Igbo Ontology

By Father Smart Nwosu

They are very noisy and proud, always ready to tell others, directly or indirectly, that they are a special people. They don’t hide their show of superiority. They take pride in excellence because they are not encumbered by traditional hierarchies.

The prestige or dynasty of their kings means little or nothing to them. The kingly stool is only as important as the progress the monarch brings to the community. And the so-called African virtue of respect for elders is not a hard-and-fast rule. For them, respect for elders is not automatic. Only responsible elders are respected, the others are derided.

To the utter astonishment of other Nigerians, sons only respect, but never bow to their fathers. Even that respect is premised on how responsible the father is. As subjects, they reverence their kings, not by prostrating before them, but by calling out their titles. For years, the world has been studying this rather strange cultural matrix that produces a people of such utter ‘arrogance.’

But this seemingly negative bumptiousness of the Igbo people ironically fuels their individual capacity for advancements. Per-capita, the Igbos are the most economically viable people in Nigeria. They have the most sophisticated mercantile paradigm in the whole of Africa; a model currently being investigated by Harvard University. They are scattered everywhere, and are highly successful at home and abroad. Yet, they are far from being content. The reason for this, is not far-fetched. What the Igbos have achieved individually in the diaspora, they have not been able to establish collectively, as a people in their homeland in South-East Nigeria.

Igbos have a very competitive spirit. They believe that they can, without Nigeria, replicate in Igboland, the civilization they have observed in Europe and America. The only stumbling block to this, in their reckoning is the Fulani idea of one Nigeria. Other Nigerians cannot fathom this perennial yearning of the Igbos. For this reason, they regard Igbos, albeit unwittingly and erroneously, as greedy. That is why most Nigerians always ask in utter bewilderment; What do Igbos really want?

For more than 50 years Igbos have been pushing to opt out of Nigeria. The reasoning behind this quest is very simple. Igbos believe they have the elixir to Africa’s problems. However, they cannot apply it in the Nigerian situation because of a prevailing ‘national principle;’-the presupposition of cultural and intellectual equality of all ethnic nationalities.

But this assessment is clearly not correct. This hallucinatory understanding of equality is the basis of Nigeria’s underdevelopment. Igbos are technically gifted and not equal to any other group in Nigeria in that regard. This is a statement of fact, and should have been a national working instrument rather than a source of resentment towards a people.

It is without doubt that the Yorubas of Western Nigeria are statistically the most educated people in Nigeria. However, Yorubas bask mostly in humanistic and legalistic education, which is also a powerful tool of national development. But The edge the Igbo has over the rest of Nigeria is the culture of technical and enterpreneuring advancement.

A lot of Nigerians who trumpet the ‘beauty’ of the so-called one-Nigeria and her unity-in-diversity, fail to accept the positive impact and usefulness of cultural advantages. For this reason, while the average Nigerian believes in the God who brought the ethnic nationalities in Nigeria together, the average Igbo Biafran believes in the God who dissolved the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia etc., into smaller but more progressive Nations.

Hate them or like them, it doesn’t change anything. They ‘ve been killed in millions; they ‘ve had their properties confiscated and distributed as abandoned properties; they ‘ve had their money in the millions in Nigerian banks reduced to mere £20; they ‘ve been short-changed politically. Yet they refuse to bulge. It is therefore an unpardonable ignorance for anyone to continue to think that the Igbos will in the nearest future become less aggressive in their pursuit of excellence.

Presently there is a programmed in-house cleaning going on. The younger generation of Igbos are beginning to demand accountability from their leaders and elders. Most non-Igbo Nigerians were shocked that a people could physically attack their own political representative for non-performance. They think that that act is clearly un-African. But what started with the picketing of Senator Ike Ekweremadu in Nurnberg Germany, has gradually deteriorated to a full-scale war against the supreme-Court-imposed Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma and his colleagues in the South-East. This emerging phenomenon is without doubt linked to Nnamdi Kanu and the IPOB.

The venomous ranting of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu has been greatly misunderstood by many Nigerians. However, a discerning mind understands that his rhetorics echo the egalitarian and republican spirit of the Igbo nation. Most non-Igbo Nigerians couldn’t understand how a largely insignificant young man could just emerge and begin to insult elders. But like I said earlier, Igbos do not respect elders by default. Only responsible elders earn it.

Be that as it may, unlike the other Nigerians, a proper understanding of the situation is not lost to Igbo leaders and elders themselves, who also complain about Kanu’s daily jibes. Even while they lament, they know better. They properly understand that they do not expect anything lighter. This is because every Igbo person knows that once the Igbo spirit of preeminence is activated, excellence and distinction only, and not age or grey hairs are respected and celebrated. That is why after series of fruitless battles with the younger generation, the chairman of the Igbo League of Governors, that Engr. Dave Umahi has come out, on behalf of the other governors to beg for a grace of six months to make it up to the people.

In the same vein, the Church Fathers of Igboland have started apportioning blames in the right direction. And this is a welcome development. Today, IPOB is no longer vilified as the trouble making miscreant group. The Bishops have jointly and individually blamed the Igbo political leaders and the Fulani hegemony for the problems in the South-East. Their decision as it were, is inspired by the never-say-die spirit of Igbo republicanism. This internal clean-up is of course, a sign that the Igbo quest for excellence is ontological.

Fr. Smart Nwosu, 9th June, 2021 (Realnewsmagazine – 12/6/2021)

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