I used to be a non-tribalistic person, more aware of the fact that I am Nigerian, than the fact that I am an Igbo girl. However, recent events have transpired to alter that notion. Some days ago, I and some friends were discussing marriage (I being the only Igbo person among them) and they all expressed their displeasure at marrying Igbo people for various reasons. One of them even remarked that “Nigeria would be a better country without the Igbos”. Of course, I didn’t respond because I usually do not like to get involved in such arguments. Again, I was going through Linda Ikeji’s Blog (LIB) with another friend of mine who is from the South-South and we saw a story about an Igbo man that killed his girlfriend. My friend’s statement was the straw that broke the camel’s back……“He’s Igbo as expected”. I got really angry and could hardly be pacified yet everyone said I took it too personal. I will now address this issue as they appear to me.
Personally, I know that our problems in this country are caused by people in the North, as well as people in the South. I also know that Muslim fanatics have wreaked more havoc than good. I have Muslim cousins and friends. Do I then judge them due to the extremism of a few over-zealous ones? Of course I don’t. Not because I am cowardly or pretentious, but because I have put their feelings into consideration. A learned friend of mine says, “People will be bad, if ever they want to be”. This implies that people are whatever they want to be regardless of their culture, religion or even circumstances. It would therefore be a fallacy if you say that I am materialistic before even getting to know just because 10 other Igbo girls you’ve dated were. Except in special situations, one’s tribe should not be a basis on which relationships and marriages are built. My mother for instance advises that I marry an Igbo man whenever we talk about marriage. No doubt this is because she’s happily married to an Igbo man regardless of the fact that she’s not of Igbo origin. But then, I’ve seen Igbo men treat their family as trash; I have also seen wonderful Yoruba husbands and bad ones at that. It eventually comes down to the person. That’s how you’ll be there saying you cannot marry someone from a particular tribe and miss God’s will for you. When you have problems in that marriage, as you eventually will, even God will turn a deaf ear to your cries.
Sometimes, my friends try to subtract me from the equation whenever they discuss Igbo people saying things like, “Liz, you don’t look Igbo” or “You don’t talk like an Igbo girl”. Some even say “You’re Yoruba joor, after all you’ve lived among Yorubas all your life”. Make no mistake about it, I am an Igbo girl from Imo State and a proud one at that. In fact my name is Ebowusi Peters Elizabeth Ifunanya Adaobi. ‘Elizabeth’only because my parents felt it necessary to give me a Christian name. But for the advent of colonialism, I would be Ebowusi Ifunanya Adaobi and I would be the same wonderful girl everyone loves. I would be the same Elizabeth if I had grown up anywhere else in the world.
Henceforth, I will not take lightly any insult to my tribe. An insult to the Igbo people is an insult to my person. After all, I was Igbo even before I became Nigerian. I am Igbo because my forefathers had a culture that was unique from any other. However, I am Nigerian because the white man put many tribes together, hence giving us the Nigerian identity.
So, respect yourself and my tribe and I’ll do a good job at respecting yours.