Chimamanda Adichie, an award-winning author, says the Igbo people can’t unite towards selecting a Nigerian president — in what appears to be a dig at the “terrible leadership in the southeast”.
She bared her thoughts about the now-defunct secessionist state of Biafra in a recent interview with Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, a television personality.
The 43-year-old writer said she fears her people won’t be able to unite politically should it come to selecting an Igbo president.
According to her, the Igbo people need to rethink how they strategise politically before talking about secession.
“There is no Biafra. There are new movements but, for me, it’s a question of being practical. Where would the border be? What is propelling these movements is a sense of marginalisation, which I think is completely valid,” she said.
“But this idea that the answer is independence is what I’m not convinced of. Nobody has made a logical case for me. Quite frankly, I’ve observed the terrible leadership that we have in the southeast (scoffs).
“Igbo people cannot unite if, for example, we say we want an Igbo president. And then we’re talking about Biafra. There is a lot of political work we need to do in the southeast.
“We need to do a lot of rethinking on how we strategise politically before we can talk about Biafra.”
Speaking of the status of the feminism movement in Nigeria with regards to the Igbo subculture, the novelist said that one of the things she battles with is what she termed the “misogynistic” tendencies of many cultural practices in the east.
“There are things I quarrel with, in Igbo culture. It’s misogynistic, as are many cultures. That’s the problem. The world is misogynistic. At my father’s funeral, they showed where the widow (my mother) would sit,” she explained.
“And they showed where the sons in the extended family (umunna) would sit. That’s where those coming would go to present whatever they bring. It’s the sons’. And that was the end. My father had three daughters.
“There was no place for them. I raised the question and a man in my umunna said we would have to loiter around. There’s a problem with that. There’s a woman who apparently is going to run for governor in Anambra state.
“I’m having a conversation with a group of people and what they’re saying is, ‘Can a woman rule Anambra?’ Do you need a dangling organ to rule a state? It’s hard enough for both and female politicians.
“But women have this additional problem of perception, a reason for which many people won’t vote them. Igbo culture is just not very good when it comes to gender. Culture as we have it are rules men made to benefit men.
“In my hometown, I seem to have this status of an ‘honorary man’ and that’s because of my achievements. People adapt when they see some benefits to it which means that it’s changeable. It’s engraved on the stones.”
Chimamanda had earlier put out a short story titled ‘Zikora‘. When quizzed on whether or not she’s writing a new novel, the author said: “I’m writing now. I write where I can. My life in the US is quieter.
“So I write when I’m in the US. I’m trying to write (a new book). It’s important for me to protect my writing time.
“What I can tell you is that, because of old age, I’m now a much slower writer. When I was 22, another writer used to say I was writing one story on one hand and another on the other hand.
“I was churning these things that they’ll tell me rest. But, now? Old age my God! I write a paragraph that I’m happy with, in a week. It’s that bad o. It doesn’t necessarily matter where I’m writing but what’s happening at the time.
“It matters that I have silence and space. Now that I’m a mother, it also matters that I feel comfortable about where my daughter is and whether or not she’s getting care.” (The Cable)
As a result of the identity imbroglio whether Ikwerre in Rivers State is Igbo of which Gov Nyesom Wike vehemently said Ikwerre isn’t IGBO while making a point in his skirmishes with IPOB recently, Africa Press Chamber decided to republish the article below:
In his paper entitled Obowu Identity Recovery and Rectification in Post-invasion Africa presented before scholars, political leaders, various cultural and professional groups, traditional rulers and government leaders Osuagwu delves into the age long Ikwerre-Igbo identity conflict and the Aro roots of this crisis. He also explains why Port Harcourt and Anioma States were not created in 1991 by the General Ibrahim Babangida regime despite all expectations, as well as why the leader of the Port Harcourt State creation Committee, Senator Obi Wali, was murdered. And, for the first time, disruptive effects of the famous Aba Women Riot in the Igbo heart is also brought to light in this paper. Excerpts: Obowu Identity Recovery and Rectification in Post-invasion Africa
Imperialism is Identity-stripper! Egypt and the Arab Spring
The invasion of Africa, in the last more than one thousand years; first by Arabs, then Europeans has meant the gradual reduction of Africans to corpses; living dead. The identity-stripped and personality-warped is a living dead. Unless one understands this, he would not understand what is wrong with Africa; wrong with us. If we now have bad governance in Africa, not based on the Oma n’achi (the knowledgeable leads) principle, it is because ‘ozu’ are ruling Africa. The post-invasion (after slavery and colonialism) chief problem of Africa is the crisis of identity. Some short stories will illustrate this point. Sometime in 2009, I went for a conference in Morocco. They gave participants a cocktail party at which two bands entertained. One band was Arab, the other Amazigh (Berber). It was clear the Arab band was playing non-African, while Berber band played African music. The Arab band had only men (sharia-compliant!), while the Berber band had males and females, like Africans would. The lead female dancer moved across to where I, the darkest man in the audience of mainly white people, sat and asked me to dance. We danced.
Later I got to understand that the Berbers, 52% of the population, whose culture the Arabs suppress in the name of Islam are intensely nationalistic; pan-Africanist. They would rather identify with black Africa and have an identity than identify with Arabs in the name of Islam and lose their identity. Unless we understand this identity crisis in North Africa, we cannot understand why the so called Arab spring has run into a desert storm.
The Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt, for instance, are salafists; like Boko Haram in Nigeria, who are Arab cultural purists; identity-strippers! They ran into trouble because they are trying to strip others, like Coptic Christians, of their identity. The Egyptian Army intervened to avert a civil war, like President Anwar Sadat did in 1982 and got shot for it.
Aro roots of Ikwere identity crises
In 1991, Babangida regime created new states without creating Igweocha or Port-Harcourt as requested by Igbo people of Rivers State, led by Senators Obi Wali and Francis Ellah. A short while later, I accompanied Mazi Philip Nkwocha, a friend of Obi Wali’s, to visit him at his home in Umuigbo. As Senator Wali saw us enter his house, he shouted at his friend “Phil, what happened?” His friend retorted, in surprise, “Obi about what?” “How come you people asked for Igbo States without including Port-Harcourt?” Wali further asked his perplexed friend. At this point I had to speak up to minimize the confusion. I knew something they both didn’t know.
In 1991 Emeka Omeruah, from Imo State (later Abia), was Military Governor of Enugu State, while Anthony Ogugua, from Anambra (later Enugu) was in Imo State. As the agitation for states heated, these two Governors, quietly, set up a committee to harmonious Igbo demand for States. I was a committee member. Four states were identified; Abia, Anioma, Enugu and Port-Harcourt. Outreach groups were constituted to reach out to the Igbo in the different states. But events were moving so rapidly that the group decided to go with only demands that would not elicit identity confusion. Port-Harcourt was dropped, for this reason, for the Igbo there to do the best they could under the circumstance. Hearing this Senator Wali sat still for a long while, then said “Phil, our gamble about identity has failed! You will buy me three traditional Igbo dresses.
I will attend this year’s Ahiajoku Lecture, and seek to deliver that of next year”. He never made it! He was assassinated a short while later, his friends believed, for his continued Port-Harcourt State creation agitation. When I read later that Dr Wali’s son, Ihunwo, was one of the leaders of the Congress for the Liberation of Ikwerre People, COLIP; an ‘Ikwerre-back-to-Igbo-fold’ youth movement, whose mission is to wean Ikwerre off Biafra-war propaganda, I knew where he was coming from.
Identify-confusion is a horrible disease. Barack Obama’s greatest political strength is his very early decision to be African-American and nothing else. He knew where his father came from; and where his mother came from. Those who pretend in America that they are, socially, half-white and half-black, for example, end up as friends of psychiatrists.
“Our gamble about identity has failed!” That statement, by a man who, a short while later, was murdered; for his just state-creation aspiration, still haunts one to this day. And no one can understand the current crisis in Rivers State without understanding the identity crises there. For instance what it means to be Ijaw, but not Izon or ‘core-Ijaw’. And, to be Igbo-speaking, but not Igbo? Or, in fact, all of the above. Not to talk of Ogoni ‘war-of-all-against-all’.
When I observed to Senator Wali that his person epitomized the Ikwerre identity dilemma; his very village is Umuigbo (Igbo-children/Igbo descendants/Igbo people), but he too claimed not to be Igbo, his response pointed to the great depth of our identity crises. He told us that his problem was not Igbo identity, as such, but Aro-Ikwerre domination. He informed us that he used to attend the Council meeting of the Village deity priesthood with his father. Even as a child, who carried his father’s stool, it struck him that of the seven stools of the Council, the small Aro population in Umuigbo controlled four. That information struck me.
