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Sunday, 10 February 2013

In Nigeria, you're either somebody or nobody - by Adaobi Nwaubani

In Nigeria, you're either somebody or nobody? Please read the article and tell us what you think. Written by journalist and author Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
In America, all men are believed to be created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. But Nigerians are brought up to believe that our society consists of higher and lesser beings. Some are born to own and enjoy, while others are born to toil and endure.
The earliest indoctrination many of us have to this mind-set happens at home. Throughout my childhood, “househelps” – usually teenagers from poor families – came to live with my family, sometimes up to three or four of them at a time. In exchange for scrubbing, laundering, cooking, baby-sitting and everything else that brawn could accomplish, either they were sent to school, or their parents were sent regular cash.
My father detested it when our househelps sang. Each time a new one arrived, my siblings and I spent the first few evenings as emissaries from the living room, where our family watched TV after dinner, to the kitchen, where the househelps washed dishes or waited to be summoned.
“My daddy said I should tell you to stop singing.”

Immediately, they would shush. Often, they forgot and started again – if not that same evening, on a subsequent one. Finally, my father would lose his imperial cool, stomp over to the kitchen and stand by the door.
“Stop singing!” he would command.
That usually settled the matter.

I honestly cannot blame my father. Although they hailed from different villages across the land, their melodies were always the same: The most lugubrious tunes in the most piercing tones, which made you think of death.

Melancholic singing was not the only trait they had in common. They all gave off a feral scent, which never failed to tell the tale each time they abandoned the wooden stools set aside for them and relaxed on our sofas while we were out. They all displayed a bottomless hunger that could never be satisfied, no matter how much you heaped on their plates or what quantity of our leftovers they cleaned out.

And they all suffered from endless tribulations, in which they always wanted to get you involved.
The roof of their family house got blown off by a rainstorm. Their mother just had her 11th baby and the doctor had seized mum and newborn, pending payment of the hospital bill. Their brother, an apprentice trader in Aba, was wrongfully accused of stealing from his boss and needed to be bailed out. A farmland tussle had left their father lying half-dead in hospital, riddled with machete wounds. Their mother’s auntie, a renowned witch, had cursed their sister so that she could no longer hear or speak. They were pregnant but the carpenter responsible was claiming he had never met them before … Always one calamity after the other.

Househelps were widely believed to be scoundrels and carriers of disease. The first thing to do when a new one arrived was drag him off to the laboratory for blood tests, the results of which would determine whether he should be allowed into your haven. The last thing to do when one was leaving was to search him for stolen items. In one memorable incident, the help in my friend’s house, knowing that her luggage would be searched, donned all the children’s underwear she had stolen. And she nearly got away with it. But just as she stepped out the door, my friend’s mother noticed that the girl’s hips had broadened beyond what food could afflict on the human anatomy in such little time, and insisted that she raise her skirt.

Every family we knew had similar stories about their domestic staff. With time, we children learned to think of them as figures depressed by the hand of nature below the level of the human species, as if they had been created only as a useful backdrop against which we were to shine.
Not much has changed since I was a child. My friend’s daughter, who attends one of those schools where all the students are children of either well-off Nigerians or well-paid expatriates, recently captured this attitude while summarizing the plot of my novel to her mother. “Three people died,” the 11-year-old said, “but one of them was a poor man.”
It reminded me of the conversation in Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” when Huck tries to explain a delay in a journey:
“It warn’t the grounding – that didn’t keep us back but a little. We blowed out a cylinder-head.”
“Good gracious! anybody hurt?”
“No’m. Killed a nigger.”
“Well, it’s lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt.”

BIGOTS and racists exist in America, without a doubt, but America today is a more civilized place than Nigeria. Not because of its infrastructure or schools or welfare system. But because the principle of equality was laid out way back in its Declaration of Independence. The Nigerian Constitution states, in Section 17(2)(a), that “every citizen shall have equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the law.” However, this provision is in a portion of the document that contains “objectives” of the Nigerian state. It is not enforceable; it certainly isn’t reality.
The average Nigerian’s best hope for dignified treatment is to acquire the right props. Flashy cars. Praise singers. Elite group membership. British or American accent. Armed escort. These ensure that you will get efficient service at banks and hospitals. If the props prove insufficient, a properly bellowed “Do you know who I am?” could very well do the trick.

This somebody-nobody mind-set is at the root of corruption and underdevelopment: ingenuity that could be invested in moving society forward is instead expended on individuals’ rising just one rung higher, and immediately claiming their license to disparage and abuse those below. Even when one househelp is made supervisor over the rest, he ends up being more callous than the owners of the house.

Some years ago, I made a decision to start treating domestic workers as “somebodys.”  I said “please” and “thank you” and “if you don’t mind.” I smiled for no reason. But I was only confusing them; they knew how society worked. They knew that somebodys gave orders and kicked them around. Anyone who related to them as an equal was no longer deserving of respect. Thus, the vicious cycle of oppression goes on and on.
Nigeria is one of Africa’s largest economies; it produces around two million barrels of crude oil per day. And yet, in 2010, 61 percent of Nigerians were living in “absolute poverty” – able to afford only the bare essentials of shelter, food and clothing. In one state in northern Nigeria, where extremist groups like Boko Haram originate, poverty levels that year were as high as 86.4 percent.

Economic growth will continue to bypass the majority, the gap between rich and poor will continue to widen, so long as we see ourselves as divided between somebodys and nobodys. Only when that changes will the househelps sing more cheerful tunes.

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani is a journalist and writer, and was former standards editor at NEXT. Her debut novel, I Do Not Come to You by Chance, was winner of the 2010 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book (Africa).

263 Comments:

  • At 10 February 2013 at 13:37 , Anonymous pickycukie said...

    Nice article....very cool,tho not evrythin is d truth sha!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 13:43 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Too long biko but it is so true

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 13:44 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Racist! Hungry looking woman spilling out shits.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 13:47 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    What is this bitch talkin about sef..som1 dat has lived most of her lives outside d shores of dz country talkin thrash n discrediting our country jst bcos she nos how 2 write n make A good sentence.she should take several sits jor*talk2dhand*

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 13:47 , Blogger ★★PRINCE CHARMING™★★ said...

    Very true! She couldn't have said it better, here in Nigeria its all about what you can command, and all that is tied to bucks.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 13:50 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    lmao I swear dis article is so true....I remba all dose our funny maids while I was younger lol...nyc one dear

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 13:55 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    God one adaobi and very hilarious too.. affiong

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 13:56 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Excellent piece that properly defines our society . What she failed to add was that it is difficult for most Nigerians to see the bad side of this attitude until one travels out from Nigeria to a developed country where the alternative to house help is to get child minders and you pay from your nose to even afford it. I feel pained when I see these kids being treated as if they were born to suffer. They get treated as Carmels or robots. The name for it abroad is child abuse. Sad, sad,sad. Just feel like crying

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 13:58 , Blogger miriam ibrahim said...

