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Ijeoma Ozichi Omotade Writes Open Letter To Chimamanda Adichie

Dear Chimamanda,

I was scrolling through twitter to see what was trending especially with regard to Lagos elections, and stumbled upon your write-up on the Oba of Lagos's disrespectful remarks to the Igbos and their right to exercise their civic rights. Of  course being an ardent admirer of your work and also a fellow Igbo girl, I clicked on the link and hungrily lapped up each word you poured out, eager to hear your opinion and ready to carry emotional placards with you by clicking "share" on my Facebook page. But the more I read, the more my excitement waned. Because just as I could feel you word for word, I also disagreed with you, and at a point I had to put down myopic glasses that beheld Lagos through your admirable eyes and wear one that showed me our stark reality.

You see, I AGREE that the Igbo community was unjustifiably grieved. However, as I wave my solidarity flag with my fellow Igbos, I can't help but also bite my tongue when I remember unpleasant comments many Igbos regularly make toward other tribesmen. For example, the disrespectful way some Igbos address Hausas as "abokis", dumbheads, and "nama" meaning cow! As you may know, "aboki" means friend but watch an Hausa man when an Igbo calls him that in a disrespectful tone. He stiffens and looks annoyed because he knows the tone he is called with is one of disrespect and insult. (some Yorubas call northerners "mulla"; I dunno what that means but that's for another day *sigh*)

Chimamanda, every tribe is guilty of tribalism; it's by default. It's not right. It should be fiercely fought against but shamefully this is the current reality. HOWEVER not every tribe is guilty of "PEACEMAKER-ISM", and I would love the Igbos to be known more for the guilt of MAKING PEACE.

So we go on and on about the Oba's comment and what happens? Fights, fracas, and some fathers and sons on both sides lose their lives and people lose property and investments.

As you may have noticed from my name Ijeoma Omotade, I am Igbo married to Yoruba and happily married too. I went into the Yoruba culture and CONSCIOUSLY took time to learn about it. It was when I decided to marry that I knew how deep tribalism has eaten even into our so called Igbo and Yoruba elite. *Sigh* Having also schooled in the north during my secondary school days, and as much as I greatly admire the peaceful and simple nature of the average northerner, sadly they are not left out of the "tribalism" card-carrying.

As an Igbo woman, I may not agree with all the Yoruba do but I live in their culture and I'm in their land, so I respect them and in turn they sense my aura of respect and willingness to understand them and they treat me well. And when I get an opportunity to talk about MY CULTURE and correct some misconceptions they have about Igbos, I do so with GREAT PRIDE because there are so many great things about us they don't know! And BECAUSE I respect them, THEY LISTEN and LEARN, even through jokes and laughter.

Even the few who were antagonistic toward me, embrace me now, or are at least civil toward me. It didn't make me any less dignified to understand better another man's culture; it made me wiser, and stronger and more appreciative of the richness of our country. The flagrant disregard for other's culture exhibited by many Nigerians is really bad! How do you expect to reason with someone unless you understand their worldview?

Truly, we wouldn't tolerate half the things we expect from Lagos in Aba or Onitsha or Enugu. Igbos want to be part of the House of Assembly and be among the decision makers for Lagos state. That in itself is not bad because a state stakeholder HAS A RIGHT to be among those making decisions for the state. But historically and by default, people kick against non-tribesman being at the decision-making level and our flippant comments about "taking over the land" is not helping matters either! Why do we want to "take over" another man's land? It wasn't bare land before people came and developed it. It's people's ancestral homes, and even in a democracy where many are working tirelessly to water the progressive idea of ONE NIGERIA, it is still important we recognize  and help preserve each other's heritage. For only  then can we truly build the foundation for lasting synergy and proudly BECOME ONE, for the greater good of OUR LAND.

Personally I'm deeply hurt hearing some Yoruba leaders telling my people that we should be "grateful" living in Lagos; that is utterly unfair, point blank. Any Yoruba person saying that is very shallow minded. We Igbos work HARD for our living, and add IMMENSELY to the growth and development of the city. Try shutting down major trade markets dominated by Igbos for just one week and watch Lagos economy go haywire! But so does the Hausa community in the east that bring in food and supply our markets; they work hard too! Let them stop the lorries from bringing in food to the south and watch what happens. So I plead with EVERYONE, my IGBO KINSMEN inclusive. And this is my plea, that we PLEASE speak as we would like to be spoken to; "do as you would be done by", RESPECT AND LOVE your fellow man…ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL BY GOD!