Famous writer, Elechi Amadi, had given me a variant of this Aro-Ikwerre problematic tale in 1985. We had served together on an interview panel at the then Rivers State College of Education, Port-Harcourt. He told me he had no problem with Igbo identity, but had problem when the Aro-Ikwerre, during the Nigeria-Biafra War, plotted to kill him. Now, it seems the Ikwerre suffer from a significantly misdirected anger.
They are, in this case; holding their Isuama-Igbo (Ikwerre, traditionally, distinguished between ‘Ikwerre and Isuama’; not ‘Ikwerre and Igbo’) kinsmen, who are ethically more related to them than to the Aro, accountable for Aro domination.The Early British, before oil became a factor of ethnic classification in the Lower Niger, had a cultural sub-group of the Igbo they called Orratta-Ikwerre (that is Owerri-Ikwerre, in current usage), who, both call the heartland Igbo as Isuama . Ekwensu wu amaghi ihe! The Devil is Ignorance! The solution to our identity crises, then, is ‘Know self, know other!’
Now to consider the Aro a purely Igbo people; and hold Igbo responsible for Aro mischief is the height of identity confusion. One day, the Cross-river Ejegham, who own the Ibini-Ukpabi soul of the Aro system, the Efik who control the social organizational Ekpe; the Ogoja Akpa that supplied the fighters and the Ibibio on whose land Arochukwu was founded will turn around and blame the Igbo, from among whom a few medicine men were coopted, for inventing Ibini-Ukpabi and Aro slavery. That would be a most uncharitable treatment of truth, but the world is a clever place.
That the Aro and Arochukwu have been in the process of Igbonisation, as Dike and Ekejiuba called it, because of the sheer weight of Igbo population and Culture in the neighbourhood, does not alter their fundamental archeology and history as a synthetic people who exist beyond Igboland. Aro exist, physically and culturally, at the very Igbo border (that is why they are called Aro-okeigbo; Igbo-boundary-Aro).
An informed internet site gives the following information on the Aro Confederacy: Created: 1690; Capital: Arochukwu; Official languages: Igbo, Ibibio, Ijaw …etc; …; Dissolved: 1902 (http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Aro_Confederacy). Where, then is the pure ‘Igbo Aro’? Aro sins cannot be visited on the Igbo or Ibibio, who were the chief victims; leaving off the coastal Ijaw and Efiks; who were the ultimate slave-traders, in direct contact with European slavers.
Closer home, and happier; Okenze BG Okonkwo, Obowu Development Association President-General, visited the Abuja branch recently. He was surprised to have some attendant introduce himself as Obowu man from Amachara, Umuopara, in Abia State. Luckily my brother, High-chief BC Osuagwu, whose wife is, logically, High-lolo was present to explain. A branch of our Umuabazu-Umunachi people migrated to Amachara. They, of course, retain the name Umuabazu as the branch of our Umuikwe kindred retains the name Umuikwe at Ogbodi, Umuopara.
As Opara Asonye (father of Dr. MI Okpara) said in an interview, in 1977 “Umuhu and Okaiuga are Ohuhu. My grandfather Onyemobi said we came from Obowu. We all came from Obowu because the names of the villages on both sides are the same.” Former Provost of AICE, Owerri, from Umunwanwa Umuopara, Prof SN Nwosu, had also asserted in a television Interview some years ago, that Umuopara people migrated from Obowu, which explains the presence of my people at Amachara and Ogbodi. Also, my mother’s Ehume Obowu people migrated to form Ehume Umuopara. When the last Eho (totem tree of Eho-ume; Ehume) died, in the early 1950s, I saw them come for the funeral, in long lines, with their celebration guns firing in Uwuwuru-egbe . If we recall; when the British colonial soldiers thought they had defeated Obowu, in 1911, our Mbaloha (Ohuhu and Umuopara) kinsmen started shelling them from across the Imo River to their discomfiture, forcing Britain to negotiate with Obowu. Would their ill-informed descendants come to Obowu’s support today, in similar circumstane? Can we now appreciate the cost of loss of identity-consciousness between us and our Ohuhu/Umuopara kinsmen?
It was not of-course a one way flow of solidarity. Support flowed from Obowu to our Mbaloha kinsmen, too. As Isichei’s Igbo Worlds informs “When we were children, Abam people came to Aguebi-Umuagu … two villages appeared at once with their guns, attacked and finished Abam people. Abam people never escaped each time they strayed into Ohuhu because we are Abam in our own way. In those days, before our people went to war they were prepared by medicinemen … Some of the medicine men came from Mgbowo or Obowo and Ugwueke. The most famous came from Obowo … captains were chosen by the medicine men through a test.” Solidarity of Obowu kinsmen kept Ohuhu free from slave raiders. And later solidarity of Ohuhu helped sustain Obowu dignity in encounter with British colonialism. Identity is everything! No identity, no dignified existence!!
Ezumezu-2013 and Partially failed Obowu Gamble about Identity
When we talked about identity gamble it sounds distant from us. But the clan that is ancestral root to Drs MI Okpara and Sam Mbakwe, Obowu, did indeed gamble about their identity under colonial pressure. Today, Ihitte-Obowu is the only Ihitte in the known universe that pretends to be a proper name, instead of adjective. That is why we are here today; on a pathway to recovery and rectification of Obowu identity. If Obowu youth had their way, Ikenga-Obowu was to drop Obowu and answer Ikenga simplicita . Ihitte was to do likewise. The gamble failed on the Ikenga side; but succeeded on the Ihitte side. What happened?
Ikenga and Ihitte within African Social-structural Binarism
Some people think Obowu was some man; Ikenga his son, Ihitte another (adopted) son, e.tc . That is ridiculous thought, fueled by ignorance of Igbo and African social philosophy.
In introducing myself above, I had shown that Ehume is named after Eho, the tree, which symbolizes an ideology of commitment to life-promotion. Was Eho a man, also? Was Nnachi a man who gave birth to four sons that constitute Umunachi? When Avutu talks of ‘Olengalaba-ama-iteghete’, how many know Umuikwe that I just said are part of Umunachi, Ogbodi, and elsewhere, is one of them. And I said that Nnachi is the ‘Spirit-of-knowledge-driven-wise-governance’; spirit of the philosopher-king, symbolized by the Achi tree. Obowu was not a man; and neither Ikenga nor Ihitte. These are social categories; social communities. Obowu (Obi-owumowu) means the ‘Heartland People or Hometead-of-all’ as we understand it. Ikenga and Ihitte are ‘social moieties’, as Adiele Afigbo called it, that constitute a proper Igbo community. Professor Afigbo made this point in relation to his own hometown, Ihuwe (Ihube, as the Whiteman corrupted it), which also has an Ikenga part and an Ihitte part: “According to the unadulterated version of … oral history, the seven villages of Ihuwe fell into two moieties– Ikenga and Ihitte with Ikenga being the senior moiety and Ihitte the junior moiety”
… Afigbo… Uturu, which neighbours Ihube, is also organized into Ikenga (Ikeagha) and Ihitte. Around the same Okigwe neighbourhood, one finds Ikenga-Aku, Ihitte-Aku, Ikenga-Isiokwe, Ihitte-Isiokwe, etc. Nearer home, Obowu neighbours to the West, is Ezi-na-Ihitte; our Ohuhu kinsmen; across the Imo, are also organized as Ikenga-Ohuhu and Ihitte-Ohuhu. Scholars have long established that every properly established Igbo community is organized in binary moieties of Ikenga/Ihitte, Ezi/Ihitte, Ndiugwu/Ndiagbo, Ndiama/Ndiowerre, etc. The complementary-binary structuring of communities is universal in Igboland.This social-structuring motif is the reason Ikenga-Obowu (alias Obowo LGA) is also organized into two moieties as Ekwerenote/Okwunanso. Furthermore, all the towns of Okwunanso, where I belong, are grouped in pairs; Alike/Amuzi, Umunachi/Avutu, Umuoke/Umulogho. Because seven towns cannot fit into pairs, the left-over town, Okwuoha, is paired with Umuihi on the Ihitte side.
