Conversations on ‘Yoruba Muslims’ is sign that ethnic bigotry is not something people can afford to forget

Social media has this way of starting and never finishing wars. The only thing that gets to the finish line is ‘dragging’ – they say like the small Tiger Generator. It’s usually this way: Some random person (supposed role models too), wakes, cleans up, prays, puts on some nice clothes, then tweets exact thoughts and boom! The good thing? We can trace where the ‘problem’ is coming from.

For today, it is an invariably avoidable conversation that lightens up a relative truth about what’s really going on in Nigeria. Add that Nigerians, most who were not there during the civil war, have not ‘forgiven’ their compatriots for the atrocities that took place then.

The genesis of today’s conversation – Yoruba Muslims:

Go deeper: It is an established fact that once #ArewaTwitter is trending, someone had made a post that saw the ire of another religious Northerner. This anger is nurtured in such a way that southerners begin to question the religious audacity of the northerners and vice versa. That trend never comes to a conclusion. It is just sustained by people who have Twitter on their phones.

This weekly trend – or something else – must have caught Maryam’s attention.

No doubt, anyone who said that Nigeria is a peaceful nation with no form of tribal or religious war is probably some clown in a circus and we are not here for that. We respect the wisdom of optimists but we cannot fail to be honest about these things.

Fortunately, we have less actual mini-wars caused by tribalism and fanatic religiousity in several parts of Nigeria, unlike before, when ‘Others’ were killed because they did not belong. And, some of these things are caused by terms like Yoruba Muslims – a perfect concoction for tribalism and extreme fanaticism.

Sometimes, these terms come up from our heads subconsciously and we allow them to stay in our conversations. Remember how long it took to make people stop saying ‘Fulani Herdsmen’?

If we argue that these terms cause no harm, we are also trying hard to stay in the circus we all are. Because, these terms raise other issues that were never existent in the first place. And, it does not just start and blow up in an instant.

Maryam might have simply wanted to make a point, but just like prejudices take precedence in our thoughts, she thought using ‘Yoruba Muslims’ is the right thing to do.

We grow up with these prejudices and pass it on to our younger ones and children and they pass it on, and it continues in that cycle. We hardly take notice of the long-term harm it will definitely cause by the time it matures.

We fail to realise that these terms, used derogatorily, bring up other supposed forgotten horror stories about what might have happened in the past. We sit in our homes and, besides the woke ideas running through in our heads, we internalise these terms, and use them to define the ‘Other’ – talk about mis-categorisation.

Again, we cannot hide from the fact that Muslims from the South are not as regarded as much in the North, because there is this internalised belief that they don’t understand the religion and are referred to as infidels. The South does not fail to respond to this, saying basically the same thing about the North.

Enlightenment is a keyword in this conversation. And you will want to assume that the ones who should be preaching One Nigeria, free of these ideas should not be the ones promoting them.

When you scroll through the trend, you see people narrating their bad experiences in these tribal and religious spaces.

The ones who we love:

Mansa, how about you don’t use Yoruba Muslims?

The question is: Do we still hope to see an unabridged One Nigeria?

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