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Monday, April 6, 2009

Anambra, where is your Ijele?

By O. I. C. Ikechukwu, 04.03.2009
Friday, April 3, 2009
The ‘political and moral village square’ in Anambra State today is overrun by all manner of masquerades. They are talking about themselves: what they want, why they should become governor and how even divine revelation has assured one of them that he will rule the state forever – and a few days extra!  The underdevelopment, hidden rage and decay of values in the state are not the issues. Most of the aspiring leaders are still busy recruiting the youth for nefarious activities, when their peers elsewhere are concerned about making the same youths part of the Knowledge Industry of the 21st century. Far too much energy is going into the aspiration to be governor, but without any real plans for the involvement of the people. It is as if there is a consensus that cash, capacity for making trouble and/or connections with forces operating from outside the state will decide who will be the next governor. Leadership, true leadership the way it is known among Ndi Anambra, is not on the table at all. No one seems to be asking: “what type of person should be governor of a fractious, traumatized and politically confounded state like Anambra, come 2010; and how will such a person take the state and its people to where the rest of the world is”. They do not even consider that a candidate for that office in 2010 should be a viable candidate for the Presidency in 2015. 
So where is Anambra State’s Ijele masquerade for this all-important outing?

Let us state, for the record, that there are big and small masquerades; and then there is the ijele. The reason for this is that the Ijele is an event all by itself. People clear the path when it is coming. Other masquerades disappear from the village square as it approaches. Yet the Ijele is not violent. It is not in competition with other masquerades. In point of fact, is not even a masquerade. It is simply the Ijele: The symbolic representation of honour and royalty for Ndi Anambra. It stands as the embodiment of calm dignity and unequalled majesty in its every ambience. The very step of the Ijele is celebrated as a privilege by those who see it in the village square. It accepts the cheer of the crowd as of right. It does not thank anyone for getting out of its way. Its ‘arrival’ always precedes it. Those who know of its coming, or who see it approaching, happily join to help clear the way. This is not pride, or self inflation. It is just the nature of the Ijele to live thus!
The Ijele enters the esplanade with the choicest gems laid all over it. Therefore there is nothing you can give to it. It is sufficient unto itself. That is why Anambra people say, when they feel their dignity affronted: “The Ijele does not dance for money”. A titled man/woman will look with contempt at cheap lucre when he/she is confronted with a call to demean himself/herself. But that was before the titles turned up at the evening market at the price of three kobo for a dozen.
What can you give the Ijele? Any attempt to ‘spray’ money on this ‘masquerade’ is an insult, verging on outright abomination. It is just not done! Again, you do not speak of beauty or ugliness in connection with the Ijele. It is an absolute category by itself. It is simply the Ijele: not proud but possessed of imperial comportment; not uncaring, but impervious to all the prancing around it; not cold, but living as the symbol of that ontological pedigree that takes on the subtle impression of the supernatural; not contemptuous of smaller masquerades, but unable to acknowledge them; not threatening, but totally beholden to its own essence and unable to conceptualize the notion of a peer. In the unlikely event that there is some commotion while the Ijele  is in the square, it does not turn to find out what the problem might be. Ijele knows it will be attended to. That is the Ijele! That is why those who understand its essence know, and say, that it is not a masquerade.

The Ijele comes out once every several years, so that its presence will remind the people of the ideals of integrity, which leadership ought to embody.  Integrity here is understood in the sense of an almost unconscious resolve not to be associated with anything ignoble and likely to detract from the values of humanity and society. More importantly, the Ijele  lives as this statement: “He/she who must have honour and primacy among you must be totally bound to higher standards of excellence and social responsibility”.
But look at Anambra State, the home of the Ijele, today. Some say that small masquerades have taken over the village square. That may be true, but those who say so imagine that the Ijele is a big masquerade, and nothing more. But they are wrong. The Ijele  is not a big masquerade. It is the ijele!!! As for the big and small masquerades, let us explain what they are before, returning to the Ijele and how to save Anambra State.

