Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Happiest People in the World

I recently came across an interesting news tid-bit: According to a 2003 survey of people from 65 countries, Nigerians appear to be the happiest people in the world. Romanians came in 65th.

Just the other day Tobi gave me his own anecdotal evidence of this theory. He said when his Nigerian friends fall down and get hurt on the playground, they just start laughing and then continue playing. He contrasted that with some other boys who fall down and really make a big fuss out of it.

When our American friend Emily who has grown up in Czech visited us, she was absolutely amazed at the general happiness of people whom she saw along the road on the four-hour drive from the airport to Jos.

Life is hard here, but people still find joy in living. Suicide is almost unheard of.

I think it's safe to say that most Nigerians have been cheated in one way or another, but instead of getting bitter and remaining angry for a long time, they let it go.

Nigerians are constantly joking with each other. The women I work with are always telling stories in the Hausa language, and then cracking up with each other. To me it seems that stories are always funnier in Hausa.

I love it when visitors come to Bezer Home expecting to see end-stage AIDS patients, but instead they are met by laughter pouring out of the upstairs rooms.

1 comment:

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Maybe when people don't "have" as much they actually know what is really important. Yet, in Uganda, thievery is rampant and the people have to lock their doors and even lock themselves inside their houses. And many places have walls around their compounds because of the thievery.

I wonder if having a more homogeneous ethnic background and culture accounts for these differences between countries. For example, a friend of mine has been in Saudi Arabia a number of times. She said that the children hide behind their mother's robes, don't give eye contact, etc.

Yet when we were in Korea, we were completely amazed at the children we would see in a park or historical place. The children were so open and outgoing. They would come up to us and try to practice their English on us. They would ask for autographs. They were amazingly well behaved, but with no fear of meeting strangers. These were school groups in outings with their teachers. The behavior was such a contrast to American kids,