THE IGBOLIS IN THE NEW WORLD ORDER
THE IGBOLIS IN THE NEW WORLD ORDER
I want to save the niceties for those who know how to do it better than I. I feel anxious because today’s generation of the Igbolis (a personal loose application of the appellation Igbo or Ndi Igbo) are in an urgent need of redemption. Self-redemption, that is. The Igbolis cannot continue to pretend that nothing is wrong because a lot is wrong with their world view. In today’s world a person’s place in it is determined by his view or perception of it. How one sees the world is the all important thing. It is the central reason for one’s successes and failures. Why it is the most important tool in today’s world is because a person’s actions and reactions to situations are predetermined by his overall perception of the world. And his successes and failures are the sum of his actions and reactions which some other people will prefer to call his choices. Our choices in life make all the difference but it is our perceptions that actually guide our brain in making those choices. So this is why it is very important to have the right view of what is controlling people’s decisions at every given time in history. In real life much of the time people’s actions and decisions are shaped by what is en vogue rather than what is correct. And I think that this is an important point to note because we are talking about winning and losing and it seems that in real life situations most people are pre-occupied by the fad as against substances.
Eto dike. But we have had enough of that already. The Igbolis of today have got enough praises and eulogies. The eulogizers have been quite generous and indiscriminate and have handed out their precious ware to both those who deserve it and some who definitely do not. We have had almost a surfeit of many gifted praise-singers who have used mesmerizing and enchanting phrases in their art to extol our many high achievers. It will be superfluous of me to repeat the same thing that these talented Igbo artists have said better than I can ever say it. What I can add here is that the Igbolis are smart, intelligent, hardworking, resourceful, creative, egalitarian, republican, powerful and awe-inspiring eagle on the tip of the great iroko, and the list goes on. Yes, I am proud to be an Igbo, everyone should be. But it is like we as a people are critically deficient on the most vital ingredient that is truly important in today’s world. We are terribly lacking that all-important tool which we so badly need to enable us navigate successfully this very rough and complex waters of today’s world. We are today completely bereft of that all-powerful ability of collective bargaining, it seems.
In the end what matters is winning or losing as a people. And I have tried to do some thinking (just as I know that several other Igbolis have done) on the road we have travelled so far and it has been so disheartening to see that we as a people have had too many downs than necessary. Everyone I hope, will agree with us that the reality of all normal lives is that there are ups and downs, winnings and losses. There is nothing wrong in failing in fact it is an essential part of the life we are living in. We try to learn all the lessons our failures have to teach us and armed thus we march on with caution and avoid some pitfalls along the road. If normal life were a mixture rather than monotony then any of the two extremes will be regarded as abnormal, that is if we always win and don’t lose or we always lose and don’t win. But the most worrisome thing right now is that in the case of us as a people it appears we are dangerously gravitating towards the later extreme. It seems we have fallen down rather too many times that it will be foolhardy of us to continue on this road we are travelling without sitting down to reassess all our priorities.
We are not pretending to be unaware that there are many people who will disagree with this conclusion. Why, with so many individuals that one can easily point at who have made tremendous progress and achieved so much within record times, it will almost be a sacrilege to claim that we as a people have failed far too many times than necessary. Be that as true as we all know that many Igbolis have gone into virtually all areas of life and excelled but what is equally true if not more so is that as a group our choices and decisions at very critical moments have been disastrous and our accomplishments as a result have been almost zero. Before setting out on this self-criticism I tried to count the cost. I know that I run the risk of being called names or worst of all maybe many people rejecting this position that I hold. And I wish above everything else that I am wrong, because the desire of everybody is to be accepted, but the facts on the ground are that I may most likely be right. But in the mean time for the sake of argument, let us pretend that I am right even if you believe that I am wrong.
And if we are continuing for pure reasoning sake then we must come to agree that at this moment in our history we are at the very crossroads. This hour perhaps is the most critical moment in our nation’s history. It is our defining moment. The choice we make today will either make us or break us. And to choose we must and it must be now. We have stayed for too long in this place of indecision and a complete state of disarray. The choice before us is either to rise up today and carve out a place for us and our children in this great moving train, the world, the human race or we are left behind or even obliterated and lost forever. There is always a price to pay to purchase a place in any exclusive area with limited spaces and we all know that today’s world does not have the infinite expanse of the outer space.
Now talking about paying the price, someone might argue that we have paid with 3.1 million lives already. That is huge brothers and sisters, it is a genocide whose magnitude is incomparable with any other on the African soil in history and should have been enough if the prize still does not elude us. What price do we consider too much for freedom? Not until the head of the sly slinking snake hiding in the thatch has been severed so that our wives and children, our brothers and sisters and our parents can sleep on their beds in peace without fear of being murdered the next morning shall we consider any price too high. Our fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, cousins, nieces, nephews were those 3.1 million and they gave their all to purchase our today for us. What are we going to pay to purchase our children’s tomorrow for them?