Most Anambra masquerades serve as visible symbols of certain social values. They are used by the public to anchor and reinforce norms and moral preferences. 

Take the ‘agbogho nmanwu’ (Lady Masquerade), for instance. It is the physical embodiment of everything feminine. The ‘face’ is of flawless and mature beauty. The form is female in a refined sort of way. The steps are dainty. The gestures are the very soul of graceful ambience. Children love her. The wildest of men control themselves in behaviour and speech at the approach of Agbogho nmanwu. In her presence all coarseness is kept at bay. If there is a stampede during a celebration people compete among themselve to protect this particular masquerade. Women of controversial self-presentation are rebuked by the very nature of Agbogho nmanwu. She lives as a symbol of that calm grace and natural, unaffected dignity of a woman.

Then there is Onuku (The Fool) masquerade. It has the form of a man. But it represents degenerate manhood. The ‘face’ wears a permanent and abominably lecherous leer. The tongue hangs from the mouth. The movement is wishy-washy. The carriage is beggarly. The sagging shoulders suggest everything despicable you can think of in a man. Worse still, the social profile of Onuku is such that it is never accompanied by any drummers, or assistants. It does not dance. It never enters the venue of an event through the popular pathway. It prefers to sneak into the place, meander to where unsuspecting women are absorbed in the celebrations and attempt to molest and embarrass them. It is the only masquerade that receives beating from, or gets involved in a fight with women.
The job of many mothers who wish to keep their children on the slippery path of moral rectitude is often made a little easier by Onuku. How? Many mothers rebuked their children by simply asking whether they wanted to grow up and be like Onuku. It always worked like magic. In fact a shudder often accompanied the boys’ emphatic “no” to such a query from the mother.

Then there is the masquerade alternatively called ‘Agaba’, or ‘Okwonma’ in several communities. The very sight of this masquerade strikes terror into the heart of almost everyone. The height is imposing. The form and build, massive. It represents manly strength of the violent and dangerous type. This masquerade wields a big, sharp and well made machete. The movement is swift and totally threatening; in its implicit refusal to acknowledge obstacles. It is often held by a strong, restraining and long rope by assistants who do everything possible to keep it on the leash. If it breaks away, the village square will disperse in abject terror. Those unfortunate enough to have an encounter with this masquerade at such a time, and in such circumstances, will have conspicuous wounds and bruises to show for it.
This masquerade symbolizes brute, unrefined manhood. It is feared and not respected. It takes over the village square by force and the smaller masquerades who flee before it do so for their own safety. They have no respect for Okwonma. Nobody does. They dislike it, in fact. Just as women in every festive square keep a concerned lookout for Onuku, there is no one who is so daring that he does not watch out for this dangerous masquerade. Its arrival means danger, unrest, end of fun, arbitrary assertion of dominance and authority.

Once there is no Ijele, it is these hard headed masquerades that take over the esplanade. They become the law and the event. Being by nature routinely disrespectful of societal norms and simple rules of decency, they make force, instruments of terror and ‘mad’ behaviour their own Rule of Law. And if a community has not seen the Ijele for many years, it runs the risk of having these rough neck masquerades as the symbols of authority. Their violent and arbitrary ways will then become the ways of the people; and many children and leaders of tomorrow will follow their excellent examples of reprehensible behaviour.
Yet this dangerous masquerade manages to make itself very scarce at the approach of the Ijele. And this is significant.

