Below is a conversation between two Nigerians in a public motor park somewhere in Lagos.
As this author happened to be around at the time of the discussion he found the insights from a seemingly uneducated transport worker baffling and decided to share them on this blog.
SA appears to be a highly educated young man and DKSN is a mid-age Igbo man who works in a transport compnay. This is a real life conversation.
SA: Good evening sir.
DKSN: How are you?
SA: I am fine sir.
(They discuss business and SA’s goods are collected for way billing)
DKSN: You argue over price too much, better that you take a drink anytime you come here.
SA: You have never offered me a drink before?
DKSN: What will you take then?
DKSN: Malt? You don’s take alcohol?
(DKSN has been downing a petite bottle of Mcdowell’s Whiskey and sniffing snuff)
SA: I don’t drink.
DKSN: You have never drank alcohol?
DKSN: That is good. It is a good thing to avoid it, as it is a habit once formed that is difficult to drop.
DKSN: So where you from?
DKSN: Are you Igala?
SA: No. I am Okun.
DKSN: Kabba side? You people speak Yoruba as well
SA: Even the side you call Kabba has four division with different dialects.
DKSN: You know I grew up in Kaduna in Ori Apata area?
SA: That must have been a Yoruba quarter.
DKSN: Yes. In my compound I lived with four Okun families. In fact there was an Igbo man who was our neighbour they used to call Emma Kabba. He could speak Okun very well. You know that many Yoruba call your people Northerners.
SA: That is understandable. Many Yoruba people do not travel. They are not as exposed as the Igbos.
DKSN: Travelling gives you education and this is a form of education we Igbos have that the Yoruba cannot understand
SA; That is why the Igbo man adapts well to new ideas. The Yoruba stick to what they know.
DKSN: It is why Igbos speak many languages as well. I lived in Zaria 11 years and 2 years in Kaduna. I even had a business in Yola.I remember when we had to run for our lives during the Maitasine riots
SA: Ka na ji hausa? (do you understand Hausa)
DKSN: Yes I try
SA: Hmm, or you have lost the language?
DKSN: Although after I left the North I lived in London for 4 years , then Germany for another four years before coming to settle in Lagos. I still speak Hausa well though.
(SA drinks his malt)
DKSN: You know Nigeria’s problem especially given the recent troubles in the North is not related to religion?
DKSN: It is about tribalism and ethnic cleansing.
SA: How do you mean?
DKSN: I grew up with the Hausa-Fulani. In fact it was a Fulani man-Abdulrahman who made sure I did not rent a hotel room when I was in the UK. I was once a Moslem as well and I know that the religion does not call for the killing of Non-moslems.
DKSN: The Al-majiris have been brainwashed. It is the Northern ruling class who believe that the country is for them to rule who are using them to make the country ungovernable for any Southerner.Ipredicted this last year when Jonathan won the elections.
DKSN: If you doubt me, ask why the Yoruba moslem and other moslems in Benue and Niger states are not blowing themselves up. Most of the people doing this are core Hausa from Sokoto, Funtua, Daura, Potiskum, and some parts of Maiduguri.
DKSN: You see so many Southerners do not understand the North. There are Christians as far as Maiduguri who belong to indigenous tribes that were conquered by the Hausa/Fulani who came in from the Sudan and Egypt. The aim of Uthman Dan Fodio was to fight from where there was no water till he met where there was water i.e. the Ocean.
DKSN: His daughter Amina died in Auchi. It was only the Igbos he never conquered and this why the Fulani fear the Igbo.
SA: Amina died in Auchi?
DKSN: Yes I have. seen her grave.
(DKSN sniffs snuff)
DKSN: The Igbos still blame Azikiwe for not going on to declare independence with Awolowo in 1958. He wanted to be the Zik of Africa. But Awolowo was smarter. He wanted his people to move forward but Zik preferred to wait for the North.
SA: So the South wanted independence earlier?
DKSN: Yes that was the same year Ghana got her independence.
(DKSN swallows a sip of whiskey)
DKSN: You see Ghana, Togo and Benin are more stable. If Nigeria breaks up into regions she will lose respect in Africa because other Africans respect us for our size. We however have not learned government.The Ghanaians have learned this but they have the advanatge that the Ashanti are the most dominant tribe there.
SA: But there are other tribes.
DKSN: Yes there is the Fanti, Ga, Twi and even the Hausa. But they all speak Ashanti so they have one national spirit. This not so. Who will dominant the Hausa,the Yoruba or the Igbo? Each of these tribes have over 12 million people. They will therefore fight among one another for development to come to their place rather than for the good of the country.
SA: You are a walking encyclopedia
(By this time three other men are listening to this conversation)
DKSN: (laughs out loud, coughs and swallows some more whiskey) As much as you see the Boko Haram,the MASSOB and OPC fight, nobody wants to divide this country. They are only fighting for their own share of the national cake.
(DKSN sniffs his last snuff)
DKSN: When we were growing up they told us the Hausa was our enemy.See Lagos, the Yoruba people can cause fight to loot but they do not go around killing. All the indigenous peoples all over Nigeria, not those from the Sudan and Egypt who have been brain washed by the Arabs are very tolerant. Do not get me wrong the Hausa-Fulani are good people especially if you do business with them but when it comes to leadership and choosing their brothers, no matter how close you say you are to them , you are only wasting your time. They believe they are made to rule over the South. They call some people Banza Hausa and some other Bokwai Hausa. The Banzas are the indigenous tribes who speak Hausa but are not pure Hausa. These ones are the Plateaus, the southern Kadunas and some tribes in Maiduguri, Adamawa and Gombe. The Bokwais are the pure Hausa Fulani-the ones you see in Sokota, Gusau, Daura, Funtua, Potiskum, some parts of Bauchi. The Bokwai’s believe if you are not a Bokwai you are not one of them.
(SA downs the last of his malt and crumples the can)
DKSN: I believe Nigeria should not break but we can adopt the Great Britain system. Many people do not know that there are the Welsh, Scots, and English in the UK, all governing themselves. They only have one central government that handles the police and armed forces. This is what Nigeria can do and I believe that is why people are calling for a sovereign national conference.
(DKSN empties his whiskey bottle and sips slowly)
DKSN: When a white reporter asked Awolowo in the 1950’s what the difference was between the Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. Do you know waht Awolowo said?
DKSN: The Yoruba are diffrent from the Igbos as Germany differs from England and the Hausa are different from the two as the Chinese are to the English and Germans
SA: (he exclaims in wonder) You are an encyclopedia.
DKSN: Hear these things I have told you. many people do not know. many Nigerians are ignorant. When we see again we will talk.
SA: Thank you sir
( They shake hands and the author leaves).
As many readers will have discovered, the source of so much insight surprisingly came from a seemingly uneducated person. No matter how biased or wrong he may be, it is the critical thinking involved that is so engaging.