How to cope with stress in Nigeria – By Elnathan John

Most of us who were born in Nigeria take a lot of things for granted. The kind of trauma we experience daily would send the average Japanese guy flying out a 23rd floor window. Make no mistake about it, Nigeria is a warfront. Don’t ask me to explain — if you are a Nigerian, you experience it every day and if you are not, well, Google it.

Somehow, we survive. It is not that we are superhuman. We have only been blessed with the most efficient coping mechanisms. Hope is a product made in Nigeria. Hope made outside Nigeria is a weak imitation based on concrete facts or expectations. The Nigerian hope, albeit based on nothing, is far stronger and more useful. So when we experience poverty and corruption and bombings and underdevelopment, we HOPE that things get better. There is no basis for this — the government will not do anything differently, we will not do anything differently. We just hope. And this hope will carry us and keep us going until the next bombing or bout of hunger.

While we hope, however, we have also developed or identified practical tools to help us survive the horror that is Nigeria.

Motivational books. Every poor Nigerian who can write his name knows the value of a foreign motivational book. If you don’t have one, you are not a complete Nigerian. You can however remedy this by going to the nearest junction, where, in the hold-up, you will find glossy treasures like Rich Dad, Poor Dad; How to Be a Successful CEO; Seven Habits of highly Successful People. It doesn’t matter that you will probably never become a CEO. It just helps to know. A motivational book keeps you going even when your salary has not been paid. They tell these amazing stories of exceptional people who came from lowly backgrounds and became world famous. Someone once said that motivational books are misleading because they take exceptions and turn them into the rule. You must never listen to that kind of evil talk. God will judge those who criticise those life saving books. Cherish your motivational book. Take it along when you are going out. It doesn’t really matter if you read it. The intention reflected in your always having the book in your sweaty palms is all that matters.

Alomo bitters. This is one of the greatest cheap gifts to Nigerians. The Nigerian god, knowing the Nigerian propensity for unreliability, outsourced this important coping mechanism to a Ghanaian company called Kasapreko Company Limited who have, since 1989, been producing this herbal alcoholic wonder packed with such fast-acting power that I can swear that Nigerians have been happier since it came to town. You see, the battles we fight daily mean we are in an emergency. There is no time or money for beer, wine and other weak drinks that take forever to give happiness. Alomo goes to the heart of the matter, quickly dealing with whatever sorrows the Nigerian nation may have directly or indirectly heaped on you. The night is not complete without it. Someone claimed recently that Alomo Bitters is a national epidemic that was destroying the lives of many Nigerians. God will truncate his hustle for talking about what he doesn’t know. Our life expectancy is already so low. Why live it in sorrow?

Third-rate Mexican telenovelas with super imposed English voices are another important diversion from the Nigerian warfront. Find one and be hopelessly addicted to it. It doesn’t matter which one, whether ‘Esmeralda’; or ‘When You Are Mine’; or ‘Catalina and Sebastian’. You need to immerse yourself in these stories, usually about the whole universe conspiring against a steamy love affair. Those who look down on it don’t realise that it is a metaphor for the Nigerian situation. Think of it, even the way their voices are different from the mouth movements is a metaphor for our politicians who say one thing but mean another. Mexico may be a country beset by drug violence and all, but God has used them to lighten our burdens. God bless their hustle against those wicked drug dealers.

Facebook. We are still not sure who brought it to Nigeria. But God bless that person’s glorious hustle. We now have a place where we can be activists, insult the government, post nice flattering pictures of ourselves and generally blab about how magnificent or miserable our hustle is. Nothing is more therapeutic than a good hearty rant. If you can write your name, please get a Facebook account. It is free. Your blood pressure will never be the same again. But if you have lost elections, the place for you to let off steam is Twitter. Twitter is opposition-and-failed-politician-heaven. As an ex-something, you can go there and talk about a Marxist revolution even though you have 10 luxury cars with customised number plates, while you wait and prepare for the next elections.

Perhaps the strongest painkiller for our problems is God. I have explained this very carefully in the article ‘How to Worship the Nigerian god’. If you haven’t read it, don’t be lazy, Google it.

Other coping mechanisms include DSTV (bless South Africa), which ensures that our foreign football addiction is taken care of; Africa Magic, which forces us to suspend common sense to the Glory of God; and ascribing all our problems to demonic or spiritual attacks, which keeps the Nigerian god busy and financed.

Whatever mechanism you choose, may God find you at the point of your need and permanently bless your hustle.

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