If we liken the political actors in Anambra State today to the different categories of masquerades mentioned earlier, then we must draw very disturbing conclusions. Purposeless and blind ambitions, tomfoolery, refusal to learn from past errors are the dominant motifs. Only in one or two, still obscure, cases do you see true capacity for leadership, and understanding of the problems and the background that promises something good for the state.
But it is now time to Re-invent the Essence, Beauty, Integrity, Resourcefulness, Traditions and Honour that battered state. It is time to ask fundamental questions about the moral standing of people who aspire to lead and whether the years of locust have not lasted long enough. It is no longer enough to speak of “aspiring for governorship” as a personal ambition. It is time to dispassionately assess those now putting themselves forward. What are their antecedents? Who are their ancestors? What do they have to offer? After the elections, what will they do with the young men and women they have assembled? What are their ideas about development, youth development and restoration of the place of Anambra State in national politics?
These issues have become important because the state is now faced with a strange elite culture that is totally disconnected from the people. This new paradigm rests on the belief that an Anambra ticket will always be got from powers outside the state and that the affairs of the people need not worry anyone. Is this right? Should it be condoned? Where are the elders? Why have the Sons of Eli taken over? What has become of the Ijele? Is it not time to look out for an Ijele among the contenders? Leadership is not taken up as ‘something I must do because it is one thing I have not done’. Success in business, contacts in Abuja and a reputation for making money through possible and impossible means,  as well as several other threadbare phrases being tabled as qualification, do not have the strength of a feather, as basis for leadership aspiration. You are either there to serve the traumatized people of Anambra and gradually lead them back from the induced loss of values inflicted on them by a baffling flowering of renegade politics, or you are part of their problems.
The Anambra Village Square needs the arrival of the Ijele. But is anyone looking out for it? I just wonder.
• Dr. Ikechukwu is of the International Institute of Leadership and Governance.

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I am an Igbo, I was born an Igbo, I live the life of an Igbo, I come from Igbo, I speak Igbo, I like to be Igbo, I like to dress in Igbo, I eat Igbo food, my heritage, culture and tradition is Igbo, my parents are Igbo.

Am sorry I cannot help it if you hate my lineage. Am sorry I cannot help it if you detest Igbo, am sorry I cannot help it if you hate me because am Igbo. Igbo is who I am, my name is Igbo and I must die an Igbo.

You see Igbo as a threat, why? You call Igbo rapist, criminals, ritualist, prostitutes, kidnappers. You attribute all negative vices to represent Igbo? Why do you do that? You do because you feel threatened that Igbo might outrun the rest of the tribes. Why do you hate Igbo and despise us? You do that because we are creative, enlightened, hardworking, industrious, genius, intelligent, smart, rich, beautiful and amazing. But its difficult for you to admit it because you feel jealous of my race.

Igbo do not own politics, Igbo do not control the economy neither do we control the natural resources and the common wealth of the nation. You do, we don't and yet, despite the fact that you own everything, we still remain one indispensable race that has outshined the other race in all ramifications.

You fear us because you want to exterminate and annihilate our race, you deny us many things and yet we are stronger, richer and mightier. You fear us because we are everywhere. You fear us because no matter how rural a place might be, when Igbo steps in, they turn it into a Paradise. We have our own resources, which lies in resourcefulness, we do not bother you and your control over the polity, but yet when we cough you and the other race begin to shiver.

Am proud being an Igbo, am proud of my heritage and culture. Igbo means high class, Igbo means independence, Igbo means hard work and strength, Igbo means riches, Igbo means resourcefulness, Igbo means self belonging, Igbo means self esteem, Igbo means pride, Igbo means swag.

Udo diri unu umunnem.
# IgboAmaka
# AnyiBuNdiMmeri

Michael Ezeaka

This is beautiful poetry ...

In response to Alaba Ajibola, the Babcock Lecturer Hate Speech against Igbos.


In Igboland women live apart from their husbands and neither cook for them nor enter their husband's quarters when they are in their period. They are seen as unclean. Even up till today such practice is still applicable in some parts of Igboland especially by the traditionalists. Before a woman can enter the palace of Obi of Onitsha, she will be asked if she is in her period, if yes, she will be asked to stay out.

Leviticus 15: 19-20
When a woman has her monthly period, she remains unclean, anyone who touches her or anything she has sat on becomes unclean.

An Igbo man's ancestral heritage, called “Ana Obi” is not sellable, elders will not permit this. If this is somehow done due to the influence of the West the person is considered a fool and is ostracized by the community.

