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Sunday, 25 November 2012 16:18


In a White House memo dated Tuesday, January 28, 1969 to President Nixon, former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger describes the Igbos as “the wandering Jews of West Africa-gifted, aggressive, westernized, at best envied and resented, but mostly despised by their neighbors in the federation”(foreign relations document, volume E-5, documents on Africa 1969-1972).


Kissinger's description aptly portrays the Igbos and their experience in Nigeria. Over the years, the Igbos have been the victims of numerous massacres, that they have lost count. Most of the violence directed against the Igbos have been state sponsored. One can say that the Igbos knew how to spell “state sponsored terrorism” before the rest of the world did. The state sponsored terrorism directed against the Igbos in 1966, led to the declaration of the Republic of Biafra by the Igbos and subsequent civil war. Over two million Igbos died in the civil war, primarily by starvation. One will not be wrong, if they call the Igbos the “Tutsis” of Nigeria.


However, the Igbos are one of the largest and most distinctive of all African ethnic groups. Predominantly found in Southeastern Nigeria, they number about 40 million worldwide, with about 30 million in Nigeria. They constitute about 18% of Nigeria's population, with significant Igbo populations in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Ivory Coast. Igbos predominate in five states in Nigeria-Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Abia. In three other states- Rivers, Lagos and Delta, they constitute almost 25% of the population.


During the slave trade, Igbo slaves were known to be the most rebellious. Most of the slave rebellions in the United States, Haiti, Jamaica, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Guyana were led by Igbo slaves. In South Carolina, Igbo slaves were reported to have drowned themselves, rather than be kept as slaves. Today that place is called Ebo Island in commemoration of the slaves who died there. Igbos were one of the 13 African ethnic groups that provided the bulk of the slaves who were brought to the Americas. Majority of the slaves who ended up in Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, Maryland, Arkansas, Mississippi, South and North Carolina and Georgia were Igbo. An Igbo museum has been built in Virginia to honor the contribution of Igbo slaves to the state. One of the slaves who was sent to Liberia by the American Colonization Society-Edward Roye- became the fourth president of Liberia.


During the colonial period, the British disliked the Igbos, because of their supposedly uppitiness and argumentativeness. During military service in Burma and India, the pride of Igbo soldiers amongst other African soldiers was proverbial. In the company offices and orderly rooms, the first few words from the White officer speaking to an Igbo soldier was followed by “don't argue, you! Or “you want to be too clever”, and similar expressions. Their expressive and aggressive mentality which they enjoy in their culture at home, does not always allow them to accept false charges or accusations without responding.


The late famous writer, Langston Hughes, observed “the Igbo looks proud because he is bred in a free atmosphere where everyone is equal. He hates to depend on anyone for his life's need. He does not mind if others look proud. He has much to be proud of in his land. Nature has provided for him. He is strong and able to work or fight. He is well formed. He is generally happy in his society where no ruler overrides his conscience. He likes to advance and he is quick to learn. He likes to give rather than take”.


Culturally, the Igbos are a very diverse group with different clans, families, subcultures, and subgroups. However, the customs are similar with local varieties. Although there are disagreements about the origins of the Igbos, there is a consensus that they originated from Nri in Anambra State of Nigeria. The language of the Igbos is Igbo or Ibo.  It is one of the largest spoken languages in Africa, with Hausa and Yoruba. Igbo speaking people are divided into five geographically based subcultures-Northern Igbo, Western Igbo, Southern Igbo, Eastern Igbo and Northeastern Igbo. Not as urbanized as the Yoruba, they live in multitudinous villages, fragmented into small family groups. They do not have hereditary chiefs like the the Yoruba or Hausa/Fulani. Every Igbo more or less is his or her own master. The Igbos operate the “Umunna System”, which emphasizes the patrilineal heritage, rather than the matrilineal. Some of the important Igbo cities include, Onitsha, Enugu, Umuahia, Aba, Asaba, Abakaliki, Owerri, Nsukka.


In commerce, the Igbos are mobile, vividly industrious people who have spread all over Nigeria and Africa as traders and small merchants. In countries like Gabon, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Gambia, Igbo traders predominate in retail trade. Most Igbos are clannish, despite their individualism and hold closely together in non Igbo communities. They are often very unpopular in the communities they live in, because they push very hard  to make money and often dominate the retail business in alien communities. In his book, the Brutality of Nations, Dan Jacobs describes the Igbos “as ambitious, dynamic and progressive people whose education and abilities did not endear them to those among whom they lived. Even during British rule, there were massacres of Igbos in Northern Nigeria-in Jos in 1945 and in Kano in 1953. The Igbos have acquired the sobriquet, Jews of Africa”.


