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“Edo Guys Do This, Calabar Girls Do That!” Shelving Stereotypes & Prejudices to Learn the Interesting Story

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In a multi-ethnic society like ours, its almost impossible not to judge a book by its cover; in fact it does not really matter if you do so, what really matters is that in spite of your prejudices, you give the book the benefit of doubt and the opportunity to prove you wrong! However, the issue is that many people are not willing to take that risk because to them, it seems unnecessary and it is almost akin to expecting feaces not to smell.
Some of the most common prejudices regarding tribe include; Hausa men are somewhat dirty with low educational attainment, Ibo men are swindlers albeit having good business sense, Calabar girls are promiscuous albeit being good homemakers, Edo men are bedmatically unrivaled, Edo girls are usually international sex hawkers, Yoruba people love throwing lavish parties, and so on.

However, I realised that much as I do not agree with most of these prejudices, some of them have become ingrained in me over time.Though I am tempted to ask where all these mindsets emanated from, I swallow back the question because I remember this poem that I wrote a while ago which aptly answers the question –

Life is a battlefield
We are walking wounded
Some wounds get healed
Others leave us forever scarred

Gradually we loose our innocence
Trusting ourselves or others make no sense
So we walk though life with our defences
High and formidable like Jericho’s fence
Who is to blame?
We are all prisoners of our experience

Though we can become prisoners of the experiences we have had with people of a particular tribe, we can actually make the conscious effort to give every other person from that tribe the benefit of the doubt and not just lump people into stereotypes because of things other people have done to you.

This is how I learnt this lesson. During my service year when I was at the orientation camp, there was this morning I craved so badly for spicy food and unfortunately what was being served that morning was bread and tea or something like that so I decided to go to mami market to get something else to eat. After checking around for a suitable place to eat, I decided to settle for yam and stew; unfortunately, it was after the food seller had poured the stew on the yam that I discovered that the yam was as cold as a dog’s nose! But I couldn’t let the food go to waste so I decided to eat the yam alone (for reasons best known to my quirky appetite) and push it down my throat with soft drink.

On the table directly in front of me, there were two Hausa guys discussing and one of them was picking his nose (actually he was literally turning eba in his nose with his index finger), picking out the contents and putting into his mouth totally oblivious of the presence of people around who were watching him. So I just decided to totally blank the guy out of my line of vision and continued forcing the stew-less yam down my throat with gulps of soft drink in spite of my disgust. Then he drew the phlegm out of his throat very loudly. I was miffed! I said something nasty which I can hardly remember, got up and left the food.

That singular experience confirmed the mindset I had about Hausa people being not very neat and not very cultured people.It was the mindset I carried until ‘experience’ taught me a very good lesson.

I needed a favour from a certain lady and had to go to her office. I met a scruffy-looking security man who began to bombard me with silly questions all in a bid to let me know that he was influential in his own way. I knew that I might need to go back there the next day to get a feedback from his boss and that I might still need to go through him so I decided to answer his worthless questions politely. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when in reply to his question of “wish state you from come?” I responded “My state of origin is Akwa-Ibom”. He then he gave me this snide wink and said “aha! So you sef sabi do well well? My blood went hot and I was ready to give him a piece of my mind, but I decided against it and just walked away.

I still do not know why that particular experience was really got to me because prior to that time, I had had similar experiences. In fact, many times when I meet some people from other tribes (especially older people) and I mention my name to them, I would sometimes hear a few sarcastic remarks or some would just say “so you be Calabar?” in a snide manner(note that even till today, some Nigerians still think, ‘Calabar’ is an amalgam of Cross River and Akwa Ibom state).

Much as I was made to understand that the reason why ‘Calabar’ ladies are seen in that light is because of the traditional fattening rooms which is peculiar to the Efik culture where young girls are kept in a certain place and fed till they are healthy,taught ‘bedmatics’ and home making skills among other things. Thus ‘Calabar’ ladies are believed to be very good at taking care of men.Then again I heard that seeing as dog meat is eaten regularly in Calabar, and dog meat is believed to give sexual stamina to women who eat it. Thus Calabar women are believed to be women with insatiable sexual appetites. Well, I find the second reason to be to really ridiculous and implausible. In fact, I doubt that security man knows anything about that theory and yet he confers those prejudices on every ‘Ekaete, Imabong and Affiong’ he meets.

