The siblings I ought to know

By Omordia, Efe Alexandra – A first time visitor to West Africa may have a hard time trying to figure out the multi-diversity of cultures in the sub-continent but what will give him or her a bigger headache is the attempt to compartmentalize relationships.

From Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Ghana to Kings Square in Nigeria, the story is the same; From Monrovia to Minna it’s no different. Everybody seems to be everyone else’s sibling. Blood Relationships extend to places that are as far as the mind can conjure or as far as a need can be met. The cousin of a cousin of a cousin’s cousin is expected to give equal attention to a sibling that spent nine months in the same womb with him as he would to someone that happens to be born in the same village that his maternal grandmother was born. In this part of the world, the terms “my brother” and “my sister” are as effective as the talisman from a juju priest or the three wishes that a genie can grant. It is the key to getting what one often doesn’t deserve and it has given a permanent resting place to mediocrity and incompetence in all its ramifications

I grew up in ignorance of all this till I stepped out of the cocoon created by my bohemian mother and my “colonialized” father and encountered reality, a reality that pleaded to me to give up all my  alien ideas. A friend drove the message home by calmly informing me while we were in our final year in the university that she was going to meet her “brother” after graduation to help her get a job in the company which he is CEO. I later discovered that she is not related to him not by blood but by the fact that they come from the same province. She couldn’t understand why I felt that he didn’t owe her anything.

I am not against being brotherly. I love family and I love the warmth of being in loving relationships and reaching out to others in love but what I find appalling is the attempts to isolate deserving individuals from what ought to be theirs by others who feel it’s their birthright and that of their clan to eat the fat of the land.  Our societies are largely undeveloped because things are not done in a professional and businesslike manner. We have sacrificed competence so often that it is now a rarity for one to get what one deserves and we are none the better for it. So while y’all think of all I have said, I will take a break in my loin cloth and have a refreshing drink of Palm wine under the Baobab Tree and listen to the elders of the clan dish out words of advice.