Hopes and dreams deferred in self-exile

What is happening to some Nigerians, particularly the Igbo in the Diaspora? Why are many of them very intolerant and highly irritable? Why are some of their actions toward one another highly contemptible and disparaging in some cases? Why do they have a penchant for violating one another’s family?

The answers to these questions are not farfetched. In fact, they may, in part, be traced to their background and conditions abroad. Also, it may be as a result of frustrations and hopelessness these individuals are experiencing for having overstayed abroad with no end in sight and with a nightmare of perdition. In addition, one could easily deduce from their angry reactions to innocuous and sometimes benign statements the manifestation of broken dreams and shattered hopes. No matter the reason, it is obvious that as the shadow of their dreams of going home becomes darker than the night, their desultory and contemptible attempts to harm fellow Nigerians both socially and economically increase effusively.

For the most part, the convenient arena has been the internet where most Nigerians have fetish for uncouth and salacious attacks devoid of reason and veracity. Even when one deliberately refused to goad them with piercing issues or topics, they will still exhibit their frustrations, especially to anyone that calls them to order. I have been a victim of malicious attacks because of my opinion. There was a time I briefly stated historical facts of an organization I am a member of, and I was accused of all sorts of things. Other Nigerians have suffered similar or worse treatments in the hands of their folks. Again, this is a behavior that is attributable to some Nigerians’ sense of uncertainty as they feel that they have ditched their culture for so long and could only imagine home from afar. However, I don’t want to paint the community with a broad brush; many Nigerians here are civil and not conflicted. Nevertheless, Nigerians’ dilatory strategy or plan of going back to Nigeria caused by the paucity of resources is exacerbating a traumatic situation of dying here in which case they feel helpless, thus, subjecting most of them in the United States at their unwanted nadir.

Recall that many left the Nigerian shores when they were in their teens, twenties, and/or early thirties for the United States in search of education and a possibility of a better life. They left when the hair on their head was intact unlike the receding hairlines and sometimes absolute baldness that are characteristics of many Nigerians in America, an obvious sign that they’ve stayed too long in this land. Some of these folks have now spent over 30 years here—a period some of them may deem wasted. If you recall when these people were leaving their home country, every speech seemed to conclude with a mantra of “return home” when you obtain your degree. Little did these individuals and those they left in Nigeria know it was a sendoff for a dreadful permanent stay abroad. To make matters worse, some people who left Nigeria to acquire education never completed the requirements for any degree.

Obviously, the hopes and aspirations of returning to Nigeria when they’re physically capable are ebbing with each passing day. Even the dream of returning to Nigeria in retirement is becoming more elusive with folks wondering in despair and despondency in a mere inkling of meeting their death in America. The sad reality, unfortunately, is the fact that most Nigerians who came to America in the 70s and 80s are no longer oblivious of the fact that they have overstayed their welcome and may eventually die here—a phenomenon they never fathomed at the time of their departure. A mere broach of dying here gets people uncontrollably riled to the level of uttering or making delusionary arguments.

Another issue is the wide gap between their actual or biological age and the official age. Some Nigerians have discrepancies in their age. Well, ignorant of the implications, some Nigerians’ official age contradicts their biological age. As a result, those individuals who should have retired from work may still be working until they die. At their current official age, they may not be eligible for retirement—they may not qualify for Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and other programs because of age. As frail as they may be, they may not be able generate any income unless they continue to work. It is rather petrifying to some of them that they will not be able to retire alive. Sad still, some of these individuals may not have contributed enough to the system for adequate retirement income. As a result, when and if they retire, they may not have enough to pay for their retirement home or living expenses.

Lately, some of these Nigerians are changing career at a time they should be retiring. Some have gone back to school to study nursing and most of them went in for the wrong reasons. About 50% of the people who went for nursing license never received it, thereby exacerbating their frustration and anger.

Still, some marriages are in shambles causing some Nigerians to lash out at anyone that crosses their path. Unlike the recent immigrants, those who came to America in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s came primarily for education and planned to go back. The frustration of remaining abroad—self-exile—seems to compound the discernible disgusting psyche. The impact of cultural friction seems to be overwhelming on some immigrants than others. Some people tend to accommodate the new culture better than others. In the same vein, there are Nigerians who have adopted the concept of cultural assimilation. These individuals seem to do well within the American culture. That said, it is still disconcerting to see the alarming rate of divorce among Nigerians in the United States. However, it would rather be a flawed assertion to blame the epidemic on American law and culture.

It’s about personal responsibility; and sometimes falling out of love due to egregious behaviors. Sometimes the disunity in some marriages came as result of a spouse focusing entirely on his or her family in Nigeria instead of the marriage. Nevertheless, the present state of mind of some of these immigrants, particularly Nigerian immigrants to the U.S. breeds rant and rave in their respective relationships, which eventually spill over to unsuspected and innocent individuals.

In any case, one should not succumb to the intolerance of our brethren. We show them love and compassion to enable them to overcome their obstacles. We should not let their actions to obscure the goodness in them. Rather, we should offer a helping hand and warm shoulder for them to rest their burden.

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