    Its alright...

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:00 , Anonymous Ezems said...

    Good write-up. But I firlmy believe that the only way Nigeria can change, is with a massive revolution. In Nigeria, actions speak louder than words.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:01 , Blogger miriam ibrahim said...

    Its alright...

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:05 , Anonymous Ugo Chime said...

    Her choice of words were rather unkind & condescending. & I ddnt get exactly what point she was trying to make. Is it dat rich pple (her family included) don't have any regard for poor pple? Poor pple need to be lorded over, becuz daz d world they are used to? Kindness to poor pple (house helps in dis case) is futile & counterproductive?

    As one who had mainly bad experiences with helps (probably due a fault of mine, who knows), am not easily drawn to their defence. But my mom had good experiences & so have friends of mine, so I don't brand & stereotype them either.

    Every society has classes, & mostly depend on economic power. America may be d land of d free/equal on paper but it sure isn't in reality. Not even America is dat fair to her poorest (interesting what Adaobi said abt d helps as carriers of disease. Public health in itz earlier form was to keep d poor, dirty, disease-vectors away from d healthier richer population. It still is. Yesterday HIV patients from d 3rd world were kept away from most first world countries, today it is TB. The segregation is, unfortunately, part of life. Maybe explains why Samuel L Jackson's xter in Django Unchained was meaner to d 'niggers' than d white slave master.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:06 , Blogger pweetylisa said...

    9ce post..tru talk!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:08 , Blogger ebeano said...

    nne u ve said it all,

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:08 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    very well written

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:11 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Excellent write-up, I agree , Nigeria needs help, respect for poor human beings does not exist in Nigeria. people who are rich oppress the poor so much that it is ridiculous. I treated the helps like somebody's because of my faith in God. Here, in America, I treat my nanny with respect too, the difference between poverty and wealth is education and opportunity.i wish the poor can get adequate education and a system that will provide opportunity for them. Most importantly , they should cultivate family planning and quit having so many kids that they cannot afford to take care of.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:12 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    not all houses were like that...the house-helps that lived in my house have gone off to get married and had their own families or are moved away to university...nd they r all like sisters to me...i babysit their kids and go to their convocations and things...we shudnt generalise nd believe that evryone is like that

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:13 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Before u write articles like this do Ur research. In America dere is still racism, it may be hidden but it still very much exists, and as for treating domestic staff with respect, I agree but I also knw a lot of Nigerians actually already practice that. Plenty

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:13 , Anonymous Aboki said...

    E too long jere

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:14 , Anonymous divaaaa said...

    No b smal 'do u knw who I am o'....It works wella

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:17 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    You saw your helps as miserable people,doesn't define how I saw and still see mine. Really, in my opinion your argument is baseless.Unfortunate situations are bound to happen. Ask the poor how their rich fellow Americans treat them and you will withdraw your statements. You may not see it as debasing because of our own economy but it is to them. All fingers are never equal, everywhere in the world. Chika

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:18 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The US and Canada treats anything black with disrespect cos they have Been brought up to believe that black ppl r poor.
    If u treat ur houshelps with courtesy,they will forget who they r in d pecking order.
    Some of those househelps who eventually came out of poverty were so ruthless and meanspirited bosses.
    Take for example a man like Obasanjo,who grew up in abject poverty,walked around as an adult on his bare feet,u see d way he treats ppl today like he was born as an Imperial king? That is life for u.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:18 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    i think its well written bt i dnt agree completely...not everyone is like that...

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:21 , Blogger Anwuli Oputa said...

    I agree with Adaobi the rich keeps on getting richer while the poor keeps on getting poorer.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:26 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Spot on! i really dont know what the solution to this "naija mentality" is. for me, its the single most depressing thing about Nigeria.

    I've been to a couple of places outside Nigeira, east/west africa, north america, UK. None of them come close to owning the flashy cars we see everyday on Nigerian roads.

    Our priorities have been misplaced from way back, would take generations to find the right direction. only then would Nigeria have the slightest hope of moving forward.

    From bank MDs, Bosses at work, pastors, politicians to the gatemen and most of us. Until we are able to look beyond, the belief that we are incomplete, unsuccessful unless we acquire five of the best cars, build 3 of the best houses etc., then vision 2020 would have turned out to be the biggest joke of the millenium, our prayers all in vain.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:30 , Anonymous chzyme said...

    God help me to show love, to b humble and make people around me believe in demselves, to show dem same love and blessing dat God has given me wout discrimation bc if God is to descrimate, I may have died a pauper, but He luvd us all equally, please God help me to see d need of my neibo and b a gud samaritan alwaz, knowing dat it dosent end here, so help me God amen

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:30 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Of cos,maids r human like us and I always say thank u and appreciate their effort. Ur story is so so shallow #justsaying

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:32 , Anonymous Linda ikeji said...

    God bless u Adaobi tricia nwaubani,best article

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:36 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Well said Adaobi!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:38 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Sad but very true.Anny

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:39 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    This writer is very crazy. I am sure she was one of those spoilt kids that used to maltreat domestic help. Why won't she win the common wealth prize. It is this kind of stories they like to read and publish and i'm sure her novel back then had the same tone.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:42 , Anonymous Nwams said...

    I love Adaobi en her style of writing! "I do not come to you by chance" was the height of dem all! Kudos girl. Our leaders shuld have mercy on us, have learnt alot 4rm dis short story, in naija u either a somebody or a nobody! Nice one adaobi. Kip it d flag flying girl....xoxo

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:43 , Blogger Frank said...

    Lovely piece Ada

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:44 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Wow!!! Dis is sooooo true!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:47 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    My sister and her husband treated their househelp like their child. He was barely 10yrs when he started living with them. My sister had four of her children after he started living with them, the kids grew up knowing him and treated him as a brother. He was a very humble lad. He was sponsored up to unversity level.Today he is married with kids.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:48 , Blogger Chidozie Mario said...

    Linda, please let her tell us how many house helps she's got because that's how it all starts.
    Could She Be The Next Celine Dion?

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:48 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I completely agree!

    Beautiful write up. very articulate!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:49 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Goosssh just too long...can someone explain the rest to me...

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:50 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    New single "gaga"by vas ft flaco@www.tindeck.com

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:50 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Well written but I quite disagree with you. Are u saying Everybody in USA are all equal?

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:52 , Anonymous CREAMY said...

