Thursday, March 25, 2010

10 Questions for Igbo’s Seeking Ikwerre Citizenship & Acknowledgement

If you are Ikwerre, or know someone that is, then you must have heard this at one point or the other. "Ikwerres are Igbos!" You might have witnessed one argument or fight that stern from this seemingly innocent statement that rub us the wrong way. I narrowly avoided lynching one old woman in Abuja who had the effrontery to tell me I don't know anything about my roots... I promised myself that I would never argue about this topic with anyone else, but I could not resist my brothers recent post on the issue, I have taken the liberty to publish it here...

Chuks Eleonu wrote...........

It appears our Igbo friends and in-laws are doing everything in their capacity to acquire Ikwerre citizenship. After all, what else are they looking to gain in constantly raising an issue that begs for disagreement when the underlying issues are completely examined end-to-end? Let's pretend for a moment that the Ikwerre's consent to Igbo hegemony; then WHAT? What does it buy the Igbo’s that they do not already have or potentially could get?

 If 2 + 3 = 5, by mathematical and scientific deductions, then 3 + 2 must also = 5, right? In other words, if Ikwerre’s are Igbo's, then Igbo’s are Ikwerre’s, hence why the un-ending clamor for recognition and acceptance – right? Only those who flunked arithmetic would proceed to argue the contrary.

In fact, the very essences of the word “Ikwerre,” implicitly and explicitly embody the notion that I have to FIRST agree. I and my people DO NOT and NEVER WILL AGREE on a strategic deliberate attempt to foist falsehood upon an innocent society can go and bring anyone with any titles pre-fixed or suffixed to their names, they will remain ignorant of the facts, until they stop the presuppositions and conjectures without in-depth empirical scholastic research that is objective in intent. We will always respect our Igbo friends and in-laws; but that cannot become synonymous to bowing to the flippant claims and ulterior-motives of the Igbo’s.

Another fact to consider is, when was the last time anyone saw titled Professors from Western or Northern Nigeria or even elsewhere around the world, listing the ethnicities of their surrounding neighbors as evidence of their scholastic aptitude? So, why would learned and intelligent Igbo’s continue to waste time in academic exercises, always asking the meaning of one's name or citing proximity of one’s village to their own boundaries? To me, I would like to respect those of us who have acquired university education, hoping of course, they can carry out and demonstrate beyond the shadow of doubt, basic empirical and sound scholastic research, beyond fanning the embers of discord inherited from their fore-parents and Nigeria's ethno-centric gridlock politics of Win/Lose.

Since our so called learned and intelligent friends like to insist that the British people should stop advancing the course of their nation until Americans begin to call themselves “British,” or the Jews should hold off fighting for their own survival until everyone else living in the “ghettos” of the world acknowledge them, let me pose the following then questions, all of which have the very same answer and GOES TO THE VERY HEART of the Ikwerre vs. Igbo debates:

1. Who was the very first person ever named Miss Nigeria, and why did she not become a Nigerian, post independence?

2. Who remembers those that played the roles of “courtima” (if you don’t know this term, you should probably never get involved in the Ikwerre-Igbo debates) and why did their Western & Northern Nigerian counterparts not pervert history and justice in their respective regions of Nigeria?

3. If Ikwerre’s were Igbo’s, why did part of the Biafra military strategy include the extermination and genocide of the Ikwerre’s? Please note that there were more saboteurs within and amongst ndi Igbo, than elsewhere in Nigeria – even till the present day.

4. If Igbo’s were so magnanimous to ameliorate their excesses in pre-historic Nigeria, dating back to the early stages of both the “white man’s & ottoman’s” slave trades, how come they are yet to resolve their osu caste system – even until the present day? Let’s go one step further to truly see how much they know of the Ikwerre, can our Igbo learned and intelligent friends account for the Igbo’s direct profiteering, racketeering, and shenanigans during the slave trade periods, as it pertains to its surrounding neighbors, including the Ikwerre's?

