Hospitable Nigerians

BBC Africa got Nigerians talking on  The best thing about Nigeria is…, a move to shift attention from what is not going well for the country.

The list started from Nigerians being happy people to their resiliency.

The way we answer a particular question really depends on the moment and the settings. A market woman who just had a sale after waiting around for hours is likely going to speak highly of how resilient and happy Nigerians are until a few hours down the line when she gets home to see no NEPA (power) after being stuck in traffic for two hours and oops there is no diesel to fire up generator.

Yes, we are happy and resilient. However, now that the world is a lot smaller, we can see a lot better what Nigeria has the potential of achieving.

My favourite point on the list was by Uche Nzeka, broadcaster and Sarah Okagbue, trainer. Both talked about Nigerians being hospitable. 

This is most obvious in the rural Nigeria, the sense of warmth is incredible.  More to do with the community set up, I suppose as houses are open and no high walls or gates to separate neighbours.

My parents’ house in the village was opposite the only road so this means I get to see people who are travelling via the village.

The closest village on both sides to mine is least one mile so by the time anyone reaches us, they’ll be thirsty given weather condition. General education on the need to rehydrated isn’t one thing my people are known for so we don’t carry drinking water with us on journeys. The common expectation was to get drinks in the next village.

I can not remember how many times, strangers have been asked “E wole, e mu’mi o” “Come inside to drink water” This is a polite call that is expected, more often than not, people would stop to drink as they needed it.

I have seen on occasions that strangers were offered to soak gaari too, usually offered to people who decided to rest a little.

This art is all dying as we have okada riders and people generally are walking less.

I had my very own experience of hospitable Nigeria in 1997, when I was desperate for a place to stay for the night, it was a happy ending.

Maybe being able to help make other peoples’ day a little better is what we are good at?

Categories: Africa, Nigeria

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7 replies

  1. FK, I have a question about this ‘hospitality’ you talk of, maybe you can answer it for me.

    Hospitality for me in Nigeria (like so many things there) has to be viewed with a degree of caution. Let me put this in context of my life. I’ve visited all the contients (except Antartica), though not all the countries, far from it. Never have I been put on notice of feel the need to exercise as much caution as when I visit Nigeria (my ‘ancestral homeland’), I feel this is a shame.
    When I went to Guyana to visit my Mum’s folks, I was advised not to drink the tap water, because it is not up to the standards as what I was used to, ie to avoid illness.
    My first visit to Nigeria was when I was 13 years of age. My dad came to England and warned both my mother and I, that we will be visiting many of his ‘friends’, we should not accept the food (we should make our excuses and say we’ve just eaten), and only take bottled drinks (when offered) (commonly called ‘minerals’). Not to drink any drink that has not been opened in our presence. This to my mind, smelt sinister. What kind of place is this where all these guards have to be erected? When we arrived, we were told to be even more cautious when going to the village.
    My question is why would anyone want to poison a stranger? Rationally, you can say that the probability of this is very unlikely, but it does happen, and you never know who will be ‘proverbial bad egg’, so one just has to remain on guard to keep life and soul together.

    Case 2, my cousin attended a funeral ceremony for his brother-in-law in the UK. His sister is a Nigerian and the husband is a Nigerian. His sister was grief stricken with whole incident as it was totally unexpected. The food was prepared by her friends, many of whom had travelled over from Nigeria to provide comfort. My cousin took his wife (who is not Nigerian) with him (he advised her not to touch the food). When they got their his wife innocently remarked that the food looked appetising, he told her in no uncertain terms to ‘stay clear of it’.

    Is this an Eastern thing, or a Southern thing or a Nigerian thing?

    Your village sounds so pleasant in comparison.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jco – I wish I could say you were making this up. My heart sank reading this and close to tears. The only words running through my mind was Damn Christian puppets…

      Must stop so I don’t offend everyone I know and they are mostly Christian…

      I’ll tell you what – I met a friend online, he is Christian from the north, I think he was a nice guy and so I asked him if they have witches and all too – the north have their own demons but not in the same way as the south. So mostly South thing I suppose.

      jco – Nigeria, we have a long way to go. People are messed up. No trust. Hence all the stories. People die, it has to be someone’s fault. So we end up hating the very people we could run to for comfort.

      Yes, I ask the same question, all the time – why would a stranger want to poison me?

      I know I am not exactly given you what you asked, am sorry, this same question puzzled me a lot – the people who are mostly bent on this were the Christians – everyone is their enemies except their real enemy.

      Hear this – My ex boss’ parent disapproved of his wife from being from lower class (that’s all I can make of their rants). He’d tell me all. His parents were super cool people, educated and trot the globe but would not ‘accept’ their son’s choice of marriage not even after 4 children. I have met them a few times before at home – to me they are perfect, their son tells a different story. Three years ago, they were in London, the mother texted out of blue and wanted to visit, Really? Both visited, I cooked, the three of us ate. (my mother won’t eat that food :)) They are warm people. When I was home, I visited them to return the courtesy, I felt at home.

      In a nutshell, this people they may be really backward in the way that they handled their son’s choice of marriage but far from blood sucking vampires.

      Sometimes last Summer, my boss called to say his family visited his parents but they had to cut the trip short as his wife was convinced she was poisoned. What? I asked if he believed that crap, he wasn’t sure anymore…

      The lady felt a knot on her side that wouldn’t go away for 24 hrs, and migraine. I told my boss it has been 17 years that they did the secret wedding and that was ever the first time she’d sleep in the mansion with in-laws that refused to get to know her. The stress is enough to give a stroke.

      I think my boss only wanted to chat because he knew I have never liked his parent’s decision but knew I liked them as people.

      The wife and husband left and went to the hospital, obviously nothing was found. And you can guess which church they go to?


      • FK, sorry had no intention of causing distress.
        Thank you for answering my questions. I feel priviliged that I can ask and you will answer. (I know my family would express annoyance then ‘mcheww’ , and not answer the question).

        I suspected that it might be a southern thing? (I had read on another board, where southerners and northeners were trading insults. One of the remarks that stuck in my mind, was that southerners do indulge in this poisoning thing. How unfortunate…

        People may accuse the Brits of racism, but hardly have I heard cases of Britons poisoning their ‘guests’, it is virtually unheard of. I guess what you said about religious and cultural mix, has produced this state of affairs. I won’t go any further into that …

        The account you gave of your friend’s parents and their attitude towards their daugher-in-law, highlighted the confused picture that circulates in people’s minds. This can lead to one feeling ill-at-ease and in some cases paranoia. I feel sorry for your friend, he is the “piggy in the middle”, what can he do he is torn between being the “good son” to his parents and the “loyal husband” to his wife.

        I think your approach of not allowing a dislike of one aspect of a person’s behaviour, to completely cover up all the other good aspects is a good one to follow. The same principle canbe applied to people too.

        Thanks FK.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ha ha, thanks but really that is part of our story we want to pretend it’s not there. I was upset because it was all lies… propagated by the brain washed church puppets. Bible says there are witches so everyone must be jealous of us because we are better of – the stupidity is endless. Some story you’ll laugh ‘tire’ but some are so sad, you can’t even see how are we ever going to escape this cycle of idiosyncrasies.

          But you know what, it boils down to laziness and denial. A mentally ill patient on our roads offended the witch in the village, the well educated person dint get a job, it was the witch craft, a lady who has married for a long time got miracle birth from pastor TB – Nothing and nothing got proper investigation to enlighten the public of the truth! So we dance around lies hence these guys have so many followers…


  2. Yes, Nigerians are hospitable among many other humane traits. It is just that as journalists say, good news is no news, bad news is.

    Liked by 1 person

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