Re: “The Igbo that cannot unite for presidency are talking about Biafra” — Chimamanda Adichie

Igbo don't like themselves

Ogechukwukamma Abia

The Igbo are innately republican. Not the tiniest of agreement can be reached without consulting every member of the family or group. That you are a billionaire in Igboland will not and can never give you the express right to overrule anybody, even the poorest of the family member has a say—this is what many ignorant people term ‘dis-unity’.

I do not blame them mostly because they are often from a region or a place where one monarch or a rich man’s opinion overrules every other people. You can see that the Igbo people are naturally democratic. Our forefathers/ancestors practised democracy before it was officially made a system of governance. We can forgive people from other culture who misrepresent our democratic tenets to mean different thing, but when such ignorant statement is made by one of us, it becomes a big issue that needs to be addressed.

The recent interview Ms. Adichie had with Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, the BBNaija Reality TV Show host was another opportunity for our sister to misfire as she often does when she talks about her own people. Among many flippant unnecessary comments, the prominent of them is the title of this short thesis. Among Nigerians of ethnic groupings, the Igbo are the most united in caring for each other. A peep of this is highlighted in the 10th paragraph of this thesis.

For the calibre of Ms. Adichie, I do not want to agree that she is grossly ignorant of her people’s way of life and worldview, I would rather believe that her comments are intentional and deliberate—which is more worrying. Ms. Adichie’s comments appears like one who is representing an underhand strategic interest to rubbish our people. Some years ago, Ms. Adichie also misrepresented an ancient aspect of Igbo culture where a childless woman agrees with her husband to ‘marry’ another woman for procreation. She equated this to practise of lesbianism—an outright bunkum riddled with ignorance of the practice or a deliberate attempt to pass lies as truths to further her pro-gay sermons.

The Book that resonated and popularised Ms Adichie among the Igbo is her “Half of a Yellow Sun”—it is therefore utter contradictory to pass ridicule on the idea for which gave her fame amongst her people. Granted that she can be a One-Nigerianist, she should not deride us while holding to her belief.

Ms. Adichie, who amongst the big three ethnic groupings have united to present one candidate in any elections?

If we go down the memory lane, Akintola and Awolowo were in deep neck contest. They fought and killed each other’s loyalists on the streets. In fact, it was the aftermath of operation Wetie—Wild Wild West that snowballed to the Coup that lead to the Civil War. In 1999, Obasanjo and Olu Falae were again in deep presidential contest from different political parties. The West didn’t vote for Obasanjo and yet he was elected president twice.

Buhari and UMYA are from same state and from neighbouring LGA, they are both Fulani stock just as Atiku Abubakar who is from Adamawa. In 2007 the three of them amongst other northerners from different parties contested presidential elections against themselves. Buhari even went to court to challenge the elections against his brother from same Katsina state. What sort of unity is Ms. Adichie expecting from her kinsmen? And what effort has she made given her reach and voice to ameliorate such phantom vacuum which only exists in her head?

If we continue to allow Ms. Adichie’s damaging passing comments which are often riddled with intentional derision, misrepresentation of facts and ridicule on our people to always sail through, she would be thinking that she is in the right. Our sister is threading on murky waters thinking she is doing the right thing. I thought she hobnobbed with Chinua Achebe who is like a god to the Igbo…? Someone said that immediately Achebe died, she opened herself up and became a tool to always antagonise the Igbo in any given live interviews. Achebe did no wrong in our eyes and we do no wrong in his eyes. Where he criticised our people, he did it masterfully that even the most vociferous Igbo nationalist will agree with him. Take for instance where Achebe talked about the innate Hubris of our people, the way he presented it made it easy for everybody to agree.

It is only the Igbo man, Emeka that will pick Nduka for which he may not be related to. He will train him, tutor him in his trade for 5 to 6 years. During this period of mentorship, Nduka will practically become a member of Emeka’s family. All his welfares are taken care of by Emeka, in many cases Emeka will extend his generosity to Nduka’s parents. At the end of the mentorship period, Emeka will ‘settle’ Nduka with large sum and in many cases will accommodate Nduka in his house until he is financially stable to rent his own place. Which love can you offer your own people more than this? Many billionaires in Igboland were made and are still being made by this type of mentorship.

Where such apprenticeship exists elsewhere in Nigeria, it is Nduka that will pay Emeka an agreement fee for a start and prolly a payoff fee at the end of the mentorship period. Nduka will be feeding himself whilst he learns trade from Emeka’s establishment. Nduka will not be accommodated by Emeka, neither will Emeka feed him. At the end of the learning period, Nduka will most likely pay Emeka (what they call freedom agreement money).

How can a people so keen in helping one another to succeed be constantly bullied as not loving one another? How can a people that has unity associations across every nook and crannies they find themselves be continually touted of not being united—and our own people like Ms. Adichie are often the tools they use to propagate such underhand interests. Just as one of her books made her popular amongst her people, if she continues with her flippancy, she will wilfully de-market herself amongst her kinsmen.