5. If Ikwerre’s were Igbo’s, why were they not consulted like the other Igbo clans on the eve of Ahiara War Declarations by Odumegwu Ojukwu? If our learned friends claim that Ikwerre’s were consulted, please provide name(s) of the Ikwerre representatives.

6. Why did southern Cameroon vote to not become part of Nigeria at independence – even though they knew their Hausa/Fulani dominated northern Cameroon were an evil empire? Really, you would rather associate with an evil empire than align with your next door neighbors – if we go by the theory of Igbo’s about the Ikwerre’s?

7. Speaking about Cameroonians, what was the real underlying issue about Bakassi and (like the Ikwerre’s), the peace loving peoples of Ambazonia? Why would they not want to become part of a vibrant and thriving nation like Nigeria – even till this day? What really happened?

8. Going further, who remembers pre-historic Nigeria and Cameroon showing Igbo influences stretching past the Calabar river banks, as Far East, as Mamfe and Bamenda in the Cameroons – why did it shrink back to the present day Igbo boundaries? Better yet, just like Cameroon dragged Nigeria to court over Bakassi, why have the Igbo’s not dragged their case to court, if they know the anthropological, sociological, and ethno-linguistic genesis of the Ikwerre’s?

9. The word “Biafra” is not an Igbo word – at least, am hoping they have not also started claiming it is – so, where/what is Biafra, from which the Gulf/Bight of Biafra was originally named on every world map prior to 1969? Hint: Ojukwu could not and did not coin the word !!! Since most Igbo’s immediately from birth, seem to know more about the history and origin of Ikwerre people, it is assumed this question is also a piece of cake for them

10. Last, but more importantly:

a. When were the original Ogbakor Ikwerre (excluding the ones in diaspora) and Ohaneze ndi Igbo organizations created?

b. If Ikwerre’s are seating on the high tables at Ohaneze ndi Igbo, how come the Igbo’s have never allowed these so called Ikwerre members of Ohaneze to speak by themselves to their own Ikwerre people and in a language the Ikwerre’s would understand – why are Igbo’s always the only ones doing the talking and claiming? Egyptians were not busy advertising Moses as justification for the Jews to remain in Egypt, considering the Jews never forgot their homelands, but may have adopted Egyptian and Roman names to survive the times; a good percentage of people from Sierra Leone in West Africa all have similar names and features like the Yoruba’s of Nigeria – one wonders why Nigeria’s Yoruba states are not wasting resources and time running around telling other Yoruba’s of West Africa they must claim Nigerian origin and ancestry; Native Americans of the present generation might have blue eyes, some blonde, and cannot speak a word of Apache, Cherokee, Hopi, Navajos (I know because I’ve lived among them), yet the Igbo’s would have you believe they are Igbo’s too, if given the chance; and, these same Igbo’s would be the first to tell you not to call them African Americans – since there are no Igbo racial categories in any American ethno-demographic profiles.

c. Is it true that because Igbo’s outnumber every other ethnic group by a margin of 10:1 in pre-war Sabon Gari district of Kano, therefore, everyone within that environment is Igbo – was that what Igbo’s were claiming to spark the pogroms that ignited the Biafra war? (see this citation). Is it also true that because Tiv’s in Nigeria speak Hausa and share common names and traditions, they are Hausa people? How about our friends in Ghana, is it true that because the word Twi is pronounced Chi, it has the same Igbo meaning, therefore, of Igbo origin?

d. Giving a speech recently, during a meeting of South East elders held in Owerri, Imo State, on March 5, 2010 the honorable Odumegwu Ojukwu, asked Igbo’s: “Howbeit, it is a well known fact that in every State in Nigeria outside Igbo land, Ndigbo always constitutes the second largest population next to the indigenous population” – why is that? How come no other ethnic population in Nigeria can come close to, much less boast of, being always the 2nd largest population outside of their own ethnic enclaves, wherever they go?

e. Has anyone heard of/about “Hausa Elele”? Yes, these are true Hausa’s from Elele, in Ikwerre Nigeria – are they Igbo’s too? Could it be that Ikwerre’s had learned their lesson with Igbo’s that they did not allow this strategic political expansion to continue with impunity? Perhaps, we would be arguing today of how Ikwerre’s are Hausa’s, if we had also kept silent in this regard.

f. For the longest time, even before the creation of Rivers State, who consistently prevented, and orchestrated the eccentricities that thwarted, the creation of Port Harcourt state, if Ikwerre’s were Igbo’s?

