Igboland In 1840: German Doctor, Herman Koler’s Account |The Republican News

Koler was a German doctor who spent four months in Bonny in 1840. He made good use of his time there, collecting word lists, and recording detailed observations about many aspects of Bonny life. This study’ s significance for Igbo history lies in the light it sheds on Bonny/Igbo relations, and the role of Igboland as an exporter of agricultural produce, and metal goods. It has been curiously neglected by historians. Introduction by Elizabeth Isichei (ed.), Igbo Worlds An Anthology of Oral Histories and Historical Descriptions (Philadelphia, 1978), p. 14.


European justifications for colonization include the idea that the qualityof life of colonial subjects will be improved by the presence–and guidance–of Europeans. This view holds that life before European colonialism was Hobbesian in the sense that organized life was not possible and that life itself was “evil, nasty, brutish and short.” What does this reading say about the quality of life in Igboland? This is a difficult question to answer because these folks do not have autos, TVs, or Disney World. At the very least we need to remember that Europeans did not have those things at that time either. Although the Igbo lived inland from the coast, what images of Igbo life emerge from this reading? What evidence do you have for European “presence” in Africa in this early period? What was the relationship between Igboland and Bonny?

The reading:

Of all these, Ibo is the language which is most widely spoken. This is not only because Iboland, through its position at the sources of the Delta, has a natural link with all the coastal tribes in its lower part. It is also due to its power, its extensive area, its richness in products, and the fact that it has developed industries to a greater extent than the people living on the coast. It is also due to the trade of its people, which extends from the sea coast to the far interior, and to their warlike nature, which makes a significant impact on their neighbours. This meant that their language, too, won a certain supremacy among the neighbouring tribes, and the knowledge of it has spread generally. One meets individuals in Bonny who speak all these languages, which they learn during their frequent trading trips to the areas concerned. The Bonny language is the mother tongue of only a section of the Bonny people; for the others it is only an adopted language, for a large part of the coastal peoples, especially at Bonny, consists of slaves who are purchased or seized by other tribes, sometimes from a great distance. Most of these people who were not born in Bonny are either slaves from Iboland, or, were, at least, brought here by the Ibos from the interior. This partly explains the general knowledge of Ibo in Bonny. A further explanation can be found in the circumstances that Iboland is the main destination for the trading expeditions of the coastal people. The majority of the goods imported by the whites find their way to Iboland. Some of them go from there still further into the interior. There, too, is where most of the Bonny canoes go, to purchase provisions for the coastal inhabitants, and goods for barter with the Europeans ….
They call Iboland Igbinni. It lies at the sources of the Delta, and is full of great forests and mighty trees. It is very rich in natural products–maize, rice, yams, oil palms, dyewoods, cotton, horses and elephants. The numerous inhabitants are industrious, and make cotton cloth (egrabetta), [Italicised African words in this extract are not Igbo but Igbani] iron knives, daggers, spears and musical instruments. At the same time they are warlike, wild, and rapacious, and some of them are cannibals. Therefore they have to put up with being spoken of, by the Bonny people, as they would speak of sharks, lboman wawa too much, “Ibo people are very wicked” . . .


With the exception of bows and arrows, which only a few people use, the weapons are not made in Bonny, but are purchased partly from the Europeans, and partly from the lbo people, as the Bonny people themselves have no knowledge at all of metal working. . . . Instead of this European knife [kinggi], one often sees a dagger [abreba] in use which is made in Iboland. Its iron blade is seven inches long, and an inch wide at the handle, and tapers, until it is half an inch wide in the middle, and then tapers still further into a long sharp two edged point. The wooden handle is four and a half inches long, and in order to afford a good grip, is of uneven width, with ring shaped deep cuts in it, and decorated with nail heads. The scabbard takes the form of the blade, and is decorated like that of the knife in common use. There are also spears of different sizes and shapes… The main weapon, however, is the flintlock gun [Flinte], a weapon which has become so common that even the inhabitants of Iboland are beginning to lose their respect for it ….

