By Foluwahan Chukwujekwe
I’ll like to examine this topic through my lens, which is very convenient, yet personal.
I identify as both Igbo and Yoruba from Nigeria, two very rich cultures (I must add). My parents are an example of an intertribal couple, not a typical one though (their families don’t hate each other). I grew up getting a better taste of my Yoruba side. So, I picked up the language quicker, ate more food from those parts and generally became more accustomed to the culture.
Not much has changed now. I still don’t understand and can’t speak Igbo (I’m tired of blaming my father for that, so I’ll just move on). But one thing I’m not going to do is shut out the Igbo side of me. Apart from the fact that my surname is conspicuously Igbo, I’ve found that I prefer some aspects of Igbo culture to Yoruba.
I proudly identify as both Yoruba and Igbo wherever I go. Yet again, very convenient, but also personal. It’s just like DNA, I can’t reject one part because it has affiliations with diabetes or some other hereditary disease. It’s part of who I am, and I know, just like I know I’m intelligent, and I probably made you roll eyes right now.
Something else I can’t do is take away my Yoruba side just because I don’t bear my mum’s maiden name. I mean, haven’t you been reading everything so far? Yoruba is so ingrained into me that if it was poison in my system, the doctors would say “we’re so sorry, there’s no hope of getting it out.”
Now, I see people from other tribes, who speak Yoruba better than I do. They also love and partake in different aspects of the culture so often, that they could pass as Yoruba characters in a stage play or movie. At first, I found these types of people annoying… Like “what do you really want?” “To rub it in my face that I’m not as gifted as you are?”
But then, as I grew older, I thought to myself, if I wasn’t Yoruba, and stumbled upon this tribe and culture (in all its glory), wouldn’t I want to be a part of that? As soon as I knew my answer, I stopped playing judge and embraced how lovely my culture is, that would make others want in.
Now, if it was up to me, I’d say let everyone be free to choose what makes them happy and whichever tribe they feel they can identify best with. It’s bad enough that we have many people struggling to survive with an identity crisis. Why add to the world’s problems by restricting people from being part of a tribe or culture?
However, if we’re being realistic, our cultures are unique treasures, that we may not be entirely open to having outsiders infiltrate, especially when we’re unsure of their motives. Besides, having unique identifiers is pretty cool, and blurring the line just might take away the beauty of exclusivity.
Then again, how would we know if we don’t try? Based on my personal experience, I would say it’s a possibility that’s worth exploring, as long as the due respect for every culture involved is given.
Facebook: Foluwahan Chukwujekwe
LinkedIn: Foluwahan Chukwujekwe