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

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