A place to rave, a place to rant, to commend and recommend, mostly a place to vent...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

One Nation?

Why do we fool ourselves that we are one nation? Nigeria is, and will always be, a nation of 'us versus them'. In business, in the civil service, anywhere, your reception is determined by your tribe. The colonial masters really did a disservice in the way they partitioned Africa. Case in point, why does the average Katsina or Kano man prefers that his daughter marries a person from Niger (across the border and a different country) rather that a Yoruba muslim man from Ibadan (same country). Because with the man from Niger, he probably speaks the same language and are culturally the same when it come to marraiges, funerals, society etc. Verbally, a hausaman would say, as long as he is a muslim, but when push comes to shove, then we see the true colours. A family I know are grappling with this 'problem'. Their daughter is 34 and not married which for years has been of concern to them. She now has met an unmarried Yoruba muslim from Ibadan, well educated and a Deputy General Manager with a bank, speaks Arabic fluently and knows the Quran in depth who wants to marry her. The family is adamant that it won't happen. What hypocrisy!!! Her father was in the Federal Civil Service and they lived in Lagos for a long time. Most of his closest friends are Yoruba. Her uncle is married to a Benin woman. All this was acceptable until now. They are now trying to marry her off to her cousin in Funtua who has two other wives. Having been once in a position where I was coerced into marrying someone I did not love, I hope that the girl stands her ground. She is the one that will live with whomever she marries. Its time we stopped making these decisions for our daughters. That is why we see so many 'bazawarai' in our society. Forced marraiges rarely work. I am a perfect example. We should all follow our hearts....

16 comments:

jinni said...

Yarmama, this is a very vexing issue and a problem typical of the hausa/
fulani.Their conservative nature and lack of education and exposure makes them to be xenophobic.Also the female is seen as an imbecile or chattel who is not capable to think for herself or pursue her destiny or have a career.
Out of all the tribes in Naija,the hausa are the ones who seemingly dont want to mix up with others.Sadly Hausa society is decaying while the other tribes are embracing modernity and making breakthroughs financially,socially,culturally etc.I hope we northerners do not end up being their slaves in a few years to come.
I experienced this problem two years ago in Kano.I was in love with this girl who was from a middle class family and so called educated.We dated for a few months and we wanted to get married.When I made up my mind to go see her parents,they rejected me because I was from Jos(even though a moslem).I was heartbroken for a while and almost lost my religion.
Any careful observer will observe that the hausas have the highest divorce rate in the country(especially Kano state).It is even a norm that the average hausa girl will be married at least four different times before she is thirty.These old men make it a pastime to marry,devour and divorce this young girls(auri saki).Now you see so many unmarried adult girls(bazawarai) roaming around the streets and prostituting.The parents obviously prefer the girls to marry a wrong choice and end up getting divorced,than to marry their own choice and stay married.This is becoming a problem in northern Nigeria and some drastic measures have to be taken to reverse this trend.Now so many male youths want to get married but cannot because the parents of the girls prefer giving their daughters to rich old men;while the ladies keep going round and round in a vicious cycle of divorce and remarriage(until they loose their `market value´ and end up selling tuwo by the roadside).
One of the reasons for this problem is greed by both the parents and the girls.Love of material things blinds them into making the wrong choices.
I think northern women have to stand up,fight and resist this system.The women should put alot of energy into educating themselves,building careers,engaging in economic activities so that they can secure their independence from the patriarchal and chauvinistic society.Only then can they get their freedom.
But knowing the typical Hausa as being timid,afraid of change,afraid of questioning authority and `follow-follow´,I doubt if there will ever be any changes.sigh!

Talatu-Carmen said...

'Yar Mama,

Thanks for your comment on my blog. Yours is very interesting, and I'm adding it to my blog roll! I'll look forward to reading your future posts!

t-c

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

This practice of forced marriage is common in most Nigerian tribes. It is a shame, if you ask me. At the end of the day, people are lucky to find someone that loves them and makes them happy. All those other factors of religion, tribe should not be paramount. But, unfortunately, theys ometimes are.

