Tuesday, July 20, 2010



Remy Ilona

08065300351, remy.ilona@gmail.com

In the last edition of National Times I began to talk about the things that would be done before the Igbos would rise again. I dwelt so much on the importance of information, to the Igbos, because good information would give knowledge, and the knowledgeable person has a good chance to be wise. Without laying emphasis on it, any intelligent person would know that the Igbos have not performed well in nation-building, because we have not been united, nor well organized. Infightings have taken much of our time, energy and resources. And this has happened because the information we have assimilated, have been subtly given to us with the sole motivation to divide us, so that we would be more easily subdued dominated, and pocketed. The British used this tactics against us, by planting a knife in our middle, demonizing what held us together (our culture) after which we fell apart, and have continued falling since then. Since then we have been apart, and every year our divisions increase in degree, and severity. At times I have wondered if the Igbo of today who can hardly gather together for Igbo causes would have lasted three months if faced with the travails that the Igbos faced from ’66 to ‘70. Of course the Igbo of today wouldn’t have survived the shock, because the rallying institution; the culture; is almost gone; disrespected completely by we the Igbos! And without the culture, what is the people? Nothing! We are Igbos because we speak Igbo, and practice[d] Igbo culture.

However as the Igbo condition has deteriorated to the stage that we can say that Igboland is fighting the Igbos (many communities are under threat of extinction because of erosion, and other environmental problems), and the Igbos are almost lapsing into a civil war (well to do, and not so well-to-do Igbos are fleeing from Igboland because of the abnormally high rate of kidnappings and other violent crimes in Igboland), one can expect the Igbos to begin to ask hard questions, and to be ready to receive hard answers which will help us to analyze our problems so that we can begin to rebuild the Igbo society.

To rebuild successfully; mainly Igbo resources would be in the new foundations. This is where information, knowledge, and wisdom would help the Igbos. At this stage it is pertinent for the Igbos to ask: where would we have been if the British had not disrupted our society by instigating, and participating in our commercial enslavement, colonizing us, demolishing our institutions, and replacing them with the present models which have not only not given the greatest happiness to the greatest number of Igbos, but have bequeathed us with institutions that have institutionalized divisions among us. Who would have been our leaders? A pertinent question in an era when an Igbo could get up and say anything on behalf of the Igbos, or do anything, no matter how inimical his actions or words would be to the Igbos. Would we have been an independent nation, happy, proud, and free? And as we are a part of a state called Nigeria, what do the laws of Nigeria permit us to do to improve the welfare of our people?

My soon to be published essay; A Brief Survey Of Ancient Israel: From The Igbo Perspective and Experience answered some of the questions. The answers, and the ones that I will proffer here would serve as the building blocks for the rebuilding of the Igbo people.

I would say that we would have been among the first ten most successful countries in the world if we had not been subverted by colonialism. I would say so because my research informs me that we were guided by laws, rules, and regulations before the British advent. The same laws, rules and regulations that the Europeans borrowed and used to inspire the creation of the almost eldoradoic societies known as the Western world or developed societies that they have today, if we are looking at just their administration of justice and governance. I am referring to the legal and ethical provisions of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament to the Gentiles) Possibly we would have been the second nation after the Republic of Israel, the state which is the primary representative of the people who received those laws, rules and regulations because those very laws, rules, and regulations which secure Israel, and which have among other things made it the most innovative country in the world would have been our grundnorm. The Newsweek of November 23, 2009, on page 45, observed; ‘how does Israel-with fewer people than the state of New Jersey, no natural resources, and hostile nations all around-produce more tech companies listed on the NASDAQ than all of Europe, Japan, South Korea, India and China combined?’ I would say that had we not come under colonialism that we would not have become the disorderly people that we are today,- a nation where everyman behaves as he likes. I will illustrate what I am trying to say with the following example, and in order to highlight what I want to say I will compare the Igbo and the Hausa funeral/burial experiences. The above-mentioned communities have some things in common. Both were colonized by imperial Britain, and were amalgamated, alongside hundreds of other nations to form Nigeria. Today both co-exist in Nigeria.

