Nigeria is a country located in the Southwestern part of Africa. It is home to the most populous black population in the world. We have about 200 million Nigerians spread all over the world. Nigeria has over 250 tribes and spoken language dialects. The diversity and the sheer population size are part of the Nigerian charm. Listed below are the popular misconceptions people have about Nigeria.
1. Africa is a Country and Nigeria is a village in it
I have watched so many movies and read so many articles where people refer to Africa as a country of some sort. It is common to hear people say, “I went to Africa” as opposed to saying the country they visited a particular country in Africa. A lot of foreigners are surprised to learn what a large place Africa is after conversing with them. Africa is the second largest continent after Asia in terms of landmass. Africa has over fifty countries in it. It is misrepresenting to refer to it as a country. Nigeria like Egypt and South Africa is a country in Africa. Nigeria has 36 states and a Federal capital territory.
2. Nigerians cannot speak English
It is quite embarrassing when people attempt to use sign language to communicate with you because you are a Nigerian. Some people talk really slowly because they think Nigerians either do not understand the English language or they have a very poor grasp of the language. This is far from being true. Nigeria was colonized by Great Britain and our official language is the English language. All formal events and classes are held in the English language. In a country with over 250 language dialects, English seems to be the only universally accepted form of communication in the country.
3. Nigeria is a really primitive place
Nigeria like most countries in the world is rapidly undergoing urbanization and development. It is surprising to hear that people think Nigerians live in medieval time. My friend was once asked by her classmate if Nigerians wore clothes. Some think they live in huts, wild animals roam around the streets while the male folks go in search of animals to hunt for food. This picture painted by most people is not at all true. Nigeria has urban as well as rural center neither of which is primitive. We have megacities like Lagos which incidentally is the fifth largest economy in Africa.
4. Nigerians are not smart people
There are two types of smartness, book smart and street smart. As a Nigerian, there is a really high chance that you are both. The pride of most Parents in Nigeria is not their houses or their cars but their children. Nigerians sacrifice a great deal to ensure their children are well educated. The children, in turn, reward their Parents’ sacrifices with good grades and are often high achievers. Nigerians are the most educated immigrants in the United States.
5. Nigerians are internet fraudsters
It is true that some Nigerians engage in fraudulent activities in a bid to rob people especially foreigners of their money, but it is wrong to paint every Nigerian with the same stroke as these few unscrupulous people. Nigeria is home to hardworking people who go out every day to work for earning their bread. Surely, the world can forgive the larger population of the sins of a few bad eggs.
6. Nigeria is unsafe because of ongoing wars
This is another popular misconception. Nigeria is mostly a safe place for people to visit, live and carry out business transactions. There has been some insurgency in the northern part of the country in the past but that is mostly curtailed. Also, the crisis did not reach the other geopolitical zones in the country. It is wrong to assume that Nigeria is a war-ravaged country under terror attack from its own citizens. Nigerians live peacefully.
7. Everyone does Voodoo in Nigeria
Voodoo or black magic is connected to the traditional religion which is one of the three major religions in Nigeria. Most Nigerians are either Muslims or Christians these days. We have more atheist than traditional worshippers across the country. It is wrong to assume all Nigerians are involved in voodoo when in actual sense, a minority of the population partake in this act of worship and way of life.
8. Nigerians are all polygamists
This is another popular misconception. In the olden days before the introduction and advancement in technology, a man’s wealth was often measured by the number of wives and children he had. A man needs numerous wives because of farm work. His children acted as laborers on the farm. The bigger his farm size, the more wives and children he was likely to have. With the high cost of living and educating a child, the number of wives married by men has reduced significantly. Introduction of Christianity which preaches one man and his wife has also helped greatly in this regard. Enlightenment has occurred and the majority of Nigerians today do not have multiple wives.
9. Nigerians are loud
This is as far from the truth as possible. It is true that their traditional wears are colorful and eye-catching and maybe they all get carried away during parties. No party is complete without a live band or at the very least a disc jockey and in some cases both. That, however, doesn’t mean Nigerians are loud, they are just a group of happy people who are likely to have a good time every now and then. Yes, they celebrate their achievements and blow their trumpet as a nation. Nigerians mostly go about their businesses in a quiet and orderly manner.
10. All Nigerians look alike
This is the most ridiculous misconception I have ever heard. Nigerians like every other person in the world is a function of their genetic makeup. Nigerians look so different that it is possible to predict a person’s origin within the country by their skin color or average body build. According to genetics, no two individuals are exactly the same except perhaps identical twins. This same rule applies to Nigerians too. No two Nigerians look alike. So next time you see a Nigerian, take time to really look at them so you can differentiate them from the other person.