Repatriation – Advice for Those Who Just Got Back to Africa

Repatriation - Advice for Those Who Just Got Back to Africa
Many Africans in the diaspora are returning to Africa in search of opportunities

AFRICANGLOBE – Repats fill the malls and restaurants of Lagos, so here are some tips for anyone who has recently returned from the United States or Europe.

When I was growing up, IJGBs – ‘I just got backs’ – were a rare commodity because in the ’80s and ’90s hardly anyone ever ‘got back’.

It made far more sense to ‘get away’.

Everyone who could and many who could not became IJWGAs: ‘I just wanna get aways’.

Life, more or less lived staring down AK-47s and in the absence of working phones, electricity, Zinger Burgers and lattes, was pretty awful.

Today, it is a different story. Everyone now wants to be an IJGB. There is now even a fancy name for them: ‘repatriate’ or ‘repat’.

Loads of Nigerians have been flooding back, tempted by Facebook photos of D’Banj shows and movie screenings and shopping malls and Lagos weddings.

And, of course, by that endless stream of ‘Africa-rising-Nigeria-bouncing’ headlines.

We can safely classify IJGBs into two camps: the ‘Temps’ and the ‘Stays’.

The Temps come every first week of December, leave just after Christmas and are responsible for the overcrowding of malls, cinemas and restaurants.

They are easy to spot: shorts-and-singlet-wearing dudes and dudettes wandering around clutching water bottles and complaining about the heat.

The Stays are the ones who have moved back for good. They come armed with all sorts: MBAs, non-profit passions, start-up ideas and enough impractical thinking to defuse a nuclear arsenal.

It is the Stays the following advice is meant for:

1 Life is tougher these days. Once upon a time your accent guaranteed you a job, the sort that came with a company car and apartment. Now you have to compete with homegrown IJGB accents, picked up from MTV, Keeping Up With The Kardashians and Sex and the City.

2 Learn Pidgin, and please drop the IJGB accent when speaking Pidgin. Not very many things are more sickening than a gonna-wanna-Pidgin.

3 Respect yourself. That means not making a fuss over sums that would be considered chicken change.

4 Never forget that this is not and will never be America or London. Drop all the “in America” prefaces to rants and ramblings.

5 Eat what you’re given, dammit! If you’re vegetarian, cook and eat at home. Don’t go around complaining how hard it is to find vegetarian pepper soup in town.

6 Finally, join an IJGB union. If you’re too busy to face-meet to discuss the tragic impossibility of finding “real coffee” in Lagos, join an IJGB BlackBerry Messenger or WhatsApp group.


By: Tolu Ogunlesi