I work in a Multicultural environment with people from many different countries.  All the continents are well represented. For some of these people, they are new to Nigeria and as such have a lot of questions about our ways. I find that it is always important to answer as clearly and correctly as I possibly can because I realize that my answer will be repeated to other people outside of the country and this will help them paint a picture of Nigeria.

Of course some of these questions/comments that I get range from the serious to the seriously ridiculous but I still take my time to answer. After all, I am Nigeria’s ambassador…sort of.

Source

 

A good example of the seriously ridiculous would be when a colleague told me that he had been told that the reason why Nigerian men smelled so bad was that it was appealing to the opposite sex (Pick your jaw off the ground). According to this theory, the stronger a man’s body odor, the more attractive he is to the opposite sex.  In fact, I was told that I must be used to inhaling the body odor of others because it sort of appealed to me.  I asked him who told him that story and he mentioned another Oyinbo like himself. Just goes to show you how important it is that we tell our own stories.

I do the best I can to address all questions/comments but I am not sure I can always do them justice as the answers are sometimes more complex than what a few words can convey.  As such, I have decided to throw out the last question I got and have you weigh-in.

To give you a little back-ground, my colleague noticed that a lot of Nigerians do not mingle with Junior staff. That is to say, whilst he was on first name basis with cleaners, drivers and other junior staff, he came to the realization that many Nigerians that were on a lower pay grade than him never socialized with these junior/support staff.

So the question is: Why is there a big gulf between blue collar and white collar Nigerians?

30 Comments

Chizzy D

One or two or three individuals does not represent a whole cultures, everyone should seriously start seeing people as individuals.
I’m not sure if i just mad any sense.

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Dee!

Yeah! I actually had to pick my jaw from the ground! WHAT? I can not stand any body smelling being! What kind of theory is that?!

I really can’t answer that question, because I TRY not to allow any gap in my own case.

Have a blessed weekend!

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Jaycee (E.A)

Maybe the thing is a lot of Naija folks like to feel like they’ve “arrived” so pride sets in. Anyhow, I usually don’t ascribe to certain statistics, for instance I know some Naija people who will do the opposite (talk on first-name basis with junior staff).

Silly, silly theory about the odor thing. Euuueeew.

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LD

“…The stronger a man’s body odor, the more attractive he is to the opposite sex.”…so ludricous, it ought not to be funny! But here I go: Hehehehehe…I really hope to get over this so I can articulate myself to give a sane comment.

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DiDi

In my Opinion, the reason Why is there a big gulf between blue collar and white collar Nigerians is that most of them always want to create that MONKEYS PLAY BY SIZES SCENARIO “which i find alil bit Silly coz we are equal and no one knows tomorrow, this happens everywhere,schools,hospitals,neighborhoods and not just Nigeria but the world over. I think it has to do with PRIDE of in some rare cases where the junior or low ranked person has Escalated the Mingling Privilege he/she once enjoyed. “I stand to be corrected” .

As for the body odor,thats an ewww although some of our Brothers & Sisters Down south “South-Africa” still believe that a man with body odor is a hard working 1. I laughed over it coz the older citizens are the ones who strongly believe it.

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Sugabelly

Well, like it or not, we live in a heavily class ranked society and even before we were colonised, the individual empires and kingdoms that we were made up of were all heavily ranked by class.

Just because we assumed a new name “Nigeria” does not mean that suddenly that’s going to go away. The people that are now known as Nigerians have always delighted in grouping themselves according to rank and looking down on their social inferiors while scraping and bowing to their betters.

It’s not bad, and it’s not good either. It’s just our culture and it just is.

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Myne Whitman

Sugabelly said it well. I want to add that it’s not just in Nigeria either. Most societies are classed too, in fact class is a whole section in economics and social studies. Why do you think there was so much noise made of former Kate Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge? Royalty and commoner marriages are not usually the ‘done’ thing. Your colleague will probably not be chummies with his driver back in his country, if he could afford one.

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Natural Nigerian

Again, my answer was close to this. It is in Nigeria that most expatriates find that they can actually afford to hire a cook, gardener, driver and housekeeper full time. They get these big flats in Victoria Island which is bigger than most (Europeans) are used to. Infact, one of my friends have described her flat as a ballroom. It is easy to see that they are coming from a place that is very different from Nigeria.

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Titi's passion

Nigeria and the class system, its always being there and I don’t see it changing anytime soon. The gap between rich and poor is just ridiculous. Am so shocked at the body odor statement, like seriously??

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bsnc

What? i have never heard that people. I can’t stand any sort of offending body odor. They are not serious at all.