Education is highly emphasized and given priority in Igboland. Converted to Christianity by Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian missionaries, they took up self improvement with such enthusiasm, that by the 1960's, the Igbos had the highest percentage of doctors, lawyers, engineers, physicists, and teachers than any other ethnic group in Africa. Because of the abundant educational talent in Igboland many newly independent African nations recruited them to fill vacancies in their civil service. The first American style university built in Africa was in Igboland-the University of Nigeria at Nsukka. Its founder, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was a graduate of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.


Politically, the Igbos are so effervescent that the British differentiated between the “good East and the disruptive East”, meaning by the later, the radical Igbo strongholds. According to author Dan Jacobs “for Britain and for the British civil servants who continued to work in the Northern Region, the Igbos have always been a troublesome element in the federation, a people with a democratic tradition who are not easily controlled. Many  British were glad to see them out of a central position in the federation, as were those who had driven them back to their homeland and those who now held the civil service and other jobs they had left”.  The Igbos had been the  most ardent advocates of a united Nigeria. Upon independence in 1960,  an Igbo, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe became the first President and Governor General, while another Igbo, Aguiyi Ironsi became the first indigenous military chief. Another Igbo, Nwafor Orizu became the first president of the senate, Jaja Wachukwu became the first foreign minister. Leadership of the elite universities in Southern Nigeria were also occupied by the Igbos.


Following the military coup of January 1966, which the Igbos were accused of initiating, Aguiyi Ironsi became President and Supreme Commander of the armed forces. Tensions rose very high in the country resulting in the massacre of Igbos in May 1966. In July 1966,  a  Hausa/Fulani/Tiv  inspired military  coup overthrew Ironsi's regime and a terrible massacre of the Igbos began in earnest. This led to the secession of the former Eastern Nigeria and the declaration of  the Republic of Biafra. This eventually led to the civil war.


According to George Orick, an American businessman and consultant to UNICEF who was in Nigeria at the time, one million Igbos were to be killed in order to avenge the death of an Islamic zealot called Ahmadu Bello, who was the Sardauna of Sokoto-Prince of the Islamic Sokoto Caliphate. He reported that “one could hear on Northern Nigerian radio the reading of  long lists of Igbos who were targeted for extinction”.-see Goddell team report, congressional Record of February 15, 1969, pp51976-7.    The Igbos believe, and rightfully so, that had they not fought back, their fate would have been worse than that of the Tutsis in Rwanda. The same way Northern Nigerian radio was exhorting the Hausa/Fulanis to kill the Igbos, was the same way Radio Milles Collines was exhorting the Hutus to slaughter the Tutsis in Rwanda.


Similarly, Heinrich Jiggs, a Swiss businessman in Nigeria who later became the chief Red Cross delegate in Biafra, reports seeing one of the circular letters in Northern Nigeria which stated that every Igbo down to the age of six would be killed.  A Canadian Journalist, Alan Grossman, who had been West African Bureau Chief of  Time Life News Service in Lagos from May 1966 to June 1968, testified before the External Affairs Committee of the Canadian House of Commons on what he saw. He told the committee “many thousands of Igbos were slaughtered in towns and villages across the north, and hundreds of thousands of others were blinded, crippled or maimed or in majority of cases, simply left destitute as they attempted to flee to the Igbo homeland in Eastern Nigeria. Some of the fleeing refugees did not make it home.


On one train that arrived in the East, there was the corpse of a male passenger whose head had been chopped off somewhere along the line. Another group of Igbo refugees men, women and children whom I happened to see-I would say 100 or more of them-were waiting in the railway station in the city of Kano,  the largest city in Northern Nigeria, for about three days, with no security guards, for the arrival of a refugee train, and a land rover full of government soldiers  came and mowed them down with automatic weapons. Igbo shops and Igbo hotels were  ransacked and looted, while blocks of non Igbo  businesses were carefully left untouched”. (see minutes of Canadian House of Commons proceeding, external Affairs Ref. 7 pp. 239-40).

In the final analysis, Dan Jacobs, in the Brutality of Nations, summarizes the plight of the Igbos in the following way, “to the other Nigerians, the Igbos were not only leaving Nigeria, they were departing with the oil under the lands with which they are seceding. Here lay the explanation of the paradox that the Nigerians had driven the Biafrans out, yet seemed to be fighting to keep them  in the federation. What they actually wanted was the land the Igbos were on and what lay under it-without the Igbos”.


