September 2008, I was sitting in class when I had to introduce myself to a number of colleagues who were taking the same course. When I mentioned that I was African, they pressed further to enquire where I was from Africa. I mentioned that I was from Nigeria, and one of the Black American who sat by me asked how I coped with the stereotype of ‘Internet Fraudsterdom’ that has being appended generally on Nigerians here in the US. I feigned ignorance just to give the impression that there were still people who still could not relate to the phenomenon. The next question was on how long I had lived in Nigeria, and when I replied “all my life”, I was bombarded with a series of inquiries that sounded like “so how many people do internet fraud back in Nigeria?” “It’s not written on anyone’s face and besides as a computer programmer myself I had to enlighten them that most of the software used to generate credit card numbers by the Nigerians are Russian creations. So there is international cooperation when it comes to this act of cyber larceny. However, I could not shove off the disgust that welled up within me. This is what we have done to ourselves and it is fair game when Nigeria is singled out as a country that harbours such people.
What is not acceptable however is when people use the term “Nigerians” to associate with Internet scams. Of recent we have been subjected to humiliating depictions on movies and commercials to the point that it’s getting very touchy. While District 9 increased the intensity of the slap, the recent PS3 advert was just off point completely. Of what use was the line in the script? They could have accomplished their goal without imputing that scathing line. I didn’t see the advert until my South American friend pointed it out to me on Facebook. So it seems now what we are getting most popular for is scams, militancy, religious conflicts, and noisemaking.