by Nonye Obi-Egbe
As is common with all things controversial, the virtual war on Ted Cruz’ Nigerian email scam comments has begun. Everyone wants to say, or in this case type, their two cents, and we have all sorts of opinions and ideas. Naturally, Nigerians all around the world, and especially in Texas, are filled with holy rage over the man’s allusions to truth. While I stand against anything that disparages my country or denigrates my people, let’s all look at this closely.
As much as we hate to hear it, Nigeria is well known all around the world as a country of frauds. Some of the documentaries on crime and history networks are centred around one Nigerian-bred international 419 scam or the other. Back home, we know, all too well, how the rug can be pulled from under your feet if you don’t protect your possessions properly. This is the only reason why we deface our property walls with signs like “this house is not for sale”. Thankfully, we have survived the era of ‘yahoo-yahoo’ boys who shut down many internet cafés because of their illegal activities. Still, we all have heard the stories of those Lagos big boys who somehow ride high-end cars without having worked a day in their life. Why then do we rage in holy consternation over this man’s comments?
If we were to talk about email scams, everyone will have a story to tell. We know about the rich prince from an unknown village who died suddenly leaving his vast fortune for his dear cousin, who then desperately wants to get it away from the roving eyes of the government. Quite recently, we also have heard stories of how email accounts are hacked and unsuspecting victims end up sending hard-earned money to supposedly help out a friend in need. Need I say more?
The truth is, we don’t have to go far to find some truth to Cruz’ comments. Of course we don’t care what reference he made to Obamacare, it only matters that he alluded to the Nigerian email fraud. If he had made a generic comment, it wouldn’t be such a problem, even though we would know to whom he would be referring. Although he didn’t say all Nigerians are fraudulent and he didn’t say all Nigerians are email scammers, yet, I agree that he shouldn’t have made a joke about the one part of our history we would like erased. Nigerians are like cockroaches, I’ve heard it said; we can survive in the worst of conditions anywhere in the world. We are a proud people, most of the time, and we don’t like to be reminded that we have a spotted past and present. So even though Ted Cruz meant it as a joke, he must apologise; but we also must move past the pettiness of politicians and pray that the sins of the few don’t spoil the hopes of the many.