By Emeka Obasi
Those who believe in 2023 as year of Igbo Renaissance must put on their thinking caps, discrimination and division are vicious tools aimed at killing the idea before time. Drums of exclusiveness from a few conservatives East of the Niger are disturbing to the ear.
No matter where you come from, as long as you have the identity, you are an Igbo man. The South East geo- political zone is just homeland. Ndigbo are found all over the globe from Delta to Rivers State of Nigeria.
Africa is full of the them. Visit Liberia, cross over to Sierra Leone or catch a flight to Gabon. Then you cannot miss Bioko in Equatorial Guinea. The Central African States of Congo Democratic Republic and the other Congo have Ndigbo in their midst.
In the Americas, you cannot ignore Ndigbo. They are in the United States. They inhabit Jamaica. They are heroes in Barbados, tough in Haiti and seen all over West Indies.
If you talk of Biafra, give it to Ndigbo of Delta State. I will keep telling it to the world. The youngest GOC was Col. Azum Asoya from Okpanam, the land of Chukwuma Nzeogwu. Other notable GOCs were Brig. Conrad Nwawo, Sylvanus Nwajei and Joe Achuzia.
The Head of the Biafran Navy, Capt. Wilfred Anuku and Army Adjutant General, Brig. Nduka Okwechime, Head of Military Intelligence, Bernard Odogwu and Ben. Ochei, a Brigade commander all hailed from Delta.
In the Biafran Air Force, Alex Agbafuna gave his life. Larry Obiechi, Chris Lanky Ogbolu and Gab Ebube showed class in the sky. Even after the war, some Igbouzo [Ibusa] boys refused to surrender. They remained in the bush fighting. That is the hometown of Capt. Onwuenweoyi Uwaechue and Lt. Anikam Okolichi.
I do not think there is a better Igbo than Prof. Nolue Emenanjo in terms of contribution to the development of the language. Igbouzo migrated from Isu, Imo State as warriors. That is the place of Admiral Dele Ezeoba, a former Chief Of Naval Staff as well Emmanuel Olisadebe, the footballer who made the Polish president bend rules on the way to the 2002 World Cup.
In Rivers State, you cannot scheme out a man like Peter Odili who suffered so much pain and was at the Biafran School of Infantry with Lt. Peter Adomokai. Odili’s wife, Justice Mary Odili, is from Imo. Victor Masi, a former minister almost died fighting for Biafra, just like Lt. Col. Okilo, an Izon.
Rotimi Amaechi and Nyesom Wike know they are Igbo, let them flaunt their Ikwerre dialect as much as Christian Onoh would speak Wawa and Jaja Nwachukwu rap in Ngwa. Chibuike is just a smart guy who bears the Yoruba name Rotimi. Tell me, who prepares his meals? Wifey, Judith is from Anambra.
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Time will come when Ndigbo will discuss Abandoned Property and settle it as family affair with necessary compensations. No one has killed Gen. Ike Nwachukwu for fighting for Nigeria. Today, he is an Igbo leader. Brig. Godwin Alabi-Isama has found his way back to Ikilibi in the Ndokwa area. Brig. Cyril Iweze has not been banished from Isheagu after Federal troops killed his king.
Edward Roye, the fifth president of Liberia, was Igbo. The President of Gabon is Igbo. Robert Wellesley Cole, a Sierra Leonean and first black to make the Royal College of Surgeons, had an Igbo mother whose surname was Okoroafor. My senior cousin, Meshack Obasi, settled in Freetown in 1945 after fighting in the Second World War. He died there and his family remains in that country.
William Napoleon Barleycon, an Igbo, wrote the first Bube Language primer. Ndigbo have a strong presence in the Island of Bioko, Equatorial Guinea which has Igbo as one its recognized languages. Chinaka Okoro and Blessing Diala played for that country’s female soccer team just like Marvin Aniebo did for the male.
In Jamaica, Ndigbo occupy Montego Bay, Maroon Village and St. Anne’s Bay. There is Ibo town and patois has such Igbo words as ‘unu’ and ‘akara’. There is Radio Ibo in Haiti and Ibo Beach. Small wonder they recognized Biafra during the Civil War. Bussa, the face you see on the five cents of Barbados was an Igbo revolutionary.
You will find Igbo Village in Virginia, US. We cannot forget the Igbo Landing of May 1803 in Georgia. It showed the real Igbo spirit. Some accounts say, Igbo slaves overpowered their masters in Dunbar Creek and walked on the sea. Others tell us that they turned to birds and flew away.
So when you see Bishop Thomas Dexter [T.D] Jakes, Danny Glover, Forest Whitaker, Paul Robeson or descendants of Edward Wilmot Blyden, honour them They are free to contest elections in Igbo land. The Igbo spirit in America is very strong.
Ndigbo should unite and identify their friends across the nation. Go to the South South, honour Philip Effiong,salute the families of Willie Archibong, Akpan Etuk, Afaha Nsudoh, Samuel Imoke, Michael Ogon, Frank Opigo and Ibang Umoh Akpabio. Visit Victor Ndoma Egba, son of the accomplished judge.
In the North, the Sultan of Sokoto is an ‘Igbo man’ who served in Nsukka. His brother, late Sultan Maccido, entered a catholic church in Lagos because of Mr. Egegbara. Sultan Abubakar, honoured Dike Okwuosa, from Asaba with the title of Bada Mafara [King Maker]. Emir Ado Bayero of Kano was so close to Dim Emeka Ojukwu and Mike Agbamuche was the Sarduana’s lawyer.
How can the people of Mazi Mbonu Ojike, the first deputy Mayor of Lagos not lobby the Yoruba for 2023? They should fraternize with Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara State. His father spoke Igbo and lived in Onitsha. His mother was born in Aba.