I USED TO HIDE MY “GREEN” INTERNATIONAL PASSPORT IN A LOVELY BLACK LEATHER MONT BLANC POUCH, NOT BECAUSE IT FELT COOL, BUT SIMPLY TO AVIOD those condescending stares from other international flying passengers at lounges. Some would literarily abdicate the three seater lounge bench upon sighting a “green”.
Once, I almost missed my flight traveling from George Bush Internetional back to Lagos. I was so disorganized, after the immigration check, my laptop, my iPads, belts, shoes and wrist watch where flying all over the place. I had to hold my loose jeans with one hand to prevent it from sagging to the floor. At moments like that, you regret wearing laced shoes.
I managed to tuck all my belongings in, not in their appropriate compartments. I forgot to but the “green” back in its black pouch. It popped out, just when I was searching for my boarding pass. The passenger next to me, alarmed, sounded Irish. “What country uses a green passport?” He asked. I was relieved he didn’t know our story, so I asked for his burgundy passport, and asked him back “what country uses burgundy passports”?
We were now even. The passenger next to us seemed to agree, the joke was now on the Irish asking a “silly” question.
But we don’t hide our “green” anymore. We do not. With a 180 million population and counting, being one of every five black man or woman today in the world, surely you have heard of us?
In the United States today, Nigerians are the most educated immigrant community. 60% of Nigerians in the United States have college degrees. This is far above the American average of 30%. Nigerians in the US are one of the highest earners, typically earning 25% more than the median US income of $53,000.
On 7th May, 2016, out of 96 graduating Doctor of Pharmacy candidates of Howard University in Washington DC, USA, 43 of them where not only Nigerians, but of the 27 awards, 16 of them went to Nigerians.
Have you heard of Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, or Late Chinua Achebe or Chimamanda Adiche or Ben Okri ? These Nigerians have won prestigious high-profile, global, literary awards (including the Nobel Prize). They all primarily carry the “green”.
Haven’t you heard of Dr. Bennet Omalu and Dr. Segun Olutoye.? These original “green” carrying guys have recorded award-winning, record-breaking medical breakthroughs in recent years. Even when NFL or co-doctors tried to shut the Nnokwa, Anambra State born neuropathologist, Dr. Omalu refused to shut up in service of humanity.
I have heard of movie stars like David Oyelowo who up perhaps until 1982 was still living in Tejuosho, Yaba area of Lagos, Nigeria. Don’t even mess with the Martin Luther King guy in Selma or his other Hollywood busters. Did I tell you he also carried “green”?
Did I also mention that The Imafidon NIGERIAN family where officially named the smartest family in the entire United Kingdom?
How about the designer of the famous car, Chevrolet Volt, Jelani Aliyu? He’s from Sokoto State, Nigeria. You didn’t miss PHILIP Emeagwali the NIGERIAN who designed that world’s fastest supercomputer?. His patent was awarded in 2015! Yes.! A Nigerian has the patent of the world’s fastest computer.!
I don’t even want to mention the world’s wealthiest black man or woman being Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija.
Let’s talk of the legendary Chiwetel Ejiofor Of 12 Years A Slave amongst others.
It is true that the first television station in Africa was WNTV Ibadan (1960), long before Ireland had their RTE station. Nigeria also gave monetary gifts to Ireland during the oil boom in the 70s and built a statue for France free of charge.
It is true that before there were street lights in European cities, people of the ancient Benin Kingdom had street lights fueled by palm oil. It is also true that 500 years ago, Benin casted metal alloys to create magnificent art, including the world famous Queen Ida Mask.
We also had Amina, the warrior queen who ruled Zaria Emirate Kaduna State Northwestern Nigeria, 400 years ago in 1610. You may not know it, but it is true, that of the four South African Presidents who have ruled that country after apartheid, two of them once lived in Nigeria, under asylum, both Nelson Mandela (60s) and Thabo Mbeki (70s) lived in Nigeria at some point, before becoming Presidents of South Africa.
I have not added, now I will, that a Nigerian Pilot, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu (currently MD/CE, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency) flew the Pope John Paul II in 1982 when he came to Nigeria. The guy was that good, the whole papacy and Vatican trusted the life of the Pope into his hands. I was privileged to work with him for some months.
Nigerians have scored several firsts. Nigeria had one of the strongest currencies in the world because a Naira was exchanging for £1.00 and NGN0.76k was exchanging for $1.00 in the 1976 to the 1980s.
These are statistics that scared the West of an African nation. That we are all cut from the same fabric and the whole world envies the uniqueness of this country still living together despite our ethnic and cultural diversity.
One single country with over 400 languages and dialects.
If all the Nigerians making the western countries swell ditch and come back home, they’ve had it and Nigeria will be best for it.
Just know these facts and boldly display your “green”. Someday, soon, really soon, the rulership of Nigeria would be in the hands of technocrats.
They will steer us back to that greatness we once had and everyone would want to own a “green” and to travel to Nigeria.