The Igbos funeral/burial customs are called akwa m ozu, or ikwa ozu. These mean- to mourn the dead. The most important part of the ceremony is the mourning. In Igbo traditions the pretence that death could be good, or not painful does not exist. As Igbos, guided by Igbo culture Igbos believe that everything possible should be done to preserve life. This gave rise to the Igbo saying; mpempe ndu ka mpempe onwu mma (a bit of life is better than a bit of death). Igbos would spend everything they have to ward off the evil, but when it comes eventually, the Igbos would mourn! They would mourn! Mourning would be manifest in every aspect of their lives for one year. This dread of death led to the Igbo advancement in medicine which saw them handling difficult cases like igbakwa okpukpu, (mending fractured bones), igwo otoro na kitikpa (curing two diseases that may be akin to HIV/AIDS), etc, before colonialism. Today the dread of death, and accompanying mourning is no longer so manifest when some Igbos are bereaved. Imitating mainly the Yoruba; the powerful people to their west who are exercising considerable influence over the Igbos presently, and who are most likely to assimilate them, the Igbos routinely describe funerals/burials as ‘celebrations of life’, ‘gone to glory’, dress in aso ebi and aso oke during funerals, and display huge billboards of the dead with their pictures, as if they were film-stars receiving advertisement. To put it succinctly the Igbo funeral/burial customs have been replaced with borrowings, which have turned the Igbo funeral into a carnival. And the consequence? Among the Igbos, anarchy as far as funerals and burials are concerned. Some Igbos who are intelligent and perceptive enough know that something very horrible and wrong had crept in, but many do not know what to say, or do, because they have no idea that Igbo culture contains funeral/burial traditions.

And what do the Hausa do? They have a standard set for them by Islam, their adopted religion. The state president, the billionaire, and the pauper go the same way when they depart. Among them the tension which is in the Igbo society, and which could be evinced from the agonizing cries of the mentioned Igbos would hardly manifest, because they have rules which they respect.

The Igbos have burial and funeral rules, but they are mostly forgotten. My forthcoming book; ‘From the Ibri to Igbo: Forty Million More Jews In Africa which will be published in the U.S, by Derusha Publishing LLC, has an entire section dedicated to ‘akwa m ozu’ (the Igbo burial and funeral). Interestingly akwa m ozu is incidentally close to the Islamic burial in a few respects because Islam is to a great extent an off-shoot of the culture of Israel, which is Igbo culture.

What I have just illustrated with funeral/burial traditions manifests in almost every aspect of Igbo life. Total disrespect for the only Authority that could and would save the Igbos. Disrespect for the elders; the only fairly identifiable body among the bodies that were appointed to be His representatives among the Igbos! Dereliction as far as observance of the laws, rules and regulations that would improve Igbo life, and the Igbo society is concerned! And what are we reaping today? Anarchy! Today the Igbos who are not fighting any visible war, who are not suffering drought, are nevertheless going into exile, and heir destination is the ghettoes of the cities in the non Igbo cities of Nigeria. So the Igbos would have to go back to being a nation guided by laws, rules and regulations. I would still hark back and give information that would prove what I have asserted, which were that the Igbos do not respect the Authority today, and that the elders, and their other natural/indigenous leaders who lost their positions by being opportunistic, which made them to connive with the groups that subverted and corrupted the Igbo society in expectation of benefits that have turned out to be Greek gifts, no longer lead them today.

A clinical study of the following texts will help the reader to understand why I made the assertion above.

The Igbos: Jews In Africa series. Introduction To The Chronicles of Igbo Israel, The soon to be published ‘From the Ibri to Igbo: Forty Million More Jews In Africa’, A Brief Survey of Ancient Israel-From The Igbo Perspective and Experiences. Uri’s Travels, Reincarnation-And What the world’s Major Religions Say About It,

Things Fall Apart, The Arrow Of God, The Only Son, The Potter’s Wheel, The Only Son, The Slave Ship, Torah For Gentiles, The Ropes Of Sands, The Purple Hibiscus, and many others which I will be listing in subsequent editions of the National Times.

All these texts need to be studied by the Igbos with the intention to get the messages which their divinely inspired writers wanted to pass to them.

And the Igbo who would be wise would always have a copy of J. H. Hertz’ Pentateuch and Haftorahs, and the National Times on his breakfast table. And playing softly to him should be music from intelligent Igbos like Show Promoter, Ozoemena Nsugbe, Moore Black, etc.