I also share a bit of the Lagos indigene sentiment. I wouldn't want my hometown to be "cosmopoliticized" and my ancestral homes snatched away and turned into highways and hotels, and be told my home town is "no man's land". That's highly disrespectful. History has deep roots in this land.

I don't support the Oba, he is not my relative, nor did he "settle" my family. In his heart he is just like many other Igbos, Hausas and Yorubas; TRIBALISTIC! The only difference is that he is an influential public figure and so we can all tweet and Facebook his bad communication skills; a public figure who didn't think about the implications of his words before he spoke. However, that statement would have been made by even an angry IGBO king or Hausa Emir because I don't see anyone of them doing any better!

In a quest for peace, there are two parties; the one making amends and the one accepting the apology. Let us the grieved accept, and move on. Let us all learn to APPRECIATE and LOVE one another. The other alternative is not better. No one wants tribal clashes; people will die, women will be widowed, children will be orphaned, on both sides…and Chimamanda, you will probably write a book about it, far away from all the madness, on your creative desk; the one that IS NOT IN LAGOS!

…I still remain an ardent admirer…


  1. Na all these kin women I de find for market and I never see...

    1. Memphis don't look too far, I'm here

    2. do you expect to be found with an unknown identity?
      This reminds me of a saying about single ladies that always complain about not finding mr.right, yet they're always indoors. Perhaps Mr.Right would break into their homes. Lol

  2. Thumbs up to this babe...I didn't want to get involved in this oba's saga but this babe killed it....How would someone call Lagos a no man's land....Humphhh

  3. "It is dishonest to respond to a specific act of prejudice by ignoring that act and instead stressing the generic and the general.  It is similar to responding to a specific crime by saying ‘we are all capable of crime.’ Indeed we are. But responses such as these are diversionary tactics. They dismiss the specific act, diminish its importance, and ultimately aim at silencing the legitimate fears of people." If the lady above read and understood this she would not have written 3/4 of what she wrote.

    I love the part she wrote about protecting one's heritage, but we cannot eat our cake and have it. When I clamour for my town to become the biggest city in Africa, it comes with consequences. In all I like the fact she preached peace highlighting the important role played by each major ethnic group. As an aside, is it me or people in a hurry to comment on anything these days without fully comprehending. How did they scale through those WAEC comprehension. J

    1. Gbam, Gbammer, Gbammest !!!

      My respect for you and your insight just increased by miles.

  4. “Most Igbos says they are the people that developed Lagos and made Lagos what it is today. They say without Igbos, Lagos is finished. And i keep wondering, how has Igbos helped in shaping and developing Lagos?

    “Lets get the fact right, Igbos didn't develop Lagos rather, it was Lagos that shaped and made the Igbos what they are today. Without igbos in Lagos, Lagos will remain Lagos and without Lagos, most Igbos may likely be nothing.

    “Reason for my assertion is that most giant and top companies that attracts millions of people across the country to Lagos are not owned by the Igbos so, how has Igbos shaped and developed Lagos?

    “This are the achievements and economic advancement Igbos gave Lagos and Lagosians; tokunbo and fake spare parts at Ladepo Market, China Electronics and pirated CDs at Alaba market, bend-down select cloths at Idumota and yaba and kotangowa market, Chinese and tokunbo computers accessories and phones at Computer village Ikeja are Igbos economical achievement and contribution to Lagos. In fact, most Igbos are causing nuisance in Lagos. A visit to this markets will tell you the amount of nuisance that Most Igbos has caused in Lagos. The environments this Igbos traders are mostly populated are always polluted with waste of all sorts, they are dirty, stinking, rough, erection of illegal shops on road, on pipeline and railway lines are encouraged in this market places that causes traffic gridlock and other dangerous acts and when Lagos state government dismantle this illegal shops, they get angry, if Lagos state government close their shops for environmental violation, they pick offence. How then has the Igbos developed Lagos?


    “Igbos shouldn't lay claim that they develop a place by becoming nuisance. Most of the top churches in Lagos are not also owned by Igbos. House on the Rock, Redeem, Christ Embassy, Deeper life, living faith, MFM, etc are not owned by Igbos, the only church that's reasonable that's owned by an Igbo man is TREM, while another Igbos church Lord Chosen church encourage nuisance in Lagos and it also double as the most dirtiest church in Lagos.

