Metropole Magazine

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04 Sep Written by  Oris Aigbokhaevbolo

Why Do We Have the Worst of Everything?

Recently, I have come into possession of some foreign rice. But maybe it’s not so foreign. Such fine long grains from the Republic of Benin; these grains appear to resist burning. And also resist over-absorption of broth that is the entree to sogginess. This may not be a quality expert cooks of our national grains hold dear having mastered the art of patience and timeliness and perhaps, the addition of a few drops of groundnut oil.

For struggling chefs, this quality is the best thing since pounded yam. So you can imagine my glee.

The comparison of our national grains, at risk of sounding unpatriotic, has brought the luckless position Nigeria occupies to my mind. How can you be a truly great country when your primary cereal is always eager to burn? How can you be a truly great country when each time you behold a staple grain, it seems literally holding the short end of the stick?

Now, before anyone brandishes planks and tires, let’s be fair: everyone has had this thought. Every Nigerian has had his share of the necessarily honest but unpatriotic truth beneath the vaunted happiness—which, by the potholed way, is really just a comfortable felicity with complacency.

It is what you mean when a compatriot says something silly and you respond with nationality: ‘Nigerians!’

It is what you imply when your car enters a ditch and you cry geography: ‘Nigeria!’

You recognise it when you utter ethnicity when you are cheated by your countryman. There are many other manifestations. Nearly all of the country’s famous chants are variations of the unpatriotic. You know them. Say the following, slowly: Up NEPA!PDP!419! Holy Ghost fire!

Those are for the average Nigerian. The enlightened, and verbose, write elegant essays lambasting the country in foreign media. Our thinkers lament in alien classrooms and send us the link on Facebook. Nigeria bashing is the pastime of Nigerians. So, drop your weapons, we are in this together.

Whatever their debatable inherent merits, our major obsessions— religion and football— are yet to produce true greatness. Amidst the scrambling for players around the world during the recently closed transfer window, rarely did a Nigerian feature. At the end, only two Nigerians, Victor Moses and Peter Odemwingie, seem to have moved somewhere worth reporting. One on a loan deal, the other made the news for a controversial back story that has barely a connection to the physical action of kicking a ball. Two football players, in a country of...? What was the official figure of the last census? Oh, never mind.

Do we have any renowned clerics from any of the religions that routinely preaches against bad blood and in cases, violence? I don’t think so.

For pets, why do we have the terribly unhandsome dog breed (aka bingo) as the common breed? I mean compared to the brutal beauty of a German shepherd, the adorable cuteness of a poodle, the hairy peculiarity of a spaniel or the cuddly portability of a chihuahua. No, too good for us, we have instead, the mopey sloth of the bingo— the Basenji breed for a people with an outsized libido for the ugly. Is it any wonder you never see anyone cuddling a local dog?

The country brags about Soyinka's Nobel. But nearly three decades after that 1986 win, no one has come close. Adichie is possibly the closest but that is only if you consider at least two to three decades close.Young writers struggle but between the average writing and abject editing there's no chance for a Booker or Pulitzer nod.

And while we ourselves have finally come to appreciate our music, as it stands no one of the songs you hear in the clubs sung by a Nigerian will get a Grammy.

The films? Even the most inclusive of great cinema lists will struggle to include anyone of the interchangeable bottom heap pictures we produce. Nollywood still can't do a competent love scene.
CNN may include our accent as one of the sexiest but we know the truth. If we thought we were all that we will not alter our sound when we cross the border, there are those who adapt Ghanaian accents claiming the neighbours enunciate better.

The leaders? Now, please let’s not get started on that.