First, let us make a well tailored flashback. After the end SARS protest, some Igbo traducers in Abuja and Lagos notoriously claimed youths of South East extraction carried out the horrendous violence that destroyed some public and private facilities in Lagos.
In retaliation, Ndigbo’s buildings, property and other belongings were torched. It was a national eyesore.
Within the week, a report had it that 14 suspects who allegedly set fire to the High Court of Lagos, Igbosere, have been arraigned before an Ikeja Magistrate Court.
The suspects were Enife Olawale, 24, Gbenga Ajayi, 22, Lamidi Rafiu, 25, Oladunmoye Ayodeji, 26, Soliu Tajudeen, 23, Ahmed Olayinka, 22, Samuel Damilola, 22, and 19-year-old Iyabo Oriade,Wasiu Crewa, 40, Habib Salit, 27, Nurudeen Yusuf, 30, Safiu Quadri Lekan, 23, Afolabi Lukuman, 35, Yusuf Babalola, 19, and others still at large were arraigned on charges of arson punishable under Section 411 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos 2015.
The case has been adjourned pending legal advice from the Lagos State Director for Public Prosecution (DPP).
Shockingly, there were no Igbo in the list. In Igbo cosmology, there is a concept called ‘Chiagorom/Chinagorom’. That is, God is my witness. You can see how the Almighty has started witnessing in favour of Ndigbo in a well orchestrated conspiracy against Igbo youths in Abuja and Lagos.
The celebrated late icon, Prof Chinua Achebe, in his timeless book, Things Fall Apart, identified ‘ofo na – ogu’ as a central factor in a person’s or community’s survival. Ofo na -ogu is justice and equity. It stands for integrity and honesty in dealing with others.
It symbolizes the idea of ‘eziokwu bu ndu’, that is truth is life. You must stand by the truth no matter the situation. The Igbo nation anchors its survival instinct in this philosophy of equity and justice. Remember that Achebe was born in November and this revelation from a court in Lagos is sneaking out in the month of November.
Of course another aspect of Igbo cosmology which has accounted for the collective survival of Ndigbo is ‘Ikenga’, that is, the spirit of republicanism – the art of survival no matter the challenge, with or without your brother, in OR outside your domain. It was this aspect of the Igbo that spurred late General Odumegwu Ojukwu to brace the odds in 1967 and stood down the impunity of the time and came out with the creation called Biafra. For almost three years, Biafra made the black race proud by her creative innovation and invention. With Ikenga, Ndigbo in Biafra fought for survival until when it was no longer possible to do so. Ikenga means I can survive. And Ndigbo survived. Ojukwu, also, was born in November.
Again, after the war, Ndigbo came back to Nigeria preaching and embracing another great philosophy of theirs ‘udo kamma’, that is peace, love, unity and progress. With this, Onitsha that was brought to ruination, through individual and collective effort, was rebuilt and made West Africa’s industrial hub. In the same manner, Aba was rebuilt and became a commercial nerve centre not just of East but of Africa.
Indeed, one man who understood the dynamism of the Igbo was the legendary Zik. He was the pathfinder of Nigeria’s independence and a great Igbo leader. Zik, a true Igbo, understood the practical importance of ‘akuruo ulo/uno’, that is, think home, and bring your wealth home.
That was why he encouraged Okpara, Akanu Ibiam, Ojike, Raymond Njoku, Mbadiwe and others to join him in the nationalistic struggle that led to independence.
Zik, as most of us are aware, was a November boy. Zik, against all the lies against him, brought his wealth of experience home to bear on all who came into contact with him. He promoted education and made his people and followers to embrace western education.
With him as governor general/ president, Igbo wards were president of the senate, speaker of house of reps, GOC of the army, and other notable representations, purely on merit.
However, the present Igbo wards do not pay attention to this philosophy of akuruo ulo/uno. They do not think home. They invest outside Igbo nation. And this is why they suffer billions of naira loss anytime there is crisis outside South East. It is only Nnewi investors that have conquered this inferiority complex of thinking that business cannot grow here. We salute them.
Another worthy son of Igbo soil, Senator Francis Arthur Nzeribe, is a great exponent of ‘ibiri kambiri’- live and let live. Nzeribe demonstrated this spirit of live and let live when he correctly demanded from SDP national leaders in 1993 what the party had for Ndigbo in the run up to the ill fated 1993 presidential election. The SDP had taken its presidential ticket slot to the west, VP to the north and the party chairman to south south without Igbo consideration.
Nzeribe raised his voice but was bullied. However, his seemingly anti democratic actions which he got by constitutional means were a part of the factors that denied Abiola the presidency of Nigeria. The lesson is, do not deny the other person what is due to him. And for your information, Nzeribe is a November poster boy.
The spirit of ‘onye aghala nwanne ya’, do not forget your brother/sister, is another Igbo concept that has kept Ndigbo going and stronger. The Igbo community meetings all over the world are a good testimony of this idea. Igbo people believe in ‘onuru ube/akwa nwanne ya agbala oso’. That is, be your brothers’ keeper. It is not for nothing that APGA, believed by many as Igbo party, has this slogan as its motto.
