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Ironically, it is Oyinbo woman who restores my pride. My type had rejected

me for being too dark, for having what she describes as coarse hair, my identity.

 

 

They Make Me Hate My Type

By Hakeem Babalola

 

Certain group of people are trying to re-write history. But Nigerian or African history—whether written or unwritten—cannot be easily erased. I do not know much about Nigerian or African history even though I know American or British one form A-Z. This is one mistake that has brought shame to all my type.

Shame on me and shame on those who have indirectly or directly turned me into a zombie of imperialism. My forefathers willingly sold my soul to cannibalism whose ambition was to wipe off my type. These merchants did not need my body because my soul was enough. And they ate my soul immoderately. They knew their mission. My type did not.

As I dwell on my thought, I do not need your sympathy or any of your yeye understanding. I do not need you to enter into my feelings. I do not need them because you are among those who sold my soul. Eyin Kule ni ota wa, inu ile ni aseni ngbe. Abi iro ni? (The enemy is right there within. Or is it a lie?).   

When I was growing up, my grandparents did not warm me of certain significant things. No one discouraged me from the danger path of annihilating my type. Instead they gave me a boost, and so I absorbed the very thing that would exterminate my type. I remember how they forced me to abandon my identity. Everything about me is considered inferior. I am too black, I do not have pointed nose, I speak in vernacular, I wear Ibo made.

I remember how they usually punish me for speaking my language. They brazenly tell me that Queen's language is more important and acceptable than my own language: mine is local, Queen's is international. They conspicuously plant inferiority complex in my psyche. It is Mortal combat. It’s cannibalism conspiracy to extirpate the very thing that assures my independent thought. With the help of my forefathers, I become a robot—of follow follow. They kill me, they murder my form.

Ha, my society, my community, even my father push me to the limit. They ridicule me just because I speak me. My teachers lash me for not speaking Queen Eliszabeth's language. Even my lovely mother would call me to translate her letter to the Queen's language. She would call the neighbours to come and see and listen to how much her son speaks Oyinbo's language. Gosh, passing my language at distinction level means nothing unless I pass Queen's first. I barely speak my language without diluting it with the Queen’s.

I read James Hardly Chase, Harold Robbins, Sidney Sheldon Anne Rice, Mario Puso more than Wole Soyinka or Chinua Achebe or Ngugi Wa Thiongo, who themselves contribute immensely to my inferiority complex. The friends I kept then would mock me if I dare say, "I do not understand WS". So I had to pretend. I wished I knew what I know now. I would have told them that people like CA and WS and NWT are also victim of a larger conspiracy to uproot my type. Oh, if the three gentlemen had become famous for writing in their own languages, it might have saved me today from mental slavery.  

So it’s my own people who have made me a copycat either through ignorance or greed. Or are they themselves victim of a larger conspiracy? For now I do not want to know. Oh, had I known I should have told them to go to hell. I should have enlightened my grandparents about their own ignorance. I should have rebelled in spite of the consequences. I should have said, "Omode gbon agba gbon ni afi da ile-ife" (No one has monopoly of knowledge). I should have fought the unnatural mystic that would soon engulf my type if care is not taken.

I should have gone Fela Anikulapo way. I should have become myself. I should have listened to my soul. But how could I when it has been eaten? How could I when those who supposed to teach me are themselves do not know? How could I when I was born knowing my type is of the third class race? How could I when my own people consider me unsuccessful unless I first absorb Oyinbo's culture and thinking?

Why do my parents pray every now and then that "Eledumare, let my pikin go to Igilandi o?" Why do they always infer that unless I go to England or America, my life would not be complete? Why is it difficult for me to quote Nigerian or African or African-American philosophers? Why can we not have another Yemi Tella of Nigeria instead of paying fortune to have Berti Vogts of Germany? Why is it that our leaders feel incomplete unless they absorb Oyinbo thing? Why do they prefer to treat common cold or even die in England?

Look at my sister. She’d rather die than leave her hair authentic. She prefers to look fake than hold her identity. She straightens her hair and washes her body with intoxicating chemical in order to tone her skin; to hide her identity; to make her a mistress for life. And she enjoys it because brothers like them unreal. He confused probably due to mental torture he had suffered during slavery period.

Ironically, it is Oyinbo woman who restores my pride. My type had rejected me for being too dark, for having what she describes as coarse hair, my identity. She wants my hair curly like the master who had raped her mind. But when Oyinbo woman touches my hair, she jilts her lover. When she touches my skin she runs away from her family. Imagine the liberation or salvation I feel when she opens her mouth, “you look good and you don’t have to sunbathe before you look good”.

Yet I have smoothened the path for my child. He knows English rhymes more than his mother’s tongue. Does he even know anything about it? My wife scorns at whoever calls her lovely child baba dudu (Black papa). My son embraces Oyinbo symbols more than symbols from his origin. Everything is confusing. Am I helping myself to kill off my type? How can I preserve my type if others are like me? What is my future if they all embrace Oyinbo cannibalism? Who is going to educate me about the fact that I might be gradually exterminating my type?

It is dry humour, isn’t it? I mean if it takes a sojourn abroad for me to realize how much I have been killed silently. If it takes this voyage to start thinking that, even my own child may hate me for bringing him into this world as a third class being. Then it dawns on me that unless I become me, unless I have the attitude that my type is the best no matter what others say, I would not be able to live. I will have extinguished my offspring in a manner despicable. I would forever be what they want me to be – zombie.

Copyright 2007    mysmallvoice@yahoo.com

posted 13 September 2007

Hakeem Babalola is currently teaching English Communication in Budapest, Hungary. He loves writing, a vehicle by which he rides to relieve himself of certain emotions. His articles have appeared in Nigerian newspapers including Nigerian Tribune, Daily Champion, Vanguard, Daily Trust respectively. He is also a contributor to several online magazines like Nigeriavillagesquare.com, Chatafrikarticles.com, voiceofnigerians and a host of others. Hakeem is a member of Association of Hungarian Journalists.  

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

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Debt: The First 5,000 Years

By David Graeber

Before there was money, there was debt. Every economics textbook says the same thing: Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systems—to relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market. The problem with this version of history? There’s not a shred of evidence to support it. Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that for more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods—that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors.  Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like “guilt,” “sin,” and “redemption”) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it. Debt: The First 5,000 Years is a fascinating chronicle of this little known history—as well as how it has defined human history, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy.   Economist Glenn Loury  /Criminalizing a Race

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Sex at the Margins

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Ancient African Nations

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Home Transitional Writings on Africa   The African World

Related files: The Second Slavery Ship  Living with Immigration Torture   A Nightclub Forbidden to African  Nigerians Blood on their Hands  Gambian Godfather  They Make Me Hate My Type   Life as African Hungarian 

African Hungarian Union   Oil Wars in the Niger Delta  Africa: 50 Years of Independence   Libya: The Return of Colonialist Bondage  Subsidising Fraud, Lies & Blood