As a Nigerian, I should not be shocked by some of the stories I hear. But on that day, when a good friend of mine shared with me an ordeal she went through some days back on account of her physical disposition, a sensitive chord was struck in me.
I wasn’t just devastated; I was on the brink of getting altogether frustrated.
Maybe this is because I’ve successfully made sure my immediate environment, and my online space as well, is as un-Nigerian as possible (by that, I mean devoid of bigotry and all other inhumane actions the average Nigerian is known to exhibit), I’m gradually losing touch of the outside.
This friend of mine had been working in a Chinese company as a casual worker for a little while and was finally going to be employed. She’d prepared for the interview, which would be conducted by police officers (Why a company looking to grow would put its employment decisions in the hands of the Nigerian Police, a sect known for partiality, incompetence and corruption, is beyond me).
She got to the venue alongside her other colleagues and after her interview, was told to wait aside while the rest were ushered in, obviously as newly recruited workers in the company.
She waited as she was told, thinking her delay probably had something to do with her interview. But she knew she’d aced it. It wasn’t even a brain-wracking interview, according to her (I mean, for every other person to have been allowed in, it definitely wasn’t a tasking interview). Before long, the security guard came and didn’t even have the civility to talk to her about her getting rejected; he began shooing her away from the premises like some dog.
Of course she resisted. Asking for an explanation as to why she was being rejected, knowing she had met all the requirements, and her resistance was met with the policemen throwing her out of the building – in her words – “like an unwanted fly.”
Do you see just how terrible we can be in this country? How mean? How callous!
She relented and left. She didn’t know what the men in uniform were capable of doing to her had she kept on resisting. Even though she needed the work badly and was good at it, she left.
Defeated and bitter, she said she made up her mind to find out why she was treated in that manner, only to find out it was because she wasn’t dressed as a lady and didn’t act like one.
This is why she, a Nigerian with no criminal record, was given such inhumane treatment by a group of people that are supposed to protect the rights of others! Because she doesn’t swing her hips when walking and doesn’t throw her hands when talking.
On a daily basis, this is what most people are faced with – effeminate men, manly girls, the non-conformists etc. People lose jobs because they do not act a certain way the society expects them to, not because they are not qualified for them, but because of our warped mentality and faulty reasoning. People are killed, treated as subhuman, not because you have caught them messing around in a way that defies the Draconian gay-targeted law, but because you have judged and condemned them based on shallow stereotypes. So now, you only need to act a certain kind of way to be punished without necessarily flouting the disgusting, human rights-infringing law.
I’m stupefied. We all should be ashamed of this hellhole we call a country. And the comical Trump calls it a shithole and we have the impetus to bark and throw tantrums? Such hilarity!
I’m pissed! You should be too! This isn’t what we need right now. How do we develop and become a better society when regularly, the competent ones are denied the rights to serve us all because they don’t look a part that gratifies our small-minded norms and cultures? How can we move forward when we are hell-bent on being prejudiced against individuals simply because we don’t understand them? How can we grow when you and your bigoted friends keep on with the ideology that one’s physical nature dictates his persona, his creativity, his intellect and his disposition? And what if he or she is gay… Does it make him any less capable of being the best manager in your company, or the best architect, or the most intelligence analyst?
I was moved to tears as my friend narrated her ordeal to me but I couldn’t show it. I wouldn’t let her know her experience mentally dragged me ten steps backwards just when I was beginning to revel in the thought that we are making progress as a nation.
So I encouraged her. You see, no matter what, I realised then that I’m also Nigerian and I have Nigerian friends who are human enough to never do to another what those idiots did to that girl.
I take solace in this little populace that has decided to have sense, and it was all I needed to give her the esteem-boosting words. It’s their loss after all. I know she will get a much better job. I know she will catalog this experience and use it to propel herself far beyond where she was supposed to be. I know this because she deserves more than being treated like she is the reason we are daft.
Meanwhile, I’m not going to stop telling it as it is. I’m not going to stop preaching against every form of inhumanity, no matter how subtle. It’s obvious a lot haven’t gotten the message and as such, the fight continues. “Nigeria go better…” we keep saying. Upon that promise, I will continue preaching against the scourge of our inhumanity.
Written by Delle