There is deadly cold war going on among the citizens of this country, Nigeria. Quiet but loudly heard. Hidden but can be seen everywhere. This cold war is the platform on which all our physical hostilities are erected. It is the major blueprint for the unfortunate template of tribal hatred, our religious hatred and cultural hatred evident around our environment. Our heterogeneity as a people is bound and manured in unbroken continuity by this cold war. It is both deadly and divisive but we don’t seem to care. We are having a debate on stopping hate speeches without talking about hatred’s indefatigable building blocks. We are talking about ending hatred while still holding on to the ideas causing hate.
Their is a deadly cold war going on among the citizens of our country, Nigeria. A war responsible for the way the people of this country treat fellow citizens of other tribes. A cold war that is responsible for the killings at the slightest provocation. A war that is responsible for the enjoyment of the pains of fellow citizens. A cold war that is responsible for the call that citizens of other tribes be harmed. It is the reason some Nigerians rejoiced when their was violence in Mile 12, Lagos, and an Oba and some youths, were arrested. It is the reason some protesters were shot in the east and some of us rejoiced. It is the reason many of us see any killing that happens in northern Nigeria as a thing of beauty.
Their is an erroneous assumption among us that because we do things together, we love each other. That Nigerians love for each other is exemplified in the level of their relationships. The truth is, these relationships are just business relationships. Our country is the way it is because we love MONEY above one another. We love material things above the immaterial things that could make us stronger. We are bonded by interest for each others money and not each others true satisfaction. This is why it is easy for our Senators and Representatives, who divide us in their campaigns, to join hands and steal us dry. It is not because they love each other or us but because they love money above all things. This same thing applies to a large percentage of us.
This cold war is the reason a child of a certain tribe grows up to hate a child of another tribe. They have not had any reason to clash or disagree. They have not harmed each other or ready to do that. They both believe in their sweet individual goodness but deny the same thing can be found in the other person simply because of their tribe or part of the country they come from. How did we come to believe that all Hausa people in this country have no value for life and will kill you at the slightest provocation? How did we come to believe that all Igbos in Nigeria love money above all things and will do anything to get it? How did we come to accept that all Yorubas in this country are good at backstabbing? Who carried out these surveys? Simple. Information, of better put, the media.
The Nigerian media is the heartbeat of this cold war going on in the country. They are largely responsible for the way the various peoples of Nigeria see each other. They perpetuate stereotypes about different sections of the country and pretend they are for fairness and the growth of the country. The media, before this country got her independence, was hijacked by men whose idea of tribalism was hatred of other tribes. Men who confused family love for hatred of other families. Men who felt that they need push someone down before they can climb up. They carried this hatred within them into the media and broadcasted to the general public. They made up stories, twisted stories and gave an incomplete account of the stories they told.
Here is what I am talking about. Today, persons from the six geopolitical zones of this country have media outfits created to focus on the negatives of people from other regions while ignoring theirs. They focus on how bad the governor of the people from other states are but pretend their governor is doing well. If a news breaks and persons from a tribe different from theirs is accused or caught with a human head, they focus on this news for days. If a person of their tribe commits the same offence, they pretend it didn’t happen. No one region holds a monopoly here. The only thing different is their method and frequency of operation. Finding a Nigerian media outlet where this is not the practise is like trying to pass a needle in the eye of a camel blindfolded.
The cold war created as a result of the hatred of men who knew the importance of communication is used to create an impression of a people to an innocent people. It tells people what every tribe is known for. This is not done directly but because they know how our minds work, they apply the logic and the rest is taken care of. See how Africa is portrayed by some media abroad in their news article. They show you an image of a child dying of hunger in a story talking about the election in an African country. They are not directly telling you Africa is a place of hunger and starvation, but your mind will come to match that image, after several encounters, with the picture of Africa. They want you to share their idea of Africa.
