Sunday, March 2, 2008

Made in China vs. Made in Nigeria

Note: The issues discussed in the below article is for the common man alone. If you buy your shoes, clothes and bags from “boutique” and “abroad”, take no notice of this article.

Shinkpa! Na dat kain sound my sandal make wey the thing cut for road. To say the truth, I was not surprised. I knew the day was fast approaching, after all it had “made in China” written on it. I blamed myself for buying it. I could have gone to the “Ibo market”, (that “g” for “Igbo” dey miss for our waffy pronunciation) near main market to buy it but it was getting late and I wanted to get back to Effurun on time so I bought “made in China” and now it has happened. I know all these big women in Abuja will be surprised, abeg my sisters, life is hard jare, we cannot afford “Jimmy Choo” and “Manolo Blahnik”, some of us actually go around without any label on our shoes, talk less of designer! Anyway, the Ibo market in Warri has served me well over the years, especially my teenage years, when all I wanted in my whole life was a pair of designer jeans. Everybody in Lagos was wearing them, and so I believed and was so sure it was a necessity in my young life. Nobody was going to spend such a ridiculous amount on jeans and especially not in Warri where the most anybody would say, would be “dis jeans get as e be! Na bend down pick you go”? So, with my meager resources, I found my way to the Ibo market where the boys listened with great sympathy to my plight. After a lot of describing and explaining, Ugo, right there on his table, drew the most perfect imitation of my dream jeans. The next week saw me leaving Ibo market with not one pair, but three different pairs of jeans in black, red and blue. It was one of my most satisfied moments in my adolescent life.

These days, our markets are flooded with Chinese products, shoes, bags, clothes, you name it and the Chinese have it. We have to buy them, we say, the poor man has no choice. So with eyes wide open, we buy shoes we know will fall apart in a week or two. If it is the dry season, we might be lucky to get a couple of months out of the shoe. If it is the rainy season, then we know, two days of hopping from one okada to another will “kill” the shoe. Yet, we are not worried; we throw it away, get on okada to the nearest market and buy the next “made in China”.

Now, that is all well and good if we had no choice, but we do have one. We have our own “China” in Nigeria. We have our own boys whose skills and talents will match any Chinese any day, any time. Why do we not support our own? What is the Chinese offering that our people cannot do? Before the Chinese remembered Africa, was the poor man not making do with our own “made in Onitsha” products? All of a sudden, these products are too “inferior” for us. We look down on the products that have served us well when we had nothing. I am sure some of you would deny it, no, you have never bought “Aba made”, well, shame on you! When will we learn to be proud of our own? When will we learn to support our own? We import goods by the hundreds when we have the skills and manpower here? We help another country with its economy and deny our own country that right?

The Chinese have no shame putting “made in China” on their products, yet we are so ashamed of our own products that we rather leave it without any label or better still, write another country’s name. What kind of country is ashamed of its own people? What kind of people are we that we rather buy the products made in another country than to buy our own? Shame on us!


TheAfroBeat said...

the mention of effurun market made my heart swell with joy!!!

You're right o, shame on us. I definitely grew up in one of those homes that used soft scrub for the toilets instead of Jik (Well, maybe we used Jik once in a while but i cudnt think of another nigerian-made toilet cleaner). But yes, point is, our markets are flooded with those, is there anything we can do at our level to stop this flooding (esp if the made in china is cheaper than aba-made)?

How you dey?

The Last King Of Scotland said...

ibo made

Patrice said...

Even Jimmy Choo, the person, is "made in China".

You just know if there was a demand in Nigeria for "made in Nigeria", the Chinese would be happy to oblige . . .

nneoma said...

More power to Nigerian made products. (My bf's family owns a tailoring factory in the East so to say that I agree with you that we should be patronizing Nigerian tailors and the like would be an understatement). Even beyond ordinary common man wear, I think Nigerians are making much headway in the high fashion market similar to the progress of South African fashion. We still have some ways to go, but I think we should encourage on the public and private level, the purchasing and creation of Naija made products whether Aba made, Lagos-made, etc.

nneoma said...

to answer afrobeats question, I think the flooding of the markets will only occur when either
1) government imposes higher tariffs on imported goods
2) Nigerian consumers make a conscious effort to buy Nigerian made products.

Both are equally as difficult.

guerreiranigeriana said...

shame on us indeed...although i live in the us, i am concerned with this phenomenon (sp?) as i plan to move home (naija)...but, na this 'made in ___ is better' mentality no be naija only o!!...brasil na the same nonsense, even when the us product is more expensive...

...naija and other africans had better open eye well well and see that others recognize the value of what we small time, they will be selling back to us the very same thing we make, with their label...omo, they do it now-religions, medicine, ideologies...*zigh*