Before we get into what I learned in Nigeria, here’s who I learned most of it from— The best way to learn about a foreign place is to get to know locals, and I got lucky in Nigeria.Through a friend, I was put in touch with a 31-year-old Nigerian guy named Femi, who offered to pick me up at the airport when I arrived.
Even as I was checking my bag at the Tokyo airport, the woman saw where I was going and looked at me like, “Seriously though what’s your problem? But I had apparently decided to leave the world’s most pristine, orderly, safe place to go to a place that was not those three adjectives, and there I suddenly was, standing in the middle of Africa’s biggest city, trying to not die.
But we’ll come back to my situation in a minute—let’s first get oriented on Nigeria.
He’s a great kid—mature for his age, laughing all the time, and really bright. This isn’t specific to Nigeria, of course—nine-year-old boys across the planet are the absolute lowest rung of the human ladder.
Nine-year-old boys are too old to get special kid treatment, too young to have seniority over anyone else, and people tend to be more comfortable making a boy that age do unpleasant manual labor than a girl. If a low-grade manual job was anywhere to be found, someone was yelling at John to go do it.
Combine that with one of the world’s highest fertility rates (5.25 children born/woman), and you have a rapidly growing population.
Currently #7 on the country population list, by 2050 Nigeria is projected to have 440 million people and have leapfrogged up to #3 on the list, behind only India and China: But it’s not a simple situation.If you’re really interested in learning about The Nigeria Coup Festival, this is a well-done 2.5-hour documentary about the history of modern Nigeria.For those who are just kind of interested, I spent a quarter of my living years gathering the highlights into the below diagram.And then there are those 250 ethnic groups, the three largest of which comprise 68% of the population—Hausa in the north (mostly Muslim), Igbo in the southeast (mostly Christian), and Yoruba in the southwest (Muslim and Christian)—and these three groups’ general annoyance with each other is behind much of the country’s violent past and political instability.With a nominal GDP of just over half a trillion, Nigeria has Africa’s largest economy, mostly due to its huge oil reserves—it’s the world’s 8th largest exporter of crude oil.This turned into Femi taking me under his wing for almost the entire trip, showing me around Lagos, having me over to his apartment, sending me with his brothers to stay for half a week with their mom at their childhood home, introducing me to a bunch of other locals, and answering my roughly 12,000 questions about life in Nigeria. I stayed with different members of the family during the trip and got to know a few of them pretty well—it’s a mom and her nine kids, who range from the ages of nine Being a nine-year-old boy sucks.