"It's your blood," a relative of mine once said to me when I denied that I was Igbo. "How can you deny your blood?"
"I'm talking about the Igbo character."
And the more he talked and the more you listen to many Nigerians talk, the more apparent it becomes that what we call tribe is actually stereotype and has very little to do with culture. Of course there are cultural differences between an Itsekiri man and an Igbo man. Language, food and dress are a few of these but the fact of the matter is that most people speak English in addition to their native language, most people eat rice, few people turn up to work in their full traditional regalia. The more urbanised we become and the faster we move into the 21st century (willingly or unwillingly) the more desperately we try to cling to what we see as our 'tribal identity'. We can no longer identify our ethnic group by markings on our faces or secret hand shakes and so we run behind these stereotypes. Yoruba men are this, Nupe women are that.
And this thing of classifying people along stereotypes just to preserve our identity and sense of apartness, is very dangerous. It led to the Holocaust; it led to genocide in Rwanda and it has led in more recent times to this idiotic thing that the PDP call 'zoning.' As if there is any difference between an Igbo thief and a Hausa one.
I am Nigerian first. Any day and everyday, Nigerian first. Then Lagosian (not Yoruba). I make the distinction because Lagos is a cosmopolitan city that time and time again defies tribe. Then I suppose if I had to fill a form that didn't allow me to explain my lengthy views on tribe, I would tick Igbo and Yoruba.