But whatever the case maybe, I think it is much fairer to give everyone the benefit of doubt in spite of the stereotypes and prejudices rather than judge every book solely by its cover and miss out on an interesting story!

Photo Credit: 123rf.com

Umo Anwana is an Economist with a Master’s degree in Business Administration. She is a fashion entrepreneur as well as a writer and manages an Instagram page @naijaentreprenuerscity where she shares free resources, tested business principles, business case studies and insights to empower small business owners in order to significantly increase their understanding, knowledge base and capacity to grow their business by increasing sales, market share, customer loyalty, managing profits, e.t.c . @naijaentreprenuerscity is also an interactive page where small business owners can share their challenges, experiences and lessons learnt from running a business in Nigeria.

36 Comments

  1. Tiki

    May 16, 2013 at 9:54 am

    lol. I like the theme of your piece. That Hausa guy was majorly disgusting though – I don’t know how you managed to eat with him doing that next to you, I’m gagging right now!

  2. YVONNE

    May 16, 2013 at 10:06 am

    I’m from Akwa-Ibom and I get similar remarks from people too

    • slice

      May 16, 2013 at 1:59 pm

      I like the akwa ibom stereotype. Guys just assume I’ll be a great wife. Hehe

  3. ij

    May 16, 2013 at 10:18 am

    “Edo men are bedmatically unrivaled” really? had no clue
    In any case the weird and unfortunate thing is a lot of people live up to their stereotypes even when you give all the benefit of doubt in this world.
    i guess the ideal thing is to continue to try to be open minded & fair and not paint people with the same brush

    • my opinion

      May 16, 2013 at 10:53 am

      Na lie!!

  4. mia

    May 16, 2013 at 10:35 am

    people believe all sorts and treat you in line with the prejudice. i’m Yoruba and it is believed that Yorubas have “bad medicine” so during my service in the East, i asked my neighbor to do me a favour and he vehemently refused, the following day, his apartment alone was infested with soldier ants and would you believe that this guy came to me almost on his knees begging me to forgive him for not agreeing to do me the favour. he actually felt i was responsible for the soldier ants that infested his apartment, especially because it was only his apartment in the entire compound. I was mortified!

    • Purpleicious Babe

      May 16, 2013 at 10:55 am

      Loooool……. that was well funny.

      I guess our generation are more open minded. nice article.

    • Comfort

      May 16, 2013 at 11:49 am

      LOOOOOL That is ridiculous!!

    • jackie

      July 4, 2013 at 7:36 am

      MORTIFIED – E MO! Are you sure you were not responsible?

      I heard that Yoruba professionals and Professors all go to their villages to prepare/fortify themselves, and if you upset them, they will deal with you.

      I even heard of an Igbo teacher who flogged a Yoruba student who went and called his native doctor father[I gather every Yoruba family has a native doctor – in the same way every Igbo family has a trader, and every Hausa family has a boko haram adherent] and the next day the teacher’s hand was swollen beyond belief. The teacher had to kneel and beg father and son! Bad terrible people.

  5. my opinion

    May 16, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Na lie!! The Edo men stereotype is so untrue, at least from my own experience.

  6. Olori

    May 16, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Very nice topic, I must say. And funny too.
    As much as we all know people who are obvious exceptions to the stereotypical class they belong to, stereotypes will never end. This is because a greater percentage of people in the same class make it their life goal to constantly make those words ring true. Look at the Hausa men on your street; or your mother’s Yoruba friends; and that Ekaete girl that sneaks into your gate-man’s house every night. *shrug* They make it so hard for us to shelf the stereotypes.

  7. Laila

    May 16, 2013 at 11:01 am

    …………a very small mind.

