here do I even begin to review a book like ‘Becoming Nigerian’ by award-winning author Elnathan John (also the author of ‘Born on a Tuesday’)? I read it so quickly I had to stop myself and take a few breaks to really take it all in and talk about it to Akaninyene.
I mean, this book was just awesome! I kept reading some passages out loud to Akaninyene and the reaction was usually: ‘Yep! What Elnathan says is spot on!’ or: ‘This guy is really dragging us sha!’
In Be(com)ing Nigerian: A Guide, Elnathan John provides an affecting, unrestrained and satirical guide to the Nigerians you will meet at home and abroad, or on your way to hell and to heaven. It is a searing look at how power is performed, negotiated and abused in private and in public; in politics, business, religious institutions and in homes. From the exploration of religious hypocrisy to inequality in matters of the heart, the collection is a jab at Nigerian society and what it means to be a Nigerian. Beyond poking fun at the holders of power, it is a summons, a provocation and a call for introspection among all levels of society. As is often said in Nigeria, when you point with one finger, there are four others pointing back at you. This engrossing read is a must-have for Nigerians on how to move beyond shame and arrogance, and for non-Nigerians, a uniquely informative guide on how to accept their awe and envy of Nigerians. It is an invitation for everyone to embrace and rejoice in their inner Nigerian. Here is your definitive guide to Be(com)ing Nigerian.
In ‘Be(com)ing Nigerian’ Elnathan John satirises every aspect of Nigerian life, Nigerian mannerisms, and everything in-between. He spares nothing and nobody.
For non-Nigerians, this is an amazing book to read to get insights into the realities of everyday Nigerians in Nigeria (and, to an extent, abroad). John paints a deliciously satirical, bitingly funny, and deeply intelligent picture of his country and countrymen/women.
While a bit of contextual knowledge about Nigeria will definitely enhance the reading experience, the book is definitely also enjoyable for anyone without any prior background information.
The reason why I’d love to see plenty of non-Nigerians (especially Europeans) read this book is because I think it could contribute to the lessening of some of the stereotypes people have about Nigerians. Learning about the situation in the country and coming to the realisation that ‘Nigeria’ was never supposed to be a ‘country’, but that it always has been a business venture for the British, should help us understand (to an extent) why the country is in the state it is currently in.
Of course, looking to Britain and the West to find absolution for the impunity with which the ruling class runs the country would be ludicrous, but I believe that it is important to acknowledge the origins of the problems Nigeria is facing today. And those origins, whether you like to admit it or not, lie in Britain and the West at large. There is no way around it. Fact na fact – plain and simple.
I can only highly recommend this book and I’m hoping that you’ll get it, read it, think about it, discuss it, share it, and give it to your friends and family. If you’ve already read it, you get the gist. If you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for?