An average Igbo man has this belief that Igbo people don’t love one another. He tells whoever cares to listen, that Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba exhibit better traits of love towards their people. To an extent, this appears to be correct. But on a closer look, the situation is not as bad as being painted.
Igbo have a unique system of communal life, which manifests fully during festive periods. Most families do not joke with it. Of course, weddings, house warming, chieftaincy title taking, launching of age grades and masquerade displays are routine. Children particularly like the masquerade aspect of Igbo culture even though some Christians now frown on it because of past fetish practices. But whether they like it or not, some pub operators in some Anambra communities hire the ‘spirit beings’ to perform at their arena. This attracts fun seekers who do not mind paying higher for drinks just to relax and listen to the guttural voices of the ‘spirits’.
Now, beauty contest is also creeping in. On December 30, 2019, a young girl, Miss Angel Ezeabasili, won the Most Beautiful Girl in Isuofia contest. She went home with a Mercedes car. Isuofia is a town in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State.
If people are not watching one entertaining event or the other, they are on social visits to friends and relatives. Yes, everybody has food in his house, but it is that one that is eaten communally that nourishes both body and soul. Even bachelors find this season a veritable time to hook up with some spinsters. This could lead to consummation of marriages.
Beyond the ceremonies, there are serious developmental projects that different communities and groups undertake to make living worthwhile. Let’s use Isuofia in Anambra State as a case study. The six villages that make up the town embarked on major rehabilitation of their various roads within this Christmas period. Nobody waited for the government to do it. Some levied themselves. Some depended on donations from wealthy indigenes. Akulu village, for instance, mobilised the citizens through the social media and within a short period of time, raised huge sums of money with which they repaired all the major roads in the village.
Different age grades tried to outdo one another in erecting structures in the town. Chidozie Age Grade of Umueze-Isuofia built a multi-million naira sports complex to the delight of all and sundry. That edifice was handed over to the town on December 30, 2019. Chidera Age Grade of Ozalla-Isuofia built a standard one-storey hall which was inaugurated on January 1, 2020. On its part, Chidera age grade of Umueze-Isuofia installed solar energy streetlights in Umueze. Oganiru age grade also of Umueze built a two-storey health centre which was unveiled and handed over to the town on January 2, 2020. This age grade also offered free medical treatment/eye glasses that same day.
Some philanthropists also built some projects in the town this season. An industrialist, Chief Paul Okonkwo, popularly called Ojih, undertook to rehabilitate all the roads in his Ozalla village. He also undertook to repair one road each in the other villages of the town. Chief Aloy Ezesinachi Okoye and his siblings tarred a major road at their Ozalla village. Chief Uche Obiakor installed solar streetlights and also rehabilitated a road in his village, Umueze. Chief Marcel Ofomata also installed solar streetlights at a major road in his village, Ozalla. He is also planning to build a mini stadium in the centre of the town. Chief Okey Umeano contributed immensely in the rehabilitation of major roads in his Akulu village.
In some family kindred called ‘umunna’, the story is the same. Some students are able to go to the university courtesy of scholarship schemes initiated by their family kindred. Some are able to start a business venture because of some help from family and friends.
No doubt, Igbo thrive in business partly because of their apprenticeship scheme. In this case, a successful businessman takes up the challenge of training a youngster in his line of business. The boy serves him for some years ranging from five to seven, depending on the agreement. After the apprenticeship, the master settles his boy with some money to start off his own. If he is wise and prudent, he becomes successful and begins his own cycle of training others. If he is not successful, society does not reckon with him. That is why every Igbo man struggles to make it in life.
In this healthy competition for development, women are not left out. The major group for women include ‘umuada’ (daughters of the soil) and ‘ndi inyom’ (women married to sons of the soil). ‘Umuada’ are a no nonsense group. The way they instil discipline in their members and in the larger society is a story for another day.
These women are more powerful in the churches. In the Catholic Church, for instance, you have the Catholic Women Organisation (CWO). In many towns in Anambra State, these women are known to have built halls and some other projects that mark them out as agents of development.
