Sunday, March 13, 2011

Of Ethnic Chauvinism In Nigerian Circles

(A Fashionable Restaurant and Bar in Lagos. As usual, Nigerians of different ethnic groups are present. They are having a discussion in between copious servings of Peppersoup, Amala, Isiewu, and other Nigerian dishes, and of course lots of beer)

(Yoruba man): I just broke up with my girl. She is Igbo, and so, I cannot date her any longer or marry her. Igbo women are ridiculously expensive and high maintenance. They are too materialistic and stubborn. Besides when you eventually marry her, you are also marrying her entire family! For what? It is not like there is anything special about them!

(Igbo woman): Shut up! Who the hell are you? This is why I won’t even consider marrying a Yoruba man. Yoruba men are notoriously unfaithful in relationships. They can cheat on their wives with their wives’ sisters. They leave the entire job of running a family to their wives because they are like cowardly little boys who never want to grow up or accept responsibilities!

(Yoruba woman): Go to hell! See how you are flapping your gums here? May Sango bend that your neck for you! How about your Igbo men—are they any better? Igbo men are uneducated market touts; unsophisticated greedy traders. They are too bossy; too controlling and unromantic. Why would any woman want to date or marry a caveman? That is why whenever they think their girlfriends or wives are doing better than they are financially, they go insane and KILL them. Abegi jare!

(Igbo man): May Amadioha dislocate your jaw there, you ugly woman. You have the mouth to come here and rain insults on Igbo men. What about you Yoruba women? The truth is that Yoruba women have poor personal hygiene. Yes I said it—you Yoruba women are dirty compared to the rest of Nigerian women. Besides, you are rude, loud and uncultured market-women. No wonder your Yoruba men are always running after Igbo women. It is not uncommon to see a Yoruba man being chased around by his crazy pestle-wielding Yoruba girlfriend or wife. Your cooking is horrible—you are just like bush women. Go and tame your men—those little player wannabes! But maybe this is futile. Look around Lagos. All these Sisi Eko prostitutes you see around are Yoruba women.


(Edo man): Haba, why are you Igbo and Yoruba people always at each other’s throats all the time? You Igbo and Yoruba people are the two biggest tribalists we have in Nigeria. The day the two of you will learn to get along in Nigeria, maybe the better Nigeria will become. Anyway, I am an Edo/Bini guy. We are the best. We are smooth, rugged and handsome. And Igbo and Yoruba women like us.

(Efik man): You Bini guys are irresponsible serial cheats. You Edo people are just juju-minded irresponsible cowards, and your women are a dime-a-dozen sluts in Europe! Comot for here abegi!

(Edo woman): Come Akpan, so you get liver to talk abi? Why would anyone want to date or marry an Efik woman anyway? They are good for nothing except to be housemaids. And even at that, they are terrible housemaids because they always want to open their legs for the Oga. Are all Efik women bred by their mamas to be little whores? As for you dog-eating Efik men, what else can I say other than that you guys talk funny and you never amount to anything more than blue collar workers and apprentices?

(Hausa man): Wallahi, I am keeping out of this discussion.

(Everyone laughing): If you like don’t keep out now. It doesn’t mean that no one will talk about you backwards Northerners.”

(Ijaw woman): Mallam, is it true that you Hausa men have long gbolas because you people are not usually circumcised? I am just curious.

(Hausa man): Shege, if you want to know, come and find out.

(Itsekiri man): Baba eleran, why you dey vex? I hope this crazy man no go dagger us here o. You know how emotionally unstable and violent Hausa people generally are. Now, why would anyone want to date or marry a Hausa man?

(Idoma woman): You will have to ask a Hausa female to get that answer because Hausa men rarely marry non-hausa or non-muslims. And when I say “Hausa female”, I mean little 11 or 12 year old Hausa girls because as we all know, our friends to the Core north are like little pedophilic deviants drawn to the tender undeveloped bodies of barely teenage girls.

