Now before I get accused of being racist I must state two important facts:
- I am Nigerian (and British)
- I read an article this morning with the headline: Are Nigerians lazy? Blame elders!
The writer disagreed with a Nigerian bishop who last month said, “Many people are lazy. We seem to have a very poor attitude to work in Nigeria. We believe in free lunches, long vacations and so on. We believe in going on strike for months and expect our salaries to be paid.” Really?! Labour laws in Nigeria are incredibly unfriendly to employees. Workers in numerous states are owed salaries from government — some haven’t been paid for more than a year! Why wouldn’t Nigerians strike?
My goodness, I was outraged this morning by the bishop’s words but that was this morning. After sending and receiving a few emails since reading the article, let’s just say I’m no longer outraged by the question I’ve used for this post…
Don’t get me wrong, I disagree with the points he used to illustrate what makes Nigerians lazy but he may have been on to something. Ok, so that’s the annoyance from the email I just received coming out. The fact that I was irritated by a few people who happen to be Nigerian doesn’t give me license to generalise my own people. I am however surrounded by Nigerians so permit me in this post to evaluate their attitude to work based on what I have experienced.
A colleague of mine recently passed away and I was devastated. He was one of the few people who could make me smile at 6am in the studio or in PCR before Good Morning Nigeria. Greeted with such a warm smile I would barely notice when he would slip a microphone pack under my clothes and clip it to the back of my bra! When my co-anchors and I spoke about him we would constantly say how much we liked him, how professional he was and the pride he took in his work. I must but hesitantly point out that he wasn’t Nigerian…
But I do thankfully work with some Nigerian people who have his spirit. I’m married to someone who works so hard I nearly feel guilty when I’ve got my feet up while watching TLC in the evening while he’s producing a jingle… BUT and it’s a big but, I’m constantly inwardly questioning the way people work here. Simple tasks are mishandled. Meetings are called with little or nothing solved. Common sense is a rare gem and yet so many people not only chase titles but somehow believe they are entitled to them despite their poor work ethic. These can all be attributed to laziness. If you need clarification on something laziness will stop you from finding the right person to help you understand how to complete the task. If you call for pointless meetings to feel superior its laziness that gives you enough time to do so. If you aren’t the brightest spark its laziness that keeps you dim. If you chase titles you don’t deserve you’re just a horribly lazy individual.
When I found out about the passing of my colleague it got me thinking about how I would be remembered when my time is up. How many people would talk about how hard-working I was? Who would recall how pleasant it was to work alongside me? Would anyone miss my ideas?
I’m a firm believer of questioning myself. It makes me a better person because I constantly realise I have things to work on. The people that emailed me this evening clearly don’t.
So are Nigerians lazy?
Hell yeah…but then again there are people from all walks of life in all corners of the globe that are lazy as well. Nigerian or not, lets all make an effort to be remembered in the same light as my late colleague and kick laziness to the curb. Amen.
P.S If you ever decide you want to send me an annoying email, I implore you to be lazy.
I tweeted about this post’s title this morning after reading an incredibly accurate and concise piece on blaming the media for our lack of knowledge.
I couldn’t have agreed with it more.
Since the awful terrorist attacks that shook Paris on Friday November 13th, I have read so many stories, comments, tweets etc about it that I didn’t feel I could contribute much further to the discussion. I didn’t particularly want to when comments about the attacks quickly turned into attacking anyone who showed any compassion for the lives that had been lost. If you added the French flag filter over your profile picture to show solidarity with French people then you acted on par with a corporate white supremacist. If you hadn’t tweeted about the Beirut suicide bombs the day before you tweeted about the Paris attacks then you were a hypocrite and a selective griever. God forbid you dared urge people to #PrayForParis…
I get it. There’s definitely a need to challenge the narrative presented to us by the media. The Delhi-based blogger Karuna Ezara Parikh beautifully reminded us to pray for the world and we should sympathise with innocent lives lost irrespective of their colour, ethnicity, beliefs or religion. Who should do all of this? The media? Ideally. But in the meantime, it’s our job to do so.
There is information everywhere but it’s up to us to decide how much of it we want to read and the measure in which we want to analyse it. I was amazed when I saw people on Facebook posting stories about the Kenya school massacre that took place in April. Apparently the story demonstrates that African lives don’t matter because of the lack of media coverage. This horrible attack happened while I was in Nigeria and was widely reported here but it was also widely covered by international news outlets at the time. If you just learned about what happened in Garissa University College don’t blame the media, blame yourself.
