Stella Dimoko Korkus.com: Chi Is British NOT Nigerian!

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Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Chi Is British NOT Nigerian!

Well...Take time to read this to the end and you will understand why Chi does not want to be Nigerian and why some other Nigerians are so upset with Nigeria that they have renounced their citizenship and changed their names....
Na wah!!!


Chi Onwurah, the Member of Parliament representing Newcastle Central in the UK House of Commons and my former colleague at the State House, Molara Wood, met recently at the 2017 Caine Prize for African Writing award ceremony.


 When Molara informed Chi that her re-election along with six others had caused so much excitement in Nigeria and even produced official letters of congratulation from both the Federal Government and Abike Dabiri, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora Affairs, Onwurah’s sharp retort was: “I’m British, not Nigerian”.

This has generated so much debate in Nigerian social media, but most of the comments do not really go to the heart of the matter. The place to begin is to break down Chi Onwurah’s comment. She seems to be saying: “why would my re-election be of such importance to Nigerians and the Nigerian government, I am not one of you”. Or something like: “What is my business with Nigeria?” Or: “Come on, Nigeria! Yes my father is from there, but I-am-British!”.


Chi Onwurah MP probably did not get a copy of the letter of congratulations sent to her. I wouldn’t be surprised if nobody had enough presence of mind to ensure actual delivery of the letters, despite the media show-off. 


She may not even be aware of the excitement here over the June 8 parliamentary elections in the UK. The issue for Nigerians was not Brexit, not Theresa May’s troubled political fortunes, but the fact that seven persons of Nigerian descent are MPs in the UK, namely Chi Onwurah, (Newcastle Central), Kate Ofunne Osamor (Edmonton), Kemi Badenock (Saffron Walden), Chuka Umunna (Streatham), Bim Afolami (Hitchin and Harpenden), Fiona Onasanya (Peterborough) and Helen Grant (Maidstone and the Weald).


No one among this group of seven with Nigerian ancestry is a tyro in British politics, nor is there anyone of them that is a product of the Nigerian educational and cultural system either. 


They are not immigrants, not been-tos, but products of the British system. One of them, Fiona is in fact aspiring to become Britain’s first black female Prime Minister. It would be interesting to know how the sextet that Molara Wood did not meet would have reacted to their being confronted with their Nigerian connection. They probably would also have responded in the same manner in typical British accent: “I’m British, not Nigerian.”

The key message in the letters by the Federal Government and Abike Dabiri is that the group of “British-Nigerian seven” in the UK parliament has individually and collectively made Nigeria proud. A few weeks earlier, another Nigerian in the UK, Anthony Oluwafemi Joshua had won the World Boxing Heavyweight unified Championship. Joshua, whose mother is from Sagamu, not only identified with Nigeria, his kinsmen staged an elaborate street party. They are also preparing to welcome him home anytime soon. But Chi, Bim, Kate, Kemi, Chuka, Fiona, and Helen are not identifying directly with us. The Nigerian government and people have not done anything wrong getting excited over their achievement, though. The famous seven are entitled to Nigerian citizenship by virtue of the relevant provisions in the Nigerian Constitution. Should they go to the Nigerian High Commission in the UK today and ask for a Nigerian passport, they are perfectly entitled to it.

The relevant portions of the 1999 Constitution state expressly that one is a citizen of Nigeria provided such a person was born in Nigeria before the date of independence, either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents belongs or belonged to a community indigenous to Nigeria -Section 25 (1)(a); every person born in Nigeria after the date of independence either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria – Section 25(1)(b) and every person born outside Nigeria either of whose parents is a citizen of Nigeria – Section 25 (1)(c). Sections 26 and 27 thereof deal with citizenship by registration and naturalization respectively.



 However, citizenship is about privileges, rights and obligations and the relationship between a person and the state. It is the basis for patriotism or the opposite, in other words it is tied to the politics of belonging and the ethics of being established. How does a person feel about a country, to be so emotionally attached to it to such an extent that he or she will be willing to defend, promote and honour that country- that is what it is all about.

This attachment defines whether a person holds on to and cherishes the citizenship of a country or renounces it. In 2016, 5, 411 Americans, 26% more from 2015, renounced their citizenship of the United States, most of them for tax avoidance reasons. In May 2017, 335 foreigners, from Lebanon, Syria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Cape Verde and other African countries opted for Nigerian citizenship, most of them for business and marital reasons. But whereas Nigeria recognizes dual nationality (Section 28, 1999 Constitution), there are Nigerians in diaspora who for economic reasons have had to renounce their Nigerian citizenship, or others who due to near-absolute disconnection with the Nigerian system have never bothered to affirm their Nigerianness and are hence “lost” to Nigeria.


