Nigerians are generous people

By Zayd Ibn Isah


There is one aspect of the Nigerian experience that is not often talked about enough, and that is the remarkable ability of Nigerians to extend helping hands to others irrespective of tribe, religion, or nationality.

According to the World Giving Index 2023 report by the Charities Aid Foundation, “4.2 billion people gave money, time, or assisted someone they didn’t know in 2022. That accounts for 72 per cent of the world’s adult population.”

The report further highlighted the top ten most generous countries, with Nigeria ranked ninth globally and second in Africa, just behind Kenya.

But without prejudice to Kenyans, and if you were to ask me, I would argue that Nigerians deserve the number one African spot in the World Giving Index because of their innate generosity. It is my utmost belief that an average Nigerian is, more often than not, willing to go out of their way to assist someone in need, even if they have only encountered the distressed person on social media or heard about their distressing story elsewhere.

Countless instances are showcasing Nigerians’ generosity towards others, which is why the world regards us as one of the most generous nations globally.


*Mummy Zee

Deborah Okaki, also known as Mummy Zee, experienced first-hand the generosity of Nigerians earlier this year when her story of how she wakes up early in the morning to make breakfast for her husband went viral on social media. Her story generated quite a lot of buzz, with some women questioning her rationale for waking up early to prepare breakfast for her husband simply because she wants to ward off possible competition from his female colleague at work. However, the men applauded her gesture and demanded her account number so they could reward her ingenuity. Mummy Zee ended up getting more than she bargained for. Over ₦20m was donated to her, and it wasn’t too long before endorsements from brands and businesses followed. Talk of a typical story of rags to riches.

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*Another recipient of Nigerians’ generosity is Queen Onwunachie

The physically challenged woman went to a comedy show organized by Chukwuebuka Emmanuel Amuzie, famously known as Brainjotter, with barely ₦20,000 in her account. At the end of the show, she left Transcorp Hilton — the venue, as a millionaire. In a video that Brainjotter posted on his social media handle, the skit-maker narrated how the woman stole his show after he announced on stage his desire to make someone a millionaire. According to him, he intended to give her a million naira, but Nigerians present at the event seized the opportunity to shower the woman with cash gifts, with some even promising to take care of her health conditions. And so, her story changed for the better. Surely, if anyone had told Queen Onwunachie that she would come back home from the show with millions of naira in her account, she would have laughed it off as a fever dream.


*Success Adegor

This particular case is memorable for most Nigerians active on social media. In 2019, a seven-year-old primary school student was recorded in a viral video venting her annoyance after being sent out of school over her parents’ inability to pay her examination levy. The girl in question, Success, did this in a comically precocious manner which quickly delighted Nigerians on social media. In the footage recorded by her neighbour, Success declared that she would have preferred being flogged rather than being sent out of school.

It wasn’t long before several public figures, organizations, and individuals reacted positively to the viral video of Success with cash donations, offers to sponsor her education and other forms of support which ran into millions of naira. According to a PUNCH report, Success’ father, Godwin Adegor, was a commercial motorcyclist (okada) at the time, while her mum sold recharge cards. And for a charmed while, Successʼ fame elevated the status of her family and neighbourhood in the Urban Area of Sapele, Delta State.


*David Adeleke

Two years after the viral case of Success Adegor, a much more famous and established personality, David Adeleke, popularly known as Davido, also enjoyed the superfluous generosity of Nigerians. Davido, arguably Africaʼs biggest musical export, had put up a post saying that he needed to raise about ₦100m to clear his Rolls Royce from port authorities.

As this was for the occasion of his 29th birthday, the Afrobeats singer began calling on his friends and associates on social media to contribute towards his needs. And within the span of a few hours, Davido got more than the sum he had asked for. All in all, about ₦200m was raised, with many Nigerians chipping in varied sums of money. To top it all off, Davido announced that he would be adding ₦50m to the sum raised, before donating everything to orphanages in the country.

If anything, the above cases prove that beneath the perceived aggressiveness of people here, or “gra-gra” as it is called in pidgin, many Nigerians are well-meaning citizens who do not hesitate to offer financial assistance, gifts or other forms of support to people who need them. Could it be due to religious reasons (some belief systems emphasise acts of kindness to the less privileged in society), or are Nigerians more inclined to be sympathetic to the plights of others? Whatever it is, one thing is certain: Nigerians love a good story as much as they love being part of one. This explains why people like Mummy Zee and Success received massive support after their words went viral and stirred reactions.

In a way, this is a good thing, because it unites kind people and ensures that beneficiaries of public goodwill cannot be held down by a singular individual’s contribution. We all know that in some cases, generosity can be a chain of sorts: being indebted to one’s kindness places you beneath them, even if you may not want to accept this. But viral stories of the kind that elevated Mummy Zee and Success Adegor can create a negative effect, in the sense that a lot of touching moments captured on social media can be outright deceptions or calculated modifications, simply for maximum desired effect.

Did Nigerians not donate to the famous crossdresser, Jay Boogie, after he claimed to be in much distress after a botched surgical procedure (BBL)? And did the same Nigerians not crowdfund Korra Obidiʼs GoFundMe drive to regain legal custody of her children? And did both of these public figures not afterward act in ways that made Nigerians regret their thoughtful donations, with Jay Boogie being exposed as a liar, and Korra Obidi seemingly more interested in a Hawaiian vacation?

How about the case of the amputee hawker in Lagos, Mary Daniel, whose touching story in 2021, led her to receive over ₦25m in donations from kind-hearted people? Mary Danielʼs story would later be exposed as an outright web of lies, so much so that the Lagos State Government seized the donations that she should have gotten.

In essence, Nigerians are so kind that they are often taken advantage of by despicable elements. This is why a lot of genuine giveaways on social media are regularly infiltrated by fake personalities who concoct false sob stories to gain favour. Some even steal the identities of real people to win giveaways! But do these unpleasant incidents stop Nigerians from giving? No. Our people toil abroad and send money back home, even to entitled recipients; and over here, roadside beggars are known to often return to the streets to resume begging for alms, even after being offered legitimate ways to make a living.

According to the PUNCH report on Success Adegor mentioned earlier, Success’ father, Mr Adegor, on coming to terms with the overflow of goodwill that followed his daughterʼs viral fame, had asked, “Are Nigerians this kind?” To reply to him, I would take a quote from the human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, who, in adding to the discourse around Mummy Zeeʼs blessings then, said via his X handle: “Nigerians have a strong capacity to do good for their fellow citizens when they are united by a common purpose.”

Now more than ever, this strength must not wane. Times are harder than ever for most Nigerians, especially families. As such, it is imperative that as Nigerians, we continue to look out for one another and show kindness in our little ways. These things go a long way, and even if recipients act unpleasantly afterward, one should not let the world make them unkind. Kindness is its virtue after all, and one can never thirst if they keep on pouring it out to others.


*Zayd Ibn Isah can be reached at [email protected]



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