    TRUTH!! And well written.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:55 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Brilliantly written piece. I couldn't have said it any better, however I don't agree that Nigeria will get better when we start seeing each other as equals because Nigeria's problem is largely economical rather than social. It's the former that defines the latter.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:55 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    First of all linda this girl needs to understand that not all fingers are equal my father worked equally as hard to become an MD may b one day the house help will make it too , its destiny theres no way every one can be equal

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:57 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    She couldn't have taken the words out of my mouth any better . I totally agree. It took living in America to realize that we have an equality problem in Nigeria . And every time I go back I try to be nice to the help and it confuses them a lot . Nevertheless I hope we can all start to look at house helps as human beings and not just low lives .
    It won't hurt to take in one and train like your child or atleast treat them better. I remember my friend her maid for months becos she broke a handle off one of her pots .

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:58 , Blogger Jannie said...

    This is the best write-up yet, so far this 2013. Oppurtunity to reflect on the way we see ourselves and how we treat ppl. Change is in the mind, it begins with you and I.

    Gratitudes to Ada and ofcourse to Linda boo.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:58 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Well said

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 14:58 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Omg ds is sooo true! Great writeup!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:00 , Blogger A' Ninzo said...

    "...but America today is a more civilized place than Nigeria. Not because of its infrastructure or schools or welfare system. But because the principle of equality was laid out way back in its Declaration of Independence...". Well, without free schools and welfare systems, there'll be no equality, equality will remain a mere theoritical statement in theoritical constitutions. With free schooling and free meals in schools, most of the parents will rather have their kids in schools than as househelps. Education is perhaps the greatest leveler. How many children with at least a secondary school education want to be househelps?

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:02 , Blogger Imoteda said...

    Extremely well written and honest! Especially the bit about losing respect when you show respect to "nobodies" That kind of defeatist thinking helps perpetuate the cycle.
    I agree completely with everything written her.

    I also read her book "I do not come to you by chance" It is a really really good book. Looking forward to more from her

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:05 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Truth said, in so many words unfortunately.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:06 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    If every somebody can think like dis

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:10 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Well everytin she said is d truth, even d poor opress d poor,talk more of d rich n poor, it is well.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:12 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Great excerpt or article, not sure if its from her novel or not. Anyway, slave mentality seems like it has come to stay and is now a culture in our country. As long as we continue to 'elect' undesirables like Jonathan as leaders who incidentally use to be someone like a house help and some 'privileged' others who relished having under paid domestic helps in their homes, we will not eliminate this horrendous act against human rights. 'Do you know who I am' and 'who are you' is a phrase I hear on a consistent, actually now daily basis in our country. I think for some it correlates highly to a prelude like the foreplay before sexual intercourse. We have to do better my people...

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:14 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    True,d rich pple are to blame,dey treat their workers wit disgust-lyk dey r animals,as tym goes on,d kids copy d character also... And yes,poor pple/maids alwaes have one absurd problems or anoda,am nt rich yet,buh wen I hear such stories I quikly excuse myslf... D bottom line is
    Be rich,poor,wretched,we are all equal... Wen u av a great personality,enlightened and mature,everybody will respet uu,but most poor pple seek sympathy and pity.. Dats y dey are often looked down on

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:14 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Very deep,but contains every element of truth.Nigeria is really really sinking deeper into destruction,we barely even know ow bad it is yet.....

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:17 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    How u carry urslf matters-poor or rich,sadly,nigerians worship d rich.. Dey tink money is everytin... 4gtin dat poor pple have potentials and should be treated wit respect...

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:19 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Wow nice one dear... Real Talk!!

    ACHALAH!!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:25 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Linda abeg post comments, abi you dey f..k? hehe!!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:25 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I agree. It may not seem like a big deal or it may seem unconnected to our country's problem but it's very true. We scream about racism in the West but here we discriminate against people of our own kind, of our own villages and tribes even. And it is that 'big-man' mentality that makes it okay for policemen to slap and shoot in the street, for politicians to think they have to answer to no one, for senior cleaner to maltreat junior cleaner (small madam mentality too). It's also the reason why an LIB commenter (I will never forget this) came here to say people should not insult Okonjo-Iweala because she is not our mate. If Nigeria is a democracy and not a large rural setting with elders and seniority then the people in power are the people we put there and are subject to criticisms as agents not Mr, Mrs and Aunty and Madam. If you treat people like crap when you're a nobody it will only get worse when you are a Somebody. God help us in this country.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:26 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Superb piece! Adaobi you've just won one fan! Unfortunately, this reality is a far way from being acknowledged and corrected in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. I hope to live to see the day when all man truly, would be seen as equal in the eyes of man and law in Africa as a whole. Adaobi thanks for creating this awareness! Linda, this' the kind of stuffs you should be posting and not all dem those gossip thrashes!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:27 , Anonymous jbaby said...

    Hmmmmm, wisdom in a higest place

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:33 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Well written, lesson learnt from here is that, we should treat each other 'well' regardless who you are. Thank You, Mama B.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:36 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    is this bitch for real, shes mad, i thought her article is about injustice to the poor, but househelp bashing, my house help is none of the things she just describe

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:38 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    GLorified Slavery is not uncommon in NIgeria. I was appalled while at a friend`s place her 'house-help' slept on the floor in the living room when there was a spare bed! And the poor child coulndt have been more than 9 yrs old! I am not Nigerian so I may not understand a lot of things done here but if you were born after 1980 and u can still do stuff like this i cannot blame it on traditions and religions but pure wickedness! We had house-help and maids too as kids but we treat them as Children of the house. They eat from same plates as us, go to school if they so desire and are treated as humans! Parents here actually INSIST the househelp gets some education so they dont stay ignorant and get pregnant! With all that Religion in Nigeria one would expect sth different but Alas!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:39 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    God help nigeria..

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:42 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Very true!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:42 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    linda is toke makinwa back with her ex fiance?
    she uploaded a pic of two of them on instagram

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:42 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Very well said. Def food for thought.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:44 , Blogger ☂sojo said...

    This is an excellent read. The reality of Nigeria is a greedy nation governed by illiterate buffoons who lack and understanding of the exponential effects of their actions.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:47 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    i luv dis..its not onli inspiring nd frm her heart..its d truthh..a society where nepotism is d order of life...people suffering for basic essential in life..human rights trampled upon by even our leaders that shud enforce it..welfare is another tale..do we av a welfare state dat looks after d needy nd less prividged in d society nd ensure dat dey live better lives.child abuse kan,which of our legislations nd policies thoroughly enforce nd prevent it nt just sayin..mmmmmm..its realli sad but i pray dat al dis wil change nd d lord wil open our eyes nd Heal our land....

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:51 , Anonymous Queenie said...

    Linda why is it difficult for you to upload comments?this is a deliberate act cos i noticed you are putting up new stories and its taking you like forever to upload the comments.Anywayz,its ur blog and u can do with it,anythng u deem fit.Me i'll soon delete lib frm ma phone cos this is making me loose intrest.#jst letting u knw#

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 15:59 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    All she did was to hit home the truths which we (Nigerians) choose to obscure. Well-written piece too.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:00 , Anonymous Lisa said...

