Nigerian Parents Gone Wild

As a general rule, I try not to give unsolicited advice.

Now, I'm sure certain family members and friends reading this are rolling their eyes right about now (that's right, I can see you, rolling your eyes, through the computer).  If you ask me my opinion, I'm going to be pretty honest; and I'll admit, 'tact' is not my strong suit.  But I know my limits.  I stay in my lane.  I have no problem admitting, "I don't know," or "I don't know what to say," and I'm quick to question self-proclaimed "relationship experts" and "gurus."

From time to time I get emails from you, my readers, asking for relationship advice and honestly, I feel just about as qualified to give relationship advice as I did when I was in fifth grade (although I gave some pretty darn good advice for a 10 year-old).  And I'm also extremely humbled.

This week I'm sharing one of those emails which touches upon one of the most mystifying yet uninentionally hilarious creatures known to man: the African parent.  More specifically, the Nigerian parent.  Let's take a look:
Hello Atinuke,  
I'm sure you receive so many amazing e-mails that you may not ever read mine, but I hope you do read it sometime.  
I'm Shola O.*, a senior kinesiology major at the University of Maryland, College Park. I spent hours reading your all blog posts and about your blog purpose, and I must confess that I love your blog! As a native of Nigeria, I admire your passion in attempting to bring unity, clarity, and understanding between people of various races; I believe unity amongst all people is important.  As I grow older, unfortunately, I'm beginning to see my parents' prejudice and preconceived notions concerning my non-african friends and it makes me sad because I am very interested in interacting and dating a white male. However, the treatment my friends have received, from my parents, makes me very anxious to bring home a white male. It seems interracial relationships are highly frowned upon in the Nigerian community. Do you find this to be true? I'm interested to know how your husband's and your parents/family reacted and interacted since y'all got together?
My response:
Hi Shola O., 
Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to write.  I appreciate your kind words and glad you're enjoying the blog. 
The short answer? No, I don't find this to be true considering that my husband is my parents' favorite child. 
The long answer: Honestly, I've experienced an entire range of reactions.  Like all groups connected through a similar cultural identity, we're not monolithic; so while there are a lot of generalities that apply to us, there are variations depending on who the person is and their life story and social location. 
I have an aunt who lives on the West Coast of the United States and when we visit her, I'm always struck by how for many Nigerians there, outwardly, a Nigerian dating or marrying someone who is not a Nigerian is a non-issue.   
Similarly, as my parents' generation (part of the late 1970s "brain drain" with plans to return) look around and see their kids, nieces and nephews marrying people who aren't Nigerian, but embrace and appreciate aspects of Nigerian culture (even more than some Nigerians mind you -- but that's another discussion for another day), they relax a bit.
But at the end of the day, it's not just about people's outward reaction -- whether they just smile and nod and say the right things or politically correct things.  
Recently I heard a great quotation, "Each person, one at a time," meaning, that although you first approach a person or situation based on your assumptions, at the end of the day you should take the time to know the individual, not the person's "demographic." Similarly, you can anticipate certain reactions from certain people, and sometimes people will respond as you assumed (or worse), and sometimes they may surprise you!  And as a last resort you can send them to by blog or I can ask my parents if they're available to stage an intervention. 
I hope this is helpful.  Best wishes for the school year and I would say "Go Terps" but I'm a double Tarheel so you know...
What do you think? How did I do?  Any advice for Shola O. that I should've included?

*Names and details have been changed to protect the innocent and any of future online dating profiles


  1. I find this to be interesting as an american with roots in various lands i wont say where but many in families are different and has been a challenge even contemplating dating a nigeriand i have had to come to grips with family preferences many times denying my own for the group good. Some people will be happy some will not if you surround yourself with likeminded thinkers this issue will be less concerning. After family dinner is over i only need bring ONE person back to my home so while considdring others is important there comes a time where only you and him matter

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting.
      I think many children raised in non-Western cultures can identify with the pressure of putting the "good" of the group/family/tribe above their own interests.