There is a perception that because I am white I must be rich, and therefore I ought to share my riches, this means I frequently am asked to “give me something”. Mostly I ignore it or laugh it off, but sometimes it really gets to me.
There is a lady in my street, who sells traditional medicine, almost every day when I come home she says “White, what have you brought for me?” She has two lovely daughters, aged around 7 or 8, who never ask me for anything. One evening after dark I met one of her daughters crying in the street, when I asked what was wrong she said she had dropped Naira 50. Clearly she had been sent on an errand and was dreading what her punishment would be. I gave her Naira 50, wondering if this would be the beginning of a problem, but nothing has changed the daughter continues to greet me happily not demanding anything.One day, when I was with my friend Rebecca a fellow Brit, a boy aged around 13 or 14 and carrying a biro, or BIC approached me and said “give me something”. Our conversation progressed as follows:
Me: “no, you give me something, how about that pen?”
Him: “but I only just bought it, give me something”,
Me: Why don’t you ask them (various wealthy looking people) to give you something?
Him: because they are not white
Me: did someone tell you that you should ask white people for things?
Him: Yes, my teacher
Me: My teacher told me to ask black people to give me things, so give me something
At this point he walked off. Rebecca was trying not to laugh, and asked me which teacher had told me, I replied Geography when we were learning about the world!
A few weeks ago, close to my house the children asked me for moto, (I assumed this meant motor, ie car), since they are all far too young to drive, I jokingly counted seven children and promised seven cars. I forgot that sarcasm in humour is a purely British thing, now the mother is asking me when I am bringing the motos?! I told her when I married a rich Nigerian I’d be able to afford it!
I mentioned this to a colleague today, she said maybe they meant toy cars, I’ve never seen one in Nigeria so I didn’t think of that, perhaps I’d better go and look for some, or will I just reinforce the stereotype that you can ask white people for things because they are rich?