What Is This Thing Called Racism?

When I asked a supposedly honest, impartial friend the other day,” what is this thing called racism?”. He took a step back. Steadied himself and asked,”ol’ boy, are you for real?”. I just stared back at him. Then in exasperation,at my thickness,he shouted,” so, you don’t see what Oyibo people are doing to our people?” Ah!

So, that’s racism. Hmm. I didn’t have the courage to ask him if this “racism” is a one-sided thing.

Have you ever asked yourself how the “white” person feels when you,a”black” Nigerian, American,whatever,but,black, call him “Oyibo”? Or even more derogatorily,”albino”- knowing it’s an insult? You do not for once pause and ask yourself,is this not discrimination? Nobody, irrespective of the colour of his skin, wants to be considered an “outsider”. For, in considered opinion,”discrimination” means,”he’s not one of us”.

Everyone is a racist.

The Jews tell us, unendingly, they are the children of God. The Arabs. Even the Arabs! (we call them kwarra- I don’t know what it means,so, don’t ask me), say they are the friends of God. So, I ask myself.What happens to the rest of us? In the early years of my life, when I was growing up in Jos town…Naraguta Forest, we used to look out for the Natives, with a few leaves covering their private parts – and carrying the watering gourd, to keep the leaves fresh(?) – and waving to them. These were the owners of the land. We displaced and even added a nickname, “showu showu”. Years later, I realised it was their greeting,a friendly gesture. Would those actions not qualify as racial discrimination?

In the early 1960s, the white Reverend Fathers (of the Catholic Church) were considered to be closer to God. People of that age, matured, tolerant and receptive, didn’t see it as discrimination. In fact, they accepted an Idoma “national” proverb, ” the person ,God has put on a bicycle, even with an aeroplane,you cannot catch him”. This saying popularised by the Nigerian singer, 2Face Idibia,in the Burna Boy song, “Abeg Abeg”(also featuring Timaya) is an anthem of consolation, for Idoma youths( the Idomas are the marginalized,discriminated ethnic minority in Nigeria’s Benue State) Thus, our elders did not look at the colour of the skin,but the supposed piety and nearness of the white priest to God. Recently,2011, a friend had to go to the few remaining white(Irish) Reverend Fathers in St Francis Church, in Otukpo, to beg them to come and officiate at his aged parents’ ” church” wedding. He saw nothing wrong. I saw nothing wrong. The 80+ parents didn’t consider racial discrimination. I call it “faith.” I am very sure,if he had the choice, the old man would have opted for Oyibo altar boys( sorry.sorry. I just discriminated).

A young man from my village, who worked in Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos, then, about the best hotel in Nigeria, once came home, on leave. He was regaling us with unbelievable stories of Lagos. Then he dropped the clanker: He had made love to a white woman. You could have heard a pin drop( apologies to Kenny Rogers). It was such a momentous announcement. He savoured the moment. And then,like all wicked winds, an adult just remembered that there were “children” among them. I was all of 10 years,preparing for secondary school. Chai! Of all times. They shooed us out. I never forgave that adult. I will never forgive that adult. Why should I? I never knew how that story ended. How do you call such discrimination?

Can FIFA, honestly,say to itself, that it does not discriminate? Why has it allowed all the ” black” high ranking members,to be destroyed? What FIFA  must know,as well as all narrow minded people,is that, discrimination, is an ingrained attribute of humanity. So, instead of banning, burning people at the stake, for “racial” discrimination, we should allow it to die a natural death. In moments of great pain or disappointment, people say or call names, they ordinarily, wouldn’t. If Lionel Messi, the Incomparable, were to miss an obvious goal – Rarely. Rarely – Many will shout,”what’s wrong with that short devil?” A few moments later, he will be lionised for scoring a goal ” made in outer Space”.

We MUST not make mountains out of a slowly dying attitude. Who would believe that the American South,can, now look at a black man holding hands with his “white” WIFE in a supermarket? Ah!

And the artist who drew the poster of black, white and yellow monkeys in the FIFA approved campaign ad, did not help matters. It was a senile and panicky decision. It hardened attitudes,if I may say so.

Postscript: We barely look at Naomi Osaka’s colour. Do we know what colour Lewis Hamilton is? When the Great Serena Williams wants to play a tennis match, the whole world watches. I’ve never looked at the Legend, Roger Federer,as a white man. Is he?   When JFK was killed, my father wept like a baby. That was the first time,I saw my father weeping. Unashamedly. Then, when, Kobe Bryant died, the Whole World wept. We wept, not at the passing of a BLACK man, but, at the loss of one of the World’s greatest athletes! Time enough. Time enough. To be humans. FIFA should NOT panic. In time, all things bad shall pass. FIFA should read the Holy Scriptures – Bible, Qur’an, the Hindu, Torah, ALL – more.

Postscript I

Now that the George Floyd tragedy has happened, we need to dispassionately ask: Was it racial discrimination per se or individual Hate? While Chauvin was choking George to death, the three other officers who stood by like mannequins from YSL, were ” men of colour”. In fact, to our collective Nigerian shame, one of those mannequins,has a Nigerian father. Wow!

Postscript II

This NDDC. This Malamigate. This Magugate. Even this Mamman Dauragate and Kiki Osinbajogate. I wasn’t surprised. The only way to derail a programme is to attack it from the Centre. You weaken the inner muscles. With the “confession and  apology” by “the great, courageous”Segun Adeniyi, we noticed the first crack in the planned media onslaught against the Buhari Administration – and it’s multiple fights against corruption, “banditry and kidnapping”. They create and highlight the slightest infraction. Today, we now know that Segun Adeniyi is part of that failed attempt to destroy the credibility of our Country. Perhaps, it is time to CLAMP down on the “opposition” media – Punch, Vanguard, Tribune, The Sun and the Nation.

Postscript III

I hope the Federal Ministry of Education Will not succumb to the  “Sabi sabi”, copy America, Governors of the Southwestern States. If there’s Unbelievable Stupidity, these SIX Governors represent it. You want to open schools. Even though, I do not know the way to the US, I do watch CNN.( And by the way, in the course of life, I’ve rejected courses in the US.They would’ve added nothing to my life).  I know what CoronaVirus has done to that country. We all know that the PDP Mega Rally of 18 March,2020,in Oyo State, in despite of PTF-COVID19 and NCDC orders,started the avalanche of infections in Lagos and the Southwestern States. Do we never learn? At least, in the Federal Ministry of Education, both Ministers are in tandem about the opening of schools. Thank God!)

      Thank you for reading.

  …. And in faraway America, Mr Trump is “winning ” the war against Covid 19. With Americans dying in droves, perhaps, Mr Trump’s definition of death, should be in millions. Then, he will pack two pistols,don a steel helmet and pretend to be either General Paton or Douglas MacArthur.

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