(Urhobo man): Woman, abeg let us talk about the over-18 Hausa girls. I don’t like this ugly visual of an uncircumcized Hausa man with a very long joystick ravaging an 11 year old girl. Don’t make me throw up into my fufu and egusi soup. I think I like Hausa women—they are nice, gentle, loving, conservative, chaste and will not cheat on you. It helps that many of them did not go to school.

(Tiv man): Urhobo wayo! Chai—forget that thing. We middle-belters know and understand the Hausa people more than you Southerners. I have messed with many Hausa women before now. Forget the veils and the scarves—hausa women are very freaky. Behind all that modest and conservative apparel are crazy sexual tigresses. They are just very good pretenders. In public they act like angels, but when you get to know them better, you will find out they are scheming, cruel witches. They deserve their barbarian men I swear. I call them ‘slow poison’.

(Hausa man): Mutum banza, banza barawo, Shege! Allah punish you idiots! Why are you people so hateful of Hausa people? See all the yeye things you are saying about us. I no blame una. Na ignorance and bigotry dey worry una. Madam, give me my bill make I comot here!

(Everyone starts talking at once; some rebuking the Hausa man, others are laughing hysterically. The exchanges continue…)

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As you can see from the exchanges above, many Nigerians harbor deep and often negative stereotypes of each other based on ethnicity. In many cases, these prejudices even color the way a Nigerian of one ethnic group might interact with a Nigerian of another ethnic group. It is not surprising to hear about prospective marriages that were annulled because the parents of one of the couple refused to have any extended or family dealings with their son’s or daughter’s love or marriage interest simply because said love/marriage interest hails from a different ethnic group. The same blinkered mindset shapes the choice of partners in business dealings, political affiliation, friendship or social circle etc. This ethnocentrism—sad, ignorant and regrettable—is a cancer that has eaten deep into the hearts and minds of many Nigerians.

Even sadder is the fact that the younger generation has absorbed the xenophobic inclinations of their elders. In a time like this when technology, travel, education and exposure are reputedly breaking boundaries between formerly separated peoples and making nonsense of tightly-held tribal prejudices, it is rather painful to find many members of the younger generation afflicted with these unflattering misgivings about Nigerians of an ethnic group different from theirs.

I have noticed that when you try to talk to many of these latently xenophobic Nigerians, they’ll quickly deny any tribalism on their part. As a matter of fact, if you allow such a person to explain why he or she feels such reprehensible ill-will about others, you will often discover that a great number of such persons have no immediate or direct personal anecdote to draw from. You will be usually regaled with the stories or suspicions passed down to them from their friends or elders. In some cases, you may have some who might have had a genuine negative experience at the hands of a few members of the targeted ethnic group. But what sense does it make to use the unfavorable impression created by one or a few members of one ethnic group to negatively tar the rest? These unfortunate generalizations reflect poorly on those who employ them because it marks such people out as being too fatuous to understand the wide ranging complexities of human nature and behavior.

For example, by the most conservative estimate possible, there are more than 20 million Yoruba people in the world. The same can be said about the Igbo and the Hausa. If there are respectively more than 20 million of each, you can already see that by European standards, each of these ethnic groups is more than qualified, by a strict game of numbers, to be regarded not as mere tribes (as one might simplistically reference some forlorn primitive hunter-gatherer society in some remote corner of Africa) but properly as individual nations. If that be the case, how can one harbor such uncharitable generalized assessments of the members of another ethnic group when in reality one has never even met and interacted extensively with as little as 1% of that ethnic group? And if one were to stick to such persuasions, contrary to logic and basic decency, how can such a person stand excused of accusations of ethnic bigotry or tribalism?

Why then do people continue to prevent or at least discourage their friends and relatives from dating and marrying people of other ethnic groups? Would it not be better if people hearkened to the wisdom inherent in judging other people individually according to the content of their character and not as one might have originally suspected based on nothing but ethnic origins?

