While no one would admit to it publicly, a lot of Nigerians have prejudiced.
"No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion... " Nelson Mandela
Barack Obama tweeted the above quote on Sunday, August 13, 2017, after the racist protest in Charlottesville, America.
Alt-right members, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and nationalists came together to protest the gradual elimination of their so called white heritage.
Racism in America has a long and ugly history. The institutional aspect of racism in the United States was largely wiped away during the civil rights era but anti-black and antisemitic sentiments are creeping back into the country's mainstream.
Nigeria is a multi-ethnic country and we have tribalism to deal with for obvious reasons. Nigeria is a political amalgamation of several tribes. These tribes were lumped together for the interest of the British. There was never any brotherhood among this tribes.
After independence, the structure the British put in place cracked and this eventually led to the civil war known as the Biafran war. It's been 50 years since Biafra and tribalism still haunt us.
Every generation believes it would be different from the previous generation. The young people in Nigeria once believed that we would be better than our parents and we won't make the same mistakes and commit the same sins. It's the wishful thinking of youth.
The reality today is different. Many of us grew in homes that accommodated ethnic bias and sentiments. If you are Yoruba, you must have heard that you shouldn't bring home an Igbo woman or man to marry.
If you are Igbo you must have heard that Yoruba women are dirty and sluts also. Tribal bias like these including that Northerners are dumb and beggars have bounced from one generation to another. We have allowed these narratives to blend with our consciousness.
The thing is that our folks grew up at a time when there was a lot of distrust among the major tribes in the country. Look at the politics of that era, it was strictly divided along tribal lines, an after effect of the forced amalgamation in 1914.
We might not have our own war but a lot of us harbour ethnic sentiments in our minds. Occasionally it spills to social media. Inter-tribal marriages are plenty in Nigeria but there are still many stories of people who couldn't marry because their family didn't approve of them marrying someone from another tribe. In work places, some bosses employ only people from their state or a region of the country.
Here are some of the things we say that our actually tribalistic
1) Igbo people can sell their mothers for money
Unfortunately, there is this wrong belief that Igbo people will do anything (including diabolic schemes) to make money. Nollywood portrayed this for years and helped promote this wrong narrative. There are millions of Igbo people who work hard and make legitimate money. The idea that Igbo people are so materialistic that they can sell their mother for money is tribalistic.
2) Yoruba people are dirty
This is on social media a lot these days. Some say Yoruba are dirty as pigs and live like animals. A blanket generalization of a tribe is nothing more than ethnic hate. In the average mind of a tribalist, only Yoruba people are dirty in Nigeria.
3) Northerners are stupid
This ugly belief is very predominant in the South-West where the words aboki (friend), and mallam (teacher) have been turned to slur words. The belief that Northerners are stupid and can't perform the simplest of tasks has fueled the North versus South hatred for decades. There are a lot of smart Northerners and dumb Southerners.
4) Calabar women are sex addicts
This is a very popular one. We are all guilty of thing women from Calabar and Akwa Ibom are sex experts. This line of thinking is essentially part of Nigerian culture. This had led to the objectification of women from this region as sex objects.
5) Yoruba women are sluts
This is another worrisome belief that has tribalists have sold both online and in social discussions. It is said that Yoruba women are sluts who are never faithful to their husbands and have multiple partners.
These highlighted points above are ethnic slurs that have made tribalism such a big issue in Nigeria till today.
We can watch Neo-Nazis chant anti-Jewish slogans on CNN and think that's not us. We might not be racists but there is a percentage of tribalism in us.
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