Naijaphobia is the newest term you may have come across, but it’s as real as Dutchphobia, Francophobia, and any other ethnic or country-specific fears.
When it comes to phobias, the possibilities of “fear objects” are endless. From more common phobias like fear of height to less common ones like fear of fern, it is no surprise that in recent times, people have reported an intense and irrational fear of the weirdest and strangest things.
In this article, we will be taking a look at one phobia that probably has never been discussed, and we’re calling it Naijaphobia (the fear of Nigeria and Nigerians).
Read further to discover the possible causes, symptoms, people at risk, and possible treatment options for Naijaphobia.
The Idea of Naijaphobia (The fear of Nigerian and Nigerians)
People with Naijaphobia are afraid of visiting, transacting business, or associating with people from the Sub-saharan West African country called Nigeria.
Thus, we can say that Naijaphobia is a fear derived from a flawed perception of Nigerians by people from other parts of the world. Also, Naijaphobia or the fear of Nigeria is a specific phobia because the object of fear is known.
Also, just like other forms of phobia, for your fear of Nigeria or Nigerians to be classified as a phobia, you must have experienced it for no less than six months, and it must have caused you some life-altering discomforts.
Before we try to understand why anyone would develop a fear of Nigeria or Nigerians, here are some fast facts:
- Nigeria is globally famous as Africa’s most populous nation, and as such, one in every five Africans is a Nigerian
- Nigeria is culturally rich, and Nigerians are the most hardworking people both at home and in the diaspora
- The Nigerian entertainment industry is the biggest in Africa and second in the world
- Nigeria has one of the world’s highest numbers of certified HR professionals
- Nigeria has the highest rate of post-first degree holders of any immigrants in the UK and US
- Nigeria has some of the most notable people in the literary space
- Nigeria is famous for its epileptic power supply
- Nigeria has become more known in recent times for internet/credit fraud, advance-fee scams and online dating scams
- Nigeria made the list of most corrupt countries in the world
The fear of Nigerians can be seen in the recent attacks, reports, and opinions of people from other countries on platforms like Quora and Twitter.
2019 recorded xenophobia attacks against Nigerians in South Africa, followed by hashtags like #Nigeriamustgo and #Nigeriamustfall trending on twitter and other social media platforms.
These attacks were connected to the fear of possible domination of South Africa by Nigerian Immigrants, and the rise of a new population of South African-Nigerian children that may spring from relationships between South African women and their Nigerian lovers.
Also, a cause for worry is the growing popularity of the term “Yahoo-Yahoo” and 419, associated with Nigerians both at home and in diaspora due to the unexplained source of wealth projected by the lavish lifestyle of many Nigerian socialites on social media.
Most notable is the recent arrest of famous Nigerian realtor, Raymond Igbalode, AKA Hushpuppi, on June 10, 2020, by the Interpol in the UAE.
Nigerian entrepreneur, Obinwanne Okeke, CEO of Invictus group, has also played a role in the promotion of Naijaphobia. The 32-year-old Chief executive of the Invictus group was accused by the FBI of engaging in a computer-based fraud scheme running into $11 million.
It is important to note that the fear of Nigeria and its people have become a global phenomenon. Women from The United States, Asia, Europe, and even other African countries have been discovered to find men from Nigeria irresistible, hence falling into the hands of “The Nigerian Prince.”
According to a 2019 report by the CNBC, the Nigerian Prince romance scam still rakes in more than $700,000 per annum.
The above claim is further backed by Forbes November 2019 article titled Anatomy of a scam: Nigerian Romance Scammers shares secrets.
According to the article, the victims of this kind of fraud are not hurt by the financial losses incurred, but by the emotional connection they built with their supposed partner before the rug was pulled from under their feet.
In 2016, the Internet Crime Commission of the FBI reported receipt of over 15,000 reports of romance scams.
The above instances should provide some insight into the possible factors responsible for fear of Nigeria and Nigerians (Naijaphobia).
Possible causes of Naijaphobia (the fear of Nigeria and Nigerians)
If you know a thing or two about phobias, you’ll be aware that one thing they all have in common is no single specific cause.
This means that anything could be responsible for the development of a phobia, including genetics and the environment.
In the case of Naijaphobia, patients may either develop this fear as a result of exposure to negative news and reports about Nigerians, knowing a victim or being a victim of a negative event associated with Nigeria or Nigerians, or learning the behavior by watching a relative of a friend who has this phobia.
People with such fears may not seek professional help out of fear of being judged, tagged racist, or even called crazy as this is not a well-known phobia.
Patients may also deliberately avoid places and situations that will expose them to Nigerians as a short-term fix for their fears.