  8. Banke

    May 16, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Or the stereotype that Yoruba girls are loose and always running from husband’s house after one rich Alhaji or having 3 kids by three different men. My ex’s family held that against me o, this yoruba girl that we are not sure that she stay. Divorce is in their culture. Before they even got to know me they had concluded. Lord knows I wanted to fire them too about the stereotypes about Ibo people too but they weren’t worth the stress and bros couldn’t stand up to his family so I borrowed myself extra brains to leave that relationship. I guess we can all relate because we stereotype too, and it is until you are the victim of stereotypes before you really get it

  9. hephzibah

    May 16, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Nice piese Umo. Being stereotyped or prejudiced is common everywhere. No matter what u do pple will always see d bad. We do not live our lives to please pple but God; just be urself. I was born of an Edo father & Imo mother & my boss in NYSC days told me that my combination is hot! That Edo pple loves sex & Imo women r insatiable! I just laughed it off. But if that’s d truth, then I chose to see d good side of it which is; that my husband is going to enjoy me! Choose to see d good sides of pple & of urself.

  10. destiny

    May 16, 2013 at 11:49 am

    U ar in 9ja and u are complainin,go outsyd 9ja and see d stereotyp dey have against us,it mks me sick 2 my stomach..smtyms I jst pretend not 2 here.

    • AW

      May 16, 2013 at 5:54 pm

      Right on point! The minute you say you are Nigerian, you start hearing stories about fraudulent emails from Nigeria. People just assume you should know evertthing about advance fee fraud or yahoo yahoo emails. You are immediately viewed with suspicion. In a way I don’t blame them, how can I? When some Nigerians are hell bent on tarnishing our image.
      I was watching YouTube the other day and there was this American lady going on and on, on how she hated Nigerians; we are too loud, too dirty! E be like say make I dash am slap! You could hear the underlying envy in her voice when she was trying to justify the reasons for her assertions.

    • A

      May 16, 2013 at 10:31 pm

      Looooool @ AW very well said jare 🙂

  11. barbiebolu

    May 16, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Nice write up darl, I must let you know that this is one of the reason some of us are still backward in everything, some of this thing you mentioned here even happen within the same ethnic group, when my hubby took me home, his father made a remark that Ijebu women likes to do ‘me and my husband’..and to think that this man does not even allow any member of his OWN extended family near his home sef baffled me oooo…my hubby had to stood his ground,…barely 2 years after we got married, when we moved to our OWN house which my hubby built, one of my father-inlaws friend made jest of him that God saves my hubby for not listening to his father cos if not, maybe He might still not be married till now,talkless of building a house…it’s only God that can save we african from stupid mentalities..thought some of their insinuations have been proved in the past,but things are changing and human being are created differently.

    • jackie

      July 4, 2013 at 7:01 am

      ITS NOT ONLY AFRICANS. ASIANS HAVE IT, SO DO EUROPEANS… AND AMERICANS. FOR INSTANCE, PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH MOCKED SARAH PALIN WHEN HE HEARD SHE WAS FROM ALASKA. OBAMA WAS ALSO MOCKED CAUSE HE GREW UP IN HAWAII. Likewise, an English man thinks a Scottish person is a worthless drunkard and people from Wales are all sheep farmers. The British think Americans are the bushest+crudest+most ignorant Caucasians; and the list goes on…

  12. Annie

    May 16, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    nice piece, i laugh everytime people scream “ibo girl” in connection with biz/money…what’s my own, as long as you agree with my terms and i make my money, u can go ahead and scream “ibo too like money” bottomline is, we have good head for biz, if you like call us swindlers till 2moro. I ve my job, and i do my biz by the side, hey, abeg i sell clothing’s, female, male, see what you want on a UK site, holla at your girl to make orders and bring it down to Lasgidi, that’s after we must ve agreed on a price though..*wink*

  13. nene

    May 16, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    unfortunately stereotypes are here to stay, and it’s based on individual experiences. me, i use stereotypes to help me in my daily dealings with people, and unfortunately, people usually act like their stereotypes about 70% of the time, whether igbo, yoruba, ikwerre, calabar, hausa, ghanaian, american, french, african american, jewish, italian, or british, etc. ibos are proud and arrogant, yoruba’s are dirty and aggressive, edo girls are dangerous, british people are unfriendly and lazy, italians are very direct and insatiable, french people are rude and also direct, ghanaians are good people in general, etc.

