So I did a quick survey with my friends from the south east part of Nigeria(the female ones) and I figured that they all have one thing in common. One thing that does not just amaze me, it also scares the crap out of me.
I grew up in Lagos, Alimosho Local government to be precise and I had people from all parts of Nigeria around me. I went on holidays in Kano, Oyo, Osun, Imo and the likes……..my dad was once transferred to Port-har-court so I have gone around and I learnt one thing, we are all Nigerians and we never care where anyone comes from.
As we grew, we knew some people spoke other languages in their houses and we did not care, our house was always opened to neighbours and we visited them too and I cannot remember my parents calling us to tell us, she would not want us to marry or associate with people from a certain region and I with my naive sef thought it was so with everyone until I started hearing people say they can’t marry from a certain tribe or state. I made it a point to avoid such people cos I saw it as silliness and evil and I made friends with people I think are open are progressive not knowing I was in for a rude shock.
Last week, I asked my female friends from the south East if they can marry a gentleman from the south west and they all said NO.
The funny thing is that they all said they have nothing against them but their parents won’t allow it and the reason is simple. They call it “Cultural Difference”. A lot of them tried to make sense of it (cos to me, no make sense). They say if they marry igbo, they already know what to expect and how the family is but outside their tribe, it is something new and they won’t want that. Some said, that it is believed that if they marry outside there tribe, they man won’t allow them visit their folks back in the village.
I probed further and asked what if the guy and his parents grew up in the south east. What if his great grand fathers has had roots there and they already call the place home and the reply was the same which makes me feel it is not a cultural difference but tribalism.
So you can take me for a friend, classmate, neighbour, associate, project partner, Boyfriend, employee but you can never be my family? Wow!!!!!! I don’t know what else to say.
It is disappointing and a rude shock to how tribal polarized we are in this nation. We have our own issues in the south west too oooo. But our own is not towards another tribe, it is to all tribes.
The south west’s tribalism is “thou shall not marry an African woman who grew up in Africa but went abroad to live except we have met her and assessed her well” in short, you must not marry an “akata” they don’t care if she is Ghanian, Nigerian or South African. Hell they even prefer it if you marry a white person. They don’t care but akata? Lai lai.
Do you wonder why a lot of Nigerians (especially yoruba guys) in American and Europe come home to pick a bride even though there are loads of Nigerian women over there? I rest my case.
So I was having a conversation with a 16 year old Igbo girl on thursday night. The conversation started with me asking about her admission into OAU and if she passed the entrance examination to her future, occupation and the inevitable marriage which was when she got agitated.
Okay, this girl is the last of 6 children born to parents both of who are from Imo state. The first 2 are male so she has had a lot of Nigerian culture in her system. I was being diplomatic and I asked her if she had a Boyfriend (sorry but I never pass off a chance to spread the word about STIs and unwanted pregnancy) after we had that conversation about condoms are zipping up, she said something curious.
She called her mother stupîd. It really made me tilt my head and narrowed my eyes as I saw a look in her eyes I have seen in some really fiesty 19 year olds who don’t accept the norm but for her age……well I asked why and she said
“My mother said she will disown any of her children who marries a non-Igbo person”
she said the rule even extends to her two brothers too who she said has already developed a hatred for non Igbo girls anyway. That they can only marry within their tribe but she has her head screwed on right not to be “pushed by her parent’s Myopia and silliness”. Then she goes on to tell me how she has lots and lots of examples of Igbo men who have treated their wives wrongly.
I did think it was a rare case of self loathing. So I said “But there are decent Igbo men. A lot of them” she agreed that a lot are good and it is the same for every tribe. There are good people and bad people anywhere but there is nothing like a evil tribe. It is just people being föolish.
At this point, I realised I had someone who was angry in front of me. Someone who has been fed what she considers Bullshît for too long and felt she had to get it off her mind. She talked about how she grew up among non-Igbos and how she has realized that judging people based on tribe is a crazy idea and even among her tribe, there is massive discrimination.
For example, Anambra people would not even consider marrying Imo or Abia indigenes even though they speak the same language. (I have first hand experience of that) or how one of her older cousins married a Yoruba woman and the family has been mean to the woman without reasons. It got to a point that the dude chose not to come home for festivities as the family just treat his wife (and by extension him) as outcasts and ignore then knowingly.
“If I find a good man that I like to marry, my mother can as well disown me if he is not Igbo”
As long as I am happy with whoever it is I am with, that’s what matters. I will not allow anyone bully me due to her insecurities and Bigotry.
She is an aspiring accountant, a free born Catholic and Nigeria’s future who gave me some grounds to believe when I had started to lose hope in this Country.