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Thursday, 12 September 2013

Why They Think Yoruba Are Cowards


Where Yoruba are concerned, the most influential component of the common narrative subscribed to by some from Nigeria’s other indigenous nations is this : “Yoruba are cowards.”
YORUBAUnfortunately, a significant proportion of Yoruba are yet to objectively examine and correctly adjust to this perspective of themselves by others. Which explains why such people are unable/unwilling to accept that it is folly to continue exhibiting the characteristics that encouraged the formation of this view of themselves by outsiders – why they remain reluctant to bring to the fore other characteristics that will disabuse those holding on to erroneous conclusions.
This is an exercise in procrastination that is likely to have detrimental consequences.
Repeat this description of the collective in the hearing of the type of Yoruba described above and the most likely reaction will be one where the description is dismissed as been nothing more than a piece of braggadocio that will be easily demolished if those who utter it ever attempt to act upon it.
This line of thinking is mistaken because it is potentially very wasteful. It is in fact more prudent to let people know that they will have a lot to lose if they try to impose upon you than to wait for them to make the attempt. Because as a rule, more treasure (in persons and materials) is spent in physically repelling attacks.
Chinua Achebe’s last book marked the inauguration of a new phase in the low-level conflict that has been wrongly described as ‘competition’ between Yoruba and Igbo.
In the heat of this ongoing battle, a number of leading Yoruba intellectuals and political leaders either stayed all the way out or restricted themselves to making ambiguous (AKA ‘nuanced’) interventions. This has been noticed – not only by Yoruba, but also by others…
In seeking to justify themselves, some of these Yoruba persons of ‘nuance’ let it be known that they are persons too advanced/sophisticated to participate in ‘tribal warfare’[1].
Meanwhile, Igbo leaders of thought from all parts of the spectrum were (and still are) busy molding the world’s perception of themselves as a ‘marginalised’ people who live under the threat of genocide in Nigeria[2]. In other words, while individuals like Ezekwesili, Kalu, Achebe, Obi, etc. have been busy differentiating the Igbo in global consciousness as a special group that is under threat of extermination at the hands of other so-called Nigerians (in a reprise of Rwanda 1993 perhaps) our own ‘de-tribalised’ intellectuals, being as they are so much in love with their self-constructed images as good/enlightened Nigerians, are mostly busy either maintaining their ‘nuanced’ perspectives or, a very significant silence.
A silence that may well be fatal because when the inevitable conflict starts, the entire world will see the Igbo as helpless victims – i.e. ones who belong to the same category as the Tutsi of Rwanda and the Albanians of Kosovo.
Meanwhile, the unspoken truth remains – the unspoken truth about how an ongoing war of words that may very well turn to bloodshed is not over who owns what in Igbo land. That is to say, no Yoruba person, from the ordinary citizen to the elites, is making a claim on any part of Igbo land or its resources. The conflict is in fact over Igbo assertions that not only is part of Yorubaland a ‘no man’s land’, but also that they (Igbo) have a right to aspire to leadership at all levels of government in Yoruba land.
That is it. That is what this quarrel is based on. But, Igbo leaders do not frame it like that. Instead, they accuse Yoruba of being ‘tribalists’ – simply because Yoruba say that they are not willing to be colonised.
So, the myth of Yoruba ‘cowardice’ – a myth that has over emboldened some other so-called Nigerians – is something whose source can now be summarized. And it is simply this: While many Igbo have been allowed to exercise their self-interest in Yoruba spheres of influence without challenge and while the most visible Igbo leaders have simultaneously maintained a false narrative about Yoruba and, about the role of Igbo in Nigeria, their Yoruba counterparts have mainly kept silent, preferring (instead of responding), to intensify futile efforts to make sense out of the infinitely complex mess that is Nigeria.
And it is this lack of an assertive Yoruba response to long-running provocations that has led some Igbo to believe that Yoruba are cowards.
Yoruba are not cowards, they were simply unfortunate (in recent times past) to have had naive fantasists as leaders and spokespersons. But, that period has now come to an end. And should the current political leadership fail or compromise in the pursuit of asserting Yoruba authority over the entirety of Yoruba geographical space, they can be assured that they will be replaced. The era of fake ‘Nigerian nationalism’ is over. Yoruba did not accept colonialism from Europeans and we will not accept it from fellow Africans.
NOTES
[1] ‘Tribal warfare’ – a deceptive label what was actually originally minted by manipulative people and later echoed by the naive (and the willfully ignorant).
[2] “Tears Of The Sun” (a film starring Bruce Willis) can be seen a fruit of such propagandising. In this film, the murder of an Igbo President was followed by a wide-spread massacre of Igbo all over Nigeria. Sometime this year (or early next year) Hollywood will be releasing the film version of “Half Of A Yellow Sun”. It can be expected that this film’s release will not be allowed to go to waste by those who wish to remind the world of how ‘unfairly’ the Igbo are treated in Nigeria and, the ‘dangers’ that they still face.

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