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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Kusa, Ndigbo in Lagos and the sad new politics of ethnicity

Written by PAT UTOMI
Vanguard Nigeria. Tuesday, March 12, 2019

L-R: Deputy Director General, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu Campaign Independent Group (BOSICG), Cardinal James Omolaja Odunmbaku; Eze Ndigbo of Lagos, Eze H.N Ohazulike; APC Governorship Candidate in Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu; his Deputy Governorship Candidate, Dr. Kadir Obafemi Hamzat; Financial Secretary of Council of Ndieze Lagos, Eze Nwajei Ofurile Ikechukwu and Eze Christian Nwachu, after the conferment of Ugo Chiunyere Eze Ndigbo tittle on Mr. Sanwo-Olu and his formal endorsement by the Ndigbo in Lagos

I know Femi Kusa. He is a friend and a classmate. I knew of him from his Daily Times days. Then we met at the University of Nigeria shortly after the end of Nigerian Civil war. I have read his reflections on Ndigbo and the politics of Lagos. And have followed with considerable curiosity the Galestorm his article set off and some of the responses to his rebuke of Ndigbo.

My reaction has been influenced by a number of experiences from my own life's journey. Two related to the times I shared with Femi at Nsukka, the other came from a few years later in Graduate School, in the United States. I shall start from the latter.

When I was at Indiana University, a certain Professor of comparative politics and former Vice President of the University J Gus Liebenow remarked that it was a shame that some very bright African students were completing Ph.ds in Economics, Education and even Political Science and other disciplines with little understanding of the American system of government. He thought this particularly unfortunate because such people ought to be the kinds to turn to for light on how the American system worked, on return to their home countries. Who better to elucidate on the American way, in his home country than a US education Ph.d.

Liebenow, a Liberia expert, pushed for fellowship that could take some of the top Phd prospects from Africa, as interns, to the corridors of American government. He got his way.

I turned out to be the first to be selected for this programme and went off to the US Capital, Washington DC as an intern in the Indiana Washington Office for rotation through the offices of members of the Indiana Delegation to the US Congress.

While the opportunity allowed me the bragging rights of engaging the American way in observing and asking questions directly of a Senator who would later become Vice President of the United States (Dan Quayle) and a Congressman who would dominate foreign policy oversight from the House of Representative for many years, (Lee Hamilton), I suspect the opportunity advanced Liebenow's goal because I have done many hours of talking, in the 38 years since that exposure, on how the American system works.

Some people at UNN were apparently not as smart as J Gus Liebenow. If they were, one of the Yorubas that ventured to Nsukka just after the Civil War, should probably not be one to raise issues of questionable charity towards a people he had ample opportunity to better understand.

In those days at UNN some of my closest friends were Yorubas: My classmate from Loyola College Ibadan, Gbenga Sadipe, Folu Ayeni, First Class Graduate and Class Valedictorian in 1974, who would, with his wife Bose, found Tantalizers, years later; Ade Ogidan who would work at the Guardian for many years with Femi Kusa, and Ademola Ayegoro, among others. Most times we gathered in Baba's room, a room next door to that of Clement Ebri, later Governor of Cross River State. It was part of a season in which things ethnic seemed peculiar to me.

I was sometimes "one of those Yoruba boys", other times a Midwest boy and at others an identity challenged rascal. But I had fun, happy with myself and with everyone around.

My Yoruba tribe at UNN did not get in the way of association with my old school mates from Christ the Kings College Onitsha, so I had another cluster. What's in the language you claim as mother tongue? Well, Femi Kusa and I, got a chance to leave UNN reflecting on this because at our farewell party Prof. Donatus Nwoga, the Dean of Faculty, gave a speech I still lift from till this day; and we got gifts of books. I am not sure if Femi got the same book I got but mine was a novel by the Kenyan writer Mugo Gatheru; A Child of Two Worlds.

When I read Femi's piece, which has been called Xenophobic, and compared to the kind of remarks that set off genocide in Rwanda, what I saw was a spirit trapped in the desire to be modern but struggled with capture of the medieval. Femi is smart and capable person and quite deliberate in what he does but we all can be trapped by things within and just outside of us.

