I have always wondered how many unique and completely different people were placed under one single galaxy to thrive and exist. Think about it for a second. A big sand box, that is our world, was left in the middle of nowhere and in it, numerous people who barely looked anything alike and had distinct characters, were carefully placed. Life as we know it, is divided by these very attributes. But in an attempt to force a degree of camaraderie, certain people with slightly similar features, amongst others, were allocated the same tag. As such, rather than be differentiated based on the wholeness of our individualities, we have been dished into separate entities, various clusters, and carried on with everything else therefrom.
Depending on how you choose to look at it, we have been segregated…or paired, based on religion, race, colour, size, class, gender, beliefs, and culture – each with its own separate set of drop down menus. Particularly, in Africa, culture has become a rich source of life. We tap into the beauty and colour of culture; we hum to the exotic sounds of the different parts wherein we find ourselves, and we joyfully dance to the tune of the stereotypes set by others for us – because we are one. Of all the possible ways humanity is divided…or joined, as the case may be, culture is the most ironic. The same culture that attempts to make a set of people, one; is the same culture that reminds us of the division that we should ideally embrace – maybe worse.
It is the same culture that wants us to represent with another set of people that creates smaller clans of division, to shake us beyond the simplicity of our individualities. So, I connect with you as a Nigerian from Delta State, as kind-of like me; but not completely so because you are Delta Ijaw and I am Delta Urhobo. In all honesty, there was really no possible means to mingle because our languages could never be more unrelated. This is why the same mother that nudges you into finding a nice Yoruba man, is the same one that tells you why you should run from a type of Yoruba – he’s Ijebu Yoruba, not real Yoruba.
In essence, we find ourselves further digging deeper and dividing ourselves even more than the cultures that bind us. This time, rather than accept the differences as individualistic characteristics, we alter our psyche to suit those that our very dysfunctional cultures have broken, further broken, and ultimately squashed. We take these labels to represent our beings. Rather than see in black and white, as we ought to, we opt for the alluring colour that lies in our cultural heritage, and swallow our differences for a similarity that is essentially there to divide us. We let our cultures divide us to bits and unrecognizable fragments, rather than allowing ourselves thrive in the original truth that no two humans are the same.
Dear culture, why try to allocate every one of us to circular clusters, when the aim is to divide us yet again?