Even though there are four villages in my Umunachi, things are not shared that way. They are shared into two; Ogboghoro-na-Abazu and Uta-na-Awom, to maintain the binary motif. My own Umuabazu, in Umunachi, is organized as Eluama/Agboala (note: Ugwu/Agbo that is the standard in Enugu area exists in Obowu). The interesting thing is that Umuabazu people are back-migrators from Mbaloha (Ohuhu and Umuopara), pressed to come back, as great Dibia (medicine-men), who played key role, in the Obowu cultural, leadership and defense system.
For instance during the Isuama battles, 1911, the British were worried because “There was the report received by Frank Hives that prior to the Final onslaught on Obowu, ‘a strong juju was being prepared’ … ‘strong juju’ was regarded as highest national defense strategy”. So, people that played such key roles, including ‘Ofo’ holders, were usually discouraged from migration. We recall that it was mostly to dibia that Whiteman handed warrants to be chief. Examples are Mgbaja Uwandu of Umunachi and Obasi of Amuzi, who both turned down the offer as ridiculous; infradig to them.
That I, descendant of Osuagwu Nwuku, holder of ‘ Mpiokpu Ikwe ’, who led the Umuabazu returnees back and Umuowom Ehume woman, whose family holds ‘ Ofo-Agwukwu’ Obowu, delivers this lecture today is an indication of the efficacy of the policy of discouraging elite migration (something modern Igbo can learn from). It is, indeed, only Obowu cultural that both Premier MI Okpara and Governor SO Mbakwe were sons of Dibia (note: they both went back to school after holding high office). In any case, some Umuikwe-Umuabazu migrated back to Obowu, with demographic imbalance between them and Umuekete that left Uhuekete in Ndundu, where Avutu poultry now is, to join them. To recreate the imperative ‘two moiety’ socio-structural framework, Umuenwezuo and Umuokereke from Umuikwe had to be excised and joined to Umuekete to form Eluama (this recently led to an identity face-off), while only Umunwuku-Umuikwe formed agboala. Both Nwuku and his father, Ikwe, were great medicine-men.
To understand this Igbo socio-structural motif, we recall that the Igbo equate one to zero … “Ihe foduru otu agwula … remainder one equals zero. Ihe-uwa wu abuo-abuo … the world is populated by binary pairs. Ihe-uwa wu oke-na-nne … the world is populated by males and females (cosmologic origin of fierce African opposition to homosexuality). Ihekwuru, Ihe akwubido ya … nothing stands alone. Indeed Complementary-Binarism is a pan-African cosmologic motif. Ancient Egypt, though under one pharaoh, was structured on the ikenga-ihitte binary motif as ‘Upper and Lower Egypt”, with separate patron deities. And so was the Africa-founded Hebrew nation formed along the motif as Isreal and Judea, in spite of being 12 tribes.
So, there is absolutely nothing special about Ikenga-Obowu and Ihitte-Obowu. It is part of a general Igbo social-structuring model. The Erima Societal System of the Igbo, best developed in the Isuama Igbo heartland, is a nature-imitating, bionic, community. Indeed Obowu would not be founded by an Igbo people without Ikenga and Ihitte; complementary moieties, which would make a natural, stable, community. Community standing, firm, on two legs! How can a system stand on one leg for long?
1929 Women’a Riot and Obowu Identity Watershed, 1929.
There are some features of note on this map. The first is the prominence of the term ‘ISU’ written all-over the Map. The Isu people are the autochthonous Igbo people, whether found at Obowu, Ohaozara, Awka, Igbouzo (Ibusa), Awgu, Etche or Ihechiowa, etc.
Okigwe District was created for the core of the autochthonous Isu called Isuama (which according to the binary socio-structural motif is balanced with Isu-Owerre/Isu-Ohia/Isu-Agu). Until a few years ago, I did not know I was an Isu man; because my Obowu people called our Uboma neighbours ‘Isu’ in contrast to ourselves (e.g. Umuoma-Isu). Books told me, I’m Isuama; like Isu-Ochi, Isu-Ikwuato, Isu-Njaba, Isu-Ngele, etc.
Isuama was the largest formal State structure; with judicial (Ogbunorie), military arms and administrative headquarters (Ezumoha, near Anara, in Mbano) of which Obowu was a part before the British came. It turned out that Obowu, and indeed Etiti Confederacy, from documented evidence, was an Isuama affair; sanctuary and fortification against the Trans-Atlantic Slave. A close look at the map will show ‘Nso’ (Nsu). The term Nso means, literally, joiners; those that follwed. The one on the map is Nso-Uboma. The majority people of Ikenga-Obowu today are also ‘nso’ (Okwunanso). Ekwereazu in Mbaise are also part of the ‘Nso’ group.
These had great medicine men (knowledge experts) as well as fighters. Avutu (un-uprootable; unconquerable), Alike (land of braves) in Obowu; Umuokirika (underminers) in Ekwerazu and Agbaghara (avengers) in Nsu-Uboma were the best fighters (Achara Ogboogu ; invasion-blockers, are also border-fighters, but of Ihitte-Obowu, non-Nso, origin).
It is the pan-Isuama character of the new Obowu (original Obowu was Ekwerenote-Ikenga and Ihitte) that explains the British reports, 1911, that; “From Obowu had gone out the threat that it would be punishable by death for ‘any natives to submit to government (British) rule’. Consequently neighboring villages (Isuama clans) had sent their men and cap-guns to assist Obowu in their struggle”. Not surprisingly, Obowu/Etiti; like under threat from slavery and British colonialism, was the last Biafran fortress; sanctuary of freedom, as Ojukwu’s final headquarters. The physical geography of the territory explains this role.
Finally, we note that on this map Obowu is written twice; northeast and southwest of the Aham-Abadaba water system. There is one Obowu where Ikenga-Obowu is located and another where Ihitte-Obowu is. No name like Ihitte anywhere. 1929 is a watershed date in Obowu (particularly Ihitte) identity and crises. Why?
1929 Women’s War, Juo Onwunali and War of Okonkwos
In 1929 Ogu-umunyanyi , the Women’s War, alias ‘Aba Women’s Riot’, took place. The war was furious in Obowu. The leader of Obowu women in the Women’s war was Akulechura. Akulechura was a woman of Amakohia Ihittte-Obowu. Her historical speech at the Commission of Inquiry following the war, informed the Whiteman that Igbo women think for themselves. The speech, popularized by Gailey’s book The Road to Aba, gave the current worldwide Women’s Liberation Movement their battle-cry ‘ Thinking for Ourselves!’ Said she:
“It has been suggested here that men encouraged women to move about. I deny that statement. It is not true.We were not encouraged by men. … Men had been made to pay tax and the rumour that women were going to be taxed was spread around. Women became infuriated because they had already felt the burden of the tax on men. We acted according to our consciences. There is no law made by men that women should not move about. The matter did not concern men”. Akunechura (Akuura Nwanyi-Amakohia, like my mother would call her); Obowu and African heroine, was probably the last real leader out of Obowu, before the subsisting political night fell on the clan.
The warrant chiefs were the problem. They wanted power and were ready to sacrifice anything, including identity, for it. This is not surprising, as already noted, real Obowu elite; like Mgbaja of Umunachi and Obasi of Amuzi rejected the insolent warrant chief appointments. Some people of questionable integrity and public spirit, and, at times, straight charlatans, efulefu, as to be expected under the circumstance, put themselves forward. Ndorondoro-ochichi ; self-interested struggle for political power, which was alien to the land, had arrived in Obowu.
The tradition was “ O ma n’achi; Nze n’achi ”; the knowledgeable-righteous leads’. Ndinze-Onugaotu (parliament-of-righteous-democrats), that met at Onugaotu, Ehume, led and ruled Obowu before the Whiteman came. These men, Nze-Iyinze , were subjected to the Nze-oath; Iyinze, that involved Isaire ; cleansing of the tongue, to wash-away the tendency to lie. Nze-Iyinze, compared to current Nze-akupe (made by warrant-chiefs by striking fan on their backs) would never lie. They represented Obowu at higher assemblies on the principle of “ Aho ndisi-ala, ha ahogharia onye ha” … a leadership elects its own leadership. After the Women’s War, the British flooded Eastern Nigeria with anthropological scholars, to try to better understand the rebellious people they thought they had conquered to rule, with a view to more effective control. Assistant District Officer NAPG Mackenzie studied Obowu. If we look at the map (Fig.3), we see NC (native court) written between the two Obowus, across Lake Abadaba.