Human Emotion is a subject that fascinates me. This is why the work of people like Joshua Greene at Harvard, who draws from NeuroScience and Psychology to explain Emotions and how people respond to the need for both cooperation and competition in the advance of human endeavor, intrigues me. I was quickly inclined to send my friend Femi Kusa, Greene’s book;Moral Tribes.

Responding to Femi with Fury will do little to change how he thinks of a people just as the passionate response inabusetends to turn off. The shower I vitriol in response, therefore seemed quite unhelpful from my point of view.

Adducing rational measurable benefits of cooperation and identifying faults in reasoning may better help a person struggling as we all tend to be, to locate themselves in the modernity/medieval mindset continuum, may help a little more.

The bigger problem for me is that many who vilify Femi actually live the shortcomings they point out on Femi. They are pockets of what they accuse him of but they do not publicly declare such.

But if they show that Ondo State and Oyo States, with few Igbos, seemed to have voted like Okota, in Lagos, they may make Femi think. Did Femi think about that in coming to conclusions so divisive and threatening of cooperation? Why did such a people who take over the territory of others vote a Northerner the Mayor of Enugu in the 1950s? There are many examples that could point a different way. But stereotypes reduced the pressure to think.

They make life easy but potentially dangerous because they can perpetuate unreason.

In our earlier years in the department, atUNN,the Head of Department Ezenta Eze, taught a class on Gestalt. The idiosyncratic furging of the shape of reality should not be dismissed.

Some personal experience can shape a view others can consider jaundiced or biased. Condemning such outright may therefore be unfair Maturity demands continuing sensitivity to the fact that people see reality differently, which neither makes them good, or bad people.

Identify politics is a significant point today in Nigeria. K. K. Komolafe of Thisday, in writing about my politics, thought, I should have run for office from Lagos rather than

Delta. I know Lagos and are better known here, he submitted.

Femi Falana and a few others have suggested same. Nothing wrong in principle, but maturity suggests to me that it is early days yet for such. My response to such prodding is a nice smile. Surely if we want to build a nation, then the nationality question has to be addressed. We can choose not to build a nation and federate or separate but we need to pace and try things before we decide.

Still, it does not mean anybody has the entitlement to denying me a right that is fundamental. Maturity must come from all sides. But what makes a difference is the conduct of leaders. As we saw with Yugoslavia, well captured by Robert Kaplan in Balkan Ghosts, once Josef Tito died the story was different.

The Filipino Professor, of Chinese ethnic stock, at Yale University, Amy Chua, years ago, wrote the book World on Fire, about how globalization was stoking ethnic hatred against market-dominant minorities. In her list of such groups were Jews, Chinese minorities in places like the Philippines (her own ethnic stock) and Igbos of Nigeria. It is easy and cheap to attack such groups.

In my own writings from my work in South East Asia, I have also referred to an "Emigrant Economistic Ethnic" to explain why migrant peoples tend to be economically successful. In my view, they are often shut out of the politics of the land by the indigenous people, and often out of High Society, and so their passions become uncommonly focused on economic pursuits. They invariably tend to thrive and that creates new irritation with the indigenes. How newly arriving Vietnamese Boat people in the US outperformed African Americans was a favorite example of mine.

Understanding these phenomena, and a little maturity keeps cooperation and progress on the roll.

There is a daughter of the Oba of Lagos who reminds me that when Oba Rilwan Akinlolu was under fire during the 2015 elections for remarks about Igbos being drowned in the Lagoon I was the only one that stood up for him.

All I did was a simple offer of maturity. First he had no capacity to enforce such a thing, and secondly, I know he speaks joking, in such tones. So seeing it for what it is, the kind of remark many make in their living rooms but do not really mean, helped diffuse what could have boiled over. Many wars have been sparked off by little deeds that nature handling could avert. This is why I am pained that Femi Kusa should have known that it is a duty of his education and exposure to avoid comments that can be termed hate speech.