Some internationally recognized Igbo personalities include former president Nnamdi Azikiwe, former military ruler Aguiyi Ironsi, writer Chinua Achebe, former Biafran leader Odumegwu Ojukwu, former justice at the World Court  Daddy Onyeama, former commonwealth secretary general Emeka Anyoku, former foreign minister Jaja Wachukwu and former middleweight and lightheavyweight champion of the world Dick Tiger. Some African Americans of Igbo ancestry include evangelist T.D. Jakes, actor, scholar and athlete Paul Robeson, actors Forrest Whitaker and Blair Underwood.


Monday, 22 October 2012 18:40

Igbos should unite to achieve presidency

Igbos should unite to achieve presidency


The Igbo are ubiquitous; they are everywhere. In the remotest villages, the farthest part of the earth, North Pole, down under, all over the world, into anything, commerce, transport, drugs, producing the best brain, and so on, you’ll find them there.


Despite producing the current Nigeria Chief of Army Staff, Deputy Senate President, Deputy Speaker House of Representatives, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, after 50 years of Nigeria independence, the Igbo still demand more.  But they are not complaining too loudly.


Igbo names are synonymous with commerce, ruggedness, affluence, wealth. The Igbo that produced Emeka Emeagwali, Barth Nnaji, Emeka Anyaoku, Dora Akuyili, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Alvan Ikoku,Augustine Ilodibe, Sir Loius Ojukwu, among other distinguished sons, should be respected.


A tribe regarded as the most industrious on the continent of Africa, Igbo on the other hand means different things to other tribes in Nigeria. Igbo means cheat, make-money-at- all-cost, advanced fee frauds, drug baron, armed robbery, human trafficking, anything dirty, the ultimate goal — wealth!



Known for displaying wealth, the Igbo maybe seen to some to worship wealth and affluence.


The number of cars you parade increases your standing in society; they love chieftaincy titles. In an environment consumed by gully erosion, bad roads networks, the Igbo nation has the worst road network in Nigeria, no thanks to bad leadership. In over 50 years of Nigeria as a nation, Igbo have never held the exalted office of the President and Commander-in-Chief, except for the brief period of General JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi.


Many reasons can be adduced for this, but a giveaway is what is known in local parlance that Igbo could and should not be trusted. And successive administrations have cashed in on this by appointing an Igbo as Minister of Information.


A Yoruba adage says: Omo ina la ran si’na, which literally means: To subdue fire, you have to use its counterpart. From the first republic to the sixth and during the military era, Igbo were handed the job of Minister of Information.


The 2007 elections [selections] were supervised, signed, sealed and delivered by an Igbo. And it was the last straw that broke the Igbo’s quest of becoming Nigeria president, parading 15 or thereabout presidential candidates from the same ethnic nationality contesting for one position.


The Presidency will continue to elude the Igbo unless they come together. The Igbo are easily disorganised politically, ‘settle’ them and they forget their ambitions.


If current trend persists, I foresee a situation when the Igbo will never, never, never have a shot at Nigeria’s highest political office.


The Igbo’s woes are self-inflicted; to turn things round, they should begin by putting a stop to pointing fingers of blame at the North or the South-West for these woes.


The Igbo cannot afford to continue to weep; rather they should brace up and reverse the trend, and make the prospect of a President of Igbo extraction a reality in 2015. A word is enough for the wise!


•Taiwo L. Adeyemi   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .






"Controversy surrounding the new book written by Prof. Chinua Achebe deepened yesterday with South West and South East leaders drawing sharp divisions over the aptness of claims in the book that Chief Obafemi Awolowo implemented genocidal policies against Ibos during the Biafran war."     -OKEY NDIRIBE, GBENGA ARIYIBI AND CHARLES KUMOLU



"Achebe living in the past "

"Chinua Achebe is a frustrated person. He feels that attacking noble people like Awolowo is right. Awolowo has a reputable place in Nigeria's history. The trio of Awolowo, Sardauna and Zik were leaders who did well for this country, hence their quality legacies should not be smeared in anyway. Achebe is living in the past."

"Ibos no longer care about such lamentation, what the Ibos are interested in is how they can be more relevant in the mainstream of Nigerian politics. So, Achebe's attack on Awolowo is not in the best interest of the political aspirations of the Ibos in today's Nigeria. What he has done is to distort history."

- Dr. Fashehun



"Achebe, not happy that a Yorubaman emerged Nobel prize winner. "

"With due respect to the erudite professor it appears Achebe has not been able to come out from a deep frustration of the fact that a Yorubaman emerged as the first winner of the highest literary award, Nobel Prize in literature.

