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Ethnic Stereotyping by …Al Akhigbe

Ethnic Stereotyping by …Al Akhigbe

I met this girl in Dubai a couple of years ago. She was En Route to Barcelona where she schooled and I was on transit to Frankfurt. It was Christmas season and we both wanted to catch a bit of Christmas air in Dubai. Is it not ironical that Christmas is more beautifully celebrated in Dubai than Nigeria?

Well, she has been in Nigeria for sometime now but, didn’t agree to impose the power of the euros on a recessed Nigerian economy, in order to help my ministry move to a permanent site. So, we were contented to socialize only on social media.

She had reasons to travel to her place, Calabar. And by divine intervention, she told me. So, I quickly put 1 and 2 together and arrived at 3. I said it would be a good idea to transit in Benin-City, where I resided, En Route Calabar.

Excuses upon excuses were given. The risk involved, financial implication and all what not. At the end, agreement was reached and mission was accomplished. She arrived the afternoon of that fateful day. I picked her up from the park and drove through the heavy traffic that has suddenly become a part and parcel of the city lately, to the hotel, She requested I slide open the sun-roof of the car.

“You are not going to like the reflection of the sun.” I said.

“Can you just open it? The a/c will cool the effect.”

”Ok, your majesty.”

As I drove, her continuous glances up through the glass roof became too frequent for comfort. For some reasons, the bright blue skies fascinated her more than the Oshiomole’s efforts at the macadamized streets and the efforts of the “Jandons” at modernizing the ancient buildings.

We arrived at the hotel. Though not a hilton, but a multiple starred hotel, nevertheless, by Nigerian standard (and I’ve been to a lot of hotels in different places in Nigeria too).

In the cool of evening, we had freshened up and rested enough. We strolled round the city to some important places and talked about anything on planet earth – politics, religion, education, fashion, music, travel, etc. She was versed and held me spellbound as much as the Benin skies held her spellbound.

We got back to the hotel and at her request, lounged in the balcony till sleep dispatched us.

“Why do you like the sky so much?”

“The sky? Oh, I just love the consciousness of the awesomeness of nature. I see God in the stars in the sky and I just love it.”

I thought that was romantic. But, why can’t she just look at me and see the awesomeness of love?

Well, morning came and she woke me up to ask if I still wanted her to go that day? I wondered why she was asking me when she was the one that insisted she was leaving that day.

“I would have loved for you to stay back another day. But, you apparently don’t feel at ease with me. You are like an animal stalked by hunters.”

“You are dead on the nail, boo. Why won’t I after all I’ve heard about Benin. You sure know what they say, that witches fly even at daytime here. That shooting gun in the air is outlawed because, you’re sure to kill someone flying past if you do.”

“What do you mean? Don’t tell me you believed those bull-shits. Is that what you have been hoping to see in the sky? Now tell me, how many flying objects have you seen since you came?”

“Yes, that’s why I’ve been looking up to the skies to see those that fly in the daytime. I was disappointed, though. I didn’t see nothing in the day nor at night. When I was getting into Benin, I saw a shrine opposite a market and had thought, here I come to an exciting world of Harry Porter. But, till now, nothing. Are they on strike or something? Hahahahaha.”

“Growing up, I used to hear worse things about Calabar. The city was known to be the headquarters of witch-craft in the world. They even announced general meetings in the news media then. What I don’t know is when the narrative changed, to the extent that even Calabar people now stereotype Benin? Get a life, bae.”

“Yes, that was before. Headquarters have since moved from Calabar to Benin, just like it moved from Lagos to Abuja. Benin-City is the new Witch-craft Capital Territory (W.C.T).
Unfortunately, all the witches and wizards seems to have also joined in the exodus to abroad. The few ones remaining have abandoned the trade for cultism. What a sad tale to tell.”

I stared at her, and when her sarcasm sank in, we burst out laughing.

Ethnic stereotyping is a common phenomenon in Nigeria. Every Yoruba man is a traitor. Every Ibo man is dubious. Every Calabar person is a house-maid. Every Hausa man is a aboki or gate-man, etc. This unhealthy generalization robs us of our true identity and deny us the beauty of love.

 

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Posted by:- on October 12, 2018.

Categories: Literature

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