On The Trick Against Stereotypes

Dali's image of a Titan tearing itself apart

What’s the great trick? To know the stereotypes about other people yet treat each of them as an individual. Even when the stereotype proves itself right time and time again.

For me, it is an insistence that people are people, subject to flaws but also capable of the highest accomplishment. It’s hard sometimes. But that’s why it’s an insistence, isn’t it?

The Ijebu guy who cheated me cheated me, not all Ijebu people. The Igbo girl who jilted me jilted me, only she did. The Hausa chap who manipulated me over a commission did so, him alone.

I’m not saying we should be blind to ethnicity or nationalism or any categories. I don’t think that is possible. Even I have to catch myself on occasion. What I’m saying is we should not insist all individuals must square into these phoney boxes just so we can be “offended” and “angry” and feel better at not having given each of them a chance.

I’m from central Nigeria. This is our ethos. As I understand it. Rest of my countrypeople, can we not at least try this? Hard as it is but still try?

The hideous lies you’ve told about each other in the last weeks frightens me. Because I know these are informed by the worst examples. And that these slanders do not hold true for most people. Give each person a chance to err or to impress. Equally.

Ugo belu, egbe belu. As my new fried, Danda, would say, “He who feels what is good is not good for him should put his head in a mortar and see how he likes it.” This putting our head in a mortar, let’s not do it.

– Ra.


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