Root TV: What Nigerians Thought About #BringBackOurGirls & Americans Wanting to Help

The fervor for the #BringBackOurGirls campaign has dwindled and Diana explores what Nigerians made of the world’s fascination with the abduction crisis and whether foreign help was welcomed.

By Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele

This article and Root TV segment was published at The Root on November 28, 2014.

From the vantage point of Nigerians, it must have been an incredibly overwhelming experience to go from being a nation with a decent amount of obscurity, to being at the center of a worldwide social media campaign in just a matter of days.

That’s what happened seven months ago in April, when insurgents from the Boko Haram terrorist group stormed into a boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria, in the middle of the night and abducted nearly 300 schoolgirls. The subsequent #BringBackOurGirls Twitter hashtag was born soon thereafter and went viral. People from all over the world held protests, tweeted and crafted Facebook posts expressing outrage and remorse for the families that were experiencing the unthinkable.

But like most humanitarian causes that spark international outrage, the fervor for the movement has since died down and Nigerians are still contending with the conflict, but with fewer outside voices holding their officials accountable and demanding results.

In the Root TV segment above, The Root’s Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele speaks with Chika Oduah—an independent journalist working in Nigeria—about what this entire experience has been like for Nigerians, especially their being at the forefront of the philanthropic cause that was “en vogue” for the better part of 2014. In May, President Obama sent 80 military personnel to the region to assist Nigerian officials with the search—but what did Nigerians think of all the foreign interest and help? Watch and see.

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1994 Harvard Student: Nigeria’s Democratic President Was Overthrown. He Was My Dad.

moshood abiola_cover

Moshood Abiola

A new documentary explores an underdiscussed idea: that a democratically elected president in Nigeria didn’t receive adequate assistance from America in 1993 when he was overthrown by the military. The possible reason? Oil.

By Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele

This article was published at The Root on June 26, 2014.

Hafsat Abiola was walking on campus one day in 1994 as a student at Harvard University when she was summoned by a group of students who were collecting signatures for a petition.

“There’s an elected president in jail in Nigeria and we’re gathering signatures to demand his release,” one of them said to her.

It brought Hafsat Abiola to tears.

The man they were advocating for was her father, Moshood Abiola, a Nigerian businessman and politician. Moshood Abiola was the presumed winner of the 1993 presidential elections in Nigeria, a historic election that was supposed to put an end to the country’s 23-year on-again, off-again, bout with military dictatorships. U.S. President Bill Clinton reportedly called Abiola’s win the “biggest demonstration of democracy since the ending of apartheid.”

Moshood Abiola votes for himself in Nigeria’s 1993 presidential elections.

Moshood Abiola votes for himself in Nigeria’s 1993 presidential elections.

The celebrations, however, were short-lived. Nigeria’s military challenged the election results, overthrew Moshood Abiola’s pending administration and threatened anyone who opposed the new military regime.

But it was too late. Nigerians had already gotten a taste of democracy. That their new democracy was being yanked from them so recklessly ignited a firestorm. People took to the streets to protest the military coup. Moshood Abiola traveled the world to bring attention to the political crisis. He made it all the way to the White House to encourage the international community to put pressure on the Nigerian military so that it would step down and allow his civilian administration to take hold.

He returned to Nigeria and was soon captured by military soldiers and jailed. Civil rights activists in Nigeria and abroad—much like those students at Harvard—demanded that he be released and reinstated as president.

This watershed moment in Nigeria’s history is fleshed out in a new documentary called The Supreme Price. It’s a fascinating history lesson about the country and gives a compelling account of how Moshood Abiola’s senior wife, Kudirat Abiola, and their daughter, Hafsat Abiola, risked their lives to reinstate Abiola and fight for the pro-democracy movement in modern-day Nigeria.

One of the film’s most poignant themes is an idea that’s underdiscussed: that Nigeria did not receive adequate assistance from the United States when its democratically elected leader was being toppled by the military. In the documentary, Hafsat Abiola is still reeling from that as she describes how the U.S. government did little to support her dad’s efforts during Nigeria’s political crisis. The reason she says the U.S. didn’t support her father still annoys her, too: Nigeria is one of America’s top oil suppliers, and the military controlled the country’s oil patches at that time.

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The Annoyingly Effective Ways African and Caribbean Parents Get Their Kids to Get A’s

Screenshot: "ItsMrLawson" YouTube Page

Screenshot: “ItsMrLawson” YouTube Page

As we bask in graduation season, watch these parody videos that show black immigrant parents’ obsession with perfect test scores. And get this: A few of these spoofs are great history lessons in disguise.

By Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele

Social media have been inundated with news reports about those brilliant high school students who gained admission to a boatload of Ivy League schools. That many of them are first-generation black Americans (children whose parents come from countries in Africa or the Caribbean) made headlines, too. Not to mention that “Tiger Mom” Amy Chua put out a list earlier this year singling out the Nigerian culture for its prowess at rearing high-achieving students.

It seems as though something special is happening in African and Caribbean households that is making their children excel. It makes you wonder: What, exactly, are their parents doing to raise such successful children?

A handful of hilarious YouTube videos demonstrate some of the antics used by black immigrant parents to get their kids to take their studies very, very seriously. Parents will also be happy to know that some of these spoofs can moonlight as great history lessons. So be prepared to laugh and learn.

1. Nigerian Dad

This Nigerian father is utterly appalled and disgusted that 1) He had to remind his son to bring his report card to him for review, and 2) his son’s average grade was a—wait for it—90. When his son tries to explain to him that he earned the highest grade in the class, his father immediately rejects that line of thought and encourages his son (in an aggressive but hilarious manner) not to compare himself to others. In many non-American black households, regardless of how well the student does in school, parents often encourage their kids to focus on the test questions they got wrong so that the next time around, their child will not get any questions wrong. Perfection is the goal.

As punishment, the Nigerian dad tells his son that he will be eating Ghanaian jollof rice for dinner—and this is where the history lesson comes in. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Nigeria was a hot spot in West Africa. The oil economy boomed and a lot of people from neighboring countries like Togo and Ghana came to Lagos to work and fraternize with Nigeria’s working class.

After a while, when Nigeria’s economy slowed down and jobs became few and far between, the country needed to get rid of its excess labor pool—and thus the “Ghana Must Go” movement was born. Ghanaian immigrants had to take whatever belongings they had, stuff them into medium-sized checkered grocery bags and return to their country.

That brief history (Nigerians were expelled from Ghana for similar reasons in the late 1960s) has always been at the heart of the harmless enmity between Nigerians and Ghanaians. That’s why the Nigerian dad teases his son by suggesting that he will eat Ghanaian jollof rice as punishment: He’s taking a dig at a longtime West African rival.

2. Jamaican Dad

It’s parent-teacher night, and this Jamaican father is not pleased with the feedback he’s hearing about his son’s behavior in math and music class.

At one point the father launches into the lecture that nearly every child has heard: the “back in my day” or “when I was your age” rant. But what’s unique about the African and Caribbean version is that it typically involves walking miles and miles to school—barefoot; not having enough resources to learn once you got there (45 kids to a classroom); getting swats across your wrists if you even think about challenging your teacher; and having to do your homework at home with little to no light (or electricity) available.

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