I have been both loved and abused for making myself available to support the work of every Government of Lagos. That disposition has never made me any less Igbo. Neither has the fact that I was born in the North and have such closefriendshipwith friends from across Northern Nigeria but that did not manage to get in the way of my championing resistance after the annulment of elections of June 12, 1993, which was pitched, by some, as a North/Southwest cleavage.

Exposure, Experience, and Education conferprivilegeof a moral Authority. Femi should have exercised that moral authority. Sadly, Nigeria is more divided today on ethnic, religious and other parochial cleavages than when we experienced a civil war 40 years ago.

Leaders have a duty not to pour petrol onemotionsof people yet to have enough information about theirneighboursto improve understanding and cooperation. Policies ought to promote balanced development so there are enoughcentresof thriving economic conurbation to reduce such tensions. Sadly, with the poor politics of narcissism that dominates the Nigeria landscape with individuals in pursuit of self-interest, in the name of politics, provoke fear ofneighbourswhere good leadership would have focused on our shared humanity and how to cooperate for the advance of the Common Good.

My experience has thought me that the stereotyping of any ethnic group by politicians anywhere is a true measure of their weakness, whether it be in the United States, Indonesia or Nigeria. I longlearntthat no group of humans were created by Godmore goodor less bad than the others. This is why I often make the claim that there are no more than six of Nigeria's 36 states that I can arrive into and not have a friend so close that I will get an invitation to spend the night in their home.

Whether it be Maiduguri where Mohammed Hayatudeen has a home or Biu in the same Borno State where Ahmed Kuru, Ibrahim Usman and others have hosted me; or Abia where I have several dozen options including the Ohuabunwa's Ottis, Ogahs; or Ekiti where I can go from Fayemi's to the Onis and Falana's or Sokoto where the Sultan himself has provided accommodation for most of my visitsthere and I have enjoyed dinner in his tent with him and Bishop Mathew Kukah, the classic example of ethnic and religious tolerance.

I have never understood that Ndigboareattacked for investing outside of Igboland. Canvassing for them to return home to invest, had that been done would have been attacked and criticised as parochialism. Perhaps this is the opportunity for the Governors of Igbo bearing states to lay out a regime of incentives and run a campaign promoting think home.

If those Governors are really clever, they should take the campaign further, and welcome people from the South West, and North to move to Igbo people majority bearing states. A fair number of Hausa Fulani colonies already exist in Igbo states.

Asari Dokubo already made the point that many Yorubas fly into the Oil fields of South-South and South East, make their fortunes and leave no development behind. Strangely it is those who add value thatarebeing vilified.

This is the 21stCentury.A newslavery in which people are denied their fundamental human right and citizenship rights cannot be accepted. That is why CNN runs its Freedom project. Politicians and intellectuals who promote such are working their way towards the International Criminal Court. They may do well to first visit the Genocide Memorial in Kigali, Rwanda.

In this twenty-first century you cannot actively, by subterfuge or directly, deny people their rights and insist you cannot leave them alone to go their way when you do not have their time. That is slavery. The doctrine of self-determination emerging in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights at its founding, which began to unwind the sovereignty and None interference doctrines which began with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, rejects that. As the lawyers say. You cannot probate and reprobate. You cannot celebrate what Igbos helped build as Lagos and deny their humanity,

For those who try proove that historically Lagos is a "no man's land" or an outpost of the Benin Kingdom and those who make the point that if Lagos desires or aspires to a global megacity, the cosmopolitan nature of such ambition means that like Paris, London and New York it has to end up as belonging to no ethnic groups, my take is that all just play into the hand of a group of selfish politicians. Nobody told the original Londoners that London was no man's land. The nature of the course of things just sorts things out. A little maturity can buy all of the peace we all crave for.

The trouble with Nigeria is that many of the truly mature do not care to act and the politicians who thrive in bringing to conflict people who ordinarily live in peace as neighbours, but are lacking in maturity, are the most vociferous in expressing their points of view.

Pat Utomi, Political Economist and Professor of Entrepreneurship is founder of the Centre for Values in Leadership.


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...”


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