Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Coda on class

There's a repeatable/inter-changeable character type one notices if one stays in Abuja for any length of time. The person has either done something at Oxford or LSE, but more often they've done something at Harvard. Paid a wad of money to get the brand on their cv that is. The first thing you notice when you meet them is not necessarily the accent, whether it is British brogue or occasionally flattened by something in America. No, the first thing you notice is how much their heart bleeds for Nigeria. They've seen the plight of the education system. They decry the corruption in politics, or in the oil business or the transport system or whatever.

They then give you their little paean of change. Donors will flock and shake out their wallets. Politicians will appear to be impressed. Journalists will be incentivised. A project will quickly form, involving study tours and 'training' in Las Vegas. Something, or many things, will be procured. It will probably not work, at least for very long. A few months/years down the line, they will be gone, in a whush of harmattan dust. And on and on. When will they stop coming?


Anonymous,  6:38 pm  

very soon they will stop. the younger generation in the us have given up hope on nigeria and practically everyone i meet is never coming back to naija...the bleeding hearts have stopped call it selfishness or just being practical but we are more about self advancement now none of that what can i do for my country bs

Anonymous,  7:02 pm  

wow. anonymous I am breathless...........

lanre,  7:19 pm  

ok - i just want to let you know that you are this close to being PNG'd.

na you sabi.

how about all the oyinbo people who come to watch this 'fascinating' people and study their 'interesting' habits as though they were a discovery channel special. what were you expecting you expecting in nigeria - a bunch of iliterate natives with flies on their eyes and dust in their bowls??? or is it just too much for you to swallow that that we don't fit nicely into the media stereotype you 'open-minded' oyinbo liberals like to use to ply your trade of international expert, social commentator, journalist or humanitarian worker.

I think you've been allowed to run amock for too long in naij. I enjoy your commentary from time to time, but I don't think you have now acquired the licence to insult a people under the guise of obejctive comment.

psssssssssstwh....... [that's an electronic hiss in case you were wondering].

taiye,  9:40 pm  

Jeremy, I am just curious but what exactly do you in Nigeria? As in, your profession.

This one that you blog at least twice or thrice a day, Doesnt NEPA affect u ?

@ anon 6.38 - I am not going to say ignore Nigeria at your peril but you might want to reconsider. Yes, Nigeria has many problems but this country will explode on the world stage sooner than you think. Its size and potential continues to make it very strategic in the world and just like India is undergoing its transformation at the moment, Nigeria will also undergo its own. Make me siddon look....

RJ 11:05 pm  

Huh? Anonymous 6.38, how about you talk for yourself alone and the people you know, do not generalize that "the younger generation" have given up hope cos they sure as hell havent. I'm part of this so called "younger generation" and I nor the Nigerians (I know) in the diaspora haven't either. Our hearts bleeds still and we are stupidly optimistic, and yes we still want to know what we can do for our country.

Jason 1:46 am  

To the first poster, you are so far from the truth it is embarrassing.

I am currently in California and I know of a few that intend to *move* back to naija when they graduate college. Maybe the people you surround yourself with are those that have given up hope but I speak with friends that have nothing but pride in Nigeria and want to go back and make a change. I keep up with old secondary school classmates that are making positive things happen and are encouraging me to come join them.

We are not deluded and understand it will be a frustrating and uphill battle, but the desire still burns.

Jack Slater 6:19 am  

Deep stuvs my man, and well written too. Dont worry about that first anon, we're still coming oo

Aspiring nigerian woman 3:40 pm  


Have some faith. I still know well meaning NIgerians, who attended this so called elite schools and are and will still make lasting impact on Nigeria.

I have a cambridge degree which cost me a fortune, but I am on my way to serve my country and contribute my bit. Watch out J,I am on my way and this is not for short term projects and self benefits, I will change the story.

tobenna 6:49 pm  

Nna na wah oh.
All these grags wey some people dey dump for ya site. E paranoid me oh.
On to the coda on wetin you call am again?
You must have had quite a number of experiences with these Expat naija people. I live between Lagos and Port Harcourt, but I never jam all these people oh.
I guess they are contributing in their own tiny way. But maybe, they can conduct their study in local Naija villages and organise trainings in the same locations. I offer my services foc

Waffarian 7:04 pm  

@aspiring nigerian woman: Preach sista preach! meanwhile Jeremy, hook us up with all those ya donors them, i get plenty plans and projects...dem full ground remain!

but this sentence from Lanre killed me today, i don laugh tire for here "I think you've been allowed to run amock for too long in naija".