However, such avoidant behavior will be detrimental to patients of Naijaphobia in the long run if their jobs or other activities may expose them to Nigerians.
Most of the likely causes of this phobia are stereotypical, as NOT ALL NIGERIANS are toxic, fraudulent, or dangerous.
In fact, people from other parts of the world are guilty of the same crimes and behaviors some Nigerians guilty of. What this means is that these are more individualistic than general traits.
Symptoms of Naijaphobia (the fear of Nigeria and Nigerians)
The symptoms featured here are not specific to Naijaphobia, as they are common symptoms associated with most phobias.
Patients may experience symptoms that are either physical or psychological, and the symptoms experienced may be specific to individuals.
Below are some likely symptoms:
- Excessive sweating
- Panic attacks
- Increased heart rate
- The sensation of butterflies in the stomach
- Irritability, anger, and mood swings
People at risk of Naijaphobia
The group of people most vulnerable to Naijaphobia is victims of internet fraud involving Nigerians, especially those caught in a love web with a Nigerian romance scammer.
While a large percentage of the vulnerable population is female, men have recently reported falling in love with female catfish accounts operated by male romance scammers.
Business owners or investors looking to get cheaper deals or properties and other items may also be at risk, but this is somewhat less common.
The most interesting group of people who may have an irrational fear of Nigerians are Men from other African countries and even outside the continent.
This is because Nigerian men are known to be some of the most romantic and more sexually active men in the world.
Women who have been abused or emotionally and sexually starved by men from their immediate environment are quick to fall into the hands of the next available Nigerian with a good job and open arms.
With hardworking Nigerians all over the world, making a meaningful impact in sectors like health, education, and even thriving in business, women are quick to envision the stability they desire.
Possible treatment options for Naijaphobia
As you must know by now, there are no specific causes for any phobia; thus, there is no singular treatment designed for the cure or treatment of phobia.
However, there are a few alternatives that can be explored to help patients of all phobias, including Naijaphobia, deal with their fears and overcome them.
Note that no treatment option is guaranteed to work as the results depend on the symptoms reported and the individual.
Sometimes, a single treatment method may prove useful, while at other times, there may be a need to combine two or more treatment methods.
One of the most popular methods includes Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). This is one method of phobia treatment that has become popular over time because it is not physically intrusive, and it is quite laid back.
Another method of treatment for phobia is exposure therapy, and it involves step by step exposure of a patient to the object of their fear in a safe environment.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy for Naijaphobia
CBT is a popular type of therapy that thrives on the idea of how humans view and understand things around them, and the world, in general, may influence how they behave. Also, the experience of anxiety and distress may sometimes distort how a person perceives reality.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy seeks to find out if what a person feels, thinks, or how they behave, is an actual depiction of reality.
If the therapist is able to walk through the process with the patient, and it is discovered that the fears are not realistic, the next step will be to explore strategies to challenge and overcome those unrealistic thoughts and behaviors.
In the case of Naijaphobia, for instance, with therapy, they should be able to find out why they feel an intense fear of Nigerians.
Next, they should find out if their fears are in line with reality (i.e., are all Nigerians indeed toxic to the mental and physical well-being of other people? Are people from other parts of the world also guilty of the same hurtful things that some Nigerians may have done? Are these behaviors indeed general or individualistic?).
Once these questions are answered, the final step will involve working on ways to get the patient to think and behave in ways that are more in line with reality.
Final thoughts on Naijaphobia
We will not deny the fact that a few Nigerians have exhibited a couple of criminal and negative characters that may cause people to generalize.
However, Nigeria and its hardworking citizens are beginning to feel the repercussion of the actions of these few bad eggs. Nigerian freelancers suffer discrimination as they are denied the opportunity to work and earn online because of their ethnicity.
PayPal has imposed restrictions on Nigerian accounts, making it impossible for Nigerian to receive payments from outside the country.
These are only a few of the problems that Innocent and honest Nigerians deal with. While what some people may feel is more of hatred and disappointment than fear, all of these feelings are more stereotypical than realistic.
The best way to move past all the negativity is to look out for the excellent and notable deeds by Nigerians all over the world, as we strive to bring the rotten eggs amongst us to book.
The country and its people could use more love and fairness from others around the world.
So, guys, we hope this has been an interesting read. Kindly read up on other phobias featured on our blog, and also leave your questions and comments below.
We look forward to hearing from you. This is exclusive Phobiafor content, do not reproduce without permission.
- How the rest of the world perceives Nigeria; Legitng
- List of African countries by population; Wikipedia
- Nigeria; OECD
- Nigeria has one of the world’s highest number of certified HR professionals; TheGuardian
- What do people think about Nigeria and Nigerians; Quora