That court (Abadaba Court it was called) was for Ikenga and Ihitte-Obowu. Mackenzie could not understand why during his interview Ihitte chiefs wanted a separate court from Abadaba Court. The issue is simpler, though; Abadaba Court had a fixed number of Warrant-chief Judges. If Ihittte got a separate court, more warrant-chiefs would become customary-court judges and access more bribes. That set the stage for Ihittte-Obowu becoming named simply Ihitte, an adjective.
Perverse effect is the unexpected negative effect of an action intended for good. The Women’s War, glorious as it was, exacerbated Obowu identity crisis in an unexpected way. This was the removal of the most educated and sophisticated warrant-chief in Obowu, Onwunali Obasi of Amuzi. De-stoolment and imprisonment of Onwunali created a vacuum for two less sophisticated, but articulate and ambitious, chiefs; ‘Konkwo Anowi of Umulogho, Ikenga-Obowu and ‘Konkwo Olujie of Umuihi, Ihitte-Obowu to struggle to fill. The process polarized support along the sub-clan lines. ‘Konkwo Olujie bargained for the chiefs of the four Ihitte towns that had relocated to Ikenga; Odenkume, Amanze, Umungwa and Achara, to show solidarity and vote for him. They, particularly his friend Ibe Nkume of Umungwa, disappointed him. They had voted, with the rest of the Ikenga group, for ‘Konkwo Anowi who they thought less unscrupulous. Obowu was split!
Onwunali whose Dibia father, Obasi, turned down the warrant-chieftaincy as below his dignity, took over the role from his uncle, Koriocha, who his father had earlier nominated to the Whiteman; as more worth the time waste, after acquiring the Whiteman’s education and political ways. The Whiteman likeed him and relied on him, as he spoke their language. Obowu, who were not Whiteman’s friends, took note. Ugha ka mma na bekee!; lies are best told in English!
That’s why it was possible for Onwunali to tell his Whiteman friends that his hometown, Amuzi, one of the joiner Okwunanso group, was the ‘head town’ of Obowu. ‘Ma Uwa amarala si Ehume wu Opara!’ but the whole world knows that Ehume is the first son of Obowu; holder of ‘ Ofo-nze-onugaotu ’. When the Commission on the Women’s War asked Obowu people of what they knew about the uprising, to one man, they retorted “Juo Onwunali !”; ‘Ask Onwunali!’ Find out from Onwunali!
His Britannic Majesty’s Commission, on the basis of the overwhelming consensus opinion of witnesses before them, concluded, logically, that Onwunali was behind the uprising and recommended long imprisonment. They sent Onwunali to Port-Harcourt prison, near where they had the seaport to their home. People thought that, because of the seriousness of the crime, they sent Onwunali near the seaport with plans to send him to a harsher penitentiary overseas. In any case, the British, shortly, discovered that Obowu had tricked them into jailing their friend. They granted Onwunali free pardon, and restored him as chief.
Meanwhile the struggle to fill the vacuum, as chairman, his absence in the customary court created had torn Obowu apart along sub-clan lines (Ikenga versus Ihitte). Hence the vehemence with which Ihitte demanded a separate court three years later. Obowu women dealt with the warrant-chiefs, for their iniquities and collaboration with invaders, during the women’s uprising.
They caught ‘Konkwo Olujie, for instance, urinated into his mouth and burnt his house. When Biafra came, later, all prominent Obowu warrant-chiefs, except Onwunali Obasi who, after his ‘Juo Onwunali’ experience, became a just chief from Ikenga and Ogwuegbu Ndegbe, who was naturally a fair enough man for his son to learn and became a justice of Nigeria’s Supreme Court, from Ihitte, were de-stooled for their Whiteman-taught bad rulership and impunity.
The Whiteman imported rulership impunity ( omekome) into Obowu, as all Igboland. Nigeria now has enshrined that in the constitution, yet America from whom we copied, tried President Clinton for the Monica Lewinsky Affair while in office.
This opportunistic customary court problematic of Ihitte-Obowu chiefs came up again a generation later. Around Nigeria’s independence time (1958), the Eastern Nigerian Government decided to close unviable customary courts, to save costs. Ihitte-Obowu chiefs saw the hammer approaching them, and panicked. They quickly went into a secret deal with the chiefs of three of the Ihitte towns (Odenkume, Amanze and Umungwa) that had, in ancient times, renounced the harsh jurisdiction of their patron-deity, Ajala, to join their Ekwerenote kinsmen on the Ikenga side (note: none of the four joined the ‘nso’ Okwunanso group). Chiefs Akaliro of Odenkume, Timothy Njoku of Amanze and Chijioke Emelogu of Umungwa would be reserved three of the seven customary court judgeships on the retained Ihitte Court, if they signed-up. They signed-up. They sent their application to Enugu, without informing their people. Unfortunately, for them, Chief Richard Onyeneho of Ikenga-Obowu was Secretary, Eastern House-of-chiefs at the time, to whose desk their petition landed. Instead of filing their application, Onyeneho summoned Ikenga-Obowu and read it to them. These three chiefs were de-stooled and ostracized in Obowu. Whiteman-made warrant-chiefs have played central roles in the Obowu identity crises.
Finally, looking at the map, one realizes that the term Etiti would lack proper meaning without integral Obowu (Ikenga plus Ihitte) and integral Uboma (Uboma with Nsu). The road from Oriagu in Nsu to Ekeikpa in Amanyi-ama, Ihitte, literally, passes through the boundary (etiti-ala) of Obowu and Uboma. We don’t find ‘Uboma’ on the map, though. Uboma was called Onicha (note: Lowa-Onicha), because the paramount ruler was Chief Osuji of Onicha-Uboma. That is why when the Church Missionary Society (CMS) wanted to build a central primary school for Obowu and Uboma, they build it along the boundary, calling it Onowu ( Onicha + Obowu) Central School. The Roman Catholics also built one called St Joseph, Ihitte-Obowu.
Wankwenkwe and ‘Magicians’: Last Straw that Detached Obowu from Ihitte Obowu Ihitte did not, formally, drop Obowu from their name until the colonially-induced notoriety of Obowu became a serious embarrassment to Obowu youth abroad; in the new Nigerian cities they migrated to. Obowu never surrendered to the British, because they did not know what it meant to surrender to one on the wrong side of Truth-justice, Ogu.
So the British adopted a scorch-earth policy against them … “until the rebels suffer a severe loss by way of men”, as Captain Taylor of the invading British force recommended. Except that men did not mean adult males; women, children as well as adult males were shot at sight. Stealing yams carried death-penalty in traditional Obowu. The British earned that death sentence thousands of times over; they burnt farms, barns and shot animals. The British never understood Obowu’s opposition, as wrote the Colonial Commissioner to the Colonial Secretary “It is difficult to understand the attitude of the natives and the persistent opposition which they offer the (British) government”. How would the British understand? What did Britain know of Erima (the organic/ecological community); what did they know of Onugaotu (consensual democracy of Oha ; the political ALL), what did they know of Ohanawueze (Republicanism), what did they know of the Nwaara; Spirit-of-the-age-grade; Covenant of Shared Breast-milk that made age-grades formidable fighting formations, and what did they know of Ndi-mmiri, Ndu-azu (Right to life of all life)? The Obowu were far too socially advanced for British comprehension. Obowu was in desperate way, in a strange circumstance!
In reaction, Obowu youth became bandits; law and order broke down. They took such age-grade names as Nkume-mgbe-ebighiebi (Rock-of-ages; my father’s age-group), Dike-okaaomee (Braves that deliver on their threats), Dike-meelee! (let-the-mighty-dare-and-see!), etc. The warrant chief was treated as enemy agent. Colonial establishments and clans that had accepted the Whiteman’s rule were raided and property looted. They had a name for themselves ‘Ndi-majik’; the magicians. Many took ‘church’ names; Nelson of Umunachi and Aaron of Ehume were examples. Their English name for themselves, ‘Magicians’, shows that they were a new phenomenon with no basis in Obowu culture.
The clash of the Avutu age-grade, Dike-okaomee, with Warrant-chief Nwosu Ikeagwu can illustrate what the new ‘rulers’ were doing and the Obowu youth perception of and reaction to them.
Nwosu Ikeagwu was warrant-chief for Umunachi/Avutu (before they were separated into two ikputu mba), and like other warrant-chiefs corrupt. He bought a bicycle that ate yams. At intervals he would deflate the tire of his bicycle and summon Umunachi and Avutu to contribute yams to feed the bicycle. Then, he would go in, pump the bicycle and bring it out to show ‘well fed’. He kept doing this, until he ran afoul of Dike-okaomee age-grade and they, calmly, organized and de-stooled him.
