You might think your love language is gifting the people you love, but what happens when they suddenly japa and you have to show love in other ways? Because while you may want to be intentional, the exchange rate, distance and logistics will collectively ask you:

To make it worse, it’s much easier for abroad people to send money and gifts back once they get there, making the guilt even worse. We spoke with seven Nigerians who have friends and family abroad, and they talked about the struggle to send them gifts on meaningful days.

Dora*, 21

My Canada-based brother regularly sends me money for school fees, and I hate that I can’t send him gifts to show my appreciation. He doesn’t expect anything from me, but I don’t want to be someone who just “takes” all the time. 

For his last birthday, I thought of sending him foodstuff from here because he’d complained about how expensive things were in the African market over there. But when I calculated the cost of the items and shipping fee, it was running into ₦200k. I didn’t have that type of money, and I couldn’t bill him and then use the money to gift him. I had to settle with sending him prayers. 

Tobore, 30

I love giving thoughtful gifts, and all my friends know. You can innocently tweet about needing something and find the item delivered to you weeks later. It’s why I’m really bummed I can’t do much for my friends who have relocated. Most of them are in the UK. 

Between 2022 and 2023, I could still send £20 or £50 gift cards, or pay for birthday cakes. But I have to adjust with the current exchange rate. I mostly fund their naira accounts now, so they have something when they visit. But I feel like I’m not putting as much thought into gifting as I usually do. The exchange rate is killing my creativity.

Lizzy, 25

My best friend moved to the UK two years ago, and we don’t talk as often as we used to — a deliberate decision on my part. 

Talking every day meant I kept sharing my many problems, then she’d send me random money. But I can’t send her money like she does. I can’t say I want to send ₦20k because that’s just £10. What will that buy? And it’s shameful to just be collecting. 

ALSO READ: 7 Nigerian Millennials Share Hacks for Living Through Inflation

Joan*, 27

For two years in a row, I’ve celebrated my US-based bestie’s birthday by gathering all our families and friends for a surprise conference call. I don’t even know if the element of surprise is still there. I occasionally send her $10 through our other US-based friends with naira accounts, but I feel that’s too small for a birthday gift. 

I tried to get a proper gift from a US store last year — again through a mutual friend — but I was hearing $300. Omo. Conference call had to come to the rescue. At least, she loves the calls.

Anita*, 24

I feel guilty that I can’t surprise my boyfriend on special occasions. One time, I tried to send him shoes, but he realised I was planning something when I asked for his address. He insisted I send him the money so he could buy it himself and cut out the shipping fee bit. 

I make up for being unable to go all out by sending money to his naira account. I can’t wait for him to visit so I can properly spoil him.

Richard*, 28

I haven’t bought my friend a birthday gift in the two years since he relocated because it’s either virtual dollar cards don’t work when it’s time to buy things online, or the exchange rate means I can only buy the barest minimum for him. 

Thankfully, he understands and just tells me to send prayers. I add a dash of words of affirmation here and there.

Ola, 24

I’ve resorted to asking my Dubai-based big sister to tell me the things I can do to show my appreciation because I can’t afford to do anything else. She has an online business, and I manage it for free. It works out for both of us.

*Some names have been changed for anonymity.

NEXT READ: Nigerians Share Their Funniest Visa Rejection Stories

We interviewed three couples five years after we first spoke with them in 2019. How have their relationships evolved over time? Watch the final episode here:



Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.