"It was on record that Awolowo checkmated Ojukwu from invading Yorubaland in his expansionist ambition when he was matching his troops to Lagos. He met his waterloo at the battle of Ore."

-- Afuye



"Achebe has only said the truth . "

"What Chinua Achebe has written in his new book concerning the role the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo played during the civil war is the truth. However, the truth is always bitter. In fact, Achebe was even diplomatic. If I am to write on the same subject I would say more than Achebe did.

"Those who are attacking Achebe over what he wrote are expressing their own views; I am neither condemning them nor am I praising them."

- Gen. Madiebo



"What Achebe wrote in his new book is a fact. Those who witnessed what happened during the civil war can attest to the historical fact that Achebe recorded in his book. As the Minister of Finance and Vice-Chairman of the Federal Executive Council under the military regime headed by Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd.), Awolowo implemented those policies during the Nigeria civil war and immediately after.

-Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, former National Chairman of the People's Democratic Party, PDP



What Achebe wrote was a fact.  "Despite the fact that I had a lot of respect for him as one of the nation's foremost nationalists who fought for Nigeria's independence, we cannot forget that those policies were injurious to the Igbos. Those policies were a violation of the fundamental human rights of our people."

"My response to those who have attacked Achebe for stating the truth is that any country that cannot look at its history and learn lessons from it cannot survive. "The people of every nation have to learn from their history in order to avoid mistakes of the past. It is because Nigerians have refused to learn from history that we find ourselves where we are today in this country."

- Chief (Dr.)  Nwodo



“I have not read the book. I don’t want to speculate. During the civil war, I was studying in the United States of America. However, I have absolute confidence in Prof Chinua Achebe. He is an acclaimed international scholar and figure; whatever he says about the civil war should be taken seriously.”

"Go to court if you don't like what Achebe wrote.  "

"Nobody can question or doubt the credentials and scholarship of Chinua Achebe, especially when it comes to his special area of political literature. He has been adjudged as number one in the world. It seems to me that what Achebe did amounted to an exercise of his constitutional right of freedom of expression which cannot be abridged but can only be subjected to libel or defamation of character, which is actionable in court."

" Anybody who doesn't like what Achebe has written could go to court and file an action against Achebe for libel". Mbadinuju further expressed hope that the on-going debate would not hamper the new spirit of cooperation prevailing in the south.

"The three southern geo-political zones of South-East, South-West and South-South have just resolved to come into a new political alignment for the future. And it is now that the devil is creeping in to dislodge the political programme of the South. The implication is that our friends and brothers in the South-West may now begin to develop cold feet and go into opposition again just because of one book by Chinua Achebe. Since I wouldn't want anything that would jeopardize this new spirit of cooperation in the South, I pray to God that all groups or persons who feel aggrieved by Achebe's new book should have a change of heart to avert this brewing misunderstanding in order to enable Nigeria move forward. This is necessary in order to prevent another rift that may snowball into a fresh round of crisis of confidence."

-Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju,   former Governor of Anambra State.



"Although, we shouldn't speak ill of the dead, this does not mean that historical facts cease from being facts or must not be mentioned. Facts are facts but their emotional or subjective interpretation may depend on the perspective of the user. I hope the Igbo and Yoruba are not anxious to go back into their situation of parallel lines and parallel slaves in Nigerian politics. Awolowo didn't join the war against Nigeria, but he didn't start the war against the Eastern region. He eventually joined Gowon."

- Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife,  former Governor of Anambra State

:"Although, I was a teenager during and after the civil war, I was old enough to father a child. Those Federal Government policies against Biafrans which were ascribed to Chief Awolowo at that time came to be as uncharitable and wicked. However, 42 years after the war, my attitude now is to consign all that to history."

"I recommend the book to every patriotic Nigerian and not just students of history. Achebe must not be crucified for saying the truth."

- Dr. Sam Nkire, National Chairman Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA


“The new write-up is another rehash of the perverted intellectual laziness which he had exhibited in the past in matters relating to Awo when Achebe described Awo as a Yoruba irredentist. What he expected was that Awo should fold his arms to allow the Igbo race led by Zik to preside over the affairs of the Yoruba nation. The fact that the Yoruba people in their wisdom, having found out that the NCNC through Zik and Okpara had established a government of their choice and then wanted to follow up with the appropriation of the Yorubaland as their catchment area. It is a demonstration of the contempt of Achebe and his ilk for the Yoruba nation."

