Tales corner-We Are One
The smile died on her lips immediately she heard my words.
‘What did you say? ‘, Amaka spat the bitter words at me.
I paused, wondering which of the words she was talking about. I have said so many things already. Of course, when you are having a discussion with someone you say a lot of words.
‘What I said?’ I asked
‘Yes! You are from Ebonyi state?’ She queried.
I answered in affirmative. She contorted her face further and sparing back as if she was stung by a scorpion. Her next words hit me like a tornado.
‘If I had known that you are from Ebonyi State you would not have entered this room. Ebonyi state people are wicked. One Ebonyi man dealt with my mother when we were previously living in Aba ngwa’.
At that moment, words failed me. It was not the first time someone has condemned me from being a native of Ebonyi but I was really hurt. You would not stay in the same room with me, not because of my attitude but because of where I came from.
I did not know that being a native of a state could be a crime in Nigeria until I gained admission into the University. The above episode happened in my hundred level as a student in NnamdiAzikiwe University, Awka. Being in a strange land was a heinous task, finding accommodation was not easy.
Of course, there were houses around but the fund to get one was an issue. I gained admission the same year with my elder sister. This was a load work for my parents as my sister gained admission into a State University.
We all know how expensive training a child at the University can be especially state or private universities. During my first year, I had to squat with friends until I got enough money to pay rent.
Favor (not real name) was the second person I squatted with. She was a 100 level student like me. Her roommate, Amaka (not real names) welcomed me with open arms when I came.
We gist, gossiped, laughed, and ate from the same plate. I bonded with her more than I did with Favour. Three weeks of staying with them without qualms until that day. We were discussing when I mentioned that I’m from Ebonyi state. After her statement, her attitude towards me changed.
We didn’t relate like we use to. Everything was different. She kept her distance from me till I got accommodation of my own and left.
It was not the first neither was it the last time people commented on my state of origin. Till date they still do. Some say ‘I don’t look like them’. I’m still trying to figure out how they look. Some even went to the extent of telling me to simply deny that I’m from Ebonyi. That’s hilarious right?
This story is not to elicit pity, far from it. It just goes to show that our theory of ‘we are one’ ends in paper and not in action. Year in and out, our religious and political leaders blast our ears with this anthem. It, however, seems like these words are poured on hardened minds.
We have not even accepted our tribe as one. Anambra people claim to be the real Igbos. Imo people disagree with them and say they are the ones. How then can we accept other people from other tribes like Hausa, Tiv, Yoruba and so on as our brothers and sisters then?
Most families refuse to give the hand of their daughters in marriage to a man from particular village in the same state as they are.
While some mothers have listed the states that their children can marry from to them, others have advised their sons against marrying from another tribe. Who is deceiving who? All these stereotyping obviously is not working for us. Can’t we for once practice what we preach?
I believe there are evil and good people. There might also be people from such areas who have exhibited those characters from time to time.
No doubts about that. However, I also believe that everything in life is about personality. Before you make conclusions based on an individual’s state of origin, take your time to get to know that individual first.
We all have our own unique characters. Some Yorubas’ are dirty, we conclude that all Yorubas are unkempt. Some Igbos are there, we conclude that no Igbo man can be trusted with even the smallest denomination of Nigeria currency.
Some Hausas’ are extremists, we conclude that all of them are evil and none should come close to us. We reject others because of where they come from and not who they are. We refuse to work with people who might even help boost our career because they are from another state (or tribe).
We reject individuals we could have had the best life with and settle for someone we are not compatible with because…our people do not marry their people. We lose contracts because we feel that the person offering us the job is not supposed to be in that position. Let us put an end to this fallacy of hasty generalization.
We only deceive ourselves when we preach what we do not practice. Acceptance is the key. You should be careful though, we humans can be difficult.
My point does not reject people outrightly because of where they come from, their tribe. There are still some good people out there irrespective of origin, hometown, village, state or tribe. Together we can achieve more.
Remember, none of us is leaving here alive!