Because our generation needs a voice

Crossroads

NIGERIA road sign Ask an average Nigerian about another Nigerian from a different ethnic group, and you’re sure to have your ears filled with enough stereotype to make you wonder how we managed to remain as one nation for 53 years. It doesn’t matter who you ask. From the ‘detribalised’ older generation of Nigerians which claims to have friends “across the Niger” to my generation which claims to not care where you’re from, to the way younger generation who shouldn’t even know where you’re from, everyone has something derogatory to say about the other ethnic group.

It is this sense of ethnic superiority and mutual suspicion that has, among other things, kept us from working together to move this nation in the right direction. If not checked on time, we are in danger of raising a generation of bigots who are born pre-programmed to hate their fellow nationals, without quite knowing the reason why.

This poem is an attempt to bring to the fore the ridiculousness of some of our inherent prejudices against people of different ethnic groups. I hope it makes you rethink your opinion against someone you’re about to meet for the first time, and above all, ask yourself this simple question: how different am I from you?

Crossroads.
The landlord won’t take my money
I’m not to be trusted, you see
At least, my people are not to be
Or so his father said
Because of his experience with that one soldier
In 1967.

My mother hates my girlfriend
She’s a backstabber, you know
The fruit falls not far from where the trees grow
Or so she’s come to believe
For her mother had told her plenty tales
Of her non-personal experience.

My dad dislikes my dumb-ass friend
You know, the parasitic good-for-nothing
A product of a lazy upbringing
Or so his father drilled into his head
Because he’d met that civil servant
After the civil war.

I hate you and you hate me
Our people are just the worst
You know as I do, that we’re bloody cursed
Or so our people will claim
Because of that fateful encounter
A hundred years ago.

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