Ethnicity and tribalism as key problems hindering our peaceful co-existence


By Abdullateef Abdulkareem

In my opinion, no ethnic group is dumb and none should be tagged as such. I think everything all comes down to access. Access to same education, learning and opportunities. If you take a Hausa-Fulani kid and raise him in, say Anambra, he will behave like an Anambra person when he grows up. He’ll speak Igbo, with almost same business sense and may only not look like an Anambra person because, of the trait inherited from the parents.

The problem of Northern Nigeria is not having access to quality education (I know quality in Nigeria is relative). It is not because they are “abokis.” It’s neither because they’re born bump. If you think it is, then it’s just your prejudice. The only thing that’s working against the North is their elite. How can the region producing food that feeds the whole country still be impoverished and grossly uneducated?

It doesn’t add up. If that region stops producing food or stops selling us food, other parts of the country will have food crisis. Every food variety we eat in Nigeria apart from yam and cassava is produced from the North. They are supposed to leverage on their key resources. The revenue generated from their key resources are not put in to better use to develop their region. Well, I have few ideas but exploring them would be borderline… offensive, so I won’t. But food is never going to go out of fashion and they can be leveraged upon.

Here is an abstract from pg. 58 of Sefi Atta’s swallow: “Rose once told me in the past that Hausa people, you can not trust them, most especially when they smiled. The minute you turned your back, they are ready with daggers. To people who are of no benefit to them, they did not bother to smile; their faces were like walls. They could be plotting you death meanwhile, she said, even their pretty women who pretend to be innocent in purdah, and their men in secrecy are homosexuals. “I’m not a tribalist”, I told Rose then. He also said I am the only Yoruba he could consider living with because Yoruba are coward and sycophantic in nature. We put on the finest clothes, yet our homes are always filthy.”

It will shock you to discover the number of people that still believe in such stereotype. It really will shock you. Some of these people are educated, brilliant. Yet they still insist a Fulani/Hausa man that have known you, your whole life will murder you during riot because you’re not a Muslim or that Yoruba people are filthy and cowards. There is also the general belief that Ebira people are violent and Igala people are sycophants. The list is not exhaustive.

I’ve lived with a Yoruba man. He teaches me, feeds me and attends to my financial needs. we’re related by blood. My Igbo friend is so caring. He comes down to my rescue, literally, all time. My sweet sweet Shiznit is a Yoruba. Adeiza is Ebira and he is a dependable friend, caring and a definition of a beautiful creature. He is entirely opposite of the general notion we have about the Ebira. The list goes on. I have also met terrible Yoruba People, Igala people and lot more. I have met alot of terrible people but will it be fair to stereotype a whole ethnic group because of a few experiences? Drop the stereotypes. I’m a Yoruba and I’m not a filthy coward because that doesn’t define whom I am.

Abdulkareem writes from Ilorin, Kwara State


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