“Are you Nigerian?” This is a question many non-Nigerians living in America can swear to have come across. The assumption many Americans make is that all black people with Africa roots, are Nigerians!
Do they confuse our intellect with that of Nigerians? Maybe that question is a compliment after all don’t you think?
Here is why.
29 percent of Nigerian-Americans over the age of 25 hold a graduate degree, compared to 11 percent of the overall U.S. population. This is according to the 2017 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Among Nigerian-American professionals, 45 percent work in education services, the survey found, and many are professors at top universities.
Nigerians are entering the medical field in the U.S. at an increased rate, leaving their home country to work in American hospitals, where they (arguably) earn more and work in better facilities. A growing number of Nigerian-Americans are becoming entrepreneurs and CEOs, building tech companies in America to help people back home.
Evidently, the hard work by Nigerians living in America is also reflected in Nigerians living in other Diaspora. According to the World Bank, in 2018, Nigerians in Diaspora sent back home $25 billion. This ranks Nigeria Diaspora 8thin the world in terms of remitting money to motherland, and second in Africa after Egypt. The Nigeria Diaspora contributes to 6.1% of the Nigerian GDP.
Last year, President Donald Trump reportedly said in an Oval Office discussion that Nigerians would never go back to “their huts” once they saw America. And after meeting president Muhammadu Buhari, the Financial Times reported Trump telling his aides he never wanted to meet someone as “lifeless” as the Nigerian President.
In all this however, Nigerian-Americans have found a way to thrive, being creators, innovators and everything great in their current domicile. There is no doubt that Nigerians form one of the most successful immigrant communities in America. The US Census Bureau puts the median household income of Nigerian-Americans at $66,000, compared to $58,000 nationally, as of 2017.
The Nigerian-American population stood at 345,000 in 2017, according to the US Census Bureau Survey. This is almost equal to the same number of the Indian-American community back in 1980, before it emerged as a leading light in fields ranging from economics to technology. Today, Indians in Diaspora lead the world in terms of money remitted back home. In 2018, the World Bank estimates that Indians in Diaspora sent $80 billion to India.
There are a number of popular Nigerians in America. Forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu stands out. Dr. Omalu, who lives in Northern California, was the first person to discover and publish on chronic traumatic encephalopathy in American football players (Will Smith played him in the 2015 film “Concussion”). Imelme A. Umana, the first Black woman elected president of the Harvard Law Review last year, is Nigerian-American. In 2016, Nigerian-born Pearlena Igbokwe became president of Universal Television, making her the first woman of African descent to head a major U.S. TV studio. I am aware Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie needs no introduction.
Keep up the great work, my Nigerian brodas. The only contest here is that Ghanaian Jollof tastes better than the Nigerian version.