At different times in my life, people meet me and say I look Nigerian. They say I look Igbo, sorry my Yoruba brethren and Hausa sistren. I didn't choose that and personally I don't like Igbos more than other Naija tribes. So, I play along and claim that I am actually Nigerian. Of course, you all know I am a Ghanaian. If you didn't, now you know. Especially when I meet some new Nigerians, I 'lie' and say I am Nigerian and my name is ..... I used to say Oluwadeyoato. Apparently, it doesn't make much sense, so I consulted with some Nigerian friends to come up with a new one. This is what we settled on - Ayooluwaato Eze. Yes, my Naija alter ego has a last name too. And I am from Kwara State. :-)
Before I tell you about me, let me tell you a funny story. When attending the local Nigeriaat50 party, I was with a Naija girl and we met some of her friends. I introduced myself as Oluwadeyoato to them. I said I was from Kwara state. I was wearing green. Gotto rep my country now. You know o! They almost believed me o. In fact, everyone else I try this thing on believe me. I don jazz them easy. But sometimes edey make hard o. Wetin I fit tell them o? So I decide say I go make some tori o. You want hear am? Let's go dier. :-)
I am called Ayooluwaato, Ato for short. You see, now I can easily switch from my Naija identity to my real one when things are getting tough. I always took issue with my Nigerian friends shortening their names so some foreigner could call them easily. Why buckle to outside pressure? Let your name be long and strong. Loud and proud. Cumbersome and awesome. 12 letters. Three different words. Yes boss! 'Eze' in Igbo means kings. You see, am royalty and blessed by the most High in addition. And this fine Naija chic called Chelsea Eze is my cousin. We rule. Actually, I think she's really hot (from when I saw her in Silent Scandals) and wanted to take her last name. No, we are not married. And my Naija alter ego can't marry, "I" am the only who can, lol. Ayooluwaato Eze doesn't have an English name. I'd rather take a Hausa name. I'm taking suggestions :-). Back to my first name, Ayooluwato means "The joy of the Lord is enough". Cute huh? I was named right. In fact, I gbadun that name. I just have to figure out how to pronounce it right and be on point every single time.
Because if I don't pronounce it right, I'll be 'found out' by the real Nigerians or Yorubas (if you may). But I have a counter --- I just have a Yoruba name but I am fully Naija. My father is Igbo from Abia state and my mother is Yoruba from Kwara State. Have you heard the Abia State anthem? Yes, I rep them! I'm that, nigga, raw! We folks from Abia are so rugged, man, we'll give you 2shotz! Don't joke with us, onu. We like to make that money. But I rep Kwara state more because of my mum. I was so honoured when we brought Akon to Nigeria for the 10/10 concert for Naija's 50th anniversary of independence. Major props to my friends at Storm (360) Records, with a special shout out to my sister, Sasha P. Like my Naija alter ego, they also rep Naija all day!
You see, I don't bother too much with Yoruba - Igbo issues, because I come from both places. We also lived for a short while in Kano. And I'd rather have a Hausa name. So you see, I am a "united Nigerian", and love the South as much as I love the North. When you think of next year's Naija elections, think of me. Cos Naija dey bam. And vote wisely cos One day, one day e go better. And I support Nuhu Ribadu. It's not just only me. We have Team Ribadu. We should all be a united Naija. We shouldn't do nigeria jaga jaga because Naija na our area and motherland. This is 2010, we are 50 years old, we gots to #lightupNigeria. I implore all my fellow Nigerians to listen to this Tubaba song though as we are in election season, Ebe like say. Me, I go yarn.
So why don't I know much about Nigeria or even Lagos (las gidi)? Because I also lived in Yankee and Jand. Yes, Jand, as in Longdon. My parents are diplomats so we've lived everywhere. I was born in Yankee, right in the heart of Nigeriacity. "Houston, we have a problem. Too many Nigerians, can't be a good thing for us." Of course, I am kidding, you know I like to make fun of my people. Sometimes, we get so jealous of others that we turn "green-white-green". But we know and you know that the greenest pastures are in Naija. Super Eagles all day! Because everything is bigger in Texas, that why we then my Naija family dey there. I also lived in Jand a bit, some in South Africa, some in Kenya, some in Angola and most of my teenage life in Ghana. It was cool living in Ghana, it's almost like Nigeria. My parents loved it there so we remained there for a long time. So you see, I didn't really live that much in Lagos or Abuja or Kano or Port Hartcourt to remember what happens there. I do love Warri though. My pops always said I'd get gidi when we were going there. Since high school in Ghana (I went to Presec by the way) I've been in Yankee. Odadee! In lumine tuo..... videbimus lumen.
What kind of Nigerian am I? What a question! What kind of Nigerian are you? I am not a yahoo-yahoo boy. I am just me. I am a true Naija boy. I love eba and egusi stew and moimoi. I don't watch Nollywood movies unless they are recommended. I pick Genevieve Nnaji over Omotola. I celebrate people like Chimamanda Adichie, John Dabiri, and Jay Jay Okocha. I think Nwankwo Kanu should retire and Mikel Obi should leave Chelsea so he can score some goals. I know a lot about Nigerian girls, so if you wanna date one of my flygerian sisters, holla at your boss.
Yes, I hate the underwear bomber. I am 50-50 about yahoo-yahoo boys, I think they have shown we can use our ingenuity to get back at our 'oppresors'. Because For One Nine to become ten, you have to make an effort. Like all Nigerians, I hope we can channel those energies to make Naija better. Arise, o compatriots, Nigeria's call obey. Ebenezer Obey might have sung 'Africa is my home' but this is 'operation feed the nation'. The nation comes first before everything. We are Nigerians! 1 in 5 of all black people. You can't escape from us. We are unique and there's no one like us.
And there's no one like me. So next time you meet Ayooluwaato Eze, that will be me. And I'm not on Facebook. I normally check some other guy's facebook to stalk all the pretty Naija girls from time to time. I am considering joining Twitter though. Tweeps, I am taking Twitter username suggestions. In fact, I am so cool, I will get more twollowers than Patrick Obahiagbon @HonPatrickO. If you don't know him, check him out here. In the meantime, you can catch me here on this blog. Because khaki no be leather. Ayooluwaato Eze says "Naija, until I die".