Friday, June 5, 2009

Dirty water bicep curls

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With the rainy season here, things are turning green, roads are becoming muddy, and people are finding employment opportunities cleaning out blocked drains. By hand.

Ibrahim, who I met in Ketu today, is another member of the Hausa tribe, from the north of Nigeria. Like any marginalized immigrant community, Hausas tend to get stuck with the most menial jobs. Just like you would never see a white person washing dishes in a New York City restaurant, you would probably never see a Yoruba cleaning drains in Lagos. Lagos is a Yoruba city, so most Yorubas work in business or as civil servants.





It may not pay well, but at least Ibrahim will not have to spend money on a gym membership -- look at those arms!

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6 comments:

  1. This is a pretty flawed blanket assertion. Lagos is full of impoverished local amd immigrant Yoruba (indigenous Lagosians may be Yoruba, but not all Yoruba are Lagosians), as well as incredibly wealthy Hausa-Fulani (many serve on the boards of corporations and so on). Igbos are prominent petty traders, but they are also well-represented in academia and the finance sector. Yoruba are certainly a prominent part of the business and political elite but the ethnic divide is not as firm as you suggest here.

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  2. Yorubas also do these menial jobs but one thing is clear, some tribes are more skilled at some jobs than others. The real indigenes of Lagos are Yoruba most of whom are indigent and relegated to the slums. The remaining indigenes are usually super rich because they are in government.
    Yoruba, Igbos and Hausas from elsewhere live in the classy areas and work in big Corporations, settle in and make good money.

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  3. You don't want to mess around with those hausa men. A lot of them are well-built o.

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  4. You are so wrong i wonder how many other things your missing!!!!

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  5. Thanks for the comments.

    I didn't mean to imply that I am expert on job distribution amongst the various tribes in Lagos -- I'm not. I have not travelled in wealthy circles here, so I don't know much about them. And I have certainly met impoverished people from all ethnic backgrounds.

    But stand by my observation that Hausas are more likely to have lower status jobs -- probably because so many of them did not go to school and speak poor English, if any at all. Knowing how hard it is to get ahead in Lagos, even if you speak English and went to school, imagine if you did not.

    I wonder if there has been any research done on this topic.

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