Beneath every argument in Nigeria is an undercurrent of tribalism. You read an article online, and if it doesn’t mention a theory about the role the person’s tribe plays in the situation, you can scroll to the comments and you’re bound to see something like, “U ppl r only complainx bcos his an Ijaw man,” or “He is only doing this because he made a deal with the Northern leaders.”
If you try to avoid it, it will be clearly painted for you. “Don’t be stupid! Can’t you see that only the Igbo people were promoted? It doesn’t take a genius with SPSS to figure it out.”
The argument usually ends with me saying, “Wow really,” and standing there holding graph paper with lines drawn on it connecting seemingly random events.
My non-Yoruba friend mentioned that after he got married (to a Yoruba woman), people would pull her aside with shifty eyes and whisper, “So which way is your child going when the revolution comes?”
This partly explains why if you drive through unpopulated parts of country, and look deep into the forest in any direction, you’ll see remote houses in the middle of nowhere. These are people preparing, building fortresses they can return to when the time comes.
But you can’t blame them, they have been tainted by a war and the Boko Haram attacks constantly remind us that it isn’t an unfounded fear.
For those of us who grew up in cities, this should terrify you. I can barely find my way to my hometown, much less be expected to settle there. I have no village mansion, I can’t farm (my palms are soft like a baby’s and I only know one place that sells the imported hand lotion I use.) I will be picked off on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, slaughtered as I try to ask for directions in halting Yoruba.
But this is what we have inherited, this double-sided task of trying to promote our individual cultures while trying to erase the lines that separate us so that we can focus on other problems.