Tuesday, July 20, 2010



Remy Chukwukaodinaka Ilona

Tel: +234-8065-300-351

Email: remy.ilona@gmail.com

That ndi Igbo as a nation have not succeeded in Nigeria is not disputable. In this essay which will come in many parts I will not look at Igbo history in ancient times, nor from when the British conquered and colonized the peoples living in the territory that became Nigeria, but from 1960 till the present day. I will not look at the past beyond 1960, not because it is filled with glory, but because that can only be conveniently done in a book.

I will not be very detailed in narrating the reverses, defeats and failures that the Igbos have recorded since they became Nigerians, because of the above-mentioned reason. However I will give just a few clear examples of Igbo failures and shortcomings.

Since the European intervention in sub Saharan Africa, the various peoples that became the sub Saharan Africans have not been productive, in any kind of important capacity. This is most keenly manifest in Nigeria which should be the richest, but which is one of the poorest countries in the world. We will only be distracted if we go into what caused the culture of dependency to develop in sub Saharan Africa, so we will not go into it. We will deal with a fall-out of it.

As meaningful production is non existent, resources are consequently very scarce, and there is cut-throat competition for the available resources. Individuals, nations and cliques which exist in the various states created by the Europeans consequently do everything to get what they consider as their fair share of the available resources. In this part of the world the surest way to sit atop the little resources that are available is to capture political power.

Whoever captures political power in this part of the world also controls economic power. In Nigeria it is even more so, because as a mono-resource economy, i.e, an economy dependent only on crude oil sales which is controlled by the government, the individual/nation/clique that gets power call all the shots. They would not only share and allocate what is available, but they also could squeeze life out of the opposition. Naturally every wise individual, nation, and clique in Nigeria wants to be in power, i.e, to control power.

Nigeria is made up of at least 300 different nations. Some are big. Some are medium in size, and some are quite small. These nations range from the big three; Igbos, to the Hausa and the Fulani which have intermarried so much, to the Yoruba, to the medium sized Tiv, Ijaw, Gwari, Ibibio, etc, and to the small Pyem, Itsekiri, Ogoni, etc.

In getting political power, the big three have faired thus. The Hausa and Fulani who lead and dominate what is known as Northern Nigeria have held power directly for twenty six years, and indirectly for nine years, when Yakubu Gowon ruled. The Yoruba who are emerging as the leading group in what is known as Southern Nigeria have held power for thirteen years. The Igbos have held power for six months. That’s how the big nations have faired. And from the medium sized nations arose the Ijaw who have produced a president that seems set to preside over Nigeria for the next nine years, because equity seems to be on the side of the Ijaw.

Can anybody say that the Igbos who definitely outnumber every other individual Nigerian group have faired well as far as acquisition of political power is concerned? A truthful answer can only be a resounding no. And from the look of things if Igbos get the presidency of Nigeria in fifty years’ time one could say that the Igbos got it in good time. This is because an honest appraisal of the Igbo political, economic, and socio-religio-cultural positions reveals one thing among several: that the Igbos are progressively declining in every sphere of life. The famed Igbo strength which is symbolized in the dance and song of nzogbu nzogbu enyimba enyi is fast ebbing. The real unity anchored on a shared culture (Omenana) has long disappeared, because the Igbos have virtually abandoned the culture, and replaced it with degenerate and discarded versions of European culture, and the cultures of the other Nigerian groups. Even the Igbo sense which other Nigerians coined to describe the uncommon Igbo intelligence is no longer heard again, because discernibly the Igbo is not wiser, or wise presently, because if he were, he would have held his ground in Nigeria, and not gone into full-scale decline.