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Adiya

Like you know! My mouth opened. Where the hell did they hear that from? :o Please rep Naija well :D

PS. I’ve changed my blog url! I decided to keep the blog on Blogger after all. Check out the link: http://museorigins.blogspot.com. Sorry for the inconvenience X_x

Adiya

Reply
Naija Joint

Bia first before I answer your question, you gats to tell your colleague to have his head examined. I mean where on earth do you find anybody that loves offensive odour? I know some white people love the natural smell of the body but never heard of people loving offensive body odour so this one has nothing to do wif reppin for Naija by replying them, but more of your colleagues just being plain stupid..

To your question, it is just plain ole Naija…same reason the country is going backward, why do you think there is so much corruption? Simple! To have enough money to oppress others. Yeap Naijas love loking down on people and when they are in a better position than you, it gets even worse

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Natural Nigerian

I understand that it is offensive for it to be suggested that our people are backwards but I prefer the fact that he did ask rather than go away with that impression of Nigeria.

I believe that coming to Nigeria is his first trip outside of America. There are several practices here that are very different to what he is used to and understandably so. His ability to want to learn as much as he can about this country rather than leading an insular life is laudable in my view. Based on your comment, I have had to ask myself if it is really that far fetched to think that some cultures value body odor? The English have termed it body odour but according to Didi’s comment it is the smell of hard-work which is actually valorized. As an example, let’s look at some cultural practices:

A flogging game where the endurance of young men is tested (Fulani, Nigeria).
Washing the grounds of a compound with cow dung (I think this is a Hindu religious practice still carried out mainly in rural India).

Due to the passage of time and our evolution no longer as “Nigerians” but “colonized Nigerians” we have found it increasingly easy to accept and sometimes assimilate the cultures of others but I can imagine that our fore-fathers were regarded as “stupid” during this process of acceptance. I find it easier to accommodate the fact that we are a diverse people (even amongst the tribes of Nigeria) rather than disparaging anyone (foreigner and national alike) for being so brave as to ask a question.

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Adura Ojo (Naijalines)

Why is there a big gulf? Affluent Nigerians like to lord it over the poor and disadvantaged in such a nasty way, so it makes them feel big, important and in control! It’s so sick it’s not funny. But that’s the naija mentality.

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Rhapsody

Classism, Racism, Socialism, and all the other isms apply where the SUPRERIOR/INFERIOR dialectic/ideology gets played out-his mind the appropriate platform. That he could ask, believe such a barbaric designation speaks volumes of his psychological mindset, the lack of self-governance in terms of objective reasoning, in other words he is a puppet a walking, talking version of internalized ‘isms’. Sad but too often a true reality to how human beings though two legged are like sheep, and will follow with the masses without thought, reasoning or consciousness.

A person smells bad not because of culture, ethnicity, nationalism, class or tradition, they smell bad due to poor hygiene practices.

The gulf has to do with classism, (and all the other isms as they intersect) its classist behavior where people feel because they have a better job, house, opportunities by virtue they are better and more worthy. Hence the drive and thirst for money and power, it is seen as the ticket to superiority and acceptance.

Sadly all this is internatlized in almost every socio-economic level of society and the infighting, back stabbing, manipulating and demoralizing is the justifiable steps use to “succeed.”

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Chynwe

I actually was talking about this the other day with my husband. For me, what bogs me is when a 30yr old lady demands that I call her aunty. I’m 26…really? You have to ASK/DEMAND? Nigerians like that too much. At church, the Americans (60yrs +) are begging me to call them by their first name, while I can’t do that becasue there is still that ingrained sense of respect, I find it ludicrous that a young girl will go around asking to be called Aunty just becasue she is a couple years older than me. Nonsense!

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Obi

I am a firm believer that all cultural practices started for a reason. If the reason no longer applies, or if the practice has become destructive or irrelevant, why continue it? In our culture, we used to have age groups/ grades, and your age or status was always relevant in the community. However, looking down on people you consider ‘lower class’ is a practice cultivated in a proud, disrespectful, and arrogant mind where is grows into something worse and unfortunately is sometimes passed down generations. When the help is treated with disdain, only God can help the kids grow up and not treat others with disdain.

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nnenna

I think it is the innate desire in most Nigerians to ‘succeed’. to climb the social ladder, and when you meet someone that feel your better off, you unconsciously shy away from such a person. don’t want to be dragged down to his/her level. it is not good, it might be materialistic, maybe be a bad norm, but it there. the reorientation will come from our individual homes before it can spread. maybe it will affect then this will not be seen in the next generation.

Reply

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