Somebody tell me; Oh why do we fight it
One love can set us free; if we just let it be
Take heart in a brand new day
Cause love is all we need; To chase the past away
You never need worry; if you just let it be…You never need worry, no no
Let one love set you free!
Onyeka Onwenu (Lyrics ‘One love’)
It would be needless to say the legend, Onyeka Onwenu, was unaware of the overbearing tribe crisis when she sang this song with her delightful voice. So, I would subject to the prevailing thoughts in the hearts of every creative artiste – Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything (Plato).
She possibly wrote her simple lyrics with 1966 Biafra and Nigeria’s bloodshed in mind. She probably knelt by her bed with the candles of the night to scribble a song that she desired will soar in the hearts of coming years in Nigeria for positive change.
The plight of our nation’s state of viewing our differences has grown largely into many unforeseen circumstances unimaginable by many Nigerians. We have deeply instilled the culture of “My Culture and Me.” Our hearts have gradually soiled the grounds of inhumane blood and insensitivity to a fellow Nigerian. Everything, including success and goodwill have become a question of “Where is she from? Yoruba? Hausa? Igbo?” And like Ibukun Awosika angrily professed at The Platform 2018, October 1st that such questions are inconsequential to the existence of their being as Nigerians – “Where is he from? He is a Nigerian!”.
Last month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) made a show of our thirst for survival and success. Out of 200 million people in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 77, if I am not mistaken, were indicted for cyber fraud. Aside from this, a notable Nigerian youth made more prominent by Forbes magazine, Obiwanne Okeke, was arrested for over One Million Dollars fraud. The events recurring too timely with the comments the sleek singing artiste, Simi, made outrightly to cyber fraudsters, popularly called Yahoo Boys. In a bid to make the saddening effect of cyber fraud on Nigerian’s reputation known, she said;
“They are laughing at us. They are laughing at us. I am repeating it because I have seen it. Do you know how many Nigerians going to business meetings or just to get the smallest opportunity for themselves to make it and they leave with nothing because they are Nigerian, that’s the only excuse they get. Sorry, we can not work with Nigerians.”
Nigerians had several views about her opinions, mostly finding it offensive to their ‘hustle’.
Our linens were washed in public with the aforementioned. By all means, as most Nigerians felt, I felt largely displeased but beyond my displeasure came the public neglect of these Nigerians away from home. Then the adage our ancestors professed in Igbo to our youthful hearing recalls, “O bu a nwe ozu na ebu ya nisi” – it is he who owns the corpse who carries it at the head.
I wouldn’t dispute their negligence in character and self-hood, but I would also say like our ancestors, “Ti a ba fi owo otun ba omo wi, afi ti owo osi famora” – When you rebuke a child for his act, you don’t cast him away. Besides, “Ile eni lati n je ekute oni dodo” – We don’t reveal our family secrets.
During this pressing period for Nigeria, displeased Nigerians went beyond castigating these indicted fellows to tribalistic claims. Certain social media influencers made insignificant cognizance to the names of the indicted Nigerians, claiming they are Igbos. Without any contradictions, in fact most certainly, they are indeed of the Igbo ancestry and lineage but that does not reduce them from being any less of a Nigerian than you are.
Today, a tabloid noted Allen Onyeama’s profound statement pertaining to the issue of diversity and Nigeria;
“Nigeria is a country of 378 ethnic nationalities; that means we have a huge diversity. This diversity is supposed to be our strength but it has become an albatross of a kind to us. Why can’t we manage our diversity for the good and development of our nation.”
Few days back, a friend once noted the shallow state of our diversity. He said: “You see Tobi, it is not that Nigeria cannot exist as one. It is just the state of our minds to think one tribe owns this and the other that. Igbos will say oil, Hausas will say food and Yoruba will say commerce.” So, it dawned pathetically on me, it’s a situation of entitlements and ownership. If we could only live to believe that we all own it all.
A lady, Miss Tinuke said something to me that made me shake my head horridly. To paraphrase her words, she said that only Lagos and Abuja can get to this point of commercialization in Nigeria. She made it clear when I told her I am from Lagos. She said that Lagos is tolerant to have indigenous occupants unlike other states. Then I asked a cogent question; “Can’t any other state be like these two states?” She replied that other states are busy guiding their land with selfish motives and entitlements. They can never allow a Hausa man graze neither can a Hausa man allow them trade peacefully. In causal terms, she noted that other states can’t meet Lagos. They seem to be backward with their ideologies and belief systems.
Hence my thoughts, can we allow our Yoruba daughter say she would love to marry our Hausa son? Can we allow our Igbo son say he would be marrying our Fulani daughter? Can we let go of our vague inter-tribal differences and embrace oneness in our Nation to attain a greater good. The horror that continually grows within us stems from our diversities and the inability to curb the negative extensions within the gates of our hearts.
Allen Onyeama, Chairman of Air Peace Airlines became my hero with his gracious action to bring home every NIGERIAN affected in South Africa without considering the tribe or lineage. The news is He is a Nigerian and he saved Nigerians.
So, when we intend to wash our dirty linen in public and battle within us, let’s remember what our fathers said: Yawa shi kan sa zarre ya ja duchi (quantity makes the cotton draw a stone) – UNITY IS STRENGTH.
God bless Nigeria.
God bless You.