I usually have to tell people that I’m igbo, otherwise they might never guess. First, I’m not light skinned with full natural hair both on the head and other parts of the body. Nor do I have full hips and a big bosom. These things are often telling for those of us from the East. That’s the ideal physical frame of” Igboness”. Interestingly, I also learned quickly that it’s very Nigerian too. I mean, we Black people in Nigeria have the tendency to extol the lighter skin, almost like we are not a continent of dark-skinned beauties. We are very subtly yet very blatantly colorist. And we are very ignorant about it too. You would hear someone say things like, “na only me black for my family. Na why I no fine”. Subtly equating lighter colour to beauty.
It’s gone beyond beauty and has even become revered. It’s not just the lighter ones amongst us that are revered. But the oyinbos too. That’s why you see a Nigerian school of 500 children, the only mixed-race boy and girl are plastered on banners to represent the entire school.
As in the case of all matters discussed on twitter, this one went back and forth: what is the parameter of appointing foreigners to political office in Nigeria? Are we to be handing political assignments to foreigners by virtue of them being able to pronounce our local foods, even without due naturalisation and citizenship? Is this a matter of knowing the culture of the people? Because there are so many Nigerian men and women that do this. Exhaust and uphold and propagate our culture both in Nigeria and abroad.
We’d consider that the Nigerian Law does not allow African, non-Nigerian women to take their husband’s Nigerian citizenship by marriage. This clause makes these Kenyan, Rwandan, Ghanaian and other women have Nigerian children and Nigerian husbands but remain stateless throughout the rest of their lives. The same goes for a Nigerian woman being unable to transfer her citizenship to her non-Nigerian husband.
So, tell me. What is this matter about bypassing all of this and making a person a commissioner although they are not a citizen of the country but are from an entirely different continent and race? I can’t help but think about how the case would play out if it was a Fulani or Hausa woman about to be made commissioner in that state.
The thing about Nigerian women, we are considered stateless. We are not from our mothers’ state because she is married to our father. And we are not from our father’s state because we ourselves are married. Again, we are not from our husband’s state because we are just wives and not daughters of the state. But all of this seems not to matter if the person is glorified as a white woman that can pronounce okporoko. The things that excite us.
I am not here to present a better candidate for the commissioner of culture and tourism of an Igbo state than a white woman who lived all her life in Europe, and I’m not here to bash Nwanyiocha. In fact, I respect her resilience to take up a whole new life and look for her family.
What I’m here to do is let us know that this constant glorification of whiteness in black and African spaces will not be reciprocated. They will not bend over backwards and break protocol for you if it were the other way around. My favourite argument on that bird app was someone comparing this to Barack Obama. A man who didn’t step foot in his African country till he was 20. He was indeed American in every sense of the word. You see, to be a president of the USA, you have to be a natural born citizen.
I’m all for empowering and promoting our culture globally. But of what benefit is it for us if the clout you say this person possesses is indeed bestowed on them by us the locals. Is it really pushing us globally? Nigerians and black people need to celebrate our blackness and not throw it under the bus or belittle each other’s work at the lightest drop of a hat.
I believe we are past the time where we have to look for the only mixed-race person in a Nigerian secondary school to be on the school’s banner and represent all the students.