1 Kings 21:3
I inherited this vineyard from my ancestors, and the Lord forbid that I should sell it, said Naboth.

Igbos have practiced the taking of a late brother's wife into marriage after she had been widowed until the white men came. Now it is rarely done but except in very rural villages.

Deuteronomy 25:5
A widow of a dead man is not to be married outside the family; it is the duty of the dead man's brother to marry her.

In Igboland, there is a unique form of apprenticeship in which either a male family member or a community member will spend six (6) years (usually in their teens to their adulthood) working for another family. And on the seventh year, the head of the host household, who is usually the older man who brought the apprentice into his household, will establish (Igbo: idu uno) the apprentice
by either setting up a business for him or giving money or tools by which to make a living.

Exodus 21:2
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve you for six years. In the seventh year he is to be set free without having to pay you anything.

In Igboland , the yam is very important as it is their staple crop. There are celebrations such as the New yam festival (Igbo: Iri Ji) which are held for the harvesting of the yam. New Yam festival (Igbo: Iri ji) is celebrated annually to secure a good harvest of the staple crop. In the olden days it is an abomination for one to eat a new harvest before the festival. It's a tradition that you give the gods of the land first as a thanksgiving.

Deuteronomy 16:9
Count 7 weeks from the time that you begin to harvest the crops, and celebrate the harvest festival to honor the lord your God, by bringing him a freewill offering in proportion to the blessing he has given you. Celebrate in the Lord's presence together with your children, servants, foreigners. Be sure that you obey my command, said the Lord.

In Igboland it's a tradition that the male children are circumcised on the 8th day. This tradition is still practiced till date.

Leviticus 12:3
On the eighth day, the child shall be circumcised.

In Igboland, there is a practice known as "ile omugwo ". After a woman has given birth to a child, a very close and experienced relative of hers, in most cases her mother is required by tradition to come spend time with her and her husband. During which she is to do all the work of the wife, while the new mom's only assignment to the baby will be to breastfeed. This goes on for a month or more. In the Igbo old tradition, at this time, the new mom lives apart from her husband, would not cook or enter his quarters.

Leviticus 12:1-4
For seven days after a woman gives birth, she is ritually unclean as she is during her monthly period. It will be 33 days until she is ritually clean from the loss of blood; she is not to touch anything that is holy.


The Igbo tribe is in a serious problem and danger of extinction for the following reasons:

50% of Igbos are born outside Igbo land. Meaning that those children are not likely to live and work in Igbo land and cannot speak Igbo language but foreign language (Yoruba, Hausa, French, English).

40% of Igbos girls between the age of 25 & 45 are single with no hope of marriage because 35% of Igbo boys live overseas and they have all married white ladies.

75% of Igbo youths leave Igbo land every year in search of opportunities in Yoruba, Hausa land or overseas.

85 % of Igbos have family houses and own investments outside Igbo land. They strongly believe in one Nigeria but failed to know that NO Yoruba or Hausa man has a family house or investment in Igbo land.

Igbos are the only people who believe that living outside their land is an achievement.

Igbos are the only tribe that celebrate their tradition outside their land e.g. Eze Ndi Igbo, Igbo Village in America and this is because they have family homes in foreign lands.

Igbos have failed to know that the children you have outside Igbo land especially overseas will never think of living in Igbo land. So what happens to the properties you are building for them when you are gone?

Igbos are the only tribe who see their land as a place to visit or a tourist site than a place to work and live.

Igbos are the only tribe who instead of promoting and appreciating their culture through movies and documentaries they have sought to ridicule it by portraying rituals, killings, wickedness, love for money and other social vices which were not originally inherent in our culture thereby cursing more harm than actually promoting their culture.

Igbos are the only people who without hesitation believe their history and description when it is told or written by an enemy or a foreigner. E.g. that you do not love yourselves or that you love money.

Igbos are the ONLY largest tribe on earth who fought for their independence and failed to achieve their freedom after 40 years.