    Equality was written into the US constitution however it took over a century for the words to hold true meaning and not without struggle.

    My mom may have shared such contempt for househelps but my father and my siblings never mistreated or looked down on them. In fact I had very good relationships with our house girls and often took the blame for things to prevent them from my mother's wrath. I would be be delighted if you could cross paths again.
    Maybe I was fortunate i dunno or maybe it was because even as a child i knew to treat them with some worth that they in turn were kind to me and could call them friend.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:00 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Pls is there an abridged version of this article? Its too long

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:05 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Such a beautiful piece. Quite precise too...I hope we all learn from this.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:09 , Anonymous Marzzzz said...

    This just gave me a paradigm shift. Shez 100% correct. Its about time we emancipate ourselves from "mental slavery" and begin 2 see ourselves all as ONE NATION UNDER GOD brought 2geda by a common fate. #HappyStriving!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:10 , Anonymous Sexily Endowed said...

    somebodys? Wat does dat mean plz? Am just curious abeg. Nice article she've got there but its almost all abt her.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:13 , Blogger BIG FISH * said...

    Truly speaking good article.. But they all knw this, they failed to work with it cause of GREED.. This Nation hve no Destination.
    'STILL WATCHING FROM MY OCEAN

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:15 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    WORD..

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:18 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    If words and an article can change the way we think in Nigeria maybe , word dat av bn said for a very long time or an article dat has bn written wld have brought abt change but we still hope for better days 2 come. Nice article.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:22 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    She sounds like a very intelligent woman..An yes,i agree with all she's said..This are the challenges we're facing in Nigeria and most African countries as a whole.

    Pretty Girl

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:24 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    tI agree wth the writer. I too feel very strongly about how so called 'help' are treated. Drivers,nannies,cooks. Its a vicious circle. I find tht I am appauld by our lack of human compassion twds our own. We treat our own people worse thn white people wld ever treat us. Nobody chooses dey plight/tragedies or position in life. Nigerians hv a a lot to learn about human rights, compassion, kindness and general human relations. We can be soooooooo wicked and cruel and judgmental. Some even believe they r better than others. So call elite snobbing one another wth like illusions or power and importance. This writer has aptly highlighted a huge problem in the fabric of our culture and society. We hv a poveerty mentality if we think tht because of our 'fathers riches' or position we can treat others like dogs. Oyibos even hv human rights for dogs.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:25 , Anonymous t.girl said...

    Ok,to deviate from d current write up, pls i need help, n i need it asap. i Was a lesbian like a very bad 1, but i quit cos i became a changed person n turned a new a Leaf. D problem is, i still tink of it atimes, n also flash of sex with my past sex with some girl flashes tru my mind, but i Pray about it a lot. Wen i told a friend of mine, she said i shld stop deceiving myself, dats its sometin i can never stop again, n dat 1nce I'm in it, I'm in 4 good. Pls wat do u pple tink? Pls linda ikeji post ♍γ̲̣̣̥ comment. Pls i need pples advice, its urgent. Thank u.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:26 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The Real Truth speaks. My last post rang so true wth the writer. We all claim to read the Bible and Quran. Even Jesus and our great Prohet (PBUH) treated the poor and less priviledged with compassion. Nigerians have lost their sense of community

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:26 , Blogger PATRICK NNOLI N. said...

    You are indeed a Writer...soon Nigeria will experience a complete turn around through Divine intervention.The way it will happen will be so confusing until it becomes so obvious that God was behind the whole drama...This I believe...

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:30 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I love it!oh well,wat can we do?same old story everyday that it has become the norm.do ur best to be nice n leave the rest to God

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:31 , Anonymous Olu said...

    This is no big deal.
    In this same our Nigeria, a 'nobody' can go to bed at night and wake up the next day to become 'somebody'.
    This can never happen in your so called USA or Europe except the 'nobody' wins a lottery. I am not comparing USA or countries in Europe to our Nigeria, so please dont get me wrong.
    So anybody who is not happy in Nigeria can move to Europe or USA.
    Just save your money[or borrow it if u want like u all do] and go and line up at their embassies.It is errant nonsense to believe everyone is created and treated as EQUALS in USA or Europe. It is only people who have not lived there that will believe that crap. It is nothing but a fallacy.
    There is no where on this planet earth that there is no corruption and also there is no where on this planet earth that people are being treated as EQUALS. NOWHERE. PERIOD.
    In USA and Europe, it may be in their 'operating manuals' that people must be treated as being equals but is that what is happening in those countries?
    I beg, teacher please dont teach me nonsense.
    Olu.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:32 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    true talk. But, I was almost out of patient i beg next time just go straight to ur point.@warri boy.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:34 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Great piece, you hit the nail on the head. I bet this post wouldn't get a lot of views or comments. Nigerians would be too ashamed. Punks.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:34 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Well said

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:45 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Um, where do I begin? Contradictory elements form the substance of this article. Can't say anything else

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:48 , Anonymous nwanyi oma said...

    I loved Adaobi's book but this write-up was shallow and lacked substance at best. The topic is interesting but then she ended up writing about America and househelps? If she wanted to lay correct and substantial arguments then she should have gone beyond househelps as an illustration. It makes one wonder if everyone that is not a 'somebody' is just a househelp. In order words, her article should have been dedicated to a pleading for the cause of househelps or something of that nature and not 'somebodies and nobodies'

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:51 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Well written

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:52 , Anonymous Maryeve said...

    I am sorry but I disagree with this author! We had house helps too and we treated them all well. I remember whenever my little brother tried to demand the helps do something for him, my mum would tell them not to and either tell my brother to go do it himself or tell him to ask them politely. As far as she is concerned the helps were there to help out with things when we, the kids, were not around. If we are home from school, she makes us do all the work because she says "after training the help, they will go home and be useful to their parents; while her own kids (us) will be useless" ...I strongly disagree because our house helps were treated like humans and they never ate our leftovers, that was meant for our dogs.... Most of our helps stayed with us for the longest time before they left. Usually when someone is sacked it's because they stole something (like lots of money) and this is usually due to the people the hang out with in the school they sent them to. We have the one help that has been with us since forever, if we had treated him bad, he wouldn't still be with us. Most of our female helps left either cos they got pregnant or they got married ... So, I don't know who the author of this piece is but I will say your story is exclusive to you and your friends and that's because of your parents not training y'all right, which is very unfortunate! I am really glad you re-evaluated your life dearest author and made the decision to treat your helps like humans. Good for u.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:53 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    She is talking nonesense.She is trying to be relevant.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:53 , Blogger Eze Chukwumereze said...

