GOB!G Quote of the Day

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Best dressed Nigerians hated by South Africans

Yesterday at lunch time I went to chop off my guru-look hair (because wifey insisted). I had a hard time choosing the right barber as everytime I get a cut, these barbers seem to move my hairline back by some inches - they must wish I was bald. So I decided to not pay a fortune at a pro salon to chop off hair that in fact I wanted to keep. I went to a flea market behind Sunny Park Mall, Sunnyside, Pretoria.

My Nigerian girlfriend
The flea market is reminiscent of my village - a bunch of a clustered decent looking shacks, all in light blue. A Nigerian girl at a salon ushers me to what seemed like her friend. A tall, dark Nigerian man with a beaming smile. The guy to chop my hair for the next half an hour. Chatty dude. Asking all sorts of questions. It wasn't my first time visiting this Afro flea market - with everything African to on sale. But it was the first time, this visit, that I realised nearly all the business-tenants there were Nigerian, with the exception of some Zimbabweans.

Entreprising Nigerians, silverspoon-demanding South Africans
We had a conversation with my little sister about it on the way back to work. In our conversation, we just confirmed what I had been silently aware of for some time. That most Nigerians and Zimbabweans (or rather, foreigners in general) in South Africa work harder and are nicer than the typical lower class (and even middle class) South African. They tend to be more dedicated, more entrepreneurial and taking any job that is available to avoid sitting on their laurels waiting for gov to churn out jobs through ASGISA. This good spirit is without exception to the foreigners who are here only to scam my fellow country man, sell drugs, pimp young girls and more of such evils. But then again, somebody will say South Africans, on average do more evil, and that's unfortunately true).

The good, the bad and the ugly
In Sunnyside, more the Hillbrow of Pretoria, life is characterised by the concept of the 'melting pot'. All nations, the majority being Nigerians and just a few Zimbabweans (they crowd in Hillbrow - my sister tells me), behaviours and cultures start to interact in the good, the bad and the ugly. It is just emperical that when nations start to mix in a rapid way, some dichotomy comes forth: cultures start to understand each other as much as cultures clash and conflicts (immaterial mainly), like xenophobia raise their heads higher. And in Sunnyside, xenophobia is ripe.

Punishing the hard-working South Africans
In Sunnyside, by far, the best dressed (decent mannered) man are Nigerian - and I personally admire that. And I admire also, the fact that they seem to understand the concept of family or community very well, just like Indians and Pakistanis do (as evidenced by Chika Onyeani in Capitalist Nigger). But South Africans, and I'm talking black South Africans specifically, seem to detest each other. The turf for the detest is mainly material in nature. If you seem to have more than I do, then I suddenly don't like you, don't support you as a friend or family/relative, or I just punish you by denying you that of most importance in human cultures: friendship or even friendliness. And in Sunnyside, you can see the direct contrast of how other cultures live together or treat each other as opposed to how black South Africans look down on achievers - if not credit card swipers infested by long standing debts.

Kaleidoscope of cultures
My point, we can learn a lot from places that are melting pots of nations and kaleidoscope of cultures such as Sunnyside. Even if we reached it by chance whilst looking for a reliable barber. The xenophobia in that pot says a lot. Nigerians and Zimbabweans, like fellow South Africans, are African brothers and sisters. Hating them just says how much insecure we are about ourselves and our zeal for achievement through hard work and entreprising behaviours. Loathing them just says we loath anyone, regardless of nationality, who has better material display than we do. May be I'm saying this because I'm busy planning my first visit to my fatherland, Zimbabwe, where my grand father left in 1945 to start a nation in the village of Pankop.

That barber-man did such a great chop on my head that I will be motivated to go back, sit, and enjoy a great conversation whilst worrying less about losing my grown guru-look hair.

"Judge of a man by his questions, rather than by his answers." - Voltaire


Oluniyi David Ajao said...

I enjoyed reading your blog so much that I blogged about you here: http://www.davidajao.com/blog/2007/05/25/isreal-mlambo/

I have seen your pix on Flickr too. Nicey they are.

All the best, man.

Ishtar said...

Hi Izz!

Just wanted to say that your post has now been published in the Beautiful Africa Carnival.


Thank you for your contribution & good luck with creating new positive posts about Africa, which you hopefully will present at upcoming carnivals! The next one is schedules on the 18th of July.

Greetings from Niger,

loomnie said...

Followed a link to this post and I found it really nice. When you are a Nigerian living abroad nothing warms your mind more than to hear a few good things about Nigerians. Believe me, our reputation is so bad (I don't really know why) that one good word about Nigerians warms the heart.

All the best.

pamelastitch said...

Thank you!!


Izz said...

I enjoyed writing what mattered to my heart. Glad you enjoyed too as I did.