OBAMA AFRICA VISIT:
IGNORING NIGERIA IS AMERICA’S LOSS.
In spite of being one of Nigeria's major crude oil buyers and a somewhat destination of choice, the United States of America does seem to be having a dwindling sphere of influence as it relates to Nigeria. I can't say much about the rest of Africa.
Economically, America remains a global force to be reckoned with; militarily she is still revered, but for Nigeria a subtle shift has already taken place. Gone are the days when anything ‘American’ was the ultimate yardstick for measuring the level of progress or success in our society.
Many Nigerians from my generation grew up idolizing American music and movies but today, things have changed. Nigerians have Nollywood and majority of Nigerians and I dare say Black Africans find much more relevance in Nollywood than anything Steven Spielberg, Tyler Perry or Spike lee can offer. In music, oh boy! During my high school days, if you could recite the lyrics to R Kelly’s or Boyz II Men's hit tracks, you’d be a star. In today's Nigeria entertainment circuit, ‘Naija’ music is the norm and an essential part of our pop culture. Yes, some of us still feel the Drake's and Lil Wayne's but they are secondary-Nigerian music dominates our airwaves; the United States has lost out here.
Nigeria is one of Africa's fastest growing economies, poverty is still rife but the strong growth of Nigeria's middle class is undeniable. A struggling company like Canada’s RIM owners of Blackberry will attest to the fact that Nigeria is one of the major markets still keeping the Blackberry brand alive. The dynamic auto mobile industry in Nigeria is being driven not by Ford motors but by Asian brands Toyota and Kia. American auto mobile brands are barely visible in the new Nigeria.
The United Kingdom recently touted Nigerian visitors as being the fourth highest spending foreign shoppers in London. Nigeria has a virgin retail space as most Nigerians still prefer to shop in crowded open markets where prices can be haggled. However, the Nigerian middle class still have an appetite for luxury goods and convenient shopping malls; this retail space is now aggressively being filled, not by America's Wal-Mart or a major UK retail brand but by South Africa's Shoprite.
Shoprite entered the Nigerian market about six years ago and has opened about eight outlets in Nigeria spread across six cities, Lagos alone has three. Right now in Nigeria, a city is deemed to have 'arrived' once a Shoprite Mall is opened for business. Most of Nigeria's 36 state governors are presently struggling to have Shoprite Malls opened in their respective cities. Many more Shoprite Malls are presently under construction across Nigeria.
America's cultural and social influence in Nigeria has been further hampered by the 'abominable' Gay rights debate. Homosexuality apart from traditional Christian and Islamic doctrine, is a taboo in most African societies, it’s a lifestyle that is condemnable. Many Americans, including Obama seem to be at the fore front of campaigning globally for gay rights. The Americans base their arguments on freedom, choice and equality while most Nigerians view it from the perspective of religion and morality.
Many traditional Africans question the hypocrisy behind America and some western powers trying to impose such 'awkward' lifestyle on us Africans, whereas a culturally acceptable ‘African’ lifestyle such as Polygamy is frowned upon by America and the west.