Economically the Igbos are loosing ground very fast. Truthfully, since the tragic and disastrous Nigeria-Biafra war, the Nigerian state has tried to cage the Igbos by promulgating and implementing policies that would weaken the Igbos. The Igbos who are by far the most commercially oriented of all the Nigerian peoples have been denied an international airport for reasons that are at best meaningless. Also because it seems to the persons that have led Nigeria that Igbos would benefit, it has not occurred to any of them to site a mini seaport at Onicha (Onitsha) and Ugwuta (Oguta). And consistently the same individuals have paid only lip service to the objective of resuscitating the Oji Power Station which would improve electricity generation in Igboland, and enable the Igbos who were more attuned to the intricacies of modern technology than the other peoples of Nigeria, and who showed that the African’s mind can still grasp the intricacies of technology during the Biafran epoch, to industrialize Nigeria. However having talked briefly about official moves and measures that weaken the Igbos economically, I will talk briefly about the harm that the Igbos have inflicted on themselves, and which have weakened them economically.

The Igbos are the most-close knit of the Nigerian peoples. Their huge population; approximately 30-35 millions tends to make it unbelievable that all the Igbo people sprang from just one source-ancient Israel. Going through The Ropes of Sands by eminent Igbo historian A.E. Afigbo, and Nigeria In Conflict by the Igbo hating British colonial officer Robert Collis, you will find why the Igbos did not incorporate non Igbos into their ranks during wars of conquests which they didn’t fight, like their big Nigerian neighbors, yet they became a populous nation. Good food in prehistoric African times! All the Igbos; from the Igbo in Edo to the Igbos in Delta, from Agbo (Agbor) to Kwale, to Asaba, to all the ones in Anambra, Enu ugwu (Enugu), Ebonyi, Abia Imo, to the ones in Rivers, live in an area that is less than the old Benue state in size, and there has been almost no major friction, in spite of the acute scarcity of land, because the people are one people. However presently the Igbos do not want to be one people any more. As some groups in the Rivers state have denounced their connections to the Igbo people, and assumed other identities and connections that are at worst abominable, and at best ridiculous, so have most Igbos denounced and ridiculed their Igbo identity, and trampled on their connections to the Igbo society, similarly for reasons that are worthless, and that are based on empty emotions and ignorance. Hitherto the Igbo economy which has been based on izu afia (trading in all its ramifications) since the loss of the Nigeria-Biafra War was strong, resilient, and it catered to the needs of almost all the Igbos. Today that economy is close to collapse because its engine room which is the Igbo system of apprenticeship (igba odibo) has lost its spirit, because presently the Igbos have lost the fear of Chukwu (God), and love for each other, and consequently do not keep agreements any more. With this state of affairs prevailing the apprentice hardly hesitates to steal from the master, who in turn would not hesitate to cheat him by not sending him off with enough chattels after the end of his years of service. Also as the Igbos have consciously discarded almost every precept and rule found in their culture which enabled them to provide safety nets for the members of their society without looking up to a state which is too far away, the morally weak, hungry and consequently angry ones among them have began taking recourse to violent crimes. Presently almost every rich Igbo is on the run-from Igboland. At the rate that Igbo investors are divesting from Igboland, and investing in Yorubaland, the South/South, and Abuja, in a few short years only the poorest, weakest, and most ignorant will be left in Igboland.

On the socio-cultural-religious front what we are witnessing is a disaster. I culled the following from The Igbos: Jews In Africa: With Solutions To The Most Critical Igbo Problems: “………………….There is trouble. Morals have been thrown to the dogs. The women who are the real pillars of the society are in my opinion seriously in need of moral rejuvenation. Nothing humiliates, denigrates and dehumanizes womanhood like prostitution. No wonder why it was not found in Igboland when Omenana held sway. Unfortunately it is a feature of Igbo life today. Some people have defended it as ‘modernization’, while others argue that prostitution is universal. And something is very worrying about it. An Igbo woman who is compromised by prostitution would still be very religious, and announce ‘where she worships’ before you even finish exchanging greetings with her.