Heheheheheheh, Jeremy, dem go soon catch you oh!

Dotun 7:15 pm  

I think one of the reason for the failure of such project is the adverse relationship between the 'respect-the-elder' culture and 21st-century development. Oxbridge and Ivy league graduate interprete problem under a different framework from the agbada 'chop-i-chop' public servants in Abuja. Eventhough they might have good intention, but good results elude them because the underpinning framework is faulty.

Dotun 7:17 pm  

the reasson why such projects fail may be connected to the adverse relationship between 'respect-the-elder' culture and 21st-century development. Oxbridge and Ivy league graduate interprete problem under a different framework from the agbada 'chop-i-chop' public servants in Abuja. Eventhough they might have good intention, but good results elude them because the underpinning framework is faulty.

Anonymous,  8:22 pm  

If you live in Abuja and work in the donor/development industry, one will encounter your observations Jeremy. I must admit, I was surprised how gulliable many of these donor agencies are. There is an assumption that if you are western educated that you are incapable of corrpution, incompetency etc. I think they are learning. They are not learning fast enough however. I see so many of the people you describe here in Abuja who complain about how much they have given up to return home, and i feel like reminding some of them that you have gained more than you have lost, especially materially. I know I certainly have. Although the security issue is a problem and it is what makes me question the extent to which I can continue to live in this country. So many oxbridge/harvards types like myself here can become quite lazy and complacent. No different from the civil servants and communities they are suppose to be elevating.

Olamide Obalisa,  8:40 pm  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous,  10:59 pm  

I think Dotun has hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately, this problem exists in just about every third world country..........

Ms. Catwalq 11:04 pm  

Don't you know that Dishonesty is a booming industry?

ijebuman 12:27 am  

ROFL at the 'electronic hiss'

Anonymous,  12:37 am  

As an ex Princetonian who is going back home in a few days (10 days, actually), all I can say is anonymous 6:38 is hanging with the wrong crowd. There are many many Nigerians abroad who are returning (there is another Nigerian also an ex Princetonian returning soon!) - we plenty.

Anonymous,  12:45 am  

Yes, Jeremy as lanre hinted, you strike me as one of those pverpaid oyinbo show-face-do-no-work-collect-cheque expats.

I hope not.

omidanbellafricaine 10:22 am  

left me start by saying i am the cynical anonymous poster and i believe i did say the ppl i have met in essence i am speaking 4 my self and from my experience i dont know why y'all think you have a solution when really you are part of the problem last week J posted an article where he pointed out that all you need to do is come back home with a janded accent and you are in ... leaving the unemployed and btw equally brilliant ppl left back nigeria still unemployed, and then you are back in naija and you realize there are some services and goods you need that you cant get in naija and then you begin to import goods and the other nigerians follow after all you are the janded nigerian that is more enlightened in the process you create a market for imported goods and local products are go back, begin to boast and show off make it seem to easy and then the youths begin to flow out of naija just so they can become like you they steal, rob commit fraud, commit suicide after being turned away at the embassies, you come back with your high and lofty mostly impractical dreams and then get frustrated along with the nigerians you have wooed with eloquent speeches ...... need i go on

p.s. bleeding hearts are mostly selfish hearts, we never give without wanting something back

Barb,  3:18 pm  


I wonder how YOU would feel if you or any of your Nigerian friends who may have lived or still live in the UK or in the States were told not to comment on issues in that country.

I'm afraid you are reflecting one of the main problems with Nigeria and Nigerians and that is a general refusal to take criticism be it constructive or otherwise. I know Jeremy and whilst I don't always agree with what he has to say, I do believe he has the right to comment on Nigeria - he lives in, works in and cares deeply about Nigeria.

I’ve read his blog since it’s inception and have found these knee jerk reaction warnings to him as if we're some friggin police state, quite quite irritating and the root of many of its problems......oh and I do wonder why so many people choose to remain anonymous as well as they go in for the kill...(I'm referring to many of the previous posts).

