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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Igbo: When did things start falling apart?

Written by Jideofor Adibe

That the level of insecurity in Igboland has reached unacceptable level is no longer news. In virtually all parts of South East, daily reports of kidnapping, armed robberies and ritual murders have morphed from the gory to the macabre.  The Daily Independent (online) of July 1, 2010 reported that commercial and industrial activities in the entire South East zone risk unravelling if the situation is not halted soon. The paper for instance reported that in Anambra state, a “total of 62 wealthy businessmen have fled Nnewi industrial town, while half of the businessmen in Igbo land have relocated to other parts of the country for fear of falling victim to kidnappers and armed robbers.” 

True, Igboland is not the only area of the country with security problems. The distinguishing feature however is its absurd level, which recently prompted President Jonathan to order joint military operations to flush out the hoodlums in the area. Okey Ndibe, an activist columnist and novelist, who himself is an Igbo, used the metaphor of war to describe the near state of nature that the area is fast degenerating into. In a brilliantly written piece, “The War in Igboland”, (Daily Sun online, June 22, 2010), Ndibe appears to suggest that the cause of this 'war' in Igboland is  “crisis of values” typified in people's apparent deification of wealth. He blames the 'oti nkpu' (praise singer) musicians like the late Oliver De Coque and Osita Osadebe for contributing to this “crisis of values” with their songs that seemingly glorified charlatans who came into wealth by questionable means as “owners” of their community.

While I agree with many aspects of Okey's arguments, I am however not too sure that 'oti nkpu' musicians should be blamed for the alleged crisis because praise singing is often an important leitmotif of the folk music genre in many parts of Nigeria. Every type of music - just like in literature or any work of art - tends to have a defining characteristic: racial soldering in reggae, social rebellion in rap, love in blues, spiritual awakening in gospel and political rascality in Fela's afrobeat. Most people enjoy music for what it invokes in them, not necessarily because of its message: the rhythm, the voice and the creative mix of voice and sound. Similarly many people read a novel more because of an author's narrative skills than for his/her message. I feel blaming  'oti nkpu' musicians for the assumed “crisis of values” in Igboland will be akin to blaming Western thriller novels, war films, wrestling and boxing for violence and crimes in these societies.
I share the frustration in Okey's voice in the aforementioned important article. I am however not sure I agree with his suggestion that the alleged “crisis of values” is a recent phenomenon in Igboland.  It could in fact be argued that “crisis of values” was a primary concern of the Igbos at the turn of the century. We can see this in Chinua Achebe's most famous work, Things Fall Apart, first published in 1958. The novel is not only a great work of fiction but also one of the most important narratives on Igbo sociology. Here Achebe tells us how the introduction of Christianity and subsequently colonialism led to the adoption of new values by the Igbo town (or village) of Umuofia, and how the new values “put a knife” in those things that held the community together.  The novel's main character, Okonkwo, on returning from a seven-year exile, found to his chagrin, that the Umuofia he left behind had fallen apart because of the new values: people no longer acted like one and respected personalities and institutions had lost their prestige and relevance. In what is perhaps an echo of the “crisis of values” identified by Okey, in which wealthy Igbo ruffians are now 'crowned' as “owners” of their community, Okonkwo returned to find that people previously regarded as social outcasts and scoundrels (who were of course the first to embrace the new ways of the White man and his religion) had become the new elites. Okonkwo did his best to re-awaken the old values in his people but it was a futile and solo effort that was doomed to fail. This could be called the first  “crisis of values” in Igboland.

In many ways the first  “crisis of values” was successfully resolved by the onset of full colonialism and the creation of the colonial urban centres. Though there was no consciousness of being Igbo before colonialism, and many Igbo villages were in fact oblivious of the existence of one another, in the colonial enclaves the consciousness of being Igbo was developed as they competed with other ethnic groups for scarce values like jobs and scholarships.  The first “crisis of values” was therefore successfully resolved through efforts to develop a pan-Igbo identity (buoyed by the prestige of prominent Igbos like Zik, Nwafor Orizu and K.O. Mabdiwe as well as institutions like Igbo State Union) and aggressive encouragement of Igbos to embrace the new values of the White man. The project of pan-Igbo nationalism was given a further fillip during the events that preceded the civil war, which culminated in the proclamation of the Republic of Biafra. It will seem however that since the end of the civil war, the Igbos have been engulfed in an identity crisis that has remained unresolved.

Okey is right that Chinua Achebe is not given the sort of recognition accorded to many moneybags in Igboland by the folk musicians. But this has probably nothing to do with  “crisis of values” but more because Achebe as a novelist has a specialist skill set, which only people familiar with such skills will appreciate. Among the educated, Achebe remains one of the symbols of Igbo pride. In virtually every society, it is often easier for the masses (especially when most are hungry) to know and lionise men of wealth than it is for them to recognise people who have distinguished themselves in specialist fields like medicine, IT, sports or creative writing. 'Oti nkpu' musicians want to reach the masses, and the more successfully they can do this, the more they will get more moneybags to pay them to make songs in their praise - pretty much the way newspapers need high circulation numbers to win the heart of advertisers.
I agree with Okey that there is less scrutiny these days on how people come about their wealth. But this is not peculiar to Igboland. I will therefore argue that what Okey identified as the “crisis of values” in Igboland is more a crisis of the Nigerian state writ large because as often happens, any practice borrowed by the Igbos - whether home video making, kidnapping or 419 - is guaranteed to be taken to dizzying heights. I do not think the Igbos necessarily love money more than other ethnic groups in the country.

My take is that the fundamental crisis in Igboland today is the crisis of the elites - not that of values. In the 'Iron Law of Oligarchy', the German sociologist Robert Mitchels tells us that all forms of organisations or societies are eventually effectively controlled by an oligarchy - a small group of elites distinguished by either royalty, wealth, family ties, military control, or religious hegemony. This oligarchic group - whether called cabals, mafias or kitchen cabinet - are usually Cohesive, Conscious and Conspiratorial. It could be argued that any society without a set of elites with these three important Cs is unlikely to be able to present a common front or effectively defend the group's interest. I will argue that since the end of the civil war, the crisis in Igboland is the inability to produce enlightened elites with the aforementioned three Cs.
Despite the current challenges however there are many grounds for optimism that the Igbos will successfully re-invent themselves as they did after the first “crisis of values” following the Christian and colonial intrusions.
•Adibe wrote from Lagos

No comments:


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...”


Biafra Videos: Explosive secret about Biafra...

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