How To Be A Nigerian


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.Preamble

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.

By Ego bụ ihe na emefu

Don’t Shoot My Bushmeat

Editor’s Note: The outrage from the United States over the death of Cecil the Zimbabwean lion – killed by an American dentist on safari – is baffling to most Africans, and‘s contributor Ikhide Ikheloa explains why.

A lion is dead. Cecil. That’s the name of the lion that was shot by a white man with too much money and time in his hands. $54,000 was what he paid to shoot Cecil. Just like that. Like many people, I was upset. For different reasons. This world is unfair. How is it that one man has $54,000 to waste on a lion that my cousin at Yankari Game Reserve could have let him have for $500?

We should never give animals names. It humanizes them and they become more valuable than Africans.

Weekly, dozens of Nigerians are slaughtered by Boko Haram. It doesn’t seem to faze the world much, hell, it doesn’t seem to bother Nigerians. They bleat, “We leave di matter for God hand!” and go inspect catfish peppersoup at an nkwobi joint.” I propose that we name the victims Cecil. That would definitely get the world talking. Interesting in all of this, Africa’s role in this mess was not interrogated. Perhaps Africans are not human enough to be held responsible for their own actions. We are too cute to be held accountable.

I don’t really understand the concepts of extinction, animal rights, etc. Zoos seem to me to be an alien concept. They came to Africa with the white man, along with several other oyinbo wahala. What is the purpose of a reserve? Why have zoos? Were the animals consulted as key stakeholders? What do they think of their incarceration? As a child I remember visiting zoos in Nigeria, the animals looked miserable. I am told that the zoos of my childhood are no more or are pathetic shells of their former selves. There are mean rumors that the zoo wardens killed off the animals for meat when the rulers would not pay them their salaries.

I have eaten elephant meat. It is tough. I had an uncle once who was fond of bringing us wild game or bushmeat, a pejorative that becomes instantly glamorous as venison in the West. I remember elephant meat, the skin is as thick as a cement block and it takes days to cook. It takes even longer to chew which was fine with me. As a little boy, meat was a rarity reserved for the men (evil patriarchy!) so whenever I got whatever was claiming to be meat I dared not look the gift horse in the mouth. I ate it. That is the point, as Africans, certainly as Nigerians it seemed to me that we took what we needed from the forest and allowed the forest to regenerate. This practice was working very well until the white man came and started naming animals, plants and streets and declaring things extinct. We could never tell how many lions were out in the wild, we knew where they were and we avoided them.

READ ALSO: Zimbabwe’s ‘Iconic’ Lion Cecil Killed By Сruel Hunter

The white man has inventoried every animal in Africa, given them cute little names and warned us off calling them bushmeat – and eating them. These are tough times to be an African. Who eats an animal with a name like Cecil? Once growing up we had a chicken that my little brother named Lucy: not sure why he did that, I think he’d been watching the I Love Lucy show on the only television on our street. Well, mom eventually killed Lucy and made delicious rice and stew with it. It was as if mom had killed a human being, as in, Lucy is dead. My little brother was upset, he cried and cried and cried and would not be consoled. I lost my appetite for Lucy, er, the chicken. I could only bring myself to eat just the thigh and a wing; actually I ate both thighs and a wing that was how bad my appetite was. ‘Never eat an animal that has a name’ is actually an African saying. I think.

The other day I listened to some NGO dude talking about an environmentally friendly contraption that would take the place of firewood and stop the deforestation of Africa by Africans. You should see this joke of a cooking utensil; it is not big enough to cook the thigh of a distressed chicken. Try using that silliness to cook at an owambe party and famished guests will burn down the party with firewood and kerosene. Firewood became an abomination when the white man landed in Africa. You know they have huge barbecue grills in their backyards in America; they use charcoal to power those mothers. Guess where charcoal comes from? Trees! I think it is time for Africans to start talking back to oyinbo people. They need to leave us alone with our lions and firewood. It is easy; they should pretend that our bushmeat is venison and our snail is escargot. They definitely should stop giving our bushmeat cute names.Untitled It depresses our appetite for venison. I am an African. This world is not my own and I am reminded of it daily. It just seems that Africans try daily to squeeze themselves into the mold of the white man. It is tough.


Ikhide Ikheloa, fondly referred to as Pa Ikhide by his followers on social media, is a social commentator and art critic.

Culled from

By Ego bụ ihe na emefu

5 Reasons Religious Vigils Should Be Banned In Lagos

OPINION: 5 Reasons Religious Vigils Should Be Banned In Lagos
Omotayo Yusuf Yesterday 6931

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Religion plays a key role in the lives of Lagos residents and, to a considerable extent, dictates their way of life. Religious leaders are revered so much that they occupy a somewhat god-like position in the society.

