Wednesday, 17 May 2017

"MY PARENTS ARE IGBO"

So I thought I had heard everything until I ventured out among the beautiful people of the earth the other day. I observed a couple close to me with a friend of theirs in tow. Anyway, the girl saw someone speak Igbo to her boyfriend and she chirpily asked if he was Igbo. His response? "My parents are Igbo." I filed away that piece of information and watched in silent glee as everyone else in the vicinity (which unfortunately for him consisted mostly of thickset, Igbo trader-type uncles) proceeded to give him serious lectures on the need for him to identify with his tribe.
The next day, I had to pick up something from the market. I got to a shop manned by an Igbo man and the shop was filled with a lot of Kano sisters tearing Hausa as easy as you please. Of course, in a bid to feel kinship with my Igbo brother (and admittedly get a slightly better price) I proceeded to speak Igbo to the man. He informed me in the direst tone, SPEAKING IN A THICK IGBO-ACCENTED ENGLISH mind you, that the price could not be reduced and what's more, I was wasting his time. I picked up several other articles to inquire as to the prices but was met with rude silence. My offense? I had dared to come into his shop and speak Igbo to him. Issoright. I strode away from that shop with my hard-earned currency safely in my pocket and like the Jewish Passover, I mentally placed a permanent mark of DO NOT ENTER over his shop for myself for future reference.
I am one of those people who on a normal day, see the need, and indeed advocate for a detribalized Nigeria. Igbo, despite being my mother-tongue, was not my first language; but I speak it very well thank you very much. I have friends from virtually every tribe in Nigeria and as most of my friends will tell you, I don't even know where 95% of them are from because in truth, tribe matters little in the grand scheme of things: personality is what moves me. WHO ARE YOU, AND NOT WHERE YOU ARE FROM. You could tell me you were from the moon and I would still like you if you were a decent, likable human being.
Regardless, I must admit that it is most worrisome when we try to disown our roots because nature has proved again and again that anything without a source must surely die.
Igbo tribe, like most Nigerian tribes, has a very rich heritage and has produced so many sons and daughters that posterity can always be proud of. Our Zik of Africa is still been commended and taught about in universities all over the world; our Chimamanda Adichie is setting the literary world on its ear with each new novel; our Buchi Emecheta died leaving us proud; our Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart remains unparalleled till date; our Okonjo Iweala is Internationally recognized for her economic prowess and let's not even mention 'the Nigerian Nightmare,' our Christian Emeka Okoye and his football skills and the scores of sons and daughters of Igbo race all over the world doing the planet proud.
Igbo culture remains a marvel in its complexity and sheer beauty.
It's alright to want to be a Nigerian by tribe but in the absence of such a tribe, I think being a self-hating Igbo or self-hating Yoruba or Hausa person is pathetic and unnecessary. If you don't know who you are you will always be at war with yourself. Tribe does not define you; what you do with it does.
Whatever your race or your tribe, there's no need to apologize for it; own it with pride because the world will never celebrate what you do not first celebrate.
As for me, I am Proudly African, Proudly Nigerian and Proudly Igbo and anyone who has a problem with any of that can go jump in a lake for all I care!!! My parents are Igbo and so am I!!!

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©2017 by Sherina Okoye

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