I don’t like this expression “First World problems.” It is false and it is condescending. Yes, Nigerians struggle with floods or infant mortality. But these same Nigerians also deal with mundane and seemingly luxurious hassles. Connectivity issues on your BlackBerry, cost of car repair, how to sync your iPad, what brand of noodles to buy: Third World problems. All the silly stuff of life doesn’t disappear just because you’re black and live in a poorer country. People in the richer nations need a more robust sense of the lives being lived in the darker nations. Here’s a First World problem: the inability to see that others are as fully complex and as keen on technology and pleasure as you are.
One event that illustrated the gap between the Africa of conjecture and the real Africa was the BlackBerry outage of a few weeks ago. Who would have thought Research In Motion’s technical issues would cause so much annoyance and inconvenience in a place like Lagos? But of course it did, because people don’t wake up with “poor African” pasted on their foreheads. They live as citizens of the modern world. None of this is to deny the existence of social stratification and elite structures here. There are lifestyles of the rich and famous, sure. But the interesting thing about modern technology is how socially mobile it is—quite literally. Everyone in Lagos has a phone.
Got my hair curled for formal and now I get to wear this insane colonial bonnet to protect it from the rain
The weight of ice has been replaced by the reality of spring, the reality that this is my last month of living my current life. The monotony that was encouraged by this urban tundra — circuits between class, work, bar, sleep, class, work, bar, sleep — seduced me into this city’s collective hibernation, and tricked me into thinking time had slowed. But now that my internal calendar is thawing out with the rest of our campus, it feels like I’ve overslept for months and missed every class, every deadline, every party, every interview, every Sunday brunch.
“There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better: we find comfort somewhere.”
― Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
Writer, reader, journalist. 21.
I like road trips, reading everything, making lists and drinking beer on the front porch.
All these things I lived through—the strange and fugitive beauty of the desert and the mountains, the primitive realities, the sky and the sand, so easily dissolving in mysteries and visions. All the quiet common things of the earth I came to love, and the simple and useful human beings—life going on, going on.
— Ray Stannard Baker, American Chronicle