Culturally, Africans are attached to their children wherever they may be in the world. When they do well, they want to claim them and identify with them. The other side of this is that due to economic migration, exodus into exile, the fact of globalization, and the difficult conditions at home, many Nigerians in diaspora are almost completely alienated from home. There is also a growing generation of Nigerian children abroad who qualify to be Nigerian citizens but who will insist that they are not Nigerian because they have no sense of place or home that connects them to their original roots.

Chi Onwurah is actually Chinyelu Onwurah. Chinyelu in Igbo means “abundant gift of God.” With her numerous achievements, she is truly an abundant gift from God. She was born in Newcastle, and was brought to Awka, Nigeria in 1965 as a baby. When the civil war broke out in Eastern Nigeria, her father joined the Biafran army. She and her siblings and their mother would later return to Britain as refugees in 1967. If Chinyelu had ever returned to Nigeria since then, or speaks Igbo or has any close relationship with her Nigerian relations, she doesn’t quite say. In her profile, she reports: “I was born in Wallsend, grew up on Hillsview Avenue in Kenton and went to Kenton School before studying Electrical Engineering in London. I have lived in many different cities around the world, without ever for a moment forgetting where I am from: Newcastle. My values and beliefs were formed in Newcastle based on the people I grew up with and my own experiences.

“My maternal grandfather was a sheet metal worker in the shipyards of the Tyne during the depression. My mother grew up in poverty in Garth Heads on the quayside. In the fifties she married my father, a Nigerian student at Newcastle Medical School. In 1965 I was born, whilst they were living in Long Benton where my father had a dental practise. I was still a baby when my father took us to live in Awka, Nigeria. But two years later the Biafran Civil War broke out bringing famine with it and, as described vividly in an Evening Chronicle article in 1968, my mother, my brother and sister and I returned as refugees to Newcastle, whilst my father stayed on in the Biafran army.

“This early experience of the impact of war on ordinary families left me with a strong sense of my own good fortune in living in a peaceful parliamentary democracy where it is possible to bring about change without taking up the gun or the sword. I am not a pacifist; I believe that our country is worth defending and fighting for.”

This interesting narrative should be underlined in parts. Her strongest memory of Nigeria is the civil war. But she talks about her “good fortune” of growing up in peaceful Britain, and when she refers to “our country”, the country of reference is not Nigeria but Britain and the city of her choice is not Awka, but Newcastle, which she says she cannot forget for a moment. There are many persons of Nigerian descent of her type who do not feel a sense of attachment to Nigeria. They belong elsewhere, to a country of their own not the country of their parents. The likes of President Barack Obama and Anthony Joshua who continue to identify with their ancestral roots are in the minority. In a post-modern society, identity is not exclusively constructed by ethnicity, religion, name and naming, or sexual orientation, but by a complexus of subjective and objective factors.

People identify with a place or home, or culture when there is a sense of shared space, or shared values or experience. This sense of closeness/identification limits that sense of “otherness” or alienation, and forms the core of a person’s self-definition. Hence Chinyelu Onwurah tells us: “My values and beliefs were formed in Newcastle based on the people I grew up with and my own experiences.” Unfortunately, over the years, Nigeria has developed a culture, through negligence, ignorance and poor governance, a culture of neglecting its people, and treating them shabbily. Countries that build their peoples into a community across borders, at home and be they in diaspora are countries driven by people-oriented values. I can bet that until the British-Nigerian Seven in the UK Parliament became newsmakers, the Nigerian High Commission in the UK most likely never had any contact with them. Nobody there may even have their phone numbers.

And if the fault is not that of our High Commission, let us return to the point about identity politics then. How many successful Nigerians in diaspora would even readily identify with other Nigerians or with Nigeria? With many Nigerians involved in crime or one scam or the other and grabbing negative headlines, you cannot really complain too much about the Uncle Tomism of many of the successful ones in diaspora and their complete distanciation from all things Nigerian. There is also that other crowd that feels cheated by Nigeria whose attitude is far worse than that of the culturally and socially alienated.

