Obi and Chike knew this long-winded talk by Obi’s father was just not for him to hear himself talk. It pretty much meant to say that you guys have had your way in dating to no avail and now we think you should consider our way. By this time Obi’s mother had come to the kitchen and jumped right into the conversation. “Obi, we know that you had a difficult time dealing with the breakup of Tamika a few years back. I know since you have been in law school until now I haven’t heard you talk about anyone seriously. But maybe it is time to pull your eyes from dating these akata girls.” Obi’s mother never said anything about him dating Tamika or thought she was a bad person, but just preferred that her kids date Nigerians.
If not a Nigerian, she wouldn’t mind someone from another African country or the Caribbean. Obi’s parents didn’t dislike akatas (black Americans), but felt that their lack of culture would influence their own kids to not follow theirs if they got married. They also heard stories from other Nigerians about black American women refusing to take their husband’s Nigerian name, not wanting their kids to have Nigerian names, or go to Nigeria and see their relatives. The final thing was the akata women refusing to learn to cook Nigerian food. Chike’s mother also felt the same way as her sister-in-law and put her two cents into the discussion. “Madam, you are right. These akata women want these rough guys who beat on them. Obi and Chike you boys are too quiet for them. They will run circles around you guys and your lives will be very terrible. Abeg now. Listen to your mothers before it gets too late.”
Both Ugo and Chukwuemeka began to stare at each other in amazement as they heard their wives go on about this topic. Ugo decided to jump in and try and stop the conversation, “Nkiru and Ijeoma let’s cool down the argument. These boys have heard your plea and will keep it in mind.” Both men had different views subject of dating. Obi’s father agreed with his wife, but didn’t want to come out as bold as his wife did. Chike’s father preferred that he marry a Nigerian woman, but he knew that a lot of Nigerian women weren’t easy to deal with as well and didn’t want to put them on a pedestal as the best choice. He had two black American women in his law office and felt that his wife and sister-in-law were making wild generalizations that weren’t true. But he also wasn’t in the mood for a long drawn argument with his wife and decided to take the diplomatic route.
Ugo decided to move the conversation toward the election of Obama. “So Obi and Chike, what do you think about this Obama victory a few nights ago? You young guys really went to the polls heavy for him.” Obi responded by saying, “Well, Uncle, it was very exhilarating. I think everyone felt like they were taking part in a very historical moment in world history. But beyond the surface, I am interested to see if he puts Hillary Clinton in his cabinet and if so, what position he will give her. I would like to see who his economic advisers will be and gain some insight on what policies his administration will attack in his first 100 days.” Chike didn’t have much to add but just to agree with Obi’s point. Chike followed politics, but didn’t get into the nuts and bolts like Obi did. Ugo enjoyed having these discussions with his nephew. He was usually very knowledgeable about what he was talking about and never said things out of emotion. Their talks went back to when Obi was in middle school.
Even though Obi usually held his own at an early age; Ugo always gave him critiques to keep him from getting to cocky or arrogant. Ugo said, “Yeah, I think people will carefully be watching who he picks because by all estimates, the recession will be getting worse and he needs to pick guys who will bring some stability to the stock market. I will give him about one year before people start asking for his head. Americans have short memories and will forget that the foolish man named Bush caused most of the misery we are facing and will continue to endure for years to come.” Sometimes Ugo and Obi would get caught up in their own world and they would forget other people were in the room. Obi’s father came in with his own analysis. “I don’t think Obama can do too much to fix the economy in the next two years. His problem is that he has promised so much that people will have very high expectations, which I am not sure he can meet. People will expect him to be like Jesus Christ and turn water into wine. But regardless of the situation; to see an African man leading this country still makes me have great joy. Many of us like me and Ugo came to America for college in the late 60s and early 70s and can relate to Obama’s father’s trek.”
“I have to state something though, that has been bothering me for awhile and it is how the news media has made Obama the savior for the black Americans. I expect that from whites, but what shocked me was your black news media. It seemed like they interviewed black civil rights leaders and others about his impact on the black American community. But did they talk with any Africans and ask us what we felt about him? The answer is no. Before he came into the U.S Senate, I read that black Americans in Chicago were saying that he wasn’t black enough. But now that he has risen up to the top, you see how akatas are all trying to get a piece of him. They forget that he has African blood running in his veins. In my opinion, black Americans just like the symbol that Obama portrays. Most of them don’t care much for us Africans, only when it is beneficial to them. When the white man is giving them hell, they run to us and call us their African brothers and sisters and say how we have to come together. But as soon as the white man treats them a little bit better, then they reject being called African and start referring to themselves as black. This is the game akatas have been playing for over 30 years with Africans in this country,” said Obi’s father.
As the rest his family was discussing the matter, Obi began to think about, the relationship between Africans and black Americans. On election night, the scene of joy on the television showing black people from Harlem, New York to Nairobi, Kenya was overwhelming. It seemed that for a brief period of time, Obama had united the black race as no one person or incident had done before. But it was also incorrect to believe that the divisions that separated these distant relatives could be fixed very easily.
Chinedu Achebe was born in Richmond VA and currently lives in Houston, Texas. He works as an accountant in the oil and gas industry. He is the oldest of three siblings and graduated from the University of Houston with his bachelor’s in Economics. Blunted on Reality is his first book which was published in 2012. He is @ChineduAchebe on twitter and his book is also available on Amazon
Excerpt culled from BellaNaija.Com