Igboland is contiguous to Bight of Biafra
Thanks, Chief Ogbuagu for your Daily Sun writings whence many of us humble folk learn a lot. Knowledge is worthless if not brought into public utility. Hence, journalists and the mass media are most vital in the progress of modern society, and also why deliberately false or wrong information, if allowed to linger, is dangerous to society.
With all due respect, if you wanted to “deal with the Igbo” or mess them up for the sake of anything or anyone, you completely achieved the goal. It is very incorrect and condescending to refer to Anioma as “our” cousins and to the Ikwerre (maybe including all other Rivers Igbo communities) as “filial relationship with the Igbo.” Question: who are the “our” in relation to the Anioma, and who are “the Igbo” in your so-called “filial relationship”? It’s clear that you are knowingly or unknowingly part of the bandwagon who separate between “core Igbo” and non-core Igbo, and whose real Igbo is “South East,” which the propagators use interchangeably. By not knowing that every Igbo is Igbo and not cousin or filial relationship, you have already set up the Igbo for unpreparedness towards your “inevitable.” And by such disunity and unpreparedness, there can be no “Alaigbo” for you to develop.
Most respected friend, for your information, Igboland is contiguous to the coast through a “broad arm of the sea” between Igweocha/Port Harcourt and Ubani/Bonny that separates the Ogoni from the Ijaw. Please, see the Willink’s Report (pages 37 and 51) and add to writings by several European explorers.
Additionally, Igboland is contiguous to the coast through the Imo River channel (“Imo” is an Igbo word) through Azumini, Obeaku, Ohambele, Ohaobu, Umuagbai, Maraihu, etc., in Abia, Akwa Ibom and Rivers states, down to Opobo. These two Igbo contiguities to the coast, in addition to Calabar, were the best Eastern coast-hinterland passages in premodern times. There were also the Brass-Niger route and the Kalabari route that met the Igbo at Aboh and the Rio Real, respectively. The Igbo and all other Nigerian coastal nations had their independent outlets to the coast, and this is amply reflected in their histories.
During the slave trade, the Igweocha-Ubani route held the upper hand in Igbo maritime history, but during the palm oil and kernels trade, Opobo, under Jaja, overtook Ubani. The three Igbo coastal ports, added to the non-Igbo routes, plus the Benin-Lagos flanks, etc., were the bases of the Igbo dominance of the West African maritime and good and bad Atlantic history for nearly 500 years before the civil war, creating probably hundreds of millions of peoples of Igbo stock in the Western Hemisphere. Then the Biafra war, the false divide-and-rule daggers inserted into Eastern hearts to create mutual hatreds, the ethnic-cleansing code-named Abandoned Property (which the Igbo no longer blame any Easterner for) meant to separate the Igbo into manageable bits or weakened dots surrounded by “enemies”, and the historical falsifications to justify the atrocities.
Maybe these crimes and atrocities to confine the Igbo into a ghetto or Bantustan called “East Central State” of Ukpabi Asika or “South East” of the five Governors of Rome, which the Igbo are expected to accept with gratitude instead of being totally wiped out, seems to be the notion of the Igbo being spread by your write-up.
Ubani/Bonny, the Singapore of the East, was founded by the Ndoki-Igbo, and ever since has been prospering the world and later Nigeria in a foods trade, Igbo local technology trade, slave trade, coal trade, and now crude oil and gas industry. Remove Bonny and you have removed five centuries of modern Igbo history since the mid-15th Century and one of the people’s greatest contributions to global history, including the founding and development of many American countries and the rise of the global Civil Rights movement. Remove Opobo and you have yet again destroyed another pillar of modern Igbo history since 1869. If Nigerian rulers were interested in peace based on justice, they should, seeing these huge Igbo pioneering efforts, not be continuing with the hate-filled anti-history policies against the Igbo.
Opobo, another major Igbo coastal port after Igweocha and Ubani, was founded by the joint efforts of the Igbo nation, led by one of their most illustrious sons, Mbanaso Okwara-Ozurumba, alias Jaja, originally sold in Bonny into two Igbo families, first Chief Allison, next Chief Madu. From Opobo, the Igbo would yet again prosper the industrialising Western world, especially Britain, in a palm oil and kernels trade that serviced their factories. This Igbo king, already on the way to bringing almost all the peoples of the South under one civilized central local authority, would be described as “The greatest African living in the East of modern Nigeria…the astute and enlightened president of an embryonic state.”
Colonialism didn’t like it. Nevertheless, before the war, Bonny and Opobo were already becoming cosmopolitan international port cities accommodating peoples from various parts of the world without discrimination on any grounds, but still proud of their well-recorded noble origins.
As with the Yoruba brothers and sisters and others in the Middle Belt, etc., the nations of the broad East, the Akwa-Cross, Andoni, Benin/Bini, Idoma, Igala, Igbo, Ishan, Isoko, Itsekiri, Urhobo and others, are one people with shared ties in everything down to antiquity and since 1970 have gradually been overcoming the artificial divisions and bitterness inserted into their lives by enemies of a just society.
The only element of this bitterness still lingering is the idea of separating the Igbo into disunited and weakened “dots” surrounded by “enemies” and deprived of their timeless coastal access and maritime traditions. Once those wedded to this unfriendly disposition detach themselves from such survivals of the evil past, relations with the Igbo and with each other would return to their considerably high mutually beneficial standards of the past.
