Opinion: Ndi Igbo, Self-determination struggle and open warfare gaffe

Let me begin by saying, I’d long harbored a strong dislike for the Igbo. Or let me put it differently that I’ve always had an axe to grind with the Igbo.

And I think I’ve got every valid reason to.  

Thankfully, though, it’s all in the past now because a series of events have taken place in the course of time that has helped in smoothing out things.

Except that I’ve personally not been fully rehabilitated or compensated.

I could sense you’re interested in what the crux (es) of the matter is or are. I’m sure these you’ll get by the time you read through the entire post.

Trust me; it would’ve no bearing direct or indirect on the central ideas of this write up.

Late Ojukwu, the leader of Biafra struggle
While the grudge lasted, I use to think it’s my entire fault, though, that I dared to do the unthinkable by trying something whose time relatively is yet to come.

Like we all know, that ‘an idea whose time hasn’t come will struggle or become stillbirth at best, but the one whose time has come will be unstoppable.’

Their singular sin is that some Igbo elements conspire to violently deny me the one in a lifetime opportunity of marrying an Igbo girl, I so much loved from way back. And I’d sworn by my ancestors that no Igbo man will marry from my immediate family especially.

You might be tempted to think it’s my singular honor to decide for every girl child born into my immediate and extended family as regards their choice of who to marry or not to marry beyond given my candid advice. I might’ve been unconsciously stereotyping then. But I didn’t care one bit.

The gist is that when I was a young chap, I met an Igbo girl whom I loved dearly and was prepared to take a marital chance with.

But one day while we were playfully tugging at each other right within my uncle’s premises, she happened to sustain a minor bruise on one of her fingers. How it happened has remained a mystery.

I think one of her hands; I can’t remember which one now, caught corrugated zinc idling by the wall. And that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  

When her family members saw the bloodstained bruise, they went gaga. In no time, they arrived in drove and immediately descended on me like locusts would on hapless crops.

In the midst of the brouhaha, I remembered confessedly telling them she is my girlfriend and that I wouldn’t do anything to hurt her intentionally, but their aggressive disposition indicated that I should spare them such air splitting details.

They didn’t just gang up against me, they physically abused me. And as if that was not enough, they also clandestinely progressed to plotting to make me pay higher treatment fees at the chemist shop of another Igbo guy.

The saving grace, however, was that unknown to them, the chemist happened to be a true friend, underline that, for he did what true friends are for, by not betraying our friendship at the altar of the tempting lure of lucre by listening to their rallying cry for clannish unity to punish an erring Yoruba boy. He confided as much in me afterward.

I’ve been hurting ever since then so much that several years later, I was vengefully prepared to take my pound of flesh when one of them had what appears to be a singular misfortune of impregnating one of my beloved sisters. I was furious and spoiling for war.

But after much pleading and pressure from friends and family, who happen to know him well enough and did a marvelous branding job of him I suppose, my hard stance softened.

They impressed it on me in confidence that the boy is ‘of excellent character and from a good ancestry too. I think there must’ve been some kind of significant trade and traffic between them to have known him so much.

Curiously I eventually gave in, and today he’s perceptibly happy being married to my younger sister and into our family. It, however, came at no cut-throat cost because culturally, Yoruba don’t sell their daughters to the highest bidders. Instead, they would rather harp more on the need for the groom to take care of their daughters.

The most interesting thing, finally, is that today, in spite of my repeated vows to have my revenge, two responsible Igbo brothers are happily married to two lovely ladies from my family.

And I’ve not been disappointed ever since especially because the very boy sold to me has proved to be ‘a charming, good nature, easy going boy, and a pragmatic in-law too. Shout out to the Onuohas.

Today, it’s cheering to know that more and more intermarriages are occurring between the two ethnic groups. This I think is more symbolic of improved race relations between them.

Long before now, there appears to be a deep animosity between them as a fallout of the civil war experience.

And the fault line appears bound to widen as the day passes by because there are both spoken and unspoken screams of betrayal directed at the Yoruba for the treacherous roles their patriarch allegedly played during the war.

This perhaps explains the hostile reactions of the family of my then Igbo girlfriend. Yes. Things have drastically changed of late but there's still room for improvement because elements abound across the divides that still harbor old negative dispositions for whatever reasons.    

Now you all can be the judge if the temporary love lost is justified or not. I bet things would have been different if I had married the girl in question or another. At least I’d have had more wonderful stuff to write about today. Anyways, that’s it for the (hopefully useful) random bits of my life.

Now let’s quickly get back to the essentials of this write up. The story of Nigerian civil war is a well-documented one, and one which needs no revisiting in a manner of narration.

