Friday, 18 July 2008

The Ijebu Gene

Though, I am sometimes guilty of stereotyping, I try to desist from it-and focus on the individual not community traits. But, I've come to realize that some stereotypes have elements of truth to them. I'm Ijebu (that's what I was told, that's the 'tribe' of my parents and basically where I go to, during festive periods) and I lived most of life in Port Harcourt. Apart from learning certain values from my parents (which really weren't that 'Ijebuic') and from cousins and uncles (who themselves were ignoring their culture in bids to fit into the western one), I did not have any external influences on the Ijebu culture. The few things I knew growing up were that it was sought of a group of tribes (Ikenne-Remo, Ijebu-Igbo etc) and had its own separate language that sounded like its speakers had their mouths full when they spoke. And the most popular of these traits was that Ijebus were naturally and staunchly prudent. As easily predictable, my father was a true Ijebu man when it came to this particular trait. I grew up learning that money really doesn't have to be spent-why buy, when you can save, really. 'Really?'

"Ah Daddy lets gotto Park 'n' Shop" we would all sing, as kids
"Okay...go get ready"

As soon as we step out of the car, father is already informing us that we won't spend too much. On some occasions he would allot to everyone the maximum amount we can spend.
No doubt, my parents were always there to provide us with what we needed and even most of our wants, still, we had to learn to sometimes settle for less. This left us confused why we couldn't get better, knowing Daddy definitely had to the doe (people had told us).
Father's excuse was however that he went for "value for money, not price".

A haa! (in the Yoruba way of expressing incredulity), when did less expensive things start getting higher quality than costlier things?

Now, at this point of my life, I'm being accused for being too Ijebu-in the "you are too stingy" kind of way. Canadian friends call me "cheap", while my PH peeps declare me an "Akanchichi"
Someone tell me why I should buy a polo shirt that just has an effin crocodile or
polo-stick yielding man on the left breast, when you can get an equally nice one at STITCHES or even BLUENOTES.

So after all my ramblings, the point I am getting at is that I have in some manner-genetically or otherwise inherited this peculiar Ijebu trait from my father. But I'm curious to know if I got it through being influenced by my folks or is there a genetic explanation to this?

To Nigerian Researchers or Khaki-clad white explorers out there: This is definitely a puzzling scientific and anthropological question.