The Igbo, so republican and democratic to a fault, have no word for “minority,” and only refer to people by their locations or honorifics: Onye or Ndi Asaba, Ndi Awusa, Ndi Bini, Ndi Calabar, Ndi dibia, Ndi Ijaw, Ndi Ogoni, Ndi Okrika, Ndi Owerre, Ndi ozo, Ndi Yoruba, etc. But once the negative contradictions of capitalist economism separated the masses into “minority” and “majority” for ease of exploitation, bad blood followed. We, the supposed educated elite, should refocus on the civilized attitude to nation-building by upholding the positive aspects of our history, extending praise to whom due for their contributions, regardless, and refusing to join in their malevolent falsifications for political ends.
Ancient Biafra encompassed both the Eastern coastal and inland territories and in both aspects the Igbo dominated. Therefore, if others do, conscientious Igbo cannot because they were defeated in an unjust and genocidal war deny or wish away that name or support the killing of children who, out of frustration after years of our connivance or silence, seek a plebiscitary alternative to the crimes being deliberately committed against them and other Nigerians in the name of governance. We elders only urge the youths to persist in peaceful agitation and not emulate the sundry terrorists being welcomed, paid and pampered in Nigeria.
Biafra reminds the Igbo/East of their holocaust, including all the unwarranted massacres since 1945, which are hoped that by a proper restructuring should end. The Jews have not changed their names or histories because of their sufferings, neither have any European countries changed theirs because of defeats in war. What we need is to learn from Biafra, enter into discussions with the aggrieved youths and find a means of building a better society, if Nigeria is to survive.
In summary, while several other southern nationalities have their unimpeded routes to the coast, the Igbo have always been a leading and indispensable component of Eastern coastal and maritime traditions and West African Atlantic histories. Hence, those who, in pursuit of Igbo “landlocking” or “dots” as now called, seemingly orchestrate a line that the Igbo in the Rivers, Delta and other states should be de-Igbonized and separated into “independent ethnic nationalities” that are not expected to speak to each other in a common language or between themselves and their hinterland kith and kin, and whose Igbo dialects have to be “recognized as separate languages” by those who can’t even understand themselves, should have a brotherly rethink.
The strength of one strengthens the rest. The Igbo need everyone in the East and continuously plead for unity as in times of old. This is simply an expression of the Igbo worldview and not a hidden plan for domination or exploitation. The youths drawing maps and including others “without consultation” should be forgiven for their innocent exuberance, for neither the Igbo nor anyone else should unilaterally include others or portions thereof into their maps. Mutual disregard, condescension or even hatred take people nowhere; at best they become slaves to others because they are slaves to themselves. We all should be capable of a better path to follow in unity founded on mutual considerations.
– Prof. Obasi Igwe,
Department of Political
Science, University of Nigeria
This is a historical
Dear Anikwe, I read your article on DAILY SUN (29-07-2021). The white man came to do business in Africa. Later, in order to determine terms of trade and consolidate on his gains, he deployed his military might to impose political authority on the indigenous peoples (after the Berlin Conference) in what he called protectorates, areas under the protection of a colonial power.
In 1914, he joined two protectorates into one protectorate called NIGERIA. On October 1, 1960, he left this protectorate and returned power to the indigenous peoples in a symbolic ceremony in Lagos, where he lowered his flag, the Union Jack.
My question is: Do we, the indigenous peoples of this former British protectorate called Nigeria, have the right to ask one another if we like this new structure called Nigeria to continue with it or go back to our former states, or even to form a commonwealth of independent states, sir?
Furthermore, if Igbo are not Biafrans because no major Igbo-speaking state is contiguous with the Bight of Biafra from where the name of the republic was got, then why are you comfortable calling people from Sokoto, Kano, Zamfara, Borno, Yobe, Lagos, Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi, Akwa Ibom Nigerians even when they do not share any direct boundary with River Niger from where the name ‘Nigeria’ obtained? Opobo, Port Harcourt (Ikwere) whom you call non-Igbo answer Ogbuagu and Anikwe (verify). Israelis are called Jews just because of one tribe, Judah, and they feel happy to answer it. At least, Abia through Azumini, Opobo, Bonny (Ubani, including Opobo, refer to Encyclopaedia Britannica) are contiguous with the Bight. Efik, Ibibio, Annang, Degema, Idoma, Igala, etc., are Igboid. As a patriot, I think you’d be concerned with what ails/curses Nigeria instead of this historical misadventure. – AUM
Give this wide circulation
Your publication in Daily Sun Newspaper is worth printing in handbills for wider circulation to churches, universities, markets, etc., for the benefit of the uninformed. lt should even be sent to all traditional rulers and president-generals of stakeholders of your caption: Igbo are not Biafrans.
– CSO Nnadi (Ph.D) ESUT, Enugu State
An incisive intervention
Thanks so much, Ogbuagu, for this incisive intervention in the prevailing madness of the uninformed youth of Alaigbo. Hope this would be widely publicised in the mainstream media? – Anonymous, Enugu
Thank you Ogbuagu. This represents sound perspectives and analysis. Well done.
– Anonymous, Port Harcourt
Is the whole not better than the parts?
Dear Sir: I was wondering what is currently stopping all these ethnic groups from doing whatever good they are wishing for in separation and division. Is the whole not better and greater than individual parts? Just wondering. Sometimes, the gains we wish for may be already realized. If only we will carefully and reasonable see it, we may trample on it, causing more harm than good.
– Ralph Okoye, Dallas, Texas