There have been reports for example, of persons, especially athletes, who have renounced their Nigerian citizenship and have become winners of medals for other countries. In Bahrain alone, we have quite a number of Nigerian athletes who have since turned their backs on Nigeria. They include Endurance Essien Udoh (now Iman Isa Jassim), Lolade Sodiya (now Basira Sharifa Nasir), Abbas Abubakar, Femi Ogunade, Kemi Adekoya and Aminat Yusuf Jamal. One other athlete, Gloria Anozie (Sydney Olympics medallist) was so angry with Nigeria, she is now a citizen of Spain.

I hope no one will make the mistake of insisting that Nigeria would like to honour the seven British-Nigerians in the UK parliament. They may not be too excited; for them their Nigerian identity is perhaps at best, an ascribed identity. They are happy to belong, like Chinyelu Onwurah, to a “peaceful parliamentary democracy” where there are no kidnappers like Evans who break the law and resort to blackmail, dancing, singing and jollofing Senators who are interested in power struggle rather than making laws for good governance, a government that enjoys breaking the law and the legs of the opposition, and a country that is determinedly adrift, politically and economically. The British deserve their Chinyelu just as she deserves the Britain of her choice. But if she ever remembers her Nigerianness and would like to return home someday, I have no doubt that Nigeria will welcome her with open arms.

BY REUBEN ABATI


38 comments:

Ehi Grace lace_material_uk 07448776953 said...

I too was heartbroken when I say her comments concerning Nigeria. Her parents did not do enough especially her dad.

Olivia Silk said...

Of course she is not Nigerian.
She is British.

Where is Gifty from? Hian.

Ehi Grace lace_material_uk 07448776953 said...

Bring British is not the same as being, English or Scottish or Irish or Welsh. So she needs to know the difference

Anonymous said...

Hahaha... I just scrolled and I saw @Uncle Abati





@Anonymous Orubebe

Anonymous said...

They are not Nigerian! No fuss about it. What did the Nigerian government contribute to their lives that would make them identify with us...shibang!

STARRY LARRY said...

I know it's Prof RA, I love this write-up. We only celebrate our people's success, we're never there when they're struggling, so why won't they renounced the Country?




*Larry was here*

becky naka said...

Interesting read...
I would do same if I were Chi, nobody wants to be associated with negativity.

There's one funny interview by an agbero, when asked of his opinion on the way forward concerning the situation we are facing, he answered "for me ehh, make them sell this country, share the money for everybody, make everybody find em way" I'm beginning to like his opinion, I need to relocate.

Mrs.R SDK blog Official BFF said...

Whether they see themselves as Nigerians or not, whether they changed their Nigerian given names or not, whether they reject all things Nigerian or not; we know the British media and how they play their game/propaganda.

They will always see them as a product of Nigeria.

They're enough Nigerians proud be called Nigerians already.
I blame the Nigerian government always trying so hard.

Down to Heart Chic said...

Uncle Reuben Weh done sir! I didn't bother to read till the end though.

Amaka Hundeyin said...

Intellectually stimulating as usual!
Nothing more to add.

Anonymous said...

Lengthy but makes a good read.

Anonymous said...

I knew twas him, mr long essay, read most of it anyway and it was an interesting read. Who would blame them anyway, my hubby too prefers being British to a Nigerian. If he were to be in naija his sickness would have been worse off, him being British came with so many benefits, medically and all, him and the kids being taken care of. They don't neglect their citizens unlike naija govt that doesn't care about us, so who naija help? Maybe YOU

Anonymous said...

I knew twas him, mr long essay, read most of it anyway and it was an interesting read. Who would blame them anyway, my hubby too prefers being British to a Nigerian. If he were to be in naija his sickness would have been worse off, him being British came with so many benefits, medically and all, him and the kids being taken care of. They don't neglect their citizens unlike naija govt that doesn't care about us, so who naija help? Maybe YOU

El Haj said...

Ridiculous to say the least.

Even the whites are quick to celebrate their kinsmen doing well in other lands I.e:

1.Slovenia celebrated Melania Trump.
2. Pakistan celebrated Sadiq Khan the mayor of London.
3. Poland celebrated Zbigniew Brzezinski late American Secretary of State.
4. Germany celebrated Henry Kissinger , the iconic American secretary of state.
5.Czech Republic celebrated Madeleine Albright ,the 1st female American secretary of state.
6.Ireland celebrated John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 1st Catholic & Irish to become American president as it later celebrated Barack Hussein Obama II whose mother's ancestry was Irish.

