By Chiedu Uche Okoye
THE Igbo constitute one of the three major ethnic groups that make up Nigeria. The South East states, which form the homeland of the Igbo people, comprises Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra, Imo, and Abia. However, there are Igbo people whose ancestral homelands are in states that are contiguous to the South East states.
It should also be noted that the Igbo ethnic group is one of the tripods on which Nigeria stands. In the pre-colonial era, republicanism was one of the features of the people’s government. It was an acephalous society, and that was one of the reasons the invading British overlords used warrant chiefs in the administration of Southern Nigeria.
British imperialists are credited with bringing Western education, democracy, and Christianity to us. Although Christianity made inroads into the South East of Nigeria during the colonial era, it couldn’t totally obliterate the Igbo cultural heritage. The tension caused in the area by the culture conflict brought about by the colonial subjugation of Igbo land was captured vividly in Chinua Achebe’s trilogy. Achebe’s trilogy, which is a historical and anthropological excursion into Igbo society, sheds illuminating light on the culture of the Igbo people.
Although the imbibing of Western mores has led to the erosion of some aspects of Igbo culture, custodians are still upholding the surviving aspects of the culture. Now, many Igbo who profess Christianity still believe that reincarnation is a reality. The names they give their children at birth are proofs that they believe in reincarnation. Yet, the teachings of Christianity on the afterlife are not harmonious with this cultural belief. So, I can confidently postulate that colonialism, which we experienced, has not obliterated our culture.
The Igbo have rich culture heritage, and true Igbo uphold such values and virtues as honesty, truthfulness, fairness, respect for gerontocracy, righteousness and others. That’s why in the olden times, a man of probity rather than a wealthy thief was highly revered. In Igboland the saying Eziafakaego, which means that a good name is better than money, underpins the stance on the issue of good reputation vis-a-vis ill-gotten wealth.
However, after the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, erosion of core Igbo values became noticeable. Musicians of Igbo descent began to produce songs that eulogised people with ill-gotten stupendous wealth, while poor men who possessed probity were vilified and treated with ignominy. During social functions, poor men became butts of jokes if they tried to air their opinions on an issue.
This unedifying situation has surreptitiously entered into the tapestry and fabric of the Igbo philosophy with words like Onye ego bu eze, which means that a rich man is king.
Reminiscent of what happened in Things Fall Apart, the literary classic written by Chinua Achebe, the things that held the Igbo together have loosened owing to the erosion of their cultural values and beliefs. Now, an Igbo man is no longer his brother’s keeper, and the Igbos do not speak with one voice on national issues anymore because they do place their selfish and pecuniary interests above the collective good of their people.
We still do remember how some Igbo politicians thwarted the efforts of one of their own, Chief Alex Ekwueme, in his bid to become the president of Nigeria in the past.
Igbo people’s disunity is one of the reasons why they’ve been suffering marginalisation in Nigeria. Since the end of the Nigeria-Biafra civil war in 1970, they’ve been treated like second class citizens in the Nigerian scheme of things.
Yet, the Igbos are hardworking people who fought for the political emancipation of Nigeria. And they’re still contributing their quota towards the development of Nigeria. Instead of giving them a fair deal for their contributions to our national development, they are being marginalised.
Against the background of the marginalisation of the Igbo, the anti-Nigeria government rhetoric, which is being espoused by IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, has gained traction and momentum. His secessionist utterances have found resonance among the Igbo folks.
Now, millions of Igbo living in Nigeria and in the diaspora have acquiesced into the idea of the Igbo having political sovereignty. The Indigenous People of Biafra’s agitation for statehood led to bloodshed in the past. Consequently, it has been proscribed while its leader escaped to a foreign country.
A great majority of IPOB members believe, although erroneously, that President Donald Trump of America possesses the power to carve out the sovereign state of Biafra from Nigeria. It’s the reason for their clamour for Donald Trump’s victory at the American presidential poll. So, even when it’s obvious that Trump has lost the election, they refuse to come to terms with reality.
Again, Trump is portrayed as a Christian who would fight for the protection of Christian ways of life. They believe that Joe Biden’s presidency will support same sex- marriage and the procurement of abortion by people. For one to be seized with islamophobia and homophobia is akin to one’s transportation to the Stone Age period. But Donald Trump’s stance on issues and his politicking portray him as a man who is a threat and danger to the free world.
It is ironic that compatriots have queued up behind Donald Trump when his foreign and immigration policies have denied Nigerians visas to America. His supporters have glossed over the fact that Donald Trump is a racist, who has a great dislike for Black people. Didn’t he call Nigeria a shithole country?
More so, apart from his personal failings and verbal gaffes, his mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic caused the deaths of millions of people in America. And under his watch, America is fast losing its international allies. Its position as a global super power and the policeman of the world is being threatened owing to President Trump’s inept leadership of America.
So, those who are misled into believing that a Trump’s presidency will work for the betterment of Africa and her peoples if he is re-elected as the American President are naïve and mistaken. They are poor students of world history as well as victims of indoctrination, which is caused by their having fossilized world views and dogmatic religious beliefs.
Okoye, a poet, wrote from Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State