So, I will admit that this piece is inspired by the holiday season. In the midst of all 'jollyment', the winds of reflection blew my way. In this sombre spirit, family gatherings produced a ripe atmosphere for the usual 'Nigerian Complain Banter' (a staple meal in most Nigerian gatherings).
The difference is that this time, while everyone was giving their unsolicited 70 cents of opinions on topics ranging from religion to politics to generational ills in the system, and what the like (oh, the richness of Nigerian gisting!), I watched. Just watched. Looking around at the array of people gathered. Let me throw a little more light on my thought process:
I am from a predominantly Igbo family; when family and friends gather, you find an array of people, from Yoruba to Delta to Hausa to Cross river. Even a cursory look at my array of closest friends, I find the same position reflected. Not to make this rant on ethnic biases and the lot, I will state the takeaway from this is that Nigerians are an interesting lot.
Despite heated exchanges about the polity, incompetencies in all sectors, personal and cultural opinions on everything; what I marvel at is the fact that these people gather, year in, year out, for birthdays, anniversaries, remembrances, christmas, practically any cause for celebration, without fear of reprise from one another or animosity for their respective stances or even for the mere 'beef' of ethnic differences.
Albeit, this is not an isolated case. I know of several other homes where this is also the case.
Nigerians are a special lot. We fight, we unite, we criticise, we praise, we cry, we laugh, we complain, we survive. I may not see it all!! As I am always quick to point out, I only speak from the extent which my glass covers!! But what I have seen, I have marvelled. In a country with constant rife about the differences in our ethnicity, language and even political divides, we still find time to celebrate, whether it is all for the cause of Jollof rice or for Eba/Pounded Yam, we can still find points of harmony and unity.
It makes one wonder; why then do we find it easy to segregate issues as belonging to one particular group or the other-boko haram is a northern problem, kidnapping is an eastern problem, etc…
I would think, from my myopic standpoint, it all boils down to human nature. At the heart of it, no one wants to deal with an inconvenience they can excuse themselves from. My consolation from this is that this does not stem from the place of an ethnic group spouting ideologies of hatred for others and calling for the extinction of other ethnic groups.
Even if there are some instances of such ideologies, it is, thankfully, not a prevalent one.
Let this be my conclusion: We can be our greatest enemies but I do not fail to recognise the fact that we are also our greatest friends!!
Happy New Year!!