    “Records shows that 75% of robbery cases in Lagos are carried out by Igbos, 85% of ritual cases in Lagos are carried out by Igbos, 60% of drug cases in Lagos are carried out by Igbos, 70% of fraud cases in Lagos are carried out by Igbos, 90% of pirated CDs in Lagos are carried out by Igbos, 60% of fake and Adulterated drugs in Lagos that has kill thousands of Lagosians are carried out by Igbos, in fact, most of the crimes in Lagos are related to the Igbos so how has Igbos developed Lagos when they can't get their hands off crimes?

    “There's no Igbo man among the top three richest people in Nigeria, so how are they successful?

    “The truth is that Igbos should be grateful that the Yorubas accommodated them in Lagos peacefully, they shouldn't take the Meekness and kindness of the Yorubas for granted.

    “Igbos didn't make Lagos but its actually Lagos that made Igbos.”

    1. where does one begin with this uselessly long ignorant comment? Continue wallowing in your ignorance. Lagos made the Igbos is the biggest joke of this century.

    2. Wow,this is practically the same line or reasoning the whites have against the blacks in America according to Obama's book (The Audacity of Hope) yet today a black man is the President of the same America...

      God dey...

    3. In as much as I understand where Alabi is coming from, I'm not sure she's made this comment from a very well informed point of view as regards the importance of igbos in Lagos(though most of what you've said are well known fact). There's a lot more to the igbos than those social vices.

      Well as for the anon. You have not made any valid point to counter what she has said so I'D suggest you keep mute.

      Whether we like it or not, Lagos made the Igbos and any other ethnic group that has chosen to embark on any business venture in this land, PERIOD!

      Outside all these, let's move beyond this and pray for a One Nigeria with peaceful coexistence amongst ourselves.

    4. Anon go nd find a sit, cos she has said d fact above all reasonable doubt..... Thumbs up yet

  5. Yetunde cool down. No need to dignify your whole comment by replying you. You are part of the problem we are trying to address. Vomiting bile with no provocation. Disappointed much.

    As far as I'm concerned, this is not a reply to Chimamanda's article because this quote "We are indeed all prejudiced, but that is not an appropriate response to an issue this serious" obviously shows that both articles are headed different directions though both raised valid points.

    She just wanted more people to read her write up by inserting Chimamanda's name there.

    1. Haba u don't have to come under anonymous..... Calm down they say opinions is like an a--hole,everybody's got one...

  6. Kai Yetunde, i'm so disappointed in you.....but hey, who am I, another igbo person that should be grateful of being accommodated in Lagos. SMH. J

    1. U don't have to be,u aired your opinion and I aired mine...

    2. But Yetunde Alabi you know you're worse than Oba Akiolu right? With people like you tribalism will never end. I cannot believe that a young woman of this generation would think this way. Completely disappointing. I'm a yoruba living in Lagos but I can never think the way you do or agree with the points in your comment.

    3. In as much as I'm not so in support of Yetunde's comment albeit made with a lot of emotion tantrums (Lol)

      J's support of what Chimamanda had written earlier also shows she's also stuck in the tribal 'Bermuda triangle'(like Patrick obahiagbon wud say it)

  7. I'm surprised you all are attacking TNHW. You can see that she quoted a comment from some other website. I thought it would be wiser to ask what her intention was posting it here than hurriedly becoming disappointed with her.

    Yetunde you no even wan explain yourself, just giving #yimu replies. You're really naughty.

    1. Memphis u always try to be diplomatic. If she doesn't agree with those comments then she would have said something, instead she adopted those comments as her own meaning that she shares the same opinions. Please let's call a spade a spade, she is an extreme tribalist and a proud one to boot. Or else she can tell us where she stands.

    2. She made 2 comments yet you dwelt on the most sensitive one. Did you see her 1st comment? I'm hardly diplomatic but I always try to be careful about people before jumping into conclusion.

      When Thelma posted Chimamanda's write up I made mention of her talking about prejudice yet she went all the way sounding prejudiced. Even before we saw this lady's write up I asked if we noticed how degrading it sounds when we call Hausa people *aboki*. There could be a number of reasons why TNHW posted that comment (which isn't hers btw). Yeah, it could mean she's tribalistic but that's not enough clue to judge her that way. It could also mean that she's fed up with the constant rants of Igbos hence this quoted comment. In truth, how many Igbos will watch a *foreigner* come to his/her State of origin and say it's no man's land? The Post is supposed to instill peace and foster unity, not make it hotter than it already is.

      You guys better kiss and make up now!

