A Nigeria With No Struggles!
My first trip outside the African continent was in 2016 when I traveled to Thailand for studies. Now, if you know me personally you’ll know that I am more of an introvert and a lot of people easily attribute my “fragile” attitude to my upbringing.
Surviving in a law abiding environment like Bangkok whilst coming from a seemingly lawless environment like Nigeria came a bit easy for me.
Standing on a queue for hours patiently waiting for my turn felt like bliss, the best part was that we could be a little over 50 at a bus stop waiting for a particular bus and on sighting the bus everyone acts normal and walks into the bus. No stampede, no insults
In the same bus, the old and new passengers mix up yet the bus conductor only needs to move around and the new passengers will hand over their bus fare. No cutting of corners
Being a non-English speaking country, the people made reservations for a few of us who may have difficulty surviving by putting up the price range of their goods. Let’s say I want to buy sauce for my rice, the price in English would go 25- beside the sauce. The “–“ there indicates that it could go higher depending on the choices I make, more sauce or more meat. All I needed to do was point at what I wanted, gave the vendor some money and he or she gets my balance if any.
I felt like I had seen a bit of what I’ve always imagined life to be like – calm and peaceful. Not having to fight for everything and anything. I saw what I had always felt Nigeria should be like. I really enjoyed the serenity and calmness of the people, then of course the resourcefulness of the average Thai.
I didn’t understand why one of my tour guides who visits Nigeria frequently HATES Nigerians and doesn’t pass up the slightest opportunity to point out our flaws until I visited Bangkok and placed myself as a Thai. I started to see things the way she saw them and realized I would have hated Nigerians a little more if I were in her shoes. The major problem she was always going on about was how easy it was for a Nigerian to rip another of his valuables – money etc. Being dubious and cheating fellow humans comes so easy with some of us.
Two things I do not intend to achieve with this write up – point fingers or praise another country like it is faultless.
Thailand as expected is very far from perfect but I remember on several occasions seated inside a bus on my way back from school, I’d look around and say to myself “Adaobi, just look at how a group of people have been able to exist self-sufficiently creating their own niche and living in it”
A lot of times I sigh in deep pain when I hear the kind of things young Nigerians spend hours talking about . I cringe on how it’s so easy for us to exonerate the fraudster on the basis of “There is No job in Nigeria” and remind each other that the reason why corruption will never end is because our government has failed.
The monarchical system in Thailand is top notch YET there are still so many crimes eating up that country like crazy, there are cameras and heavy fines for traffic law breakers in the United States YET people are arrested on a daily basis for breaking traffic rules.
I remember when I was leaving, my tour guide dropped me off at the airport early enough and I had to wait several hours before my flight. Walking down the aisle into the plane it was easy to tell I was in the midst of very civilized people. Everyone maintained their lane and walked at such a calm pace. However, getting to Abu Dhabi en-route Lagos it was obvious there was a switch into another realm – the realm of the Nigerian. Struggling for seats at the waiting room, conversing at the top of their voices and yelling on the phone whilst screaming at their little kids to stay put before get lost in the crowd.
The moment the flight was announced everyone rose up on their feet and began to rush to the door at the same time making it difficult for the airport authorities to properly check their passports. Damn! “Where the hell are you guys rushing to” was the question I blurted out to a grumpy young man who tapped me on the shoulder and asked “Why are you still sitting down?” I still couldn’t understand why I had to fight and probably get my cloth torn over something that would still come to me eventually.
It was the same way I never understood why Youth Corp members cut corners and fought during camp to collect their allowance that would have still gotten to them eventually. I sighed and watched as Nigerians ran down the aisle into the plane like a deity was after them and all this for a flight that would not leave until all passengers were on board and comfortable.
For the average Nigerian acting civil is alien and at the slightest opportunity we either blame it on our failing government or our nature as Nigerians. There is always an excuse for irresponsibility
I just thought to tell you that Discipline, civility, honesty, sense of responsibility and a kind spirit are virtues that a good governance will never give. Come 2019 if we are lucky enough to get the leaders of our dreams, this country will still be a hard nut to crack, if its citizens do not learn these virtues.
Life would not be so hard in this country if we all learn a little kindness and definitely the economy wouldn’t be so deflated if we all thought outside the box. Perfect wisdom is also realizing that it is time to stop looking outside your window anytime there’s a call for change and start looking at the person you see before the mirror.