Becoming Nigerian by Elnathan John
Published by: Cassava Republic Press
Release Date: February 2019
Genre: Non-Fiction; Satire
Source: Review Copy
In Be(com)ing Nigerian: A Guide, Elnathan John provides an affecting, unrestrained and satirical guide to the Nigerians you will meet at home and abroad, or on your way to hell and to heaven. A religious tells you It is a searing look at the abuse, negotiation and performance of power in private and public. (Politics, business, religious institutions and in homes.)
Exploring religious hypocrisy, inequality in matters of the heart, the collection is a jab at Nigerian society and what it means to be a Nigerian. Beyond poking fun at the holders of power, it is also a summons, a provocation and a call for introspection among all levels of society.
This engrossing read is a must-have for seasoned Nigerian-watchers and a uniquely informative guide for newcomers to Nigeria, with its tongue-in-cheek look at Nigeria’s relationship to itself and the world, both culturally and politically.
Anyone who has told you Becoming Nigerian was funny must fall into one of the following categories:
- They haven’t read the book
- They heard it was funny and convinced themselves it was true
- They assume satire equals being funny
So, you can imagine my disappointment going in expecting a belly full of laughs and leaving with a mouth full of bile.
In Becoming Nigerian, Elnathan John doesn’t hold back any punches. Everything that is ridiculous (i.e facepalm-inducing, I can’t believe I’m one of these people things) about Nigeria is served up on a platter dripping with sarcasm.”
While I agree with many of his points, the first few chapters were a serious drag. This may have been a result of me expecting a laugh and not finding anything funny. Starting with an introduction set up like chapters from a Bible and dragged on for so long I thought I was getting hypnotized.
Then we step into the hallowed grounds of religion as defined by a Nigerian. Another section that was going well until it wasn’t. When the author begins going off on religious leaders and their private jets, it feels like a tirade. While I don’t care about the issue one way or the other, this disease isn’t unique to Nigerian “Pastors” and he could have gotten the message across in fewer words.
At this point, I was ready to drop this book because what I really needed was a light read after the dreariness of Here Comes The Sun. However, I am no quitter so I pressed on. My reward came in a chuckle by page 43, which is also when I gave up on laughter. While reading Becoming Nigerian, anyways.
Truth is, the subjects the author takes on are not new. Becoming Nigerian is more a collection of every gripe a Nigerian has about Nigeria and for other Nigerians. However, this book isn’t written for Nigerians. After all, what Nigerian needs a “guide” on being Nigerian?
Personally, I don’t think foreigners need to have this information but that won’t change reality so, whatever.
An okay read. The book is small and relatively cheap, so it’s not asking much of you. Just don’t go in expecting to get your mind blown. It was interesting reading Becoming Nigerian after The Villager which also takes on the task of analyzing the Nigerian mindset. This book felt like the antithesis of that one.