Sleepless Nights, Sluggish Internet Access and the National Fish

There are problems that are difficult to explain outside of the Nigerian context: how do you tell someone you couldn’t sleep because your rechargeable fan ran out of charge?

You need to explain the absence of electricity, the ubiquity of mosquitoes and how fans are effective in reducing the impact of those annoying killers (yes, mosquitoes are some of best killers in the animal kingdom–better than man). You also have to talk about how there’s a chargeable equivalent of almost every electronic device in every house. All of that detail just to explain a night without sleep? Too much trouble. So some of your friends just claim insomnia and you can’t blame them, you will too if you did not like sleep so much.

It is also difficult for you to explain that for the past two days, it’s been impossible to access the internet on your laptop using a Blackberry phone that functions as your modem. Once the phone is plugged in to the laptop, the internet access crawls to a halt, but when unplugged, the phone’s internet apps function with ease. It is one of those problems that drives Nigerians to see lessons in everything. You learn that life does not always bend to your whim and your best plans (weekly blogging schedule) can vanish like a piece of meat on the floor of a rat infested kitchen for reasons you can neither help nor prevent.

But none of these problems has ever stopped Nigerians from blossoming, a trait that is both good and bad. It is bad because it is the reason why we can ignore the collapse of basic systems and pay taxes, while we take care of them ourselves–private boreholes, private power generators, private security. But it is good because we are the clarias* of humanity–able to thrive in the worst condition. We are taught not to complain but to find solution to whatever is troubling us quietly and even make money from it when we can.

So instead of taking to Facebook to rant again about how annoying the Nigerian condition is, you type out a semi-rant on the blog, after all you are a proper Naija boy.


*Clarias should be Nigeria’s national fish, both for its ability to survive outside water and for its status as the standard pepper-soup fish.


4 Replies to “Sleepless Nights, Sluggish Internet Access and the National Fish”

  1. I sometimes hear it said that if you can survive in Nigeria, you can survive anywhere else. But something’s got to give. Too many unemployed youths . . . I hope we read and heed the handwriting on the wall.

    1. The fear now is that it might have given and we’re just waiting to see it’s physical evidence. It looks like we have the right mix for a wildfire and all that is left is a cigarette butt flicked by a careless person (and I think that cigarette butt is going to be spoken word).


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