Igbo Diary…Clumsy Vision, Bold Initiatives…

  1. Overall, the shape of life in the Igbo heartland and communities world wide is taking on an ubiquitous assuming nature tending towards the disquiet of the mind.
  2. The loose link between sectors, persons and organizations appears befuddled and unhinged. This in turn affects our communal latitude and intentions.
  3. With a whole lot happening on all fronts in and around us, we see a people living so comfortably on the margins of cataclysmic events and wholesome changes. We applaud the mediocre and whisper tendentiously about theories of a nonexistent ideas.
  4. Over laboured approaches seems the order of the day, as we crawl on without purpose. I see this in the way we show hollow respect towards one another with empty words, meaningless and hopeless. Traction of personas imbues the low and the high, creating a weakening of our National character.
  5. Of all our acclaimed robustness, resourcefulness and brilliance we have managed to create a Lilliputian state full of disgustful and impaled people unaware of our tragic situation, egged on by ego and transfixed with over bloated hollow words of consolation… “Oga Adi Mma, ma emesie”
  6. The structure of state, governance, and civic platform in Igbo land is wrongly understood and misplaced. That explains the lack of bold visions and the near absence of ambitious approach towards the development of the place.
  7. Recently I visited Aba, a tugging city, which has been at the center of most spins about Ndigbo, Igboland and our Mores; I was afflicted with pain and disappointment. Pain for the obvious and visible faliure and disappointment for the general acceptance of this state as normal and “Godswill”.
  8. A mere 20KM from Aba is Ikot Ekpene. A sleeping town of no significance a few years back. But in contrast today, you cannot compare the face lift, leap changes of great proportion and human capacity changes going on in the place and State with what Aba and Abia has become.
  9. The road linking these two cities is collapsed on the Aba and Abia side. From Opobo junction, you simply cannot ply the road, because it has become a scary grater with rivers of muddy water defining the once link road between Calabar and the greater Eastern highway. Only trucks with difficulty ply the route but at what peril.
  10. Insecurity, evidenced in the lampooned rhetorics of the leaders define our daily lives. By leaders I imply the politicians, church leaders, pagan preachers and cheating, fat pastors who dot our landscapes today.
  11. The stretch of land I talked about above has about 400 large Signboards of various impossible to understand, churches and ministries within a radius of 500 meters, seeking to add to the pains already faced and suffered by the people. I had to walk the long patch of land, some crossed by plank bridges built to navigate through the muddy rivers created by the collapsed roads.
  12. Some houses, shacks and wharehouses that dot the road seem abandoned and businesses gone. Though some boisterous trading and hawking still goes on at the Ehere market and along the patched road, it speaks only sadly of the hopelessness of the situation and of the tardiness of the faith we place on ourselves and the system.
  13. The vision we have of our place is warped. Out of sync with our realities and overwhelming. A poverty of ideas and men is widespread and visible. A growing tension between various groupings is building. With no visible government, new tribes of interest blocs are emerging to define pockets of spaces. Reformed touts, dressed in funny clads, with phoney permits harass and extort from folks who hardly have anything to give.
  14. The breakdown is monumental but not final. We daily lose our basic liberties and are harrased by this new breed into believing what we simply are not. That has become us. And it is Shapping our minds and what we are becoming. The state of our place is a definition of our collective failed and clumsy vision. 
  15. What has emerged since the social upheavals that followed the end of the tragic civil war in the 1970’s and the false financial revival of the 1980’s across Igboland is a new type of Individualism that not only lacks a visionary political, economic and social scope but a clear moral basis, and has grown to regard any if not most participation in governance and government as an individuals outlet to enlarge personal fortunes as ensconced in the infamously viral adage “Onye Ube ruo ru ya racha” (He that the pear falls for should have it). In many respects, we are no longer a people, but individuals pursuing a semi quasi Igbo spiced goals. Politicians, Present and Former’s unrestrained behavior, both personal and financial, has made them the perfect politicians, mentors and leaders for the neo-liberal age of Igbo history.
  16. Issuing from these, is a near criminal abuse of the rights of the Igbo people by this new tribes of marauders who sadly are also Igbo. They are resident amongst us, in our various corridors of power, homes, schools, places of work and centers of whorships, promoting a primitive approach to governance and societal organization, so crude and unadaptive that we can’t even imagine where they are from. As long as they are allowed to continue to thrive, we simply cannot rebirth and regenerate. No need even tasking ourselves to engage, for they are so obdurate and ignorant that any engagement is impossible. I tried this engagement with some government officials, elected officers and appointees of government and left more depressed than before I met them.
  17. The Return of the Natives, a narrative in hope and sustained BELIFE is more like it. A communal approach, broken down into locales which are adaptive to change must be reintroduced. I see a place regenerated through the power of the collective few. The few that are willing to transfer their personal successes into a coherent forward looking and visionary social responsibility, which in turn would be moulded into a common pool of endeavors geared towards the rebirth of our collapsed infrastructures. 
  18. I saw this new ripples in various small communities in Umuahia, Aba, Obingwa, Okigwe and Afikpo, where locals through a small pool of dedicated men and women have started raising the bar again, reinventing our communities through education, scholarship awards, cottage industries dealings on local plants and growths sourced locally… Cashews, Palmoil and granite production, Food and beverage distribution chains, Power and energy plants with local inputs, in a scale that the governments haven’t thought of not to talk of acting on. This is a way forward and a worthy approach.
  19. I salute these men and women, a silent minority today, who are thinking outside the box, who are waking up from our collectievly self induced clumsy visions, and are eschewing cheap talks, fearless and intrepid, and have started reinvesting in our communities; The Joe Ikunna’s, Madam Rose Mgbada, Ndukwe Igwe, Nna Ochefu, Barth Nnaji and many more like these, who are, inspite of the glaring negatives have continued to invest and promote their businesses in Igboland. It’s a small drop, but what a waterfall it would soon turn to!!!

Ireke A. Kalu-Onuma

October 3rd 2013