Sunday, July 8, 2007

Most Nigerians are familiar with the word. Many more are familiar with the dire and violent conflict that it represents. For my family, Biafra conjures powerfully negative memories and stories of a time when our maternal grandfather was lined up to be shot, but thankfully spared (he lived into his late 80s, thanks be to God).

Biafra was to be a sovereign territory for Easterners but the attempt to secede resulted in incredible bloodshed, famine and suffering. So, whenever I hear "Biafra', I pay attention but I do so cautiously and guardedly.

I was thus, cautious, guarded and incredibly curious when I discovered that Ojukwu was interviewed by BBC. He proclaimed that Igbos "are not equally Nigerian as ... others" and declared that "[t]he only alternative is a separate existence." Emeka Ojukwu, a former military officer in the Nigerian army, led the call for a separate state for Igbos in the 1960s. Some revere him and consider him a hero, others refer to him in much more derogatory terms.

But, back to the issue at hand. What exactly does Ojukwu mean? Is he, again, suggesting secession? In the BBC interview, despite suggesting a separate state for Igbos, he also mentioned that Nigeria could still remain a united nation. These two statements seem contradictory and the article does not elucidate further. Unfortunately, I neither have access to the entire interview and cannot speculate on the intentions behind Ojukwu's statements, nor am I knowledgeable about the context within which they were made. It would be interesting to have a broader understanding of where he is coming from. Nevertheless, I must wonder whether Igbo people feel like second-class citizens in their own country. If so, how is that possible? The Igbo people that I know are successful, industrious, hard working and extremely driven in business, education and any other area where I have had the opportunity to get to know them. I find it hard to believe that in this day and age, Igbos are relegated to second-class status.

I once asked an ex-housemate about Igbo-feelings post Biafra and she told me that a lot of Igbos continued to feel threatened and feared potential future attack and subjugation. I listened respectfully, and I asked a few questions, but did not believe that such sentiment was widespread. I thought instead, that she was repeating what she had heard older Igbos discuss and that her remarks did not reflect the existence of contemporary Igbos of my generation. Reading the short write-up on Ojukwu's BBC interview, however, I now cannot help but revisit what I was told by my old roommate. Therefore, I ask again - do Igbos truly feel that they are second-class citizens? Do they believe that an independent state will improve their situation and status? Do younger Igbos feel this way? And finally, do any of you think that a repeat of the Biafran war, in any part of the Republic, is possible? Even before considering these questions, there remains the one unasked question - Does Ojukwu still speak for Ndigbo (Igbo people)?

I must confess (in case you are unaware), I am a staunch supporter of a united Nigeria. I believe we gain more as a nation of over 240 tribes and 140 million people, than as a fractured country. Despite these feelings, I still want to know other opinions, even if they differ from mine.....

For more information on Ndigbo and Igbo issues, please visit the World Igbo Congress.

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catwalq said...

This is my take on Ibgo people. If they channeled the same amount of energy and effort that they do into fraudulent and illegal endeavors as a result of their obsession with wealth, they could take Nigeria away from the barely literate Hausas and the lazy Yorubas ( by the way i am Yoruba)

Yes, as a people, the igbos are underappreciated and undervalued. The biafran war was a clear indication of that but the bulk of the crimes committed against them have been by themselves. Most igbos are only willing to return home if only they have enough monetary wealth to display in exchange for accolades. As a result, their greatest minds are in Lagos.

Ojukwu has passed his time and is not in touch with the country's reality. i see him as an aging soldier trying one last time to garner the glory that all but eluded his grasp with the war. He will not make a good president, not for nigeria and not for his people.

יש (Yosh) said...

Do Igbos truly feel that they are second-class citizens?

# I wouldn't say that! The few who do feel this way are either being manipulated, but i'm surprised again at an Igbo allowing himself to be.

To me, an Igbo man can be as successful as he wants to be, without much external interference. It's all about individualism. He can allow himself be used or not.

As I said earlier, those who I've met who still share in the ol' glory are just fantasizing about the good ol' days. But I'm not one to underestimate intentions

Do they believe that an independent state will improve their situation and status?

# That is what THEY say, but the question is do they "live" it? Visit a few eastern and southeastern Nigerian States...

Do younger Igbos feel this way?

# Those I know and have been with would rather deal with it in history. Now, it's all about actualization for their livelihoods.

