Victims of Generalization – IDEDE Oseyande
The last Saturday in August this year saw me travelling from Auchi, a town in the northern part of Edo State, to Benin City, the State capital. I got to the motor park to set a bus which already had some passengers, so in less than ten minutes, we had the numbers needed and was ready to move.
After the driver had collected the fare for the trip, he was still loitering around the bus. Nigerians in our traditional “always in haste” way, began to complain. “Oga move this bus na, it is already past 5 pm, na night you want make we take enter Benin”? We pestered him to get on the bus and take us to our destination.
When he seemed not to be ready to move, we all became curious to know why he wasn’t eager to commence on the trip after he had collected money from us, the passengers.
“Oga wetin dey happen? Enter motor make we dey go na” we chorused! Then he mumbled some words as if he was trying to prevent others from hearing him. He said, “nor be all these Fulani people when just full the bus”?
At the mention of Fulani, I could bet the blood pressure of many passengers shot up. You could literally see the apprehension on our faces. “Where dem dey”? We asked in unison.
A young guy seated in front of me collected his money and got down, without even waiting for an explanation. The guy sitting beside me was one of the Fulanis the driver was talking about. I looked at him and saw that he had on a customised factory overall. So I asked him, “do you work with this company”?, pointing to the Chinese name on the overall. He nodded in the affirmative and explained what the company does, as I probed further. Then I asked if he heard what the driver said, that he has not moved because of them. He got upset and insisted the driver could not leave them there, explaining his reasons.
From his explanation, the seven of them on the bus did not even know each other. Three of them were Chinese company workers going in the same direction, while the other four were going a different way. They were transferred from the bus that took them from Kano to ‘our’ bus, and they had already paid to get to Benin City. After hearing from him, I was angry at the driver for trying to frustrate them, considering the long journey they had taken to get here. I walked to the driver to try to allay his fears so we could get going, only for me to realize that the driver was deceiving us with the security scare.
The bus that brought the Fulani guys from Kano belonged to a popular transport company and the driver did not pay our driver, but instructed him to collect the transport fare from the transport company’s Benin branch. Our bus driver was actually having a change of mind not because of any security scare, but because he had to collect cash from only eight of us, as the bus was a fifteen seater bus. And after settling them at the park, he had little left on him to buy fuel. Now that it dawned on him that the said company must have closed before he gets to Benin, which will likely translate to him going home that day with low or no cash, he decided to renege on the agreement.
I made his deceit known to other passengers, and we stood with the “Fulani” guys’ with the truth exposed, he got on the bus, and the journey commenced.
When we got to Benin, it turned out that the “Fulanis” we were scared of did not even know where they were going to. The first four were stopped at “Hausa quarters” at “Aduwawa” old cattle market. This was after we spoke with a man on the phone that seemed to be expecting them. I had to take a longer route to my destination so as to help the guys going to the Chinese company meet their timing as they were on the night shift that day.
Did I tell you that these guys were returning to Benin City after the Salah celebrations? And we were on the verge of giving them inhuman treatment because of the generalizations that everyone from their ethnic group is a potential killer!
Remember, do unto others, what you want them to do unto you!