Tag Archives: London

5 things I love about Nigerians (in honour of Nigerian ‘Independence’)

Nigeria is no stranger to negative publicity; from the corruption in Government, a reputation for fraud (419), the on-going oil crisis in the Delta Region, Boko Haram’s merciless slaying of Christians to the unresolved abduction of the 200+ Muslim girls, the list is endless. However I want to celebrate some of the fantastic things about the nation affectionately dubbed the ‘Sleeping Giant of West Africa’; so to celebrate 54 years of ‘independence’ I want to share with you five reasons why I am proud to be an Afropolitan of Nigerian descent.  (Disclaimer:  Nigeria is a culturally diverse nation with a rich heritage and numerous languages and ethnic groups so excuse the generalisation as I know not all Nigerians are the same! However this is based on my observation as a Nigerian from two tribal groups with Sierra Leonean heritage.)

  1. The Hustle- Entrepreneurialism is in our DNA. My younger brother who has never stepped foot on Nigerian soil, was selling the latest gadgets to his peers in school from day dot- it’s as if he possessed an innate ability to sniff out where the money was and find a way to go get it! From London to Lagos, we are passionate about business whether it is our main area of work or our side hustle. When I visited Nigeria almost every street corner was occupied by someone selling something and likewise in the UK every other Nigerian I know is setting up a new venture, often alongside their full time employment.  Industrious, ambitious and driven – Nigerians entrepreneurial spirit is a cut above the rest.

    The Hustle: Not just a programme on the BBC- its in Nigeria's DNA.

    The Hustle: Not just a programme on the BBC- its in Nigeria’s DNA.

  2. Our bold, fearless nature– Nigeria is known as the ‘Sleeping Giant of West Africa’ but that couldn’t be more far from the truth- I think it is well and truly awake! My dad always use to say ‘fear no man but your maker’ and this to me sums up Nigerians- we are not afraid to express ourselves and make our presence known wherever we are. I mean Nigerians are the only Black people I know that will go to places like Russia and Poland to live because they see potential to make money- often in the face of racism and hostility.

    Fearless and bold: How I see Nigerians- perhaps I am bit bias?

    Fearless and bold: How I see Nigerians- perhaps I am bit bias?

  3. Our vibrant faith– Nigeria is known for its vibrant Christian faith and  according to research has the highest population of Christians in Africa. Similarly,irrespective of whether we believe in Jesus or Allah or in the Yoruba deities – our faith is deep rooted and is an integral part of our lives. I will never forget when I visited Nigeria being awoken by the early morning prayers of an Imam at 5am or being impacted by the commitment and passion of Christians attending an epic church service which seemed to go on for the best part of the day!

    Nigerian christianity

    Our faith: Whatever it is we believe, our faith is a deeply important part of our daily lives.

  4. Our love of education and personal advancement– ‘Education, education, education’ is something that is of upmost importance to Nigerians. I will never forget when I told my dad that I was planning to take a ‘Gap Year’- (which was almost unheard of from a person of African descent 10 years ago); I just remember my dad- who is one of the most liberal, loving, open-minded people on the planet -repeatedly saying ‘so you are not going to University?’ He couldn’t take it in and I think it took him at least a month for him to speak to me without complete disdain. For Nigerians, as for many, education is seen as the key way to advancing yourself and your family.

    Gap Year? This is not in an African parents vocabulary! You better go and read your books my friend!

    Gap Year? This is not in an African parents vocabulary- you better go and find yourself at University!

  5. Our hospitality– If you have never been to a Nigerian party I urge you to take yourself to one! Whether its a wedding, a funeral, christening or an anniversary we know how to throw a good party. We love to be extravagant often leading to excessive amounts of food (Jollof rice, coleslaw fried fish, moi moi etc) and drinks (Supermalt and Nigerian Guinness are standard) being on offer. Not only that, depending on the party, you might even find yourself taking away some goodies like Tupperware, a commemorative calendar or salt (that’s another blog post altogether), We know how to have a good time and make almost anyone feel welcome and this isn’t just limited to big occasions!
Nigerian party time

Nigerian party time: We know how to have a good time- Go Grandma!!

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Living for the City…but at what cost?

The other day I was on the train coming home from work and was so amused by the conversation happening between two friends. One of the guys started speaking rather loudly about his work and the ‘incestuous’ theatre world. I have never heard anyone name drop big names ‘Old Vic’ ‘Punch Drunk’, ‘Bicycle Theatre’ and the like in such a ridiculously short period of time. It was pretty obvious it was for the benefit of nosey eavesdroppers like me to listen and be ‘impressed’ by his well connectedness. Then the conversation took an interesting, slightly more serious turn about the price of private renting in London reflected in the reduction in volume of his voice. Theatre lovey and his chum shared their experiences of renting and the tales of bad housemates, shoddy accommodation and landlords refusing to give references. But the thing which resonated most was that in some instances, they had needed up to six month’s rent as a deposit in order to secure a place!

As a lifelong Londoner with a brief hiatus in Birmingham- I know London is a pretty expensive city and have seen the cost of living rise greatly. I also know that six months rent is a ridiculous amount of money to expect anyone to have upfront especially given the astronomical rise in private rents over the past 5 years at least. All I could think is who could afford six months rent on the average London 20-something salary? And for those who could afford it surely they wouldn’t need to rent?

Only a week ago a report was published by the Resolution Foundation; one of the key findings was that over 1.6 million households were spending half their disposable income on housing costs. A significant percentage of those households were young 20-somethings’ living in London on their own. http://www.resolutionfoundation.org/publications.

I almost fall into this category but am fortunate enough to live in a nice, affordable flat in a decent location and thank God; I literally got it just before rental prices surged. However I know far too many people in house shares spending excessive amounts of money on rent with little benefits or space; and it seems this situation is likely to get worse before it gets better.

This  presents further problems if there are other factors to be considered. Imagine being young, disabled, in work and wanting to live in London? Not only is it difficult to find affordable property but wheelchair accessible accommodation is another thing entirely. Very recently a young disabled man I worked with wrote a comment piece in the Guardian sharing his frustrations about this very thing.

There has been a lot of talk about introducing controls on the levels of rent private landlords can charge prospective tenants but it seems as though little progress has been made. I would love to know, what can be done to ensure there are affordable places to live in London, especially for 20 and 30 somethings’? What has been your experiences of renting in the private sector?

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