None of us were given the opportunity to choose exactly which tribe or race he or she would like to be born into. However, I was born an Igbo man and I have no regret or apology to render to anyone over my identity.
Nevertheless, being Igbo in Nigeria has never been full of roses. As an Igbo man, you are confronted with many challenges, huddles, intimidation and suppression. Everyday, they want you as an Igbo man to apologise for being Igbo.
Igbos have been accused of many things. They say Igbo people are arrogant, loves money and never love themselves.
The Igbo have been relegated, subjugated and marginalized, yet they want the people to thank and subject themselves to those marginalising them. They attack you and turn around to say you are playing the victim card.
The fact that they have brainwashed lots of Ndị Igbo into believing what outsiders say about them shows that the mindset of Ndị Igbo is constantly under attack by the Nigeria establishment. When an Igbo man wins award in America, they report the individual as a Nigerian. But when a crime is committed, they report such individual as of Igbo origin, sometimes without proper verification or investigation. For the compromised Nigeria media, It becomes Igbos only when crime is involved.
More than 80% of people of Igbo descent born and brought up in Lagos have been brainwashed and set against their larger brothers both home and abroad. This is a process carried out through the nursery and primary school system of Lagos state. They are misinformed that their grandparents caused the Biafra-Nigeria civil war. They were told it was Igbo coup. And they were told that their brothers at home are so wicked that they refuse to sell lands to Yoruba people and Hausa people in Aba, Onitsha, Owerri and Nnewi. The Lagos pastors drives all these home by employing fear. In their numerous preaching and prophesies, they tell them that their problems is from their village. That any day they touch home they will surely die. Exactly why many of them shouting I am a proud Lagosian, are above 30 years of age, yet have never set foot on their home land. They don’t know anything about their people and ancestry and their people know them not. They are the same people that will tell you that Igbo language is nothing. They are quick to speak Yoruba language in the village. That is for the little that goes home. Is it not funny that Ndị Igbo in America, Japan and England can speak Igbo fluently, but someone in Lagos can not. ‘Please speak English to them, they don’t understand Igbo’, is what you hear from their irresponsible parents.
How a coup carried out by many tribes in Nigeria became an Igbo coup is what some of them that discovered themselves after many decades of brain distortion are asking themselves.
What Nigeria wants is for every Igbo to forget that their fathers were killed in millions, starved and massacred like ants for the sake of ‘One Nigeria’. Those that pretended to have forgotten have been loved by the oppressors and positioned to betray those that refused to forget.
How do you expect me to forget what my parents suffered some 50 years ago? Something I still pay dearly for till today.
As far as I am concerned, no tribe loved themselves like the Igbo. You only need to stop listening to the Yoruba media lies and study the Igbo ways of life. Only then will you understand what made the Igbo exceptional. Many Igbo intellectuals like Akanu Ibiam were trained by the entire community. For the Igbo, ‘nwa bụ nwa ọha niile’. ‘A child belongs to the entire community.’ Our ancestors contributed to send bright students abroad. As natural republicans, we have our community town union system of governance which ensure that things like hospitals, schools and bore holes are constructed and running in many communities. It is all individual-community effort. Ndi Igbo have many programs that have elevated the poor masses amongst us. Programs like Ịgba Odibo. A program where rich Igbo men takes an Igbo boy from a poor family, train and settle him. That is the apprenticeship spirit of the Igbo.
I have seen many Yoruba people in Lagos stereotype the Igbo by saying the Igbo go to the village to use their mothers for ritual money.
They forget that the Igbo boy served for 5-8 years. Endured, disciplined himself and avoided partying. Some even made their shop their home for many years. Now they saved money passionately with vision, become rich and buy houses. Now they are called ritualists by those who have innate culture of partying and lavishing resources.
You can keep attributing love to tribes that have killed hundreds and thousands. Tribes that can wear bombs and bomb their entire family members. Tribes that love marginalising others so much that they keep all, including sea ports to themselves.
They can be your symbol of love; but what I can never do is to apologise for being an Igbo man.
Written by: Elochukwu Ohagi – Philosopher, Teacher & Activist.
Edited By: Paul Ihechi Alagba
For Family Writers Press International.