NewsReel 14/12/13 - How Good A People Are Ndigbo?

[ Masterweb Reports: Dr. James C. Agazie reports ] – This essay concludes that Ndigbo do not fare well, despite what appears to be their opulence. You are lost when you fail to love, care for, or spend your resources on others. A Nigerian song says that “onye nwere madu ka onye nwere ego” (a man who has good neighbors is better than a wealthy man). If it is true Ndigbo have been defeated in war, marginalized in Nigeria, and made to feel as second-class citizens isn’t it behooving of us to love and care for one another better than we are doing? Have we internalized defeat and turned the anger into self-hatred and abhorrence for fellow Ndigbo? The question is: “How good a people are we Ndigbo?”
The answer is : “Ndigbo are not as good as one would expect. At least, Ndigbo are not very good to one another. How good can you get if you’re not good to your fellow sufferers? Though we have written and talked so much about the shortcomings of the Hausas and Yorubas, that doesn’t absolve Ndigbo from blame or leave them immune or faultless. In fact, of all the tribes in Nigeria, Ndigbo is the only tribe that has to work the hardest to change their attitudes as well as the perceptions Nigerians as a whole have of them. One would expect Ndigbo to have more empathy and show greater understanding of human suffering. And they ought to be better behaved, having suffered tremendously as a group as a result of the pogrom and Biafra Civil War. We say it the way it is; we don’t mind hurting feelings . But Ndigbo are the least satisfied group in Nigeria. In the attempt to verify their dissatisfaction, we asked a few Igbos in Nigeria and abroad: “What irks you most about our people?” To irk is to annoy, vex, displease, trouble, bother, nag, rile, rankle, or rub you the wrong way. Here are a few of the complaints Igbos have leveled against one another:
Igbos do not love one another. This is the most recurrent complaint. To love is to feel affection for, be keen of, adore, or care for. One of my friends calls to lament: “Ndigbo kporo onwe fa asi” (hate themselves). For example, the Igbos who arrived in the United States as students in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, would describe the love they shared and experienced. If you went to unfamiliar town in a distant state and didn’t know a soul, all you did was look in the telephone directory for an Igbo-sounding name. Call that number and you would be met with the best hospitality, welcomed in as a brother, and helped to solve your problems, including employment, admission to a college, and of course assisted to procure the Green Card. In today’s America, Ndigbo do not trust one another let alone welcome another Igbo to their homes. The new Igbo arrivals have been robbed by fellow Igbos, taken advantage of, or given bad advice that when followed would be detrimental. The same thing is obtainable in Nigeria and across these great United States; New York, Texas, Georgia, and even far-away Canada.
Ndigbo do not help one another. While the Yorubas and Hausas are known to assist their own, one can hardly say the same thing about Ndigbo. Igbos who had escaped boko haram violence in Northern Nigeria and ran to Igboland had sad stories to tell. Their Igbo neighbors resisted helping the new comers; Igbo Governors and politicians refused to provide services for their destitute; civil service departments told the job seekers: “Go to your state of origin.” There have been stories of Anambra civil servants in Imo State being chased out to make rooms for Imo indigenes. The States of Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, and Abia are all guilty of extreme clannishness. It is the usual Abia-for-Abians-and-Anambra-for Anambrians stupid mentality. In the United States, you cannot meet an Igbo and not be asked: “Which State are you from?” You are asked the question for a decision to be made as to whether t o associate with you or reject you entirely. . Ndigbo have spent over N938billion improving Northern Nigerian lands while Alaigbo remains desolate.
Ndigbo love money inordinately. A thing or act is inordinate if it is excessive, undue, unwarranted, immodest, extravagant, or unreasonable. An inordinate love of money is a dangerous thing because it means that an Igbo man or woman would value money so enormously as to render that love over and above life itself. Money becomes an end itself rather than a means to an end. Some Ndigbo are greedy and selfish in their pursuit and use of money. On what do Ndigbo spend their billions? Ndigbo selfishly spend money on “things” that really do not matter; things that do not   benefit or edify people. What is more important than fellow humans? Why do my people build 20-stroried skyscrapers that nobody live in? They build for the birds, rats, and insects, and the builders cannot live in those tall buildings because the rooms are dark, stuffy, hot, and airless. Ndigbo build for self-aggrandizement, to show they have arrived or are better than neighbors. Ndigbo have spent over N938billion improving Northern Nigerian lands while Alaigbo remains desolate.
Ndigbo are disloyal, highly competitive, and envious of neighbors’ success. Let’s take this one by one. Chief Nduka regrets entering into a business with his nephew whom he had sent to China to represent him and make contact with his exporters. Chief Nduka chooses to remain in the U. S with young school-age children while running a successful export business in Nigeria. Now, the nephew is described as exhibiting disloyalty defined as being unfaithful, treacherous, and untrustworthy. The nephew has stolen Chief Nduka’s business, refuses to share information about profits, and competes with the Uncle’s business. One of the reasons Ndigbo refuse to help neighbors is the fear of disloyalty: the person you’ve helped might turn out to be your worst enemy and do you harm. A professor friend had sponsored a brother and a few cousins in admission to a U S college. Now, the professor states his Igbo relatives have not been in touch with him in 10 years. But he hears through various grapevines: “After all, what has professor ever done for me?”

Dr. James C. Agazie ( ).


*Photo Caption - Map of Igboland (homeland of Ndigbo of Nigeria ).

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