At this trying moment in our national history, you rather see Igbo people bubbling in material prosperity, spiritual growth, physical development, social advancement and academic upsurge. Why? Ndigbo do things in unison – Igwe bu – ike.
They task themselves for community road projects, hall construction as well health care establishment. Before now, most primary and secondary schools were put in place through communal efforts.
This was how the great Mbaise Secondary School and Mbaise General Hospital came into being. It was like that all Igbo communities. Yes. Igwe bu-ike. When you go alone, you can go fast but you may not last long, but when you go in a group with people of the same vision, you go slowly but you will last the distance.
Whenever the Igbo suffer loss of property or lives, they console themselves with the philosophy of ‘nkeiruka’, greater things ahead. That was why, despite the brutal civil war and its devastating effects on the Igbo, even after being given 20 pounds in 1970, the Igbo came out stronger between 1970 and 1980. At least, Rangers were Nigeria’s and African champions.
The Nigeria University at Nzukka became a centre of international academic research and Ndigbo have been leading Nigeria in all fields except the presidency of Nigeria.
Many people normally misunderstand the true meaning and interpretation of ‘azuka’. Really, in application, it is not the opposite of nkeiruka. But literally it is. Azuka is being employed by Igbo people to show that ‘I have strong back up’. That is, even if you destroy me, what is behind me will still survive me. It shows Igbo’s spirit of after number one, there is number two.
Azuka is Igbo’s way of saying ‘I have followers behind me. Or, in other words, I am well fortified – you may be seeing only me but there are people coming after me. This philosophy has made Ndigbo not to feel like orphans in the face of severe challenges which in many cases result to deaths.
Yes. Charity begins at home. Esinulo/Esinuno is an Igbo philosophy which enjoins Ndigbo not to be ‘mbanaja’, that is, bad at home, good at away. With this spirit, you see Igbo people who live outside Igbo country, building mansions at home. Most times, these houses are not occupied but only during Christmas celebrations or during events like burial of a close family member or friend. Yet Ndigbo know that North or South, home is the best. Whatever good you want to do start it with your people, in your family, in your community.
Ndigbo also strongly believe in the concept of ‘onyemaechi’, that is, who knows tomorrow? Or no one knows tomorrow. This philosophy helps Ndigbo to be well guided by their consciences in whatever they do because ‘echi di -ime’ (the future is unknown).
Here, it is believed that the beggar of today can have a child who will be the king tomorrow while the children of today’s rich men may be wayward of the days ahead. This idea makes the Igbo to stop by the roadside and assist anybody in need because he might be your saviour in the near future also.
We come to the point where even Ndigbo themselves misunderstand their socio-cultural way of life. And that is the deeply rich ideology of ‘Ohanaeze’ which makes Igbo to proclaim it to the rooftops that ‘Igbo amaghi Eze’s. Sadly, people do not actually comprehend what this really entails. Ohanaeze means that Ndigbo are not just republicans but democrats. Mind you, it is not ‘ezenaoha’ (king and the masses), it is Ohanaeze (the masses and the king).
In other words, Ndigbo agree on an issue and pass it to their king or leader to announce and execute. The king does not stay in his palace and decree for Ndigbo.
This is a very important aspect of Igbo culture that makes it attractive. Igbo amaghi eze does not mean that Ndigbo do not know king, do not have kings or do not respect kings. It means that Igbo kings and leaders do not have autocratic leaders. However, this philosophy is being abused today by the present youths and young millionaires who because of the affluence intimidate and abuse anybody who disagrees with them.
It is also common knowledge that Igbo is vehemently anti ‘nso ala/ani’. Here, there certain crimes against the land that are considered as a taboo. For instance, a son cannot claim the headship of the family when the father is still alive. Two, no one man is permitted to secretly or forcefully grab what collectively belongs to the community. It is a taboo for a man to sleep with his kindred woman.
When a man commits such crimes, he is usually compelled to cleanse the spirit of the land as well as appease the gods. Today, because of Christianity and modernity, such a person will face deliverance. This ideology makes everyone in Igbo nation to respect the laws of the land.
As a matter of fact, in the Igbo country, there is a belief that nwanne di na mba. An Igbo knows that there is a friend who may be more useful to you than your biological brother at a particular time or circumstance. For instance, Zik had Adeniran Ogunsanya, a Yoruba, as his closest political associate. Ogunsanya was Zik’s nwanne di na mba. Also, in the Second Republic, the late Plateau State governor, Solomon Lar, against all odds, delivered the middle belt enclave to Zik’s NPP despite being surrounded by NPN hawks.
In that regard, Lar was Zik’s nwnne di na mba. You can travel to Kano and a Hausa man saves you during a riot, he has become your nwanne di na mba. Ndigbo demonstrated this feat when they identified with President Jonathan and supported him to the end. Jonathan in return treated Ndigbo well as he treated others. For Ndigbo, GEJ is nwanne di na mba.
In all, ‘onwuka’, that is, when death comes, nothing stops it. This philosophy makes Ndigbo to know that no matter your wealth or social status, death is inevitable. And, no one buries himself. Thus, do well for the sake of death, because Jesus went about doing good. November personalities and Igbo cosmology of survival.