Yes I’m Nigerian…But No, I’m Not A Fraudster

I am so mad right now….like proper pissed to oblivion kind of mad.

I’m angry at myself for being angry about something I have absolutely no control over and this just makes me even more angry.

Ever since I can remember, even while growing back in Nigeria, I’ve always known that Nigeria had a bad reputation in the outside world. What I didn’t realise before leaving the country is just how ‘bad’ this reputation was and how it would affect everyday life as an immigrant elsewhere.

Every time someone asks where I am from, I find myself unwittingly apologising for being Nigerian right after I’ve said which country I am from. As soon as you say Nigerian; you can see the expression on people’s faces (or maybe imagine it?) go from mild enthusiasm to panic and then suspicion. The funny thing is that I don’t really care what they think about me so it makes no sense that I should try to defend who I am especially since I, as an individual have done nothing wrong.

I have to admit people don’t always react like this but it’s just become a habit and it’s stuck in my subconscious that as soon as I tell a person that I’m Nigerian, all they’ll see from then on is a potential fraudster, an insensitive person who rips other people off their hard-earned money for selfish reasons, therefore, I feel I have to apologise (thanks all you fellow Nigerians who are actually guilty of this).

The fact is that if you’ve got an e-mail address, chances are you’ve gotten an e-mail from scammers. It is another fact that many of these scammers are Nigerians and a lot of the e-mails originate from Nigeria/Nigerians, although other west African countries are also involved to some extent. But does this then mean that EVERY SINGLE person who is Nigerian is a fraudster?

I’ll put this into context for you. The population of Nigeria currently stands at 168.8 million as at 2012…did you read that? 168.8 million! I don’t have any valid stat to prove it, but the percentage of people involved in this e-mail scamming thing can not be up to even 1% of that total population. We’re a humongous country for Christ’s sake!

It doesn’t take a lot of people to send out thousands of e-mails to people, all you need is a computer and a lot of time. Even if I add those Nigerians outside of the country involved in fraud, we’d still be talking in hundreds, not even thousands or thousands of thousands. Don’t get me started on the people who actually fall for these scams. True there are some honest people out there who genuinely wanted to help people they thought were in need but how can someone tell you you’ve won a lottery when you didn’t play any? And yet you willingly give away your details? People think it’s only foreigners who get these e-mails and are de frauded. I receive loads of these e-mails too, but I delete them because they irritate and annoy me and there’s no way I’ll be falling for it.

Nigerians are very resourceful people. We will find a way of making money where no one else has. We love life and are very vivacious even when in abject poverty. This attitude has helped a lot of Nigerians make honest money while some unscrupulous few have used these same traits for criminal purposes. There’s a lot of corruption in the country but to say we’re all criminals is taking it one step too far.

There have even been reports that people of other nationalities (including America) have now cottoned up to the wealth that can be made from internet fraud and are pretending to be Nigerians, obviously capitalising on the already dented reputation of the country to perpetrate their own crimes.

I’ve rambled on without even saying the reason I was angry at the start of this post (For some reason, some of that anger seems to have dissipated). I’m really pissed of about the fact that some big mouthed and quite frankly unbelieveably racist American senators have been using Nigerians as their slapstick and an indirect way of lashing out at President Obama and his Obamacare program.

First, it was Ted Cruz with his tasteless joke about the lack of Nigerian e-mail scammers because they’ve all now been employed to help run the Obamacare program or whatever. Now, I’ve just read an article by some other senator whose name I’ve never heard of till tonight, Ann Coulter (Oh I cringe at typing of your name!) who wrote an article so racist, it’s a wonder it got published. Here’s an excerpt from Yahoo:

The problem isn’t their complexion, it’s their culture. In America, we think only dumb people become criminals. That’s not true in the Third World!

Nigeria, for example, leads the world in criminal enterprises. Every level of Nigerian society is criminal, with the smart ones running Internet scams, the mid-range ones running car theft rings, and the stupid ones engaging in piracy and kidnapping. At the University of Lagos, you can major in credit card fraud.

There were almost no Nigerians in the United States until the 1970s. Today, there are nearly 250,000 Nigerians in the U.S. (committing the cyber-crime Americans just won’t do!). In 2011, we took in more immigrants from Nigeria than from the United Kingdom (9,246 from the U.K. and 9,344 from Nigeria).

Wow!!!! Such trashy spew from a Senator??? Where did she get her facts from? So in Africa, our culture is criminality??? Nigeria leads the world in criminal enterprises, seriously? when she says every level of the Nigerian society is criminal, I take it she means corrupt? No? If every level of the Nigerian society is criminal, then that means I’m a criminal, my father is a criminal, those people hustling in the hot Lagos sun day and night to make ends meet are ALL criminals and by extension, so are my poor kids!

I’ve done some background search on Miss Coulter and have found that this isn’t the first attention seeking spiel that she’s said so that in itself should have made me ignore this rant but I just can’t help being mad and I’m mad at myself for letting someone so shallow get to me.

I’m used to being the butt of jokes amongst friends about Nigerians and fraud but I understand that, I just give them one right back and we’re even. But I worry for our children now if this is what they will be tarnished with for the rest of their lives. I wonder if they will be punished for having parents of Nigerian origin even if they aren’t. If we aren’t careful, being Nigerian or having anyting to do with Nigeria will soon be a curse, and it’s because of statements like this that promote fear and division.

I have to question the section of the American electorate that voted for her! How could you vote for someone so full of rubbish and hatred into political office? Being right-wing and conservative doesn’t give you the right to demean and insult other nationalities and speak about people of other ethnicities other than yours like they are beneath you. I find it utterly disgusting that in 21st century America, such comments can still be made by someone in political office and it’s deemed to be ok. It isn’t.

Now, before you start preaching to me about freedom of speech, let me talk to you about a small thing called COMMON SENSE! Yes, you’re allowed to have an opinion and you’re allowed to say it, but just think, think for a second about what you’re going to say before you say it. I won’t go about generalising about any nationality or religion or any other faction of society tarring them all because of the actions of a minority of their kinsmen.

I’m not even going to bother defending all the right thinking, successful and happy-go-lucky Nigerians at home and abroad by saying they’ve achieved this or that because it’s just not necessary. In fact, I don’t even know why I’m wasting my time typing this when I should be in bed because of some ignorant comments. I’ve read these people’s comments and I just had to do some background research on who they were as I don’t live in the US.

The way I see it, these Senators hate Obama and his healthcare policy so much, they will say and do anything to drag it in the mud. What better way to do that than to  draw comparison between the policy and fraudulence? What is the easiest and most common form of fraudulence that everyone has experienced and can relate to? Nigerian e-mail scams! Link these together and Americans will forever be skeptical and afraid of signing up to Obamacare.

I don’t know what’s going on in the US, I have enough trouble keeping up with stuff over here let alone start poking my nose where it doesn’t concern me. I’m neutral about Obama because I’m not directly affected about what he does or doesn’t do but I’ve always had this niggling doubt about his election. Something in me just knew that some people would never be able to get over the colour of his skin and the fact that a black man is sitting in the white house might be too hard a pill to swallow.

I think this is why these right-wing politicians are behaving in such an irresponsible manner.The really sad part is that some people will actually believe them and thus the vicious cycle continues.

If you don’t like Obamacare that’s absolutely your choice, if you don’t like Obama too, that’s all good as well, but please please please, don’t use Nigeria as a launch pad for your hate campaign just because she already has a horrible reputation. You really really do not want a Nigerian backlash, as with everything else, we can be very vicious too when we put our minds to it.

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One thought on “Yes I’m Nigerian…But No, I’m Not A Fraudster

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