Markets and provisions

One normally finds here only the ordinary provisions, and the few fruits which grow in the woods round Bonny, the negligible quantity of goods produced by their own craftsmanship, and goods imported from Iboland, or goods imported by the whites. One sees seldom more than strings of glass beads, ordinary knives, a certain amount of tobacco and some pieces of calico.
As far as provisions go, they consist mainly of vegetables, and maize, [biappa], which is brought from Iboland, and which is, for the majority, the staple foodstuff and quite indispensable. Some of it is roasted, and some of it is cooked with yams, chicken, palm oil and an aromatic vegetable, [kanneh], into delicious soup. Even the inner cob, which remains after the grains have been removed, is put to good use by the Bonny people. After maize, come yams, [buru], the general dish. There are some in the woods round Bonny, but insufficient for her needs, and due to the swampy soil, they are of very poor quality. Therefore they are imported from Iboland, Brass and Andoni. These are always a yellowish colour, and, at the ends, often greenish and speckled with violet. They are some-times bitter and tough… At Bonny, a piece of yam from Iboland the size of your fist costs one manilla. A piece the size of two fists costs two manillas

Extracts from Hermann Koler, Einige Notizen uber Bonny (Gottingen, 1840), translated by Uche Peter Isichei in Elizabeth Isichei (ed.), Igbo Worlds (Philadelphia, 1978), 14-17.

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Ohanaeze Blasts Buhari For Underrating The Igbo, Calls For Restructuring |The Republican News

By Asogwu Clinton

Ohanaeze Ndigbo’s President-General, Chief Nnia Nwodo, assaulted President Muhammadu Buhari for failing to enforce the community study established by the All Progressive Congress, APC, to restructure the nation.

The APC had set up a committee on restructuring headed by the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai and they came up with the report that was accepted by the national leadership of the party.

Nwodo said the President has not been faithful to his manifesto, adding that he (Buhari) is looking for his own personal interest.

Nwodo, speaking on Arise TV, said the military carefully structured the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria against Ndigbo.

The Ohanaeze Ndigbo President-General noted that the constitution was based on extreme discrimination and jaundiced against the Igbo people.

“The military designed a constitution at the end of the war to contain the Igbo.

“We have the smallest number of local governments of all the six geopolitical zones; smallest number of representatives in the National Assembly; the smallest number of local government councils, two states in the North West of Nigeria have as much local governments as we have in the South East,” he said.

“The president was not loyal to his manifesto. His party set up a reorganization committee led by Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, after winning the election, and they made this report as approved by his party’s domestic management,” he added.

“And when he faced interviewed by the press, he said that our problem was not structure but process.

“He swallowed his policy platform ; he swallowed his domestic executive committee’s choice, and he says we seek our private interest. Rather, it is the president who seeks his own private interest,” Nwodo said.

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Ndigbo: Light Of The Nation, By Clem Aguiyi |The Republican News



Igbo Culture Protection Committee in the UK


By Clem Aguiyi

As Nigeria decides on how best to address the Igbo question following the countdown to the quit notice issued to nd’Igbo by the coalition of sixteen Northern youth organizations, I wish to remind Nigeria and those targeting the Igbo that the Igbo fate is in God’s hands. Before the North by their own hands quenches the light and blessings planted in their communities for centuries of years, let me remind them that at the heart of Igbo agitation and aspiration is the quest for a just society where all citizens are treated fairly and as equal citizens.

The Igbo which I am part of are not asking for any special treatment from the rest of Nigeria. It’s the Lord’s doing that we are built strong and resilient to compete fairly and succeed squarely. We are not looking for a nation where we will dominate others by raw power but a nation and system fair enough to allow our blessings and light to shine unto others.

When we speak of restructuring, we are simply demanding for a constitution drafted by the people for the common good of the people. We the Igbo have no problem with Muslims living under the Sharia law, but we must be allowed access to our God given resources so that we will develop at our own pace.

For reasons of the above, I urge Arewa Youths to also embrace the Igbo agitation for fairness and good governance because Nigeria as currently structured is not assuring anyone of a pleasant future. The northern youths should learn to appreciate the brighter side of our mutual co-existence. They must end their tendency of ascribing every statement or action by any Igbo renegade as the voice of the Igbo.

Rather than hate the Igbo, they should be thankful to the Igbo for without the Igbo Nigeria would have been worse. We effectively built the North and most part of Nigeria. If we are forced out of Nigeria as a quick fix to the irritation of our demand for fairness and justice, Nigeria will be worse as the Igbo nation and people will always rise in triumph from ashes to greatness. We have over time demonstrated this, and proven that we are not mere occupiers of space but active nation builders. We have contributed in very positive manner and have made tremendous sacrifice towards achieving a strong, prosperous and united Nigeria.