The then was that British colonialists sequestered contributory forced-labour from the communities. This was thoroughly hated, fiercely independent Obowu. The warrant-chiefs were the enforcers. In Obowu the age-grade was a traditional labour formation, so the British took advantage. When it came to the turn of Dike-okaomee, Nwosu took money from, and exempted, some of them. Others, who did’t pay, were to go do forced labour. Now, the age-grade is a frame of absolute equality, based on the nwaara; Shared-breast-milk covenant (Available mothers of same age babies would brest-feed all hungry babies, including orphans. This created a sense of common motherhood among age-mates called nwaara ). Partiality within the age-grade would be absolute sin. In theory an age-grade is a commonwealth; so money taken from any member is taken from all. On the appointed day, every member of the age-grade stayed away from work.
Nwosu sent his ‘official list’ of defaulters, and the British summoned them to court, for trial. On the judgment day, all members of the age-grade appeared in court as co-accused. A security issue! In any case, they explained that none of them went to work because Nwosu took money from all of them not to go work. Chief Nwosu became the accused; judged and de-stooled.
Now other chiefs were no better, nor the youth less alienated. Colonial establishments and clans that had accepted the Whiteman’s rule were raided and property looted. This was consistent with the warning Obowu issued to Isuama in 1911. Communities that prospered more under the Whiteman were proportionately more subject to Obowu youth raids and lootings; particularly markets.
Within this climate of anarchy, the Methodist Church established a Bookshop at Umuahia, and news of the novel establishment went abroad. People were visiting the Bookshop on excursion, as tourist site; a palace where packed knowledge was sold. One day an Ihitte-Obowu young man, Wankwenkwe of Nkwumeato, went into the Bookshop, saw the books and decided to pack some away. It was broad daylight looting. The Zik Group of Newspapers carried nation-wide story of an Obowu young man who raided a new Bookshop to steal books he could not read or know what to do with. This story embarrassed Obowu youth, who were jeered at, in the colonial townships. They decided to act. Obowu youth decided that Ikenga-Obowu should excise Obowu from the name and answer Ikenga; Ihitte was to do same and answer Ihitte. In desperation, Obowu youth had decided to abolish their proper names and answer adjectives. Richard Onyeneho, of Umuariam, led the youth to inform Ikenga-Obowu of the new development in clan nomenclature, while David Epeagba led the youth to inform Ihitte-Obowu. The warrant-chiefs having created the framework for an easy-sale in Ihitte, the idea was adopted. It failed in Ikenga because of the intervention of a patriot Obowu people had better come to know better; Biringa Odiotu of umunachi Obowu.
*Odiotu Querry and Obowu Identity.” When Richard Onyeneho presented the case of the youth to their Ikenga-Obowu kinsmen, one of the delegates drew his machete and charged at him, shouting “O wu Ikenga-Eghu k’owu Ikenga-Nkita? … is it Ikenga of goats or of dogs?” The serious question ‘O wu Ihitte-Eghu k’owu Ihitte-Nkita?’ was, apparently, not dealt positively with on the Ihitte-Obowu side, because there was no Biringa Odiotu present, and armed. Ikenga is a function; a subject that must be attached to an object to make sense. Among goats, the mother-goat that exercises leadership is the Ikenga. Among Igbo the side of the community that exercises ritual leadership, holders of the Ofor, is the Ikenga. Ofo Obowu, Ofo-nze-onugaotu , is at Ehume in Ikenga-Obowu, where Obowu ritual activities, including for ihitte end.
That is why it is said of Ajala, the Ihitte-Obowu deity “Ajala ga-elu, ga-Ala ya alakwuru Onugaotu.” Ajala may travel where she may, but must return to Onugaotu (This is in reference to the Mbomuzo (Wiyi high-way cleaning/mending) festival which moves through all the communities, including Ihitte, in turn, but must finally end at Onugaotu, Ehume. Traditionally, some specified parts of the sacrificial animals of the festival will be sent forth from each town for the final festival).
So, Ikenga and Ihitte, kind of adjectives are meaningless without attachment to a proper name they qualify. Biringa would not accept a nonsensical name for a name. Odiotu’s thesis : A name that is not a proper name is not a name at all! That thesis saved the name Obowu from colonial destruction.
But Odiotu’s querry had serious practical implication, too. If Ikenga-Obowu asummed ‘Ikenga’ as name, how would they distinguish themselves from Ikenga-Ogidi or Ikenga-Ihube? How does Ihitte-Obowu, which assumed ‘Ihitte’ as name, today, distinguish themselves from their neighbours that have Ihitte as part of their names; Ihitte-Nsu and Ihitte-Aforukwu?
Odiotu’s querry is relevant for all Obowu people and all others, particularly Africans, with identity crises in the modern world. Whoever answers it correctly will recover and rectify their identity. Identity crisis, as we see from Senator Wali, has a cost.
Today, Ohuhu people recall they came from Obowu, but not specify from Ihitte or Ikenga sides; consistent with the practice when they left, as reflected on map above. As Ihitte remains outside Obowu name umbrella, they forfeit Ohuhu kinship, by default, even when many communities there have Ajala suggesting Ihitte origin. Identity confusion is a costly affair. We must recover and rectify our Obowu identity, so that, for example, our children can, into the far future, enjoy the kind of mutual survival solidarity between us and our Ohuhu/Umuopara kinsmen across the Imo River.
For those who know, such mutual support is still going on. Like, Onyema Ugochukwu at NDDC building the connecting Road between Obowu and Ohuhu or me advise my Golden Guinea brewmaster brother, Chimdindu, to avail MI Okpara’s son, Uzodinma, of business opportunities in their company.
Let Obowu today reflect; on Akulechura’s querry and Biringa’s query! Obowu must Honour Biringa Odiotu and Honour Akulechura, forever. For it is the spirit of heros and heroines that guide a people to, eternally, remain themselves; maintain their identity and retain their personality. A people who are sure of who they are, are sure of a self-controlled future in an ever-mutating world.
Conclusion The post-colonial societal crisis in Africa is, significantly, a crisis-of-identity. Obowu as Igboland and all Africa is afflicted with this crisis. Obowu, a standard Igbo community, exists in two moieties; Ikenga and Ihitte. British colonial pressures led to Obowu socio-economic and identity crises. Rejecting British colonial authority, the youth turned Obowu into a realm of significant lawlessness. Obowu degenerated from marshal of the Isuama, core Igboland, people before British invasion to notoriety. In embarrassment Ihitte-Obowu excised Obowu from her name, becoming the only community in Igboland to answer Ihitte as proper name. With independence from Britain struggle, Obowu recovered her old socio-political rhythm; producing from her roots some of the best leaders; heroes and heroines Eastern Nigeria has had in modern times.
Obowu, and her Etiti confederates, in recovery, have also earned the admiration of others such that former Biafran leader, General Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu could say, in 2002, “They tell me the best things in Igboland come from Etiti; I, also, am from Etiti”. This paper is part of a movement for Obowu identity recovery and rectification, which hopes to set the pace for other peoples of Igboland and Africa. We should expand the discourse in an organic fashion. We should talk next with our Uboma (including Nsu) confederates, then our Ohuhu and Umuopara (Mbaloha) kinsmen, followed by Ezumoha-Isuama, all-Igbo and, then, all Africa (including African Diaspora). The self-unconscious is living-dead, Ozu . Let us self-know to livealive . NDU M IKENGA NDU M IHITTE.
Prof. Chidi Osuagwu of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State, at this year’s Ezumezu Lecture, a colloquium organized by the Obowu Development Association (Federated), on the 16th of August, in Obowo, discuses identity crisis with its debilitating effects in Africa and Nigeria.
Eze Chima was an Aro native doctor. In pursuance of the role of the Aros in the Atlantic Slave Trade quoted…from Michael Crowder’s story of Nigeria, Chima left Arochukwu to Benin to set up as an agent of the Aro Long Juju, for the usual purpose of collecting slaves from Benin.
Whenever, in the olden days, a native doctor travelled to a place, he by custom would, on arrival, report himself to the local chief or to the head of the society of native doctors of the land. He is either the guest of the head chief of the clan or puts up with head of the local society of native doctors. Accordingly, when Chima arrived Benin he reported himself to the Oba of Benin who accepted him as his guest. In time Chima settled down and set up practice as a native doctor and agent of Aro Oracle. He impressed the Oba of Benin so much with his magical art that he became very influential over the Oba. In consequence, the Oba installed Chima a chief in the palace of Benin. Thus the plain blunt and ordinary native doctor who left Arochukwu to establish an agency of the Long Juju, earned a chieftaincy title and became Chief Chima or Eze Chima.
