My determination to keep well away from insult from current conversations between Ndigbo and the Yoruba was so compelling until recent interventions from some Yoruba sons who appear to be playing political games or avenging old personal wrongs. I am angry and sad because I know that Yoruba families have taken their responsibility to succeeding generations more seriously than these two.The tribe is the only one today in Africa that instinctively makes sacrifice towards the next generation without even thinking of the cost or pain. I know of no family in Yoruba land where duty can be considered sufficient when the children in the household are not in school.
On the contrary, many current Igbo parents send their promising generation to fetch money by all means from Lagos and the rest of this country. A significant number of male Igbo population is substantially an illiterate one. Only the girl child is lucky because tradition finds them physically inadequate for the rigour of excruciating toil. The society is therefore an asymmetric one, with substantial female population too educated to relate long term with their illiterate male counterparts. Finding no place in an unbalanced society, some behave with impunity as they adopt western cultures and seek relationships away from uneducated Igbo men not fit to handle their dustbin.But since the early 50s Igbo elite has sought to dominate Yoruba land and colonise its people. It has not yet happened but it will if care is not taken because I am also quite conscious of the power of aggression and the tendency for ignorance to seek to dominate. History reminds us, and Arnold Yognbee tells it clearly:
”History teaches us that when a barbarian race confronts a sleeping culture, the barbarian always wins”.
How can we be sure our culture is not in slumber with regards to the confrontations of Ndigbo? Are we not, by our negligence preparing the next generation for colonisation? I believe it is time to benefit from this exchange going on between Igbo and Yoruba youth and their elders. For if we do not seize this moment provided fortuitously by the Achebe and “deportation” provocation, we may be preparing the road of guilt and shame for our children. I certainly do not want my children to wonder if ever a Yoruba leader, particularly one of the status of a deity like Awolowo committed genocide. I do not want to answer charges that we are a race of lazy buffoons who surrendered their homeland to barbarians.
Ndigbo is aggressive and determined in pressing their agenda with deliberate focus as they buy up indigenous family homes, concubinate with Yoruba divorcees, marry their children and jubilate triumphantly around town all with dirty money. At the moment, they adopt noise as strategy to shut down alternative ideas and viewpoints. For me, Fani- Kayode has just only burst the bubble. We cannot afford to put our children in harm’s way by permitting a crowd of ill-educated, poorly trained semi illiterates to superintend over their future.
But as arguments and debates go, In the process of child education, I plan to advance some arguments on the Starvation allegation as I have studied it, offer an opinion on Igbo “superiority and success” claims from a purely indigenous perspective and warn about the need for strategic definition of Yoruba objectives in the light of internal strife. I hope to write briefly about what Awolowo means to my generation and what that meaning should translate to as we contest with the Igbos for Lagos and the rest Yoruba land.
THE CURRENT DISCUSSION BETWEEN YORUBA AND NDIGBO
First, permit me to admit that Igbos have been winning and Yorubas merely reacting to their carefully orchestrated agenda. Their reactions are in some cases self-defeating, apologetic and unsure and sometimes self-serving and opportunistic ways. Some have criticised Femi Fani-Kayode even to the extent of abusing his illustrious father. And these are Yoruba men, prominent and intelligent but with no reputation for wisdom and common sense. This may be the time to teach some wisdom to them and those still hibernating under some illusion of studied diplomacy, biblical morality, duty to Nation, fairness rights under a confused constitution. Ndigbo has no time for these sentiments. Igbos fight rough, obey no rules and attack and destroy you if you hesitate. That Cambridge educated young man, Femi Fani Kayode is a Lawyer but also a historian. He has been educated in the best traditional Institutions teaching his trade, just like his father before him, his Grandfather before his father and his great grandfather before his grandfather. He comes from a long line of educated elites and knows that silence does not carry far where noise prevails. Personally, I can live with his occasional indiscretions.
Talking about Igbo insults, One Chuka Odom, one time Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory writing on the back page of This Day Newspaper of 23 August 2013 advances this insult to ridiculous heights when he said:
”Yes, the Igbos are proud of their entrepreneurial skills just as the Yorubas are proud of their penchant for fanfare and merriment. Every tribe has an identity”.
