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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Beyond the Onitsha Shopping Mall

By Ifeanyi Afuba, writes from Nimo, Anambra State.
~The SUN, Nigeria. Tuesday, May 3, 2016.

If there was any lingering doubt whether the mall culture has caught on with Nigeria's urban society, the keen mood at the commissioning of the Onitsha shopping mall on April 14, 2016 said it all. The hundreds of shop spaces in this Anambra State Government, private sector venture had been taken up before the public opening. The excited traders and visitors could not even wait for Governor Willie Obiano to finish with the ceremonies before jostling to have a slice of the action.

In the mid-1980s, the residents of Onitsha beheld an unusual building construction at Nkpor, a suburb of the commercial city. By the standards of the city dictated by scarcity of land, the site of this construction was vast, leaving significant space in front of the emerging building. But what tasked the imagination of locals was that the unfolding big structure did not fit into any of the known building purposes. It was not a residential edifice; not blocks of offices and it was not a factory either. Was it a hotel? No. Curiosity mounted as the seeming lavish, one room apartment structure progressed. It turned out that the Joedone Complex was intended to be a mall. Mall? Okay, shopping mall, some sort of variety retail outlets when you do not want to go to the main market. Many pitied the entrepreneur for misapplying considerable resources in a scheme they saw as standing no chance in a competition with the markets. To be sure, the Joedone spaces were unutilised for many years after construction but as the owner had also explained, it was a business concept for the future.

That early proprietor deserves commendation. In his role, we find once more some of the attributes for achieving success. He had not just the foresight but more importantly, the patience and courage of his conviction to stay on in those difficult years when nobody believed in him. The mentality of shrinking away from new ventures because of their perceived risks is one sure way to make a society live on the margins. I recall that sometime in 1994, in the early days of the home movie, I was approached to write a script by a potential producer. I still recall vividly the alarm on the prospective investor's face when I said I would render the script in English. At the time Nigerian home movie videos were made almost entirely in vernacular. My friend found my proposal tantamount to a leap in the dark; a plan too risky for business. He could not be persuaded and we parted at that end of the road. A couple of months later, majority of the movie productions were being done in English.

With globalisation, assimilation of socio - cultural trends has proved easier. South Africa's deep historic and economic ties with the West naturally make the former an extension of western society in some important respects. To a large extent, it was through the depiction of South African middle class lifestyle on DSTV channels that many Nigerians were drawn to the mall 'magic.' Even Mr Peter Obi, whose regime initiated the recently commissioned Onitsha complex, had business relations with South African firms before assuming office as Governor.

While on the face of it, the provision of modern shopping malls by a state government in Nigeria may not be highly rated achievement; there are a number of significant sides to the N9b Onitsha shopping mall. The facility underscores the trend of the current administration's socio - economic efforts.

In a business environment such as defines Anambra State, a standard shopping mall takes on greater worth than would ordinarily be associated with it. The entrepreneurial energy of the Onitsha - Nnewi axis is ever seeking outlets for their expression. An increasingly socially sophisticated population tends to view the conventional market as bordering on the analogue age. It is rowdy, exposed and stressful. The mall, roomy, tasty and orderly, is the alternative of the time. Should it not be the business of government to respond to the yearnings of the people?

And there are malls and there are malls. The Onitsha complex offers an integrated service package for facilitating business operations. Sitting on 40,000 square metres, the facility is made up of the sprawling mall, an international conference centre and a four star hotel. However, the job creation - benefits of the enterprise underlines its huge economic worth. The value of the thousands of jobs derivable from this undertaking becomes clearer when we ponder that for ten thousand vacancies recently declared by the Police Service Commission; over eight hundred thousand applications were received as at end of April 2016.

But perhaps, the greatest tributary of the Onitsha Shopping Mall story is in the challenge of continuity of government policies. Not only do incidences of arbitrary project discontinuation lead to investor flight, it introduces the element of instability in governance as well as stalling development. In 1983 the Lagos State Government had concluded arrangements to introduce the metroline transportation system in the State at the cost of $100m. Indeed, preliminary work had started at Yaba when the December 31, 1983 coup occurred. The new ruling junta unilaterally cancelled the project which action attracted a default penalty of $60m on the country.

Today, Lagos is in even more urgent need of this complementary mass transit system; yet the cost of the scheme is prohibitive at billions of dollars. Consider also that the expatriate consultants who produced the road map to Nigeria's steel development had chosen Onitsha as the fitting site for steel industry. But this expert decision was discarded by small minds in strategic government positions who changed the location to Ajaokuta. Four decades later, and trillions of naira pumped into the bargain, Ajaokuta has neither grown into a town capable of hosting a modern industrial complex nor has it started producing quality steel.

With its commitment to continuity and completion of inherited projects, the Willie Obiano regime has saved Anambra State losses associated with policy inconsistency. It is a sad reality that projects are sometimes discontinued for new ones by successor administrations for the lure of taking political credit. The spectre of abandoned work sites is also about contractors absconding from site after collecting hefty payment sums. As it were, without completion on schedule, government contracts are vulnerable to manipulation to the detriment of the society.

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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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