I have watched for quite some time now as the world has taken jabs at the Federal Republic of Nigeria in various ways. From the news channels to movies and even most recently TV commercials. And in truth, I have never really cared about it because they are mostly all flawed facts or flat-out lies. My first and only motivation so far was sparked by the Christmas Day Delta Airlines ordeal with the 23 yr-old Nigerian male who has now been charged with intent to destroy an airplane.
Let me start by dealing with the wrongs of Nigeria and apologize for them on behalf of the nation before I give the world a list of things that need to be relayed to less informed judgmental individuals. You may take these wrongs and document them. You may NOT modify them nor add your own facts.
The media (from news channels to movies) have portrayed us primarily in 2 lights:
First, as the highly rebellious nation of intense political unrest. An almost gun-for-every-child war zone. And secondly, as the possibly most corrupt nation in the history of man.
I want to discuss these issues right before we earn ourselves yet another identity as a nation of suicidal religious fanatics, because the worst reputation given to countries today are dependent on the context of terrorism alone. Nigeria already has 2 priors as warlords and crooks, and I refuse to sit back and watch a third one stick.
Also, on the low, the media has enjoyed portraying us as a poverty-stricken country and shanty expanse of “third-worldism”. I am yet to see on international TV, the bits of Nigerian luxury that the average Westerner cannot financially afford to indulge for a full week. Or the “higher” calibre of automobiles on our roads that were all paid off in 3 hours rather than over 3 years. But that’s another story. I don’t mind us being portrayed as broke. After all, we are only the 7th oil producing country in the globe today and the million foreigners in our country don’t seem ready to leave here. Stop focusing on the ghettos and take your cameras elsewhere. We don’t see much Compton on MTV do we?
Facts about Nigeria (starting mostly with the negatives)
1. We have had an unfortunate streak of corrupt leadership and have seen the murders of those who have attempted to change this pattern.
2. Our corrupt leaders are guilty of utilizing a smaller fraction of the Nation’s budget on infrastructure than on setting up their families and squandering on outlandish habits. The Nigerian man is a man of extreme taste but over-indulges so very blindly and quite often.
3. This corruption takes place on every level of our government and by the time funds reach their destination, remains next to nothing and of course greatly cripples basic infrastructure.
4. These political crooks represent less than 0.01% of our entire population causing situations that lead to a survival adaptation of an added 10% of make-shift crooks.
5. Make-shift criminals are the offenders of piracy, scams, prostitution, frauds and other get-rich quick schemes. Just like the rest of the world.
6. We have a younger generation of criminals who are responsible for the most commonly known international scams and frauds and are perhaps single-handedly responsible for 80% of the damage to Nigeria’s international reputation today. Almost every foreigner has at one time or another, gotten a dodgy e-mail about transactions involving large sums of money. These e-mails are sent by 20 yr-old Nigerians with nothing to lose but study time after school. And with such a huge impact on the world, this class of criminals still represent less than 1% of the Nigerian population. And yes, they keep a busy schedule doing these acts not for survival but as a result of watching one too many hip-hop videos.
7. There are a few pockets of Nigeria no bigger than little towns with rebellious activity of minimum violence and almost zero death rate. These groups spawned mostly as a result of resistance to the corrupt government of Nigeria. They don’t always do the right thing but if the government did its job, there would be no activist groups to begin with. Think Black Panther before you say “Aha”.
8. There have been a few tribal and/or religious disputes within certain regions of Nigeria but nothing more shocking than the gang wars in America we have grown so fond of over the years.
9. The FBI has named Nigeria as the 3rd country responsible for the overall fraud count on the internet today. We are preceeded only by the USA as #1 and the UK as #2. So if we must point fingers, I suggest we start at New York or Manchester.
10. Nigeria has had absolutely no record of international terrorism. The first and last one so far has been the situation of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Please note that even this virgin case did not come without early warning to the US government from the much concerned father of the perpetrator to further paint the absurdity of this event to the average Nigerian family.
11. The general Nigerian population is much more angered by this event than the USA a hundred times over. This is behavior that we do NOT condone. And yes we will beat our kids to keep it that way.