-    Mr. Ayo Opadokun,  A political activist and convener of the Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms (CODER)



"Chinua Achebe find it convenient to pick Awolowo as a scapegoat of all that happened to them during the war.” He asked, “did awo start the war? He was just the Federal Commissioner for Finance with responsibility for coming up with appropriate fiscal and monetary policies. He was not at the battle field and could not therefore be fairly charged with genocide..” The former Chief Whip of the House of Representatives also challenged anyone to come up with any publication where Awo said starvation should be regarded as a legitimate weapon of war. “Neither in any of the books written by him nor on him was any such thing said. It is the work of those who hated his guts. It is not factual. It must be remembered that even when he was not in the cabinet, he tried to prevent the war, but as soon as it broke out, it was between Nigeria and Biafra. He had to come up with policies that would end the war quickly. Those who are peddling this line have forgotten that Awo was in prison when the crisis started.”

- Chairman of the Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), Wale Oshun



“I do not agree with Prof Achebe on the statement. It is not true that Awo’s civil war role smacked of even an iota of selfish political aggrandisement. I was his biographer and I can state authoritatively that, though he did not penetrate the North, he had a firm belief in the unity of Nigeria and that was why he wanted to govern the country as an indivisible entity. All the governors and other close associates of his would attest to the fact that he was a believer in the oneness of Nigeria which was why he wanted to govern the entire country for the overall benefit of her entire citizenry."

- Prof Moses Makinde,  Awolowo’s official biographer, who heads Awolowo Centre for Philosophy, Ideology and Good Governance, Osogbo, is the author of ‘Awo



“One is still trying to come to terms with the sense of disappointment about the person who wrote what is now a brewing controversy in the country. “While a formal statement responding to the offensive comments of the writer is being prepared by the family all I can say for now is that I feel so disappointed”.

- Dr Awolowo-Dosunmu speaking to Sunday Vanguard





The persecution of the Igbos didn't end with the Biafran conflict. Until the nation faces up to this, its mediocrity will continue


Almost 30 years before Rwanda, before Darfur, more than 2 million people – mothers, children, babies, civilians – lost their lives as a result of the blatantly callous and unnecessary policies enacted by the leaders of the federal government of Nigeria.


As a writer I believe that it is fundamentally important, indeed essential to our humanity, to ask the hard questions, in order to better understand ourselves and our neighbours. Where there is justification for further investigation, justice should be served.


In the case of the Nigeria-Biafra war there is precious little relevant literature that helps answer these questions. Did the federal government of Nigeria engage in the genocide of its Igbo citizens – who set up the republic of Biafra in 1967 – through punitive policies, the most notorious being "starvation as a legitimate weapon of war"? Is the information blockade around the war a case of calculated historical suppression? Why has the war not been discussed, or taught to the young, more than 40 years after its end? Are we perpetually doomed to repeat the errors of the past because we are too stubborn to learn from them?


The Oxford English Dictionary defines genocide as "the deliberate and systematic extermination of an ethnic or national group ...". The UN general assembly defined it in 1946 as "... a denial of the right of existence of entire human groups". Throughout the conflict the Biafrans consistently charged that the Nigerians had a design to exterminate the Igbo people from the face of the earth. This calculation, the Biafrans insisted, was predicated on a holy jihad proclaimed by mainly Islamic extremists in the Nigerian army and supported by the policies of economic blockade that prevented shipments of humanitarian aid, food and supplies to the needy in Biafra.

[view whole blog post ]

The genocidal Biafran war still haunts Nigeria


Ndigbo must change strategy to produce president, says Okorocha


THE Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, has urged Ndigbo to change strategy and be more business-like to produce the president in 2015. Okorocha, in an interview, denied insinuations that the Igbo race is being alienated from the 2015 presidential race.


According to him: “Nigerians are not alienating the South-East from that race instead Ndigbo are alienating themselves from the race.

“They have not developed enough confidence in pursuing the cause. They have not taken it as a business.”


The governor, who contested for the highest office, advised Ndigbo to work towards presenting a capable candidate instead of banking on the appeal of marginalisation.

He noted that marginalisation against the Igbo race is true but may not persuade others to concede the presidency to the region.


“Nobody can donate presidency to you because you are Igbo, Hausa or Yoruba,” he said, adding that it is the quality of the candidate that will convince voters.

Okorocha said the crisis within the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) was only temporary, explaining that the leaders of the party are working hard to resolve it.


He also denied insinuations that his relationship with Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State has gone sour.

”I am very close to Obi. He is a brother to me. I also accord him the honour of being in APGA before me. I am just a newcomer. All I do is to give advice.”