    That mentality needs to change, well written article.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 16:59 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I love you adaobi well said. I feel the same as well everyone is equal. I live in the states n guess who calls me all the time, the dispatch rider from my former office why because I treated him with respect n we were equal.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 17:00 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    She is right!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 17:00 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    "Some years ago, I made a decision to start treating domestic workers as “somebodys.” I said “please” and “thank you” and “if you don’t mind.” I smiled for no reason. But I was only confusing them; they knew how society worked. They knew that somebodys gave orders and kicked them around. Anyone who related to them as an equal was no longer deserving of respect. Thus, the vicious cycle of oppression goes on and on."

    Wallahi My Darling!
    I have so ..regretfully and sadly found myself in this situation so many times.
    Drivers, Sub-ordinates, Waiters, Secretaries, Personal Assistants, Laundry man, Gate Guards, Helps...

    But I think the root cause is poverty...
    It's just poverty Adaobi.
    Once we get a handle on poverty, several myths can be smashed....

    Really appreciated your write-up sweetie.
    Those lips on you look good enough to eat...

    74

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 17:01 , Anonymous Akpeli Othuke said...

    Adaobi, I agree with you 100%

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 17:06 , Anonymous lado said...

    its unfortunate that this generation is also carrying on the bad legacy of our folks.All i hope is that our children dont turn out to be so spoilt that they now become issues of concern at our old age. Thanks adaobi for bringing up this, so those who have a conscience can think.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 17:21 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Nice article, straight to the point and well said....Besides,everything she said is true.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 17:27 , Anonymous meroh said...

    the writer said: "Some years ago, I made a decision to start treating domestic workers as “somebodys.”"

    "does she mean she still has domestic workers? If she does - why?" A tad hypocritical isn't it?

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 17:37 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Brillant!!!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 17:40 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Nice write up Miss.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 17:42 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    *Linda. This is the best info that has happened in your blog.
    I did an experiment several yrs ago/ Interviewed Naijas just arriving in the US and later asked them the same questions 4-5 yrs later. The result shows how cruel our system is towards people we perceive to be inferior to us. Thank God for America where we learn/practise equailty.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 17:44 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    This article is just wrong! Mean and condescending. Author what is your aim? I wonder what "part" of Nigeria you are from? We had house helps growing up but always felt our parents preferred them to us! We had to wash our plates, undies etc. and wondered why they were there. Now I am older and have domestic help; I understand.

    TrueStar

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 17:46 , Anonymous Uchlady.... said...

    I'm not quite sure I like this write-up...Something about the tone got to me....I understand what she wants to say though...Maybe..just maybe some changes could have made a difference...

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 17:48 , Blogger gloria sharon said...

    Jeez! She's so correct in all ramifications, smh for 9ja

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 17:49 , Anonymous omalicha1 said...

    The whole write up,well plotted,Very true,very right,I believe and I agree..but your dad is strange!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 17:51 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    What of the african American, native Americans vs the whites. I don't agree with you that it is only in nigeria.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 17:53 , Anonymous Englishman said...

    She couldn't have written it any better. The nobody and somebody syndrome has eaten deep into our genes so much that the "nobody" get surprised when the "somebody" show them a little kindness and they take advantage of it. Become disrespectful to a fellow human for being kind to them.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 17:53 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Wow....very true..well articulated.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 17:58 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Amazing.. so true.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 18:02 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Wiz kid and Bankyw

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 18:10 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Wow! Dis is incredible

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 18:13 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Hummm interesting points!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 18:13 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    true talk.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 18:19 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Beautiful writing and a powerful message...

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 18:21 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Don't I jst love literature?...nice..big grin#Nigeria though!...rolling eyes.Ann

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 18:26 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Very true...remember my cousins were all well to do n anytime i went visiting it was like going paradise...looking back now,its all so embarrasing!!after a well my sidlings n i just had enough n decided to stay in our "hut" in peace n wit our pride dan go to d manisons n come back wit their crumbs,pity n our tail in btw our legs for d humiliations we faced.
    Tank God,we r all graduates now wit jobs who can stay in ur hut built wit our sweat n ignore our cousins n their inherited or parent given manisons.n our cousins r always getting surpised for wat we achieve on our own...lol...

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 18:27 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    i agree
    please check out http://sprinkleofelegance.tumblr.com/ for fashion ideas.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 18:28 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    She speaks the truth. Everyone is a somebody in Nigeria though, depending on who is looking at you. The way some people treat helps now has definitely shifted. Because now some of these he's work with organizations, that they can report to and their madams can report them too. It just depends on the area. Nigeria remains useless

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 18:29 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I do not come to you by chance is a really good book. Just finished it. She wrote it like she was in the business herself. Smart woman. Funny too

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 18:30 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Congrat dear proud of u, u re sure making it big time

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 18:34 , Blogger Str8FrmDaHips said...

    Is she saying rich Briton and Americans//Arabs don't have maids..??..Last time i checked UK is still very much very a class based system which they exported to all their colonies..the yankees were one of a few to rebel against this norm...
    What needs addressing is the stealing of the nations wealth and this same wealth is used to oppress the people..pitting one ethnic group against the other..while they smile to the bank..send their kids to the best schools..and inherit the best jobs..doing fuckall..all down to the fact that their Dad happened to have got a political position and stolen enough wealth for generations...

    We had househelps I wouldn't deny it..but we all had chores to do in order to have a balance for the future..so please don't generalize..9jas are cowards just call out the people who have in mind..not hardworking families who managed to make something..

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 18:34 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    So true,negative influence of money.demonize oppression.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 18:39 , Blogger Eseosa Ehigie said...

    Wowwww, I love this, well said dear.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 18:41 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Word!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 18:44 , Blogger Bohemian Thoughts. said...

    Wow!!!!!!!! True Adaobi! Very true...I really do not understand how Nigeria, the Giant of Africa seems to be wallowing in self depreciation. With journalistic relish, you gave an impressively detailed,hilarious, personal memoir of normal domestic life in Nigeria, a thorough reportage and expose' of how the bourgoiuse rule. Fascinating story!! I couldn't agree less.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 18:48 , Blogger Angel Williams said...

    #True#.we all need a change from within us 1st

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 18:49 , Blogger Brian said...

    True story. And that inequality between somebodies and nobodies would never change. It is embeded in the black mans DNA not just Nigerian black man in general.. Growing up in Nigeria we had maids aswell. If you treat them with respect as human beings but with boundaries they wouldnt dare disrespect. I have lost hope in Nigeria it would never change to be realistic.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 19:01 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Guys,
    Think out of the box.
    Nigeria as a country have a population of 170 million without the following
    1. Good school
    2. Good road
    3. Good hospital
    4. No sound security measures
    5. No food security for its masses
    6. Basic amenities of life, etc

    But few
    1. Political elites are buying properties in abroad
    2. Religious leaders are flying in private jets
    3. Business mogul are political friends with juicy contracts

    Have a look at List of countries by life expectancy
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy
    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2102rank.html
    and comment what our PRAYER COLLEGES and WARRIORS cannot for us.