We are not getting good reports from the universities, polytechnics and colleges. Un-Igbo practices like the one in question have become acceptable in our institutions of higher learning. When I was in a higher institution in Enugu, many years ago, a certain genre of prostitution was widespread in the institute. It was called ‘iso ndi ogo’ (going out with lustful older men). Very young women seek out, or are sought out by older men, and are corrupted. And the whole institute, and the Igbo society accepted this as normal. But inevitably corruption exacts a price. Most of those girls that were exposed unduly to lavish lifestyles found it difficult to settle down in marriage with struggling young men, just to mention an obvious price. And for those men who felt that they were sampling young blood and flesh, broken marriages have resulted for some of them, because after being with their under sixteen’s they couldn’t find their spouses attractive again. The other side effects would make the tender hearted shrink, so its better to leave them to the imagination. This practice is to be found in all higher institutions in Nigeria. All Nigerian groups, not only Igbos are involved, but as I am Igbo, my duty is to concentrate on Igbo problems.

Another heart-rending eyesore is the presence of Igbo girls, alongside other Nigerian girls in the brothels and red light districts in Nigeria. In Lagos; Victoria Island, Allen Avenue, Ikeja roundabout, are some of the hangouts. In Abuja there is the Zone 4 junction. In our own Enugu there is the Obiagu junction; and the famed Polo Park has been turned into a virtual whorehouse. Something needs to be done fast to remove this virus which has invaded Igboland. Otherwise who knows, in the future we may hear of Igbos starting to do what some other Nigerians have been doing; voluntarily sponsoring their daughters to move to Europe for prostitution. This will happen I predict, unless……………..

And worthy of mention is the (mis)behavior of many Igbo women during the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Program.

Also another sore point which fuels immoral behavior is that Igbo girls of marriageable age are not finding husbands easily. If the Igbos had understood and respected their own religion and tradition getting good spouses would have been very easy for Igbos. Igbo custom like ancient Semitic custom, as we saw from the Laban, Jacob, Leah, and Rachael saga, stipulates that the younger must not marry before the elder. According to my friend Sam Ozoekwe, if the Igbos had respected that tradition, and had not ignored it, today, as in the past, all Igbo ladies would have found husbands. But this rule was ignored, like almost all Igbo rules and today Igbo women are in trouble, and by extension the Igbo society is in trouble.

Most of the women who could not attract spouses suffer abuse and humiliation at the hands of unscrupulous men.

This not an easy issue to discuss, because it is easy to be misunderstood. I must make it clear at this stage that I understand that these women, or most of them do what they do, because their natural families and the Igbo community have not lived up to expectation. And have even ‘died’ in many cases. In the tertiary institutions there are Igbos, males and females. In the towns hosting the red light districts there are Igbo men and women. In the towns where Igbo women go for their national service, there are Igbos. If these Igbos recognize themselves as Igbos, they would have cohesive ‘Igbo unions’ that would help, police, protect and advance the cause of individual members?

But they do not have them. Why, one would ask. Answer: most Igbos would not respect the Igbo groupings. Some would not even condescend to belong to them. They would rather prefer religious groups formed by non Igbos that promise strange, esoteric and unrealizable objectives. There they would be milked of their little monies, abused in every imaginable way, and discarded when they are no longer useful”.

Prostitution has become a way of life among the Igbos. Igbo women even dress like prostitutes while going to church in Igbo land. In Enugu a few years ago three university Igbo girls were raped by non Igbo security men deployed to Enugu for official duties. One or two of the girls eventually tested positive to HIV/AIDS. This would not happen in the Muslim north of Nigeria. If it would happen the encounter would be between sons and daughters of the soil. Did those girls dress decently? Were they at the wrong place at the wrong time? Why did the Igbos who were able to challenge imperial Britain for twenty years become so powerless that people could come into Igboland, benefit from their hospitality and turn around to molest their women-folk without any fear of retribution?

I need not repeat that Igbos; including traditional rulers are escaping from Igboland, because every Igbo who could afford to eat comfortably is afraid of being kidnapped. And as most are leaving they leave with their investments.