And finally, do any of you think that a repeat of the Biafran war, in any part of the Republic, is possible?

# I'm not one to underestimate intentions...but if it happens, it'd probably not be as successful as the first...

Does Ojukwu still speak for Ndigbo (Igbo people)?

#Catwalq's last statement says it better. Other groups like MASSOB has stolen his thunder and of course there's plenty splinter-groups around who'd want to act the boss.

There's too much diversity in the "BIAFRAN" region to allow for synergy, to put up a united front for this cause. Who'd take care of the oil!? There's a lot of room for disunity and distrust in the Southeast. THIS alone, could be a bane to any efforts in this regard

Chxta said...

I don't feel like a second class citizen. For me my ethnicity isn't a burden. Same can't be said about a lot of others...

snazzy said...

i still say that ojukwu is senile. The skinny I got is that Anambra (his own state) doesn't really take him seriously, but that he does have support in Imo State. I don't know of any Igbos that consider themselves second class citizens. The only ones who bandy that about are the political guys who are trying to get a larger slice of the pie. Anyway...

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Ugo Daniels said...

@Catwalq: your comment reeks of an unbiased attitude and full of prejudice. You categorization adn generalization is another thing worthy of mention here. Is there a statistical result stating that the Igbos are the main '419' people like you mentioned. Instead of basing your argument on mere rumours, i would be glad you have a balanced report and not some myopic BS.

If you know a bit about the history of Nigeria, you wouldn't have made that assertion. It definitely goes beyond what you(we) see.

I don't wanna sound sentimental or tribalistic, but i believe no human being on this earth can make me feel underappreciated or undervalued.

You claim you're Yoruba, yet you have so much 'assumed' information on the Igbo's. I find this so satirical and at the very least, completely illogical.


Ugo Daniels said...

@Snazzy, to say, i'm dumbfounded by your assertions is a great understatement. I'm completely baffled at your jaundiced approach to such a sensitive topic. Man, i can rightly say, i'm completely disappointed. But, hey..that's the funny thing in this world. Scratch the ground and you can either find rare metals or pieces of junk.

You calling Ojukwu senile is not only insensitive but fallacious and unethical. Last time i checked, senility is associated with people showing a decline or deterioration of physical strength or mental functioning. Now, on what basis do you base your judgement of Ojukwu as senile. I respect your views/opinions but felt there are better ways you could have made your points without resorting to name calling. After all he's someones Dad, brother, husband, etc.

You also mentioned that the 'skinny' you heard...C'mon dude. You can't make an argument on mere heresay and expect learned folks to take you serious.

Don't get me wrong, you're very much right in your last statement that almost all Igbo politicians are out for money making and the 'get rich or die trying' syndrome seems to have overtaken every one of them.

catwalq said...

Dear Ugo,
I read your response to my post and I am convinced you misunderstood my point of view.
I am aware that many Igbos are not fraudulent. I am just saying that if the same amount of time it took them as "manufacturers" and "dealers" to create substandard knock offs and fake products, was channelled towards perfectng their craft, they would be a stronger foce to be reckoned with. I base my analysis on facts.
Substandard goods are "aba made". Whether or not that is your state, it belongs to the Igbos. Imagine if the "Aba Made" tag was an indication of superior quality and stamped on every good that we as Nigerians use, imagine how much power that will be.
Until your fellow nigerians are convinced that as a people you are committed towards the attainment of a higher standard and not personal gratification, they will continue to brush you as a people aside.
As it is, most of your leaders are always embroildered in one scandal or another. Some have imvolved pseudo mafias and shrines.
I do know a good amount of my country's history. I am not sure if you understood my comments about the Biafran war. I am very aware of its effect on the Igbos and national status. I have lived with people who survived the atrocities. All I am saying is that in today's world, if Igbos did more to benefit themselves as people and not as individuals, then it would not be so easy for them to be ignored on a national scale.

sokari said...

Ugo@ I agree with you about Catwalq's initial response and it is exactly sentiments like this that lead to people feeling marginal and unfounded tribalism between Nigerians. His statement has no basis whatsoever. As for Ojukwu - whilst I believe he does have his own constituency in Igboland and I do not think it amounts to much but then again so does MOSSAB. As you rightly state many Igbos came out of the civil war with no closure (as Americans would say. No sympathy for the pain and violence they went through from Nigerians. At least for that generation it makes sense to me that there is some residual feelings of marginalization within the notion of Nigeria.