    3. Memphis you dey mind them....My opinion was the first one...Guess what,you can check my timeline,I don't do politics and religions because I respect people's y'all can scream from today till tomorrow... I shared that comment because I was amused by it....Mr ola went as far as checking me not going to apologize for something I didn't do.......

    4. You copied and pasted them as your comment without saying anything and people are supposed to read ur mind n know that you'r amused by them? You should have said so and avoided all this, even though I don't believe that you don't share some of those sentiments.

    5. Hmmmm....this anonymous Berra take a chill pill...shey u want me to hug transformer before ur swollen head reduces ni?it's a hot night....phew!!!!

    6. Hahahaha,.. Abeg oooo no hug transformer ooo... D head go reduce wen hin brain settle

  8. Hmm,lets be very careful. Xenophobia is very real. The people of South Africa are experiencing this after the utterance by their Zulu King and I heard some Nig have been affected.

    1. The world is filled with so much hate. So sad

    2. The just concluded elections have shown that the hate in Nigeria alone covers more than half the hate in this world.Even the so called educated ones are worse than the people they refer to as illiterates.God have MERCY!How can someone write the kind of article that I see above about a particular tribe,whoever wrote that is going to choke on that enormous quantity of hate.The igbos are not the only ones sayin Lagos is no man's land,people from other yoruba speaking states also make that statement so what's with all this wahala.If a yoruba young man prefers to sit in one of the rooms in his father's house and be forming landlord rather than travelling out of Lagos to work and make ends meet,how is that the fault of the ordinary igbo man who has come to hussle.Last week an actress said "what radio did to Rwanda is what internet is doing to Nigeria and if we're not careful,we will be worse than Rwanda if we give in to this hatred.Like I always say,with the way an average Nigerian reasons,Nigeria is far from getting better.

  9. nawa o. Memphis only God knows why you're taking panadol for Yetunde's headache. Please lets all be objective with our shit and correct each other when necessary. She hasnt even unequivocally stated that she doesnt share the sentiments of those comments she posted. Right now it just seems like she used your defense as a soft landing... From where I'm standing, her 1st comment just looks like a convenient for the second.
    Miss Yetunde, I understand how annoying it is when igbos say Lagos is no man's land or that Igbos made Lagos and what it is, but mehn, those comments? thats not the way to go..thats just wrong. Those are worse than the Oba's statements which if put in the proper context, was more about election bullying than tribalism IMHO.

    1. Smh. @Punintended you amuse me. Are you implying that Yetunde actually made effort defending herself through my comments?

      There's a popular notion which says "1st Impression counts". Not even considering the fact that alot of BVs appreciate her presence on this blog you've obviously rushed your judgment. Her first comment summarized the Post. One has to then wonder why she would quote someone who's obviously tribalitic and take the argument away from the same direction as her first comment. She left no explanation for this action, neither did she support/dispute the quote with an underlining comment of hers. The least we could do, out of respect for a blog friend, was to ask her why she would do that after her 1st impression (1st comment). But I'm reading "Memphis is taking Panadol for her...Yetunde I'm disappointed in're tribalistic..yada yada...". Na WA o.

      If it were to be a sensitive topic like homosexuality a lot of you would be quiet because you don't intend to appear judgmental or just couldn't be bothered, even advising on the popular "live and let live" slogan. But y'all have majestically concluded that TNHW is tribalistic without even analyzing both comments. Well done.

  10. Between January and now, I've learnt to speak less even when my belly quivers for release. I've put in practice more often the wisdom of saying nothing, as opposed to saying hurtful and mean things. This past election has been insightful. No new enemies yet fewer old friends...the hate in some people is real and breathing sha!!!
    The above bitter comment (whatever its source) is to say the least a joke I find I can't 'laugh' away. Pity I can't put my thoughts to writing either, cos I don't want to be 'tribalistic', nor can I trust myself to not be rude in my present state of mind.
    Having clicked on this post right after seeing disturbing images of the South Africa xenophobia crisis... all I will say is LIFE IS NOT THAT HARD! Live, love, LEARN! Selah!

    1. Very apt remark if I may say.

      Simon Kolawole's article on the 'mistake of 1914' I believe, provides a great insight on the quest to unify Nigeria not just on paper or on a map but in our speeches, thoughts and actions. Someone once remarked that unification isn't about uniting nations, it is about uniting people. Sadly, we sign agreements, peace treaties, economic partnership, aids and grants and other noble endeavours but yet in that defining moment, one can still see the hatred, intense dislike, intolerance, prejudice exhibited by people. This brings to memory Apostle Paul's introduction to the quintessential definition of Love in 1 Cor. 13:1-3.