When I found out I was one of the Good Morning Nigeria anchors I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Eavesdrop on any heated discussion from a group of security people, bus commuters, television anchors or just about anyone in Nigeria with a heart-beat and you’ll likely hear them discussing a political issue. I’m tasked to be an expert in the field of politics. I may love politics but it’s not easy dissecting stories for people who already know the background of much of what I dissect. If I solely relied on the BBC, CNN or Facebook posts to tell me what was going on with the pro-Biafra protests in Abia State or the fuel scarcity crisis we are plagued with or how likely it is that APC’s promise of a N5,000 unemployment benefit for Nigerian youths would be fulfilled, I would be mute for most of our show. I find out about what’s happening in Nigeria not just because it’s my job to but because I want to know.
Likewise, with the Beirut bomb-blasts that took place a day before the Paris attacks, if you didn’t know about it, it’s because you didn’t watch/listen/read the news that day or you didn’t pay attention when you saw the headline or because you simply didn’t really care. I say this because of the tweet below and all the other similar tweets/comments/stories/poems I read — it’s untrue. What happened to fact-checking?
This was retweeted more than 50,000 times despite the fact international news outlets did report on the Beirut bomb blasts.
There is another reason the bomb-blasts in Beirut may not have struck a chord as much as the Paris attacks and it’s the same reason I can at times skim through a story about a bomb-blast in Nigeria — we’ve become desensitised to suffering when it’s in places the media routinely reports on. I’d likely pay more attention to stories about bomb-blasts in Nigeria if I saw it happening in Lagos where I live rather than Maiduguri that is unfortunately frequently bombed…This is wrong but it’s true.
We no longer have to wait for the media to tell us what’s going on. There are citizen journalists out there that even influential media outlets rely on to know what’s going on in the world. If you want to know what’s going on in Africa or anywhere else outside of the West then look for the information. Ask a cab driver, follow analysts on twitter, download a history book for context and then share what you find out with the rest of us. The ball as they say is in your court.
Posted in Black folk, Food for thought, Politics, Racism, Uncategorized
Tagged Beirut bombings, Cool TV, Eno Adeogun, Eno Alfred, Eno Alfred Adeogun, Good Morning Nigeria, ISIS, Jackjonestv, Karuna Ezara Parikh, Media, Paris attacks
When I first moved back to Nigeria people asked me a lot of questions:
Why would you leave a civil country to live here?
Do you think your accent will make you successful?
How will you keep your colour?!
I heard a lot. Ignored most but was asked a question that to this day I continue to ask myself:
What do you do?
This seemed at the time a rather daft question considering the question came from my colleague at my new television job. I was a reporter at NN24 — chasing stories, writing scripts, editing and in my head an all-round bad-ass. This response it turns out was more daft than the question. After an unwanted but necessary discussion I came to discover that when a Nigerian asks you here what you are doing, they mean what do you do to get money aside from working for someone for a salary… or in essence, “what’s your hustle”?
Being an entrepreneur wasn’t in my immediate plans. I wanted the chance to be a journalist in Nigeria. I longed to report on stories close to my heart and help change the Africa narrative one story at a time. When I graduated from Columbia in 2010 I was offered a job where I would have the chance to make my dream a reality. My dad advised me to get more experience in the West before I did so and I reluctantly listened. More than a year later having worked for Fortune, the United Nations and the Atlanta Post I decided it was time to make the big move.
So there I was, with an Ivy League Masters degree and a new job under my belt yet, unable to impress my Nigerian questioner with my achievements. Now having moved back (again) to Nigeria two years ago, I fully understand why.
My working life in London and New York post graduation provided me with a salary I was happy with and a day in which I knew without fail my hard-earned money would be paid to me monthly. Now, let me tell you a bit about what it’s like working in Nigeria. In a nutshell, I have come to realise that working doesn’t guarantee payment or payment at an agreed time. Don’t get me wrong, it is possible to work here and be paid on-time as I have experienced this but I have also experienced the flip-side and I am far from being alone. There are many state workers across the country that are owed salaries and pensions. I’m not talking about the odd month or so (as if that wouldn’t be so bad) but more than 12 months! Picture that. Working for more than a year without pay! T.I.N — this is Nigeria.
Living in Nigeria makes having an entrepreneurial spirit not optional but necessary. You simply shouldn’t or in most cases can’t rely solely on your salary. I got my thinking cap on and thought about a key follow-up question to what do I do — what can I do. The answer and support from my amazing husband is what pushed me to think out of the box and register a company called OOTB Media Concepts.
I may have felt that being a journalist was the beginning and end of my story but Nigeria has helped me discover that there are more chapters to my story than I realised. This year has been a year of change giving me so much to adapt to yet I am still hungry for more change. My mind is constantly thinking of what’s next and that excites me.
Never stop questioning yourself:
What do you do?
What can you do?
Work these out and get busy!