You will all agree with me that there is a lot of wisdom in the assertion of our people that ofu osisi anaghi eme ohia. With all our individuals’ achievement they amount to nothing when we cannot gather together and collectively urinate in one place to produce the one bigger foam that announces our distinct presence in the world and cleanses us of every form of oppression and unjust restrictions. How much of life-shielding shades can a few gigantic irokos scattered in the middle of the Sahara provide? For us the time of the mighty individual has past it is now the era of collectivism. We must prove that we can organize and we can as one people achieve. We have already proved to the world that we can do it as individuals now the world wants to see us do it as a people. And believe me I have so much faith in us that we can.
But this time is not the time for anyone to sit on the fence. Rather it is the time to be either here or there. We have arrived at this moment some few thousand years too late. But like they say it is better late than never. Before Oduduwa arrived with his empire building connivers to Ile-Ife and virtually all of the present day Western region, the Igbolis were already well-established and leading a flourishing civilization of arts, science, technology and commerce that covered the whole area. Through infiltration and uncontrolled immigration rather than by military conquest they swarmed and overwhelmed the population of the Igbolis resident there and so we lost a very large territory to the Yoruba people some millennia back.
This was easy for Oduduwa to do because we have always believed on individual’s achievement or mini-group accomplishment as against the larger group or the empire building mania or pan-world dominance. And more so because we are the out-going lot we are receptive to strangers and empathize with people in distress especially when they are outsiders since we tend to see ourselves in them and their distresses. We hope that in so doing we will be spreading the good message of doing to others as you would want to be done to. We firmly believe and wish that the rest of the world believes with us same and so make it a better place where egbe na ugo na belu, you live and let others live, and don’t infringe on the neighbor’s freedom and existence. Nothing is wrong with that and it should be the collective pursuit of every people on earth. But the problem is that neighbors are not always of the same mind. They want to rule and dominate and pry into other’s privacy. What do you do when that is the reality, keep retreating? How far can you go, where really is the obi’s boundary?
For many thousands of years we have identified with those mascots or symbols of strength and authority that are individualistic in their social behavior such as the eagle, lion, iroko and so on. Think of it, eagles don’t flock, you don’t always come across a pride of lions frequently and in the forests the irokos tower above all else but are always interspersed, miles apart most times and we don’t forget the mighty elephants as well as the great whales of the oceans. These are the great and mighty loners of this world.
But has it occurred to you that these mighty symbolic powers and authorities are also the endangered species in today’s world? While on the contrary let us consider for a while the socially adapted puny creatures such as the migrating birds, the spawning fishes and the ants and termites who appear less impressive in strength yet they seem to be better survivors. These instinctive animals apply this time-honored principle of our people, igwe bike and survive well by so doing. Without doubt, our people still live by that wisdom but there is a problem with the extent of our people’s igwe. The extent of these igwe today must be stretched to include every Biafran and all of Biafra’s territories.
One other tool these seemingly weaker creatures use effectively in their survival strategy is ako n’uche. (As a people we cannot be regarded as lacking in that and I sincerely believe I am very correct on that). They prefer strategy and mass organization to physical lonesome size and strength and in that way they achieve a collective might and greatness through a seemingly weakness. Don’t forget that just as they are the product of evolution so are we and, in reality every evolutionary pathway is actually in most part the creature’s choice. The creature chooses to evolve along a path it considers most suitable for its development and success. The other important lesson to note is that evolutionary blueprints are not written in stone. They can be rewritten to adapt to prevailing circumstances. So all hope is never lost at any given time. We can always re-engineer and redesign our tools to suite the present job requirement.
And continuing our comparative reasoning regarding what really constitutes strength as a group let us look a bit closer to the ant’s very successful and sophisticated communities. Let us look at the mighty and complex anthills to illustrate our point of the power inherent in collective bargaining, inyuko mamiri onu. Let us try to compare the sizes of the builders of these edifices to the sizes of their accomplishments. What do you see? Is it not a marvel to you? But the impact of the wonder is rationalized not minimized when we take a little bit of time to understand how they do it. Their very secret is in inyuko mamiri onu, collective effort or bargaining if you like. To bargain collectively you must organize and in every functioning organization there are different parts or components that come together and function as one. In the ant’s community their societies are organized along a sort of social class that is, different parts or components. We have to point out that social stratification does not mean superior and inferior segmentation. Far from it, it only spells out the allocation of functions according to training and abilities of each member of the community. There is no part of a unit that is inferior to the other it is only inferior to the whole but never unimportant.