    Guy, think out of the box !!!!!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 19:04 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Gbam!! Eziokwu!!! If only we all can change our mindsets. I thanked my mother inlaw's housemaid one day and she became so confused that I had to withdraw my thanks to ease her confusion. Y? Bc nobody does that in that house. We need this change ASAP!!!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 19:04 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I'm always awestruck at how accurate all miss nwaubanis write-ups are....lol @ feral smell of house helps..so true.....keep it up adaobi can't wait for your next book

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 19:05 , Anonymous Rukevwe said...

    It's not just in Nigeria, it applies to life generally...Didn't read the article, though.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 19:06 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Captivating and Insightful

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 19:07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I Do Not Come To U By Chance...interesting and funny novel

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 19:09 , Anonymous Abena said...

    She's a darn good writer!and what she wrote is very true,happens in most African countries.
    I enjoyed reading it.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 19:11 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I THINK THERE ARE SOME UNDERLYING ERROS IN THIS ARTICLE.

    FIRST OF ALL, WHEN THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE WAS WRITTEN ONLY WHITE MALES HAD THE RIGHT TO VOTE. WOMEN AND MINOROTIES, INCLUDING AFRICAN AMERICANS DID NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE. ALSO KNOW THAT THERE ARE MANY NGO’S IN THE U.S THAT ARE STILL FIGHTING FOR EQUALITY AND JUSTICE TODAY- IT’S NOT ONLY ABOUT RACISM BUT ALSO ABOUT INQUALITY FOR WOMEN, PEOPLE WITH DIABILITIES AND SO FORTH. AND STOP COMPARING NIGERIA TO AMERICA, NIGERIA IS 52 YEARS OLD, WHILE AMERICA IS OVER 200 YEARS OLD.


    SECONDLY, WE LIVE IN AN UNJUST WORLD. THERE ARE CASES OF INEQUALITY IN MOST OF THE PROMINENT SOCIETIES IN OUR WORLD. I WOULD SUGGEST MS. NWAUBANI TO DO MORE RESEARCH AND STUDY THE CASTE SYSTEM IN INDIA, THE INQUALITY THAT EXSIST IN MANY ASIAN COUNTRIES AND SO FORTH.


    THIRDLY, I AGREE THAT INEQUALITY EXSIST IN NIGERIA BUT IT IS UP TO NIGERIANS TO FIX THAT PROBLEM. IF PEOPLE ARE WILLING TO STAND UP AND START A REVOLUTION, THEN MAYBE NIGERIA WIIL BE BETTER.


    HRH


     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 19:16 , Blogger Pope said...

    Nne Nawa for u and ur family ooh. Chei una wicked ooh

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 19:17 , Anonymous Moi Moi said...

    Relatable...
    All animal are equal but some are more equal than others. ... Animal farm

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 19:24 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Adobo has captured an aspect of the Nigerian problem in distinct prose. Any chance that this can change is out the window before sunrise, dead on arrival like they say. With the poverty in the land, the havenots will always be exploited and abused. This has extended to virtual slavery of the poor in many dimensions. I have been to parties where girls were brought in from our Universities and our Senators in the party cast lots more or less on who they will sleep with. I saw commanding officers of the Nigerian national assembly in jeans trousers and t-shirts at night carousing with girls young enough to be their daughters or grand-daughters. Many of these girls are from poor families struggling to make school, but can't afford the fees, and guess what? In our society of unequals, they have become prey for the ravaging libido of the well-offs. If the leaders of the society are involved in such waywardness, what hope is there for any change. The poverty of the mass majority is fodder for the lasciviousness of the leaders, to feed their indulgence and create a life of obscene comfort for the haves .... Nothing can change this in Nigeria. In Nigeria the maxim is get reach by any means or die trying. The option is to be among the havenots and that is a curse!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 19:26 , Anonymous Queen Bee said...

    Everything she said is exactly the way it is around here.!!
    Its a syndrome that has eaten deep into our mentalities sad enuf,like racism has eaten deep into white kids!
    This problem IMO started the day nig leaders decided to be corrupt and at the same time want to be voted back in power after running a bad govt,so they make sure they loot and deprive the pple of any luxury or even the basic neccesities of life so that by the time the pple are so hungry they can settle for anytin offered them at dat point(which is usually bribe to vote)
    This same problem is what makes everyone want to make money whichever way so they can be treated specially,hence more corruption!!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 19:29 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I get it but OI also don't get it. A lot of time is spent on abusing the same people she is speaking up for ...feral smell etc... abuse in the home.....endless problems ...roof missing etc

    she lost me before she tied it all in. She is also displaying the self same superiority complex she is complaining about....

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 19:33 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    too true .So many are guilty of the same oppression they accuse the political elite of thru the way they treat their househelps . No nation can rise above the level it treats it's vulnerable !

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 19:37 , Blogger ogechi okoye said...

    I no feel shout...

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 19:37 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    This is wonderful

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 19:42 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Her diction is good, but other than that, her tone is kind of arrogant

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 19:53 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Well spoken and right to the situation that affects us today

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 19:55 , Blogger Princess R said...

    This is really deep. She couldn't have said it better.


    www.nwavic.blogspot.com

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 19:55 , Anonymous isis said...

    A serious eye opener!!! So very true.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 20:01 , Anonymous .......Just saying said...

    Please speak for your family and not Nigerians. My Grandma's driver worked with her for 35 years (We helped build his house and settled him)and is more like an uncle to me than a driver. Our Gate man has been working with us for 12 and has practically become a member of my family as he seeks counsel from me and likewise. The maids are not to r=far fetched and are not ordered around the house

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 20:13 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Wow! Hmmmmn, talking abt values. We hav our values twisted here n dats true. Ppl shud not be used as props 2 advance our lives but we shud use every opportunity we get 2 help odas advance. Build odas not even 4 ur ego but u'll find a grt deep fullfilling joy dat ur giving out urself 4 odas. God help us o.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 20:13 , Anonymous atoyebi XII said...

    This is a lovely piece!
    This lady is superb writer!
    Made me reminisced!
    Bravo!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 20:23 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I just love this girl. Unfortunately not much is known about her book, I Do Not Come to You by Chance, which is an entertaining and enlightening book about 419 in Nigeria. It is an exceptionally well written book that will make you laugh out loud. I hope to meet her one day and tell her she did a great job!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 20:29 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I agree 190% with her. She hits the nail on the head. Even for some naijas in the Uk, they treat their aupairs and nannies as 'naija omo odo' or househelp. Working long hours, not being polite and paying peanuts.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 20:39 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Hmmm! So true, everything in her write-up is sad but true.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 20:40 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    In fact I love her even more after reading this article. She's truly gifted. I hear that bit about the house helps being confused when you treat them nicely 'cause it doesn't work that way. They lose respect for you and grow wings while the one with harsh, strict madams are usually well behaved and respectful. Sad but true. We keep praying for our country, e go better.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 20:43 , Anonymous Adele said...