To further set the record straight and without denying the fact that we are proud merchants, we are of course not just traders as our detractors will often say but people with rich heritage. I will write the lines that follow purposely to inspire the current generation of our people of what it means to be Igbo. Simply put, to be Igbo is to be the light of the nation and light unto nations. It means we are to excel in our pursuits and use our God given blessings to shape the fate of Nigeria and make it a better place. The Igbo nation would have been failing in God’s plan if it has not produced sons and daughters who had developed all spheres of industries in Nigeria. For Nigeria to achieve greatness it should unchain the Igbo and stop placing visible and invisible hurdles for them.

Nigeria would have long achieved its full potential if it had allowed merit and fair competition by ending its conspiracy to chain the Igbo down. Frank Ndili an illustrious Igbo son was Nigeria first professor of Nuclear Physics and Chemistry. Professor Frank Ndili gained a Ph. D in his early ’20s at Cambridge University in Nuclear Physics and Chemistry in the early ’60s. He made a First Class in Physics and Mathematics at the then University College Ibadan in the early ’50s. But did Nigeria exploit this hot brain? No, it didn’t because Nigeria loves to hate the Igbo.

Many Nigerians will be shocked to know that Mrs Margret Ekpo the social activist, mobilizer and pioneering woman politician was born an Igbo lady from Anambra State. She was born Margret Obiasulor Okoroafor but was married to Dr John Ekpo of Ibibio ethnic group in Akwa Ibom State.

Revelations like this are part of the reasons history was yanked off our school curriculum because they don’t want you to know that the Igbo led the way in building and developing Nigeria. But we must not relent. We must teach our children that in spite of the fact that the Igbo came into contact with Western Education 100 years after the Yoruba did, yet the first Black Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan was an Igbo man named Professor Kenneth Onwuka Dike. Dike was also the first Nigerian professor of history.
The first Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos was an Igbo man named Professor Eni Njoku who was also the first Nigerian Professor of Botany. The first Nigerian Professor of Anatomy and Physiology was an Igbo man by name Professor Chike Edozien.
The first Nigerian Professor of Physics was an Igbo man, Professor Okoye who became a Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the USA in 1960. He was followed by the likes of Professor Alexander Anumalu who has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Physics three times for his research in Intermediate Quantum Physics.
First Nigerian Professor of Statistics Professor Adichie whose research on Non-Parametric Statistics led to new areas of statistical research was Igbo. Nigerian first Professor of Medicine – Professor Kodilinye was an Igbo– he was appointed a Professor of Medicine at the University of London in 1952. He later became the Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria Nsukka. Again another Igbo man Prof Ntukoju was the first Professor of Astronomy– he was the first African to earn a double PhD in Astronomy and Mathematics.
Again another Igbo man – Professor Okonjo was the first professor in demographic research. It was Okonjo who set up the first Centre for Population Research in Ibadan in the early ’60s. Professor G D Okafor, who became a Professor of Philosophy at the Amherst College USA in 1953 was the first Nigerian Professor in the field of Philosophy. Dr Pius Okigbo who became a visiting scholar and Professor of Economics at the University of London in 1954 was the first Nigerian PhD in Economics.
Professor Njoku, an Igbo became the first Nigerian to earn a PhD in Theology from Queens University Belfast in Ireland. He was appointed a Professor of Theology at the University College Zambia in 1952.
The Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) recorded Imo State as at 2014 as the state with the highest number of professors in Nigeria. The list of Igbo first in Nigeria cannot be exhaustive. Igbo nwere mmadu. We are the chosen people, we are the light of the nation.

I will encourage our leaders and elites to continue to invest heavily in education so as to expand our initiatives in technology, invention and innovations.

If we put behind our constraints and focus on our ability to succeed against all odds we can remain marvellous and magnificent in their eyes. Therefore, we have no reason to be desperate about anything including the desperation in the pursuit of our own independent state of Biafra other than to consolidate our comparative leadership in education, technology, inventions and innovations.

Our ability as a collective to determine to maximize our God given power of knowledge in pursuit of our destiny is what will give us the tools to shape our future—no longer as a defeated and persecuted people of Nigeria, but as a proud people within a magnificent country and distinguish us as a people who always aspire to serve as the light unto nations. This is the realization that makes our foes jittery and the progress and civilization they want to bring to a stop by desperately egging us towards a needless conflict where our land will yet again become a battlefield.

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