‘Where are you from?’

For some of us who aren’t members of political parties yet, we seem to be in a quandary. If you criticize this party’s policies, you are accused of being a member of that party and vice versa.

Sir: Many people love to argue for argument’s sake and to win that argument the Shakespearean way: by ridiculing you and tearing you to smithereens if you give them the chance, so you would refrain from thinking. Often when they argue to win, they resort to falsehood to misinform people. They are quick on the draw and give the nod of askance when listeners contradict them. They enjoy it when listeners appreciate and acknowledge the lies they propagate. Anything short of that will provoke a “where are you from?” question to snipe at you and avoid the tortuous mental strain of intellectual discussion.

“Where are you from?” by Nigerians is the easiest way to avoid real dialogue even though, real dialogue makes people think. Life be a monumental bore if we all thought alike. It was William Hazhelt who said that, “man is the only animal that laughs and weeps for he is the only one that is struck by the difference between what things are and what they might have been.”

Its amazing how some people walk into a public place and start a random discussion, shoving lies down our throats, mouthing the inane.‬ You expect a joust, but get an outburst, “that’s a lie. By the way, where are you from?” They try to heckle you into submission, losing the opportunity of intellectual intercourse. At a drug store, I met some seriously in a conference, “how can an inferior race superintend over us?” “No person or race is inferior I countered. God created us equal. The Jews were once considered an inferior race by Hitler in spite of the fact that they contribute (d) meaningfully to every society they found themselves in. Close to a dozen won the Nobel Prize and others likewise have achieved the same feat. How have you contributed your own bit to the cause of humanity?” I asked.

For some of us who aren’t members of political parties yet, we seem to be in a quandary. If you criticize this party’s policies, you are accused of being a member of that party and vice versa. Such accusations naturally lead to the end of discussions and veer to avenues where you stop thinking. Where you are from takes more precedence than the substance of a discussion. While those on the lower rung kill themselves over where we are from, those on the establishment seats care nothing about where they are from when they congregate to drink Pinacolada, on the national purse. We bow down to the dictates of our tribe, that we are pure, but our purity isn’t demonstrated by generosity.

•Simon Abah wrote from Port Harcourt.

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