    This is a sad reality of the nigerian society but it's oh so true. I agree that this need to be "somebody" as described by Adaobi is the reason corruption is entrenched. Anyone that had even a whiff of what it means to be "nobody" and is "lucky" to get into a position of power steals like there is no tomorrow mainly to cultivate the somebody status and show how "he/she" has arrived! Even the somebodys steal to entrench and solidify their somebody status. I've also noticed that helps and those in the lowest rungs of society expect you to treat them badly. If you treat them with respect, you are treated with disrespect cos that must mean you are a nobody as well or just plain daft so not deserving of their eyeservice respect for the somebodys of this society. It's a truly sad display of low self esteem...

    BTW, I like Adaobi Nwaubani. She writes well I thoroughly enjoyed her book. Had me lol-ing quite a few times at the antics of big daddy and his cohorts. Good to see her writing for new york times.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 20:43 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Wow! What an insight

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 20:49 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    she is always chatting shit about Nigeria and Africa in American publications. She's a self-loathing Nigerian in my opinion, a house-nigger or an Uncle Tom like her beloved Americans would say. America should do and give her citizenship. She is so patriotic to them. She should live in an American ghetto as black man and learn what equality really means in America. mschew!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 20:50 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    True talk dearie

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 20:54 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    this is amazing, love the write up but Nigeria already knows its problem the question then is where lies the solution?.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 20:56 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Thank u for posting this. I'm puzzled by the treatment of ppl from developing countries attitude. Mostly I refer to those ppl of color. Don't get me wrong in my assumption; however, it appears these ppl did not come from a wealthy class due to their obsession over material items. Yes, my exposure to ppl of color culture has shown great likeness to the finer things in life. That's ok but for those from humble beginnings are quick to look down on ppl who may appear low class. The ppl of color who appear from families with middle class and higher backgrounds seem more respecful. I see them flocking to neighborhoods of the affluent and are hardly able to afford their homes and luxury cars. Too bad for them because it's destroying their legacy. They're not wanted in these communities and/or lack social skils to cope. This snobbery seems common of those who came out of extreme poverty not just Nigerians. It's unfortunate because ppl go to America or UK for progress and get so caught up in status they forget their culture, destroy their family and dignity. As the saying goes, one's earliest teaching begins at home.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 20:57 , Blogger elewade adegbenro said...

    Intelligent article

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 21:07 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    This is real deep..

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 21:15 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Linda.. Ur articles are just so long abeg..

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 21:18 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Get off your high horse bitch,all men were created equally.don't open your smelly mouth and rubbish God's creature simply cuz they ended up as househelps....such a dimwit,I bet if u av children,they will grow up n b worse than u..am sure it will make u proud...fuck u and the point ure tryin to make...imagine a nigerian?

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 21:37 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    When I was growing up, our househelps went to school. My parents paid their fees and also paid their parents money. Once they finished high school, they would leave our employ. Our maids were never beaten. My parents always bought them clothes whenever they went abroad. They were sent to hospital when sick and always, always, always improved in every respect when their tenure was up.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 21:39 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Oh its so true. I have seen so many maids work and I wonder if that's all they'l ever do. How do we ever want to become a better nation when almost 90% of nigerians are uneducated and living in abject poverty(forget all those research this na fact). These maid never get any form of training. How do we want nigeria to change? It all starts with us, How do we relate with people beneath us daily? are we polite? How often do we smile @ the pple that slave to make us comfortable? You see I never thought much about my attitude towards the nobodies until a man was blatantly rude to a conductor in a bus(I was mad) the conductor was a teen. He made mistakes with calculating change and this man just started insulting him. You are smelling! Did u shower! Did u go to school sef! Please move away, how can a dirty conductor seat beside me, don't U knw am going to office! Chai I was weak. I became afraid that I might have done that in action if not words. We nigerians always put on the air of a somebody even when sometimes U are a complete nobody bc well somebody's are respected. Nigerians are not polite @ all. We dnt know how to be equals, its a contant competition to be the somebody,look the somebody and act the somebody. We dnt knw how to say please thank you or even smile. Smile ke? Tufia after all the problems I have. We need to wake up. This is a wake up call.
    AWEsome

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 22:05 , Anonymous Dumi said...

    Very true and the saddest part is children see how their parents treat these house helps and think its right to do the same. Interesting to see no one has commented on this article yet. Is it guilt ???

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 22:08 , Anonymous Dumi said...

    Very true and the saddest part is children see how their parents treat these house helps and think its right to do the same. Interesting to see no one has commented on this article yet. Is it guilt ???

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 22:12 , Blogger Nicole said...

    Perhaps the author hasn’t lived in America for a long time or is trying to appease Americans but honestly, the same thing happens here. There is no difference.

    In fact, I’d argue that this happens all over the world.

    “BIGOTS and racists exist in America, without a doubt, but America today is a more civilized place than Nigeria.”

    This is not the right place to start a discussion on “equality”. I would love to know what makes America more ‘civilized’ than Nigeria and that person’s definition of ‘civilization’. Is it when someone walks into an elementary school and blows away twenty innocent children and six adults. Is that civilized?

    As I mentioned earlier, this happens all over the world, not just Nigeria. What I detest is when a Nigerian enforces the idea that Nigeria is somehow a less ‘civilized’ place because it doesn’t operate like America.

    Let’s be careful of idolizing the US and making sweeping comparisons rooted in fantasy and half-truths.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 22:39 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    too long!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 22:44 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Standing ovation!!!

    This beautiful lady, just wisely explained the confusion that plaques the Nigerian mind. LACK OF EQUALITY breeds corruption and death.

    As a Nigerian American, it is so odd going to Nigeria and hearing people yell "do you know who i am" lol

    Unfortunately it takes living in a civilized society to see Nigeria for what it is.

    I hope this sparks a debate that will eventually lead to people realizing that "all men are created equal. Regardless of class,breed, religious background etc.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 22:50 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    This so true

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 23:09 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Oh my goodness! I can totally relate to this article. I laughed till tears came out of my eyes but the reality is that the Nigerian society is sad. If you do not appear wealthy, nothing for you o! I live a very simple life in the US. If I were in Naija I would have to be on point all the time (too much stress). God help us ooooooo, amen!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 23:12 , Anonymous zsa zsa said...

