Prince Harry and a royal rush for the continent, according to a letter from Africa

On June 15, 2010, in Gaborone, Botswana, Princes William (R) and Harry (L) hold an African rock python while on a ...

Writer Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani examines what Nigerians have been thinking about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's most recent revelations, particularly Prince Harry's encounter with a leopard, in our series of letters from African journalists.

Nigerians are currently dealing with a number of pressing issues, including enigmatic fuel shortages, pervasive insecurity, and upcoming presidential elections.

Even so, since the release of Spare, the memoir of the youngest son of the UK monarch, and the Netflix documentary about Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, heartfelt discussions about them continue in the WhatsApp groups of our mothers and aunts, which is the best indication of a topic's popularity in the nation.

There may be a lot of Nigerians who have seen the documentary and read the book, but I am not aware of any. However, the constant stream of headlines has generated a lot of discussion in this former British colony.

My mother, who hardly ever reads British newspapers, appears to be more knowledgeable about the saga than I am, and she also has access to a wealth of other purported insider knowledge. Fake and ludicrous news frequently thrives in Nigerian WhatsApp groups, which is well known.

Africa has been mentioned several times in Harry and Meghan's stories, based on the headlines we have seen so far. The couple gushed to Netflix about how they allowed their Zimbabwean nanny to carry their son Archie on her back while tying him up with a cloth, as is customary in many African nations.

Prince Harry and Lesotho's Prince Seeiso, join in with a kneeling dance at the Kananelo Centre for the Deaf, in the Maseru district of Lesotho - February 2013
Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho have described their bond as one of brotherhood.

They had intended to relocate to South Africa, but Harry revealed in the documentary that they had abandoned that idea after word of their intentions leaked to the media.

The prince has been particularly active in Lesotho, which is bordered by South Africa and where he first traveled at the age of 19 and continued to travel frequently, making friends with Prince Seeiso along the way.

In order to aid vulnerable kids, particularly those impacted by the HIV epidemic, they founded a charity together in 2006.

"Lesotho provided me with the room and freedom I needed to breathe, live, and develop. I have a second family there, a group of friends who literally raised me, he told Netflix.

He also talked about a later argument with his older brother William about who should own the Africa charity brief in his book.

They both have a strong commitment to preserving the continent's natural environment, and Prince William serves as the patron of the wildlife charity Tusk Trust.

In what could be viewed as a modern-day race for Africa, Harry claims William told him, "Africa is my thing, you can't have it.".

But neither this sibling rivalry nor other references to the continent don't seem to have attracted as much attention from Nigerians as Harry's account in Spare of a 1999 encounter with a leopard in Botswana, which he took to be a message from his late mother, Princess Diana.

Prince Harry during a visit to a minefield in Dirico, Angola - Septembr 2019
Harry has participated in Angolan demining efforts, following in the footsteps of his mother.

He moved closer to the leopard that had wandered into their safari camp one evening before some helpers pulled him away.

"I pondered my mother. Without a doubt, she sent a signal with that leopard, Harry wrote.

He also spoke separately about visiting a medium, who provided him with a message from his mother.

You're leading the life she was unable to. You're leading the life she wanted for you, the unnamed woman told him.

But the story that's going viral in Nigeria seems to have mixed up the two occurrences, making it seem as though Harry consulted a medium in Africa.

Based on the stereotype of Africa and our proclivity for the paranormal, this fake news story has amused a lot of people here.

Nollywood, the wildly popular film industry of Nigeria, frequently makes movies in which characters seek the advice of traditional priests who assert to have the ability to see into the past, future, and the afterlife.

Prince Harry, his wife Meghan and their son Archie meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town, South Africa in September 2019
Two years prior to Archbishop Desmond Tutu's passing, the Duke and Duchess had the opportunity to introduce their son to the Nobel Peace Prize winner.

However, despite the intrigue and humor the drama has provided, many Nigerians find the whole situation to be heartbreaking and continue to express hope for a royal family reconciliation.

Although Nigerian cultures vary and people do not all hold the same beliefs and values, in general, we are a family-oriented nation. One of our guiding principles is the value of family.

Many of us come from large extended families with a history of polygamy and high drama.

The Nigerian method of handling this is to convene a family forum with the participation of numerous relatives to settle any significant disputes that develop. Respected family members, including supporters of each opposing party, are invited to listen to each side's arguments and air any complaints.

Punches may be attempted or thrown, and the situation may become heated. The presence of family members helps to prevent these altercations from spiraling out of control.

A customer reads Prince Harry's memoir Spare at a bookshop in central London on the day of its official release in London, the United Kingdom on 10 January 2023
Spare, the fastest-selling non-fiction book in the UK since records began in 1998, is not yet available in Nigeria.

Being the first son of his late father, who had three wives and more than 20 children, my father served as a family mediator as I was growing up.

I've seen his role as a mediator grow to cover more families, in disputes ranging from those between siblings or cousins to couples or in-laws, in more recent years as my father became the oldest and, consequently, the head of the entire Nwaubani clan.

It frequently becomes evident that recollections, as well as perspectives and interpretations, can actually vary by the time each party has had their say.

It's possible to enter one of these meetings believing that a woman is a selfish spendthrift and leave believing that her husband is a tight-fisted dictator.

Even if a solution is not found that pleases both parties, at least everyone leaves fully informed of the complexities of the situation—and not from a third party, like the media.

Perhaps the British monarchy could use some assistance from an African family gathering at this trying time.

Follow us on social media at @BBCAfrica on Twitter, BBC Africa on Facebook, or @BBCAFRICA on Instagram.

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