23 comments:

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  1. This is so sad of how Nigerian people think about other Nigerian people, even tho they are not from the same ethnic group doesnt mean that they are not Nigerian.. gosh! Nigerian people biko grow up for change... smh

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  2. Wizzyqueen20033/13/2011 7:05 PM

    Stereotypes are not only killing our country or ethnicity, they are also killing us from within. This is why we humans have problems with each other. It is good that someone is putting the word out there.

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  3. Hot_templizze3/13/2011 9:11 PM

    Hummmmmmm what a great article.

    The problem is from the grass roots. Most ppl were not brought up with love, majority dnt even know what love is. So ppl tell me: someone who doesn't know what love is or doesn't love him/herself, how can such person extend love onto others? The lack of Love in us is what brings about prejudice. Most ppl are selfish, self-centered, with the desire for self alone; they only see all their eyes could see but it is high time we look outside the box.

    We all individual so I dnt expect everyone to have the same features or same character. We all grew up from diff homes with diff background so judging a whole ethnic group based on an individual experience is dumb and stupid to me. I see it as a lack of wisdom or a lack of exposure. Most ppl, whether Yoruba, Ibo or Hausa claims to be well educated but to me they are still backward and still hold on to their old ideology. So my fellow country men and women high time we wake up and move into the 21st century. Let's show some respect and love one another since we all are from the same source.

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  4. Lmao! This is entertaining. I have always lived around people of many tribes, so I would gladly say I am not prejudice. My family did not raise me that way and I didn’t pick up the habit from outside my home. I remember my first real dose of ethnic chauvinism as u call it. It was in school here in the states. But this does not barricade me from mingling or even marrying a man that is not from my tribe. I strongly believe I would not marry a Yoruba man.

    More Nigerians need to accept the fact that we are all different and it’s our differences that make us work together. Our differences do not have to be detrimental to our interaction as a people. Hatred is never the way. But what can we really do about it? This is purely human nature which occurs in every known civilization or country.

    The main problem with Nigerians is that we let these differences in tribe and culture hinders us from seeing the big picture. We make it a bigger issue than it needs to be. When we learn that we are all Nigerians and to make Nigeria better we have to work together, that when our nation will truly be a giant of Africa. Now we are just a worm chopped into pieces struggling to live.

    Muahh!

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  5. Hmmm, so when is this prejudice and stereotyping going to stop in this world especially our mother continent Africa? I remember my friend who is white who has seen this akata girl and want to marry her told me his granddad is against his idea because the girl is black. So this is a general epidemic but it is worse in our motherland Africa. The one between the Igbos and Yorubas is like Ashantis and Bronos tribes in Ghana. They share common boundary and almost have the same cultural practices.

    I remember when I was a kid my mom use to tell me indirectly she is afraid of Ashanti women because they are always claiming properties for their family members only when you marry them. When I was coming up, whenever we were talking about whom to marry I keep telling my mom am looking for someone I love and that the person should love me too in return irrespective where she comes from. Some say, christianity can help solve the problem others say education can solve this problem yet we still see it among christians and in well educated communities.

    To me this can be solved if you and I make up our mind to forget about this old ideology which our forefathers have implanted in our minds and see ourselves as one people which God has created in his own image. If you decide you don't care where the person comes from and I also decide that I don't care where she is from then we will have cure for this mental HIV.

    Thank you very much, Godfather.

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  6. Well sadly this is not only a Nigerian problem but the whole world. In Africa it's called tribalism and in the Western or Eastern area of the World it's racism. It's a personal thing i'll say or a psychological problem depending on what parents are feeding the mind of their children with. As years go by it gets worst and almost out of hand. The whole World need to renew their mind especially this new generation. Great job as usual!!!

