TIMEÂ was when Igboland was seen and perceived, especially by outsiders, as a warped clime where people were perpetually engrossed in licentious and epicurean pursuit of merry-making and filthy lucre to the detriment of human capacity development.
Matters were not helped by the lack of concern shown by the elite who rather than worry over the increasing social dislocations andÂ general delinquency in the land busied themselves in frivolous pursuit for vain glories.
Before now, Igbos have been known and admired all over the world for their intelligence, industry and proclivity for inventiveness, including capacityÂ for perseverance even in the faceÂ of extreme adversity.
As a people known for reinventing their environment to match even the most sophisticated anywhere, Igbos have come to symbolise a true strength of character, wisdom and bravery….rare attributes that can only be matched by few races in the world.
It is therefore impossible not to notice them or even ignore them anywhere they sojourn, both within and outside Nigeria. Such unique disposition marks them out as a race destined to deliver the Black Race from bondage of underdevelopment.
Today,Â where do Igbos stand, especially in ranking with their contemporaries? Available facts reveal that the decay in Igbo land became more pronounced in the 1980s and ’90s when the rat race for pecuniary aggrandisement was the order of the day.
That augury development was accentuated by the connivance of traditional institutions. Traditional rulers abandoned their roles as custodians of culture and moral rectitude in pursuit of crumbs from the nouveau-rich and persons of questionable character.
Many of them became mentors and even encouraged the unwholesome social order through frivolous awards of chieftaincy titles to the highest bidder. At that point, moral decency took flight, thereby turning Igboland to a huge theatre of the absurd.
Invariably, the youths became casualty of the new order as they got sucked into the vortex of unbridled materialism at the expense of educational advancement. Statistics revealed it all as school enrolment for the boys fell drastically and those for the females rose astronomically.
The once vaunted Igbo quest for education and scholarship went into a tailspin because the men abandoned academic institutions for the sleazy world of fast money in the misplaced perception that all that mattered was an ability to parade obscene wealth and weird chieftaincy titles.
Interestingly, such grand folly has been exposed for what it is.The realisation that abandonment of human capacity development for sundry material pursuits was anathema to Igbo world view is now beginning to take hold. The longing for the good old days when Igboland was a huge laboratory for educational and economic activities has become the driving force and reason for present introspection.
That is why the Public Presentation ofÂ Themes of Igbo Culture, History and DevelopmentÂ is seen as a welcome development. The book espouses the history of Igboland from its triumphs and promises through the nadir of post civil war to the current rennaissance.
Coming at a time when the people are at loss with reconciling what has gone wrong with their famed past and what can be done to regain and reconstruct the Igbo world view, the book gives a comprehensive road map on how to put Igboland back into world class reckoning.
With globalisation as the new worldÂ ideology, it is persistent that Igbos should leverage their proverbial capacity for educational advancement in order to re-create a new society that would be the cynosure of everyone around them. Igboland has both the human and material resources to make an impact not only national but also on the world stage.
In essence, the era of sleazy living is a thing of the past. It has become necessaryÂ on custodians of our traditional institutions to be at the vanguard of this new beginning rather than dissipate energy and time cavorting with people of questionable means.
Such despicable attitudes in the past led to bastardisation of traditional institution both in Igboland and beyond. The recent episode and proliferation of Ezeship outside Igboland is a sad commentary on this reverred institution. It was not out of place for some illiterate itinerant traders residing in towns outside igboland to crown themselves ‘Eze Igboâ€™ even when they had no historical pedigree to lay claim to such title.
Valiantly, the South East Council of Traditional Rulers have risen up to put an end to the shenanigan, thereby not only restoring the dignity of Igbo traditional institutions but moreso checkmating impostors from using the instrument of such fake offices for their selfish aims.
Mr. Osigwe, a public affairs commentator, writes from Lagos.