Someone may want to know why we are dwelling so much on the ants and their social and technological prowess. Yes, in our society and culture we recognize the role of age gradation and the younger is expected to learn from the elder. This is the very reason why every preceding generation must be careful of their actions because the next one will be passing their judgment on them. Now we don’t have to be experts in evolutionary science to know that ants’ colony or society precedes the human society. Therefore there is nothing to be ashamed of to learn from the ant’s example. Also we know that in every great human invention you can always find its image in the natural world. All successful inventions in human civilization are copies and adaptations of what are existing in nature.
There is nothing wrong in copying because in nature one aspect mimics the other. Look at the father and the son, the boy always wanting to talk and walk like the dad. Sometimes you see the girl and you exclaim this is a carbon copy of the mom! Many times copies are better than the originals in performance because when you copy you are looking at an existing image, eliminating some flaws, improving and adding functions relevant to current prevailing conditions. If nature is not ashamed to copy then there is nothing demeaning about us borrowing a leaf from the ants but we must copy correctly. The copy artist pays a lot of attention to details and don’t take things for granted. He is thorough and disciplined because he wants to copy right and even perfect the art, if there is any such thing.
Look at the Asian societies of today, they are basically no inventors but are good imitators of the Western inventions. On the other hand take a look at a society that will not copy that is, maintain or sustain any progressive pattern like Nigeria. In Nigeria every infrastructure built quickly breaks down and turns to a state of dysfunction because that society is in a permanent state of chaos and perfect madness. But bear in mind that we are not advocating for anyone to dubiously steal other people’s ideas or creations without giving credit to where it is due of course such is alien to the Biafran culture.
This is true because it does not really add up much to be the first TV station in Africa because you ran with someone else’s idea and beat them to it. In the universe in which we live it is a universe with endless innovative opportunities. It is unnecessary to cheat and swindle others because you can always find another way. Every leadership position must be grounded in a sound moral and honest foundation because our actions will eventually be subjected to scrutiny by another. But if you must be an inventor or innovator you must learn to guard your original ideas by protecting them with patents which is why we must build a society, a state, the Biafra where the rule of law is supreme and the custodians are constantly aware of the sacredness of their position and so administer justice and fairness in aka di ocha. You use the law to protect your ideas so that you will be the first to profit from your labour but they must quickly become, as the law stipulates public property, the world’s commonwealth, if you like. We cannot wait to begin to contribute to the wealth of the world as Biafrans. Nigeria can never contribute positively to the world they can only maim, kill, mass murder and destroy lives and property and export terrorism.
We will conclude by echoing Ojukwu’s advocacy in the key note address he delivered in Owerri on the 5th of March 2010 at the Southeast Elders and Leaders meeting. In that paper he advocated for the urgent need of the Igbolis to organize a coordinating group which will serve as the guardians of the people’s culture, omenala and political interests. He calls it Authority Structures and Sanction Mechanisms. Every successful society must have a central authority body which, because it is conversant with the ways of life of the people and can lucidly communicate same to every member of the group has the moral right to act on the people’s behalf. Such body usually is entrusted with, through the people’s mandate, authority machinery by which they can enforce the people’s wishes. This can be seen clearly in the ant’s colony where you have the soldiering arm besides the other society’s functionaries. These are the people’s guides or beacons who will teach the people in a clear language the way things should be done and see to it that the people collectively act right, mostly through persuasive means, in the interest of all the stakeholders.
Our people did not build empires or gave up on empire-building pursuits and instead chose to distribute our political powers across the population because of the terrain we lived in. The thickly forested region as opposed to those who inhabited the open grasslands was not the best place to organize many thousands of armies that overran their neighbors. To build empires you have to be versed in the art of cunning, deceitful tricks and manipulations and have a penchant for the subjugation of others against their will. Empire building is synonymous with lording it over the others as against the Igbolis egalitarian existence.
With this being the case is there any wonder then that we the Igbolis are currently lagging in the exploitation of this relevant tool of the moment – collective bargaining? In the past we got away with the lack of it but today things have changed. We are in a new era, a new world order. In today’s world and technology every terrain has opened up and become completely accessible to some who come with less than good intentions. They come to steal from you not just your cherished possessions but your very life, the reason for your being. Nigeria has done that for these past many years but it must end now. We must make haste to learn this trick of the trade of the new world order. We must collectively tell Nigeria that we are taking back our soul they have stolen from us for so long. We must together as one go to the rest of the world and collectively bargain to win back our freedom. The Biafran freedom must happen now. Biafranism is an eternal spirit that can never be killed or wished away by Nigeria, the world or even Biafrans. We must move quickly because we have no time left, it must be now. Freedom cannot wait.