Thanks for stopping by my ...Easier... blog. It is nice to discover a new blogger with fresh perspectives. Stop by my Nigerian Curiosity blog and search for the post on Multicultural Relationships. Your opinion on the matter could be insightful. Oh, and the issue of Polygamous relationships as well. Actually, visit the site and feel free to leave comments wherever. I always seek to see where people are coming from on the matters we discuss there.

Don't be a stranger!

NIGERIAN CURIOSITY
IT WAS SO MUCH EASIER WHEN I ONLY HAD ONE...

Ms. emmotions said...

its really sad that some parents still choose who their children marry or shulnt,
it lunacy at its peak,
who would live out the rest of her life this guy good or bad....the gal, if this is the case why not allow her/them children make their own choice of alife partner.
i think its just pure illiteracy,....my opinion

nice read

myabubakar said...

A really sad story but perhaps one in a million that we come across. i dont think illiteracy is the issue here and besides it happens across the nation. this shows more of our tribal/religious mistrust than anything. i remember my brother's attempt to marry from the east when he served there in the late 70's. the girl's parents refused. so same story. then he wanted a kenyan girl and again the parents blocked it.
things are indeed changing in the north, but too slowly perhaps than we want.
quite a blog you have

pamela said...

Will she stand her ground?? That is the question....

Chxta said...

I will have to take issue with your first sentence because we are indeed one nation, and have been that for almost a century. That the British amalgamated us for their own selfish reasons, and that we were kept together but apart in a brutal divide and rule system for another 32 years after the amalgamation is also a fact. That a lot of our peoples have refused to move forward and accept each other for what we are, human beings, is also another sad fact. However Jinni made a valuable point in his response viz-a-viz the gradual decline of traditional Hausa/Fulani society, which in what is today Nigeria is one of the last frontiers to 'modern' progress. That society will surely crumble, and when it does it would be absorbed into the mainstream of Nigeria.

Think about it this way, 40 years ago people would rather introduce themselves as either a Hausa man or an Igbo man or a Yoruba man. It was a rarity to find someone introducing himself first as a Nigerian before anything else, and that was because of the times (and conditions) that the overwhelming majority grew up in. Nowadays more of our children are growing up in a cosmopolitan mix of the ethnic groups (Abuja, Jos and to a lesser extent Yola and Kaduna in the north, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Benin, Asaba, Owerri and Calabar in the South) and see themselves first as Nigerians, this despite the efforts in many cases of their parents still attempting to indoctrinate them with the old stereotypes. It is from this generation that the personality called the Nigerian has emerged, and with this new personality, we are beginning to see a lot of the traits of eine volk (thanks Adolf), such as a distinct culture that you can call Nigerian culture as epitomised by our music and movies.

What you have to understand is this: old habits die hard, and the people who have profited from the way things are set up and who stand to lose the most if things change are not going to stand by idly and fold their arms. They would do all that they can to prevent those changes from happening. I think, and strongly too, that they are fighting a loosing battle. But those of us who want to see change must realise that a sudden change has never been good for anyone. We must be patient, bide our time, and seize the moments when each one of them presents itself.

As to your acquaintance who is being pressured into the wrong marriage, well, you said it all yourself. She is the one who is going to live with the man, not her parents.

P.S This is so blog worthy...

The Law said...

Well, this is one funny issue. And I don't mean in a "ha ha" kind of way.

I've always maintained that until we begin re-educating our children to understand that tribe, tongue and religion do NOT come before allegiance to flag and country, we will continue to have problems. I am not a huge fan of America, but I respect one thing about them - as long as your passport is blue, nothing else matters when it comes to defending your interests. For instance, no one will tell you that because your great-grandfather was Irish, German, Italian, or a slave, you cannot obtain a passport, or vote in their elections, or stand for office yourself. Hell, look at Barack Obama.

For us Nigerians, tribe and religion will continue to be issues as long as we allow ourselves to be subject to the same divide and rule tactics utilised so well by our British colonial masters.

xfactorx said...