Having found his feet firm in Benin, Eze Chima sent for his brother Ekensu and other relatives from Arochukwu, and also set up an Aro settlement in Benin similar to those Aros had set up within the description of Michael Crowder, in other areas throughout former Eastern Nigeria. With the march of time, Chima’s practice in Benin expanded down to Niger Delta. Among the Urhobos and Itshekiris also the fame of the Aro Oracle spread and clients from those areas trooped to him to consult the Oracle. The greatest index of Chima’s influence on culture in Benin Kingdom is found in the fact that Benin people adopted the Igbo days of the week – Eke, Orie, Afo and Nkwo – on which Chima made one sacrifice or the other or observed his abstinences and spiritual disciplines, as names also of Benin week days. And till today the Binis have, as the Igbo, Eke, Orie, Afo, Nkwo – as names of their week days. According to Mr Wellington Igunbor a Benin historian, who on the mother side, belongs to one of Benin’s traditional chieftaincy families (Chief Gaius Obaseki’s family – Gaius Obaseki who was the Iyase or Prime Minister of Benin in 1947) – the settlement of Eze Chima in Old Benin was established in the area through which Siliku Street runs in the present-day Benin city. As Eze Chima’s influence increased so did population of his settlement expand. So influential was Eze Chima and so completely absorbed in the society was he and his clan that there was hardly a thing he and his people could not do on the basis of equality with Benin indigenes.
How Chima left Benin:
At the time Eze Chima lived in Benin, the mother of Oba of Benin was Asije. The Oba’s brother who also was the Oba’s War Lord was called Gbunwala. One day, Asije the mother of both the Oba and Gbunwala, the Benin War Lord went into a farm belonging to Eze Chima’s people and collected firewood. Eze Chima’s people then caught Asije the Oba’s mother, and beat her thoroughly for taking wood from their farm without permission. Back home, Asije reported to her children – the Oba of Benin and Gbunwala, the Benin War Lord, her bitter experience with Eze Chima’s people. Red with anger, Gbunwala, the Oba’s brother and War Lord, took some of his soldiers, went to Chima’s settlement, set upon Chima’s people – beat them thoroughly and killed some of them.
From that day, Gbunwala began to harass Eze Chima and his people. In the circumstance, Eze Chima decided to quit Benin with his people and return to the East whence he came to rejoin his Igbo kith and kin – or, in the alternative to find new settlements for himself and his people in places far and safe beyond the reach of Oba of Benin.
This story was told in Igbo Primer popularly known as “Azu Ndu”, approved by Government Education Department for infant classes of primary schools in the Igbo Provinces of then Eastern Nigeria, now Biafra, since the beginning of the 20th century.
On their way out of Benin, some of the Eze Chima’s people settled at Agbo (Agbor), 44 miles away from Benin City which they considered far, and out of reach, molestations and influence of the Oba of Benin and his brother, Gbunwala. Others went beyond this distance and settled at Isele-Uku, Onicha-Olona, Onicha-Ugbo and Obio. When they reached the West bank of the Niger, some took a canoe and paddled down the River to Abo and settled. Led by Oreze, the eldest son of Eze Chima, the balance of Eze Chima clan crossed the River Niger to the eastern bank and settled among Oze people – the original inhabitants of what is today the big and prosperous commercial and education centre in Biafra – Onicha (Onitsha). On page 73 of his story of Nigeria, Mr Michael Crowder believed that the migration of Onicha (Onitsha) people – this is of Umu Eze Chima clans – from Benin took place in the 17th century.
Benin-Igbo Exchange of Culture:
Having lived for some years in Benin as one of the chiefs of the palace of the Oba of Benin, Eze Chima, the Aro agent of the Aro Oracle in Benin and his people had learnt Benin chieftaincy institutions and titles and so adapted the Benin system to the administrative structures and customs of the place where they settled among other West Niger Igbo and in Onicha (Onitsha) on the east bank. But as Eze Chima took away from Benin a copy of their chieftaincy institutions, so did he deposit in Benin, and the Binis adopted it, Igbo weekdays – Eke, Orie, Afo, Nkwo – which are vital in the determination of appropriate days for abstinences , spiritual religious cultures of the Igbo and Bini too. In other words, the West Niger Igbo borrowed from Benin in chieftaincy, traditions, just as the Binis borrowed from the Igbo in religious traditions—through the agency of Eze Chima.”
A 12-year-old Nigerian youngster of Igbo extraction who is based in the United Kingdom, Master Chika Ofili, has been presented with a Special recognition award for making a new discovery in Mathematics.
The little Mathematician just discovered a new formula for divisibility by 7 in Mathematics.
If you ever used new general Mathematics JSS 2, you would understand how significant this is in the world of Mathematics. Even Professors in this field over the years were unable to solve this problem that a young genius like this did.
There was no divisibility rule for 7. It was thought not to exist.
Kudos to this young man. This is a noble feat worthy of recognition.
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A first print, first edition of Things Fall Apart and the author, Chinua Achebe.
A first print, first edition copy of late Chinua Achebe’s premier novel ‘Things Fall Apart’ has been sold for one million Naira.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the private sale took place on Twitter following a call by author, Lola Shoneyin for collectors to purchase the vintage copy.
Shoneyin, who is well-known for her book ‘The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives’, tweeted that the copy was available on Sunday.
She said, “Hey book collectors! My friend is selling a first print, first edition copy of ‘Things Fall Apart’ for N1m. Reply here and she will contact you.”
Fans of Achebe’s work took to the comment section to praise the work, with some placing bids. However, she announced hours later that the book had been bought by an anonymous buyer.
She tweeted, “The book has been bought by an anonymous buyer.”
Achebe was a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic. ‘Things Fall Apart’, his first novel, is often considered his best. He won the Man Booker International Prize in 2007.
‘Things Fall Apart’ was published in 1958; its story chronicles pre-colonial life in the south-eastern part of Nigeria and the arrival of the Europeans during the late nineteenth century.
It is seen as the archetypal modern African novel in English, one of the first to receive global critical acclaim.
The novel follows the life of Okonkwo, an Igbo man and local wrestling champion in the fictional Nigerian clan of Umuofia.
The work is divided into three parts, with the first describing his family, personal history, and the customs and society of the Igbo.
Other parts, chronicled the influence of British colonialism and Christian missionaries on the Igbo community.
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I think and believed in Nigeria today, Igbos love themselves more than every other tribes.
If you see any Igbo rich business man, listen to his story how he get to where he is today, he will always start with, I was a poor boy at home with my parents when my uncle, brother, or relation took me and brought me to the city to learn trade with him and finally settled me to start my own.
THE IGBO ARE RARE.
1] You will see one Igbo man who has trained and settled more than 100 young men and all are doing well in their businesses.
2] It is only Igbo man that I have seen who would train a child that is not his in schools up to the university level.
3] Only an Igbo man would send a relation abroad to go and find means to survive without minding how much it cost him.
4] Every Igbo man want his brother to live comfortably and don’t have to rely on others.
5] Igbo man would rather teach you how to catch a fish than to give you already caught fish.
6] When an Igbo man marries, he takes good care of his wife and children plus his wife’s relations unlike the other tribes that doesn’t respect their wives.
7] My sister Murna has always said that she would love to marry an Igbo man because they know how to take good care of their wives and those related to her.
8] Igbo man, no matter what and where he maybe would always have home at heart and wherever they see their people, they make themselves known.
9] Wherever they are, they would surely have Igbo meetings and gatherings of their local governments people.
10] Igbo man would go to meetings every Sunday where they meet with their people.
I wonder how anyone could say that the Igbo don’t love themselves, In fact we are jealous of Igbo people for how united and together they come all the time. When something happen to one of them, they would come together and assist. I have seen people from other tribes buried here when they died, but when an Igbo die here they must gather and take the body home in solidarity.
Things Igbo people do together I have never seen in other tribes in Nigeria. An Hausa or Yoruba rich man would never do anything to help you, they rather be giving you 20 Naira every time they see you that is after you must greeted them tire.
If Biafra goes away from Nigeria, I will be the first to apply for their visa, I want stay with them very intelligent people, they know how to make things happen.
This is indeed a true description of the Igbo people as seen by others. Unfortunately, Ndigbo sometimes seem not to really appreciate uniqueness.
