Being Igbo in Nigeria is a burden so severe that even death does not lift it: it sinks with you to the grave and even when you reincarnate as an Australian, you can never really atone for the sin of choosing the wrong ancestry at the previous roll of the karma dice.
It is not enough that you are “marginalized” (that word is not just thrown around because the Igbo palate has a love for the feel of it) in anything that appears like a benefit accruing to the citizens of this nation, or that you are the most disunited set of humans this world has ever seen. Most of all, it is your source of livelihood that is the sacrificial lamb for every ethnic skirmish, for every flight of fancy an aggrieved group of people can mutter under breaths sodden with alcohol and Kwale ganja.
I wonder why we have become so comfortable with becoming sitting ducks, target practice for every deranged lunatic or group of lunatics fuelled with jealousy and stupidity. Why we are the ones who bear the burden of peace and in whose frontyard the trash of the country is constantly strewn
I grew up in Lawanson, at a time when ethnic clashes happened every other month but you see, “them no born the bastard motherfucka well wey go touch the shop or house or car of a son of the soil”. You might deride them for being cowards because they refuse to entertain you with fights that do not add ten naira to anyone’s pockets, but when it matters, they possess more gumption in the folds of their agbada than you could store in all your warehouses.
How can you have property worth millions and billions in another man’s land, your father’s land even, and refuse to protect your investment? Do you think that the Italians, Irish and the Jews who emigrated to other countries and ran protection rings were stupid? Oh, I forget, sense is encoded only in the Igbo genome, just like moneymaking and bravado without power.
Are you not tired of having the destruction of the works of your hands become the fluff on the chin of every aspiring hooligan that is tugged at, to prove a worthless manhood? How do you continue to endure the stab of hatred and refuse to get a bloody shield!
I am angry, fuck that! I am incensed. This morning I read young educated Nigerians ‘justify’ the destruction of Igbo property over the alleged actions of ONE man, disregarding the fact that innocent men and women would have to begin lives afresh, just because of where their ancestors settled thousands of years ago. I was reminded of the many times in my lifetime (and I haven’t blown out thirty flicking candles on a cake yet) I have seen and heard of the wanton destruction of the businesses of people of my ethnic group even when the conflict had nothing to do with them.
Some of my earliest memories are of the post-1993 election carnage that led thousands of Igbos to flee home in a migration move that is still referred to as “Oso Abiola”; for they ran because their shops were looted, their lives threatened and they ran because being Igbo makes you an expert at running. Ironically, neither MKO nor IBB were Igbo, but nobody cared to know, not the looters and pillagers or the runners.
Biafra is not the solution, if Biafra’s borders could not be carved on the map with the ink from the blood of two million+ in the theatre of war, it would take a miracle of epic scale to get it and y’all would much rather sell mustard seeds than use ’em to exercise faith. It doesn’t even matter if Biafra is achieved, how the hell are you going to transfer everything you have all worked for to the place you have neglected forever? And your children? Do you think your Nigerian passport-wielding children who haven’t been to the motherland more than five times in their lifetimes – if ever – will follow you to the wilderness where only Enugu shines beacon bright?
Since we have discarded the improbable, let’s deal with the tangible. Secure your investments! Get your own security, bribe police officers if you have to! Those black clothed men who demand fuel money before lifting flat “nyashes” from rickety seats are very effective if you offer them enough paper, they will patrol your markets and shops every twenty minutes if you want?!
Private security agencies are a valid option if you think corruption has turned the police into a legion of demons. Just protect your businesses, nobody else cares if you thrive, or if that small shop where you sell vehicle spare parts sustains your extended family, pays school fees and rent and medicine costs for your aged parents. The day something happens they will speak English and justify it.
The OPC is the reason many Lagosians sleep well, study their model and create your own band of warriors who will make anyone rethink your status as a soft target. Even the northerners are not soft targets with daggers strapped to their left thighs in lagos or anywhere else for that matter – else why are they the talent pool for maigaurd jobs?! Firearm licences are cheaper than you think, work your connections and arm yourselves. Read Luke 22:36 if your Christian mind balks at the idea of metal for protection.
We have wiped enough tears from seeing naira sublime to smoke as years of hard work are sacrificed to literal flames, how come none of the business strongholds boast of a private fire service? How much will it cost to run one? Y’all sell Diamonds to the South Africans and the Congolese on the regular, how hard would it be for two or three business men to invest in smoke alarms and other fire retarding/fighting technology that will save billions and cost units of millions. Insurance is not a myth, pay premiums and relax. If the insurance guys try nonsense, sue the bastards- that’s why you sent your children to law school.
Finally, UNITE. the threefold cord cannot be broken on a whim, as long as you’re still in Nigeria, work the system. Fight for a place at the table. Onye aghala nwanne ya. Being republican by orientation doesn’t mean we cannot advance common goals and kickass at the same time. Now is not the time to talk about the pointless angles of division that we throw up daily, I am from Mbaise and I know more than most just far we would go to malign each other.
One of the saddest things ever written is this line by Chinua Achebe. “The white man is very clever. He came quietly with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.” Our problems might have had a slightly different progression but the outcome is the same as our fictional Umuofia brethren. , we have fallen apart. We can change the story though, after all, we produce enough glue to fix anything. The Omo Oduduwas and the Dan Arewas can be your role models.
PS: nobody is your brother or offspring, not the Ijaw woman or the Kalabari boy, or the Ibibio or Ndokwa or Ikwerre or Ika, face your front and break the yoke on your neck. Your name is not Esau, and even he broke his yoke.