    Wow! I was more interested in her way with words than the topic of discussion. She is indeed a gifted writer.
    I share her views on how we treat each other in nigeria, i have always had a problem with the idea of having a house help ever sine i was a teenager. Not sure i could ever have a maid as i would probably pass for a "weak" boss. I don't like the fact that they are treated differently from the other members of the family. They are abused, beaten, insulted and sometimes spat on. I visited my soon to be sister-in-law one time and she was cooking in the kitchen with her maid, the girl couldn't have been more than 9 yrs old. My sis-n-law asked if she had completed a task and the girl said no. The way my sis-in-law screamed at her and called the girl an idiot made me cringe. I felt so bad for that poor child. The tradition of having house helps is not a bad thing but we can treat them with a little more respect, they are also human.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 23:15 , Blogger Dami Akinyemi said...

    this is a wonderful article and it is absolutely true.even among kids in the same class, there's that segregation.Those children of senators see the children of ordinary lawyers as "nobodies" and so a barrier is formed even in that little classroom separating the "upper class" from the "lower class".
    children can't stop it unless they don't see that behavior in the adult society, which is impossible, and so the cycle goes on and on through generations

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 23:15 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    hmm, interesting write up but lacking depth if I may say. I can understand the writer's choice to broach the subject of class stratification from the angle of domestic helpers but her approach does not fully capture what economic of social stratification truly entail. Being a "somebody" or "nobody" truly doesn't have much to do with whether you are from a poverty stricken village or not. There are many Nigerians that have at one point or the other served in a relative's household and moved on in life to become a "somebody". So I do not know if the writer is trying to address social stratification, economic segmentation, or plain and simple inter-human relations! Enough with holding America as the standard of what a civilization should be, for goodness sake we are Nigerians, Africans and have our cultures, our traditions, our laws. If one is gonna do some writing and thinking, one should try to formulate your thoughts on the subject matter before publishing on the web (me inclusive, lol). Bottom line, of course Nigerians know everyone is equal, how we treat the help, NYSC corpers, junior students in school, perceived criminals (RIP ALUU 4), etc has little to do with "somebody" or "nobody" but everything to do with empathy, love and peace as a race undivided by skin color (artificial or real) or bank account or fake-ass borrowed accent. My point is, domestic helps aren't mistreated for being nobodys, they are mistreated because of the lack of mutual love or empathy for our fellow men. An improved economy isn't gonna teach ppl to love, neither will it make your boss treat you better or madam shout at you less. An improved economy; education, health care, industrial growth, etc will give people EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES to become "SOMEBODIES"

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 23:16 , Anonymous Mariam Es. said...

    Wow, what an excellent read! I really truly enjoined this piece. This is unfortunately the reality in Nigeria today. I have been curious to know why this is so though?
    Some are born to own and enjoy, while others are born to toil and endure- best of all lines!

    Please where can I find Adaobi's book?

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 23:18 , Anonymous Zen said...

    She was spot on. A vast majority of Nigerians are willing to manage the corruption instead of trying to fight the system so things can change. We hear of Politicians stealing billions monthly yet nothing is done. Sometimes, I get tired of thinking about Nigeria.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 23:21 , Anonymous Jayden O said...

    Interesting. We only have the government to blame for inequalities in the country. Nigeria is a country were the rich gets richer and the poor stays poor. How ever education offers a way out of poverty.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 23:25 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    We need more ppl like dis #likeminds

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 23:30 , Blogger Sam O. Coker said...

    Hmm, i didn't just rea, I remembered and learnt! The chage will require start with me and you!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 23:37 , Blogger Ike Sunday said...

    nothing could be more fitting than her description.It is quite a pity.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 23:38 , Blogger Ike Sunday said...

    nothing could be more fitting than her description.It is true,but it's quite a pity.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 23:39 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Linda abeg u don dey too lazy, how long will it be taken u to post comments...i wan abuse this author small (all these people always trying to play naija down)

    ray lewis got away with mother in america, how many ordinary people can get away with that in america ?? and u say they are equal

    they can afford same kind of car in america abi

    them no dey use connection get better job sef abi

    them no dey use padi padi appoint people as board of directors for companies abi (or even govt)

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 23:43 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Looks mor like d houshelp..mtchew

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 23:46 , Anonymous senior man said...

    This article is simply unnecessary. The writer could have just summarised the whole story in one sentence by simply stating that she is a rich girl from a rich family because it is obvious that's what she really wants to say. 90% of the article's content is superfluous. This is not writing out of passion and the desire to pass a message across, the young lady just wants to brag. Dear lindy, pls stop helping these spoilt children get undue attention. The one they get from their 'house-helps' is enough. She's got the same eyes as my galfrnd tho' #justsaying#

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 23:51 , Blogger Dith said...

    Very well written & soo true!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 23:51 , Blogger TemTops said...

    Beautiful!

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 23:51 , Anonymous Nwachidinma said...

    Great article.

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 23:55 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    We had tons of domestic helps, but never abused them as the writer's family obviously did..The feeling she now writes about runs in that family, and her tone tells me it remains alive...

     
  • At 10 February 2013 at 23:56 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Am shocked no one commented though the article has been here for more than half a day. Well we hardly read. This is a sad reflection of our class society. -Newyorker

     
  • At 11 February 2013 at 00:00 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Its not only in US that equality is practiced point of correction but must of Europe,tho I I agree wiv the rest of the article, that is really scary 4 ppl like me 2 come back n live in naija where there is no law n only who knows who can get justice n service.....the stigma of a 3rd world country will always b there 4 ppl like us who've lived abroad n know better dat all humans r indeed equal God created us all flesh n blood

     
  • At 11 February 2013 at 00:08 , Blogger Sylvester Ade Arokoyo said...

    This a master piece and the truth, the part I got carried away as though she were refering to my actions was this quote:

    "Some years ago, I made a decision to start treating domestic workers as “somebodys.” I said “please” and “thank you” and “if you don’t mind.” I smiled for no reason. But I was only confusing them; they knew how society worked. They knew that somebodys gave orders and kicked them around. Anyone who related to them as an equal was no longer deserving of respect. Thus, the vicious cycle of oppression goes on and on"

    Thats exactly the way I treat somebody who thinks he is a nobody and I got similar reactions, but if you ask me, whether or not the vicious cycle of oppression should go on and on, I don't think so.

     
  • At 11 February 2013 at 00:10 , Blogger kaychi said...

    I wholeheartedly agree with this piece, I have had so many debates on this matter, our mindset is incredibly flawed as a people.

     
  • At 11 February 2013 at 00:12 , Anonymous LAWYER said...

    Governance s widely believed to be a social contract btwn d govt n d governed. However, Section 17 of the const is a fraud on the people, an unthinkable paradox and an erotion of govt principal responsibity to its people. I weep for my country.

     

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