We Are Shopping Till We Drop In London? Are Things Getting Better For Nigerian Women?
One day in September 2012, I was sitting my exhausted self on an overcrowded bench at a train station waiting for the next train to take me home. I had many things on my mind, but moving back to Nigeria was the major thing. With so many sad stories oozing out of Nigeria like a bad odour from a rotten fish, I was having a really hard time deciding if it was the right time to move back. I picked up the London Evening Standard someone had left behind on the bench and flipped through it mindlessly. Then I saw something that caught my attention so much that I almost missed my train.
It was a two-page feature on a lady called Simi Osomo, a 25 year old Nigerian lady who makes six trips to London every year to shop for many things! From soy sauce, Thai green curry paste, and Crunchy Nut cereal, to Skittles, Maltesers and tea. And of course loads of clothes and shoes too!
She seems to have a really fascinating life, but more than that, I was captivated by how much this article talked about Nigerians and their big spending habit. According to the article, “Visitors from the West African country are the UK’s fourth biggest foreign spender, parting with an average of £500 in each luxury shop they visit — four times what UK shoppers typically spend’’. The article even said everyone Osomo’s age uses ASOS in Nigeria!
For a moment I forgot the things that scare me about moving back to Nigeria – the lawlessness, the high unemployment rate, the bomb blasts, the kidnappings, the lack of basic amenities, the bad roads and others – and I was lost in imagining the Nigeria I just read about in the article, where we can all be big spenders and everyone Osomo’s age uses ASOS!
Recently, a similar feature was done by CNN on how Nigerians have emerged as big spenders in international markets with a focus on Selfridges in London. According to Omoyemi Akerele, director of Style House Files who was interviewed, one of the reasons for the emergence is because “Their earning capacity is increasing and they’re spending on more things and not just the basic food and clothing. They’re getting on a plane and coming to London to buy things they cannot immediately find in Nigeria.”
I am not quite sure of what to think about these features. Is the big spending really a new trend? If it is a new trend, does it mean things are generally getting better in Nigeria?
Watch the CNN Feature
photo – London Evening Standard