My dad was talking. It was one of those holiday mornings when he engaged us in a very long early morning conversation before our morning prayer- a daily ritual. A rare cold morning at 6:25 am. It was also a rare me, I have undergone some kind of mental and emotional transformation that that doesn’t make me stay calm especially when matters like this are discussed. All I could do was stare at my dad, then my mom and just hug myself because I was hurting. ‘he isn’t just preaching something wrong, he is happy that his stance is being made clear to his children too’ and my siblings won’t even raise a word of objection.” None of you must bring a Yoruba, Hausa or Calabar or even someone from certain parts of the Igboland”. Adedayo came to my mind immediately. I had dreamed of a home with my Yoruba boyfriend with lot’s of love and laughter and everything that a home needed. Even though I was only a few months away from being 17 when we started dating, I was growing fond of, in fact I loved Dayo.
Prior to my meeting him, I always boldly told anyone who is Yoruba how much I disliked their language and their culture. ‘A yorubaman can have a wife at home and still take his mistress to sleep with her in the same home. They have no shame. You should listen to them talk about their extra-marital affairs at work, my aunt told me then.She always spoke ill of them too.
Nneamaka, o buru na onye ahu ichoro ilu bu ezigbo mmadu, nwe ego, ikpota ya( if the man you want to get married to is a good person and he is rich, bring him home) my grandma always told me, so I had hope.Fully aware of the destructive power of tribalism, five years later, I was sitting on my desk and looking through facebook when two senior colleagues started the conversation of how a young man lost a job simply because he was not Hausa. ‘I do not like Hausas, those guys are selfish and always have one thing in mind and that is to kill. They will not give you a job unless you are from the same tribe as them. Just speak the language and you have the job, the second man stated. I couldn’t stop laughing- this tribal talk again! The truth that made me laugh more was, If an Igbo man comes to get a job and meets another Igbo man who is incharge, the man will now bring another pot bellied HR manager that will get a difficult question just to make sure the man fails. So we don’t like other tribes and we do not like ourselves either. Sad indeed.
Chimamanda Adichie in her Tedtalk outlined the dangers of a single story. “Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize.Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.” Ife, if someone offends you, speak of the person and his offence and not his entire tribe I told my brother. Sadly, we have all come to this point where we associate certain traits to with certain tribes. Like my aunt taught me, Yoruba men are unfaithful and because I saw alot of Hausas who were shoemakers,I thought they were all good for the shoes only. It is truly amusing that some parents pay so much for their children to learn French, German language and Spanish and all other international languages but feed the hearts of these children with indifference for other national languages.
Nwanyi ofe mmanu, onye ojo, mama Ngozi the fish seller cursed under her breath,because she hasn’t sold a single piece of fish. Iya Bola, this yoruba witch will not allow me sell my market. If our hearts have grown to see evil, we will never recognize good when we see one. That evening, I was shocked when a lady who was supposed to be my friend said to someone omo ibo yi o baje. How can we still do this to ourselves?
There is beauty in diversity, only when we are united in hearts. When you tell your son the advantage of learning Hausa and not saying, learn it so that when those monsters come you will be at alert, when you sell pepper to a customer and say look over there, that beautiful woman is igbo and she sell delicious fish, when you shake hands with Alhaji Aminu because you had a great business deal with him. When you agree to learn to cook Afang soup because you loved the one your Calabar friend cooked. In being different, we are unique and we owe it to one another to accept our differences and live in love together.Lucky Dube sang, ONE LOVE, ONE HEART, LET’S GET TOGETHER AND FEEL ALL RIGHT.
Thank you so much for reading, I hope this has spoken to somebody. Kindly leave your comments and please share.
I remain your friend,
Ezeani Flora Chinenye.
I LOVE YOU.