    • banke

      May 16, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      dirty and aggressive, really? This is the same person that will be very pissed if a white person acts racist towards you. You are a sorry excuse of a person. 70% indeed. I can see that you carefully did not state what part of Nigeria you are from. I’m sure your people have stereotypical behaviour as long as my arm. Nonsense

    • nene

      May 16, 2013 at 3:57 pm

      my dear no vex ehn. my name is nene, i’m ibo. ask your yoruba boys why they call their own people dirty, though i’ve experienced it but it’s “your” people that say those things, not me. i don’t care if a white person is racist to me and i have never experienced racism, if i don’t fit their stereotype of black people or nigerians, so why should i care. stereotypes are real, look at the “nollywood” stereotype, can you count good/moral women or men in nollywood? i think you should also relax if you know you’re not dirty or aggressive. like i said, it’s based on my experience and comments i hear from yorubas about their own people. shikena.

  14. @ts_tiana

    May 16, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Thankfully I’m a product of a yoruba dad and an edo mum. People get too busy trying to ‘convince me’ I’m ibo when they meet me that when I finally prove I’m yoruba they don’t even have any strength left to stereotype. Also worthy of note is the fact that people born by parents from same tribe are more guilty of this. I neva judged any one by their tribe. To futher prove that I’m married to some from delta state. Talk about being a full blooded Nigerian 🙂

  15. crystalwhite

    May 16, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    During my service year i suffered so much cos of this stereotype wahala, my name was crested on my khaki,so anybody that just recognised the name as an Akwa Ibom name was coming just for sex from the officials to my fellow otondo it was not funny at all. They did not garnish their motives oo they came out real blunt,coupled with the fact that am fair in complexion dem call me mammy water join. As if that was not enough my friends stopped cooking and will always come to my house to finish whatever i cooked, as dem dey enter house straight to my pot,including my neighbours, but the sex thing really got to me.

  16. Naveah

    May 16, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    I never let an opportunity to knock back a streotype with immediate effect! If you call out a stereotype about my people, I will outline in red ALL the stereotypes about your people. I am a 100% EFIK woman and very proud of it! I have NEVER been taught how to perform sexually by my mother or any female members of my family. I WAS taught manners, how to cook and maintain a decent home for my husband. Any sexual tricks I know, I learned on my own through my own experiences. I had a yoruba woman say to me “don’t they teach you Calabar girls about sex like when you are 8?” HOW disgusting to think that grown women will sit and talk to a child about sex.

    Don’t these idiots perpetuating these stereotypes even know that in my culture back in the day (and still done in some places), they cut off the clitoris in a ceremony called MBUBI to INHIBIT sexuality in women? This process called now called FEMALE GENDER MUTILATION in our politically correct world today is done right along with the NKUHO (Fattening room) before a girl can be married. When the clitoris is removed, the woman’s libido is lowered so she is said to NOT BE promiscuous to there goes all the stereotypes about Efik women right out the window!

    The stereotype about Efik and Ibibio women are unfounded and like all stereotype it is used as a weapon to degrade, insult and put down another. I hold my head up high, if you wan say I dey chook 24 hours a day, no wahala but guess what this is one toto you will never see!

    Live with the people, talk with them and experience them before stamping them with attributes that might not even be true. Are there people who live up to these stereotypes? SURE! But don’t paint an entire people with the same shit brush.

    I was dating a yoruba guy and when his mother found out, she went up in arms. She had all her friends with single yoruba daughters call him to dissuade him from being with me. We broke up and he ended up marrying and divorcing a yoruba bisexual he found in bed with her female boss when he came home from the states for a surprise visit. I laugh sotay I fall for ground. I am blessed with a wonderful husband, fraternal twin boy and girl, a wonderful job and side business.

    • banke

      May 16, 2013 at 4:01 pm

      and after your epistle you just stereotyped yoruba women too about cheating. What does hypocrisy smell like from that high horse that you are sitting on? I’m just asking o because you are always so quick to be in defense of your opinion. Someone put you in your place was it yesterday about the word piper and I laughed sotay i fall for ground

    • Naveah

      May 16, 2013 at 4:22 pm

      Banke, you were gunning for me all this time so you have found your opportunity? Dear, I am SURE you can find a better use for your time than look for trouble with little old me. How did I stereotype Yoruba women, pray tell? Did I say, “All Yoruba Women Are Cheats”? I simply stated that he decided he could do better with a woman from his place but it didn’t turn out so well because she ended up cheating him. Yes, I will defend my opinion if they are challenged intelligently. How does shit smell in the gutter you are sitting in?

