If there is one thing I totally detest, it’s the idea that people are not equal.
When I mean equal, I am not talking about social status, wealth, race or even intelligence. We can never find equality on those terms, after all our five fingers are not equal. When I talk about equality, I am talking about being human, about the fact that every person no matter their age, race, colour, background, religion share a common humanity.
It is scientifically proven that although we look different in terms of colour and features on the outside, we are all the same inside. That’s why the donated organ of a white man can be transplanted into the body of a black, red or yellow man and vice versa and the transfused blood of a person can be given to another, so far they have the same blood group. It is also socially proven that we all have the same needs and desires, we all want shelter, to love and be loved and aspire to better ourselves and our communities.
I detest inequality amongst genders and I find it amusing that religious people use their holy books to justify inequality among sexes. I was a bit perplexed when someone I thought I knew, having been friends in university, told me recently with Bible passages to back him up that “men and women were not equals because woman was made from the ribs of man and you can’t claim equality from something you came from”.
I also do not subscribe to the extreme feminist views that want to do away with the menfolk and subjugate them. As far as I am concerned we are equals in everything except bodily functions and as a team there can be a leader just to head the team and nothing more.
I detest inequality amongst races and that’s why I can’t believe how the white man could justify slavery in any way and why I find the church culpable in allowing slavery to go on for so long, justifying it with the Bible in the right hand and a whip in the left.
I detest inequality among religions and that’s why I find it very difficult to root for Israel with its treatment of the Palestinians. I say it again and again that although I am a Christian, I find it incomprehensible that God who made us all in his image and chose our tribe and race would choose one race or tribe above others and favour them more than others. (I guess I will understand it when I see him face to face).
It’s also the reason why I find it laughable that different sects within the Christendom think they are superior to one another and it is a mystery to me that there is a distinction between the faith of the southern Muslims and the northern Muslims, especially in Nigeria on the one hand and the Sunni and Sufi worldwide.
Finally, I detest inequality amongst race, the feeling among people of the same colour and tribe that they are more important than their peers who look just like them and that’s why like many black people I was totally horrified by the fate that Tyre Nichols, a black man suffered at the hands of fellow black policemen as they acted just like white policemen probably would have in the circumstances. I detest it when my countryman thinks he is better than me because of what he has, wears or where he lives.
I will be the first to acknowledge that we all have biases, it’s implicit, unconscious and lives in every single one of us. I remember telling my children when they were much younger to marry from any tribe but if they were to marry from Igbo or Hausa tribes they should choose the westernised ones. I said that mainly because of the difference in cultures and the fact that I knew that backgrounds matter a lot in marriage. In fact, when I said it, I told my children to take a look at my son’s best friend whose father is Igbo though his mum is Yoruba and to marry someone like his friend’s father if they were to choose another tribe.
I would be the first to admit that I was wrong in asking them not to marry from another tribe, my son in particular has only dated women from the south eastern part of Nigeria and is currently dating a non Nigerian and so far as they love each other and are aware of their ethnic and background differences I will not oppose my children’s union to anyone they love.
I am a victim of my background and society and so are we all, but the thinking that because people are from a different tribe, religion or language than ours, makes them savages is wrong. It is wrong to think that every Igbo man will make a bad tenant in Lagos, or that every Yoruba man is irresponsible or that an Hausa man is stupid and illiterate or that the Ondo man is always stubborn or the Igbira man is always fetish or the Ijebu man is stingy, they are stereotypes borne out of few experiences and mostly assumptions.
I attended a unity school and I have friends nay, sisters from almost all the tribes in Nigeria, I have come to respect our individuality and also our cultures and customs even though I may not understand them. We are a nation with people of vast backgrounds and languages and we do ourselves a huge disservice when we cling to stereotypes and tribal profilings that are not true.
Today , we are fighting for the soul of our nation and in Lagos in particular, a young man by the name Gbadebo Chinedu Rhodes-Vivour has come out to contest the gubernatorial elections. He can trace his lineage to over 200 years of settlement in Lagos, he is a Yoruba man but he is being vilified because he has an Igbo mother and is married to an Igbo woman. He is a public example of the way we think and why even though we say we are a nation of educated people our thinking belongs in the 18th century.
The questions churning in my mind are as follows –
- Is he less a Yoruba man because his mother and wife are Igbo?
- Is he a traitor because his mother gave birth to him and he fell in love with an Igbo woman?
- Does his heritage have anything to do with his competency to govern a state?
- Are our oppressors not people of our tribe and language and have our governors, leaders and rulers who are part of us not oppressed and misruled us?
- Does bad governance choose the tribe it will kill and are we not all victims of the bad roads and poor medical services that kill us daily?
- Is it not cowardice to shy away from confronting our blood and tribe that have misruled us and put us in the position that we find ourselves in but delight in blaming others for our predicament?
When are we going to address the issues of competency and rise above tribal sentiments?
Please, don’t get me wrong if you feel your tribesman is competent over and above other candidates do not hesitate to vote for him, but why choose tribe over competency and why vilify, curse and label as traitors anyone who makes a different choice?
If the truth be told, we mostly pay lip service to change, we are all right with oppression so far it’s our tribesman oppressing us. We see no wrong in tribalism so far as it favours us.
We are bigots each and every one of us, some just more openly than others.