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  7. Wow.. This is veryy Entertaining.. I was reading it n it felt like I was actually seeing it happen b4 my eyes.. But seriously speaking, we r our own problems n most parents r making it even worse. I remember when a suitor came for my girlfriend(she is Igbo), her parents were like "hell no u r not gonna end up with him" cos he was 4rm Edo state (Ishan).. They started telling her of how dey do juju n all dat.. she ended up not marrying him and married dis other guy (Igbo).. Right now, she calls me everyweek crying her eyes out on how unhappy she is in her marriage.. She doesn't even take her parent's calls anymore becos she is soooo angry with them.. So please 4 a problem 2 be solved, u have 2 visit d root which is our Parents, Aunts ,Uncles etc... Becos dis way of life we have in Nigeria is killing us and pulling us down.. Look at it people, we r gradually hating each other 4 nothing.. As 4 me n my Family, we love n respect everybody's culture n tribe becos dat is who dey r.. I hope n pray dat someday, Nigerians will learn 2 love n respect each others tribe n culture.. That way, we will be able 2 take it out of our country n teach others 2 love each other too. cos dis is not only "A NIGERIAN" problem.. God help us 2 love one another cos d greatest gift of all is LOVE.. PEACE!!!!!

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  8. Hmmmmm, what an interesting point of view abt our Ethnic Chauvinism In Nigerian Circles it really painful the way we so called Nigerians prejudice each other....
    What i strongly believe our problem is,is that our mentality affect our way of thinking which is so lame, all we need to do is to rethink n erase all dis ethnic tribalism from our system and be in unity and live in peace with our fellow citizens....

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  9. This is tuly interesting and firstly I like to applaud the comedic approach you used to portray the ignorance of our people, it truly highlighted how ridiculous people in Nigeria think again. Alot of the Nigerian people I know complain of not having the same equal opportunities as people who are White and most of the people that I know who complain are those who like to discriminate other tibes and depending on who I talk to, I usually tell the person that the same way they discriminate on other tribes is the same way they are being discriminated...why would others accept you when you dont accept other people. We are need to know that we are one and all these stereotypical views are only drawing apart, let us unite as one nation, as one continent and as one human race. This is a lovely post and I hope a lot of people understand that they shouldnt stay stuck in their little bubble and that they should be accepting of other tribes, nations and race, :-)

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  10. i apologise for any typos...i didnt proof read lol

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  11. I wish i could answer the questions you brought up but i myself am tired of confronting all these stupid prejudices. It's especially disheartening to hear these things from those in your age cohort. You would think we would have learnt our lessons from the days of slavery but no, people continue to hold on to their precious stereotypes. Maybe it makes them feel special to think they are superior to others but i find that these attitudes are very damaging to our progress. Where we should be unified and working towards a common goal of development for all, we are too busy judging people as inferior because of their ethnicity. There's nothing wrong with appreciating one's unique culture but that's not the same thing as dehumanising others because of where they come from.

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  12. Everybody has spoken so I wouldn't say much but that you have written well. Being Tiv, I was anxious to see the yab that you would fire at us but no wahala, you are safe. Well done on the nice piece...

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  13. I just wanted to say that it is a sad problem indeed that you African people have, but being born in the Bronx,New York of the United States,I can clearly see what the problem is!So you have 20 million Yoruba living together and 20 million of another tribe,and Africa is majority Black! You all need to come to the United States for a lesson in unity! Nothing will pull you together faster than coming up against the racist white attitude that exists in the US!Just come up against a society that is built to leave all Black people out in every way possible,and let them start calling you niggers!

    That will pull you together in a hurry before they start lynching you in a legal way and getting away with it! Its happening every day here in the good old US of A! And let me tell you something!We American Blacks are not going to stand for it anymore! Let a white person call a Black person a nigger and the war is on! Let them try slavery again! I dont think so! I know that there are some tough little boys and grown men that would fight to the death before they would let that happen again! Yes and women,too! The problem as I see it is that you are victims of having too many Black people living together! Without a common enemy,the enemy is ourselves! We will naturally turn on each other when there is no one else!

