Dear reader for a very long time, issues of race, gender and tribe never registered with me. All the way from Primary school to my University days, tribe, race and gender issues were things I largely didn’t notice. I’d play with everyone who’d have me and interact with whomever I wanted. Heck all of my major crushes were on ladies of eastern Nigerian origin, Igbo to be specific. (Still is actually)
Anyway, It wasn’t until my one year mandatory youth service that I started to notice the “lines” between people of varying tribes and my reaction to it was “ignore tribe, it does not matter, we are all one”. But in these times of increased tension between race, tribe and gender, I’ve had cause to revisit the above mindset and I have found it lacking.
Well I believe that such a mindset while having good intentions is flawed because it equates differences to division. It sees uniqueness as something that separates rather than unites. I now find this to be untrue. Consider the rainbow and an orchestra. Both are an ensemble of different things and are the more beautiful for it. I believe the same applies to humanity. I no longer believe that true unity can be experienced by ignoring our differences. Instead I now say see the differences. See them and embrace them as things of celebration and not division.
Now i know this is easier said than done. I also know that it is a whole lot easier to just accept things as they are while believing that we are in no position to influence anything but as someone who has recently come to see the value of the “Man in the Mirror” principle (If you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make the change) I have resolved to do two things:
1) Embrace myself and my culture: This is crucial because I believe the first step in accepting your neighbor is to accept and celebrate yourself. For me, this is no longer seeing my Yoruba culture as some “add-on” or something to be ignored or treated as “inferior”. Growing up, I largely eschewed learning anything Yoruba related (as a result my grasp of the language makes Oliver Twist’s work clothes seem like winter wear) but no more of that. So from remedial classes in Yoruba language to self study on the culture I am embracing myself as a proud black Yoruba Nigerian Man. No apologies given
2) Being the unity I want to see: There is a belief that unless you occupy some political seat, you have no influence and no chance of seeing any positive change in your environment but I beg to differ. As long as YOU are alive, YOU are in a position of influence. Experiencing unity starts with me being the unity. Being a person who will listen and really get to know my brothers and sisters from other tribes and races without glossing over any pain and anger they might have at a system or nation that has wronged them. Being a person who will give fair treatment and judgement to all notwithstanding the circumstances. Being the person who will celebrate the uniqueness of every individual and laud their efforts. For me, it is time to stop looking up for change. I am the change.
Well dear reader, those are my thoughts and resolutions. What are yours? 🙂