By Churchill Okonkwo Ph.D
In Igbo cosmology, there are many gods e.g. Amadioha (the God of thunder), Ani (the Earth Goddess), Idemili (the lady of the waters), Upkaka Ndam (African oil bean that protects kindred’s of Ndam), Ogwugwu (a female god), etc. It is very common, in Igboland, for someone to be in good stead with one god and not the other. As such, Ogwugwu could kill a person despite an excellent relationship with Udo.
The Igbo sociopolitical landscape has produced “god-like-figures” like the gods in Igbo cosmology. Examples include Chief Dr. Nnamzi Azikiwe (The Zik of Africa), Mike Okpara, Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu (Ikemba Nnewi), Chief Sam Mbakwe, Chinua Achebe, etc. Akin to the Igbo cosmology too, despite the excellent relationship of Igbos with these godlike-figures that we have come to love and admire, Igbos are witnessing our slow annihilation after we embraced the cancerous ideology of the Indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB).
To say that Igboland is in grave danger is an understatement. We are currently facing a self-inflicted annihilation. The Igbo nation has been hoodwinked by a group who is not only erratic but one that is led by an embattled and paranoid leader, who is going down the tubes and is hellbent on dragging the entire Igboland down as well. Their political ineptitude, mediocrity, indiscipline, and ethnic bigotry is legendary and destructive.
This is, therefore, one of those pieces that I set out writing with the future Igbo generations on my mind. It is for the sake of the future of Igbos in Nigeria, for our children and grandchildren, that I, once in a while, steps in to present a different narrative, an insider’s view of the inside, on the state of Igbo land. On the remembrance of Biafra, at 53, I am particularly worried about the generation in Igbo land that is being fed with so much misinformation and outright lies that it may take an eternity to rectify.
The main purpose of IPOB’s campaign of misinformation is to confuse many Igbos with contradictory lies that will be repeated here and there until Igbos do not know what the truth is. For years, Igbos have allowed IPOB to spread lies that have poisoned the trust between us and the rest of the ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.
The cutting words of IPOB is worse than a bowstring. While a cut may heal, the cut of the tongue does not. Ultimately, what IPOB has succeeded in doing is stir up hatred between Igbos and the rest of Nigerians. So, I stand bold to state that IPOB is a disease; the lies and venom that they are vomiting through Nnamdi Kanu do not have to make sense to be successful as a disease.
IPOB tends to make frequent reference to other groups in Nigeria – usually in terms of outsiders and enemies. Most often, this reference is accompanied by a fear factor, a xenophobic perspective that is meant to heighten ethnic tension in Nigeria. This contributes to the creation of the ‘us versus them’ social divisions in Nigeria. They use a variety of tools and tactics to increase these schisms, or cleavages, in society at every given opportunity. It is a deadly disease.
There are two specific reasons why are I am worried about the slippery slope the Igbos are on. One is that the bug of misinformation and propagation of conspiracy theories and alternative facts has caught the educated and the enlightened strata of the Igbo race. The second is that ruin is the destination towards which IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu have pushed all Igbos, politically, economically, socially, and religiously.
According to Chinua Achebe, …stories are not always innocent…they can be used to put you in the wrong crowd, in the party of the man who has come to dispossess you. IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu have not only disposed of Igbos of their place in the community of ethnic nationalities in Nigeria, but they have also destroyed our trademark, the Biafran Spirit.
A family is like a forest when you are outside it is dense, when you are inside you see that each tree has its place. I am a member of the family and I can tell my brothers and sisters without hesitation that IPOB has destroyed the Biafran Spirit. Ashes fly back into the face of him who throws them. On this occasion marking Biafra at 53, Igbos should stop throwing ashes with IPOB.
The message from Biafran heroes to Igbos who are not speaking out against the desecration of the Biafran Spirit is that Ndigbo will continue to be incapacitated and paralyzed. The message to my Igbo brothers, from Biafran heroes, on this special commemoration of Biafra at 53, is that Igbos must ditch their blind support of the divisive political ideology, completely. Do not let anyone keep deceiving you that Biafra is coming, tomorrow. The Biafran heroes told me to tell Igbos that it is not coming. At least not as packaged and promoted by IPOB
On this occasion marking Biafra at 53, the Biafran heroes want Igbos to remember that knowledge without wisdom is like water in the sand. They told me to remind Igbos that a chattering bird builds no nest. They are reminding us that knowledge is like a garden: if it is not cultivated, it cannot be harvested. Biafran heroes told me to tell Igbos that even though the Biafran Spirit is enigmatic and indestructible, we must not allow IPOB to drag its good name to the mud.
Finally, the Biafran Spirit is e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g that IPOB is NOT. It is forward-looking, while IPOB is still looking back to 1960s; Biafran Spirit is progressive, IPOB is retrogressive; Biafran Spirit is fearless, IPOB fears even flies: Biafran Spirit is loving and unifying, IPOB is divisive and filled with hatred and anger; Biafran Spirit is positive and truthful, IPOB propagates lies and fear.
Igbos should, therefore, not allow our political, emotional, and cultural consciousness to be plagued by a homegrown nemesis. Rather, we should speak out, in unionism, against IPOB’s collateral damage to the Biafran Spirit (the Igbo brand in Nigeria). This 53rd anniversary of the declaration of Biafra is an excellent time for Igbos to come together and protect and preserve our common resource – the Biafran Spirt. Together, we can. (Sahara reporters)