But each time I looked back, something keeps telling the Igbo had made a very wrong call not particularly because they went to war for independence after what appears to be a genuine grievance of persecution within the Nigerian space, but of their modus operandi.

Opinions are still divided now as of then if the events leading to the war itself are properly situated and interpreted.

For example, the coup or is it a revolution now led by Nzeogu has been described as an Igbo coup by other aggrieved sections of the country because as it played out leaders from other regions were murdered in a manner that suggests ethnic motivated assassinations.

So, that led to the counter-coup and eventually the war. There were series of other contributing incidents. But that’s not where I’m headed.

I’ve actually tried to juxtapose the war and other similar crisis Nigeria had experience, and I think the Igbo had the potentiality to drag the war for much longer than it did if they had taken the path of Guerrilla warfare and probably came out with something.

For instance, Nigeria is currently battling Boko Haram in the North-east whose goal is the same but differed only in approach and religious twist, and she had struggled and still struggling to win the war outrightly because the sect is fighting with Guerrilla tactics.

Though Guerrilla war is totally not unwinnable for battle-tested armies backed nonetheless by a united country, but nations who did will confess it came at great cost. It’s usually in the mode of Pyrrhic victories.

In this respect is the Guerrilla war waged by the breakaway Republic of Chechen in Russia. Yes. Russia won, but evidence abound it came at the cost of many troops and resources.   

There’ve been similar wars in many countries in Africa too, notably in Sudan, now divided into independent nations of Sudan and South Sudan respectively; and Eritrea fighting to secede from Ethiopia and has achieved remarkable success.

So, you can see why I think the Igbo made a wrong call by fighting an open war with the Nigeria state in its quest to become an independent state.

Honestly, Nigerian army (like any) would’ve struggled to go by its experience so far 
with the Boko Haram whose reported link with ISIS has made it more ruthless, had the Igbo gone for something similar.

For a country that produces Ogwunigwe (cluster Bombs) and missiles within less than two years of declaring independence from the Nigerian state certainly deserves praises.

Its defeat which came after three years of hostilities would’ve been a tough call if not an impossibility. 

With this, I’m not directly or indirectly promoting the cause of war.
For the umpteenth time, let me place it on record that I’m not a warmonger but a diehard advocate of peace and peaceful co-existing. Those who know me at close quarters can attest to that. 

I don’t even wish the country Nigeria, in spite of its many troubles, to get dismembered for anything except if it is the will of God.

That Nigeria is diverse in culture, language, religion and social beliefs is an understatement and can actually be strength in disguise. Clearly, therefore, cultural diversity in itself is not completely a bad thing if the experiences of other nations are anything to go by.

This tragically we’re yet to figure out much less maximized beyond occasional accolades from the sporting, thespian and musical exploits of our largely self-motivated teeming youths; for out of nothing they’ve created thriving industries which have continued to contribute meaningfully to the nation’s GDP.

But we can sure raise the bar across established and new frontiers waiting to be explored if we truly desire.

The point I’m trying to make with this narrative is that my dear country Nigeria in my opinion got lucky to still be standing as one united and indivisible country in spite of its many trials which includes but not limited to the civil war of the 60s. 

More so, because like I said earlier that the Igbo took the wrong path to fight the battle, imagine if they’ve adopted a clear alternative Nigeria probably would’ve been history.

That Nigeria, however, is still standing clearly present its people great or small with a golden opportunity to build a virile country where social justice truly reigns so we would never have to go back to the path of needless wars and strives.

It’s long been my conviction that the greatest challenge facing the country is social injustice and not any defective constitution needing to be urgently re-worked before peace and progress can be achieved like some have argued.  

So, to this end, I wish to praise the efforts of well-meaning Nigerians and platforms across the length and breadth of this country that have and are currently doing their genuine bits to promote the course of peace and to correct social anomalies militating against it.

This importantly includes but not limited to the ‘Ordinary President Ahmed Isa of the Berekete family’ on Human Right Radio in the FCT. He has been the voice of the voiceless and strength of the weak and vulnerable in society.  

The initiative is highly commendable. And I’ll love to see it replicated in all the geopolitical zones of the country to fast track and deepened the much-needed process of social healing in the land. So that all wars and strives will become a thing of the past not only in Nigeria but all over Africa.

Importantly to achieve this, all the institutions of state responsible for arresting, investigating, prosecuting and adjudicating on social disputes, civil and criminal cases must be strengthened continually with required funds and capable personnel to be able to perform optimally their statutory functions without biases or political interference. 

*Please note: This article was written primarily for educational purposes and self-development, and not to spite any group or make one looks as though superior or inferior to another culturally and otherwise.

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