Ironically kidnapping as a gainful past-time has reduced banditry, which is known as armed robbery in Nigeria. But it has only reduced it in Igboland. There are Igbo towns like Onicha where economic life draws to a close as soon as its 7pm in the evenings.

We need to find answers to the following questions. Is prostitution an Igbo customary practice? Is kidnapping an Igbo practice? Is banditry Igbo? Igbo traditional rulers have to answer these questions. Igbo religious authorities need to provide answers to these questions. It is incumbent on Igbo scholars to help find answers to some of these questions. As an Igbo scholar I have looked deeply, and what I have found is that these crimes are imported. That they were copied from outsiders, but are becoming part of Igbo life, because the Igbo filtration mechanism, which is contained in Omenana has been broken.

I began this series by drawing a brief outline of the failures, and reverses that the Igbos have suffered. Readers have been calling me, and National Times, about the expositions which should be self-evident, but which become more so, after they followed our article-‘That the Igbo nation may rise again’. One question has been coming consistently. The question is. Why is the Igbo society breaking up? I’ll try to answer this question before I’ll begin to proffer what are the possible solutions to the Igbos decline. And the steps already taken to halt the decay.

The Igbo society is collapsing because the Igbo people are descendants of Israelites who violated the Covenant they entered with the God of Israel; the God of their fathers, and are reaping the consequences of the suspension of diplomatic ties between them, and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

For proof that the Igbos are Jews readers should examine the following books:

The Igbos: Jews In Africa Vol 1, The Igbos: Jews In Africa: With Reflections on the Civil War and Solutions to the most critical Igbo problems, Introduction to the Chronicles of Igbo Israel-And the connections between the African Americans and the Jews, the following essay, A Brief Study of the Foundations of Ancient Israel: From the Igbo Experience, and the soon to be published books; From Ibri to Igbo-40 million more Jews and Uri’s Travels.

For more information readers can reach the writer at remy.ilona@gmail.com, and at 08065300351, and may also browse through www.igboisrael.com

For more evidence that the Igbos are in serious trouble, and that it is so clear now, consider the following which are exchanges between me and some Igbos who are resident in the United States:

[For Igbo eyes alone!

Change they say is the only constant phenomenon. In '66 the Igbos fled from
Nigerian territory to 'Biafra'. Today Igbos are seeking refuge in where of
all places? Nigeria!

Today, Igbo elites; from traditional rulers, businessmen, academics,
scientists, lawyers, out of office politicians, etc, are on the move-away
from Igboland. And the first ports of call are Abuja and Lagos-both; cities
in Nigeria. In fact Igbos have broken a record in Nigeria. They have
produced traditional rulers who 'rule' their clans from outside Igboland.

And what is responsible for this reverse Exodus? Abnormally high incidence
of kidnappings, and general societal dysfunction].

[Mazi Ilona:

You made the right call. ………………Build heaven o, build earth o, if your people are
fleeing the state due to insecurity to life and property, you have aided the
reverse exodus.

[Magnus Ekwueme]

[Da'alu nwanne mmadu. It helps to see that there are still some who note that uno ndi Igbo na agba oku. The way I see it is that the 'governments' can help, but the people need to be involved. Too many of our people feel that they do not have any stake in the wellbeing of of the Igbos, and Igboland anymore. And perhaps they have no stake truly. Isn't it intriguing that a society that had very little crime when it was materially poor, dependent on subsistence farming, is today crime-ridden, in spite of the billions that flows into it. Social and economic security for the poor need to be factored into any Igbo programme.

Ilona R.C.]

