Today we have a Guest Post by the lovely Ijeoma she addresses a very important issue …social media tribalism. Now if you are familiar with any of the popular blogs or news congregators you will find the comments filled with hateful tribal insults, its downright appalling! Lets read on as Ijeoma writes and hopefully we won’t be one of the offenders.
I was of the opinion that tribalism in my generation was a thing of the past-how wrong I was.
I remember growing up in the eastern part of Nigeria. All our friends and acquaintances were of the Igbo extraction. We were deeply rooted in our rich culture, all other cultures were obscure to us.
Inter-tribal marriages were rare. Only a handful of people we knew inter married. We loved the idea, it was different and exotic.
Then we grew up and migrated to the different parts of Nigerian cities and the world.
It became a global village. We started seeing the different cultures of the world. We started traveling far and wide. We relished in the different sights, sounds, food and dressing.
We saw ourselves as having the same humanity with others. It didn’t matter anymore. We were more knowledgeable, more accepting and we became better for it. It seems plausible to assume that this narrative of mine is relatable to most people.
Then came the entrance of social media. We all joined the bandwagon, connected with long lost friends. It became a never ending party.
First was MySpace , Hi Five, then Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, what’sapp and Snapchat . Who would have thought that at a click , tap on the screen, you gained access to free information.
Blogging appeared from god knows where. It became easier to get a message across to Nigerians on blogs than to announce it on the dailies.
Then the hate that we didn’t even know existed, started rearing its ugly head – cyber bullies emerged.
A straightforward story ends up in pieces for the simple reason that a Yoruba man is spewing vile insults on an Hausa woman or the Igbo teacher is raining curses on the Edo trader and vice versa .
When I read all the insults, I literally close my ears with my fingers as though to stop the deafening sound of the unprintable.
I often wonder who these individuals are that hide behind a cold screen under the guise of a moniker and let their fingers run wild. I also shudder at the ones who do so with full disclosure of their identities.
Those are the people that instigate war, hate and intolerance in Nigeria.
They exaggerate and spread the news of the killings of People in one part of Nigeria while suppressing information of the decimation of another group of people in the other part. It is not that these incidents are fictitious; they at best exacerbate facts and distort reality by either undermining or overblowing information.
All these are fuelled by the easy access of information via social media.
Different tribes of Nigeria are somewhat agitating the separatism cause. They are widening the tribal gap, they know it but cannot be bothered .
All they want are autonomy and secession. This is the generation that did not witness the civil war of the late sixties. To them it is history and remains as such. They did not live through the untold slaughtering, starvation and stagnation. Anyone who witnessed the war and is still in his or her right senses will never recommend it as a way of dividing the nation.
Yes the nation has a myriad of problems. It is a nation that is divided along ethnic and religious lines yet blessed with rich natural mineral resources and human power.
Yes, the “Federal Character” as enshrined in our constitution is our greatest undoing according to the renowned writer Chinua Achebe in his short book ” The trouble with Nigeria” I agree absolutely because it gave room for mediocrity over meritocracy. The wrong candidates fill important positions causing gridlock on the nation’s development
The issue of federal character is a major contributor to the decay in our polity and the reason why tribal e-war is gaining momentum.
Everyone is on edge. A lot of drama keeps unfolding – Boko haram, BBOGs, Fulani herdsmen, Nnamdi Kanu , Biafra, dollar/pound rate, Bag of rice , DSS and Judges, Saraki, Wike, Dasuki, Southern Kaduna , Maina, the list is endless.
Whenever you find a post on Facebook or any of the social media handles with the most comments , the topic of discussion is the Nigerian political debacle . These discussions are always with ethnic and Religious undertones . No one makes a headway .
Something must be done fast for a volatile, ethnically and religiously charged country as ours in these recession days .
Here is my suggestion
Another group of social media users , those who believe that the Nigerian dream is still achievable , should rise to the occasion . They should begin by doing some damage control . They should showcase the beauty of inter tribal marriages, the rich cultures of the various ethnic groups, the beautiful sceneries of the different parts of the country , the positives of every tribe . It should become a movement and over time, the message will be passed to the right audience. Many people are still living in obscurity and have not yet had first hand experience of the other tribes of the nation. So as basic as my two kobo may seem , it is a step in the right direction.
Also, with the help of the music industry growing in leaps and bounds.
Musicians sing and rap in their native languages, they showcase their culture through their music cinematography – these are commendable and should be encouraged to bridge the segregation.
Sooner or later, ideologies , prejudices and biases will lessen among social media users and from there, it will hopefully have a multiplier effect seeping through to the people at the bottom ladder of the society . That is the impressionable tribal citizens that do the dirty work of genocide; the crux of the Nigerian matter.
Our generation must be better than the ones before us. We owe it to our children to salvage our nation. It’s not just enough for us to put them in schools where they recite the National pledge and sing the National anthem on every Assembly day. We must actively be seen to be protecting our heritage. Social media is the most powerful tool to do just that.
So next time you log onto any social media platform that piques your interest , hesitate to comment on any topic that promotes tribal hate, just “waka pass” Delete those chain forwards that ask you to pass on to only your tribal comrades. There are so many beautiful things we can achieve if we give up the hate and give peace a chance.
Ijeoma M. Ezeuko is a Research Fellow of the National Judicial Institute.