Kwenu said...

I am a young Igbo male, 23 years of age.

The author of this article speaks of "Nigeria" as though it is a legitimate country. You are not from a "country", you are from a geographic expression called "nigeria", created by a bunch of White people in Britain. There are no "Nigerians" in the sense that there are French or Germans or Italians, and there never have been.

The Igbo want Biafra because we know we can do BETTER, and that other stupid "Nigerians" will never stop resenting us for our supposed obsession with wealth (since when was this bad?) and the unfortunate fact that we do better than they do in business and academics.

If Nigeria were a federal government, with a legitimate federal structure (like Canada's) then there would be far fewerer problems, but unfortunately, with stupid illiterate Hausa Fulani and stupid Yoruba being members of the death cult that is Islam, it is highly unlikly the country will ever adopt an appropriate form of government.


I have observed the constant use of deregotary terms towards various ethnic groups in Nigeria and must unequivocally state that IT MUST STOP! This blog is a means for people to respectfully discuss issues and share their thoughts but I will under no terms and for no reason encourage the use of unnecessarily direct insults.

Therefore, STOP!!!!

Thank you to everyone who has shared their comments on this issue (i.e. Biafra). They have all been insightful.

As for Kwenu: Nigeria is a legitimate country. A nation state consisting of many different ethnic groups and peoples. Most people are aware of the issues surrounding Nigeria's 'creation' that you referred to. That 'creation' in no way, in this day and age, lessens the fact that we are Nigerians. Let's not confuse ourselves.

Anyway, on to your comments on Biafra and your belief that Igbos can do better than other 'stupid' Nigerians. I would like you to qualify your statements - help the rest of us 'stupid Nigerians' understand. I am quite sure that Igbos are not the only ones obsessed with wealth (the issues surrounding such a character trait can be analyzed at another venture) and I know for a fact that Igbos do not do better than anyother group of Nigerians. There are successful Nigerians from all ethnic groups and reigions. To suggest otherwise would be naive and extremely inaccurate.

As to the federal structure of Nigeria's government, I think you need to flush that thought out. I will not speculate on what you are trying to get at. As for Islam - the religion is not the problem, it is the people who use Islam and other religions (Christianity, included) to persecute and deprive others that are the problem.

I truly believe that Nigeria is better off as a united nation than a fractured group of small tribal units neighboring each other. Our strength lies in our numbers. Of course, a day may come when the boundaries should probably change. But, that day has not come yet and I do not expect it anytime soon.


Chxta said...

That Kwenu character isn't one that should be taken seriously, he has visited my blog on a few occasions, and he is someone who I would say is ethnically prejudiced.

From my experience such people have nothing tangible to offer...

Kwenu said...

Let me do you a favor SOLOMONSYDELLE and educate you about your own, "country", and its people.

Thomas Sowell, an American academic, as well as others, have found that in fact the Igbo actually DO outperform other ethnic groups in Nigeria in academia and commerce.

You can do your own research and find out also, quite frankly its easy to find information. Then again, Nigerians dont like it when the "facts" interfere with their beliefs.

Also, to say that all of Nigeria's ethnic groups have members that are successful is quite apart from saying they are all equally successful. The Hausa Fulani are the most backwards ethnic group in the country, but quite in line with their legitimate countrymen in Niger.

Omodudu said...

came back to see how things were going. kinda dissapointed that the exchange did not continue beyond this point. Kwenu where you at?

femme said...