[Mazi Ekwueme,
It is not the responsibility of the governors in the East alone. It is the responsibility of ALL individuals and ALL communities to begin to create conditions that will secure and sustain the security of lives and property. Government is a mere abstraction if there are no people or systems to organize and govern. The sheer economic, cultural, and social implication of what is happening now in Igbo land must be clearly placed before EVERYONE - and let us decide whether to live with or die trying to change it. It is better to die than to live without freedom. But the core important questions are these:
A) Who is driving the Igbo, especially its elite and middle class out of Igbo land?
B) Why? To what end?
There seems to me to be a real situation here in which the Igbo, once again unwilling to safeguard their own unique personal and collective interests will allow the massive evacuation of the Igbo people from their homelands into the margins of the urban ghettoes where they will live in fear and at the edge of culture. Perhaps the true equivalence of the "Jewish exile" is happening right before our very eyes, and we are busy complaining and wringing our hands. Two hundred years from now, when a new people have resettled Igbo land, and become more dominant, and we would have ceded the greatest gifts of our heritage - land and its culture - the Igbo would then be fully the rootless, homeless people of the future. But may our ancestors never permit that we allow this.

What is to be done? This is an emergency that must involve every Igbo HOUSEHOLD in a discussion towards a restoration of the land. We must FIND those who are doing this - and there are few of them with support from external sources - and we must DEAL with them in a collective fashion in the time-honored Igbo way. We must send the EGWUGWU after them. Organize our own faceless and dreadful counter-measure to hunt down anyone involved. That is my own suggestion. We must play the asymmetrical game with all these forces of crime and bad governance in Igbo land. There was a time in the 16th, 17th, 18th and some part of the 19th century when people marauded Igbo land to kidnap people whom they sold across the seas. Our Igbo ancestors knew exactly what to do. If we, in the 21st century do not know what to do to this kind of emergency, then we do not deserve to live, and probably deserve slavery and exile. It must be all hands on deck. It is not a work for the governors. The governors MUST today be like horses in our hands, it is up to us to send them to the stream. We must rein them and force them to take action, or otherwise, give way. That is the meaning of what we have always had: democracy. Perhaps we must return to the true democratic structure - the Okpu Umunna - reconstitute it through "igba-ndu" and "idu-isi." Perhaps we must begin once more the tradition of treaty making between one clan and other for treaties of mutual security and protection, and by that means create a powerful, people-based security umbrella in the East. It is time to act, and no longer time to worry. And it is each man's responsibility - for indeed, this is one implication: wer are all DEAD. But we dare not give up our homes to those who say we must not return otherwise the dowries paid for our mothers would have been better used to buy a she-goat.
Obi Nwakanma]

One could begin to wonder why the fate of the Igbos should be as it is. I repeat that it is so because the Igbos are Israelites who have not kept the Covenant that Israel entered into with their God. Holy Writ which should mean much to the Igbos than other Nigerians because it is the compendium of their culture, states the following unequivocally in Deuteronomy 28:

Curses for Disobedience

However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:

You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country.

Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed.

The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out.

The LORD will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him. [a] The LORD will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land you are entering to possess. The LORD will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish. The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. The LORD will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed.

The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven, and you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth. Your carcasses will be food for all the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and there will be no one to frighten them away. The LORD will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured. The LORD will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind. At midday you will grope about like a blind man in the dark. You will be unsuccessful in everything you do; day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you.

You will be pledged to be married to a woman, but another will take her and ravish her. You will build a house, but you will not live in it. You will plant a vineyard, but you will not even begin to enjoy its fruit. Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will eat none of it. Your donkey will be forcibly taken from you and will not be returned. Your sheep will be given to your enemies, and no one will rescue them. Your sons and daughters will be given to another nation, and you will wear out your eyes watching for them day after day, powerless to lift a hand. A people that you do not know will eat what your land and labor produce, and you will have nothing but cruel oppression all your days. The sights you see will drive you mad. The LORD will afflict your knees and legs with painful boils that cannot be cured, spreading from the soles of your feet to the top of your head.

The LORD will drive you and the king you set over you to a nation unknown to you or your fathers. There you will worship other gods, gods of wood and stone. You will become a thing of horror and an object of scorn and ridicule to all the nations where the LORD will drive you.

