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My Country and My People: A Prequel to the Upcoming Matriarchy Article with Lynn Lockhart

Mobi is a LYFT driver who consented to speak with me for publication about the tribal structure of his nation and people. In the upcoming article, Matriarchy, Lynn grills me about the opinion of some Alt-Right thinkers that African, and by derivation African-American, cultures are matriarchal and powered by unique genetics. I led Mobi into this conversation for two reasons, to ask him about the Igbo people for a fellow writer and to see if he offers any information on the supposed matriarchal structure of his people and nation. Any misspellings in this are my mistake, as Mobi spoke and did not check my spelling. While discussing Nigeria in general and other tribes specifically, Mobi uses no hand gestures. When discussing America, his eyes grow wide with shocked sensibilities and his hands go askingly out to the side.

Working in America

The strangest aspect about coming to America is, that having been led to believe that America was a place of self made people, one discovers that it is a place where men are passive in daily life—unless they are criminals—and that the women often behave as if they are men. Particularly in the city, the women are so assertive and so irrational that they are essentially insane. The primary characteristic of people in Baltimore is rudeness. The men ignore you and the women bother you, always in a rude manner. Even after I tell these much younger women that I am forty-five, they continue to express interest in me, like a man courting a woman. This is maddening. I say to myself, "Who des this? Who acts in this manner, but a crazy person?"

Of course, the lack of English in Baltimore is another aspect of the culture shock. One can say what he will about the English, and they have done some bad things, but they accomplished much and their language spans the globe. So, if one wishes to succeed, he speaks English, and well, not turning it into some kind of babble, but using it as a tool for self-advancement.

My Country

Nigeria was assembled by the British for their own purposes. The population consists of three tribes—with one sub-grouping associated with the Igbo. The Edo are placed under the Igbo, but are separate. They have just been categorized as a branch of that tribe. Lagos is the old capital, which has been replaced by Abuja for administrative, governmental purposes. However, Lagos is the center of economic life, of trade, of the movie industry. Lagos is the New York of Nigeria. All peoples come together there. It is on the coast, with Abuja inland.

The British left the Hausa tribe in charge. They are the largest group and span the northern reaches of the nation. It is they who contend with Boka Horam. The Hausa are mostly poorly educated and very poor. However, the elite of the nation are Hausa, who use their common people to extract vast wealth and amass power for themselves. The character of a Hausa man is one of quite dignity, for he carries the weapon. Hausa men are known to go about armed. They tend to be polite and do not attempt to impose their ways or their will on the other tribes. The elite run the nation in a way that does not necessarily promote cultural interference. The Hausa man does not impose on you, for he has his weapon and his dignity and if you push him he will retaliate.

The Yoruba are numerous and not necessarily disruptive in any way. However, they are known to be hypocritical. The cab driver, Boomy, by his name, is a Yoruba man. The Yoruba man, has much in common with the Hausa man and the men of my people, for we are left to our own devices, to make our way through the educational system—or not—to acquire a trade and to forge ourselves. There is a lack of societies for men to grow strong in, and in that way, Nigeria is very much like America, for the man, for he is adrift, in Life, in his own little boat.

With the Igbo man it is not so. The Igbo always thinks of his brother—"I must bring my brother along in my business, must teach my brother, must aid my brother."

This extends to the tribe. Every Igbo man will do first and foremost for his tribe and his fellow Igbo men. I know an Igbo man in Ownings Mills. He belongs to the Baltimore Igbo Caucus. In any city where Igbo men live, they have a caucus that meets regularly to discuss concerns for Igbo men, to promote the cause of Igbo culture, to promote Igbo business. I hear the Igbo Caucus in Houston is very strong. The Igbo are very irritating in that they meddle in the greater society, attempting to shape other peoples' culture in a way such as will suit their purposes. Igbo men are renown as arrogant and tend to control business, are very much the bargaining merchant. The Igbo are very much like the Chinese, who have a presence in every country and do not alter their ways to conform to the native society and who tend to be business-oriented, meddlesome and arrogant wherever they go. In fact—and I did not understand this clearly until now—the Igbo in Africa are very much like the Jews in the United States, in that people in host countries complain of their meddlesome manner and would rather they not impose their culture and ways so aggressively.

My People

My late father passed away ten years ago. He had been sick and we thought, "He has always pulled through and he would this time as well."

Then, soon after I speak with him and hear his voice, confident of his strength, I receive the call that he has died. My father was an Edo man from Benin. Benin is a small, homogeneous nation beneath Nigeria, that was a French colony. Where the British loved to make nations of enemy tribes and group them together—for instance, Iraq, what is that but lines on a map insuring contention?—placing one people over the others, the French—at least in Benin—had a more sensible situation.

My father never regarded himself as anything other than Nigerian. He moved to Nigeria when he was eight and he loved it as his country. After his death, I did visit Benin—one wants to know the place from where his father comes. In Benin I was suspected of being an Igbo, which is a hazard of being an Edo, people might think you are some meddlesome Igbo coming to tamper with their culture, to promote yourself and your people as superior, to peddle influence. A man misses his father. It is a terrible occurrence to be separated by distance, thinking he will be their to speak with and to learn of his death.

[Speaks with a jutting jaw and strong but controlled gestures with the arm bent before the body and the hand half-opened and upward. The author confides that his father passed from life under identical circumstances.]

My mother's people, they were Yaruba.

[This statement, in response to the author's query about his matrilineal heritage, brings a slight snarl of disdain, and an abruptly dismissive back hand gesture. The author follows up with a question about masculine and feminine interaction in general. Mobi now uses chest thumping fingers to accentuate his statements below.]

Women do not understand that a man must forge himself, must test himself against Life and grow in an assertive way. My mother says, "You should not drive in the city," and I say, "Mother, I will take a care. I will be fine. I must face adversity—I am a man."

They do not understand these things. But I am her son, so she must trust my judgment. It is simply her nature to worry.

My sister, "She says, How can you drive in the city with all of those insane people? You know they are mad."

I tell her, "A man must forge himself," and she does not understand.

[Mobi continues on a subject more to his liking, again, with his upwardly expressive, coiled hand.]

I know a man of Nigeria, a man of my people [Edo] who is writing a book of our history. His grandfather began this book, of the history of our people wherever we have gone. His father continued the book and still it was not complete, for it is the history of a people. Each country this man travels too and lives—such as Brazil—where our people have gone, he adds to the book and has plans on publishing it soon. He tells me that I can read the book and I look forward to this very much.

You are welcome, and have a good day in Baltimore.


And so, in Baltimore, the theory of Universal Genetic African Matriarchy, in a land of a hundred kings, in the land of Nigeria where one king sold 14,000 slave girls to pay his passage to Mecca, in the lands of the Bantu, where naked men yet fight lions with lances, where Shaka Zulu shaped an iron age army that would defeat a modern one, where the kings of Swaziland and Dahomey have held thousands of wives and slave girls in sexual bondage, the idea of a race programmed for female domination wears thin.

A Well of Heroes: Two:

Literary Impressions of the Prose and Verse of Robert E. Howard

Add Comment
PRMay 12, 2017 11:16 PM UTC

I share his view of the Chinese, except for the Christian ones who are barely tolerable. If China is so great, they should stay in it.

Say what you want about the Igbo, it appears they stick together. This is something the rest of us should learn.