You have really raised some serious issues here. On the issue of us been a nation, I think and believe we are gradually getting there. A case in point is getting to the leadership position in Nigeria-people are no longer interested in where you come from but you can do.

I think religion is about our greatest problem as a nation. I mean both Christianity and Islam. People do so many silly things in the name of both religion and most of the time, what they do, is actually against the teaching of both religions.

What is happening in the North is something that will naturally come to an end. I think a lot of them are going to school now. With time, it will change and the people will start to ask questions. Nigeria can only get better. God bless Nigeria.

btw, well done on your getting educated.

Florida of Free Spirit said...

my dear jinni, it's not a hausa/funani thing o. am igbo & my parents would kill me if i brought any other person without an 'emeka' 'obinna' sounding name!!!! in fact, my parents would rather an oyibo man dan a yoruba man. of course, a northener is a no-good area. 2 inter-marry, i guess is 'just asking too much' of this one nation. we can work together, share jokes, even exchange body fluids (as i heard it described in a movie), just don't expect to make it legal!!!!

Chxta said...

@ Florida, au contraire, granted that there are still loads of people who have issues with people from other ethnic groups, there are loads as well who don't. As at the last time I was in a church in Naija listening to the marriage banns, I noticed a sharp rise in inter-ethnic marriages. And this was two years ago...

'Yar Mama said...

Actually, in my enviroment which is the core North, things ARE changing despite the fact that our people are the most resistant. Jibril Aminu's daughter married a calabar boy, Halilu Atiku daughter married an oyingbo, the niece of the Emir of Kano married an Edo boy, Shehu Yaradua's daughter (the Presidents niece) married a Yoruba boy and Waziri Ibrahim's daughter married a Yoruba boy. These are all girls from very prominent pro-North families. There are so many other instances of ordinary girls rebelling against their culture and traditions (read families). I believe now with exposure and education, people learn to make their own decisions and follow their hearts. Ultimately, we realise we are one.

'Yar Mama said...

Correction. 3rd sentence should read,'These are all girls from prominent CORE North families'.

Naapali said...

Many topics touched in your post. Yes the Europeans partitioned us to suit themselves but we have had generations now to work at it. I was born a Nigerian and hope I die one (many dozens of years from now hopefully). Yes our country was founded under artificial circumstances but this holds true for most modern nations yet many find ways to make it work. We can.

Your friend's uncle married a Benin woman, your friend can marry her Ibadan man if that is what she chooses. With her choice may come estrangement from her family but all choices require we give something up. It is up to her what she chooses to give up. The day will come when we see ourselves as persons first. We can keep working towards it.

Ms Sula said...

Very interesting topic... I am not Nigerian but I was discussing this very issue with some Nigerian friends of mine.

See, we have somewhat of a "reverse" problem where I'm from... or at least that's the excuse given... More and more kids who grew up in Abidjan (Cote d'Ivoire) do not speak their maternal language. We all more or less speack Nouchi (a sort of broken french) but not a lot of us can actually fluently speak our own languages... One culprit that has often been brought forth by parents (reluctant to admit their own aggressive "westernization") is the excessive intermarriages between different tribes... It's a very common occurence to hear "I'm X on my mom side and Y on my dad"... Maybe it's the fact that most "educated" people live in the capital city and that the ethnic groups are so small that it would prove ridiculous to look for your own...

Anyways, all of that to say that the fear comes from a "decent" place... People are afraid to lose themselves, their identities, what defines them. Generations upon generations of African people have identified themselves tribally... It would be presomptuous (and even somewhat wrong) to want to reverse that thought process in a few decades...

I do not condone tribalism... Far from it... I am actually dating a Nigerian guy, so I am smack dab in the middle of the "controversy"... We had that conversation because he once replied(upon me telling him that one of my childhood Ivorian and Catholic best friend just got married to a Moroccan Muslim man)..."Mehn, you guys marry all kind of people"...

I was like, you think?

(sorry for the long and late comment)

Great topic! And even greater blog!

rethots said...

...surely, we shall eventually be united (on all fronts). Let us keep hope alive.