Nigerian Tribal Identity

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Nigerian Tribal Identity

Postby Richard Akindele » Sat May 15, 2010 8:44 pm

As a nation, Nigeria is nothing more than a mish-mash of tribes. The various tribes don't necessarily get along or trust one another. Hausas don't trust Yorubas. Yorubas doubt Igbos. Igbos question Hausas. And so forth.

The number of inter-marriages can be counted on one hand. Because of these deep divisions prevalent among Nigerians, tribal conflicts are often bloody, with the loss of hundreds, sometimes thousands of innocent lives.

What accounts for the fragmented nation we call Nigeria? Is it just human nature to just marginalize anything and anybody that is a bit different? For example, not only do Yorubas not trust other tribes, the different dialects within Yorubas do not exactly work hand in hand. Same is true of other tribes and their respective dialects.

If it's natural for humans of different origins to be distrustful of one another, what hope do we have in Nigeria for change? The situation is so bad in Nigeria, that most Nigerians only vote for a tribesman, no matter what the political leanings of that person may be. This is an incredibly retrogressive behavior. We need to learn to embrace a political candidate, based on his political views, and his ability to deliver change in our heretofore rotten system.

Of course, one likely reason that the various tribes don't get along, may have something to do with language barrier. Although Nigeria's lingua franca is English, very few understand it as perfectly as they do their native language.

So for instance, how does an Igbo-man, and a Hausa-man form a business alliance, if they both can't communicate effectively? Nigerians are particularly fond of language, with their use of proverbs, idioms, colloquiums, onomatopoeia, etc. Anything that gets in the way of a Nigerian being able to express himself effectively, casts a gloomy outlook toward successful partnerships.

While the language factor is a possibility, there are highly educated Nigerians, who speak English as well as the queen. Does evidence exist that these groups of people trust fellow citizens of other tribes?

Furthermore, many Nigerians speak other languages as well as they do their mother tongue. Do they for this reason, get along better with natives of their second language?

If the knowledge of other languages is the key to fostering trust and better relationships among Nigerians, it in essence stands to reason that Nigeria needs to pay attention to this. We need to embrace an educational system that teaches our children other languages besides their parents' language.

To that end, let's imagine a Yoruba family living in Bauchi. Naturally, the children born in that family would know Hausa, and Yoruba. So, how about making such children take Igbo while in school? Perhaps interact with Igbos, and learn the Igbo culture.

Nigeria's problems are numerous. Until people begin to ask questions similar to the one presented in this article, odds are that the nation won't progress.

Nigeria has a track record of not dealing with problems. Instead these problems are ignored to exists forever. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be that way. The up and coming generation has an opportunity, and frankly, an obligation to equip itself with the necessary tools for change. Let's brainstorm together with a view toward a better tomorrow.

Can we have a Nigeria where tribes don't matter? Can we achieve a Nigeria where everybody is a Nigerian, rather than a tribe? We could, if we tried.
Richard Akindele
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