Arguably, the greatest beneficiaries of this community development are the churches. Within a short space of time, St Joseph Catholic Church Ekwulobia in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra witnessed a huge turnaround. It was largely due to the efforts of well meaning sons and daughters of the town.
Yes, Ndigbo may be largely individualistic and republican, but they also know how to show love when it is necessary. As I prepare to return to Lagos, I already look forward to 2020 Yuletide. My banker friend and neighbour, Chief Chinasa Chile, wishes to be in my shoes. But the nature of his job does not give him such opportunity. To people like him, I can only say, ask the village returnees to bring fresh fruits and local delicacies for you. It’s all part of the communal life.
Re: Police should stop harassment, discrimination against South-East
I think the civil war was a great benefit to a lot of military officers from the north and southwestern Nigeria because as many of them that held sway in the leadership of Nigeria wouldn’t have had it so. So I think the time has come for as many of them that are still alive and in that same opportunity to stop marginalizing the Igbos as in the recent promotions and offices in the police force and other military organs in Nigeria. Their attitude rubbishes the sacrifice of great nationalists of Igbo extraction like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and others. Nigerian leaders of today from the north and southwest should stop promoting wickedness, inequality, nepotism and ethnicism behaving as if the Igbos did not contribute to the emancipation of this country. They will pay dearly for it.
• Daniel Oparah, +2348142670500
Casmir, it is clear that the Federal Government of Nigeria does not have good plan for the Igbo nation. Our people should tell themselves the truth that this country called Nigeria is not going to relinquish power to them as they don’t trust them. The South-East Governors’ Forum through their economic summit should lure rich members to come and invest in the zone. They should stop massive investment outside the zone. They should also have a way to buy properties of indigenes outside the zone who want to return to invest in the zone and ensure no ‘divide & rule’ from FG who will want to stop them.
•Pharm. Okwy Njike, +2348038854922
Dear Casy, the Nigerian state has a history of invasion, occupation and impunity using the police since Gowon’s military genocide of 1967 to 70. But the latest is terrible. Gowon failed, Buhari must fail. All the Fulani jihadist herdsmen; all the security forces sent to Igbo land must fail. All the Ahabs, Pharoahs, Buharis of this world must fail. We the Igbos haven’t offended anybody. Almighty is with us and woe unto those Igbos who connive with the vandals and cause harm to our land. They must repent now. ‘Ala Igbo di aso, onye ruala oji isi ya buru.’ God bless you.
•Eze Chima, Lagos, +2347036225495
The rate at which police checkpoints is in southeast region is embarrassing.
•Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348088412165
Re: Anambra 2021 governorship zoning deceit
The political space is a theatre of intrigues, surprises, shocks, etc. Therefore, any player therein must necessarily develop his survival strategy to wade through the murky waters of politics or gain undue advantage over others, even if commonsense, laid down procedure and principles are sacrificed. No ‘saint’ exists here: anyone who claims or pretends to be one knows, as we all know, that one is involved in a grand deceit. Desperation appears to be the watchword! Before our last general elections, don’t be deceived that President Buhari failed to sign the amended electoral law because he loved Nigerians more than we did. It was strictly for his political survival. America’s Donald Trump dangled the conditional military aid carrot before Ukraine all because of his personal political interest as opposed to America’s. In the same vein, Gov el-Rufai gleefully believes that zoning must die for his vaulting ambition to be Nigeria’s president, even if founded on a fractured or non-existent Nigeria. In politics, it is more or less a necessary evil for its players to bend rules or convention and sacrifice normalcy in a normal situation in order to gain personal ascendancy.
Casmir, learn not to be shocked by the unfolding scenario of Anambra 2021 guber zoning deceit. The Anambra experience merely adds weight to the rule, not the exception.
•Edet Essien Esq., Calabar South, Cross River, +2348037952470
- First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, January 6, 2020.