Crossing the Sea from Denmark to Sweden Photo Credit: African Press Club
By Chiogor Constance Ikokwu
Dateline: Eixample, Barcelona
References are constantly being made to the diversity of African languages, tribes, and culture. More often than not, it is viewed negatively, at least in the mainstream international media. Then, I travelled to Sweden from Barcelona on the invitation of a friend and thought, wait a minute, Northern and Southern Europe are quite different.
My friend lives in the countryside close to Copenhagen the capital of Denmark. So, we crossed the bridge between Sweden and Denmark. My first observation upon landing in Denmark airport was the height of the men. They were quite tall! People were also pale complexioned compared to Spain.
To the average African in the motherland watching television, all white people are the same. Nope! My dear African, Europe also has its ‘tribes’.
The Spaniards, Italians, Greeks, French, Portuguese are the total opposite of the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the UK, and Ireland. The language, culture, food, climate, mannerisms, systems, level of prosperity and family orientation are not the same. Even Germany in Western Europe, for instance, is different from Eastern Europe.
Let’s start in the South. Have you ever talked to an Italian with his hand in your face like my Nigerian brothers and sisters? Yes, they actually are similar to us in that division. They’re talking among themselves, and you’re thinking, are they quarreling? Nope! It’s just the way they are – a bit animated.
Enter the French who think they’re the best thing that happened to mankind since sliced bread. Lawwwd, you need the patience to deal with this lot, especially in Paris. I’ve never seen people who pretend they cannot speak English, all to coerce you to speak French. I reckon their old brawl and supremacy tussle with the British perhaps, informs this attitude.
At least they can be proud that they beat the British mercilessly in the culinary section. Dishes from both countries are a world apart from each other. One is scrumptious and the other is quite honestly, bland.
What about the Spaniards? They love life. Nobody is in a hurry, as a result, the bureaucracy can be slow. Be prepared to hear “manana” often, meaning tomorrow. Manana could easily metamorphose from tomorrow to next week.
Greece, oh the ancient nation that produced renowned philosophers such as Aristotle. Time has no meaning here and laws are meant to be broken. That’s probably why Northern Europeans think they’re a basket case following years of economic crisis.
Obviously, the fiscal discipline in the North among other factors has produced greater wealth compared to the South. The break up of the family unit in the North is a feature that sets them apart from the South too.
The British, known to be cold and uptight, appear to be having imperial nostalgia. The former Empire country some say is trying to recreate Empire 2.0 with Brexit. Unfortunately, Brexit has unleashed a vicious fight between the Leave and Remain camps. Consequently, we’re seeing the Scots and the Irish speaking up against what is regarded as the “arrogance” of the English.
The religious rivalry between Scotland and Ireland (Protestants and Catholics) was waged for centuries and dictates their local politics in contemporary times. My British friend tells me Scotland might find it difficult to achieve independence as most Protestants voted to remain in the referendum.
As for the Welsh, any talk of independence would be more about politics rather than religion, although that is not on the table. I don’t think anyone quite saw what was coming. Stay tuned for more entertainment from the Brits. The Brexit drama series will be on for a while.
The Scandinavians are known for remarkable efficiency, just like the Germans. One sentence for the Dutch: they’re very tall. I bet the Southerners thumb their noses at their Northern counterparts, asking them to get a bit of extra spice in their lives.
Don’t even get me started on Eastern Europe. Their worldview was influenced largely by communism.
A quick word on the European Union: The EU originally formed for a common market, has brought a measure of stability and unification in Europe. After two world wars, younger Europeans tell me they think the EU is the best thing that happened to the continent. But murmurs about the South sucking up finances of the North persist. This may explain why EU big guns like Germany and France are mortified of common banking.
For an African, you might want to take the flavorsome food of the South and the super efficiency of the North. This was all meant to be light-hearted. Please don’t take yourselves too seriously!!!
Let me know your thoughts in the comment box. Enjoy and have a fabulous week!