In Nigeria, tales and legends often weave their way through generations, sometimes encompassing communities and cultures, with narratives that have persisted for ages.
Such is the case of a long-standing story about married Tiv men allegedly offering their wives to visitors.
While this narrative has been passed down for generations, it is crucial to shed light on its dubious origins and the harmful impact it has had on the Tiv community.
The Tiv people, predominantly residing in Benue State and various parts of Nigeria, have been falsely accused of engaging in a practice where they purportedly offer their wives to guests (to ride), likened to presenting a customary gift known as ‘kola.’
This unfounded belief has persisted over the years, shrouded in mystery and without credible evidence to substantiate it.
This week, the Tiv community took a stand to dispel this baseless myth that has tarnished their reputation for years.
The recent incident that propelled this resolve occurred when Venita Akpofure, a housemate on the reality show
Big Brother Naija, made a claim about Tiv men.
This statement understandably angered the Tiv nation, prompting their paramount ruler, HRM James Ayatse (Tor Tiv), and a lawmaker to file a defamatory suit against her.
This myth bears a semblance to another piece of folklore in Nigerian history, involving a football match between Nigeria and India.
The story alleges that Nigeria scored just one goal while India scored 99 goals, hindered only by a football that mystically transformed into a lion, deterring Nigerian players from making progress.
Samuel Okwaraji allegedly said to have scored the lone goal but tragically lost his life during the match. FIFA reportedly banned India from soccer due to the alleged use of black magic.
Both narratives share a common thread – a lack of concrete evidence and reliance on oral tradition.
The football match tale, lacking supporting videos or credible sources, is widely acknowledged as a myth.
Similarly, the claim about Tiv men offering their wives lacks any substantiated proof and is a dangerous and baseless stereotype that has persisted over time.
The perpetuation of such unfounded stories not only perpetuates misinformation but also perpetuates stereotypes, fostering discrimination and disrespect toward the Tiv community.
It is vital to challenge and debunk such myths, as they do a disservice to entire communities, reinforcing prejudice and hampering unity and understanding among diverse ethnic groups.
As a Benue native who cherishes Tiv friendships and appreciates the rich cultural tapestry of Nigeria, it is essential to advocate for respectful discourse and debunk myths that undermine the dignity and reputation of any ethnic group.
Let us collectively stand against baseless allegations and strive for a society built on understanding, empathy, and unity, where unfounded narratives have no place.