  17. The Real Madam the Madam

    May 16, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    I’ve been hearing this edo man stereotype o. Hmmm, minds are now curious 😀

  18. JAY

    May 17, 2013 at 8:35 am

    what a topic! Bringing out the latent tribalistic parts of most of us.. Personally, they are of life. There is something known as sampling. If 5 out of 10 pple from a place have malaria, we can conclude there is an epidemic.
    Allow people steroetype, just be your “good” self. That’s all that matters cos you couldn’t stop tongues from wagging, even if u wanted to.
    These stereotypes may seem like d rule, but trust me, there will always be exceptions to these pseudo-rules. Live your life. That’s all.
    Yours faithfully,
    Jay

  19. modupefoluwa

    May 17, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    ‘Calabar gals are great cooks’, I heard that during my service year and my dear ekanma, u actually proved that right, your room was always ‘aromalicious’ *winks*…I really love this piece!

  20. Toyin

    May 17, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Stereotypes is just for fun, though some are more negative than others. I used to get mad, but now I laugh it off. I know, my people’s reaction when I tell them I’m full Yoruba(belief that you must be half)are the only ones with lighter complexion or long hair. And no, it’s NOT BLEACHING, which is another stereotype about Yoruba girls.
    I dated an igbo guy, and he was like wow, you are super clean, you don’t smell. That was the first time I realized that some ignorant naijas actually believe these stereotypes including yorubas who believe these negative stereotypes themselves. Anyway, it’s all good.

    • jackie

      July 4, 2013 at 7:28 am

      AS AN IGBO GIRL, I WILL TELL YOU FREE OF CHARGE THAT AN IGBO GUY CANNOT TELL A PERSON WHO DOES NOT SMELL ‘oh, you don’t smell’. HE PROBABLY SAID IT TO YOU CAUSE INSPITE OF THE fact THAT YOU ARE DIRTY, HE LIKES YOU AND WANTS YOU TO BE AS CLEAN [ALWAYS]. SO BY TELLING YOU THAT, YOU WILL STRIVE NOT TO DISAPPOINT HIM! [lol!!! sharp guy]

    • Arike

      September 21, 2014 at 10:20 pm

      @Toyin I have experienced this too. My boyfriend is Idoma and when he introduced me to his family, they said I was either Hausa or from Delta area; they couldn’t believe I was Yoruba (Ondo precisely). I find this amusing. And sometimes it feels a bit insulting because what do you mean I don’t look or act like a Yoruba girl. There are many other Yoruba girls that I know who are like me. People have stereotypes about each other but one has to look beyond a stereotype to get to know the real person. And a lot depends on one’s upbringing.

  21. Mariaah

    May 20, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    LOL… I thought I had done a mini rant in the comment section of Bella Naija before.. I’m orignally Benue (Idoma) but my dad’s family settled in Kogi state (Igala land) I speak both languages but more of Igala. Both my parents are Igala/Idoma but when people ask me what tribe I am I take a good look at them (Yes, I judge them too :p) to see if they will make a sly comment about Benue women being sex freaks or the one about Tiv men offering their wives to visitors as entertainment (and I’m not even Tiv but Idoma!!)

    When I say I’m Igala all they think is ooh those wicked pple.. The area that is supposedly wicked isn”t even close to mine so what the heck!!

    Bottom line don’t stereotype people.. I’ve dated a half Yoruba guy who is more Yoruba than his actual tribe of Urhorbo but then I still find myself liking Yoruba guys, you get me.. There are too many troubles in this life to add stereotyping tribes to the long list abeg..

    Bye…

  22. Sugbon

    July 20, 2014 at 11:02 am

    These stereotypes are as mythical as the horoscope. Anyone who lives their life on such stereotype is only a candidate of ignorance.

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