For the past two years, I have spoken to over 2,000 Nigerians across 4 regions of our country in different shops, streets and offices. We have published over 700 of these interviews on the Tales of Nigerians platform across social media and shared some here on our website. In this short article, I will share three traits I have noticed that stands out whenever we meet these strangers. Bear in mind that prior to interviewing them; we have never met these people in our life. My team and I often just walk up to them, exchange pleasantries and find a way of making them comfortable to share details of their life with us. After the interview, we kindly request for a picture and they often oblige us. It is often exhilarating and exciting to see a connection people who have never met us before develop in the cause of sharing their story. It seems these people have had so much going on in their life and they are just happy to have some random strangers walk up to them and take interest in their story.
I will use our encounter with three different persons to share this trait experience of the hospitable, the shy and the often skeptic Nigerian.
We were walking down his street when I noticed this patent drug seller in his shop. We passed his shop and were some blocks away when I tapped my colleague and told him we had to go back. Something told me the man may want to speak with us. And sure when we got back to his shop, he welcomed us happily. After our initial pleasantries, we got down to business and made him comfortable to the point where he relaxed and shared with us, bitter sweet experiences from his life. It was a very powerful session with him as he shed a tear towards the end of his story.
When we finished, he said we looked really tired, so he offered us bottles of soft drink to quench our thirst for free. He would’ve offered to buy lunch for us only that we turned down the gesture since he didn’t plan on hosting us. But he was genuinely happy we stopped by and spent that time with him. He was willingly to talk and offered some very nice advice. He represented the set of Nigerians who are always ready and willing to assist strangers. Our people are hospitable, so when the opportunity for them to exhibit this hospitality comes up, they often embrace it.
This trait of being hospitable also plays into my personal life principle of paying it forward. I believe if kindness is shown to you, you owe it to the universe to pay it forward to the next person. In that way, we keep spreading love and positivity all round.
This shy guy is an apprentice we met on duty, learning how to repair a water pumping machine. His boss had stepped out to get some supplies for their shop when we arrived. At first he didn’t want to talk and he tried his best to avoid any form of eye contact with us. But when we made him comfortable, the words started dropping little by little.
With shy people, we are always patient not to rush them to speak or share an experience with us. When you rush a shy person to talk, they often get really uncomfortable and may not want to speak again. So we try to take it easy with them and spend more time talking with them. Like this young man, he wanted to share an experience about a drug he took for a stomach ache and the complications that happened amongst other stories. But first, we had to allow him talk about his job and how his training was coming up thus far.
When we meet strangers, the first thing would be for them to be defensive because they don’t know us. It is expected. With this young man, allowing him to first talk about his job allowed his brain enough time to access those who are before him and as we laughed and smiled along with him, his subconscious mind was interpreting our demeanour as being friendly.
This is often the hardest set of people to deal with as they remain not only defensive but also question what you do. The skeptic never understands why a stranger like you should walk up to him and want to interview him. He will bombard you with more questions than you’re ready to answer and he will never stop sizing you up.
When we meet a skeptic, the first thing would be to provide as much details about Tales of Nigerians as we can to them. Sometimes it is never enough because they are never convinced. Some even want to know what your financial budget looks like and how much we earn.
But in the end, we enjoy talking to our people who are always ready and willing to share. We enjoy the beautiful and amazing work we do at Tales of Nigerians. Going forward, we hope to keep growing and keeping you engaged with more real life stories of people from around the world.
You can also join our TON Mansion community on Facebook and share your own personal real life experiences with people who are empathetic, kind and always ready to listen to you what you have to say. Click to join: www.facebook.com/groups/talesofnigerians