“I GIVE UP! Just what is it about our women and these Nigerians?”
These words were uttered by my friend Fletcher whose former girlfriend had just walked into our club in the company of a guy donning West African attire.
By Boyd Maliki
“She dumped me for him,” fumed Fletcher, “but, looking at him squarely, in what department does he beat me?”
The Nigerian and his date chose a table close to where we were sitted and, common sense told us to change drinking places.
As we walked out of that bar, even I too began wondering what really drives our sisters so crazy about West African men. . .
I once knew a Nigerian expatriate, who lived in Bulawayo in the early ’90s and boy, didn’t this guy become a hit with numerous women in town!
Bluntly speaking, the man was ugly. He rarely bathed and, when he did, he never used soap. He, Ackim Abdul, didn’t believe in superficial beauty derived from cosmetic use. So tooth paste, deodorants and such stuff were not for him. Amazingly, Ackim liked his women beautiful and well groomed.
Asked how he managed to charm those beauties, Ackim would grin, revealing his seldom brushed yellow teeth and say: “You should know. Your women are wild about us West Africans!”
He was right. Nigerians had suddenly become the life and soul of almost every get-together in town. I attended a few such parties and, you should have seen how the girls would engulf these fellows while local lads gnashed their teeth and foamed at the mouth. “They’re stealing our women,” was all the locals would appear to be saying.
Anyway, one just has to admit it – Nigerians simply have a way of standing out in a crowd wherever they go . . .
In Zambia during the late ’70s, for instance, having a Nigerian boyfriend had become a sort of status symbol among most single women.
You could be as ugly as the back of a smashed bus but, as long as you had that foreign-sounding name, the girls were always available for you . . .
I still remember the day I bumped into my best friend’s six-foot tall sister in Lusaka’s Cairo Road, during those times and she was walking hand-in-hand with a fat man who stood a mere four feet tall. Noticing my curiosity, she walked up to me and whispered: “He is Nigerian.”
Well, they say if you can’t beat them, join them! Some Zambian guys figured that if their girls were so eager to date any West African – no matter his looks – then why not go around posing as Nwosu, Tunde, Olu or Kwame?
The guys began investing in West African attire and went about town speaking Pidgin English and one such character was my former schoolmate, Richard.
Richard, who was working in Kitwe, had decided to spend his annual leave in Lusaka with Peter, another former classmate. So arming himself with West African suits tailored out of Ghanaian wax prints, he invaded the capital city . . .
Teaming up with another friend, Mwanza, who was also masquerading as a West African, a venue where Richard would make a grand appearance, was arranged.
First to walk into the exclusive bar of the popular city hotel was Mwanza, whose colourful gown had heads turning.
Greeting, the obviously impressed patrons with a bow, he walked to a vacant table and ordered a scotch . . .
Twenty minutes later, a flamboyantly dressed Richard sauntered into the bar and Mwanza, displaying a deliberate look of surprise, got up and rushed to greet him.
“Kofi!” shouted Mwanza excitedly as he hugged Richard. “What are you doing here? It’s only three weeks ago I saw you in Accra!”
“I decided to surprise you by coming here unannounced,” replied an equally excited Richard, now calling himself Kofi. “You spoke so much about Zambia and its wonderful people, so when I went to their high commission to enquire about job opportunities, they linked me up with Indeco head office.”
“Are you saying you’re working here already?”
“Yes. I’ve been here one week now. I still have two weeks free to myself before I start doing serious work. Look, our meeting here calls for a celebration – call the waiter!”
The waiter took note of their order and then, turning to Kofi, he said: “We have two types of lager, chief, Mosi and Muchi . . .”
“My man, what difference does it make?” bellowed Kofi. “A beer is a beer and, while we’re still at it, please give everyone here a drink of their choice. I’ll settle the bill.”
The West Africans became instant heroes with the other patrons, the women especially, as they seized this opportunity and ordered expensive shandy and other liquor.
But one guy, a handsome young engineer with NCCM, a mining conglomerate, lived to regret why he chose to entertain his girlfriend at that hotel that day. His girl had gone to the loo and Richard, who had been exchanging friendly gestures with her all afternoon, followed and hung around near the entrance. . .
It was getting late and the engineer kept glancing at his watch repeatedly only to discover later on that the West African had driven off with his lover.
As for the girl Richard stole, she was riding on cloud nine! In just a few days of knowing each other, this Kofi fellow, who appeared to know Lusaka better than she, was already wining and dining her at high-class night spots she never knew existed.
She didn’t mind riding in a taxi with him or his squatting in with Peter, the Zambian friend he met while “studying” in the UK. Richard Kofi’s Continental Mk 4, ordered from the US, was awaiting clearance at a Tanzanian port, ready to roll into Lusaka any time. Also, in a month’s time, his six-bedroomed bungalow, already under renovation, would be ready for occupation.
One evening during their second week together, Richard received a phone call from Kitwe.
“Hey Bwana, are you aware your leave ends in two days’ time?” the voice on the other end quipped.
“Ah, Jack! How are you? Shani iwe chipe?” The uttering of those three Bemba words in perfect Copperbelt province accent startled Richard’s girl!
She sat up from the bed and gaped as her guy now spoke Bemba throughout the conversation. Finally when he had replaced the receiver he smiled. “I’ll be leaving for Kitwe in a couple of days, honey.” He told her, in normal Zambian English.
She stood up, hands on hips and challenged him: “For a foreigner, your Bemba is just too perfect — what’s going on here?”
“If I tell you I’m not Ghanaian, will you still love me?” Richard was still smiling. In a second or so, she would go ballistic, whacking him here and there and then storm out of the room, vowing never to see him again. To him, this had just been one of those holiday love affairs and he had planned to end the adventure this way . . .
But, in immediate contradiction to such expectations, her stern face suddenly broke into a wide grin.
“And to think my worry all along was you’d one day dump me and run off to Ghana!”
“I beg your pardon?” asked Richard, a little petrified.
“I’ve fallen in love with you and when I love I stick like glue,” she declared. “And, Richard, just in case you’re planning on doing a Houdini on me, there’s no place you can hide from me here in Zambia!”
She meant her words and, up to the last time I called on Richard, the two were still stuck together – like Siamese twins!