It is not easy to write a book. First, you have to get a book; then you have to write it. That has been my experience. I did not set out to write a book when I began putting notes down about the Nigerian. It just struck me one day that with all the political acrimony that gripped the country and in spite of the diversity of the country, a personality that was distinctly “Nigerian” had emerged, but few Nigerians realized it.
One night, sitting in front of the Catering Rest House bungalow in Maiduguri, almost a thousand miles from Lagos, I was talking this matter over with a German journalist friend, Lutz Herold,* when he suggested it might be a good idea to put my views down in a book. I protested at once and made charges against myself that I was not the author-type. Lutz refused to yield and since I am susceptible to flattery, I finally allowed myself to be persuaded. I hope this book is a success.
It is very important that people should be told how to be a Nigerian. Apart from the fact that Nigerians them-selves will be most interested, every fifth African in this continent is a Nigerian. We are talking therefore of about a quarter of the people of this continent. Too many writers are trying to solve Africa’s political and economic problem without looking at the people with whom they are dealing. Others, with less concern for the immediate problems worry their heads sore about the “tragic impact of European influence”. We are be-deviled by over-anxious curators of culture who lament the fact that Africa is no longer the primitive continent they dreamed it to be.
I anticipate furore in quarters which have become accustomed to the fawnings of the European psycophant. Such people are bound to see this book as an “insult” to the Nigerian. I offer no apologies.
I offer this book as a tourist guide to those Nigerians who wish to break with tradition and visit their own country. Nigerians are great travellers, except in their own country. They travel far and wide in Africa. You will find them selling diamonds to Ivoriens in Ivory Coast; they run small businesses in Ghana and make a thundering good living selling hand-woven Ghanaian cloth to Ghanaians. You will find them in the heart of the Congo too, selling elephant tusks off Congolese elephants to the Congolese. But at home they are parochial. Flatterers say we are a stable people. No doubt about that. At home, the Nigerian is intrinsically static. They are stable people who are immobile.
This book does not pretend that it is a philosophical or sociological work; it does not affect to be of scholarly depth. Its aim is to enlighten in an entertaining way, to show that the Nigerian can laugh at his own idiosyncrasies.
For this reason, I commend this book to the man with a large sense of humour.
Lagos, 1966 Peter Enahoro
*LUTZ HEROLD , 47 , German journalist sentenced in November 1965 by a court in Accra (Ghana ) for alleged treason to 40 years of forced labor and was released after the fall of Nkrumah’s govt in 1966.