12. Nigeria in all its political crises has recently been named the happiest people in the world. Don’t look at me. ‘Twas CNN said it.
13. The major crime of the everyday Nigerian is the comfortable ability to see all the above crimes and say/do nothing out of fear or laziness.
14. The major setback of the everyday Nigerian is the deeply religious mindset that someday, God will repair everything at His own time.
15. The Nigerian is not known to have the mind or heart to fight and/or die for a cause. We are still till this day yet to produce a “successful” suicide bomber nor have we seen anything close to a civil war in over 40 years. We are still in shock over the guts displayed in Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s attempt even as a failed one.
16. We are NOT in shock that he was allegedly recruited in the United Kingdom and not in his homeland Nigeria.
17. The average Nigerian is “almost” satisfied with a long life of poverty. As long as the life promised remains long.
18. The idea that we are a trigger-happy militant nation is completely out-of-place as the average Nigerian has not set eyes on any firearm not in the hands of the Police Force or the occasional mugger.
19. We DO have a crime rate not too dissimilar in frequency and severity from any other nation in the globe. We have also acknowledged that 99% of these crimes are crimes of survival or greed. We therefore, cannot boast of serial killers or mass murderers who blame their childhood for these heinous crimes. Again, we are not afraid to beat our kids to keep it this way. A treatment that might have changed the course of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s life as the world knows it today. We produce even less Charlie Mansons’ than we do Osama Bin Ladens’.
20. The Federal Republic of Nigeria is a mere 50 years old (younger than your dads) and requires more support and encouragement and not the occasional kick in the nuts by countries hundreds of years older. And in all prejudice against this young nation, let it be known that YOU are judging and referring to less than 10% of us at every point in time.
Some movies and media that have wrongly referenced Nigeria recently.
1. Avatar (2009) – In James Cameron’s recent blockbuster, Nigeria is the only non-fictional geographical location to be mentioned in the almost 3 hour movie and is passively referred to as hostile environment.
2. District 9 (2009) – This movie represents the boldest of negative references to Nigeria in entertainment so far. So much you can almost tell that its personal with the makers of the film. (You’ll get yours Neil).
3. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) – Nigeria portrayed as hostile and rebellious environment.
4. Tears of the Sun (2003) – This was the first major reference to Nigeria and the entirety of the film is set in Eastern Nigeria. It is also rumored that none of this movie was actually shot in Nigeria. Sony’s (Sony Pictures) first shot. It is almost flattering how we are portrayed as hard-to-kill bastards with infinite firepower. Yeah right, we’ll buy a truck load of ammunition right after we save money for a quick sandwich.
5. Lost (Seasons 2 & 3) – Mild reference to Nigeria as hostile environment.
6. The Sopranos (Season 5) – Passive reference to Nigerians as a corrupt people.
7. Sony PlayStation 3 Commercial (2009) – Bold and blatant reference to Nigerians as corrupt people with heavy generalization. (Strike 2 for Sony)
8. Identity Guard Commercial (2009) – Subtle insinuation that Nigeria might as well be the capital of corruption.
9. Sahara (2005) – Careless depiction of Nigeria as a country where a fraction of the film takes place. These scenes were not shot in Nigeria.
10. The Bourne Identity (2002) – This movie uses a distinct Nigerian language called Yoruba as the choice language for the character of the African terrorist mastermind.
NOTE: I am NOT saying make up fairy tales to make Nigeria look good in your films. All I’m asking is “Do you really have to refer to us at all? And if you must, is it okay to ask you to get your facts right?” Its all media and movie tickets to you guys but to us it makes everything harder. From getting visas to getting laid.
We, Nigerians, now have the second largest film industry in the world today (google it), we too can create a lot of trash about your country when we deem it necessary. We do more world travel than any other nation so we won’t even need to make up lies.
My name is Jay Lenny Levanne and while we are terribly sorry for Abdulmutallab, I am begging the world to back the fuck off my country. Please.
P.S. – While we’re on the topic, you guys are the reason Nigerians like Seal and Sade no longer have last names. You made them feel shame for fucking nothing.