It’s been three years since I left Rasaq but it still feels like yesterday. He had begged me and had written lots of letters to me. He told me, in those letters, that he loved me and would do anything to make me happy. But I was done listening to him.
I had used some parts of his money to develop myself. I had learnt a trade and I quickly became a success. I became rich enough to ensure I paid back every Naira I took from him.
Just in 2016, last year, I travelled to the US for my education. And it has been great. I am currently studying political science in the university. The experience has been very challenging. I have particular lecturer here, Professor Richardson, who still believed that the whites are superior. I had read lots of books on this, and I felt it is all in the past. But even with the so-called civilization, many whites still believe they are superior to blacks.
I had just finished reading Richard Wright’s book Native Son and it helped me understood how America had been in the 1940s. The book had actually opened my eyes to what made the whites feel they are superior. They tell themselves that they are.
I remember vividly a day when I had an argument with Professor Richardson about the whites’ superiority. He had usually rolled his eyes at any ideas, even if it is valid, provided by a black. But when it comes to the white, it’s a different story. He’s a remnant of a dying era, I tell myself. Even though there’s a little racism in modern Americans, it’s not as extreme and freely shown as in Professor Richardson. I used to believe it was because I was Nigerian he acted that way to me, but I was wrong, he treated an African-American the same way. On this particular day, he started the class on a happy tone. I knew his happy tone and I had thought it wouldn’t be a bad class.
“The topic for today is ‘The Influence of the British Civilization On Africa’”, he said. I didn’t have any problem with the topic. In fact, the class would have been enjoyable if he had ended his explanation with Independence of the colonial countries. I wondered what it might have felt like on October 1960, when Nigerians were finally free from the British cold grips.
“The British had really improved Africa during the civilization but these Africans were too ‘maladroit’ to effectively lead themselves. If you look around the world today, you’ll notice some common things with all African countries”, he paused for effect, “and that is: poverty, hunger, human right abuse, corruption, poor governance, human trafficking, alcoholism, jealousy and complaining of nonsense. Africa has been so unable to rule itself. We have so many poor families in Africa that poverty is now seen as a normal thing. The rich have been so corrupt that they rob the poor so blindly. The government does nothing about this issue. In fact, the country’s woe is exacerbated by the government. The government refuse to build all the necessary amenities for the human life. Instead, it mismanages and embezzles the revenue it gains from the export of the raw materials gotten from the country. Corruption has become an acceptable way of life. The blacks sing and rejoice to their corrupt leaders. They worship their scandal-ridden religious leaders like their gods. You must not forget that these so-called Africans are praising and dancing for the people who have impoverished them, and who comes to hide their loot here.
“We are not obliged to try to prove that we are superior to the blacks. The whites have demonstrated this in many ways. We have developed by wishful thinking. The situation is even worse in oil-producing countries like Nigeria. Drill oil for them and they’ll have no peace for the rest of their lives. They have minerals and they cannot do anything with it. They allow us (whites) to rule them and control their resources on their lands?
“Do you now see that the black man is meant to be ruled by the white? If you ask me, the whole continent is on the verge of collapse. Jesus please hurry and save these Africans!”
The whole class was still. We were all slowly absorbing all that was said. The blacks in the class hid their faces in shame. They had been insulted. I knew all Professor Richardson said was true. These are the problems that Africa as a whole is facing, not just Nigeria. Africans are ignorant. They need to wake up. I can’t accept what Professor Richardson said. I must say something. I felt it in my veins that I needed to give the other blacks in the class their courage. They must not lose their self-esteem.
“No!”, I said calmly, not believing my own voice. The class gasped in tension. No one ever disagreed with Professor Richardson.
“Did I hear someone say no?”, he feigned ignorance.
“Yes, I said no. I mean I did. I do not agree with what you had said, sir.”
“You mean you do not agree that Africans are facing these issues?”, he asked. He’s enjoying this, but I’m going to beat him to it.
“Africans have their own issue. Americans also have their issues. Those issues are things that cannot be denied. I agree my home country faces the problems you had listed. But that is no reason for you to conclude it is the black man’s fate to be ruled.”
“I rather you sit down to your thoughts.”, he barked.
