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ignorance

My first Christmas without my family, I thought I’d be sad because I missed them, and tried imagining what they’d cooking and doing on the other side of the Atlantic. The Schaefers made sure I wasn’t. The Schaefers are a Canadian family I lived with for about a year. My first Christmas with Michael and his family was fun. He told me stories of his college days, spring breaks in Florida, and his experiences relating with American college students. At no point in time was I asked about wild animals, color of milk in Africa, or any such nonsense; we had intelligent conversations.
Fast forward to a year later. I’m heading to a friend’s place for Christmas lunch, walk into a bus shed cos it’s windy, and the two white ladies already in the shed walk out. Initially, I thought a bus was coming so I peeped. It wasn’t. Why did they leave shed? Ignorance.

Before then, I’d been asked by fellow classmates at the University, if I see lions, zebras and other wild animals on the roads in Africa. My answer: No, I’ve seen them in zoos, like most people. Why would they ask me that? Ignorance.

While a Caribbean friend of mine and I were driving in her car from a class, and I was explaining to her a concept she wasn’t clear on, she stops me mid-sentence to ask how long it took me to speak English so well. My answer: I’ve spoken English all my life; Nigerians speak English. Why would she ask me that? Ignorance.

I had some time before a meeting, so made a quick stop for a donut and coffee at Tim’s. I had my iPod on so I didn’t immediately see an older lady making hand gestures. I looked up and paused the music to hear “suit”. I assumed she said “nice suit”, I smiled, thanked her, and continued with my music. Next thing, she taps me and says: the suit is nice but not you in it. I was so confused. Was that really necessary? Ignorance.

Hung out with some friends till about midnight. Heading to my car, 2 cops approach me. They were investigating a disturbance in that area. I said I didn’t see or hear anything as I was coming from a friend’s. They asked for my license. I was like are you kidding me? Obviously didn’t say that out loud 😄. I complied. They also asked for my insurance and papers for the car, ran my license, and delayed me a while before finally letting me go. All that because of a noise complaint? Ignorance.

Ignorance is claiming superiority based skin color. It is the assumptions based on racial profiling and stereotypes. Racism is ignorance and we need to rid the world of it. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr said: Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

A lot of Nigerians feel they can’t relate, they think it’s American/Western issue, but it’s not just an American issue, it’s a humanity issue. Over here, the equivalent is tribalism. Ignorance is also why inter-tribal marriages is still an issue and why tribal stereotypes cause divisions in Nigeria, but that’s a topic for another day. You can make a difference by educating yourself and enlightening your mind.
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