British born to Nigerian parents or Nigerian British

Selma is an historic film.

A friend asked if I had seen Selma, coincidently I was just reading an academic review of it which I enjoyed. She proceeded to talk about her views of the movie as compelling so to help put race issues in perspective.

I agreed.

Last Saturday was tight so I suggested we find a mutually convenient day to see it together. She proceeded to say it was nice to see a British actor having a lead role in an important film such as Selma.

“Which one was British actor?” I asked.

“David Oyelowo” she responded and continued to talk about how great David was in the movie.

See my friend is a fellow West African but had no clue which is which when our names are called.

So I said, “Really, David Oyelowo is an English actor?” 

“Yes, he is British with Nigerian parents” She responded.

Because it was very early on a Saturday morning and I could tell she hasn’t seen my point yet so I brought up Michael Adebolajo who was born in Lambeth, London and grew up there. I remember when the news of his murder of British Army Lee Rigby first broke out, it was reported as Nigerian  although he was born and raised in London.

To Adebowale and Adebolajo, my friend said they were Nigerian British but David is British born to Nigerian parents. Interesting.

Fair enough, bad egg will always put their origin in to shame.

Now, she got my point so I pointed her here to learn how to pronounce Oyelowo according to Brad Pitt. It was nice to see people making efforts to pronounce unusual names correctly.

It was after I logged off chat that I can relate fully to Maz Jobrani’s Tedtalk speech. The clip is hilarious but the related part starts from 5:21

Categories: Africa, Nigeria

Tags: , , , , , , ,

7 replies

  1. This reminds me of that common pidgin English comedy line you hear in Nigeria, where the erring child is referred to as ‘Your child’ by one spouse to the other. But the laudable child is referred to as ‘My child’ by both spouses.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. FK, anything is a target for you. Now you are shooting close to home.
    This minor distinction between British Nigerian or Nigerian British, all boils down to the same thing they are part of the Nigerian diaspora, just like Chiwetel Ejiofor and the two Michaels you mentioned (Adebolajo and Adebowale).

    As you know, in London many people have foreign souding names, it’s no big deal. But what do you do with those Nigerians with odd sounding Anglocised names like Victor Moses. (They sound odd, because I’ve not met any White Briton wit such a name. Similarly, Kingsley has been adopted by the Igbos (for a first name), and Ebenezer by the Yorubas). Now I’ve seen Nigerians emerging with Brazilian names like Pedro and Da Silva (proudly claiming Brazilian ancestry). Victor is popular across the board…

    I see myself as a Briton first, I never said I’m White, or I eat fish and chips. But this is where I see myself (at least for now). Nigeria is a place I may vist and have some connection with, ie ancestral homeland but for me that is where it ends. My dad’s folks frown on this, but from my point of view, they are being hypocritical. They spend most of their time overseas, their kids (all bar one), live overseas. Nigeria is just good for a topic of conversation or to attend various Nigerian/African functions in traditional clothing and dance to tunes they like and reminisce…good luck to them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know…funny every little thing is a reminder of ‘how do we do it back home?’

      See the Michaels especially Adebolajo (not sure if the other was born in Britain) to me they are Nig/British or any other arrangement they liked, however I found it funny how my friend differentiate these guys despite they were all second generation, all because of the kind of life they have lead… interesting, eh?

      Ebenezer is a very common name in Yoruba pretty much like Joseph. I heard the reason behind these name change was to get foot in the door especially for job seekers, maybe long time ago but today, I don’t think anyone needed to go that far except for personal reasons.
      Victor Moses? My people :)!! I have heard of Tunde Philips for an ogidi Yoruba man – I don tire!

      I hear you, it is commendable that you have this much interest, many born/raised home would not even spend a minute thinking about national affairs – who can blame anyone.
      If I can I would have toss the green thing in Asejire but well – half a life time memory is attached so it is a keeper for life. 🙂


  3. So the respectability politics plagues all of us. I love the beautiful sounds of West African names pronounced correctly. The Middle East and West Africa are beautiful places with rich culture and history… Maz’s humor takes the sting out of lumping us all together when one apple threatens to spoil the whole batch as they say.

    Liked by 1 person

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