    Now Im not saying that life is all that great in the US and that we have it all together but when the proverbial "stuff" hits the fan...we are pulling together! You all have to realize that if you come over here,you are just another nigger! Just imagine if our African brothers and sisters would pull it all together,we from the US would be on the first thing flying to Africa! I recognize how truly wonderful the African nation is as a whole! There is nothing scarier to a white man than a Black man! Now,you all just have to realize it,and pull this act together!

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  14. Lalalicliouslipz3/23/2011 9:03 PM

    Let us say, right from the outset, that we view the structure and raisin d’ĂȘtre of all organized religions as mechanisms for the social control of compliant human beings, under subtle, or over psychological, or physical pressure. Most importantly, Nigerians should learn, very quickly, about the tremendous damage that can be caused by organized dogma, in the name of culture tribes,religion beleives....

    nice one GODFATHERNESS!!!!!!!

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  15. Lalalicliouslipz3/23/2011 9:07 PM

    believe***

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  16. @Mollyteena This is the problem. If people as a whole did not have these stereotypical views then there wouldnt be any issues with racism or tribalism (dnt know if thats the right word lol). What will violence achieve? Why fight? If a whiteman labels black man a nigger, why should that person fight and end up getting arrested? what happened to actually making something out of yourself so that when that person sees you 5/10 years down the line they dare not utter a word. Is there unity in all of this black on black violence and crimes that are going on??

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  17. gf i beg to differ, i think our generation is more accepting than our parents, when it comes to marrying people from other tribes.For example in my family alone there are marriages between 21 different tribes. For us tradition and respect each others culture and the character of the person matters. And if i may add this negative stereotype happens between clans, villages, and states in nigeria, even btwn people who are from the same ethnicity. I think the more educated people become and the more they learn to judge people by their character and as a single unit, rather than by hearsay and as a collective the better it would be. negative stereotypes as you know gf is in every culture, even in the u.s.a. So all i can say is no where is perfect, tis this questioning of eachother that helps us learn. See i like when people speak up about their likes and dislikes, because then you know things you might or might not want to change.I like how at the end of cursing each other out, nigerians always find something to like about each other and continue life. I think we nigerians have this innate neighborly love/hate relationships with each other that siblings have. I think this kind of things help spice up our lives. So in conclusion, i dont see anything wrong with friendly banters like this, even if it seems mean spirited, most of the time it comes from a jovial yet sadistic sense of humor. by the way gf kudos, i wounder if you can do all their separate accents..lol

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  18. my dear if you want to travel to africa, travel jare, dont give our lack of disunity as you put it stop you. And if you must know what applies to nigerians doesn't apply to every parts of africa. Africa is a continent with collection of different nations.Nigeria's colonial history is unique to many other nations in africa. Am not saying you dont know anything, am just saying you dont know much about african,especially nigerian history. As you know, tis our history that makes us who we are in the present, but its our knowledge of self and the world around us that makes us better people in the future.

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  19. Great post there sah!
    I know the 'peculiarities' of major Nigerian tribes but how did you get that of the minorities?

    Hat doffed,
    keep em coming.

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  20. Adeolu Akintunde6/18/2011 2:30 PM

    Thanks for this inspiring article.When you dissect a man,where in his blood,kidney,liver or brain is it written "Yoruba," "Ibo," or "Hausa?" This is to say the least CARNAL. I don't belong to any tribe.I'm a Christian.

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  21. This article is very educative and I so much love..I wish all nigerians could read this most especially Nigeria parents...because they are the ones really feeding their kids with this negative store about each tribe..
    We are all same Nigeria why all these hating from each tribe..where is the unity, love and peace?
    I am an edo woman and I love all tribe..which ever tribe I find my true love I will follow..don't care what all have to say..

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