On the allegation that APGA cannot produce a presidential candidate in 2015, Okorocha said: “Every political party has the right to produce a presidential candidate. So, nobody can deny any party that right. Any party that is not able to produce a presidential candidate should be de-registered.”


Sam Egburonu, is the Associate Editor of The Nation. This article first appeared at The Nation.






Saturday, 14 July 2012 20:15

IGBO : Nigeria's Black Jews re-discovered

New Yorker's documentary takes in depth look at Igbo tribe in Nigeria and their path at rediscovering Jewish heritage

A new documentary by New Yorker Jeff Lieberman called Re-Emerging: The Jews of Nigeria is taking an in depth look into one of the most unique 'Jewish' communities in the world: The Igbos of Nigeria.

Lieberman's film is a rare testimonial to the daily life of a group that for years has been living off the official Jewish radar and in a political atmosphere of massacres between Christians and Muslims with the constant threat of destruction over their heads.

Vibrant and joyous it celebrates what it sees as its Jewish roots. Make no mistake, this is Africa, but Africa Jewish style.

So how did Jews get to Africa? And why has no one heard of this community until now? That question has a simple enough answer: The group is part of one of the largest ethnic tribes in Nigeria; the Igbo. A tribe with millions of people and the Jewish community making up only a small fraction of that number.

'Nigeria's Jews'

Lieberman explains that the unique situation of the community in Nigeria is a direct result of local history. The Igbo were influenced by traditions brought in by the missionaries who came to the region in the time of British colonialism.


Read further,7340,L-4253145,00.html

Nigeria's black Jews re-discovered - YNET News


Sanusi's CBN should extent its benevolence to Igbo victims

All Nigerians including Save Nigeria Group (SNG) and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) should call on Sanusi's Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to extend his corporate social responsibility to Igbo victims who suffered mightily as result of Boko Haram’s rampage in Northern Nigeria. Many of the Ndi-Igbo residents in the north lost their husbands, wives and children together with their sources of income. Many of these residents (not all) have since departed from Northern Nigeria and are back to their ancestral hamlets.


It is there for the whole wide world to see that many southerners living in Northern Nigeria especially Ndi-Igbo have lost lives and property to Boko Haram’s wanton destruction. Many of these former residents in north have fled from their residential homes and businesses with their families back to south east. In their departure from north they have abandoned their source of livelihood, occupations, businesses and houses in order to protect their lives and the lives of their children.


In most cases the bread winner of the families were killed and widows have to take responsibility of raising the children without help in the absence of their late husbands. It is becoming self-evident that Sanusi's CBN is the only institution that cares for the victims. These families need help and if Sanusi's Central Bank of Nigeria can offer the help as it has demonstrated with the N100 million gift to Kano victims, they do not have any alternative than to make appeal to the CBN.


To be truthful, no one can blame another human being for running away in order to safeguard his or her God-given precious life. History has taught many of these fleeing southerners that time is not on their side and that there is no reason to anticipate for the best as lives and property were being destroyed before their presence. When these victims chose to linger around, hoping for the best and if the worst continues, they have themselves to blame. That is why they were precautious and took off because they do not want history to repeat itself and be blamed for not hearken to the voice of reason and not learning from history.  They do not want to abandon their property and businesses, but the threat of terror and its visitation gave them the compelling reason to run for their dear lives.


When the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria gave a gift of N100 million to the victims of Boko Haram in Kano, many groups and others including Save Nigeria group (SAG) and  youth wing of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) were calling for him to be sacked.  It is the prerogative of these groups to make their request for Sanusi's dismissal and to voice out their grievances but their actions are not necessarily fruitful. What they should be asking is for Sanusi’s CBN is to extend its gift and benevolence to the rest of other victims that have suffered at the hands of Boko Haram especially Ndi-Igbo residents of North who have lost everything - life and property.


Ndi-Igbo residents of the north love their homes and many of their children have not known another place as home but northern Nigeria. In most cases they have assimilated, socialized and are fluent in Hausa and local dialects. When everything stabilized and when the unrest is finally checkmated, these victims may even decide to return back to their old homes. But at the moment they need help from where ever they can get it from.


Instead of these groups (SNG and CAN) asking for Sanusi to go, they should come together and make it known that many other victims should also be taken care of. These groups with their clout can make their case to the presidency and stake holders, appealing to them to have a comprehensive agenda plan to aid the victims of Boko Haram destruction. The sacking of Sanusi is not necessary because it is not going to contribute to making things better. Moreover, the letting go of Sanusi may not be realistic due to constitutional constraints and the independent of CBN from the executive as was promulgated by the Nigeria's constitution. Moreover Sanusi Lamido has executed his monetary policy responsibly and has won many accolades.


