Claiming America to Claim You

Published on 14th April 2014

It is amazing that since 1918, when the first Nigerian was recorded as passing through Ellis Island, most Nigerians in US - despite 96 years of continuous presence - still behave like ‘JJC’ – two-timing, living abstract lives and wishing to return to a country they willfully left. Anyone serving two masters never does a good job for/by any of them. 

Living a life of illusion and believing that it’s better on the other makes most Nigerians in US to fall short of embracing America and making a good life there. Some Nigerians in US want to be addressed by a title from their backwater and backward village - Chief, Nze, Ozo, Igwe, Oba, Obi, Lolo, Super High Chief- all nonsense which does not carry any collateral value. That does not matter they raised their hand for the US oath of citizenship not to honor any foreign title. It is a height of hypocrisy and the reward is confusion and conflict such that things fall apart. However, when they see ‘Oyibo,’ they make no such demand and on their job, they are so timid and afraid that they  do not wear their garb to work. But see them at nocturnal activities where they are more colorful than ‘Dolly Patton’ in attires so uncomfortable.

Amazing too, is the deceitful conduct of couples who wear uniform but are hardly uniform or unified in their family. A wife is secretly building a ‘mansion’ in her father’s village and tells everyone not tell her husband. A husband has a wife in Nigeria and tells everyone not to tell his wife. A family that lives in make believe, only presenting an appearance of Dr and Dr/Mrs ----. Annoyingly, in-laws come to stay and disrupt their household and no one including the alleged head of household says a word about the discomfort and abuse of their home. They become tenants in their house to make their disruptive in-laws are happy – nonsense.

Most Nigerians put up with anything believing in the village customs which have no place in US America. One who invites aunts into their house, must bear the consequences. Be a man, command and demand respect but also respect your spouse. Set boundaries and be the first to follow. As for a mansion in Nigeria, it is better imagined than described – built to impress but hardly functional. 

Nigerians who have been indicted and tried in US courts for offences relating to family matters – family violence, spousal abuse, etc. Often, the tender defense is: ‘this is how it is done in our culture.’ What a lousy excuse! In one case of defiling a minor by a Nigerian, a Collin County Texas resident told the judge that in his culture, it is acceptable to do so. ‘Sir, what zip code do you live in? The judge asked. He is serving a life sentence. 

To their bewilderment, when they receive maximum sentence, it shocks them to their senses. It is a life of a lie to live in US and refuse to imbibe values and conduct that at least informs one of their place and the rules and regulations. But again, one lives to suffer the consequences. When one is arraigned, it is very evident the persons who were cheering the accused hardly rally for substantial legal defense fund. They stay away and run, only to gossip about the person in whose house they wined and dined the previous Sunday.
It is very sad that their so called committee of friends hardly contribute money to assist their ‘Chief’, Eze, Nze, etc., and all the other plastic and elastic titles they answer to, to get out of jail. The criminal conviction rate of Nigerians in US is more than 95% partly because they have poor legal representation and what they get accused for is something they could have avoided. But given the penchant to live in US physically while they are mentally invested in Nigeria, the two-timing nature of such existence lives one dangling.

By Ejike Okpa II
Dallas, Texas.

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