Cos I’m Nigerian
“Where are you from?” He asked, squinting against the sunlight that was spread prominently across his face.
“Guess,” I said, which has become my usual reply. Some people get it right, most people get it wrong.
“You are from Nigeria,” confidence of a correct answer shining in his eyes.
Damn! How’d he know?
“Yes! How did you know?”
“I know, ya3ni, I know!”
He was pretty proud of himself, and he should have just gone ahead and given himself a handshake and a pat on the back, but as a souvenir seller in the precinct of the Memphis, he’s probably come across enough foreigners to filter them out with his eyes closed.
“I love Nigeria,” the smile on his face getting increasingly wider.
“Ah, that’s good,” – what else am I supposed to say? At this point I just pray that he doesn’t mention football, because that line has been worn out so much that I’m almost forced to wear a ‘I know nothing about Nigerian football players’ sticker on my forehead!
“Yes,” he continued, “we’re all brothers. Africa.”
Well, yes… when you put it like that I’d have to agree. Amongst all the Arabic it’s easy to forget which continent I’m in since there is nothing decidedly ‘African’ about Egypt, culturally and linguistically. This guy (for the sake of this post, let’s call him Ahmed) seemed to be doing a slight bounce in this place he stood, clearly excited by the prospects of speaking to a Nigerian – why, I do not know.
We needed to move on to the next part of our tour, and I could feel myself baking from the direct sunlight above our heads. Ahmed could see that we were slowly shuffling away from his stall.
“Wait, wait!” He popped to the back of his stall, and I started thinking of the ‘no, thank you’ line I would give him when he presented me with a souvenir I definitely would not buy. “I have something for you.”
A little more rustling and he waved a postcard above his head. “Here. For you. Because I love Nigeria.”
It’s at this point that you place your hands on your chest and say, “Ahhhhh”. Really… I was moved. I didn’t expect that at all. The most I was expecting was a porcelain figure of the Sphinx that I had to buy. And since we Nigerians have a slightly bad reputation (Google Nigerians and fraud if you don’t know what I mean!), I would never have thought I’d get a Memphis postcard for free because I’m originally Nigerian.
I jumped onto our bus with an illumination of a smile, proudly waving my postcard and saying, “Look what I got! ‘Cos I’m Nigerian!”
Small joys, small joys!
– The Londoner