Friday, November 22, 2019

To What extent are stereotypes true?

When I was a kid, there were certain stereotypes we were brainwashed to accept as truth. For example, kids who wear prescription glasses are often stereotyped as intelligent, well-behaved, creative and studious. I grew up believing this because Amaka, my primary school classmate, wore glasses and she was our teacher's favourite because she was brainy.

There are lots of stereotypes about people, tribes and countries which begs the question, to what extent are stereotypes true? I have heard men tell their sons not to marry from certain tribes because women from such tribes are promiscuous and violent. It is often said that Igbo men take good care of their wives. This is the antithesis of what Zaar men are said to do.

In other countries, Nigerians are stereotyped as dubious, corruptible and loud, which is definitely not true but I guess this conclusion was reached because of what a person or some people observed amongst the few Nigerians they have interacted with. Nigerians are generally animated people. They tend to be loud when they are excited and they gesticulate as they speak. It's easy for anyone to misconstrue this.

Here in Nigeria, almost every tribe has a stereotype. Let me start from the  major tribes: the yorubas are considered loud, treacherous, deceitful, gossipy and foul-mouthed but scholarly. Igbo people are regarded as parsimonious, miserly and overly ambitious. It is believed that if a shady deal would fetch money, an Igbo person won't mind being dishonest. To them, the end justifies the means. Hausa women are said to be virtuous and submissive and their men are thought to be fanatical, protective, domineering and good in bed.

Marghi women are said to make loving and dutiful wives but they have a jealous and vindictive streak. They won't hesitate to send an errant husband six feet below the ground. Idoma women are said to be faithful in marriage: they stay true to their spouses in sickness or health, whether rich or poor.

Ijaw people are said to love alcohol but I'v met an Ijaw teetotaler. Igbira people are said to be aggressive, argumentative and rude. Calabar women are said to have culinary skills and love making skills. I have not sampled a Calabar woman before so I wouldn't know if this stereotype is true.

I hate to admit it but some of these stereotypes are partially true. I have met someone who is gossipy, treacherous and loud but he's not Yoruba. The world's greatest miser is not Igbo, but someone from my tribe. My mum makes palatable meals and she is not from Calabar. I have met men who are not Igbos but they take care of their wives. I know an Idoma lady who can't keep a man because she is promiscuous. Stereotypes start when a lot of people from a certain tribe exhibit a certain behaviour over a long period of time that it would start to be assumed that such a behaviour is characteristic of that tribe, but in most cases, it's not always true.

By Darius Aminu

Would you remain faithful to an infertile or sterile spouse?

Infertility or the inability to conceive is often cited in divorce cases as the sole reason or one of  the reasons why a union has to end. In Africa where a man has to have children who would bear his name when he eventually passes on, infertility can result in divorce. Having only female children may result in divorce too because the average African man needs a male child to bear his name.

In Nigeria and other parts of Africa where infertility is grounds for divorce, some families won't let their male child get married to a woman until she takes in. This is done to ascertain the fertility of a prospective wife.

Other couples, especially those from a strong religious backgrounds where premarital sex is frowned upon, only run fertility tests to determine if they'll be able to conceive and once they get the greenlight, marriage preparations begin.

There are times when a fertility test is done, the result will be positive, but after marriage,the couple won't be able to bear children. Situations like these abound and in most cases I have seen, it has led to the split of the marriage.

I recently watched Emmanuel TV where a man from Plateau state, Nigeria, gave a miraculous testimony about how God healed him from infertility and he wife was able to conceive. According to him, their visits to different fertility clinics in Nigeria and different countries in Africa for solutions were abortive and when they finally resorted to do an artificial insemination, it was discovered that the man had no sperm cells. Having dead cells is better than having no cells at all because dead cells can be revived but having no cells is a hopeless case that medical science cannot remedy.

For those who might not know, artificial insemination is the process where semen is taken from the man and is used to artificially fertilized a woman's eggs and then the fertilized egg is inserted into the woman so it can grow. This is what the couple resorted to but the unfortunate discovery that the man had no cells at all put paid to their plans. When they exhausted all possibilities to no avail, they decided to visit Prophet T.B Joshua's church, the Synagogue Church of All Nations.

The man had been previously married but his first wife left him because he was not able to get her pregnant. She got married to another man and they had children.

Prior to his testimony, I had never heard that a woman left her husband because he couldn't get her pregnant. It was always the other way round: the man leaves the woman or the woman gets thrown out of the house. This is what usually obtains in different parts of Africa. Attitudes are changing but the woman is still apportioned blames for her inability to conceive even if it's the man's fault. The woman is also wrongly assumed to be responsible for determining the sex of a baby when it's actually the man who has the X and Y-chromosomes that determine the sex of the baby, depending on which one fertilizes the female egg, which is always an X-chromosome. A lot of Nigerians are oblivious of this fact and consequently, a lot of women get thrown out of their matrimonial homes because of their inability to bear male children for their husbands.

After they were prayed for, the man miraculously received his healing and his wife conceived that same month. Before this, the woman had resisted advice from friends and relatives to desert her husband and find another man who would get her pregnant. She remained faithful, stood her ground and stuck with her husband.

Watching the man testify how the wife stayed true to him made me realize that true love exists and that when someone loves you, they will will stick with you through thick and thin and weather the storms of life with you.

Can you stay true to a spouse who is infertile or sterile?

By Darius Aminu

Saturday, November 16, 2019

What My Dad Encouraged My Brother to Do to a Bully Would Shock You

By Darius Aminu

Do you think kids should be encouraged to stand up for themselves when they are bullied? There will always be a bully who picks on other kids and makes their lives a living hell. Kids,as innocent as they look, can be really mean and I'm putting it mildly. I have seen kids bullied by their peers to the point where they took their own lives. Bullying can come in different forms. It can be name-calling. It can be physical abuse or threats of physical abuse. It can even be online trolling. 

