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*Cynthia Osokogu: The Girl Murdered By The Igbos? Who Is Qualified To Respond To This?
By Olugu Ukpai
I have kept the desire to write on Cynthia’s unfortunate-gruesome murder in the deep freezer compartment of my heart for sometimes now. But after reading series of some media frenzy commentators that have persuasively linked her assailants to an inherent Igbo culture of killing, and because of the Igbos love of money and how Igbos kill themselves for monetary sake, I shifted this frozen desire to the heater compartment of my heart and commenced immediately.
My dear God, has it now become a crime to be an Igbo? The media frenzy commentators tell me so over and over again. “Cynthia, the girl murdered by the Igbos”, “Igbos why are you killing for money always? I hate Igbos …?” “Igbo like money too much. Ladies should avoid marrying Igbos!” “The Yorubas will be saying that Igbos love money, Igbos kill ...” “Igbos, Igbo why are you killing for money always...”?, to mention but a few. What would I tell their unborn children when they grow up to read such demonizing captions such as above? I was saddened to read such media frenzy reports, attributing Cynthia’s death and killers to the Igbos and Igbo violent culture, rather than tracing the historicity of violence and killing in Nigeria to British colonialism, the country that bequeathed violence on Nigeria in general and the Igbos in particular. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Late Cynthia OsokoguThis article calls for re-interpretation of history from colonial history by the Igbos themselves, because, realities exist, but the ways in which this reality is interpreted are decisive for the ways in which history is shaped. It was Deborah Gray, who signifies that, “history is supposed to give people a sense of identity, a feeling of who they were, who they are, and how far they come. It should act as a springboard for the future.” It is my hope that it will do this for the Igbos, who has been given more myth than history. The myths have put the Igbos in a position where they must prove their case and abhor quietness. Despite all that the Igbos has accomplished in the fantasy called Nigeria, the Igbo man and woman is still awaiting for an affirmative answer to the plaintive question asked over century ago: “Can anything good come out of the Igbos”?
WHO IS QUALIFIED TO SPEAK ON THIS ALLEGATION AGAINST THE IGBOS?
The question of agency stares me on the face. Who is qualified to tell the true story? I am not worried so much about what “outsiders” are saying, but what some of the “Insiders”, the Igbos themselves are saying. I am worried about our own brothers and sisters, who have joined the ranks of the “outsiders” and help uphold the Igbo cultural violence views. How can we fight when our own brothers and sisters are now amplifying the “outsiders” tirade about the Igbos, because they have been given powers and resources? They are now “insiders” that wept louder than the “outsiders”.
Our sincerity and vision are continually being impeded and beclouded by our own historical context and perspective, being told by “outsiders”. We are wise to reject the notion that the Yorubas and Hausas are the same like “us” and that we anything to share in common. “We” would be all too disservice to “ourselves” to assume that these “Others” are so exactly like us, such that their judgement can easily be substituted for “ours”, let alone speaking for “us”. Any approach without the “insiders”, the Igbos themselves, would be as refusing to see the sun in the middle of the day, and ignoring to tell the truth that the Westerners bequeathed on Nigeria whatever they are today. This calls for a different perspective besides the Yoruba and Hausa tainted media frenzy commentators.
MY POSITIONALITY AND ARGUMENT:
Thus, I write to condemn the Hausas and Yorubas hegemonic media frenzy commentators’ hegemonic internal imperialism and exceptionalism. By exceptionalism, I mean the tendency of hegemonizing and demonizing the Igbos as either “violent”, “killers” or “lovers of money” because Faruk Lawal, a man who has demonstrated his penchant appetite and love of money is not an Igbo, neither is the most violent known “killer” group leader of Boko Haram, Abu Muhammed Abubakar, popularly known as Imam or Sheik an Igbo. I condemn the tendency to assume that the Yorubas and Hausas are neither better nor more peaceful than other tribes in Nigeria, especially the Igbos. It is deceptive to assume that they are innocent of violence, who must now speak, condemn and take salvation message to the “Others”, especially the Igbos. When Umar Faruq Abdulmutallab’s failed attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner in December 2009, he was simply identified and referred to as a Nigerian, not as an Hausa man. Nigeria as a whole was demonized and placed on the list of 14 nations whose nationals were singled out for special checks if they want to fly to the United States. Let it be known that no single individual or ethnic group has caused more deaths by violence like the dreaded Boko Haram, and their leader, Abu Muhammed Abubakar. He has never even been arrested, let alone being tried.
I contend that the name calling and one-size fit all perspective, which tries to link up Cynthia’s death with the Igbos, simply because, her assailants supposedly bear somewhat Igbo names is a ploy to relegate the Igbos that lacks merit. Somebody I know very well from Kaduna relocated to somewhere in Igboland and changed his name from “Danfodio Usman” to “Derechi Umarachi” for some attendant benefits. Similarly, given the porosity of the Nigerian borders, many aliens are sneaking into the country; changing their names to obtain the Nigerian passport, and committing crime in the name of Nigerians. Channels TV’s 10pm network news on the 27th of August, 2012, reports that one of Cynthia’s alleged killers, who claimed to be a third year accounting undergraduate student at UNILAG is fake. UNILAG has refuted his studentship, saying that, they do not have such name in their record. How then are we sure that their purported “Igbo names” names are not fake? A one size fit all approach mentality will only ensure that we miss the right approach and similar threats in the future.
