!Simply-Dunni-on-Spot !SiDoS: The Typical-Ola or Not!?
I was in the club with friends on Saturday. After some bottles of beer, a drunken conversation started. At some point, a boy-friend said: “I have very few African friends and you are my only African girl-friend but I imagine African girls as crazy, friendly, confident, good dancers with extremely loud vocal cords.”
This is all me, but for him, all these strung together also constitute the identity of African girls. I burst into laughter and did not tell him of my friends who were very shy, quiet and calm; friends who would do everything else but dance. Sometimes, the best response is to be quiet instead of ruining a person’s belief.
I replied him: I was only Ola until I got to Europe. I was me, the crazy, witty, sarcastic, friendly Ola. But on arrival in Europe I became a representative of African girls to many Europeans.
Even I am confused, where should the line be between what’s typical-me and Nigerian. This is what I told another friend on Sunday: Though our personality is a reflection of a larger part of our society and culture, isn’t there always this distinct I and YOU?
I have to admit, I use this general profiling several times especially when it suits me. My best boy-friend is a very lazy, unstructured, non-mechanical person. He is a depiction of everything not German, I have to put his timetable up in my own room so I wake him on time for classes, remind him of appointments, remind him to go shopping, check the bus and train plans and yet remind him to catch the bus on time and most times make fun of him for not separating his garbage correctly etc. Exhausted, I scream at him: “Why are you not so German?”. I am Nigerian but at least I still remember appointments most times. I have to admit, we are so alike and that is why we are best of friends. I never can get along with the typical Germans, we are two parallel lines that can never meet!
Another friend, a German accused me of being a player. I answered: “Oh really? Well, so you know, I’m not a player, I’m just Nigerian”. Let me explain the complexity. Germans make complicated every damn thing in the world no matter how little! Having labels like ein(e) Freund/Freundin (a boy-/girl-friend), mein(e) Freund/Freundin (my boyfriend/girlfriend), then adjectives and comparatives as the case may be to define finer shades of friendship or underline the details. He labels me a player because I don’t respect this complicated details; for me, my friend is my friend! Simple! Abeg, I like my life uncomplicated.
In Nigeria, I was this crazy, funny person, almost able to make everyone laugh; I made jokes out of everything. My friends and family were always excited to see me. When I walked into a room, the atmosphere changed. I could win over with my charm, even though I was labelled rude, non-conformist and arrogant. I was in the spotlight for anything crazy and rebellious. In my undergraduate days, I remember having to write an annual undertaking not to cause trouble in the student hostel. However, upon submitting the document, there were my hostelmates waiting patiently for me to get back from class to take on a house-master who made up a stupid rule to lock the hostel gates at 10pm. My friends could count on me to take on any cause as long as it has TROUBLE embedded in it. I was a positive trouble maker, seeker and finder altogether.
I am still this same me, living in Germany. I have lots of friends as well as a handful of enemies. The question to ask is this: Is this typical-me or a typical Nigerian one finds on the street?