Written by Zainab Haruna
I have made a conscious effort to remove the phrase “Village people” from my speech and writing these days.
Initially people used it to communicate humorous instances of bad luck. But I think it has now come to mean and communicate the worst of things.
It stems from a cultural context background where it is assumed that people in the village are jealous and envious of the progress of city people. That they are busy in their “huts” creating spells and potions for the downfall of the city inhabitants.
This narrative is helped along with Nollywood’s portrayal of rural life which shows people in the village as wicked schemers that constantly plot the downfall of their colleagues from the city when they pay a visit.
Parents have now come to shield their kids from the village, preventing them from visiting and aiding them to lose touch with their cultural roots and history in the process.
My parents didn’t like us visiting the village. They didn’t stop us but they didn’t encourage us to visit as adults. In my mind, the village was this mystical scary place that killed you immediately you set foot in it.
When I got admission to Kogi State Uni, the village wasn’t far so inevitably I had to visit at some point. And I did. And I really liked it! The life there is so simple and so are the people. They treated me like a Princess. They would make meals from their homes and bring for me (My people express care through food). They did this for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
And when there’s a party, I love to watch. The loud banter of the women cooking, the men managing the slaughtering. And then the dancing… Igala women are awesome dancers!
So yeah, I liked it. I don’t get to visit the village nearly often enough but everytime I think of it, it is with fondness and anticipation.
There are great people living in our rural communities. And there are bad people too. Just like you find everywhere else in the world.
And so, I think it is unfair and rude to attribute every bad thing and unfortunate incident to “village people.”
It is stereotyping at its worst.