The controversy whether the Igbo are Jews or not may have been laid to rest following a fresh scriptural, archaeological and cultural backing by Congrearchaeologicalweh Jerusalem headquarters, Israel in Nigeria, to the recent laboratory test result from the officials of Jewish Voice Ministries International, which proved that the Igbo are not Jews.
General Overseer of the Congregation of Yahweh in Nnewi, Anambra State, Nwayaweh Earnest Udoyaweh, made the clarifications when a senior elder of the Congregation of Yahweh Jerusalem, Kenya, Harrison Marimba, and his team stormed the industrial city to ordain him, elder.
Elder Udoyahweh who is also a Chief Medical Laboratory Scientist in the Department of Microbiology and Parasitology of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), Nnewi, made it clear that the issue of whether the Igbo are Jews or not had gone beyond Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) test to determine, saying that this “may have suffered mutations when there are other scriptural, cultural and archeological factors to prove that Igbo are Hebrews rather than Jews.”
From the biblical point of view, according to Udoyahweh, Igbo are the descendants of Gad who was the seventh son of Israel.
He said that Gad gave birth to Eri, a community in Anambra State; Arodi, interpreted to mean Arondizuogu, a community in Imo State; Oraeri, another community in Anambra, among other sons of Gad spread across the South East of Nigeria.
He said that all these names are in the Bible and traceable to Gad who was a Hebrew.
The cleric cited the book of Genesis, Chapters 46 verse 16 and 14 verse 13 to substantiate his claims.
He said it was in those portions of the Bible that anyone in doubt could trace the three primordial ancestors of the Hebrews.
He noted that there were other archaeological and cultural shreds of evidence, including behavioural patterns of the Igbo which were in agreement with the way the Hebrew behave.
He explained that the Hebrew, for instance, never allowed the corpse of their relation to be buried outside their ancestral homes which the Igbo practice.
Udoyahweh noted that there were some artefacts excavated in a community like Igbo-Ukwu in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State that had Hebrew inscriptions on them, adding that “even the Igbo as a word is an adulterated Hebrew word, Heber.
He also explained that Abraham as a Hebrew was instructed in the scripture to circumcise his family members which he said the Igbo practised today.
During the ordination, Elder Marimba enjoined all the members of the congregation to give newly ordained Elder Udoyahweh maximum support and loyalty for him to be able to execute the work of Yahweh.
Udoyahweh said he was overwhelmed and humbled by his new responsibility as the Elder taking care of the congregation. He, therefore, appealed to both other Senior Elders and the congregants to always remember him in their prayers for the task ahead.
“I earnestly request from you, Senior Elder Don and all the elders in this Congregation of Yahweh Jerusalem (COYJ) before me to pray continuously for me in order to carry out this restoration work and worship of Yahweh from Jerusalem as I ought to do and teach with all fairness and firmness, faithfulness and fruitfulness until the end. And in such a way and manner that whatever is done in Yahweh’s heaven which is also done at the congregation of Yahweh Jerusalem Headquarters, Israel shall be done same way and manner in this awesome place of Yah. This is my one and only real and earnest prayer request,” he said.
Some unidentified youths, suspected to be hoodlums, on Saturday, carried out attacks targeted on Igbo traders, in Sokoto, the Sokoto State capital.
Our Correspondent reports that the attacks occurred on Old Market Road, Bello Way and Emir Yahaya areas of Sokoto metropolis, at about noon.
The frightening incident, however, forced other Igbo traders to closed down their shops and ran for safety against the backdrop of the heightened security situation in other parts of the country.
An eyewitness who sighted the irate youths in their hundreds along Bello way said were armed with cutlasses, stones and sticks before l before razing down a building belonging to some Igbo traders.
A victim who simply identified his name as Chief Gabriel Okafor told our Correspondent on the phone that his house was reported razed down by some suspected arsonists.
“Right now, I just received a call from my wife that some youths have invaded my house and set it ablaze. My family narrowly escaped the attacks.” Chief Okafor alarmed.
Another victim, Mr William Emmanuel Usoh told Journalists that his Honda Civic car was touched by some unidentified youths along Emir Yahaya road.
Usoh explained that the timely arrival of men of the Nigeria Civil Defence and Security Corps (NCSDC), however, stopped the youths in their attempt to further vandalize shops within the vicinity.
When contacted the President General, Igbo Community in Sokoto State, Chief Charles Uwaga, confirmed the incident.
He said reports reaching him indicated that some of his members have been attacks within the state capital. “A member just called me that his house has been razed down. There are also cases of shops vandalization.
However, there was a heavy presence of security personnel that including Army, Police, Civil Defence Corps, especially within the state capital.
In a related development, Sokoto state government has urged all residents to go about their normal activities without fear of molestation, saying all arrangements have been put in place to ensure the security of lives and property.
A statement issued by Malam Imam Imam, the spokesman to Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, said what is happening in other parts of the country, especially the South East, will have no negative effect on residents of Sokoto.
“Governor Tambuwal has urged for calm. He has met severally with security agencies, religious and traditional rulers. He is also in touch with members of the resident communities.
“In addition, the Governor is in touch with his counterparts in other states to see how they can synergise to ensure that peace is maintained.
“Residents are thereby urged to report any suspicious activities to constituted authorities,” the statement added.
The statement praised the people of Sokoto for being their brothers’ keepers and urged them to engage in acts that enhance unity, brotherhood and understanding at all times.
“We’re happy to note that so far, business premises, markets, worship centres and public gatherings have continued unhindered. This administration is committed to sustaining our cherished status as the most peaceful State in Nigeria,” it added. (The Sun)
Igbo Jews reading from the holy scroll during worship
by Dr Leonard Madu:
In a White House memo dated Tuesday, January 28, 1969 to President Nixon, former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger describes the Igbos as “the wandering Jews of West Africa-gifted, aggressive, westernized, at best envied and resented, but mostly despised by Nigerian neighbours in the Federation”(foreign relations document, volume E-5, documents on Africa 1969-1972).
Kissinger’s description aptly portrays the Christian Igbos and their experience in Nigeria. Over the years, the Igbos have been the victims of numerous massacres, that they have lost count. Most of the violence directed against the Igbos have been state-sponsored. One can say that the Igbos knew how to spell “state sponsored terrorism” before the rest of the world did. The state sponsored terrorism directed against the Igbos in 1966, led to the declaration of the Republic of Biafra by the Igbos and subsequent civil war. Over two million Igbos died in the civil war, primarily by starvation. One will not be wrong if they call the Igbos the “Tutsis” of Nigeria. Today, an Islamic terrorist Conglomerate led by the dreaded Boko Haram are still slaughtering Igbos and other Christians in Northen Nigeria. Igbos have always seen themselves as a bulwark against the spread of Islam to Southern Nigeria, and as a result, a perennial target of Islamic zealots.
However, the Igbos are one of the largest and most distinctive of all African ethnic groups. Predominantly found in Southeastern Nigeria, they number about 40 million worldwide, with about 30 million in Nigeria. They constitute about 18% of Nigeria’s population, with significant Igbo populations in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Ivory Coast. Igbos predominate in five states in Nigeria-Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Abia. In three other states- Rivers, Lagos and Delta, they constitute almost 25% of the population.
Cross section of Igbo Chiefs, Nze and other titled personalities
During the slave trade, Igbo slaves were known to be the most rebellious. Most of the slave rebellions in the United States, Haiti, Jamaica, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Guyana were led by Igbo slaves. In South Carolina, Igbo slaves were reported to have drowned themselves, rather than be kept as slaves. Today that place is called Ebo Island in commemoration of the slaves who died there. The Gullahs are Igbo. Igbos were one of the 13 African ethnic groups that provided the bulk of the slaves who were brought to the Americas. The majority of the slaves who ended up in Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, Maryland, Arkansas, Mississippi, South and North Carolina and Georgia were Igbo. An Igbo museum has been built in Virginia to honour the contribution of Igbo slaves to the state. One of the Igbo slaves who were sent to Liberia by the American Colonization Society-Edward Roye- became the fourth president of Liberia. Another Igbo slave, Olaudah Equiano wrote the famous slave chronicles.