That is the unfortunate thing happening in Nigeria. It is responsible for some of the troubles around the country and if treason is what happens when a person betrays their country, this is not any different. This is the source of the bitterness in this country. This is the cold war responsible for the cold war responsible for the wars in this country. A scavenger of the mind is more dangerous to any society than a scavenger of the physical body. A person who tacitly teaches the people whom to hate is not different from a terrorist. You don’t need a gun to kill someone. You don’t need to physically attack a person to be guilty of murder. Once you make the idea of killing anyone appetizing and murder their minds, you are guilty of murder.
The government is often powerless in situations like these, so it is a question of personal morality. A media outfit may choose to always report the truth about killers from one or two tribes. They are not breaking any law but they are being immoral. They are giving the impression that killers only exist in that tribe. They are setting the minds of their audience up for hatred. Hatred of other people. Hatred of those tribes. They are building stereotypes. They are telling stories that could be true but incomplete. They are erecting hate pillars that could lead to hate speeches that lead to hate actions. The newspapers in various regions of this country try to push other tribes with their ‘objectivity’ to climb up. They are the masters of this cold war in Nigeria.
This war is also happening in our work places. The persons who speak a similar language or of same place engage in a dangerous politics that reduces productivity and fuels bad blood. Your name is scrutinized before you are given a job. Your village is identified before you are given a shot. Your state of origin is checked for ‘good behaviour’ before you pass the second phase of the interview. If this is not cold war what exactly is it? If this is not a result of the poor, wrong and deadly information we have been wired with, both consciously and subconsciously, how then did we acquire it? Children are proof that hatred for tribes, nations, religions and every other identities that separate us are learned.
Get this. Your tribesmen are like your family members and their is nothing bad in loving your family members more than other people. We often confuse this love for our tribesmen with hatred for other people. We identify tribalism as the hatred for other tribes and something that shouldn’t be encouraged. But it is not. Tribalism is not hatred for other tribes in Nigeria. It is not the illogical and misguided promotion of ones tribe above others. It is the simply love for ones tribe. It is simply goodwill for your roots. It is great. When we practise our cold war what we are doing ceases to be called tribalism but simply hatred. When we deny a person a job because they speak the tongue we hate, it is not because we are tribalists but because we are filled with hate. Simple.
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A tribe is not an ideology. You can’t say that people of tribe X are thieves or that people of tribe Y are by nature, ritual killers. A tribe is not a religion that everyone is expected to behave a certain way. It is not a garment you shed when you go off the conditions required to wear the garment in the first place. It is not like religions with rules and regulations where disobedience leads to semantic or real expulsion. The reason people behave the way they do is because of the individual decisions they make and not where they hail from. But for our information processors, this is not the case. They want us to have defined ways that people behave and we do. The evidence is abundant in all nooks and crannies of Nigeria.
This cold war has taught us how to listen wrongly to a person. Because it taught us to consider our tribe and religion before we respond to issues, we also consider people’s tribes and religions when they respond to issues. Before we listen to any person we will first ask where he or she come from. Is he from the same tribe as the criminal, culprit, suspect, etc., whose case is being debated? Is he or she defending the accused or the argument because he or she is from that tribe? And these days, objective people fall for the trap of these cold war mongers. To condemn an evil against Igbos, a non Igbo person will first say “I am not Igbo but this thing is wrong”. A non Yoruba will say ‘I am not Hausa but this is wrong’. ‘I am not a member of XYZ group but this is wrong” says another. Why do we have to tell anyone where we come from or stand before we make good points? Cold war!
Their are so many areas where this war could be seen. We can’t be at cold war with each other and expect to live peacefully. We can’t be bearing grudges against people who have done nothing to us simply because the media and our families asked us to and still talk about a one Nigerian dream. You can’t ask people to work for a united country when they are working hard to be a disunited people. When change begins with the people in power, the leaders, it has an infectious effect. Whether it is a positive or a negative change. Nigerian leaders must begin to unlearn some of the things they’ve learned about other tribes. They must begin the movement to end this cold war going on. One day, if this war is not stopped, some members of a certain tribe, will look for a way to end their opponents.