7. Kenya (nay the whole of AFRICA & BLACK RACE!!) celebrated the election of Barack Hussein Obama when he emerged as the American President.

I could go on & on MP Onwurah should chill & enjoy her "British ness" until Nigel Farage comes in as the Prime Minister , stripping her of her British citizenship.

She would remember that day that Akpu is not an oyinbo meal.

Anonymous said...

I thank God she renounced this evil called Nigeria. Why would any sane person identify with Nigeria? Chi, carry on and God be with u. I pray Nigeria can stop dragging us back and leave us alone. This forced marriage is too abusive. May God bless Biafra.

El Haj said...

Ridiculous to say the least.

Even the whites are quick to celebrate their kinsmen doing well in other lands I.e:

1.Slovenia celebrated Melania Trump.
2. Pakistan celebrated Sadiq Khan the mayor of London.
3. Poland celebrated Zbigniew Brzezinski late American Secretary of State.
4. Germany celebrated Henry Kissinger , the iconic American secretary of state.
5.Czech Republic celebrated Madeleine Albright ,the 1st female American secretary of state.
6.Ireland celebrated John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 1st Catholic & Irish to become American president as it later celebrated Barack Hussein Obama II whose mother's ancestry was Irish.

7. Kenya (nay the whole of AFRICA & BLACK RACE!!) celebrated the election of Barack Hussein Obama when he emerged as the American President.

I could go on & on MP Onwurah should chill & enjoy her "British ness" until Nigel Farage comes in as the Prime Minister , stripping her of her British citizenship.

She would remember that day that Akpu is not an oyinbo meal.

Jasmine said...

Nah,the parents did enough. I would say the same if I were in her shoes

Jasmine said...

God bless u

2muchjuice|2muchsauce said...

Why will she identify with Nigeria..When we have an idiot senator supporting looting in Nigeria..Passing a bill where the looter returned only 70% of what he stole..And to even think he is an Igbo Man..It is really sad...

Theyvid Adebayo said...

Who wouldn't want to denounce it's citizenship.i always ask myself this question "What have I benefited from this country(Nigeria).I'm still thinking sha

Honeybunny said...

True words have never been spoken!!
With the way Nigeria is, no one would love to be identified with this zoo, but we have no choice than to be here & hope 4 the best. Honestly, I don't know where we are heading as a nation. The only thing unifying is 'oil' cos so many of us are tired of this sham called unity that only a few are benefitting from. I hope we won't be like Somalia in the next 10-20yrs, cos there is always a limit to humans endurance. May God help us.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting...
It's up to them if they wish to be associated with their original heritage but think of it some African Americans taking the pains to trace their African roots .

jelly said...

I will still join her too, who being Nigeria eep

Manna Bee said...

See analysis nitori Olohun!

Vice and Virtue said...

👍

Olivia Silk said...

Lol.
Lmao.

I don't know why I found your comment very funny this morning!
Hello dear.

Uberhaute| +234 8151914305| Makeover| Training| Product Sales said...

I'm not really happy with and in Nigeria myself so I understand these people.

Anonymous said...

Yes ,but she's still a British National so deal with it

Anonymous said...

Well she's Biracial No ?

Joy Okanje said...

Omoh there's over a hundred million people from my great nation, l don't care if one person refuses to identify with her. We should focus on making her better

Jeni_zee said...

Lol even me can deny Nigeria as I de here like this so

Favoured Chick said...

This is so true. Thank you Mr. Rueben

lami said...

So what if she doesn't identify with us, it's a free world

The General's Wife said...

Hahaahhahahahaha😂

The General's Wife said...

LMAO

Anonymous said...

I also heard that Chuka Umunna's dad died mysteriously in Nigeria when he came back cos he was aspiring to bcom the governor of old Anambra then. Nobody could say whether he had an accident or murdered. All his properties were taken away by his brothers and relatives cos Chuka's mum wasnt Nigerian. This experience could also make Chuka deny his Nigerian root too cos it was a bitter one.

Anonymous said...

There is a street in Awka named after her dad; Onwurah street. Her dad remarried and had kids, all grown up now and the dad died some years back. In fact people use them as example of why it's not good to marry foreigners because the leave with your kids and won't be there for you when you are old.
Chi Onwurah my sister, I don't blame you, Nigeria offers you nothing but run to claim you once you achieve something.
You are British with Nigerian ancestry that's all.
Soar on sister.

Anonymous said...

I think she is related to the onwurahs that lives @ the back of choice hotel awka.

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