Sunday, November 14, 2010

Perceptions of ethnicity in Nigeria

I'd be interested in your comments on this film.  For me, no matter that it is well done, it does little other than repeat the cliches that everyone knows.  That doesn't mean to say the interviewees are not dealing in social truths: the Yoruba thrive on complexity and ambiguity, the Igbo universe centres on trade and money and the Hausa live in a world structured by Islam.  But there is so much more to be said than this.  It would have been more interesting to interview members of smaller ethnic groups, rather than rigorously enforce the triangulation..


Myne Whitman 1:56 am  

I agree with you. These are cliches, but of course they're also a lot of what people on the street think. I also thought they should have involved more people from other diverse cultures. Maybe there's a longer film..

Nneoma 3:48 am  

Cliched, yes. But one of the few times I have heard the good along with the terrible (though the Yoruba man at the end struggled to find something positive to say about Igbo
Anyway, I am very much used to hearing these stereotypes vehemently repeated among middle-aged to older folks. I find that youth (well those who belong to the relatively small middle class and perhaps live in more diverse areas) are more likely to embrace the one Nigeria mantra and therefore less likely to air their biases in public. But like you, I would have enjoyed the perspectives of other ethnic groups. Better yet, interviews of those with mixed ethnicities (even those whose parents belong to one of the three largest groups) would prove to be more interesting. I have seen some manage their dual identity by simply embracing that of the more dominant parent (regardless of gender of the parent) and some shed allegiance to either ethnic affiliation altogether (whether by choice, or by upbringing).

Mark @ Israel 4:18 am  

These are the common perceptions of people on others. Of course, it is but natural for a person to like or not like someone based on his or her ethnicity. Perceptions would also be based on their experiences with other tribes. Some of these perceptions may be accurate or may not be accurate at all. And these perceptions sooner or later may change.

Nkem,  11:04 am  

What a load of bollocks. What social truths? They sound more like platitudes which float through the ether and get adopted as some kind of fact/reflection of reality. I'm sure Igbos like to party as much as Yoruba people. This is so disappointing. As for other ethnicities, well, people simply don't know much about them.

Naija 2:43 am  

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Geskiya,  4:00 pm  

These are what people believe, and they are centred on some elements of truth, that are embedded in history. Overall the differences are small. To me, the most differnet are Ibos. No one really ever goes to the East (I never have) and their language is so alien to me. I grew up with Hausa sweet sellers and maiguards and there is some Hausa in my parents' language. Yorubas are known by all because they are educated and travelled and because Lagos is inbYoruba land.

I am Edo and many in my family of my generation have married outside the tribe. In fact, I struggle to think of many of my cousins that married within the tribe. But despite this, most of us still live with our prejudices. I guess people have more a fear or dislike for the poor or the masses than they have for other tribes. Amongst the upper class, there is remarkably little tribalism. Perhaps it is because a lot of us come to the US and the UK and here, we realise how much more we have in common than not.

As an Edo, how do people see me in my opinion? I think as a bit of a blank slate. Each tribe sees something in us. A bit exotic - becaus of the whole juju thing. A bit arrogant perhaps. Maybe a bit volatiole as well.

I am pretty proud to be Edo. But I am also proud of Nigerians (not proud of Nigeria, sorry) and proud of Africa.

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