By: Ufuoma Bakporhe
First, you really do not have to visit America. However, it is an added advantage if you do. Introduce yourself as an American or someone affiliated with God’s own country. When asked your name, say it is Amanda even though your parents named you Chimamanda which means, My God will never fail. Spell it like the English name, A-M-A-N-D-A. Pronounce it so. Forget that names possess far more meanings than their spellings or pronunciation in your culture and adopt another name. Forget that your God may never fail you just on the basis of your name. Wear the culture of a foreigner even if you have never been to his land or even if you have visited only once on holiday with your uncle who is not exactly your uncle and then come back home to yap about how beautiful the Empire State building is and how busy the Wall Street is.
Speak with an accent. This is not one gotten from speaking too much Igbo but one from constant and repetitive practice from watching Hollywood. Spend hours on the internet googling American lingo and styles. Do not speak any more Igbo because it will ruin your developing American accent.
Practice Ebonics. You are black after all and Ebonics are part of black culture. It’s almost an equivalent of Nigerian pidgin. So you erase pidgin and embrace Ebonics. Pidgin is for locals.
Ask your friend Chiwendu why she has not changed her name to Wendy or your friend Oluwatobiloba, why he does not spell the variant of his name, Tobi as Toby. Speak of America like your great great great great grandfather was Christopher Columbus. America is your motherland and the culture is your middle name. Be so proud of Hollywood that you must hold contempt for Nollywood even if you grew up watching Sam Loco Efe, Osofia and Aki and Paw Paw with struggles to get the latest video tape from the nearest rental store. Pretend like you never watched Checkmate or Fuji House of Commotion or Super Story and act like you only watched Dallas, Dynasty and Days of Our Lives.
Most importantly, do not visit local bukas. They are not for an American. Do not eat Fufu and Ofe Nsala in public. You are now an American and you must not order local dishes in public even if you eat them in the confines of your room. Your favourite food is now Fries and Hamburger and anything that is filled with oil and cheese.
Do not forget to get one or two tattoos. They spell the word American. Wear your hair in nice weaves and bring America up in every conversation you engage in. Let people know you are working on getting your red passport. Always recount your experiences the last time you travelled, if you truly have, and speak of American history like it was your course of study.
Do not forget to spell your words like an American. Colour is color. Pyjamas, Pajamas. Manoeuvre, Maneuver. Centre, Center. Mum, Mom. Say bin instead of trash. Hood instead of bonnet. Trunk instead of boot. Cookie, instead of biscuit.
Drink Coffee more than tea.
Be very liberal about choices.
Be a millennial. Don’t stick with things that ascribe to culture and heritage. What is culture? What is heritage?
Say howdy when you see someone. Mind your own business. Don’t go about snooping in on another’s business. That’s a Nigerian thing to do. You are African-American.
Don’t forget to listen to American music. You do not want to soil your knowledge of good music with Nigerian dancehall. You want good and professional music only. This can only be in America.
Stretch your hair. There is nothing fancy about wearing your hair unrelaxed. There is no joy in wearing a nappy hair in a trend Nigerian and other African girls call natural. Natural is what you define it to be and like an American, you can decide to change your body to what you desire.
Again with the accent, don’t lose it. Stick with it. It is fancy wearing an American accent. Which American would want a Nigerian accent? Do not speak pidgin. Do not soil your tongue. Be purely Americano.
Above all do not forget to add an American flag to your social media handle. In your photographs, even the ones taken in a mall in Nigeria, use a good camera and add location as Arizona or New York or Atlanta.
You are not Nigerian. You are American of Nigerian descent.
One more thing. Get yourself to America. Far away from Nigeria as possible. You can then add the Nigerian flag to the American flag on your social media handles and only then will you attach Nigeria to your name. This is because at that time, just like the famous Nigerian actors and Musicians and Writers who have been American all their lives but Nigerian on the basis of birth, you can claim Nigerian in Diaspora. It sounds fancy and very patriotic.
Do not bother yourself with the state of affairs of the country. Represent from afar. Loud it when the country wins a football game in the World Cup or African Cup of Nations but don’t forget where you belong.
After all, it is easier to be in love with your home from afar in a home that’s far better than where you were born. Choose your new home. Even if you rep for certain reasons, it is not your home. Your home is America. Or somewhere in the American continents. This, my dear, is how to be an American in a Nigerian Skin.
Ufuoma Bakporhe is a Nigerian writer and a graduate of law from the Obafemi Awolowo University. She is the author of Lettars From an Imbecile published in 2014. She owns a fiction blog and has featured on The Kalahari Review and African Writer. Currently, she interns with Saraba Magazine as a social media manager. She also manages a coaching platform for writers and she is grooming a passion for screenwriting. When not writing, Ufuoma loves watching movies and reading books.