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Get a Nigerian Friend for You

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    Nigerians are world-renowned loudmouths who happen to exist in every place on earth, roll deep, and have a reputation for cleverness. We are legion, so hear us roar. I think everyone needs a Nigerian friend, pretend cousin, or auntie in their lives. In a world where fear rules our lives and we get used to cowering, we need to surround ourselves with some rowdy energy that takes up space unapologetically. That’s where Nigerians come in. Not saying others aren’t this, but there is a certain je ne sais quoi in Naijas. We are the parliamentarians of Team No Chill. We will add color to your life. We will loan you bravado if you ever need it.

    Why will your life be better for having a Nigerian who you can call friend or framily? Let me break down the reasons.

    We are amazing verbal fighters. We don’t even have to know how to physically fight because our tongues alone can beat anyone down. Our opponents won’t have the will to box us because we will have already destroyed them with our words.

    luvvie on her 3rd birthday

    Luvvie on her 3rd birthday.

    Courtesy of the author

    You see, from childhood onward, our parents and family members have rained insults down upon us with reckless abandon. And when they weren’t slandering us, they were directing their disrespect to others, so many of us learned how to assassinate people with our words very early. We are undefeated in the art of verbal shaming—truly unfuckwithable.

    I’m of the Yorùbá people, and our language is deeply metaphorical. Yorùbá people gotta be the pioneers of the put-downs—our tongues are Weapons of Ego Destruction. A common insult is that you’re a useless goat, meaning you’re daft and senseless. The one I used to get a lot when I was little, with my sharp tongue was, “Ẹlẹ́ẹ̀kẹ́ èébú ni ẹ́,” meaning “cheeks full of insults.” It’s not my fault. It was preparation for who I am today.

    Your Nigerian friend might insult you for sport, but no one else can. We’re deeply loyal and stan those in our inner circles. You have nothing (read: everything) to fear but our mouths. We somehow straddle the line of not taking anything personally and taking everything personally. We have learned to get words thrown at us and have them slide off our shoulders, while also taking offense to everything being done to us.

    luvvie talking to her grandmother, mama faloyin, whose life and way of living inspired her new book

    Luvvie talking to her grandmother, Mama Faloyin, whose life and way of living inspired her new book.

    Courtesy of the author

    You can tell your Nigerian friend, “You ain’t shit,” and they might laugh because they know for sure they are from royalty (even though they might not be), and your words will do nothing to affect their elevated sense of self. But similarly, come to their house, decline their offer of food, and watch them as they feel attacked that you dared to show up in their abode without being hungry—therefore not needing the delectable goodness that is Nigerian jollof. HOW DARE YOU??

    We are great friends because we won’t let you carry your grudges by yourself. We will help. In fact, we are so good at holding a grudge that even after you drop it, we’re still behind you, holding on strong. You might call us petty, but our response might be “And so?”

    Getchu a Nigerian friend to get the ego boost that comes with it. Why? We balance out the insults we might throw your way with ultimate cheerleading and hypeman-dom. Can’t nobody gas you up like a Naija pesin, because we keep the same energy across the board. The way we celebrate you will make your head swell five times its size. At which point we will then say, “See your head like water balloon.” Because, balance.

    luvvie  and yvonne orji, insecure actress and one of luvvie’s naija sister friends

    Luvvie and Yvonne Orji, Insecure actress and one of Luvvie’s Naija sister friends.

    Courtesy of the author

    The only thing Nigerians fear is God, Ghana jollof, and our parents’ disappointment. Everything else? We can tackle it. I think about how relentless Nigerians can be, and how we wear pride like a coat. It might be a coping mechanism because we come from a country where there are more than two hundred million people and everybody wants to be somebody. Nigerians wake up and cough adversity.

    Nigerians are extra AF and we’re not sorry about it. Our weddings are proof because Nigerians use holy matrimony as an occasion to do the utter most with the most. We have costume changes, money dances, and all the pomp and circumstance one can imagine could be part of such a moment.

    I swore I was not going to engage in all of that. I was wrong. I did all of it. In fact, I did it twice. I had two weddings in one day. There’s a video from our cocktail reception of someone’s mom (*coughs*) dropping it low to the ground as someone else’s mom (*coughs*) stuffed the front of her dress with dollars while someone else stood behind them pouring money on their heads. The reception hadn’t even started yet. Everyone should go to a Nigerian wedding at least once in your life.

    luvvie and her husband at their twopart wedding day in 2019 with the 1st part  including nigerian customs and the 2nd  western

    Luvvie and her husband at their two-part wedding day in 2019 with the 1st part including Nigerian customs and the 2nd Western.

    Kesha Lambert Photography

    We Nigerian people are a passionate lot, and we love us some Jesus (well, those who are Christians do). You haven’t heard prayer until you’ve heard a Naija person pray and give God the glory. We cover everything with the blood of Jesus and we often take it above and beyond.

    Nigerian aunties are the prayer professionals, and they seem to have a mainline to God. If you tell someone you’re cold, the prayer you might get could go like this: “May the God of holy fire SET ABLAZE any manner of snow, ice, frozen precipitation, subzero moisture in the matchless name of Jesus!” LMAO! And AMEN O! I receive it in His mighty name!

    If you’re reading this, maybe you already have a Nigerian friend. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re thinking: “I mean I did go to school with some Nigerians, are we friends?” To that I ask, has their mom cooked for you? No? Then you’re probably not friends. It’s okay. It’s not too late for you.

    luvvie performing her ted talk “getting comfortable with uncomfortable” in 2017 on the ted stage

    Luvvie performing her Ted Talk “Getting Comfortable with Uncomfortable” in 2017 on the Ted stage.

    Stacie McChesney / Ted

    How do you make Nigerian friends? How do you find a shady and bold Naija to squad up with in this scary world, so y’all can take it on with sharp tongue in tow? I have a few tips.

    1. Go to a college library. If you go to any school library, you are sure to find at least one Nigerian there, nose buried in books.

    2. Go where afrobeats is being played. If you’re walking by somewhere and you hear some Afrobeats booming, there is a West African there, especially a Nigerian.

    3. Declare allegiance to Nigerian jollof. We are in a never-ending jollof war with our Gold Coast cousins, the Ghanaians, and we know the truth: Naija jollof carries first.

    I know you know a Nigerian. (We’re everywhere.) Cultivate a real relationship with them. Get a Naija auntie who can pray the Holy Trinity down, and a Naija friend who will gas you up, insult you, and then have a dance battle with you at the same time. Your life will never be the same.

    Adapted from PROFESSIONAL TROUBLEMAKER by Luvvie Ajayi Jones, published by Penguin Life, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2021 by Awe Luv, LLC.

    Headshot of Luvvie Ajayi Jones

    Luvvie Ajayi Jones is an award-winning author, speaker and podcast host, who thrives at the intersection of comedy, media and justice. She is the author of the New York Times_bestseller _I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual and Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual, and host of the podcasts Professional Troublemaker and Jesus and Jollof, where she covers all things culture with a critical yet humorous lens. She is cofounder of the #SharetheMicNow global movement and runs her own social platform, LuvvNation, which is a safe space in a dumpster fire world. (


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