Now you heard a former Federal Minister talk disparagingly of a superior race as one of laziness and constant merriment. If this was Fani Kayode speaking, some Yoruba opportunists would be blaring jingoism from the roof tops. By the way, I cannot be angry with Odom. That is his belief. And Fani Kayode was right to go into the history books to tell Odom and his likes the history of a barbarian which migrated to Yoruba land to be educated but failed to learn any manner along with the letters. But must we just shut up and observe them dance naked. No. A Jewish proverb says:
”He who puts up with insult invite injury”.
Again here I believe we do not deserve insults and Pierre Corneille warns
”He who allows himself to be insulted deserves to be”.
Like Fani Kayode, I am convinced that we do not deserve to be insulted and must not stand insults lamely. We have put up with insult for too long, hence the current injury inflicted by Ndigbo. Now with Femi insulting them, we are not just getting some attention, we got lots of it and the conversation is finally changing.
Diplomacy does not work where punches are already being thrown freely. George W. Bush made that point clearly:
In defence of our Nation, a President must be a clear eyed realist. There are limits to the smiles and scowls of diplomacy. Armies and missiles are not stopped by stiff notes of condemnation. They are held in check by strength and purpose and promise of swift punishment.
The Igbo initiative is clearly an invasion which cannot be checked by pacification or diplomacy but strength of purpose and swift and stiff punishment.
Fani Kayode has challenged Ndigbo with historical facts and apart from abuses and curses; he is yet to get a rebuttal of facts presented.
It is time for old and young Yorubas to cut out the diplomacy nonsense, don their reading glasses and adopt the power that has always been considered worthy by their forebears, the power of ideas and get to the debating table with invaders from across Onitsha, the Igbo. It is time to match them fact for fact, boast for boast, noise for noise and aggression for aggression. Yoruba should use the superiority of the brain which we suffer to invest in over brawn that petty trading demands.
BIZARRE YORUBA MEN
Two prominent individuals frighten me in their motivation on this matter. Mr Femi ArIbisala who claims to be a pastor and Mr Adeseye Ogunlewe, the former Obasanjo Works Minister who held Lagos including his home town of Ikorodu to ransom while he tarred the shiny roads you see today around Kubua and Katsina. But we must not lose the advantage of accommodating differing opinions. That has been the strength of the Yoruba and the gift we must present to the next generation.
DEPORTATION OR COLONISATION
We all know what this should be about but unfortunately, is not. It should be about elites and destitute, about rights and power and right and wrong. It should be about whether a Government has a right to decree that the poor must not exist alongside the haves that Government can as a matter of impunity throw away Nigerians in the dead of night from anywhere they chose to reside like Lagos Government did. It should be about whether Nigerians cannot live in convenience with others as Anambra did in the past. It is about whether Abia Government will win tomorrow if somebody takes them to court for sacking over two thousand Igbos from its civil service. It is certainly not about deportation. The Igbos do not believe that Fashola has any tribal sentiments neither do they sympathise with the poor destitute in their midst, how much less the deported to their midst. They fully understand that Raji Fashola is a one way bulldozer of demolition for as long as a Mega City remains to be built. Machines can demolish anything or anybody as far as his fanaticism goes. Fashola is therefore just an excuse to extort concessions and embarrass the Yoruba. He certainly does not belong in this conversation which we all have longed for since Chinua Achebe wrote that valedictory book. We need everybody in this dialogue, our area boys, our demolition squad, our professionals and most importantly, our intellectuals. I believe we can steer this talk anyway we want it if we understand how significant this time is in our lives with the igbos. The conversations must be propelled to the logical end through research, debates and disagreements no matter how controversial and partisan or divisive. I shall seek to contribute to the conversation Ndigbo wants and Achebe provoked and so should you. First let us deal with the our domestic destitute.
FEMI ARIBISALA AND OGUNLEWE
I talked about some Yoruba people, their confusion, their distractions, distortions ill motives and selfishness. But more importantly their pettiness just because they have minor disagreement with individuals or are hoping to harvest Igbo electoral potentials. Two very good instances surfaced in articles recently. One from one Femi Aribisala who practically handed Lagos over to Ndigbo for Governor because he and his parents encountered Late Chief Remi Fani Kayode, Femi’s late father in unpleasant circumstances almost 50 years ago. It was the most distasteful article I have read in a long time.
