You would think in the increasingly politically correct world we live in someone over at the United Nations could saunter over to Niger’s representative, Boubacar Boureima, and ask what the fuck is up with his country’s name.
Tradition is all well and good but does he know how many white geography teachers he’s freaking out in the United States? I don’t even think my teacher in high school mentioned Africa at all for fear he’d have to pronounce the name. Does anybody else remember when the US suggested that Iraq tried to buy uranium from a West African country? It was Niger but do you think even pretty boy Brian Williams wanted to tackle that one? The slightest hesitation on that name and the next paying gig he’s getting is speaking in Alabama to the local Rotary Club at a Ramada Inn.
Now you might also ask ol’ Mr. Boureima why there are also 40,000 people still thought to be held as slaves in his country. Niger, please! I realize that they criminalized slavery in 2003 (yes, you read that correctly. 2003. Not 1803 or 1903. 2003) but now they just deny it exists. You could also then ask Boubacar if he knows what irony is.
So maybe its best that our uneasy teachers steer clear of the current history of Niger, given that it has the world’s highest fertility rate, suffers from endless droughts, is one of the poorest countries on earth, has 3.3 million citizens with HIV, and most of the government is under investigation for allegedly embezzling funds from the education ministry. Is it any wonder they are a former French colony and that French is still their official language? I bet somehow the French are responsible for the name.
I was going to Google some more information but I’m afraid to have the word Niger in my Google history in case one of my black friends happens to see it. Yes, you read that correctly. Black. Not African-American. That has to be the dumbest way to categorize someone I’ve ever heard and if I need to explain why then you’re probably not going to agree with me anyway and in that case I wish only horrible things for you and your family going forward. I’m white. They’re black. Who gives a crap where we come from? I’ve literally been in a situation where I’m talking to someone and they’ll want to point out the black kid surrounded by four white kids for some reason and they will say “the kid in the red shirt” and I’ll say “there are three kids in red shirts” and they’ll say “the one in the lighter red shirt with no collar” and I’ll be “you mean the black kid?!” and they will almost hyperventilate. I can’t imagine black guys having the same problem pointing out “the white kid over there” but as I’m white I guess I can’t be sure.
So here’s the point. If we’re going to keep asking South Carolina to change their flag I think it’s totally acceptable to ask Niger to come up with a new name. One that doesn’t make white people so nervous. Is that too much to ask? I don’t even know how to pronounce it because I’ve never actually heard anyone say it out loud. If folks from Nigeria have locked up Nigerian status what do you call people from Niger?
I bet even black readers had at least one funny answer spring to mind there. Does that make them racist or realists? Has there ever been much of a difference? If it were a Family Feud question I bet the #1 answer would be “Fucked.”