By Adebayo Salako
Stop the reciprocal name calling and stereotypes. To the Igbo, a Yorubaman is a traitor, coward, unreliable. And to the Yoruba, the Igbo is money grubbing, impudent and crude.
At Onitsha International Market, there is Yoruba section. Again in recprocity, there are Igbo sections in auto spare parts markets in Ibadan, Owode Onirin in Lagos surburb and other major markets in Yoruba towns and cities. Respective state governments’ intervention is called for in enforcement of individual civic rights ?
There is no Yoruba section or Igbo section in major markets in the North.
The identifiable source of schism and tension between both is the cut throat contest for political power in which the winner takes all.
Conscious efforts in leveraging commonalities in culture, ancestral beliefs,value systems, overlapping vocabularies and precolonial traditional practices, could bring about unity of purpose in politics.
Just take a look at the synergy in Nigeria’s entertainment industry. Or the political achievement of zoning of presidency of Nigeria between the North and South, which came about consequent upon collaboration of the two during 1994 constitutional conference.
Dr Alex Ekwueme and Prof Ademola Adeshina jointly presented minority report that led to the present six zonal arrangement on which the sharing of major political offices is based
Just take a look at the beads worn by royals and nobles, the yam festivals, the burial of the dead in homesteads. When one comes upon big rat (okete) in the noon it is a bad omen. The head, chi, ori, is the seat of human destiny to be deified when one encounters misfortune too often. Kola nut is sacred instrument of divination, its inherent blessing is invoked at occasions.
In Yoruba pantheon, the river Niger goddess is the wife of Sango, the god of thunder. Onitsha and Asaba are two Igbo cities on the opposite banks of river Niger. Oshimili atata,( river Niger) is invoked for benediction by Igbo elders
The Onitsha founder Chima, was from Benin, quoting Dr Azikwe in his auto biography, My Odyssey.
Oduduwa,the progenitor of Yoruba’s, was Benin prince, in a version of the history,in another narration, Oranmiyan, the grandson of Oduduwa, founded the present Benin dynasty. Both Obi of Onitsha and Oba of Lagos visited Benin as part of installation rituals. Are you now seeing the links?
Let there be conscious bridge building between the two groups. There is the healing of civil war wounds between the Igbo’s and south south neighbours with Jonathan presidency. There is healing of wounds occasioned by annulment of June 12 election results between Yoruba’s and Hausa Fulani with unprecedented election Buhari by the Yoruba in 2015. One singular decisive step of such by any of the side will heal age long mutual wounds.
In the circumstances, the Yoruba has a duty to take the initiative. But first, consciously name callings, insults, and stereotyping coming from Igbo must have to stop.