      I'd conclude with the words of Einstein (paraphrased): there isn't any genius in identifying a problem where one exists (anyone can do that), the genius lies in finding a solution - the right solution.

  11. I still cannot fathom why people feel threatened by the igbos...
    Rily sad the kinda thoughs we breed tho. Wow so much hate, with some people trying to hide behind other's comments.
    We can only and truly become one Nigeria if we respect eachother's heritage.
    This is underwhelming people, let's be careful please.

  12. People are threatened because they know what the Igbos are capable of. Igbos are not the only tribe that lives in Lagos but how come we're the ones that get bullied and harassed? Simply because we are perceived as a real threat. We did not make Lagos and Lagos did not make us. Everywhere Igbos go they thrive, be it in Lagos or Spain. Igbos are very industrious and look for opportunities everywhere, for God's sake Lagos was the country's capital and is still the economic hub of the country so why is it surprising that people of different ethnicities are here? I'm so sick and tired of all this talk and all the hate.

  13. Long comment alert...
    Let me start with Yetunde's comment, the fact that you copied and pasted someone's comment from whichever blog without quoting or explaining means the comment reflects your mindset and that is sad. Please let us all remember that we are Nigerians first before any tribe, if you travel to Europe, Asia or wherever you will be identified as a Nigerian before Yoruba, Igbo or whichever other tribe. Chimamanda's article was one calling for caution, xenophobia is real as sasha has said, let us be mindful of our speech, live and let live.
    An incident comes to mind of my personal experience with tribalism, sometime last week i followed some colleagues to drop halfway home, on third mainland bridge we saw a car with a lot of luggage, the car was busting at its seams, they looked and saw the car, they started talking in Yoruba about how they were sure they were Igbo men carrying the luggage, how Igbo people like to take over wherever they find themselves etc, then one of them maybe remembering my presence now said not all Igbos are bad that his best friends were Igbo. Throughout this, I didn't utter a word but I have never felt so much of an outsider as that day, and I felt that if a war should break out, these colleagues of mine won't hesitate to turn me in.
    Let's correct and caution with love, if you see someone doing something wrong whatever tribe please correct the person. Everyone I believe has a hand in the development of Lagos and I doubt any Igbo man will like to claim ownership, but that being said we just want to contribute in the community we live in and I don't think that is a bad thing. One love and have an awesome day guys.

  14. Fine I made a mistake,I should have posted the source of the second comment I made,but guess what I share part of those sentiments... But who made you anonymous God to judge me as been tribalist.Most of my friends are Igbo's and I took out time to explain to them and they all concurred... Memphis you just got a plus one respect from me....Uyi your head dey if you still want to hug transformer you better do before may 29..,You just pressed my angry button...I remain that naughty house wife...

    1. Yetunde. just expressed the same sentiments I've heard in a lot of my young Yoruba friends. In the last 2 weeks I've been so disappointed and she'll shocked at the amount of hate they secretly harbour in their hearts against the Igbos.
      Then they end in just the way you have with a weak apology.
      I've lost a lot of friends over these 2015 elections.

  15. You certainly don't deserve these names given to you from birth

  16. There is beauty in our DIVERSITY Biko. We all can't be Igbo's, Yoruba's, Hausa's--- Ghanaians or Nigerians. Let's embrace Diversity

  17. Xenophobia
    The thing about the written or spoken word is it may never be erased. Lagos is not a no man's land, it is our economic nerve centre. If d true Lagosians drive d yorubas from Ekiti, Oyo n co out of Lagos, we all shd be able to speak up in their defense.
    Make every effort to love and tolerate people of other tribes and nationalities. Do not imbibe d hatred of our fore fathers. While u reserve d right, u also need to comment carefully. If u read your comment in 5 years or your child who has a friend of a diff tribe reads it, will u feel differently?
    As we move on from d weeks of bile, let us choose words that heal and not destroy. Cheers
    Dr. N (happily Igbo, married to Cross Riverian, living in Lagos, speaks Ogoni sparingly)

  18. O wow! I came late! :(

    The comments and replies had me.....

    Anyway... this line of thought / way of thinking stems from a whole lot of factors. Our parents, our friends, those we interact with and a bunch of others. Now that we are adults and have a mind of our own, we should make a conscious effort to change the way we think and act. Like the lady said... everyone is guilty. Let's just learn to LOVE and RESPECT one another. It is well....


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