This is something that has been on my mind for a while now. It's really strange to me because I was born and bred in Lagos, I grew up in a neighborhood which had an equal mix of Igbos and Yorubas. My next door, aunty Toyin was one of my closest friends. I was about seven and she was twenty or thereabouts. Today she's in her forties and a mother of four and we're still good friends even though she now lives in Ilorin. In the next compound was Lawunmi, when I was seven, Lawunmi was four, she's now a lawyer and we're still cool. Opposite my house was my name sake, who's also called Emmanuella, and on the other side was Ibiwari. We were from different tribes but it was something we never noticed, maybe because they were and still are my friends. I grew up with this mindset that everyone was the same, regardless of what state they were from. And I maintained this naïveté till the onset of social media. Linda Ikeji's readers opened my eyes to tribalism.
If it wasn't the Yorubas insulting the Igbos, it was Igbos insulting the Yorubas. If an Igbo woman was caught in a scandal, the Yorubas would laugh, after all Igbo women are promiscuous money-grabbing bitches. And when it was a Yoruba woman the Igbos would say the same.
Still I thought it was one big joke. Well, till Femi Fani Kayode started to dole out his own unique kind of hate against the Igbos. It wasn't necessarily this man that shocked me, it was his supporters who belonged to my generation that did. There is nothing they won't say about the Igbos. While I will choose not to delve into the politics of this, I must still question it.
Sometime last year I was listening one of the Lagos radio stations and the topic of discussion that day was Igbo people. I listened for an hour as caller after caller bashed the Igbos. Everyone seemed to have a story of being duped by an Igbo person, if it wasn't that then it was quarrelsome Igbo neighbours or colleagues. More callers with tales of how Igbo people have been very wicked to them at one point in their lives or the other. I listened to these callers while trying to figure out what the point of that particular show was. There was never a time that I was so pissed not to have units on my phone because I really wanted to call in and ask. Why was it ok to air this? Why was no one calling to ask what they hoped to achieve by doing this? I was nearly incensed to hear how cunning, dubious, greedy, heartless, selfish, promiscuous and hateful the Igbo people are.
Yesterday my friend found his dream apartment and rushed to go pay for it. My friend is biracial. Igbo dad, European mum. The agent told him not to waste his time, as the landlord has refused to rent to an Igbo person. So this friend of mine had to call his Yoruba friend who wants to squat with him for a while to meet the landlord and pay as the person who's renting the apartment. My friend who didn't grow up in Nigeria could make no sense of this. When he called me I could hear the befuddlement in his voice. But I actually wasn't surprised. I have heard this several times; landlords in Lagos refuse to rent out their apartments to Igbo people. What could be so terrible about the Igbos that people refuse to rent to them, live next to them, work with them?
I served in Ogun state House of Assembly and even blog visitor, a former beauty of the day, can tell you how the clerk openly bashed Igbos on a daily basis. The man would rather no Igbos were posted there. He would constantly complain that all the Igbo corpers that had been posted there in the past caused too many problems and were not worth the stress. He would say proudly that he hates the Igbos.
My boss and I had a good rapport but still, he would scrunch up his nose when Igbo was mentioned. One day he said to me "I just don't like your people. You people aren't good people". In fact, my boss stopped calling me Wando and started calling me Wande instead. That's how bad it was.
I've heard some people say that their parents have warned them that they can marry from any part of the country except from the East. I know someone who's family almost disowned him because he wanted to marry his Igbo girlfriend.
In spite of this I must admit that some Igbos have an unexplainable love for money and would do anything to get it, yet, this is not something that is peculiar to Igbos alone.
After all I've heard and seen, it moves me to ask, are Igbos really that bad?