Igbo widows who came back from north have to etch a living in the absence of the heads of the families. They have to provide for their children and raise these children alone by themselves. And to add insult to the injury, most of these widows were home makers, who stayed at home and do domestic works. Now they have to go out and earn a living by going to training school or start small businesses and they need the funds.


Therefore, the federal government including the Central Bank of Nigeria should come to their needs and render the desired and deserved benevolence to the helpless victims. SNG and CAN should also participate in asking CBN and the government to aid the people that greatly need the help. The aiding of Nigerians who are victims of the social unrest bodes well for a stronger and united Nigeria.









Published in Emeka Chiakwelu
Saturday, 18 February 2012 19:37

Can Thandie Newton Play an Igbo Woman?

Thandie Newton, English actress  born in London to a Zimbabwean mother and British father

No sooner had the announcement been made that the film adaptation of Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s award-winning novel Half Of A Yellow Sun was to star Thandie Newton, than a petition rang out. By now many people, mostly of Igbo or other Nigerian origin, have complained that the casting of Thandie Newton as the book’s Igbo female protagonist Olanna, is a slight they are not willing to suffer. The 2006 book tells the story of the Nigerian-Biafran War of 1967-1970, in which over a million people were killed or died of starvation. To be fair we do not know yet what role Thandie has accepted, but many are outraged that she could possibly be playing the role of Olanna.

The director, Nigerian novelist and playwright Biyi Bandele has a great cast locked into the film, including Nigerian Brit Chiwetel Ejiofor. Surely Bandele could have a say in who plays the Nigerian woman? Why did he not insist on a Nigerian actress if not an Igbo one?

As the petition’s originator, Ashley Akunna, said in the comments section on Clutch:

“This petition is about authenticity. Igbo people come in all complexions. However, the majority are dark brown in complexion. Thandie Newton is a wonderfully talented actress. However, I would be lying to you, if I said I know anyone in my village who looks like her. I have traveled all across Nigeria, from Abuja to Calabar, and Thandie Newton is not an accurate portrayal of what Igbo woman look like. Not in the slightest. Hollywood is known for giving preferential treatment to black female actors of a lighter hue. And that is definitely being displayed here with the casting of Thandie Newton. 365 days out of the year Africans are portrayed in media as some of the darkest people you will ever come across. However, when a role requires a beautiful Igbo actress, they want to cast a bi-racial woman who looks nothing like the people she is supposed to be playing. That is nonsense. Of course I would love an Igbo woman to have this part. But frankly any African woman who fits the description of what an AUTHENTIC IGBO WOMAN looks like will fit the bill. Don’t give me a watered down version of my ancestors and accept me to be happy. It is an insult to Igboland. FULL STOP.”

We clearly shouldn’t take crumbs and call it a three-course meal, as someone else commented.

Clearly the issue is a deep-seated one with us black women. We want to see media representations of ourselves – fair ones, not ones about us being beautiful or having full agency only when we’re fair, light-skinned or bi-racial. Which is basically how it’s worked out thus far. There are not many dark-skinned actresses outside of Nollywood that don’t get a raw deal. We were given a template by others, and we are expected to fully adhere to it. The shame. We have to be represented accurately, especially if the impetus for such representations is from ourselves!

Chiwe Ejiofor, Igbo British


Which is why I support the petition and hope that the production company for Chimamanda’s film strongly reconsiders Thandie Newton for the role, and puts in a Nigerian, darker-skinned actress if not an Igbo woman. I am sure this would be easy to do as there is a wealth of talent in Nigeria. We need to see other faces besides the well-known ones from the West. Cast someone well-known in Nigeria and trust me that movie will make bank like nobody’s business. Because Nigeria is the second-biggest film industry in the world (after India) it makes sense to take on the viable marketing scheme of a Nigerian face, rather than a British-Zimbabwean one, much as we adore Thandie.

It’s interesting how this works – you write a book, it is your IP, but through birth, it also belongs to the people you belong to and wrote about. The book is now the cultural heritage of the Igbo people. I wonder if the author takes no issue with who portrays one of her characters. Is this not part of the danger of a single story about Africans or black people that she herself warned of? We are multi-hued, let the contemporary portrayals of Africans finally reflect that.