HISTORICITY, THE BEST APPRAOCH
How should we then deconstruct violence and how did it enter Nigeria? Violence is the product of the West, especially the British that colonised Nigeria. It is a product of globalization, Americanization and neo-colonialism. Nigerian state did not spring de novo from its environment. Rather, it has roots in the imposition of draconian forms of colonialism. The tragedy of contemporary state is that, it still fails to rise above colonial detritus of wanton disregard of people’s rights.
British colonial masters and those they handed power to, at independence, the Hausas, who have now turned to demonise the Igbos as “violent” and “killers” are the ones that bequeathed violence on Nigeria. Nigeria was peaceful in their struggle to oppose British colonial rule, even in Igboland. But they shot and killed Nigerians, including their women and youths who protested against colonial rule. This is evident and variously known as “the Women’s Riots of 1922” or “the Aba Riots”, but more correctly as “Ogu Umunwanyi”, women’s war in which the British colonizers spilled the blood of innocent women, just like the Cynthia’s innocent blood. It is on record that, gun salutes were a symbolic act of performance and part of the means by which the colonial power demonstrated their power of weaponry. They subdued Igbo women and even married the beautiful women by force. Some of them who could not be able to make love with women imported hard drugs to aid them. This act of drug and rape has continued till today. This was done to terrorise and instill fear and therefore paralyze the Igbo women, stopping them from rioting and overthrowing dictators in our peaceful, cultural fashion. Unfortunately, with repetition, these violence acts became a ritual. The Nigerian elite today use the same rituals of violence, gun salute, and drugging women to demonstrate their legitimacy. They are, when demystify, actually acts of violence. The fundamental structures have not actually changed. Nigeria swims in the ocean of British colonial legacies. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Late Cynthia Osokogu (Photo 2)Could the cause of male violence against women, such as in Cynthia’s case be as a result of the continues use of guns and hard drugs, which Nigerian politicians give our idle teaming youths, who are willing tools in their hands to continue to terrorise women, a legacy they learned from the colonial masters? How on earth do you, in your wildest imagination expect a drug addict, to have respect for human dignity, especially their female friends who they can stab, poor acid on drug, rape and kill at the slightest provocation? A person under the influence of hard drugs is animal, of unsound mind, precisely insane and a wayward child of British colonialism. Reiterating this fact, the CBN Governor insists that Nigerian state is a wayward child of British colonialism when he wrote: “We’re all victims of British colonization”, which was the caption of the PUNCH newspaper of Friday, November 20th 2009. Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi said that the ills of the country (including, but not limited to murdering of innocent citizens, such as that of Cynthia) should not be limited to any ethnic group. According to the CBN boss, “every Nigerian [including the alleged killers of Cynthia] is a victim of colonialism”.
My heart bleeds that, sheding human blood, a taboo and “foreign culture” in Igbo land even before the arrival of the colonial masters, has now gradually being recorded in the Igbo cultural lexicon. “Tufiakwa!.” –God forbid!
Rather than apportioning blames, we should blame it on colonialism and the Whiteman’s brilliance, trick and manipulations in eroding our culture. He destroyed our peaceful culture and bequeathed his on us before leaving. Recollecting and lamenting on the wanton destruction of transformation of Nigerian virtue by the British, Chinua Achebe wrote:
“Does the Whiteman understand our customs…How can he when he does not even speak our tongue? But he says that our customs are bad; and our brothers who have taken up his religion also say that our customs are bad. How do you think we can fight when our own brothers have turned against us? The Whiteman is very cleaver. He came quietly and peacefully with his religion. We were amused at foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers and sisters, and the clan can no longer ACT as ONE. He has put a KNIFE through the things that held us TOGTHER, and we have FALLEN APART”.
Indeed, what evidence do I need to present my case? Igbos love strangers unconditionally and innocently. We loved the British colonial masters unconditionally, but they did not love us back. They pretended that they did until they destroyed Igboland which is the task of Igbo historians to piece together. I contend that, rather than attributing the alleged Cynthia’s killers, whom I call wayward children of British colonialism to the Igbos, I will rather proudly identify late Cynthia, as a true, fearless Igbo young girl, who associated unconditionally, and who trusted unconditionally, because, such were the Igbos’ and Igbo women attributes, which they fearlessly exhibited even before the British colonial masters. But just like the colonial masters did to the Igbo women by mishandling and killing them, Cynthia’s killers did the same, and thereby repeating exactly what the British colonial masters did to the Igbo women. Ola Rotimi lamented on the Whiteman’s deception, in loving someone who does not actually love you, when he wrote:
“I said to him: White One, show me your hand. And he showed me his hand. White One, give me that hand. And he held out his hand. The right hand. Then, I said to him: White One, your face shows love, but does your heart? Because to love someone who does not really love you, is like shaking the giant iroko tree to make a tiny dew-drops…fall. I had opened my hand to the Whiteman. But minds do not meet like roads”.
Olugu Ukpai is a Ph.D Law student at School of Law at the University Of Reading, U.K. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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