each of these men, when they got back to England or France or Germany or Belgium etc. were decorated with national honours. They brought untold wealth to their home countries, enslaved millions of people to work in their farms, mines, industries etc.
The spirit which drove these desperate men into the Americas, into Africa and Asia, can be compared to the spirit which is driving the Nigerian Blackman to Europe and America in an attempt to obtaining a better life for himself and his family. In fact, the case of the Blackman is even more desperately austere. Sometimes, he crosses the Sahara Desert, he enters a boat in Libya to cross the Mediterranean Sea – many perish, a few get through. Then a life of pure suffering begins. But usually with a tremendous tenacity of purpose, and at great sacrifice and humiliation, a few make it.
The BBC on April 28, ran a programme that Nigerians now top the number of illegals trying to enter Europe through Libya and that Benin is the origin of these ventures. Whenever Europe wants to establish its bond of brotherhood, thousands of Nigerians are rounded up and sent back home to Nigeria as illegal immigrants. In the past few weeks, UK, Germany, Sweden, Italy have done so. Even South Africa is now playing the same game. I always thought that an adventurous spirit was something to be proud of. Maybe, but not for Black people who want to venture into Europe?
During the campaign of Donald Trump, I told anyone who would listen that he would win because he was saying things many Whites believed but were too ashamed to admit, that he was, like Marie Le Pen of France, the English racist, Nigel Farage, saying things French and English Whitemen believe deep inside them; these racist politicians were touching a raw nerve that would translate into votes.
In the US Donald Trump won: In Britain, Brexit won because of fear of immigration, sometimes but not always, a euphemism for hatred of Blacks. Newsweek this week published several anti-Black posters now peppering the walls of US cities and countryside. Trump has revived the Ku Klux Kan (KKK), the ultra-White nationalists Trump wants to make America great again aka White again. This would never work because the world has gone past such simple solution to complex problems. President Obama can never fail to be vilified for all he did for the US. Every action of President Trump is aimed at reducing President Obama’s achievements. Simply because he was Black. Will he succeed?
Extreme White nationalism in the UK, Germany, France, etc. can, in the end, only lead to one thing, war. It makes no difference that the world has been through this before. The push cannot be stopped Hitler’s (Germany) nationalism, Mussolini’s (Italy) nationalism, Franco’s (Spain) nationalism, Hiroto’s (Japan) nationalism – all led to war. (But this theme will further be developed in a subsequent write up).
Let’s return to the banalities of Nigerian Blacks and Whites. A thriving business in the internet is between Nigerian Black girls and Whitemen who on Skip and Snap Chat expose themselves in return for pounds, euros and dollars. The White voyeurs ask their Black counterparts to do all sorts of “despicable” things on camera which our girls willingly do to get some money and even some hope, to get invitation to Europe and the US as wives.
White whores in Europe look down on Black punters. Black whores in Nigeria prefer White men. Go around any night club in Nigeria and see what our Nigerian girls are up to. One White friend of mine told me he liked Nigerian women because after he has done his business with the Nigerian, she kneels down and says “thank you sir”.
The image of the Nigerian needs to be cleaned up. We are 419ers, crooks, corrupt, etc. All our hard work in Europe and the US means little. Even when we are successful, we do not get the break Kenyans or Jamaicans get for athletics, even though there are more Nigerian athletes and footballers in Europe and the US than any other Black country. We have award winning broadcasters, actors, play writes etc. In the US, Nigeria has over 3500 doctors. BUPA International in a recent survey says Nigerians are the most honest clients they have. I could go on interminably about Nigerian Black achievements as well as our failures. But a people are not only defined by their failures. Our President and ministers do not feel the need to defend our name in international fora: our men and women are imprisoned, beaten up but no one defends us.
That the Blackman likes the Whiteman in Nigeria cannot be a bad thing. If the world is to survive it cannot do so on the basis of hate. The above is a cameo, a caricature of a deep and complex problem.
Even so, let’s try to make Nigeria great. Perhaps, there lies our salvation.