IJGB – I just got back.
The inspiration for this post can be found here: http://www.bellanaija.com/2013/12/10/are-you-an-i-just-got-back-ijgb-signs-symptoms-cures-of-the-new-jjc/
(Please read the comments section. The lolz. Some comments were shady though. Real shady.)
What is it? Does it exist? Who cares?
I’ll answer the second question first. It does exist. It’s very real. Now I’ll answer the third question. Who cares? People like me dammit. People who just got back! *clears throat* This also applies to those who wish to expatriate and have had that thought lingering in their brains for a while. Now I don’t think I fully fit this category anymore as I’ve been here for 6 months (now 16 months. Boom.) I feel like one of those parents who say their child’s age in months. Le sigh.
I’m more aware of my surroundings, how the everyday Ghanaian in Ghana behaves and I know when someone is trying to cheat me (my London Twi always comes to my rescue *hi 5s self*).
So what is it? The IJGB first of all means ‘I just got back’ a.k.a JJC or warrever. It’s normally used for people who have returned to the continent after some time away; studying, working etc. Or members of the Diaspora who have moved back for the first time like me. It’s the simmering resentment towards those who have just got back, some reasons which are plausible and others which are just not. Bear with me, I’ll explain.
My experience with IJGB syndrome
It’s the lingering stares examining you from head to toe. It’s the shock then almost sudden disdain when you don’t speak with an accent like theirs (I’ve literally had experiences of doing presentations and the participants say ‘Eii’ as soon as I speak. Yeah. That has happened MULTIPLE times -_-). It’s the assumed superiority that they believe you have (My handbag is from H&M not Louis V, chill). It’s people blanking you or mumbling half sentences when you say good morning for no reason whatsoever. It’s the uber defensiveness when you try to teach them something different to what they know. (Side note – I work in an office of women. Just FYI. Yah.)
Now don’t get me wrong, when you start any new place of employment you have to prove yourself. That is a given. But this was more than just ‘proving myself’, I’ve had to do that before. It was more of a ‘Who do you think you are?’ kind of attitude.
Some IJGBs do have a stink attitude. An inflated sense of self even. I’ve seen some. They annoy me too. They may make reference to their schooling (even though you didn’t ask), or they may complain incessantly about the heat (It’s Africa boo) or just generally be whiny (go and sit in a corner somewhere). But I was careful (even too careful) about making how I comported myself around Ghanaians. I would complain to my peoples back home in London lol. So why me? *cue violins*
Is it insecurity? Is it the presupposition that I think I’m better? Nah. I came back to help my people. Yes I’m a proud Brit but I’m also a Ghanaian (though being in Ghana has made me realise how British I am. Another post. Te lo prometo). I want to use my skills to help advance education in the land of my parents. *cue Michael Jackson – Heal The World* No but seriously though, I am here with genuine intentions. The curriculum, teaching practices and methodologies in GH are outdated. It’s shocking and we’re ridiculously behind. The UK system has serious gaps but, it doesn’t compare to what’s happening back home. Just. Doesn’t. Compare.
I’ve pondered over this for a while. I think it’s complicated and everyone will have their own individual reason or nuance.
It seems as though some just can’t reconcile that you share the same surname as them, you can make abenkwan, you have a foreign accent AND you can communicate in your local language. Almost as if we’re aliens 😦 Now this is not ALL Ghanaians. Some are suitably impressed that you’re flying the black star flag wherever you were born/have lived and are back to lend your knowledge. I’m detailing my own experience and the experience of some ‘returnees’ I’ve come across.
FYI, this doesn’t apply to my obroni friends by the way. The “White Saviour” mentality is still prevalent in Africa so they expect our Caucasian friends to have nicer clothes, to have foreign accents, to have money trees growing in their gardens and so on. It doesn’t offend them. It’s the expectation.
So what do you think? Have you experienced this? Am I making it up? (Of course I’m not. Don’t be silly ;-))
Until next time…
*I initially drafted this when I reached the 6 month mark so March 2014. Sigh.