TWO Sundays ago, we had the Eid-el-Fitr, a very important Islamic celebration. It was also a day known the world over, as a Holy day of worship for the Christians, with the exception of Adventists. I remember that, in greeting my friends, both far and near, I mentioned that it was no mistake that it happened that way. I did not really give it all a thought again until I was on my way to church later that morning.
My musings finally pushed my fingers to work.
We’ve found different ways in this geographical entity called Nigeria, to segregate ourselves. If it’s not along religious lines, it is along tribal lines. If it’s not along tribal lines, it’s along educational lines. And if it’s not that, gender forcefully comes to the fore. There’s always one thing or the other that Nigerians will use to segregate themselves and rub the differences in each other’s faces!
Do you remember one of the great Fela’s classics “Me and you no dey for the same category”? That is a perfect example of how we live our daily lives. With our differences brought to the front burner, we’re daily living our lives in ways that are different from the original plan of the Creator, who predestined the arrangement of diversity that has brought us all together.
But one fact we have to live with is that the times are so messy that we may not have the perfect tranquility that many of us crave again. We however must not deny ourselves totally, the little we have and are blessed with.
I have watched with sadness, how many of my literate folks have dragged themselves centuries backwards, segregating themselves and their families along ethnic lines. You hear one say, “I can never marry from another tribe!” Ask them why, and he’ll begin to stammer, or give silly excuses. The most shameful part of it all is when folks of the same tribe ostracize others. Some Yorubas will tell you they cannot marry ‘Ijebus’ because they are fetish, they cannot marry Ekiti because they are too strong-willed, they cannot marry people from Ibadan because they are too cunny……..whatever that means.
I also have an Igbo friend who says he cannot marry from Anambra because they like money too much. I have met people from the north who say they will never relate with the tribe in the next village, which is a mere fifteen minutes ride on a motorcycle. I ask only one question from folks like that – “Are you marrying a group or an individual?”
Religion has become something extraordinarily volatile in this part of the world. You hear folks give the other religion derogatory names. Christians are ‘kiriyos’ while Muslims are ‘musuluwons’. The traditional religious adherent is called aborisha, translated as idol worshipper. I ask folks how significant religion is to them when they lack love for the person next door. One of my best friends is a Muslim, he is nicer than some fellow Christians. I still thank God for the day I met Seyi Owolabi at Olivet Heights, Oyo.
Some fellow Nigerians are called different names by other tribes, such as; ajokuta mamumi, translated as ‘those who eat very hard food’, nyamirin or ofe nmanu is another name from the eastern region. And all of this is in a bid to differentiate, when we really have no reason to do that.
I know there is little we can do about segregation which takes its origins from social strata. But we can at least have it at the back of our minds that the ones below us on the social status ladder also have blood flowing through their veins, and say encouraging words to them instead of putting them down. Remember nobody wanted to be born with a wooden spoon.
The most annoying is the one that has to do with gender. How I hate it when one derogatory word is used on the female gender in Yoruba land. You hear some men address women and it makes one wonder if they’re second class citizens of the world? And as a man, walk through a female gathering and you will find yourself questioning the Maker for making you a man! Friends, these things have drawn us backward than forward.
In all our daily interactions, I think we can do ourselves a whole lot of good by seeing ourselves as ONE. Not as a Muslim, or Christian, Ijesha or Kalabari. Not along gender or social lines, but as ONE. Imagine what we can achieve as a Unit. #saveOke and #saveFunmi are just one of those.
When we’re united, we can do much more. Have a very good weekend.