A few weeks ago, an organization I belong to held her annual elections. They do it constantly to keep reinvigorating the leadership even though the organization has been grossly ineffective in doing anything at all. After the elections one of the candidates walks past me and I greet her because there is a level of aquaintancy between us. I go further to congratulate her on her victory because she ran unopposed and surely must have won.
“Thank you”, she says, “Did you vote for me?” She continues. I smile and tell her no but before I can finish my “you ran unopposed and so there was no point” explanation, she looks at me dead in the eye and says “It’s people like you we don’t need in his country, I hope they kill you.” I smile as she walks away, half trying not to stand up and beat the devil out of her because that would be wrong. Normally, I would have let those words slip through but someone telling me…telling an Igbo person right of the heels of the Oba of Lagos lagoon loading threat, she was just callous.
There are an estimated 170 million Nigerians divided along really stupid ethnic lines. Lines that I still cannot mentally understand. The idea is that My Dad said he was from Imo therefore I am from Imo even though I’ve hardly ever been there and cannot affiliate myself in any capacity to the state or the tribe for that matter.
The other night, I had to explain to my friend from Akwa Ibom what my mothers village in Abia state looks like, how the village roads have never been tarred and how it would take enormous amounts of money to do so across all of rural south-eastern Nigeria, by the time I was through the explanation with my half baked knowledge, he looked at me and said “you guys are suffering.”
But who are the “you guys” he was referring to?
Who hasn’t spent up to 3 months out of 20 years in that South-eastern Nigeria, or my ‘Yoruba’ friend who has spent the bulk of her life floating inbetween Imo, Abia and Enugu? I wonder between my Yoruba friend and I, who is more Igbo? But of course I am, because my Name is Ugochukwu and hers has Ade inside.
It’s because of reasons like this that many Nigerians have problems identifying with the Boko Haram atrocities committed in Northern Nigeria, that’s why we cannot relate to parents of 219 kidnapped girls and that’s why we wanted to drawn ‘Igbos’ for voting because all though we are all Nigerians, they are not one of us, they are Igbo Hausa and Yoruba.
Again I say, get rid of state of origin in this country, it’s outlived its usefulness. Replace it with state of residence or whatever is truly unity promoting.