In one of the many secondary schools I attended, we had "General Labour" every Wednesday and Saturday. Very easy to remember those days, as they were the days when if you could disappear, you would have been the happiest teenager in Kogi State. General Labour always started with one prefect finding a reason to mobilize his colleagues to flog literally everybody, for some reason they loved it. Since I'm rambling, it may interest you to know that I don't have the slightest idea how that relates to this topic. Right, Labour! we used cutlasses and machetes to cut the grasses in some parts of this school (I just pictured a very local school). Twelve years later, I'm in a new town and we have this very bushy garden in front of my house which was unkempt for one reason: I didn't know how to use our lawnmower and I needed a police permit if I had to buy a cutlass.
In full Osuofia mode, I went to ask my flat mate who is from an Arabic speaking country to teach me how to use a lawnmower. From the look in his eyes he must have been saying "how spoilt can you be not to know how to use a lawnmower". I just couldn't be bothered to explain that I grew up using a cutlass. Lets call him Idris. Idris showed me how to use the device which I enjoyed and imagined all those Oyinbo films where a hot chic would be checking out the guy who is so homely and hard-working... I drift away from the topic once again.
Shame on me.
I watched the trailer of of Sacha Baron Cohen's movie "The Dictator", where there were four people in a helicopter and two were chatting about the Statue of Liberty and fireworks in Arabic but to the pilot and co-pilot all they understood was: 2 middle eastern adults mentioned "Statue of Liberty" and "Boom boom boom" = Terrorists and bombs. When I watched it, in my head I blamed the Americans for putting that stereotype in my head. I have been in buses, trains and classes where I see an adult male with a beard from ear to ear, turban wrapped round his head and a backpack... One of those moments where You repent all over again just in case the backpack contains a bomb and I end up dying. In the same way, I have sat down in buses that were full but had an empty seat next to me (may be because I am black and no one wants to get mugged or have their pockets picked perhaps?).
Last week in Nigeria, a man was arrested and even made international headlines as he was accused of being a suicide bomber who planned to kill some Minister of the Federal Republic. Later that day I saw a picture of the bombs and found out that they were tear-gas canisters and some live ammunition. Maybe those were locally made bombs or real bombs or another silly way to distract us by our Security Services but I understood them considering the fact that Nigeria is gradually becoming a terrorist nation and it is better to be safe than sorry blah blah blah we know how the story goes....
I finished mowing the lawn and no hot chic even noticed me (not like I wanted that to happen), I walked to the kitchen to get a glass of water and Idris as usual was on his phone. All I could hear was:
hakla hamla rackla hesnfr **%$%u& "McDONALDS", "ALTON TOWERS" *insert more Arabic words*.
Shame on me because sub-consciously I asked myself if maybe he had such ties and he was listing targets? have I become paranoid because of the news and stereotypes? When did I become this person? Yet we are quick to call white people racists, short people - wicked, Scorpios - evil, Muslims - Boko haram, etc... I mentally shook my head and told myself...
Shame on me.