When we lived in Nigeria, my oldest son was two years old. Now a days, he is a D. A. who went to the university and law school both on complete scholarship and bought a nice big house with cash before he was thirty years old. He speaks several languages and plays the guitar so well that his band won battle of the bands with a song he wrote. He also played the guitar on a song that went to 10th on the charts, but he chose to be a lawyer instead of a professional musician. He has always been a kind of wonder. In first grade, his teacher came to me and said she didn't think there was anything she could teach him because he seemed to know everything she was teaching already, so she wanted to have him tested. When that happened, in first grade, he tested on the fifth grade level. In fifth grade, his teacher called me and asked me to come right away. I thought he had caused trouble, but it wasn't that at all. He had taken a nationalized exam that was taken by every fifth grader in America, and he got the second highest score in America. I could go on, but needless to say, he has always astonished people with his brains and talents. In Nigeria, he caused a stir.
As I said, when he was two years old, we had moved to Nigeria. My husband was teaching Christian Religious Knowledge at Kuru special Science school outside of Jos in Plateau State, Nigeria. We lived in a big concrete three bedroom house on the school compound. I was sick a lot, so I was a house wife with a maid. At times, the doctor had told me to stay in bed all the time, and when that happened, my son came to my bed with a huge stack of books, and I read him one book right after another. He loved books! One of the books I read him was Dr. Sues' A, B. C's. I let him read the letters to me.
He also loved Sesame Street. Initially, we didn't have a television, but our neighbor was an Islamic Religious Knowledge teacher at Kuru Special Science School from Pakistan. She invited us over ever afternoon for tea and to watch Sesame Street at her house. She was grown, but she really enjoyed Sesame Street, and so did my two year old son, so we joined her.
Eventually, we got our own TV, and we were able to watch Sesame Street at home if we wanted. TV didn't come on until 4:00 in the afternoon. Usually, my little boy was napping just before it came on. When it was time for it to come on, I didn't want my little boy to miss it, so I went into his bedroom and began singing, "Come and play! Everything's a-okay! Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?" When he heard me, he would jump out of bed excitedly and run to the living room and turn the TV on to watch Sesame Street.
As he was watching, he would sit there on the edge of his seat just taking it all in. If he didn't quite get it, he would excitedly say, "Mommy! Mommy! What are they trying to teach me?" I explained anything he wanted to know. He just seemed to be soaking up everything around him.
We were at an American teacher friend's house once in Nigeria, and my little boy's brain got him into trouble. He was a toddler, but he was speaking in long complete sentences and sounded like an adult. That made people forget how old he was. Can you imagine baby thoughts coming out sounding like adult thoughts? People tried to treat him like he was ten years old, but he was barely poty trained. He sounded older, so they didn't realize he was actually still a baby. I was sitting at the table with a friend once, and there were cookies on the table. My son reached up and got himself a cookie. My friend said, "Did you ask?" My little boy could feel the condemnation in the guy's voice. I hadn't taught him a lot of manners. I was just happy he could talk to me. When the guy asked him if he had asked, my little son said hesitatingly, "Yes..," and I could tell he did it because he was put on the spot and he had figured out that the guy thought he should have asked. He hadn't asked, and after that, the guy was all over his case about lying and thought I was a terrible mother because my little boy had lied. My little boy didn't even know what lying was. He was only a baby. Any good parent knows that you don't put kids on the spot when you know the truth because you are just asking for the kids to lie, and he was talking to a baby who didn't even know what a lie was. They guy judged him as if he were ten years old, but he was barely two. His ability with his brain that let him speak just like an adult as a baby got him into trouble.
Another time, I had taken my son to see a Nigerian doctor. We were sitting in the waiting room. The room was full of Nigerians because we were in Nigeria. We were all waiting our turn to see the doctor. There was a man across the way who was reading a newspaper. My baby son crawled down off my lap and went over to where the man was reading the news paper. He stood there reading each letter out loud. The man heard him. He lowered his newspaper and looked at the other side. His eyes got really big, and he said, "They are right!! White babies are smarter than black babies!! He got every letter right!" My heart fell into my stomach. I tried to convince the man that it was just my son, but he just kept insisting that blacks were not as smart as whites. I knew it was nonsense, but there just didn't seem any way I could convince this man that my son was different. He thought my son represented all whites and kept telling me that no black baby could do that. I appreciated his humility, but there is no way that I would ever say one race was smarter than the other.
Nigerians are so different from so many American blacks. Once, my husband was working in our garden in Nigeria, and a man approached him. He said, "You shouldn't be doing that." My husband was confused because he was in his own yard, and he could have a vegetable garden in his own yard if he wanted. The man continued saying, "You are a white man. White men are not supposed to work with the dirt. Only Nigerians are supposed to work with the dirt. You need to be studying or doing something important. You need to hire a Nigerian to do that." My husband grew up on a farm and everyone in his family worked in the garden. He was completely confused by the man's attitude. Nigerians are just much more humble than American blacks.
I would never agree that only black people can work in dirt. I would never agree that white babies are smarter than black babies. However, encounters like these made me see a huge difference between American and Nigerian blacks. There are two kinds of American blacks. Some are not conscious of skin, and the others love to talk about how important they are because they are black and even cause trouble like the Black Lives Matter group. I actually like the group who are not conscious of skin color. I have even known a black family that wouldn't associate with another black family because they let their kids play with white kids. However, the attitudes of the Nigerians just baffled me. They are a very humble people when it comes to dealing with whites. None of them or their ancestors have been slaves of the white man. They don't have the history that America has. In fact, slaves were taken to America from Nigeria because there were wars between the tribes, and they were selling their captives from these wars to the white slavers to be taken to America. It has been a long time since all that happened. I spent a lot of time in Nigeria trying to convince Nigerians that they have value and are not inferior to anyone because of their skin color. l actually think most Nigerians are exactly opposite of the Black Lives Matter group. I can only call Nigerians now a days real anti-racists.