House-hunting in Nigeria: how prejudice and tribalism hurts us all

Racism and discrimination

Racism and discrimination

A most trying situation has been brought to our attention and it further proves just how deep tribalism, prejudice and hatred have eaten deeply into the fabric of our society.

A friend to the Viva Naija House is trying to help another friend find a place to live after relocating back to Nigeria after a stint abroad.  In the course of their search, they found no less than six houses or apartments that would have been just ideal, but all with the same tribalistic clause attached – No Igbos Allowed.

This, in 2016, in Lekki, Lagos State, in supposedly civilised suburbs. It beggars the mind that such blatant tribalism still continues to date, and more importantly, I struggle to understand why.

I know that some landlords feel that Igbo people tend to travel in packs: only one comes to ask for the apartment, then they move their cousin, brother, neighbour, secondary school friend into your beloved property.

While I will grant you that Igbos may have a penchant for “coming to the big city to make their fortune” (not that this has ever been a crime), why not have a strict rule against overcrowding and subletting rather than ruling out an entire tribe? In the same way that a landlord might stand against pets or small children, surely it is easier to state that evidence of more inhabitants than those on the lease would be a breach of the tenancy agreement and grounds for eviction?

Does this mean that the landlord would be fine if the Yoruba tenant’s aged parents moved in and never left?Or perhaps a quarrelsome mother in law? Or would he be perfectly at peace with a Fulani herdsman and his entire herd of cattle? As long as they weren’t Igbo? Why not tackle the main problem you have and not bring tribe into it?

Also, the budget these gentlemen were working with on the house-hunt was in the region of 2-2.5 million naira and they were looking in uptown Lekki. Really? Does that sound like someone who is about to bring his cousin Emeka the vulcanizer and Ndubuisi the container clearer to come live with him? Biko, se ba puo! Gerrarahia mehn!

This House Is Not For Sale

Then I hear that there was even a particular estate which was a Muslim only estate. You cannot buy or lease property there unless you are Muslim. I’m no Muslim myself but I know the Qur’an contains a lot of verses about compassion and love. Where is the love when you discriminate against your brother man?

If I were a landlord, you could worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster for all I care. Don’t make any structural changes to my property without prior permission, don’t tick off the neighbours, pay your rent on time. Shikena.

A landlord should be in the business of finding the most liquid, most reliable, most civilised tenant for his property. Everything else should not matter and consideration for anything else further drives a wedge between us all as Nigerians.

Which brings me roundly to the next point: landlords and single female prospective tenants. I’ve heard that landlords will point blank REFUSE to rent to female tenants on their own and some women who occupy high positions in their places of employment and can pay their rent without issue have had little choice than to force male friends and family members to front as husbands or fiancées.

What is this about? Who died and made them the moral police? What’s your own if she turns her vagina into toll gate, opening and closing for any man? Is it your toll gate? Why don’t you mind your business and collect your rent?

You cannot tell me there is not an element of jealousy involved in this discrimination against single ladies. Yes, even from the MFM older madam landladies. You wish that were you with the legs up to heaven and the enviable rack otherwise why the bad belle?

The tragedy of this tribalism and myriad prejudices is that it’s just a front for hatred. A landlord who wants only Igbo tenants will then further tell you that Delta Igbo is different from “real” Igbo. A landlord with a penchant for Yoruba tenants will hmmm and haaaa on the differences between Ife and Modakeke.The landlord who insisted you were married? Will be the first to come knocking on your door for a bit of juicy gossip in the name of concern the first day your husband comes home late from work.

Until we see ourselves as ONE and face the issues leading to empowerment ie: get your money and make it stack, then we will continue to flounder in these backwaters of stagnation and ignorance. Tufia!!

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