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?