Back in the day in elementary school, I used to bear my grandfather’s name “Dawa” until my classmates bullied me into hating the name. They”d call me “dawadawa” whilst covering their nostrils as if I stank. “Dawadawa” is a northern flavouring made from locust beans and it has an offensive smell. I hated the name so much that I pestered my dad to come to my school and tell my class teacher to take it off the register. I wish I hadn’t done this because I later grew to love the name but it was too late. 

My parents knew I was being bullied at school but they did nothing about it. They only told me to ignore my bullies and that for me, wasn’t enough encouragement. 

My elder brother had his fair share of bullying too while growing up. Our neighbour’s son was the bane of my his life and a thorn in his flesh. He would beat my brother every now and then and my brother would come home crying. My brother literally lived in fear of this kid. They were age mates, of course, but the boy had an athletic build while my brother was skinny. Whenever I saw my brother running like some wild animal, I’d see the kid in hot pursuit. Let me coin one of Pete Edochie’s proverbs, “ Whenever you see a kid running in the day, it’s either he is pursuing something or something is pursuing him. This proverb encapsulated my brother’s life. He was always being chased, as Tom would chase Jerry in the popular cartoon series “ Tom and Jerry” and my father was irritated by it. He felt my brother shouldn’t be chased about like a rat by a boy his own age, so he devised a plan: whenever the kid chased my brother home again, he would throw my brother out and shut the door.

One day, the kid chased my brother home and unluckily for my brother, my father was at home. Suspecting that my brother was being chased again, my dad peeped through the window and saw the kid standing outside. He held my brother by the hand, dragged him to the door and threw him out, then he shut the door. It was like handing a thief over to an angry mob to be lynched. 

They stood face to face staring at each other. My brother was stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. He had two unpleasant choices: summon the courage to fight or be beaten to a pulp. The kid inched forward and pushed my brother and my brother retaliated. The started wrestling and surprisingly, my brother beat the kid mercilessly. That incident marked the beginning of his freedom; freedom from harassment and torture. He faced his worst nightmare and won.

I do not subscribe to my dad's actions and Iwon’t take such a drastic decision if I feel my child is being bullied and I definitely won’t encourage my child to fight unless he/she is cornered and it’s a life or death situation. Would you have handled the situation differently if you were in my dad’s shoes?

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Why Are Nigerians Accepting of Their Government's Failure?

By Darius Aminu

Nigeria which prides itself on being the most populous black nation on earth,  has another unpalatable achievement under its belt: it is the capital of the world's poorest. Aside this unenviable record, Nigeria is bedevilled by a multiplicity of challenges - corruption is endemic, ritual killings are daily occurrences, unemployment is at an all-time high, the cost of living is sky-rocketing, fulani herders kill rural community dwellers with impunity, banditry is the order of the day; abductions for ransom is rampant, bad roads cause accidents that result in hundreds, if not thousands, of deaths daily. Accidents that can be averted if a government official who fears God, as Nigerians would say, decides not to help himself to funds earmarked for road construction and maintenance. Nigerians have a million reasons to throng the streets in protest.

Nigeria's president, Muhammadu Buhari, has not only reneged on his promise to grow the economy, improve security and overhaul the country's healthcare, he is proudly Nigeria's number one medical tourist to the UK, a damning indictment of his ineptitude. Nigerians tolerate their government's excesses and it is unfathomable. Half of the challenges they face and endure would  cause political turmoil in other countries. Why are Nigerians so accepting and forgiving of their leaders' glaring incompetence? One answer lies in religion.

In a country where there are more places of worship than schools and companies combined, religion is the reason for the docility of Nigerians and the unlikelihood that they would protest against their grossly inept government.

Nigeria's incumbent Muslim president is hero-worshipped in the predominantly Muslim North and most Muslims condone his failures and excuse it even though the country is in dire straits. Buhari's supporters claim sixteen years of misrule by the opposition precipitated the country's decay despite the fact that the  country is going on a downward spiral on Buhari's watch.

Any call for protest will not garner the support of Muslims and if such a protest were to go ahead regardless, it would breed tension and culminate in sectarian violence and political unrest. Likewise,if the incumbent president were a Christian and there were calls for protest against him, Christians would denounce it as an anti-Christian campaign. That's how much Nigerians are blinded by religion. They baulk at demonstrations when the person at the helm of affairs professes their religion.

Judging by precedents, the Nigerian government will not brook any protest and ,most certainly, will not hesitate to use lethal force in the event that one occurs . The government is ruthless and high-handed and Nigerians are acutely aware of this. In 2015, Nigerian soldiers killed hundreds of Shiite protesters in the city of Zaria, Kaduna. In another incident last year, Shiites protesters demanding the release of their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-zazaky, illegally detained by the Nigerian government since 2015, were dispersed with deadly force and casualties were recorded. Despite court rulings that El-zazaky should be freed from detention, the government has blatantly refused to comply. The government's high-handedness and ruthlessness strikes fear into the hearts of Nigerians and dissuades them from demonstrating. The fear Nigerians have for their government is further compounded by the inaction of the international community as regards human rights violations by the Nigerian government. This has emboldened the government and undermined the people's confidence.

Caged by fear, blinded by religion and ignorant of the leverage they have and the power they would wield if they set aside their differences and collectively demand for positive change, Nigerians give their grossly inept leaders a free ride and enable mediocrity and until they awaken to the realization that they can hire and fire their incompetent leaders, their hope for a better country remains a wishful thinking.

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