Igbos are the only tribe who fails to honour their brave heroes and heroines especially the innocent children starved to death during the Biafran war.

Igbos are the only tribe who embraced their enemy after a bloody civil war and subsequently become slaves.

Igbos do not find it necessary to teach their own version of history to their children.

Igbos fight for marginalisation in Nigeria but has no collective strength or teeth to bite.

Igbos how long are you going to fight for your relevance in Nigeria?

How long are you going to fight for a functional airport, rail networks and other structural establishments that underpin sustainable development?

How long are you prepared to wait for your enemy to guide you to your destiny?

Oh Igbos!
Where are your leaders?

Unfortunately, none of them live and work in Igbo land. If you wish to save the future of your children, your identity, your generation and your race then you need freedom and that freedom is Biafra.

Ukpana Okpoko gburu bu nti chiri ya!

By Chime Eze

The Igbo: We die for causes, not for personalities

Written by Emeka Maduewesi

~on fb. 28th September, 2016.

The Igbo will never die for anyone. We will not even riot for anyone. But the Igbo will die for any cause they believe in because the Igbo have a true sense of justice and a determination to obtain it.

The Igbo will not riot because one of their own lost an election. Operation Wetie was the Western response to a massively rigged 1965 election. The Yoruba doused fellow Yorubas in petrol and burnt them alife. Properties were burnt with occupants. The Igbo will never do this.

In 1983, the Yoruba went on a rampage again over the massive rigging by NPN. Lifes were lost and properties destroyed. The riots were over personalities.

Contrast that with Anambra State where Chief Emeka Ojukwu was rigged out by his own NPN, who also rigged out Chief Jim Nwobodo. The Igbo did not protest because the goat's head is still in the goat's bag.

In the North, ba muso was the battle cry when Sultan Dasuki was imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate. The riot and protest lasted for days and crippled economic activities.

The Igbo will riot over issues and causes. The Aba Women Riot was over Tax. The Enugu coal mine riot was about conditions of service. The Ekumeku Uprising was over British colonialization.

Those of "Ekumeku" ancestry - Umu Eze Chima and Umu Nri - were at the forefront of the struggles for Nigerian independence, with people like Dr. A A Nwafor Orizu and Chief Osita Agwuna serving prison terms. Any struggles the parents could not conclude is continued by the children by other means.

The Biafran war was a response to the genocide. The war in fact was brought upon us. The battlefield was Eastern Region. The war ended in 1970 but the issues and causes were not resolved. That is where we are today.

The Igbo will also jointly rise to fight evil in their midst. They did it in Onitsha in the 1980's, Owerri in the 90's, and with Bakkassi in the 2000.

The Igbo will not die for any man. But the Igbo will stand by any man who symbolizes their cause and their pursuit of justice. Even if the man dies, the struggle continues, and like the Ekumeku warriors, the children will pick up the baton from their parents.

This is the Igbo I know, the Igbo I am, and the Igbo we are. This is my story. Feel free to tell yours.


"My boy, may you live to your full potential, ascend to a dizzy height as is possible for anyone of your political description in your era to rise. May you be acknowledged world-wide as you rise as an eagle atop trees, float among the clouds, preside over the affairs of fellow men.... as leaders of all countries pour into Nigeria to breathe into her ear.

But then, Chuba, if it is not the tradition of our people that elders are roundly insulted by young men of the world, as you have unjustly done to me, may your reign come to an abrupt and shattering close. As you look ahead, Chuba, as you see the horizon, dedicating a great marble palace that is the envy of the world, toasted by the most powerful men in the land, may the great big hand snatch it away from you. Just as you look forward to hosting the world’s most powerful leader and shaking his hands, as you begin to smell the recognition and leadership of the Igbo people, may the crown fall off your head and your political head fall off your shoulders.

None of my words will come to pass, Chuba, until you have risen to the very height of your power and glory and health, but then you will be hounded and humiliated and disgraced out of office, your credibility and your name in tatters forever...”


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