Danger of Stereotypes; What Is Your Town Known For?


Stereotyping is the worst social ill ever. It is the backbone upon which racism and tribalism strive. Many people stereotype, even the socially and intellectually aware. In the face of stereotypes, people unceremoniously ditch reason. Argghhh! Nawaoooo!
I was in the salon today when a well to do Nnewi friend of mine passed, the women (trust us naa! Gossip mongers and lovers) there started talking about Nnewi people and wealth acquisition. It appears the hard working and business oriented people of Nnewi and in fact the whole of Anambra state acquired their wealth through rituals and wizardry a.k.a “Ogwu ego!”, hence the high number of “elebe elebe” (imbeciles) in their families. Try as I might to “educate” them on the causes of mental impairment in infants – drug and alcohol abuse, taking in after or near menopause and the rest- they ignored me and insisted that Anambra was renowned for their “ogwu ego” wealth. How absurd!
Quickly we veered off to another topic, spurred by the greeting of an Onitsha woman who passed the salon. Onitsha people are reportedly haters of ndi Igbo. I ask “are they NOT Igbos?”, I was quickly assured that they are but on a class of their own. They hate the Igbos (Non-Onitsha indigenes) and will always refuse to marry “nwa onye Igbo” – one who is not of Onitsha descent. How fascinating!
Now, we move to the Ohafia women of Abia state who are known for selling rice and ugba in Onitsha. These women are said to be so promiscuous they ware food and sex. They are said to raise up their wrappers on the street for the man to penetrate from behind – doggy style. As a result, men are “advised” to never marry from Ohafia. How unfair!
In no time, an Abakaliki ground nut seller passed by. We bought some ground nuts and the women hail the small boy for looking “smarter”. Apparently he used to be unkempt. The boy leaves and the women pounce on Ebonyi people. These people are said to be so dirty and unintelligent they are taught how to speak, walk and wash. According to these women “professors” personal hygiene is not in the Ebonyi person’s dictionary. My protests that I have lots of friends from Ebonyi who are not only intelligent go-getters but also very neat and hygiene conscious people fell on deaf ears. One’s excuse is that a man- a father of six- that lives in her “yard” refuses to use the water cistern toilet because he doesn’t like it. As such, he prefers to shit in the bushes and uncompleted buildings in the neighbourhood. How sad!
For a while, there appears to be a lull. For a few minutes all is quiet. Then, an Owerri woman joins us- she came for a perm. She talks about her niece’s upcoming traditional wedding. Boom! We see topic to gist about. The women berated the Owerri people of Imo state. Words such as “akwuna” (prostitutes) and greed permeate the environment. Ebe nile agbaka – all hell let’s loose. The Owerri woman pounced on another woman and quickly slaughtered the Aba Ngwa people of Abia state, screaming “lele ndi ori mmadu a!” – see this cannibals. There was an unwarranted higgi hagga, to borrow Patrick’s expression. Slurs were put on people’s good names and many derogatory names were called. The mbaise people. Of Imo state were dragged into the fracas and called wicked, evil, cunning people who according to a “popular” saying are best butchered if one is attacked by an Mbaise man and a snake, sparing the snake because the Mbaise man is deadlier. How untrue!
After a while, the dogs calmed down and the hyenas stopped howling. How embarrassing!
I finally thought to myself: “peace at last!”. Iya! Small time passed and we resumed again. More blood letting and barbs. This time our focus was on the marrying and caring abilities of the Udi and Ezeagu women of Enugu state. It so happens that these women are good cooks and can do the thingy thing. The only downside (if you are a teetotaler) is that they adore alcohol. From shepe to kai kai to palm wine. They can down a bottle of whisky and still smack you well. LOL. How falsified!
I learnt a lot, today. The power and danger of stereotyping. Individualism is not cared for when people stereotype. The Igbos of South Eastern Nigeria will say “Otu aka ruta mbanu o zuo ora onu!” – A people are judged by the deeds of a majority of them.
If the George Zimmerman case (a hispanic man who trigger-happily shot at and killed a black teenager because he was acting funny and didn’t fit into the predominantly white neighbourhood where Zimmerman was a volunteer guard) will teach us something, let it be that Obi is not Ike, even if they are both Nigerians from Anambra state who live in Onitsha. The deeds of one man or woman should not be used to measure the other(s). We are all endowed with different reasoning and thinking abilities. One man’s meat is another man’s poison.
Onye nwere nti ya nuru – He who has ears let him hear. Stereotyping is BAD because it encourages racism, tribalism, unfair and untrue categorization and badly informed opinions, let’s STOP it!

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About Egoyibo Okoro

Beautiful. Friendly. Opinionated. Feminist. Scholarly. Apolitical. Christian. Sometimes, I write in Engli-Igbo and/or pidgin English. Just so you know, I am naturally disgruntled about a lot of things, most especially gender inequality, human rights abuses, racism and corruption. #EndChildMarriage. #EndTerrorism. #EndPoverty. #EndRacism. #EndImperialism. The Igbo say, "egbe bere, ugo bere, nke si ibe ya ebena nku kwa ya" - Live and let live!
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4 Responses to Danger of Stereotypes; What Is Your Town Known For?

  1. munaolisa says:

    Beautiful write up

  2. I could not stop laughing! A Hair Salon is where all the “asiri” happens; anybody that passes by automatically becomes ihe akuko. I love your writing.

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