As I have indicated on past occasions, our Igbo friends and in-laws are restless, hardworking, resourceful, and have hegemonous tendencies. I have many Igbo friends and love them for what they bring to the table – provided it is not un-substantiated claims and frivolous arguments about Ikwerre people or the Rivers State. Our present generation of Igbo’s and Ikwerre’s would not be serving posterity right, if we don’t seriously focus on how to re-align development of the Nigerian ethos to leverage real talents and skill sets, irrespective of ethnicity. In other words, if the only time an Igbo is willing to dialogue and engage in nation building is when s/he can work side-by-side with only those who agree with him/her on ethnicity and speaks his/her dialect, then there should be no question as to why it will continue to take a very, very, very long time before the Igbo’s can produce another Nigerian President, post Azikiwe. You can quote me! I’m sure an Igbo would dare not say that, right?

Just like well read Nigerians will challenge the white-man’s perversion of African history (e.g., there are more people in Northern Nigeria than in the South – true or false?), I will continue to challenge anyone who thinks they can call Ikwerre’s anything other than Ikwerre. Only those who have ulterior motives continue to argue the Ikwerre-Igbo issue blindly, as if it all started yesterday or after the war. No, there are precedents and that have been set prior to the Biafran war, even before slavery and colonialism. Furthermore, my ignorant Ikwerre fore-fathers who could neither read, nor write, are not entirely blameless here! But to unilaterally assume that Ikwerre founding fathers were unable to transmit or hand-down history through generations of Ikwerre sons and daughters, is the height of arrogance, pride, and prejudice for anyone seeking to solve the puzzle that is Nigeria.

Notwithstanding, I have given you food-for-thought, some of which pre-dates Lord Luggard. But only a certain element would continue to arrogate themselves to a history and people that are not theirs to claim. For extra credit, here’s one last question: from whom did the Rivers State learn the concept of “abandoned property”? Perhaps, therein lies the real reason why Igbo’s never go after other parts of Rivers State and elsewhere in Nigeria where “Igbo” is actually spoken as a language and historically preserved, but would rather focus on poor Ikwerre people whose relationship with them have been anything, but. Yes, the Igbo religious missionaries arrived and said to the Ikwerre man “let us pray,” and when the Ikwerre’s opened their eyes, the Igbo’s had their lands, their local economies, and the Bible!!!

In closing, I have asked ten simple questions whose answers leads to the VERY CORE of the issue on the Ikwerre vs. Igbo dichotomy – especially for those of you who, without knowing the genesis, assume that the person called John from New York City is related to another John from Yorkshire, UK -- because some white-man's anthropological formulae said so; therefore, someone named Okala from Ikwerre must be related to the former Rangers Goalkeeper named Okala. Since we have a lot of anthropologists, sociologists, gerontologists, ethno-linguists, Engineers, Apostles, Chiefs, war Generals, including aimless key-punching cyber-pundits in the house, I am hoping that they will apply the same brevity, objectivity, and vocal variety in acknowledging the truths that constitute the collective answers to the above ten questions, so we ignorant folks from Ikwerre, who do not know our origins, ancestry, and history can also, learn. Better yet, perhaps our learned friends, who can only write about Rivers State local government areas or Ikwerre villages and names as the evidence of their scholastic aptitudes, now have a real homework to do, so we can finally attest to their empirical and journalistic research assessment methods.

For those who will try to guess the answer, without in-depth research, please pay attention to the common denominator in your findings, and report back, so inquiring minds would know. Very truly yours,

Chuks D. Eleonu
Defender of Ikwerre civil rights and God-given civil liberties