I shall not dwell on the unimportant in regards to this individual. It is left to the people of Ikorodu to call him by his true name. The severity of that verdict will reflect the values of the Ikorodu people and I know them. They are true sons of their parents.
As Minister of Works at Abuja, Ogunlewe did nothing to ameliorate the troublesome hold ups at Ikorodu while he concentrated all his energy on Kubwa, Katsina and Mokwa roads. But that did not make his larger than life image of “Akotileta” which he enjoys today as that man who as Minister prevented the vegetation of Lagos and formed a flotilla of miscreants around the Marina attacking all motorists and collecting tolls. These are not my concern. For our children’s sake, I want us to examine what this man said in reaction to current Igbo Yoruba debate.
He said, “The arrival of Dr. Namdi Azikiwe to Lagos in 1937 from Accra after his studies in the United States, stimulated the political and cultural environment of Lagos as no other has before or after him. Zik literally resurrected the wizard of Kirsten hall from political death. Zik represented Lagos in the western house. The NCNC was the power in Lagos, and not the Action Group. The Igbo were prominent in the governance of Lagos in the Lagos City Hall.”
What a patriot, what a lover of unity. My questions to Ogunlewe are as follows:
I. Is Lagos a No man’s Land because it allowed Azikiwe his oratory? Simple yes or no will suffice
II. Was Nnamdi Azikiwe the sole founder of NCNC? The first leader of that party, Herbert Macaulay, was he Igbo? Where were the H.O. Davies of those times and so many prominent Yoruba sons who gave accommodation and comfort to Azikiwe after he was thrown out of Ghana?
III. What point is Ogunlewe making by saying NCNC was in power in Lagos and not AG. Was NCNC an Igbo Party at the time it was in power in Lagos?
Ogunlewe embarks on self-glorifying name dropping.
“Interestingly, I was born at plot number 8, Okoya Street, Idumagbo- Lagos, while the Ojukwu families were residing at number one to three on the same street. I grew up to know the father of Odumegwu Ojukwu. Chimbizie and Azuka grew up with us on the same street. Even the Chibeze small parking space at the end of Okoya Street is called Ojukwu.”
When he says interestingly, who is interested in where he was born. The questions are:
I. Did Sir Louis, Chimbize, Azuka and Emeka Ojukwu claim even at that time or at any time in their lifetime to be Lagosians?
II. At Okoya Street Idumagbo, was the Igbo man the King or paramount ruler. Was Okoya and Idumagbo Street a no man’s land way back then when Mr Ogunlewe was playing “Lagos Boy”?
III. Why is Adeseye Ogunlewe claiming Ikorodu and not Idumagbo today if he does not know where his parents belong and that vegetables have roots?
IV. At that time, were Hausas, Kogi and other Nigerians not living there? Did they claim to own Lagos as Orji Kalu and his co travellers claim?
V. In spite of Odumegwu Ojukwu’s Lagos roots, did he ever claim to be a Lagosian. Bless his soul, that true son of Nnewi always knew and acknowledged the mother that gave him suck.
I am Yoruba but I know where I come from. Even though I am Yoruba and have lived three quarters of my entire life in Lagos for upwards of 40 years, I shall not claim to be a Lagosian and when you ask my children, all born here in Lagos, they tell you with pride bordering on arrogance, where they come from. Another Yoruba adage says it is the crack head who points at his father’s house with his left thumb.
Ogunlewe is not finished yet with his “Uncle Tom” essay.
He said, “Anytime I visited where I was born today in Idumagbo at Lagos Island, the entire place is covered by Igbo traders in their thousands. They were never troublesome but decent and accommodating. They have virtually taken over all properties of the indigenes. They succeeded in developing all our properties, married to most of our children even from the royal families. There is no single house you will visit without an Igbo man selling wares there.”
Ogunlewe is the happiest man alive because Igbo took over his entire family. The street car park, the Ogunlewe house where he was born, they now occupy with their wives and married their children. All because of money.
Congratulations. Is that not what you have been waiting for all your life? For Igbo to take over your house, marry your children and rule over your home? He says they have virtually taken over. No, they have not “virtually”, they have actually taken over and driven Lagos “Akotiletas” your kind out of town. Like the Cowboys of Western movies, they may indeed produce a Governor the way they arrive in morning, afternoon and night busses, thanks to physically tall but mentally short characters like some who claim to know where they come from.
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