the problem with commenting on marginalization in Nigerian is there isn't any way to escape being prejudiced.
i find I'm a bit shaken by catwalq's comments, but then again its only typical.
my problem with the igbos resides solely with the igbos who don't reside in their traditional homes. i don't know how to explain the fact that they seem to be the only tribes in Nigeria content to mingle, learn the languages of their new homes. their girls are more prone to marry outside the tribe than any other, this would be okay if other tribes did this too. went to a blog where the host was complaining about the last census and his inabilty to run theoritically for office in benin becos he's an igbo guy but feels more benin than igbo.
on paper this sounds nice but a Benin guy doesn't want to be king in your own village. a Benin guy living in owerri would probably speak his own language, still look for Benin friends and this goes for most other tribes.this is the same benin where daisy danjuma after marriage became senator. she could have tried to run in her husbands place.
i don't think that the igbo people still look up to ojukwu but calling him senile is a bit extreme.
any one who says the igbo youths are content being Nigerian must be talking about igbo youths in Lagos especially i know cos i left lagos to school in the east.
has any one ever bothered to find out why aba boys make substandard goods? anybody in the manufacturing industry(an industry that almost doesn't exist) knows that sourcing credible materials is almost impossible. these people are trying to feed their families and u forget that people buy because its all they can afford.
recently my dad stoped for a drink at a kiosk in lagos and orderd a soda, as the woman opened it his phone rang and he began to speak in igbo, can u believe she snatched the drink out of his hands and asked him to get out. he said he was so mad he really could have killed her. all day he sat looking at his gun shot wound from the war wondering what could have been.
it was a sad day for him cos he thought there was still hope.
i admit to being prejudiced via my dads iinfluence but growing up in lagos i got my own experiences i never expected. hearing 'omo igbo oshi' can only be likened to how black Americans feel when they are called the n fact the n word has no hold on me because it means nothing to me.
personally i find if i talk about the biafran war i'd rather talk about it with the child of a hausa man to understand their own take in the whole matter than with a yoruba person because i really think they don't know whats really happening.
actually, many people don't know.
i hope and pray it never comes down to a war again, infact i don't think the igbos will go down that road again.(oso abiola showed this clearly -if u don't know what this find someone to explain it)
personally again, i am as Nigerian as the next person and would like to see people open to change and integration but if there could be a peaceful secession, i wouldn't mind it. YES, I SAID IT!


@ femme: it is sad that your father was treated the way he was at the kiosk. I still find it hard to believe that it was simply because he spoke in Igbo, but will have to take your word for it.

As for the comments you received -"omo igbo oshi". I am curious, could you provide some context? Growing up in Lagos, I had children follow me down the street singing "oyingbo pepper, lookoo lookoo pepper, if she marry pepper, she o marry no more, African oyingbo...."

As a young child at the age of barely 6, I was disturbed (particularly because at the time, I didn't understand pidgin). Anyway, my point is, I understood then that the comments had nothing to do with who I was. It was just a way of kids being silly. I thus wonder if your 'incident' had little to do with your Igbo-ness and more to do with some other factor.

If you feel like sharing, please do so. If not, I appreciate your contribution to the discussionm nevertheless.


@ Dudu: You this boy, you like wahala shebi? lol! No you are right, I should have responded to Kwenu's last comment earlier but I got bogged down with other things. I started to respond but other thins came up. Therefore....

@ Kwenu: Thank you for choosing to further elaborate on your points and for providing reading material.

I do not agree with most of Prof. Sowell's ideas e.g. he discounts the impact of racism and sexism as factors in certain American societal issues. That is not a school of thought I buy into. As such, it is hard for me to assume that I would agree with his assessments on the issue we have been discussing. Just because a claim of scientific analysis is made does not mean that the numbers have not been bent to match the point being made. Not that Sowell would ever do that....

I wonder where he got his 'facts' from? How, in Nigeria, (where we don't even keep track of people's religions, and only recently had a census after a long time) does anyone figure out what group of Nigerians is smarter? Oh, as to Igbos being better at commerce, how does that relate with the fact that Yoruba people have historically RUN and CONTROLLED the flow of commerce not just in Nigeria but in other African countries as well?

Yoruba market women can be found in Togo, Benin, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Zaire (also has a lot of Hausa and Igbos) and probably other places I cannot speak on.

Now, just because Yoruba people have historically traded for centuries, does that mean that they are better or smarter that Igbos or Hausas?

Anyway, thanks again for pointing us all to Professor Sowell. Unfortunately, you know my thoughts on his 'facts'.

Kwenu said...

SOLOMONSYDELLE: You are a typical Yoruba airhead.

I give you a source of information, and your critique of that source is that the author says things you disagree with. Then you bring up the fact that of course your people have "traditionally" run commerce in this place or that, with no source whatsoever to support the conclusion.

Why should anyone with a brain want to be forced into sharing a country with retards like you and your Hausa Fulani co-religionists?

What a joke you are.


I am such a joke that you cannot resist constantly returning to my blog. I amsure you stalk it regularly and try to look for silly ways to make silly, nonsensical comments. Anyway, I will repeat - FEEL FREE TO NOT RETURN!

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