Part B. Snippets of Information about the Igbo Homeland
According to our survey, the numero uno problem on the mind of virtually every Igbo speaker today, problem from which the fixing of the Igbo homeland should and must begin, is the unconscionable man-made suffering ndi Igbo have for so long been forced to put up with in their God-given homeland flowing with milk and honey and, ironically, endowed by the Universe with one of the richest mineral resources known to mankind. Stop! Take a deep breath and exhale before you read the most shocking aspect of this absurdity: the callous indifference of the powers that be to the desperate plight of the masses.
The second worrisome problem and source of pounding headache for ndi Igbo is the collapse of the pre-war Igbo society they used to know and be proud of, including the degeneration of the Igbo language and culture, the loss of those values and enviable attributes that once made the Igbo homeland the envy of the whole world, the Igbo philosophy of collective urination, brotherhood, sisterhood, etc. What happened to those values that propel the Igbo society, served ndi Igbo well before the Nigeria-Biafra War, and also helped them to survive it?
These preoccupations, none of which can be wished away or left perpetually unresolved, are the raison d’être of the NNIF – a child of circumstance born by the Igbo language and culture endangerment. We are aware of them. And we know the solution to each of them. The only thing we lack and have been waiting for in that regard is your support, the support of the masses, the grass roots who, in fact, are their own worst enemies.
In the meantime, we have seized the proverbial bull of Igbo endangerment by the horns and embarked on a holistic documentation and revitalization of the Igbo language and culture – a bulwark against extinction. And we are racing against time to accomplish that and stabilize the language before it degenerates beyond revitalization or ends up on a metaphorical life support.
Language and culture are inextricably interwoven. The former vehicles the latter. If the language becomes extinct, the culture will die and vice versa. Ndi Igbo need both to survive and safeguard their cultural continuity.
As we document the language and culture, our ancestors are reminding us of something equally important for the survival of ndi Igbo: the rebuilding of the metaphysical wall of the Igbo Nation à la biblical Nehemiah. Analogous to the wall of Jerusalem and of Jerico, the Igbo wall collapsed several years ago. The collapse, in turn, enabled water to infiltrate into the hollow stalk of the fluted pumpkin, complicating matters further for unsuspecting ndi Igbo. The Igbo homeland has not been the same ever since.
The NNIF holistic documentation of the endangered Igbo language and culture, the eradication of man-made suffering across the Igbo homeland, the rebuilding of the metaphysical wall of the Igbo Nation à la Nehemiah – all are aspects of the solution to the problems of the Igbo Nation, solution that boils down to one thing: rebuilding the Igbo homeland and society for the betterment of everybody.
This common-sense approach to the problems in question will enable us make the Igbo homeland one of the best possible places anybody can live on earth; thereafter, the remaining pieces of the Igbo endangerment puzzle will fall into place one after another.
The Igbo homeland is in a terrible mess today because of the failure of the post-war leaders of the Igbo society and of the dysfunctional Igbo elite to rise to the challenge of leading ndi Igbo to the promised land. They got us into the mess. We will get you out of it. But, first, let me expatiate somewhat on the post-war leaders in question and how they got us into the mess.
Whenever something starts to smell, the Igbo people customarily use water to wash off the odour. When water itself starts to smell, they find themselves in a terrible predicament as they are today. What water is to a smelling item in the Igbo culture is what the Igbo youth is to the Igbo society.
The Igbo youth are the future custodians of our common heritage. Our language, our culture, our traditions, and our world view – all are in the hands of the Igbo youth for onward transmission to subsequent generations of Igbo speakers. During the Nigeria-Biafra War, the Igbo youth were at the battle fronts defending their besieged ancestral homeland heroically against the Nigerian and foreign invaders. And after the war, it was to them that ndi Igbo naturally turned to lead the Igbo homeland to the promised land. Little did they know that the Igbo youth were going to mess up the well-ordered Igbo society.
From the governor’s seat to the lowest-paid civil servant in the various ministries, the youth have ever since occupied all the positions of power and leadership (deputy governors, permanent secretaries, senators, commissioners, members of the house of representatives, chairpersons of local governments, directors of government agencies, etc.) that enabled the incorruptible, pre-war leaders of the Igbo society to build the Igbo homeland as we knew it before the war.
In addition to wielding immense power, the Igbo youth have to their advantage the luxury of oil revenue the pre-war leaders of the Igbo society never had. They are therefore in a comfortable position to transform the Igbo homeland into a paradise on earth, as the pre-war leaders had intended, by developing it further.
Today, the water has not only started to smell; it stinks because the youth have turned out to be the complete opposite of everything ndi Igbo expected of them. They were, for example, expected to pay the salary of workers regularly, as their predecessors did. They don’t. They were expected to provide water and electricity across the Igbo homeland twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week (= 24/7). They didn’t. And they were also expected, amongst other things, to provide our people with affordable housing and healthcare. Instead of improving and expanding the existing services, they made some worse than they were and eliminated others entirely to maximize the discomfort of our people.
We stepped into the unfortunate mess when unprecedented political corruption caused the avaricious (= exceedingly greedy for wealth) and self-serving, post-war leaders of the Igbo society to veer off the course chartered by their astute, pre-war predecessors and derail. The corruption not only ravaged the Igbo homeland like forest fire in no time and infected the populace; it has hitherto remained unabated. Most importantly, we are in the mess today because the leaders in question were morally bankrupt and spiritually ill-equipped to be at the helm of the God-fearing Igbo Nation.
A wise, visionary leader does not only solve the problems of his (or her) day; he (or she) foresees those of the future and, if need be, goes above and beyond the call of duty to nip them in the bud. Ask your leaders the amount of the oil revenue that is being put aside by the oil-producing states for children who will be born in ten, fifteen, twenty, or more years after the oil might have dried up and see how short-sighted they are.