You can’t count culture aficionados in Nigeria who have the desire to promote Igbo culture in Nigeria and the Diaspora without mentioning Chief Solomon Ogbonna, Chairman BoT Aguene Arts Foundation and President Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos State.
He is interested in how the Igbo nationality can protect their culture from alarming western influences. Speaking exclusively to Daily Sun, he said, unless Igbo embrace culture and accord respect to traditional institutions and jettison insinuations that “Igbo has no king”, the race may be heading for extinction.
He said, “No matter how hard you try, you can never be more English than the English man; just as English man can never be more Igbo than Igbo man. The traditional institutions have always been part of our governing system, predating the colonial era, and were effective during the colonial era. In fact, the colonial masters were able to mobilise the various people of Nigeria through the traditional leaders. That affirm the importance of the traditional institutions, and we should accord them the respect and honour they deserve.”
The biggest lessons for growth and development, human capital utilisation, and regard for one another, he said, had come from culture and tradition. Hence, “If we go back to pick the huge lessons offered by our culture and tradition, it will also ensure that the current situation we find ourselves will ease up for greater benefits. He emphasized that modern Igbo person should embrace the Igbo culture and tradition, and imbibe the spirit of unity enshrined in the tradition. We should also respect our traditional rulers and hold them in high esteem.”
He also dispelled the notion that the Igbo were democrats and had no king. “Probably, people make such statement when they perceive some infighting among Ndigbo. The actions and utterances of some Igbo organisations claiming superiority over Ohanaeze Ndigbo could be responsible for such misconception. Ohanaeze Ndigbo is the apex Igbo organisation with branches across the world. Any organisation’s claim to be superior to Ohanaeze Ndigbo is just like a man claiming to have first son before his own father or saying that secretary of his town union is superior to secretary of United Nation.
“Maybe, their misguided utterances are because they have some Igbo dignitaries as members of their organisations, and the members of such organisation may not be more than 150 people, compared to about 8 million people in Ohanaeze Ndigbo Lagos, not to talk of tens of millions across the world. I call such an organisation a club. My sincere joy is that members of such clubs know that, there is no truth in the claim of superiority over Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
Speaking further on the controversy that the Igbo had no king, Ogbonna thundered, “Who says Ndigbo have no king when there is the reticent, soft-spoken, but quintessential majesty, Agbogidi Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe (CFR), the Obi of Onitsha? Is he not a king? He is a king who detests accolades and camaraderie of office and profiling; but, then, who does not know that reeling out his accomplishments in Western education, numerous awards, corporate deeds and giant strides and many others will be like compiling another encyclopedia? He is a First Class King.
“How about HRM Eze Obidiegwu Onyesoh (Eze Enwea’na II, Eze Nri)? Is he not a king? What about Eze Agomeze, the Ezekona 1 of Onicha Igbo-Eze, who served the people as commissioner in three different states of Imo, Abia and Ebonyi? Is he not a king? And many ezes spread across the length and breadth of Igbo land?
“Do we need a research to know that the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the Eze Ndigbo Gbururgburu, was a king? For some people to stay on the armchair and start misinforming people that Ndigbo have no king is tantamount to cheap blackmail of the Igbo nation, tribe and empire.
“That type of mental hogwash that Igbo have no kings is a brutal, obscene, abusive and tongue-tied statement that must be jettisoned by serious-minded Igbo people, especially the well-meaning and original Ndigbo. Counterfeit Ndigbo and their co-travellers can go to the winds with their tales by moonlight,” Ogbonna declared.