“I rather I don’t”, I fired back much to the class’s surprise. “You claimed that the continent is on the verge of collapse but what do you know of civilization? The British had lots of years to have civilized to its modern stage. They had progressed at their own speed and this had helped a lot. Even at their own speed, they had problems. They were faced with so many setbacks. Wars, famine, epidemics and so on were few of their problem. But still, they progressed. They achieved a lot and they shaped how our world is today.
“After a while, the British started converting other countries into their colonies. They made the indigenes of these countries their slaves. Most countries affected by this move were in Africa and some parts of Asia. The British started imposing their own ways, which had taken them 300 years to achieve, on these colonies at such a high speed. It would take time for the people to understand the principles of democracy or of industrial development. Even when they did understand, problems will surely arise because they had not achieved such civilization at their own speed.
“Africa is in its developing stage. It is not on the verge of collapse as you said earlier. In fact, Africa is the fastest growing continent in the world. And this shows that we are gradually solving all our problems. I can illustrate my point by using an infant who has just started walking. At first, his walk would be unstable as he would bump into things and fall at times, but that does not mean the infant would not later walk like we all do. You speak of corruption and poverty as though it is coded into the Africa’s DNA but can you really take a look at countries like India and Russia?
“I do not see any reason why you should say the white man is superior to the black man. After all, it is only the skin colour. We have the same eyes, head, brain and heart that the whites have. So in spite of your sadistic story, I’m not ashamed because I’m black. I’m proud to be black. If you’re black in this class, listen closely, be smart, do not be gullible. You’re going to hear many sad stories like this one. Do not let it discourage you. You’re perfect just the way you are whether you are white or black. It is just a skin colour.”,
I stormed out of the class afterwards. I couldn’t let a sadist like Professor Richardson talk about how poor my origin is without giving him a piece of my mind. I knew the end result of my argument with the professor will make me fail the class but I couldn’t care less. I had filed several reports to the humanity department but nothing has been done about him. So I needed to act on my own. I need to be a representative for my kin.
At the end of the semester, I was expecting an F in Professor Richardson’s course because no one ever argues with him and wouldn’t suffer for it, but surprisingly I got a B. I partied with my friends. We went to a club where we drank booze and danced till our feet hurt. It was the end of the semester.
At the party, it hit me that I should start my own blog. Well, everybody owns one or two these days. I pictured how it would look like. Blank came to mind. I tried again. Then I phoned Kendall. He used to be my boyfriend but distance has separated us and we both decided we stay friends. “Hello, Kendall”
“Hi, Halema”, he returned indifferently. I thought once again if it had been a nice idea to have called,
“Well, never mind. You can return to whatever you’re doing. You sounded like you wanted to get off the phone like hell.”
“I’m sorry. What’s up?”, he asked trying to show some concern. His voice was rough and husky. He has been drinking again. It was a new habit he cultivated in London. He never drinks just one or two bottles, he drank and drank and drank until his stomach could not hold any more.
“Well, inspiration hit me and I decided that I should create a blog for myself.”
“Why are you starting all your sentences with ‘well’?”, he said, “what type of blog do you want? A fashion blog? A lifestyle blog? A-”
I cut him short, “I want my blog to feature on the undying racism issue in America and how the blacks will learn to deal with it.”
“Oh, I got it. I’ll fix it for you. I’ll send you a template on your email soon.”, he said.
“Thanks”, I said but he already hung up. I sighed. I took up a pad and I started writing.
A NIGERIAN WOMAN IN A MODERN AMERICA
It’s quite a different story from the 60’s – 90’s. Then, Nigerian women were usually object of pity. Especially the poor and uneducated ones. But now, we have become more independent. Most of us are educated and we have been able to reach positions some men are unable to grasp. We believe that we have developed in many sense, but have we really? Do American women, for instance, view us differently?
I have spent only two years in the USA but I know a lot. Nigerian women still face a lot…
I stopped and looked at what I what I have written. It’s pretty hard to get the ideas to come together and make sense. I closed the book and I went out to take a walk hoping I’ll get a clearer head but it didn’t work.
Kendall later emailed me the template of the blog. I fell in love with it right away and I told him to create it. He did that, then he emailed me the password and my site details. I logged in to be a site Administrator and I changed the password. You can’t trust anybody nowadays.