Feb 3rd, 2016, 11:42 AM

The African Inferiority Complex

By Khadija Sanusi
(Photo credit: Daily Post)
Nigerians think it is some sort of achievement to send their children to school in the UK.

The first time I saw the interiors of Shishawi restaurant in London, I began to mentally count the British. There weren't many. It seemed odd to me that, even in central London, there could be a place that lacked the localsThe Lebanese restaurant, like most restaurants on Edgware Road, attracts mostly Nigerians and Lebanese. No alcohol is served and every dish is accompanied with rice -- which, perhaps, explains the customers they attract.

When I was there, the usher led us upstairs and settled us on a table of five next to a group of Nigerians. Soon afterwards, another cluster of Nigerians came sauntering in. Half of them came over to our table to greet my friends.

"You know them?" I asked after the boys had gone to meet their counterparts.

"Yes naaw. All the Nigerians know themselves here," my friend said, as though it was something I should have known. She told me of Nigerian parties in schools, the girls often bumping into each other on Liverpool Street and how she knew at least a couple of Nigerians in several London neighborhoods. At the time, that explained why so many Nigerian artists  went to the UK to perform and shoot their music videos featuring double-decker buses and red telephone boxes.

That was April last year.  Little did I know that in November of the same year, I would be at an awards show recognizing personalities from northern Nigeria. What surprised me, though, was that in Nigeria they are not recognized by anywhere else but the north. I have friends who live in England and who have forgotten what their own country looks like. London is their haven. This is perhaps why Nigerians think it is some sort of an achievement to send their children to school there and, even more so, to live and work in England.  According to The Nation there are "three million Nigerians living illegally in UK". This figure was released as a result of the controversy around the question of deporting Nigerians. It was rumored that the acting (at the time) Nigerian High Commissioner in London, Mr. Olukunle Bamgbose, reported to the Vice President of Nigeria, "I think 29,000 Nigerians have been designated to be deported."

The issue was given so much attention because there is a large percentage on Nigerians in the UK. There are no less that three million illegal Nigerians in the UK, however they have deported only 48 Nigerians. A list of their names and records were released to confirm that all 48 had served prison sentences and were deported not for living illegal in a foreign country, but for criminal reasons.

I have been in France for about three or four months and I have always bumpinto Africans from francophone countries. They hang around the Eiffel Tower and try to sell selfie sticks and souvenirs. They believe they are better off here on the streets of Paris than in a mud home in Dakar. Nigerians have the same mentality. Today, the central Bank of Niger is in France. So although colonialism ended decades ago, Africans who live abroad will always consider themselves more privileged in European countries than the ones they left behind.