The Black Experience: Colonial Mindset — The Nigerian Case


Hello, everyone!

Welcome to The Black Experience, a month long blog series through February, in honour of Black History Month, which features Black bloggers, booktubers and authors. This project aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences both in real life and in publishing, as well as showing our individual and collective struggles.

Today’s post is a bit personal and its a discussion post. I’ll be talking about one of the greatest effects of colonisation, The Colonial Mindset/Mentality and how it has affected my life and experiences, as well as that of the people around me.

Like many countries in Africa, Nigeria gained her independence in the previous century. In 1960, Nigeria became an independent country, no longer a colony of Great Britain, or so we like to tell ourselves.

The European quest to conquer The New World aka Africa began in the sixteenth century. They dealt their first devastating blow with the Transaltantic slave trade, then they barged right back into our kingdoms and communities with their explorations, exploiting our resources and tried to bring us to civilisation by building their colonies, ignoring the fact that we already had our systems, our own styles of civilisation. But wasn’t the whole conquest built on the need to exploit and the unfounded belief in their superiority, and our inferiority.

In my opinion, which is also a hill I’d die on, the greatest weapon the European colonisers had, and still have, was mindfuckery. They excelled so much at this that they sold their beliefs and ingrained them in our minds.

The activities of the Europeans brought so much damage to the continent, many we’re to recover from, and one of them is the colonial mindset. That sense of inferiority that they’ve instilled in our minds.

Growing up as a child, my first taste of neo-colonisation was the belief that anything that tied be to being mostly Nigerian or Yoruba was uncultured, local. Being a child, I wholly gobbled it down. I tried to distance myself as much as possible from my culture, which wasn’t truly possible because of my family. While my parents didn’t put too much pressure on me to fully engage in cultural practice (except for having basic knowledge of Yoruba, because well I needed good grades at school), they, especially my mum didn’t hide their displeasure. She would always say “You know those Oyinbo you’re trying so much imitate, most of them speak their native language.” She would make example of European cultures, and POC too, like Latinx folks, but I didn’t feel that applied to me. I’m Black afterall, African even, I was inferior. It didn’t help that in most of History or Civic Education class before I got to Senior Secondary School, colonisation was always romanticised.

I grew up not speaking my first language unless it was absolutely necessary like in class or Grandma asked me to. Because of my disuse of the language, I was and I’m still extremely rusty, but I’ll to believe I’m better than I was at speaking Yoruba than I was 4 years ago. 

This way of thinking didn’t just affect my relationship with my culture and my family too — because most of my extended family spoke Yoruba and while I did understand, years of not replying in Yoruba as made the knowledge of Yoruba more of a thing of theory — it affected my reading habits. 

For years, with the exception of what was included in school curriculum, I didn’t read any books by African, especially Nigerian authors, and other Black authors. I felt they were of inferior quality, which made no fucking sense since I read many amazing children books written by Nigerian authors when I was younger, and some of the books I read at school were pretty good. It makes even less sense because we have authors like Chimamanda Adochie, Wole Soyinka, China Achebe and other amazing authors, but anything Nigerian must be inferior right, even our music — which I’m been exploring more the past few years. There are other reasons why I stopped reading Nigerian books too, that’s a topic for another day, but I can’t pretend internalised anti-Blackness wasn’t the major reason I stopped.

A while back, I saw a post by another Nigerian blogger whom and I admire saying she once had the same opinion I onced had, and it saddening.

While other people might not have had experiences as extreme as mine, the colonial mindset is something almost every Nigerian has internalised. Almost everyday, you hear statement about how white people are better than us. I once had a conversation with someone I admired, another Nigerian, and he said something derogatory about Black people and in reference to how white people are better than us, and I felt both angry and sad. It made me think back to every conversation I’ve overheard about race from people around me and the single factor they all had in common — people like me echoing why were inferior. Its no wonder I had and most likely have, that warped way of thinking.

Mindfuckery as I said is their greatest weapon. And that weapon has robbed me of so many things. At 19, I still can’t hold a full conversation comfortably in my mother tongue, without hitches. I couldn’t have good, complete conversations with my late great grandmother before she passed. I felt like a outsider among my cousins, because I couldn’t mesh with them in the most basic ways and make jokes with them in Yoruba. I missed out so many amazing books, which I plan on rectifying.

Perhaps it was my fault I took all of those teachings to heart, but should never have existed in the first place. I shouldn’t have had any basis to think of myself and my people as less.

Self hatred is a heady drug, and I’m tired of hating the bests parts of myself.

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7 thoughts on “The Black Experience: Colonial Mindset — The Nigerian Case

  1. This is a lovely personal post, thank you for sharing it! It really is tough relearning self-love for your culture when white supremacy and the like trick you out of it. You’re doing amazing and I’m super proud of you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s horrible that you’re taught to believe your own culture is less than any other. I’d like to think Australia isn’t as bad as that. I know when I was taught about colonisation we were told about the brutal devastation on the local cultures and were often tasked with writing researching the conqueroreds side (including the fact that history is written by the victors so often isn’t truthful)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. its great that history is taught more truthfully in australia. and yeah, history told from the side of conquerors is always sugarcoated, i wish we had more from side of the conquered.


      1. At the same time the history of the colonisation of Australia has been sugar coated a lot. There’s so much “they said” and “history says” that I honestly don’t know what’s truthful about what happened when this country was colonised.

        Liked by 1 person

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