Nigerians are in principal the largest African community in London – both officially and un-officially. We all know that. 1,000,000+ human beings of Nigerian heritage currently call London home. Over a million adults born in Africa (excluding South Africa) are living in the UK, with a more middle-aged age distribution than the other large country groups, but fewer post working-age (MigrationWatchUK, 2014). The Mayor of Brent, Michael Adeyeye however declared a year before “nothing less than 1,000,000 Nigerians are living in the UK“. It may be a surprise for some but few within the British-Nigerian community would bet against it.
Peckham, Thamesmead, Woolwich, Abbeywood and Deptford areas on weekday evenings, Friday Nights, Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings are quite simply a remarkable sight. Added to this, Camberwell, Brixton (well sort-of), Bexleyheath, Barking and Dagenham, Erith and Newham will also test your Yoruba and Igbo listening skills. And Hausa and Edo too (as explained later in the article).
Nigerians are everywhere and so too are the various stereotypes that follow them. Do checkout Nigerians of England blog who are doing a great highlighting the good works and determination of young British-Nigerians. The blog serves as a mouthpiece to declare “to the world that Nigerians in the diaspora are not just ‘hustling’ for personal gain but rather are striving for excellence and alleviating the sociological and economical burdens of our communities.” Good on them! There are many social, cultural and economic dilemmas British Nigerians go through; Tobi Oredein makes a good point of this in her excellent article How I learned to be both British and Nigerian article.
It’s also good to point out the exclusive group of Super Rich Nigerians buying up central London property. You’ll see some job ads (appear twice a year) for fluent Yoruba and Hausa speaking Sales gurus at Heathrow, Harrods and other department stores – especially during the summer. They come in droves and pretty much buy everything; houses too. But i’ll leave you to read some of the comments on Battabox’s Excellent Video on Rich Nigerians Spend Millions on Central London Property as to what some Nigerians at home think about that! Come to think of it, Battabox deserve a mention!
Their videos are an excellent resource and window into the lives and mindsets of many 1st generation Nigerian and African migrants that call London home. Nigerian International Students also represent the largest student group of African International Students in the UK (as explained in a previous post) but creative entreprises such as AfroExpressUK (these guys deliver your favourite African grocery items delivered to your uni once a month).
Culturally, one will observe that many non-Nigerian Londoners and British folk (if there is such a term) have a rather Yoruba-centric view of Nigerians. In some black majority neighbourhoods; the feeling is that 4 out every 5 black people are Nigerian; but rather 4 out of 5 Nigerians are Yoruba. The rather colourful, demonstrative and at times well animated Yoruba natives have been set apart from others (many non-Yoruba lament).
This is especially true in Woolwich, Abbeywood and Deptford. If you go to some parts of Germany and Turkey and ask some of the locals to describe the Nigerian Community; it’s more than common to be responded with “they are reserved people, conservative, gentle and keep-to-themselves”. This will raise eyebrows to many of us in London; but that’s because their remarks of the Nigerian community they are familiar are rather Hausa-centric. And Yes; there are many Hausa Nigerians in Turkey and Germany.
Similar to these countries; there are sizeable Hausa communities in London and the UK. Mellow, reserved and often preferring outside London; don’t believe the hype that there are no Hausas in London – that’s quite simply not true. Hausa Nigerians are based in small pockets in Central London and North London and in larger pockets in Coventry, Birmingham, Manchester, Leicester, Surrey and other cities in the country. It is also important to mention that Idoma, Tiv and Edo Nigerian communities (particularly in South London and Newham) also make up the demographic fabric of this popular and populous group here in London.
Moving away from the various colours and barriers of tribalism (before being accused) to Media. Nigeria’s ‘super-rich’—or rather, their children—were also a a source of intrigue bordering on obsession within the British media for the best part of the last 18 months, as a ‘new’ breed of uber-consumer, jetting in from Lagos to live the high-life in London. The show was disliked by many – I can see reasons why (will explain later). Many British-Nigerians don’t see themselves as well-represented on mainstream British Media; From David Cameron’s infamous ‘Nigeria is Fantastically Corrupt’ comments to the David Attenborough style once a year descriptive documentaries on Nigeria’s poverty and corruption to even unfair recipients of racist attacks before, during and after the Brexit vote.
British-Nigerian Historian and Broadcaster David Olusoga is an Award winning TV Presenter / TV Producer and critically-acclaimed Writer who resides in Newcastle shared an all to familiar tweet about this a few months back.
The map above illustrates at least how four London boroughs are Nigerian Centric. This is the (2016) Map of the largest Foreign born population in London by borough with people from India being the dominant nationality in Ten areas.
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