Friday, June 16, 2017

When Ignorance and Self-hatred Masquerades As Wisdom and Patriotism

Reactions to the Kaduna declaration has been fast and furious. Many Nigerians seemed to intuitively understand that the Northern Youths acted brashly and against the interests of peaceful coexistence in Nigeria and condemned the quit notice given to the Igbo in the North. I equally aired my thoughts moments after the news broke.

Well, here's the view of a Nollywood actress that goes by the name Cynthia Amadi:

This is a shameful video. It reminds me of the fact that at the height of the Nazi-led holocaust, there were Jews who sided or supported the Nazis and helped to massacre their own kith and kin. Isn't it sad to see that some Igbo people have internalized the hatred and bile, or swallowed the ugly stereotypes about Igbo people that are spewed by non-Igbos? It is especially maddening because you know that the true tribal bigots who hate the Igbo can always justify their anti-Igbo xenophobia and hatred by pointing to misguided Igbo people, like this woman, who spew this sort of arrant garbage. 

For example, it is always common to see people who want to halt the Igbo aspiration for a new deal start offering their thoughts that they think the Igbo people are not united and mist first of all be completely united before they should seek self-determination. Pray tell, do they think Igbo people are robots or machines? Do Igbo people not have the freedom of independent thought? Of course there is no possible way every Igbo person will agree on a particular matter (we are talking about over 50 million people worldwide). Using that criterion, can any nation of people ever be called united? Are all Yoruba people for instance in complete agreement over whether they should remain in Nigeria or form their own independent Oodua nation? Are all Hausas/Northerners for that matter content to remain in Nigeria- are there not sections of them that would prefer an independent Arewa nation governed by Sharia law? 

If you want to know whether the Biafrans are speaking with something close to one voice, conduct a referendum in the East on this matter, and I guarantee you that given the prospect of leaving Nigeria to form their own nation despite all the warnings about the pitfalls that could bedevil a new Biafran nation, the Biafrans would choose to leave this union with something above 90%. That is as close as you can possibly be to complete unity. Of course there are smatterings of Igbo people here and there who would want to remain in this union for reasons best known to them. They will of course be free to give up Biafran nationality and remain Nigerians. As a matter of fact, if you go through the rest of her bitter emotional complaints about the Igbo people, any smart Nigerian can see that the same can be said for other ethnic groups by wayward misguided people within their ranks. If a misguided Igbo woman thinks Igbos are the most wicked ethnic group, it is because she has mostly dealt with Igbo people. If this woman was honest, the kindest, meekest, nicest people she would have also met are the same Igbos she condemns. In a similar manner, there are Yoruba persons that will tell you the Yoruba are the most wicked, or Hausa persons that will confess about the brutality of the Hausa. The point is that such persons are not representative of their ethnic group, and in any case, whatever faults they think they find are HUMAN foibles applicable to all - whether they are Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Welsh, Catalonian, Eritrean, Pakistani, Timorese, etc.

It is always more painful when the people who you think are smart enough to understand the whole concept of self-determination fail to do so, and think that the whole Biafra issue is just a silly agitation by misinformed or jobless youth for war. Someone really needs to sit this woman down to make her understand her history, what Biafra actually symbolizes, and the fact no one is calling for war. As a matter of fact, it is not just Igbos or Biafrans that are calling for a dissolution of this unfruitful union - other regions/ethnic nationalities have caught on, and have seen how unworkable this project is, and will continue to remain, and are also asking for a restructuring, regionalism, or complete self-determination. This is enshrined in modern International Law and is a right possessed by people. That is why groups like Arewa, or Oodua for example, who are also seeking for the freedom to separate from this meaningless union called Nigeria, are correct and legitimate by PRINCIPLE. There is no law anywhere that says the disparate aggregations of ethnic nations trapped in Lord Lugard's cage (Nigeria) must remain there in perpetuity because Nigeria was not created or formed with their consent.

We know the adversities of war, and how ravaging it can be, and Biafrans are not seeking for or asking for war. How could they when they are not represented in the military; when the nation's weapons are concentrated in the North; when Igbos are not even using violent methods in the agitation for Biafra even though other splinter groups are? How could Igbos be asking for war when they know that they stand to lose all the investments and businesses they have in other parts of the country if it ever came to war? I assure you that over 90% of Biafrans are not looking for that. They have been looking for a peaceful renegotiation of this Nigerian project to correct the injustices. Since this has proved elusive, Biafrans are exercising a UN-recognized right to self-determination. You can achieve this through a referendum without firing a bullet.

Cynthia Amadi, I know you are emotional. That is not a substitute for getting a proper understanding of the relevant issues. Isn't it amazing that rather than condemn the actions of the Northern Youths in giving a quit notice to the Igbo - an action that flagrantly flies in the face of the much-vaunted talk about  national unity and cohesion - you have chosen to attack Igbos who were merely expressing their dissatisfaction with the status quo? Okay, let us dial back. What was the reason given for the statements of the Northern Youths? Ridiculous as it might sound, the answer seemed to be that it was because the Igbos in the South-east stayed at home on just one special day to remember and mourn the millions of their compatriots that died during the civil war. Pray tell, what was wrong with this action by the Igbo? If they had gone out on that day to peacefully protest the moribund economy and to express their desire for an independent state, they would have been hounded, shot at and maimed by the police force or perhaps the military. All they did was sit at home in some form of silent protest and to remember their losses during the war. Well, that painfully innocuous action was enough to get the North uncomfortable. As an Igbo woman, I would have thought that reaction by the Northern Youths would have caused you some internal disquiet, but apparently it didn't. A lot of people have spoken on the issue, and they have rightfully condemned that Kaduna declaration, which realistically is the real issue heating up the polity - why then have you chosen this path? This is a classic case of when ignorance, arrogance and self-hatred masquerades as wisdom and patriotism.

Do yourself a favor - stop looking at perhaps some of the counterproductive actions of some local "thugs" or "bullies" who do one negative thing or the other in the name of Biafra. They are not representative of all Igbo people. The vast majority of Igbo people are decent, hardworking, and do not want violence against their immediate neighbors to the south or other Nigerians. They want to pilot their affairs, and enshrine hard-work, equity and meritocracy. Your emotional outburst insults them and especially tarnishes or sullies the memories of the millions of Biafrans who died because they believed in and fought for the Biafran nation. When you speak as you have, you risk inviting the ire of a people who today still feel the hurts of the past. Just because you cannot imagine a state of affairs where Nigeria ceases to exist does not mean that Nigeria as an entity is sacrosanct or inviolable. This present unworkable union can be dissolved. If perchance Biafra is formed tomorrow, I'll ask you to wait for 50 years (you are young enough that I can see you living for another 50 years) and come back to tell us how your fears have been realized. My bet is that you would be proven wrong. In the meantime, it is saddening to notice that like the biblical Israelites, there are many like you who would prefer a life of slavery and marginalization for their people rather than true freedom.

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