You will sow much seed in the field but you will harvest little, because locusts will devour it. You will plant vineyards and cultivate them but you will not drink the wine or gather the grapes, because worms will eat them. You will have olive trees throughout your country but you will not use the oil, because the olives will drop off. You will have sons and daughters but you will not keep them, because they will go into captivity. Swarms of locusts will take over all your trees and the crops of your land.

The alien who lives among you will rise above you higher and higher, but you will sink lower and lower. He will lend to you, but you will not lend to him. He will be the head, but you will be the tail.

All these curses will come upon you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the LORD your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you. They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendants forever. Because you did not serve the LORD your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the LORD sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you.

The LORD will bring a nation against you from far away, from the ends of the earth, like an eagle swooping down, a nation whose language you will not understand, a fierce-looking nation without respect for the old or pity for the young. They will devour the young of your livestock and the crops of your land until you are destroyed. They will leave you no grain, new wine or oil, nor any calves of your herds or lambs of your flocks until you are ruined. They will lay siege to all the cities throughout your land until the high fortified walls in which you trust fall down. They will besiege all the cities throughout the land the LORD your God is giving you.

Because of the suffering that your enemy will inflict on you during the siege, you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the LORD your God has given you. Even the most gentle and sensitive man among you will have no compassion on his own brother or the wife he loves or his surviving children, and he will not give to one of them any of the flesh of his children that he is eating. It will be all he has left because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of all your cities. The most gentle and sensitive woman among you—so sensitive and gentle that she would not venture to touch the ground with the sole of her foot—will begrudge the husband she loves and her own son or daughter the afterbirth from her womb and the children she bears. For she intends to eat them secretly during the siege and in the distress that your enemy will inflict on you in your cities.

If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name—the LORD your God- the LORD will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses. He will bring upon you all the diseases of Egypt that you dreaded, and they will cling to you. The LORD will also bring on you every kind of sickness and disaster not recorded in this Book of the Law, until you are destroyed. You who were as numerous as the stars in the sky will be left but few in number, because you did not obey the LORD your God. Just as it pleased the LORD to make you prosper and increase in number, so it will please him to ruin and destroy you. You will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess.

Then the LORD will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods—gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known. Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the LORD will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life. In the morning you will say, "If only it were evening!" and in the evening, "If only it were morning!"-because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see. The LORD will send you back in ships to Egypt on a journey I said you should never make again. There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.

Have some of the curses come on the Igbos? A study of the trans-Atlantic Slave trade, and of what the Igbos passed through in Biafra will confirm that some; some I repeat, have come on the Igbos. I will begin to write a book if I begin to extrapolate how the curses have come, so I’ll only mention a few things that will throw light for the intelligent. Holy Writ stated that recalcitrant Israel will plant olive trees, but won’t enjoy the fruits. Amazingly the Igbos have olive trees, but do not even know that the olive in Igboland is the olive! The Igbos lost more persons than any other African nation to the slave trade. Millions of Igbos died needlessly and in great pains, just before, and during the Nigeria/Biafra war. A thoughtful Igbo; a high ranking Civil Servant told me what shocked me recently. To my question about why the Igbos have stumbled from one tragedy to the other-he responded that ife na eme ndi Igbo si na Chi (that the Igbos are not in the good grace of God, and are consequently without enough Divine protection).

Holy Writ (the Hebrew Bible) should not appear as an abstract document to the Igbos. It should be terrifically real to them because it contains the written version of their culture. As it contains Igbo culture so there should not be any question of Igbos doubting even one iota of any of its provisions-be it the legalisms, or the prophesies. An Igbo who doubts anything in the Torah, Neviim, and Kethuvim (the Hebrew Bible), is like the Igbo who doubts that there is an Igbo people with a distinct culture and language.

I will continue the series by stating what is to be done for the Igbos to rise.

No comments:

Post a Comment