During the colonial period, the British disliked the Igbos, because of their supposedly uppitiness and argumentativeness. During military service in Burma and India, the pride of Igbo soldiers amongst other African soldiers was proverbial. In the company offices and orderly rooms, the first few words from the White officer speaking to an Igbo soldier was followed by “don’t argue, you! Or “you want to be too clever”, and similar expressions. Their expressive and aggressive mentality which they enjoy in their culture at home does not always allow them to accept false charges or accusations without responding. The late famous writer, Langston Hughes, observed “the Igbo looks proud because he is bred in a free atmosphere where everyone is equal. He hates to depend on anyone for his life’s need. He does not mind if others look proud. He has much to be proud of in his land. Nature has provided for him. He is strong and able to work or fight. He is well formed. He is generally happy in his society where no ruler overrides his conscience. He likes to advance and he is quick to learn. He likes to give rather than take”.
Culturally, the Igbos are a very diverse group with different clans, families, subcultures, and subgroups. However, the customs are similar to local varieties. Although there are disagreements about the origins of the Igbos, there is a consensus that they originated from Nri in the Anambra State of Nigeria. The language of the Igbos is Igbo or Ibo. It is one of the largest spoken languages in Africa, with Hausa and Yoruba. Igbo speaking people are divided into five geographically based subcultures-Northern Igbo, Western Igbo, Southern Igbo, Eastern Igbo and Northeastern Igbo. Not as urbanized as the Yoruba, they live in multitudinous villages, fragmented into small family groups. They do not have hereditary chiefs like the Yoruba or Hausa/Fulani. Every Igbo more or less is his or her own master. The Igbos operate the “Umunna System”, which emphasizes the patrilineal heritage, rather than the matrilineal. Some of the important Igbo cities include Onitsha, Enugu, Umuahia, Aba, Asaba, Abakaliki, Owerri, Nsukka.
In commerce, the Igbos are a mobile, vividly industrious people who have spread all over Nigeria and Africa as traders and small merchants. In countries like Gabon, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Gambia, Igbo traders predominate in retail trade. Most Igbos are clannish, despite their individualism and hold closely together in non-Igbo communities. They are often very unpopular in the communities they live in because they push very hard to make money and often dominate the retail business in alien communities. In his book, the Brutality of Nations, Dan Jacobs describes the Igbos “as ambitious, dynamic and progressive people whose education and abilities did not endear them to those among whom they lived. Even during British rule, there were massacres of Igbos in Northern Nigeria-in Jos in 1945 and in Kano in 1953. The Igbos have acquired the sobriquet, Jews of Africa”.
Education is highly emphasized and given priority in Igboland. Converted to Christianity by Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian missionaries, they took up self-improvement with such enthusiasm, that by the 1960’s, the Igbos had the highest percentage of doctors, lawyers, engineers, physicists, and teachers than any other ethnic group in Africa. Because of the abundant educational talent in Igboland, many newly independent African nations recruited them to fill vacancies in their civil service. The first American style university built in Africa was in the Igboland-the University of Nigeria at Nsukka. Its founder, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was a graduate of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. The Igbos and the Yorubas are the most educated ethnic group in Africa.
Igbo Jews reading Torah during prayers
Politically, the Igbos are very effervescent and volatile. According to author Dan Jacobs “for Britain and for the British civil servants who continued to work in the Northern Region, the Igbos have always been a troublesome element in the federation, a people with a democratic tradition who are not easily controlled. Many British were glad to see them out of a central position in the federation, as were those who had driven them back to their homeland and those who now held the civil service and other jobs they had left”. The Igbos had been the most ardent advocates of a united Nigeria. Upon independence in 1960, an Igbo, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe-American educated- became the first President and Governor General, while another Igbo, Aguiyi Ironsi became the first indigenous military chief. The leadership of most of the elite universities in Nigeria were also occupied by the Igbos.
Following the military coup of January 1966, which the Igbos were accused of initiating, Aguiyi Ironsi, an Igbo, became President and Supreme Commander of the armed forces. Tensions rose very high in the country resulting in the massacre of Igbos in May 1966. In July 1966, a Hausa/Fulani/Tiv inspired military coup overthrew Ironsi’s regime and a terrible massacre of the Igbos began in earnest. This led to the secession of the former Eastern Nigeria and the declaration of the Republic of Biafra.
This eventually led to the civil war. According to George Orick, an American businessman and consultant to UNICEF who was in Nigeria at the time, one million Igbos were to be killed in order to avenge the death of a man called Ahmadu Bello, who was the Sardauna of Sokoto-Prince of the Islamic Sokoto Caliphate. He reported that “one could hear on Northern Nigerian radio the reading of long lists of Igbos who were targeted for extinction”.-see Goddell team report, Congressional Record of February 15, 1969, pp51976-7. The Igbos believe, and rightfully so, that had they did not fight back, their fate would have been worse than that of the Tutsis in Rwanda. The same way Northern Nigerian radio was exhorting the Hausa/Fulanis to kill the Igbos, was the same way Radio Milles Collines was exhorting the Hutus to slaughter the Tutsis in Rwanda.
Similarly, Heinrich Jiggs, a Swiss businessman in Nigeria who later became the chief Red Cross delegate in Biafra, reports seeing one of the circular letters in Northern Nigeria which stated that every Igbo down to the age of six would be killed. A Canadian Journalist, Alan Grossman, who had been West African Bureau Chief of Time Life News Service in Lagos from May 1966 to June 1968, testified before the External Affairs Committee of the Canadian House of Commons on what he saw. He told the committee “many thousands of Igbos were slaughtered in towns and villages across the north, and hundreds of thousands of others were blinded, crippled or maimed or in the majority of cases, simply left destitute as they attempted to flee to the Igbo homeland in Eastern Nigeria. Some of the fleeing refugees did not make it home.
On one train that arrived in the East, there was the corpse of a male passenger whose head had been chopped off somewhere along the line. Another group of Igbo refugees men, women and children whom I happened to see-I would say 100 or more of them were waiting at the railway station in the city of Kano, the largest city in Northern Nigeria, for about three days, with no security guards, for the arrival of a refugee train, and a land rover full of government soldiers came and mowed them down with automatic weapons. Igbo shops and Igbo hotels were ransacked and looted, while blocks of non-Igbo businesses were carefully left untouched”. (see minutes of Canadian House of Commons proceeding, external Affairs Ref. 7 pp. 239-40).
In the final analysis, Dan Jacobs, in the Brutality of Nations, summarizes the plight of the Igbos in the following way, “to the other Nigerians, the Igbos were not only leaving Nigeria, they were departing with the oil under the lands with which they are seceding. Here lay the explanation of the paradox that the Nigerians had driven the Biafrans out, yet seemed to be fighting to keep them in the Federation. What they actually wanted was the land the Igbos were on and what lay under it-without the Igbos”.
Igbo Jews during prayer session in the synagogue
Some internationally recognized Igbo personalities include former president Nnamdi Azikiwe, former military ruler Aguiyi Ironsi, writer Chinua Achebe, former Biafran leader Odumegwu Ojukwu, former justice at the World Court Daddy Onyeama, former Commonwealth secretary general Emeka Anyoku, former middleweight and light-heavyweight champion of the world Dick Tiger and Cardinal Francis Arinze-Pope in waiting… Some African Americans of Igbo ancestry include evangelist T.D. Jakes, actor, scholar and athlete Paul Robeson, actors Forrest Whitaker and Blair Underwood.
(Dr. Leonard Madu is President of the African Caribbean Institute and African Chamber of Commerce in Nashville, Tennessee.)
Governor Ayo Fayose, of Ekiti state, says Acting President Yemi Osinbajo is doing his best to address some challenges in the country but he needs to put in more efforts.
Alleging that the Igbo have been made to “suffer forever” because of their role in the civil war, Fayose appealed to the Federal Government to be fair and just to all ethnic groups in the country.
He opposed the main objective of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), saying secession is not an option.
IPOB is in the frontline of the campaign to create an independent state for the Igbo.
According to Governor Fayose,“The Acting President Yemi Osinbajo is doing his best but that is not enough. We must remember that those who make positive change impossible make violent change inevitable. A situation where a section will be suffering forever because of their role in the civil war is not fair,” he said.
“As much as secession is not an option, the handlers of our democracy must be equitable, fair and just to everyone. The Igbo have continued to suffer because of the perceived role of Emeka Ojukwu. If we say past governments didn’t do well what has the present government done differently?
“I agree that secession is not desirable but there must be justice and equity. When people are being killed or vilified, you must expect a reaction. No region should begin to use power to oppress another. If Nigeria is truly one, it will not get to a stage that one region will openly call on another to leave its land.”
The governor said the federal government should dialogue with Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB leader, instead of using force.
Fayose accused the Buhari administration of dividing Nigeria “more than ever and it is the legitimate right of the people to agitate if they feel they are wrongly treated”. (TheCable)