Lagos is an accommodating city and its status as having a representation of all the tribes in Nigeria is cemented. The fundamental right of its citizens is also respected to a great extent.

The right to religion which Lagosians enjoy has allowed a lot of religious groups to thrive. Religious centres are scattered around the city, and it’s almost impossible to enter a neighbourhood and not see the cross or crescent symbols that depict Christianity and Islam.

The relationship between the adherents of these two religious in Lagos is a complex one. While they intermarry and live in the same houses, there is a subconscious sense of competition to have the most members and, ultimately, more religious centres.
In one street in Lagos, one might find up to a dozen churches and mosques including shops, front space of houses and even abandoned buses converted into places of worship. While this in itself doesn’t pose a big challenge, it is the mode of operation that does. For reasons ranging from trying to get closer to God and increasing members by providing solution to problems, different vigils are now being organised. Weekend vigils, midweek vigils, last-Saturday-of-the-month vigils, first-Monday-of-the-month vigils are some of the periods when adherents gather to raise their voices to God.

These vigils can however be uncomfortable for people who reside in these neighbourhoods where huge speakers scream throughout the night. Measures should be taken by the government to look into the problem that these vigils pose.

Here are five reasons vigils should be moderated or banned as the case may be.

The doors at gates of religious centres are usually wide open throughout the night during vigils. Perhaps this is done to either allow latecomers access or make their voices be heard. Whatever the reason, this poses a great danger to devotees as they become easy targets to armed robbers, thieves and other perpetrators of evil.

Religious centres are scattered around Lagos without consideration for proximity to health centres. This is bad enough but it is worse when patients are denied the chance to properly recuperate due to the cacophonous noise shattering the night which is due to one or more vigils going on. The body chemistry is geared towards sleeping at night and patients might find it difficult to recuperate properly if they don’t get enough sleep during the night.

Perhaps it will be proper to refer to it as induced insomnia. This is because residents in areas were these vigils take place find it difficult to sleep due to noise pollution. Imagine four different religious centres organising their vigil on four different days of the week. The residents in this environment are going to be affected during the four nights while the different groups are only affected on the day on their vigil. The domino effect of this is that these individuals who were forced to have minimal or interrupted sleep will not be able to go about their business effectively during that period.
Religious intolerance

Residents in areas where vigils are organised belong to either of the two religious affiliations which are Christianity and Islam. It is however sentimentally possible for an adherent of a religious group to ‘bear’ the discomfort caused by adherents of the same group. For example, if a vigil is organised in a mosque, Christians may find it difficult to withstand the disturbance and frown at it but Muslims might not complain because they can relate with it and vice versa. This might lead to tension between the two groups in the neighbourhood.

Religious vigils in Lagos are usually loud and the speakers are strategically positioned to carry the activities far. This poses a great danger to residents because if a robbery, stealing, rape or any vice is going on, the call for help might be drowned by the louder speaker of the religious group making the possibility of rapid response difficult.

Religious activities are expected to guide members towards a better life that is achieved through godliness, but consideration should be given to other people who are not participating in the activity at that particular time. The government should examine the operation of religious groups especially during vigils and possibly create measures to enforce moderacy of operation during vigils. If this moderation is not achieved, then religious vigils that affect the environment and well-being of citizens should be banned.

By Ego bụ ihe na emefu

I Want A Lot of Things.

I spend my days thinking about what I want and my hours trying to get what I want. That may sound completely self-involved, but think about your own days and hours. We want food and we go get it. We want coffee and there’s a Starbucks every 1.2 miles. We want sleep, we take a nap. We want to talk, we flip open our cell phones or hop on the computer. We want to express ourselves, so we laugh and cry and get angry and become sad.

What about need?

What exactly is the line between our need and our want?
Fortunately, there isn’t always a line. We need food, we need sleep, we need to talk and hang out, we need to express ourselves. We may not need those $60 jeans, but we do need clothes in some form. Still we are mostly a desire-driven generation, and many of our desires spring out of a desperateness to connect with something, anything-for the connection that will stop the ache.
This can lead us down some dangerous paths. Yet the question rears its head, how are we to view our desire-driven, thirsty selves?
Is it all just selfishness and greed locked in a perpetual and fruitless chase, or is it possible that we were made like this by a Creator who is also driven by desire? I’m inclined to believe the latter. I cannot fathom that all my needs and wants have everything to do with little ole me. Surely my desire to connect with something greater is rooted and founded in God. Despite all of the stuff I try to obtain to fill myself up, I really just want one thing:


I need connection with people, and this is such an integral part of living, but underneath all other connections lies that for which we were made:

to know God and be known by Him.

