Demonisation of John Nnia Nwodo

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There is increasingly in Igboland and its quest for self-actualisation a tendency to demonise anyone or group that does not tread the nzogbu nzogbu or Boy’s O ye approach. That approach says let us fight now even with bare hands, stones and cudgels. It is suicidal.

One strand of this is to build a narrative of cowardice against Ohanaeze and its leader John Nnia Nwodo. They claim he has gone silent since Nnamdi Kanu disappeared into the woodworks.

Very untrue. Nnia John Nwodo has always spoken as necessary before and after Nnamdi Kanu. This ongoing narrative is not worthy.

Nnia Nwodo has sought inclusiveness, rationality and pragmatism in the journey of Ndigbo in Nigeria. No rabble-rousing. Noise does not win wars, and in the games nations play, you need more quivers in your arrow than braggadocio.

Threatened by Kanu’s rising influence? What’s that? The My-Mercedes-is-Bigger-than-Yours narrative is a measure of immaturity. There is no gain in it. It is more disturbing for the ramifications.

Efforts at creating a dichotomy and hate between the young and old in Igboland should stop now. It would stultify our development. It is akin to the needless but undeclared warfare between educated Igbos and the merchant class or between professionals and the marketers in Nollywood.

Persons with formal western education look down on the merchants with limited formal training. These moneybags also look down on the certificated but financially-challenged types. The result is mutual antagonism, rather than collaboration for progress. See how Igbo Nolly is now playing second fiddle to our competitors though we ran out of the starting line first in the video film era with Living in Bondage and the other films that established Nollywood and made it a phenomenon for all Africans and the Black Diaspora. Since the return to the Big Screen, they have produced more worthy films. They were first to go on DSTV platform with a channel.

The nzogbu nzogbu approach is limited. It is a paradigm that we should change in the age of intense competition within our geographical space. We can pursue self-determination, whether as part of the existing structure or in creating a new one, with subtlety. One group is doing so, gaining concessions with a mix of legal skulduggery, diplomacy and all the tools in the box of national struggles except warfare and jingoism. They do not broadcast their desire for independence loudly, even as the informed know that if the whistle sounds today, they will unfurl all the paraphernalia of statehood.

The jingoistic campaign descends to sharing urban legends founded on nothing but the wind. They do not even reach the level of rumours but are manufactured tales signifying nothing.

Elders such as those in Ohanaeze bring an understanding of the Nigerian state. They know the buttons to press. The young have energy and passion. The combination has always worked for groups and societies. We should come together rather than creating a dichotomy based on falsehoods and needless comparison.

PS: Do the Igbo love suicide? It is a disturbing thought. We were the only ones to commit suicide in America in the slave trade era. The Igbo in Haiti also took on a suicidal mission that has seen that country as a basket case since independence. In our culture suicide is not bravery. It is abominable.

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