Ogochukwu Nzewi, an Igbo woman living in South Africa, weighed in:

“There must have been prior engagement with her for her to be happy with the casting – it’s not something she’s hearing about now. Many factors contribute to make a movie, including financiers. She may have had to compromise, though unfavourable to many of us. It may be the excitement of having her novel made into a movie. There’s no rush for it to be made a movie. She should have had more editorial control, and put her foot down on casting. It should be as close to the novel as possible and not be compromised. Also, it’s the same old London movie mafia – where are the new faces? We have brilliant Nigerian actresses, even those living in London!”

“We don’t know who Thandie’s playing – but the question remains – how much can we compromise? We continue to have these voices, representing us. And they are not always close to our truths.”

Saturday, 18 February 2012 19:20

PhotoNews of Ndi-Igbo leaving North


The Igboville in pictures: As Ndi-Igbo leaves North

"The Igboville group comprises Igbo professionals in Nigeria and the Diaspora. The group provided the buses to be used in evacuating Igbos who are stranded in the North to Enugu. Some of the returnees, who spoke to reporters, claimed they relocated to the bush for many days until they got hint of the free buses. Mrs. Patricia Agballakwe, an indigene of Nnewi in Anambra State, said, “We came back because of Boko Haram. My family members and I were hiding in the bush until we heard that free buses had been provided for us and we quickly came out and returned home. As you can see, I am a happy woman now because I'm out of the Boko Haram area.” Founder of Igboville, Mr. Emeka Maduewesi, implored the returnees to quickly resettle in the South-East zone while the government sorts out the security situation.--- PUNCH











Three Nigerian players of Igbo heritage are James Ihedigbo, Osi Umenyiora and Prince Amukamara

The most important date in a calendar of National Football League (NFL) in United States of America is the Super bowl contest. The Super Bowl XLVI maybe a local event but it has a global influence and flavor due to cultural heritage diversity of its players. Three Nigerian athletes of Igbo heritage will be playing in this important game event between New England Patriots and New York Giants. These formidable athletes of Nigerian heritage are James Ihedigbo, Osi Umenyiora and Prince Amukamara who will be playing against each other. While Umenyiora and Amukamara are playing for New York Giants, Ihedigbo plays for New England Patriots.


Many Americans and Nigerians are not aware of Nigerian presence at the Super Bowl XLVI. CNN's Fareed Zakaria, moderator of GPS did not mention Nigeria as a nation with presence in the super bowl when he was naming countries that have presence in the event that is fast  becoming an international event.


Osi Umenyiora

Writing about the heritage of these formidable athletes, Jim Slater (AFP) wrote: "Patriots safety James Ihedigbo's parents moved to America from Nigeria in 1982, the year before James was born.Ihedigo admires Giants rookie safety Prince Amukamara, whose mother was a Nigerian Olympian in 1984, and defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who was born in London to Nigerian parents."


Speaking about his fellow Nigerians, Giant's Osi Umenyiora was quoted saying,  "I'm definitely honored to be one of the many Nigerians in the NFL They are great players. It's the athleticism, guys that are big guys that are able to play versatile positions and do more and be athletic. It's awesome."


James Ihedigbo


One great thing about these gentlemen is that they have not forgotten about their heritage and they have always return home to contribute to social and civic development of Nigeria especially in the field of education empowerment for the less privilege of various communities.  Last time Osi Umenyiora returned to Nigeria,  his father’s home town Ogbunike, where his father is the Royal Traditional Ruler bestowed to him a crowned prince and chieftaincy title.


On the Super Bowl media day James Ihedigbo who lost his father Apollos Ihedigbo to kidney failure at age of 17, reminiscence about his late father. James Ihedigbo moving words were documented in Mary Paoletti's Comcast page:

Prince Amukamara

"[I think about my dad] a lot. I get emotional thinking about it. A lot. I know he would be, and he is, very proud of where I got to and the point that I'm at. It's taken a lot of years, a lot of hours of working out and training and film study and preparation to get to this point. I often think about . . . all the time . . . his hard work. He could come from Nigeria, a third-world country, and be successful in the United States and earn his PhD in education. He went from picking cans [off the street] to being an academic advisor [at UMass]. That's a true story. I feel I'm here in the United States and there's nothing that I can't accomplish."


And James Ihedigbo concluded with these powerful words, "I've been blessed to have one of the greatest games as a platform to do other things, to touch other people's lives. I think that's what I was blessed with. I'm a firm believer that I was blessed so I could bless others. That's what I'm trying to do. I just want to educate -- give people opportunities that they don't have -- in any way that I can. Give people what they need to be successful like I am."

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