Thursday, July 15, 2010

Has just become a member of "Whites Online"

Hey Readers,

In Nigeria, everyone who is even remotely lighter skinned than a Nigerian (or is just not Nigerian) is called "Oyingbo" or "Oyibo"....all the time. Everywhere you go, you'll hear it, people will say it, and you are it. :) Oyibo means White in Yoruba. In general, they mean 'foreigner' when they use it,but the word is the word for the color white.

I'm used to being the only white person for miles...but it took me a bit by surprised when my driver took me to a hotel/restaurant and said 'it's run by your brotha'. 'My brother' turned out to be an older Lebanese man. Despite having much affection for the Lebanese, I've never really thought they were my brothers. :)

So, my houseguest introduced me to Oyibos Online and their facebook group. They're both mostly a friendly online place for expats in Nigeria to communicate.

In all my days of world travel, I never thought I'd belong to a "Whites Online" group.

My second set of thoughts was about race relations, and how weird it would be for all the subgroups of the US to come to Nigeria and just be called 'white! white!' all the time. It's both horrifying and a great simplifier, if all the Arabs, Persians, Jews, Indians, Filipinos, Chinese, etc were all just called 'white!'. Not to mention the reduction of available vocabulary for all those who are bi or multi-cultural.

In another moment of cultural assumptions--one Nigerian was convinced I must be Canadian, because I speak English so clearly and carefully...and don't 'use slang like Americans.'



  1. I can say it was a trip as the child of an African to live in Nigeria and be called white. Someone went so far as to say I looked like Eminem!

  2. I loved your reflections on race and "whiteness." How great would it be if someone called up the neoconservative a.m. radio talk show hosts in the U.S. and tell them there are places in the world where the locals might not be able to differentiate between them and, say, a mullah from Iraq, or Mahatma Ghandi, or Mussolini, or hmm, Jesus of Nazareth.
    Oh wait, some of these radio screamers already believe that Jesus was white, as in Caucasian-white.

  3. my name is amber. i am thinkin abootu movin to nigeria in dec 2010. i am also a white lady. I have fallen in love with a nigerian man. He was born n raised in Nigeria. I am canadian. I am just askin can yu please tell me can a white live in nigeria peacefully.
    I am in luv..:)

  4. hi amber,
    good luck with your man. i think living as a white woman in nigeria is very challenging. are you two getting married? what does his family expect from you? i recommend contacting the blogger who does 'this nigerian life' (her blog should be to the right here) and she can give you better advice since she married a nigerian.