That’s the longing that nothing else seems to satisfy. I want to connect with something outside of myself, something that is bigger and better than any other human being.
We all do. I spend a great deal of energy making my life revolve around me, but I really don’t want the world to exist for me. Chasing myself around never satisfies and it is exhausting. In tracing the path of my pursuit through brambles and thorns, I find the roots of my desire:

At the beginning, in the middle, and at the end, there He is. I want connection; therefore, what I really want is God. All of my desires are shadows and types of my desire for Him. All the hunger pangs I experience that stubbornly refuse to be filled with the world serve to show me that God alone is all-satisfying. He wants to use all of my desire and thirsting to push me toward Him, to lead me to the One Who alone satisfies.
Here’s where the story gets a little crazy-
God wants connection too.
Since the beginning of time and before, God has desired connection He desired a creation and so He created one. He desired a relationship with His creatures and so He forged one. He desired to be with us forever and so He sent Christ. The Psalms tell us He does as He pleases in the heavens and earth and in all deeps and it pleases Him to be connected with us. Because we are made in His image, we too are creatures of desire who long to connect. Connections of all sorts and shapes exist. We were ultimately made to connect with God Himself, the Holy One-the profane and the sacred become one in His economy.
I often wonder why a sovereign God wants a connection to such ones as you and me. The answer is so simple but so stupefying that it sends my mind spinning.
He Loves Us!
This reality is difficult for us to accept. Even as I type it out, I am shaking my head and thinking, You must be joking! That’s just preposterous. I am a flawed, finite being trying to embrace a perfect, infinite Love. Thankful, even though I struggle to believe it, that doesn’t change the truth: He loves me just as I am. It is the outrageous, unmatchable love of God that loves creatures such as me. I can’t even begin to comprehend the love He has toward us-but I’ve experienced it, and I’m changed forever. It’s perplexing. He loves because He loves. It pleases Him to love me. This is the foundation of connection-He loves us; therefore He stops at nothing, not the cross not death not even our own humanity, to connect with us forever.
This longing for connection is divinely natural.
Is is the cry of the eternity in our heart that Solomon speaks about in Ecclesiastes. So what’s my problem? Why do I run to everything and everyone and not to Him? Well the fact is , I am human and I am driven by (controlled by and obsessed with is more accurate) my five senses. I ignore the “Divine Whisper” because it’s just too mysterious, too unknown. So I try to be fulfilled with things I can see and hear and taste here and now.
Daily, my flesh proves to be my worst enemy! Despite my willing acknowledgement that my desires can and will only be met and fulfilled through intimacy and connectedness with Christ, sin has left a stain upon me that is hard to fight. The tale of running after other things to satiate us is as old as Adam and Eve. My desires take me on many paths-some seemingly harmless, some not-so-seemingly harmless. Some are benign and even good in and of themselves, but I often use them to fill up what only He can fill up and that leads me further and further from the divine connection I need.
If you dig deeper, past any undesirable behavior, you can see the longing-you can even hear it. Looking past my own efforts and strivings, I recognize the root. These behaviors aren’t really the problem; they are only a result and a ramification of the problem. The problem is the fount from which they spring; a famished heart. Me desires are crying out for satisfaction and I convince myself that these other things will fill. We all do it. Shouldn’t we know better by now? You’d think so, but I never cease to become a completely forgetful imbecile at least a few times a day. While wrestling with a certain temptation or a besetting sin, taking a step back for some perspective reveals the same thing every time.
Why do I want to run to this thing, this idol” Because I’m hungry forconnection. I’m desperate and starving. So what do I do? There is a feast fit for a princess spread on the table above me, and here I am licking up the dirt on the floor! I’m hugging the toilet because I can’t imagine He wants to set me upon a throne of jewels! Call the dirt and the toilet what you will. I can glamorize it and make it pretty by adding a little pink bow, but is is still the same thing as it always was: a cheap substitute for immeasurable riches. Each moment is a wrestling match between my flesh and spirit: to connect with stuff in the world or to connect with God.
Some times are easier than others, as we can all attest. But in the dark moments, I will let the howling of my heart show me the pieces of eternity that He has placed within me.
I will let it teach me that I was made for another world and for a connection that surpasses any earthly experience.
He has been pursuing me through my desires since before I was born. He has loved me forever and He is drawing me, with every bit of my humanity, with His unfailing love, to connection-to an intimate relationship with Him.
As I listen to the groaning of creation for its Creator, heard in every alley and every bar and every church and every home and every heart, I will hope. For every human cry, there is an answer. Hunger was not created for the sake of being hungry, but for the sake of the experience of being filled with what is good. I don’t know much, but I do know this; those who hunger and thirst will be satisfied.
By Ego bụ ihe na emefu