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Friday, May 16, 2014

BOKO HARAM AND THE TRIBAL STIGMA



  Wow! It’s been over a month already. It’s not like I never had something to say but I was angry. Ok, furious is the word. So much is going on in the country right now. A lot of things have been wrong since I was a little girl and it’s like it all got worse now I’m an adult. Every time, I sat down to right I was blinded by anger. Yes, writing with passion is great but not the kind I was experiencing. I’d just close my system and stare at the ceiling.
  Something I witnessed yesterday jarred me out of my limbo. I don’t know why the two accidents happened a day apart. I was in a public place and a man in the Hausa regalia and cap, sat down in front of me; he had a bag with him. He must have forgotten something because he told the man beside him, to please watch his bag that he’d be right back. He left immediately, leaving his back behind. The man beside me tapped the bag watcher and asked him, why he agreed to watch the bag. He screamed that the man must have left a bomb in it and found an excuse to leave it behind for us. People around agreed. Some people ran away from where we were. Others were angry. They asked the bag watcher to open the bag. He refused. Well, in the middle of all the drama. The bag owner rushed back in with a snack and sat down. I thought the matter would end then but they kept talking about his bag and bombs and boko haram in his presence. They laughed, though there was no laughter on their faces that he must be one of them. The man (bag owner) quietly stood up, picked up his bag and left. I felt ashamed. There was so much hurt in his eyes. I swear, I saw a tear about to drop.
  Then today, I went for a seminar of sorts. Anyways, there was security outside. Everyone had to show their IVs to get in. No one was being searched per se. And along comes this man in the northern regalia and his bag. He showed his IV but they stopped him. He was searched from head to toe. Like some Nigerians are subjected to by the immigration unit of some countries. They took him to a corner and I’m sure searched both his drawers and bag. I stood waiting to see what would happen. Some people around couldn’t help themselves from singing maybe the man had a bomb on him. I went in when the search was taking too long.
  I understand we can’t be too careful and all because of the recent bombings, kidnapping and what not happening.  Maybe I foresaw this in writing my short film, ‘dream poetic’. If we the adults are subjecting a particular tribe and religion to ridicule and labelling them as terrorists and what not just because of what they put on and where they come from, when we move on ,what are we telling our kids? What pace and example are we setting for the younger generation who are the future of our country? Should we because of the doings of a handful of people, condemn a multitude who are innocents?
  I went to the kiosk in my area to buy airtime and I was staggered by what a little girl said to one of the owner’s daughters. I dare not repeat it. I had to take that girl aside and talk to her.
   Should one tribe now become victims, pariahs in their own fatherland? It’s not fair. We all preach the unfairness of the sect killing and abducting people but we now go around killing people with our words and actions, killing people’s spirits much more than the sect.
  Please let’s try and not victimise a tribe. Tribalism in Nigeria has always been an issue but it’s just getting worse. Very soon, our actions would make people scared to utter they are from the north or that they are Muslims. We become their terrorists. Even if we can’t help it, let’s try for our country’s sake. The future of our country. It might look bleak now but every word we utter and action we take has the power to change the course of this country’s future. It might even be through that little boy beside you that looks up to you.
  That someone is from the north or practises Islam doesn’t make them members of any sect. Please let’s not kill people. Let’s not drag this nation down with stigmatising others. I beg every Nigerian. Agreed, it’s sad and deplorable but just imagine if you were from that tribe too or were born into it and people killed you with their words and actions in a land you called home.

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