If you don't like his comments, don't read his blog.

and yes I am Nigerian, so go on tell me I can't voice my opinion...
THERE - got that of my chest, now I can get on with my work.

Loomnie 4:17 pm  

Ha... but the development machine needs these people to function, doesn't it? What do development organisations do with all the money they work so hard to raise if there are no ivy league graduates who are not just technocrats but also well-meaning citizens of a developing country? How does the development industry justify its existence without these well-meaning Nigerians? Actualy, I think your question should be directed at your development expat colleagues.

Anonymous,  2:24 am  

At the risk of sounding cynical, I have never met a white man in Nigeria who is not in 'it' for the money and solely this. But this is just my own experience. Not having met lots of white people who care 'deeply' about Nigeria does not mean that they do not exist.

Anonymous,  3:36 pm  

Does that include white women? I have met lots of white men and women who are doing very good and meaningful things in Nigeria and a very few who are making shit load of money. But so what some are making loads of money here? Arn't many of us in their country trying to make money as well? the difference is all they are making here is money and nothing more. Quality of life is shit in Nigeria. Those that are making money in their country are also enjoying the finner things in life.

In any case, this is Jeremy is blog if you don't like it, carry yourself go elswhere.


Anonymous,  7:35 pm  

'lakunle, the house negro, shine your eyes well-well.

Aronke,  1:35 am  

@anon 6.38 aka omidanbellafricaine, you made absolutely no sense darling so please don't go on.

Next time try a spell checker, punctuation marks and a paragraph or two, and your words might come into focus. Otherwise, didn't quite understand what your rant had to do with the price of rice in china.... but that's just me...

omidanbellafricaine 10:33 pm  

Pardon me Ma'am, I was not informed that my response would be reviewed by your H.R.H. I apologize for missing punctuation marks, syntax errors and other flaws you may have found in my writing. Hence forth, I shall write in MLA, APA, AMA, Turabian or Chicago formats. Please let me know which of these styles you prefer.

Although I would rather you admit that you had no problems understanding my response, you simply did not agree with it. And instead of coming up with intelligent counter arguments you descended to taking cheap shots at my writing. After all it is less tasking on your intelligence. Peace.

Anonymous,  12:31 am  

That's right Omidanbellaf, cos you know the price of rice in China be different and sheesh!
These blogs are too funny man!
Here come the spellchecker brigade again..........

aronke,  5:18 pm  

tsk tsk darling, no need to be sooo touchy, constructive criticism never hurt anyone...

Read your blog, loved it, bookmarked it, but your argument here just didn't come together so there was nothing to agree/disagree with. You must admit it did come off like a rant and nothing else.

Forgive me, but I do believe punctuation marks and paragraphs make for concise reading, especially if you're making a (long) point and I'm always quick to point that out to people (a habit my friends find immensely annoying so I guess you would too!)

Anyway, ma je ka ja. Ko le to yen. Lollipops?

nneoma 5:25 pm  

i agree with dotun that changes that some ex-pats try to implement are incongruent with the society they are trying to work in. the changes are needed, but the means by which they implement those changes are sort of dumped on to the host (some random naija village, town, people group, etc). This is not new to Nigeria or even the developing world. This type of ivy-league-grad knows best starts right at their home institutions. Many of these ivy leagues institutions are within or besides ghettos and their students often "bleed" for these ghettos. Unfortunately, their ideas of community development, which on paper are quite impressive, ignore the realities of everyday living in these places. (I know from personal experience of not only being a member of one of these "ghettos" but also, much later, a student at such an institution). I think such graduates who are the most successful at their development endeavors first integrate themselves into these communities for several years, in fact. Then gradually make changes through existing structures. I have yet to see otherwise and I think it serves as a useful model for those abroad who seek to "make a difference" in Naija. Rather than go for development money for realistically unsustainable projects, it is probably best to first re-orient yourself into the Nigerian way of life, which may take years. For example, one can teach at a university, rather than imposing some new program or assist at an existing clinic rather than siphon thousands of development dollars for like a one-week AIDS awareness program. In the process of re-orienting yourself, get married to a Nigerian and establish some tangible roots in Naija...look, it worked for Jeremy...i mean that light-heartedly....these are just my thoughts from my very limited experience, but I've enjoyed the discussion so far.

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