-By Remilekun Fani-Kayode. (Daughter of Chief Femi Fani-Kayode)
At first I got angry about Aunty Natasha H. Akpoti’s essay titled ‘WHAT DOES NIGERIA MEAN TO YOU?’ which I first read on my father’s (Chief Femi Fani-Kayode’s) Facebook page. Then I got curious and decided to look into this.
The name “Niger” isn’t sourced from the Latin “negro”, it came from the word “nahal”/”naghar”/”cenagar”, which is either Libyan or Sudanic in root, and simply means “water”.
It branches off into “Nile”, “Senegal” and finally “Niger”. It was once believed that the Nile and the river Niger were branches of the same stream and the early name for the Senegal river was cenegar – it does not mean “River of Niggers”.
The word for “land of blacks” to Arabs was just “the Sudan”. “Nigritia” was not coined by colonisers, it was first used by the Roman author Pliny who visited North Africa, and was a catch-all term for any land encompassed by the River Niger.
The term the colonisers made up and introduced was in fact “Negroland” but the debate was about changing it to “Nigeria” instead of that or “Royal Niger Company Territories”.
“Nigeria” was indeed made up by white colonisers but the way the white man that was qouted in the essay explains this and discusses its roots is inaccurate and inflammatory.
While I respect the author’s intent and agree with their overall message, I feel like this was a deliberate attempt to spread propaganda via distorting facts.
Some people really want us to hate ourselves and disguise it as self-improvement. The quote about the river is morbid in how apt it is. These things spread because we (the river) have lost our history and we have long since run dry.
The amalgamation documents debate for Nigeria was a real eye opener for me. These people really destroyed us and smashed us together without our consent and it depresses me that we know this and we’re still just going along with it.
Are we mental slaves? Do we really think so little of ourselves? Something needs to be done to settle this issue once and for all.
I just think that if we have no confidence and can’t even speak the name of our country without shame and think of ourselves as a pack of colonised fools who swallow “whatever the white man tells us”, how can we build our nation?
That mindset only breeds two things:
1) Believing that we deserve it and we have always been weak/stupid and that we are inherently inferior for this to have happened at all, and/or 2) Those of us with intelligence and drive must divorce ourselves from our “negroid” origins to live happy lives.
It is not politically correct to say this and pointing it out makes some people very angry but there is an entire psychosis some black people have of trying to escape blackness at all costs.
It sadly plagues many African Americans and Afro-Latinos. I don’t want it to spread to Africans, especially not Nigerians. Self hate always destroys, it never builds.
Above all, though, I think more of us do need to take advantage of the information available. The Professor got that part right.
The internet is a powerful thing. I almost want to say it’s a better learning tool than the biased history we’re taught in schools and it can stop the spread of disinformation from all sides especially white supremacist or otherwise oppositional, revisionist takes on politics, history, colonialism, etc. .
Knowledge is power.
FFK’s 22 year old daughter