Fighting Diary Wars
A number of diary wars — if not all — are battles against stereotypes people have deeply inscribed in their diary within: they are mostly inherited battles which the victims should have no business with. We all fight such battles, whether we are aware or not. We don`t even have to like them, we just find ourselves in them. Isn`t it just funny that we get into battles because somebody had some experiences with less than 0.001% of people from our country, tribe, religion, place of worship, age group, and other categorisations, and they stereotype the entire categorisation? So every Nigerian has to be an internet scammer, every Yoruba is dirty, every Igbo loves money, every…and the tiring list never ends! So we find ourselves struggling between being who we actually are, and making tiring efforts to correct an impression we never created nor confirmed to be true. Such are the wars of the diary.
SAS`s Diary Within
No, I`m not going back to talking about SAS`s well-detailed diary which he wrote in with his pen between his index and middle fingers. This is about his diary within. SAS had his stereotypes. There were wars that certain people who met with him had to fight. The tribal war was one of them. SAS wasn`t particularly tolerant of Igbos. He stereotyped them as deceitful and fraudulent. When it was time for him to accommodate tenants, he said he would never accept Igbos in his house. To cut short a story that could be a whole book, he got swindled by a real estate developer who was Yoruba. The case was in a law court till he, SAS, died. I wasn`t too young to know that SAS` judgement of the Igbos was subjective, and had some sentiments from his experiences. It reflected in how he talked about the Nigerian Civil War, how he avoided doing business with them, and even to minute details like how he called the name “Igbo” within conversations, like the wife and mother who lost her entire household to a flood and exclaimed, “water”. Just as such a woman cannot do without water, notwithstanding the evil it seemed to have caused, we couldn`t have done without Igbos, the same way we can`t do without a number of people, ideas, religions, tribes, structures, and what else that we condemn. Just like Igbos who met SAS had a diary war to engage in, only because they were Igbo, so do we have to engage in certain battles; so do people who come in contact with us.
The Problem with Stereotypes
This has been the major struggle. It constitutes the root of many diaries within. It`s the reason I had to try to convince a lady I loved that I was not proud, unteachable, without purpose, and intimidated by women as she thought “Yoruba men” were. She probably hadn`t even met up to 50 yet. This is a point I`m yet to understand. Do the millions of Yoruba men suddenly behave the same way simply because they`re from the same tribe? Do individual differences, varying experiences, unrelated exposures, disparate levels of education, and all other kinds of uniqueness not matter anymore? How do people hold on to a single story about an entire nation, and see everyone from that nation as what they`ve stereotyped them to be? Some stereotypes are even against persons of a particular age and gender. So we often hear “young men of these days don`t want to work anymore.” So among other things you have to do, you also have to prove that you`re not among the “young men of these days” who don`t want to work. Well, in this case, and some others, simply being yourself, if you`re actually diligent, is enough to prove them wrong. Funnily, some people even make statements to express that you`re not what they stereotyped you as, and expect that you smile and thank them because they consider such statements as compliments. Stereotypes hold on to a single story, usually negative, of people and places, things, and other kinds of victims. It is a barrier. It places negative expectations on its victims and judges them before getting to know them. Stereotypes are unfair.
We Need Better Diaries
A few years ago, a friend told me and a mutual friend how she noticed that her son, whenever asked to kneel down, as a way of punishment, anywhere in the house, usually the living room, would go to the loo and hold on to the water closet. Of course, she was worried and didn`t understand the act, so she made her findings and realised that it was how his class teacher punished him and other pupils in his class. She was alarmed. We heard of another, who, whenever he hugged his mother, made some sexual moves. She didn`t want to believe what she saw until it got so disturbing that she couldn`t ignore it anymore. She found out that an adult in the school had been molesting children. That child, her son, was a victim. I remember the boy who wasn`t up to seven yet, and a maid molested him whenever she bathed him. His mother didn`t know until years after when she noticed that he had erections whenever he got close to females. It was embarrassing. I can keep telling other ugly stories, all to drive home the point that we need better diaries. We need diaries who take notes on their own. Diaries that can observe even the most hidden details. This can only come through attention. Attention to actions and inactions, attention through conversations, attention to caregivers, family, and neighbours, attention to learning environments, and loads of other details. Parents also need to trust less. Some of us have been sexually wayward because we were constantly molested by perverts who lived with us or visited often. Victims of such dared not mention the issue to their parents/guardians (that`s if they weren`t the perpetrators) because they saw the level of trust their parents/guardians had for these people, and they were sure they wouldn`t believe their stories. Some were just too estranged to their parents/guardians to open up on such issues. And this is the story of many children today. Abuse remains rampant until we tackle certain parenting and childcare issues.
What Kind of Diary Are you?
One that takes no notes?
Morayo`s that gives false feedback?
An adopted diary?
What kind of diary do you have?
SAS`s that keeps all records?
My coded diary?
My friends` locked diary?
What have you done with your diary experience?
Written by: Akinsiwaju Sanya