Written by Tayo Faloye.
My landlady is a wonderful and kindhearted woman. She and her husband, Yorubas, are based abroad and ‘loaded’ but lead a very simple lifestyle. They have been abroad since the 70’s and into joint venture as a couple. Real estate is one of their investment chains in Nigeria.
As a Real Estate Consultant, being one of my business interest, I’m opportune to handle my landlady’s property whenever an apartment becomes vacant. They are an embodiment of Omoluabi, a Yoruba moral concept to depict a person of honor, integrity and good character who believes in hard work, humility and respect for others. However, one thing I find uncomfortable is their disdain for the Igbos. Their distrust span years of past personal experiences, which can’t be invalidated though.
“Mr. Faloye, pls we do not want igbos on our properties. They are uncultured, untrustworthy and badly behaved,” my landlady had instructed me as I took charge to get a tenant for a vacant apartment for let a few years back.
Appalled at the instruction, I had to let her know she was wrong holding such ethnic prejudice. Informed her I had lived among good Igbos as friends and neighbours for over 3 decades and unaware of any region strictly home to an all saintly people.
“Shebi, it’s you and your family that will live with them, if you get them in as tenants.” She had muttered in exasperation, giving up trying to further make me see reasons with her. Well, she wasn’t entirely wrong anyway.
I swung into action. Before even informing my field network of realtors about the vacant apartment, I had immediately launched an online advert campaign for the property, as a Digital Marketing Pro also. And, from the engagements which led to inspections of the vacant apartment in realtime by online prospects, we settled for a newly wedded lady whose husband lived in SA but visited home regularly. She’s Igbo. Landlady had no choice than to accept her.
Today, we live among non-yorubas in our compound and I’m glad I played a role in softening her bias on the igbos or other tribes. It wasn’t particularly a difficult task because she has great trust in us as a family for being truthful and plain with her. Though, it comes at a cost. Story for another time.
In juxtapose, my landlady had once told us, in a moment of hysteria, that if my family relocated from our apartment to reside elsewhere, she was going to sell off the whole property outrightly.
“The money I spent building this bungalow of 3 flats is good enough to build some storey building,” she had lamented at the penchant of her people to always fleece her at every given opportunity. She had sent money down from yonder for the particular property to be built and managed by relatives. Managing the property has become a herculean task because of too many vested interests without integrity. This has eroded her trust in them.
You must be wondering the tribe of her relatives, I guess, since she isn’t of mixed tribes or multi-ethnic background? Doesn’t this expose the hypocrisy of our misplaced contempt and stereotype of other tribes?
Today, it’s become a worrisome trend as ethnic discrimination in tenant selection in property management is fast gaining a strong foothold in the sector too. The cited instance of my landlady is a chip off the iceberg. It’s a spiral from the larger society and reflective in our interactions on social media.
Until we desist from our clannish insulation and stop to see issues from the prism of bigotry, hate and bitterness, whether from personal encounters or political affiliation, we may never be able to unite across ethnic lines to build our nation to enviable heights.
Great people can be found across tribal boundaries. Our ethnic peculiarities and cultural diversity as a nation should be a mine of riches and a call for respect for one another, not division and derision.
STOP THE ETHNIC SLANTS NOW!
– by: Tayo Faloye
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