Wikipedia (and other popular sites) provides a satisfactory definition of the word ‘millennial’, but it doesn’t tell you who a Nigerian millennial is. This article will. Or at least, attempt to.
First, the Global Idea.
For an ultra-simple definition of who a millennial is; he or she is someone who was born between the 80s and the 90s. There’s no agreed upon date for when the millennial generation starts or ends, but personally, I prefer sources that place it as beginning in the early 80s and ending in 1995 (when I was born). I have no justification for this view.
Meanwhile, here are a few definitions of millennial (feel free to skip this part if you like):
“Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are the generational demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates for when this cohort starts or ends; demographers and researchers typically use the early 1980s as starting birth years and the mid-1990s to early 2000s as ending birth years.”
“Millennials: Born 1981-1996 (22-37 years old).”
“The term millennials is usually considered to apply to individuals who reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st century.”
So far, the earliest proposed date for millennials is 1976 while the latest is 2004. Don’t bother too much about the numbers, though. It’s not science.
Characteristics of Millennials
To make this easy to scan, I’ll present the characteristics of millennials in a list format. If you’re a millennial, you are:
- A part of the most ethnically diverse generation and also, the most tolerant of differences.
- Confident because you grew up hearing that you’re special and should chase your dreams.
- Optimistic about economic opportunities even though you may end up with a career crisis.
- More interested in workplace satisfaction and a healthy work-life balance.
- Sceptical about promotional materials because you grew up around ads.
- Comfortable with technology and most likely to be better at multitasking, even though it’s not the best way to work.
- Generally comfortable with being public on the internet (The downside is the grass always seems greener on the other side. You know, social media envy.).
- Sneered at for being from the “me, me, me” generation because you’re self-centered and entitled.
- Less resilient than older generations, maybe.
- Not expected to do as well as your parents, but you believe you will.
- More politically and civically disengaged.
- Having less sex than older generations. (Really?)
That’s the oyinbo/Western version. Now, the Naija version.
Characteristics of the Nigerian Millennial
In Iniobong Umoh’s words:
“In Nigeria, a millennial is just a young adult, someone who had reached the adult age in the early 2000’s. By law, the adult age is 18 years.”
By his definition, the youngest millennial would be 27 years old if you consider the early 2000’s to have ended in 2009. Actually, in the next century, 2018 would probably be considered the early 2000’s, but that’s by the way. Umoh’s piece on BellaNaija is a fantastic read, but for the benefit of those of us who don’t like long posts (even though this is probably going to be one), here’s a summary of some of what he says about Nigerian millennials:
- You don’t like to read long-form content. 3 paragraphs max!
- You like to laugh a lot.
- You’re an entertainment maniac because you want to get your mind off Nigeria’s problems.
- You ‘worship’ your spiritual leaders and loathe politics/politicians.
- Thanks to Twitter, you’re getting more interested in politics and governance (sorta).
- Most of you are all about the pop culture, but some of you are more ‘serious’; the emerging thought leaders and innovators, that is.
- You’re less interested in science and more interested in the arts because you think that’s where the big money is. Shame.
- You’re a copycat; copying the lingua, fashion, etc, of celebs.
I paraphrased too much, so you’d better go read his article yourself.
I’ll add a few more characteristics of the Naija millennial. When you were in secondary school/first year in uni, you:
- Vibed to 2pac, Nas and Ruggedy baba dem while kids of these days vibe to Small Doctor.
- You showed love to your favourite superstars by plastering huge posters of them on your dorm wall while today, the kids start fan pages on Twitter.
- The cyber cafe was like Disneyland. Terrible analogy, but you get the point (do you)?
- You wore oversized denim shorts while kids these days wear skinny jeans.
Dear millennial, not everything in this post will apply to you. I truly believe the millennial generation can be the greatest in Nigeria, but are we ready for greatness?
Some of my favourite Nigerian millennial quotes
A number of people have quite a bit to say about Nigerian millennials and here are a few I found interesting:
“A Teflon millennial walks in, aware of the tragic condition of his generation in Nigeria but determined not to operate within the limitations imposed on youth agency by the leprous vision of Nigeria’s leadership past and present.”
“This generation is poised to foster a world of peace, understanding and harmony by bringing nations, ethnicities, religions, and races together in loving relations.”
“Without constant access to the internet, they’re going to feel helpless.”
I certainly do feel helpless when I don’t have a ready connection to the internet.
What else do you think characterises the Nigerian millennial? Please, let me know in the comments section. Do you disagree with any of the points? Please, share your thoughts. Cheers!