The only authentic identity for the African is the tribe…I am Nigerian because a white man created Nigeria and gave me that identity. I am black because the white man constructed black to be as different as possible from his white. But I was Igbo before the white man came. ~ Chimamanda Adichie
Let me start by congratulating Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi on their massive FA Cup win over Chelsea, it was a historic and proud moment for Nigerians especially those of Igbo origin. Iheanacho particularly has been in the news because of exploits in front of goal with football pundits even talking him up alongside Riyad Mahrez of Man City for the coveted African Footballer Of The Years Award. We wish Iheanacho and Leicester the best of the season.
Recently I came across Iheanacho trending on Twitter and discovered that the in-form Leicester forward had tweeted “for the Igbo culture” with a picture of his jersey where his name was spelt with dots. While so many (mostly Igbos) on the bird app proudly and happily reacted to his tweet a few others (unworthy Nigerians) felt he should have repped Nigeria instead of his tribe.
And so what ordinarily was an innocent tweet turned into a tribal tug of war with silly unsavoury utterances and ethnopolitical comments flying around the thread. But trust my often implacable Igbo people, they returned brimstone for fire and went ahead to create a thread that eventually had #IgboCulture trending as number 1 in TwitterNg.
For the records, Iheanacho had explained the significance of the dots in a 2019 interview and had this to say back then: “For me, it is a way to express where I come from and for people to know I have this tradition and tribe back home….it is my family’s name and for me to carry it on. But also I would like to share my culture with the people in this country. I would like everyone to know we have a culture, a way to write, a way to speak, and everything. That is the excitement for me.”
However, reading the negative comments elicited by his tweet I began to wonder when it became a sin to celebrate one’s culture? Have we not seen the same from other Nigerian-born athletes like Anthony Joshua and Israel Adesanya to mention just a few. The thing is that being proud of your tribe, culture, and tradition doesn’t necessarily mean that you are not a proud Nigerian. Having travelled widely, I can say that Nigerians are among the proudest people on earth. We…