And because there is no time to waste; as we are studying we have to begin to apply what we get from studying by starting to rebuild, and intensify rebuilding where we have started. As I have striven to point out; we can only build what will last if we rebuild our own institutions, and indigenize the foreign ones that we must keep. The foreign ones that have caused us only divisions and problems we must ostracize, or ban. We can borrow a leaf from other Nigerians such as the Hausa and Fulani, and the Kanuri who realized that the Nigerian State would not try to obstruct them, either legally, or on grounds of equity, if they try to combat crime, and improve the morals of their people, and the resident aliens among them, by extending the applicability of the Sharia Laws to criminal matters. The Yoruba who spawned the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) as a militia to defend the Yoruba, have turned the organization into a crime-fighting machine, which works with the Nigeria Police, and promoter and defender of Yoruba culture and interests. Recently the Bini monarch Omo no oba Eradiuwa and the Bini chief priest Nosakhare Isekhure led the Bini people, and from inside the Bini religion and culture they activated forces that would reduce violent crime in Edo State. Lately because things have reached breaking point for the Igbos, some voices have been rising, and have been making suggestions that could be helpful if they are sifted and purified with knowledge and wisdom, and applied. Recently an Igbo who deserves to be honored for citing a games, and recreation centre in Igboland called on the Igbos to honour their Nigeria/Biafra war dead, so that the departed ones who actually paid the supreme price and sacrifice for them would go to their rest (or reincarnate). He postulated that the restless spirits of our brethren may be behind our current travails. He also made a call on the Igbos to respect their gods. I know he means Chukwu Abiama (the God of Abraham), as the notion that the Igbos have gods is a new one which was introduced by the colonialists who gave the Igbos modern education/mis-education, and indoctrinated the people to begin to see many things that were non existent. The Igbos know of only the one indivisible Deity, and in fact there is no attribute, words, phrases for gods in the Igbo language. We should sift such calls, and take the good, and drop the incorrect.

Also, very importantly some Igbo state governors have began to respect the Igbo clans, and their clan unions. Mazi Peter Obi, the governor of Anambra State deserves special mention for this feat. The Igbo culture begot the clan, and the clan begot the clan union (town unions); which is the basic unit of authority which is indigenous to the Igbo people. With the clan unions as just caricature of what they should be, on what would the Igbos begin to build?

In addition some have began to identify with the Igbo people practically. I was thrilled when I saw Chief Ikedi Ohakim, and the chairman of the Igbo traditional rulers Eze Cletus Ilomuanya discussing Igbo welfare with some Hausa and Fulani leaders in Gombe.

We need more of such, and we can only begin to see more when our people get more and more immersed in Igbo Studies. To see Ohakim and Ilomuanya showing concern for the Igbo trader is very touching. Every Igbo needs to be concerned about the welfare of the Igbo trader for that is likely to be the Igbo species in Gombe, and the Igbo common man generally. I have always wondered where the Igbos would have been without the Igbo trader; and the unsophisticated Igbo; those persons that used an Igbo customary practice; igba odibo; to speed up Igbo economic revival and growth after Biafra. Those persons that travels all over Nigeria, and the world seeking for sustenance which in the years of yore when we were more focused, and Igboland was more secure for Igbos, he brought back to Igboland, and of whom Chinua Achebe crafted the following in ‘No Longer At Ease; ‘Those ……who leave their home town[s] to find work in towns all over Nigeria regard themselves as sojourners. They return to…….every two years or so to spend their leave. When they have saved up enough money they ask their relations at home to find them a wife, or they build a ‘zinc’ house on their family land. No matter where they are in Nigeria, they start a local branch of the …….Progressive Union’. These ndi Igbo who did so much for the Igbos are endangered today. They face numerous threats today. The threats range from: instinctive imitation of the Igbo elite who has not only not done enough for the Igbo, but leads in desecration of Igbo culture and importation of abominations. Denigration from fellow Igbos who did not appreciate their efforts, and described them as illiterate traders. And external threats from innocuous sources such as fraudsters operating as religious masters who weaken him by relieving him of his hard-earned money, and brainwashing him with noxious divisive notions; and lack of knowledge about Nigerian financial, and economic policies; this noble species of the Igbo is dying off. I will also spare a word for the elites who care. Those that have tried to help by bringing some of their investments and institutions to Igboland so that they can give jobs to Igbos. And those that have been philanthropic. The Igbo Israel Union which I founded, and which lead will encourage Igbos in these categories to do more by honouring them in an annual award ceremony. It will collaborate on this with the National Times.

In my efforts to unravel Igbo history in order to give relevant information to the Igbos, so that the Igbos would become knowledgeable and wise, and take back their life from their oppressors, I have seen prophetically that the Igbos will begin to recover and rise when the Igbos begin to study about themselves. We, the Igbos should begin to study ourselves and make the teaching and preaching of Igbo unity our Torah (Teachings), Gospel, and Quran truths. Daily Igbo prayers should include a call on Chukwu Abiama to turn the hearts of all the Igbos so that they will begin to see each other as brothers and sisters again. People give out what they take in. If from infancy all Igbos had been receiving the indoctrination that they are nwanne (brethren), in all the schools, synagogues, obis and churches that they attend and congregate in, we would not be who we are today- a people who could neglect their poorer brethren, destroy their land, drive their brethren into exile, to suffer endlessly.

To provide a school where Igbos should begin to study, the Igbo Israel Union and the National Times newspaper which is a national newspaper with an Igbo background, have began an Igbo Studies Institute. More information about it will be available to the Igbo public very soon.

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