I am a Yoruba girl., a very typical Yoruba girl. Born to Yoruba parents. Raised in Yoruba land. Speak Yoruba fluently. Dress Yoruba. Eat Yoruba. Think Yoruba…. You get the picture?
So I fell in love with and married a northerner, born and bred in the north. He is from one of the many minority tribes that I had never heard of until I met him. He was born and raised in a small village in Pankshin, where there is no network signal. He speaks three languages; English, Hausa, and Mupun, which is his local dialect. You still get the picture?
So I am a typical amala-and-ewedu-eating, iro-and-buba-wearing babe, in an inter-tribal marriage with this tuwo-loving, suya-eating, babariga-wearing handsome and intelligent man. This is not your typical inter-tribal marriage.
Now, marriage in itself is hard enough. It takes conscious continuous effort to keep the flame red and high. Inter-tribal marriage is on another level entirely. Oh, how I have learnt! I have grown so much, I impress myself. I have learnt to not flip and throw a tantrum when Yoruba folks call me ‘Iyawo mola’. Durrh! My husband is not a ‘mola’!!!! He is a person! A human being! A Nigerian! Red blood and melanin! Jeez! (“Mola” is Yoruba people’s way of pronouncing ‘Mallam’, which actually means ‘Mister’ in Hausa, but… Yoruba readers will understand).
I have learnt to smile and keep my calm when people refer to my son as ‘aboki’ in that derogatory manner that only Yoruba people will understand. Funny, ‘aboki’ actually means ‘friend’, but trust Yoruba people to use it to make you feel less of a human.
I have learnt to fake a laugh when Mupun people refer to me as ‘pak’, which simply translates to ‘tribal marks’. That’s their way of describing Yoruba folks in the same tone that Yoruba people call ‘mola’ or ‘aboki’.
I have learnt to not be bothered by the look I get from people when they hear my surname. They look at me like, ‘you, seriously, couldn’t find a nice Yoruba boy to marry?’
I have learnt to not argue when my husband’s people try to force-feed me with tradition. I make a conscious effort to NOT flinch when a conversation starts with ‘In our place, that is not how it is done’. I must confess that I still mentally roll my eyes in the course of those conversations.
Shortly after I got married, I was in the beautiful city of Jos, home to sweet potatoes and Irish potatoes. Sweet potatoes were so cheap! I bought a full bag and indulged myself. I cooked existing potato dishes and formed some new ones. I was having a swell time. One of my husband’s relatives came visiting one day and saw me eating. He looked at me like I was eating cow dung. He went on to tell me, ‘where we come from, that’s what we feed our pigs. You can’t seriously be eating that’. Wawu! My appetite evaporated within seconds! I was livid, sad, irritated and disgusted all at once. My husband tried endlessly to tell me not to pay him any attention, but till date, every time I see sweet potatoes, I re-live that experience all over again and all the emotions come rushing to the surface. This is just one of the many not-so-funny situations I have encountered.
Not everyone is so shallow-minded though. I have met some very amazing people by virtue of my inter-tribal marriage. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
All of these add bright colours to my life; they make life a whole lot more interesting. All of these stay on the outside too, they do not come to play inside of my marriage. So while I might consider strangling someone for something they said or did, I am laughing about it later that day while relaying it to bae, laying on his chest.
My life is a beautiful one. Maybe one day I will publish my memoirs and tell the full story. But then again, maybe not… Time will tell.
Funmi Longji-Dakum is a lot of things. A registered nutritionist and dietitian, an event manager, a talent manager, a writer, amongst other things. She’s got a crazy creative mind and a jolly happy attitude to life. Married to a fine Jos boy, mother of a cute little boy. Follow her on social media IG:@funmidakum Facebook: Funmi Akinfenwa Longji-Dakum.