Of course, they were shocked about how much Nigeria had changed, positively and negatively. Immediately they came, I started feeling for them because NIDs receive their welcoming shockers right from the international airport, talk less of those that have no idea of what Nigeria looks like.
We went to Genesis Deluxe cinemas to catch a movie, in order to avoid the Jakande-Ajah week day traffic. After the movie ended, the youngest one looked around, and told her brothers “I don’t think we are supposed to take that.”
Apparently, my three cousins, out of habit, carried their bottles and popcorn packs to go and dump in the trash, while every single person in the hall, including me, left ours where we had sat during the movie. One of the boys said “We are the only ones packing up. Everyone will know we are not from around here,” in his American accent. They started looking around for trash cans as we walked out of the viewing room, but they did not find and until we got out, towards the ticket sales stand.
I tried to cover it up with smiles and senseless talk of how the cleaners will come and pack it all up, and they shouldn’t have bothered packing up, but inside of me, I was ashamed. These guys were sticking out like sore thumbs, just because they conducted themselves properly in a system where chaos is normal.
Two days later, we went to ice cream factory, again to avoid the Jakande-Ajah traffic. We sat outside, under the shade. Three of us had cones, while one had cup. When we were about to leave, instinctively, my cousin took his cup, went into the restaurant, searched for a trash can, dumped it, and came out. It was very instinctive. It had become part of him, so much so that he was not even thinking when he did it. It was quite robotic. I didn’t say anything this time. I just watched and observed him.
Earlier that day, we were in front of yellow chilli, and waiting in line to park inside, for about 30 seconds, and then the security guy beckoned on me to drive into the compound, and one car behind us just swerved, and wanted to take my space. Like seriously? He wasn’t even hiding his senselessness. My cousins observed what happened, and couldn’t believe their eyes. To say they were shocked was an understatement. They couldn’t believe a human being with a human brain, and not a goat brain, just did that.
I mumbled something like ‘that’s how many people do here o. They said if it happened in the US, everyone will get down from their car, and fish the guy out, lol.
At Genesis Deluxe cinemas, two of my cousins waited in line to get our drink and popcorn for the four of us, cos we didn’t think all four of us had to queue. Then a girl came out of nowhere to beg my cousin to get her own drink and popcorn, because her movie was showing. The thing is our movie too was already showing. He, being the Mr nice guy of them all, agreed, and then she brought out like three popcorn and drink tickets. Seriously? He realised she just wanted to use him to cheat her way through the queue, and he was already getting stuff for us anyway. He respectfully declined, and told her point blank that it wasn’t fair for everyone that was on the queue. He didn’t tell me about it until two days later.
I then realised that it is little actions like these that form a cascaded effect in setting apart countries like Nigeria from developed countries. Largely, we lack the culture of responsibility, being responsible for things as minor as your trash, staying in line, and respecting other people’s time. In my opinion, this is not a government or leadership problem. This is a system issue. The government doesn’t tell us not to pick our trash, but the system supports litter. We are even encouraged to litter cinema halls and restaurants, while our servants pack up after us.
The thing is we all know this is wrong. We travel out a lot, and see things being done properly, and even do things properly ourselves. So we know we have the ability to do things properly. But it sometimes takes us observing people like my cousins to come into this same system, do things different, and watch them stick out like a sore thumb, for us to know that what we are doing is not normal.
Even though I bring you no big solution, we can start small by doing little things right, things we don’t need anyone to tell us, things like not jumping queues, not littering roads or public places, not trying to be too smart, not being impatient, not running red lights, etc.
If each and every one of us can do this, you will be shocked at how much these little things will go a long way in making a big difference in restoring order to this chaotic system.
|All kids of two sisters. Same blood, different mindsets.|