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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (May 1, 1978)
nigerian works to dispel 'bush man' stereotype
by mary fastenau
Some people believe Africans come
"from the bush" where they do nothing
but live in trees, speak in an unintelligible
manner and go on safaris.
The African man who fits the stereo
type does jiot exist, according to Patrick
Anyikwa, 30-year-old president of the
Nigerian Students Association.
Anyikwa, who is working on his
master's degree in political science, dispels
any preconceptions about the ignorance of
He said he intends to take his know
ledge beck to Nigeria and work in the
diplomatic field. He said he intends to
leave his options open because Nigeria is
changing, and he is not certain where he
will fit in.
Anyikwa returned to Nigeria during
Christmas vacation after having left in the
spring of 1975. He admitted it was not the
same country he left behind.
'Things are moving faster," he said,
"Because of oil, there is money and every
one is trying to catch up with develop
ment." He said the government is changing
from a military to a civilian regime, so
there is a high degree of interest in the
The attitude used to be "who cares as
long as I eat," Anyikwa said, but that has
changed. People are aware of the world
situation and want to get involved, he said.
One of the changes he mentioned was
the move toward compulsory education
which may become a reality by 1980. He
said there are 250 dialects in Nigeria, so
one purpose of education would be to
teach English, Nigeria's official language.
Anyikwa said there are problems be
cause Nigeria is trying to accomplish in 10
years what it has taken the United States
200 years to accomplish.
He said he thinks the current U.S. in
terest in Africa is caused primarily by the
idea that the Russians are moving in.
a fricans are afraid of communism,
Anyikwa said, but he admits that if they
can not get help from the western countr
ies, they will accept communism.
Anyikwa said he fears communism be
cause once it takes hold, it is difficult to
overcome. But, he said, it would be diffi
cult for communism to exist because of the
upbringing and social attitudes of African
He said the difference between the
American attitudes and his own have made
some phases of adjustment difficult.
As an example, he said in Nigeria, "your
neighbor is your nearest friend." Anyikwa
said neighbors usually know everything
about each other and helped each otK4
In contrast, he said he lived in one
apartment building where he did not see
the person who lived next to him for six
months, and his only contact with his
current neighbors is when he needs to
move his car.
Anyikwa said he thinks many people
think Africans are flamboyant, but in
reality they never attempt to force them
selves on anyone.
"We are always willing to open our
arms," he said, "but we will weigh the
possibilities of being accepted and if there
is little chance we will not commit our
selves." Most Nigerians know a lot about the
United States, he said. They are appre
hensive because they know prejudice
exists, do not want to push themselves "for
fear of being hurt."
He said there also is a language problem,
not because Nigerians do not understand
English, but because they are afraid they
will be rejected because they have an
Many Americans do not speak English
well, Anyikwa said, but they do not have
to fear rejection.
He said sometimes the university
appears to be choosing sides, with all the
foreign students on one side and the re
mainder of the university of the other.
What the majority of foreign students
want, according to Anyikwa, is to be
accepted or rejected on an individual basis.
He said often it is necessary for a
foreign student to begin a conversation,
and within minutes the person will look at
his watch and make the excuse of another
appointment. When this happens, Anyikwa
said, people feel they are being rejected on
the basis of where they come from, not on
who they are.
There also are feelings of rejection in
regard to clubs and organizations. Anyikwa
said this is an area where there could be a
special effort made to include foreign
india, serene and peaceful country
by rex Henderson
Sugnyan Suneetha typifies what he described as the
Indian demeanor. He sat quietly during his interview while
he talked in a soft tone.
In that same tone, he said, India is a "serene and peace
ful" place and its people are "very mild. It's hard for us to
That may be the reason the Indians are one of the least
visible minorities on campus.
The Indians' calmness is "one of our assets," said
Suneetha, president of the India Association and repre
sentative of 55 campus Indians.
"It's why we can blend into American society."
Suneetha has lived in the United States for the past
three years, first as a graduate student in electrical engin
eering at Oklahoma State University, now at UNL.
Suneetha said 99 percent of the Indians here are gradu
ate students. There is little need to send Indian under
graduates to the United States, he said, since India has a
good, comprehensive undergraduate education system.
The United States has treated him well, Suneetha said.
He has found little racism directed against him, he said.
His only complaints, are the weather, (It changes too
fast, and it's too cold) and the pace of American life.
"Here life is fast paced. You run and run, but mostly
in circles, getting nothing done."
The pace of American life sometimes makes him home
sick for the peace of India, he said, but not homesick
enough to puM him back.
He still is undecided about returning. America's
prosperity and job opportunities are attractive, he said.
It's a choice between conveniences and money or
peace of mind."
As an electrical engineer, a westernized Indian, and a
Christian, Suneetha represents some of the changes in
He said that although the Indians are slow to change,
the country is modernizing.
The caste system, (as a Christian Suneetha is outside of
that system) is slowly disappearing. In the cities, he said,
no one cares. In the small towns it persists, but is becom
ing less important.
He said he believes that India's chronic famines have
ended. The "green revolution" has come to the country,
he said, noting that for the past two years India has
The country's remaining problem is the burgeoning
population. It would be ideal to educate the masses, he
said, and teach them birth control methods.
But, Suneetha said, that would take too long. The
alternative is the controversial sterilization program in
India and a legal limit on family size.
Suneetha said the Indians in America arc completely
free of political pressure from home that is applied to
other campus minorities.
He said that individual freedom and democracy are
"the only system for our people." Despite the poverty of
the country, he said he expects freedom and democracy
i ' i
Suneetha said he did not see the "emergency powers"
used by former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to
suppress opposition as a necessarily bad thing.
"It depends who is at the top," he said. The powers
could be abused, he said, but also could be used for the
good of the country.
He expects that India will continue to steer a neutral
course between the American and Soviet superpowers and
maintain its position as a leader of the third world.
Alliance with either world create too much domestic
friction, he said.
Photo by Tim Ford
Sugnyan Suneetha said the United States has treat
ed him well, his only complaint was the cold
weather and the fast pace of American life.
monday, may 1, 1978
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