The drama of living with your Nigerian parents abroad

by Nne-Kanma

Nigerian parents are who they are no matter where they are.

It appears they all have too many things in common now that you can always tell that kid in school been raised by Nigerian parents.

The life of every Nigerian parent is filled with drama. They love hard and annoy just as hard too.

Here are all the things every kid been raised by Nigerian parents can relate to:

1. The switch

Nigerian parents can “switch it for you” in a matter of milliseconds. Like one day, my mum came back from work and saw that I’d cleaned the entire house. 

She was still singing my praises and then entered her room and charged out immediately, screaming and threatening me. “So because you cleaned the house today, that’s why you turned my room upside down. We should all run away, okwa ya?”

I told her I wasn’t done yet and she asked me if that’s how my mates do it. “Chineke God, this girl! I can’t even find my prayer notes!”

2. The competition

Nigerian parents whether home or abroad can be incredibly competitive. Are you even Nigerian if you have not returned home with your school assessment report and your mum checks your grades and go like, “What stopped you from getting an A?”

And then, just before you could say a word, she adds, “Those that got an A, do they have two heads?”

Every failure you come back home with will be immediately linked to the supposed success of one neighbor’s child.

“You want to be a painter, okwa ya? Did you not see Jennifer? Is she not your mate. She is now a doctor. A doctor and you are here telling me you want to paint. Da Vinci!”

3. The “Disgrace” warning

African parents do not joke with “disgrace”. I’ve lost count on the number of times my parents have warned to be careful not to “bring disgrace to the family”.

4. Threatening to send you back to Nigeria

To the Nigerian parent who has found a new life in America or England, going back to Nigeria is their worst nightmare. So you as their child must behave or else you just might be sent back to Nigeria to understand how Nigerian life can reset someone’s brain.

The funny thing is that this threat doesn’t work anymore. A lot of us have seen and heard how amazing life in Lagos can be so we are not afraid to go vibe with our people. We will eat well-made Jollof and Afang and go to all the Wizkid parties.

5. The Nigerian mother’s “look”

You can’t be born by a Nigerian mother and not know about this. Sometimes it can be so complex that each eye movement conveys a different message. You must be smart enough to decipher what each look means as soon as possible and act accordingly.

Note that the Nigerian mother’s “look” was invented to avoid the use of words — woe betide you if you force your parents to still use words after giving you the “look”.

This will be you afterward:

6. “You will not kill me”

Nigerian parents and drama are like 5 and 6. They will use threats, blackmail, and manipulation to get whatever they want. When Nigerian parents say this “Do you want to kill me” — they are not even remotely close to dying. They just want to blackmail you into doing what they want.

7. The prayers

Nigerian parents do not joke with Jesus. No matter where you live with your Nigerian parents, be prepared for midnight prayers and sudden announcements of fasting and prayers.

One of the worst sins to commit in a Nigerian home is not taking part in the prayers. It tells your Nigerian parents that the devil has built a tent over your head and is now ready to use it to cause them havoc.

This is the period the prayer sessions on your head becomes more intense.

8. Marriage pressure

This one affects older kids more, especially if you are a woman.

You see, Nigerian parents see marriage differently. This is why they invest so much effort to make sure they help you do it right, your own opinion not counting.

I can’t remember the number of times my mum has called me to lecture to me how I will soon stop producing eggs and should quickly settle down before it gets to the point where I don’t have any eggs left.

Imagine if I told her that I am not really considering marriage (like I don’t want to get married), I will get something like this: “What? Nneka, do you want to kill me?”

“Why have you decided to bring disgrace to our family?”



Nneka: Just a small Brunswick girl trying to find her path in life.

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