Victims of Generalization 2 – IDEDE Oseyande
During my University days, I served in the Students’ Union Government, as the General Secretary. A fellow executive, the Public Relations Officer, was from Delta State, Urhobo extraction. During a little fracas with the management over a proposed increment in School charges, the then Vice-Chancellor repeatedly talked down at us and referred to us as “Omo Ibo”. A day came when we had to tell him that we were not “Ibos”, and that I am from Edo State, while my colleague is from Delta State. His reply was, “Awon Niger Delta”. I wasn’t bothered initially, until an incident happened.
During the disagreement with the school management over the proposed increased charges, the Union wrote an article about the issue and made it available to the Press, so as to let the public know what was going on in the school. One of the newspapers company trying to sell their paper with our story, tagged it, “FUTA on Fire over Increased Charges”. This was unacceptable to the management, and we were summoned.
Entering the Vice-Chancellor’s office that morning, we (Mr President, myself, the Public Relations Officer, the Welfare Director, and one other student official) greeted the Vice- Chancellor in the usual Southwestern traditional way; bowing down with one hand touching the floor. His response reeled of ethnic bias and generalization. Switching between Yoruba and English, he faced the President and said “are you not a Yoruba son? Do you talk to your fathers like that in the private, let alone on a public paper? Or you want to be like these ones, awon Niger Delta, that don’t have respect”.
I could not believe my ears, as the words fell from his mouth. This is a highly travelled Professor that should have known better. I was disappointed, to say the least.
In another occasion, we were making recommendations for executives for an NGO, and someone mentioned a name, that depicted the person is from southeastern Nigerian. Without even knowing the person, members of the group said, “we cannot make him the treasurer”. The reason, they said, was that they couldn’t trust a Southeasterner with their money.
Last month, I had a feel of what my friends have been experiencing being a Nigerian outside Nigeria. The generalization that Nigerians are corrupt, and need to be quizzed and monitored, more than other nationals, can be so appalling.
But what justification do we have when we live our daily lives here in the country with generalizations. This ethnic group is promiscuous, the other one is dirty, some are violent, others are betrayers, and the generalization goes on and on.
Some will argue that these generalizations are not completely unfounded, as it is a reflection of a larger proportion of the people; that is a debate for another day.
Howbeit, we ought to see ourselves as ambassadors of our ethnic group, region, religion, community, school, family, even names. With such a mindset, we must live our lives to defend the brand that we represent.
Are you part of the reasons why some negative generalizations look justifiable?
Do you give credence to such a negative description of your people?
Live your life in such a way that people will tend to question the negative mindset they once had about the people you represent!
Be a good brand ambassador!