FEATURE ARTICLE

Peter Emeka NwaforMonday, June 21, 2010
nwaforpeter@yahoo.com
Johannesburg, South Africa

ANNOUNCE THIS ARTICLE
TO YOUR FRIENDS

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE NATIONAL LEADERSHIP OF OHA NA EZE NDIGBO

he Igbo nation has an enviable cultural heritage which dates back to its origin more than six thousand years ago. It encompasses the various customs, practices and tradition of the Igbos. It is a mixture of practices which are old to a large extent together with modern concepts, combined with Igbo culture as a result of evolution or outside influence. Over a long period of time, the older generations have handed down rich Igbo cultural heritage to the younger generations for positive continuity and absolute maintenance of the true identity of the Igbo nation. This is the case with our Igbo families and communities that are playing a very active role in entrenching chore cultural attributes with constructive moral dimension.


advertisement

Recently in Nigeria, a pilot project "suba Igbo" was launched by the Igbo state governors; practically it is not only about speaking the Igbo language, but also to revive our rich cultural heritage which is being eroded because of the huge decay in our moral and cultural values.

What is the stand point of Oha na Eze ndi Igbo, a sociocultural pressure group comprising of eminent Igbo personalities and traditional rulers, regarding the abrupt nosedive of our cultural and moral values?

Oha Na Eze ndi Igbo has always played a pivotal role in issues related to the affairs of the Igbo nation, especially in the creation of awareness and promotion of Igbo cultural heritage in Nigeria and in Diaspora. In the recent time, it seems as if they have lost it completely regarding the fight for a cohesive Igbo nation, which has left our nation in a state of despair.

There are reports, alleging that certain traditional rulers are involved in the spate of kidnappings for ransom in the Igbo states. Stories are making rounds about incidents of betrayal and let down by some of our so called Igbo Leaders. In Nnewi, Anambra state, there was a huge outcry about the discovery of large amount of marked money paid for ransom in respect of a kidnap which was traced to a certain bank for deposit into the account of a well known traditional ruler in the area. Also, in Oruku, in Nkanu East Local Government area, of Enugu state, a traditional ruler was apprehended for providing his house to kidnappers to hide a kidnapped victim up until a ransom would be paid by the relatives. In Abia and Imo states respectively, there are currently allegations of complicity by some traditional rulers in kidnapping activities for ransom by the government. What it then means, is that some of these traditional rulers enlist the services of our young people to perpetrate heinous crimes, this is extremely abominable and a complete destruction of a good proportion of our future generation. Does it also mean that some of these custodians of our Igbo culture and morals have sold their souls to crass materialism? It is indeed a very disturbing development for our Igbo nation.

We also have situations where some traditional rulers engage in Advance fee fraud "419" activities and confer dubious chieftaincy titles to people of dubious and questionable characters who are in most cases their partners in crime.

These people flaunt their ill gotten material wealth arrogantly, without any form of respect towards the members of their community and no body cares about the negative psychological pressure they create for our young people.

Seemingly, the lack of direction and inability to uphold our chore cultural and moral values by some of the custodians of our culture and above all, the ineffective position of Oha Na Eze ndi Igbo has exacerbated the already appalling situation.

Oha Na Eze ndi Igbo in Diaspora, especially in South Africa, is not exempted from this complete lack of direction in upholding the fundamental Igbo values. It has always been a dog eat dog situation, with a very parochial agenda. Though, to some extent they have managed to showcase the superficial aspect of Igbo culture by dressing up in very flamboyant regalia befitting some royalties. Currently there are two factions of Oha na Eze ndi Igbo in South Africa, it still surprises me why the national body in Nigeria cannot intervene to resolve the debacle and save us from the constant heartache that we face on a daily basis. It also appears that there is no form of control and monitoring strategy from the national body. Dr. Dozie Ikedifu, the past president of Oha Na Eze ndi Igbo was in Johannesburg sometime ago, to inaugurate one of the two warring factions of Oha Na Eze Ndi Igbo. This culminated into a legal battle that was eventually won by the faction that invited him, which he inaugurated and conferred their leader with the title of onye ndu ndi Igbo (the leader of the Igbos, in South Africa).But the fight and division continues. When shall the national leadership of Oha Na Eze Ndi Igbo, Nigeria, put this ugly fight to a final stop and restore our common dignity?

We have witnessed occasions where persons with very suspect backgrounds converge to be given chieftaincy titles by an individual who claims to be the Eze ndi Igbo in South Africa. We have a particular incident where one of such persons with little or no education was given the title "Ikenga Ndi Igbo" which I continue to find completely disrespectful and insulting to the Igbo nation. Ikenga is a very popular symbol of the Igbo nation, just like we have Sango and Ogun in Yoruba mythology. In terms of our Igbo traditional religion, Ikenga is a highly revered part of our heritage. It is mostly maintained, kept, or owned by men of high reputation and integrity in Igbo society. It is made up of some one's Chi (personal god), or his ndiichie (ancestors). Ikenga is a sign of Igbo strength, protection, success, and accomplishment. So tell me, why any sane person would want to make his cultural heritage an object of caricature by arrogating to himself the title of the most revered symbol of Ikenga ndi Igbo?

The Igbo nation has great sons and daughters, who have set the pace for the appreciation and entrenchment of our identity through our rich Igbo cultural heritage. Literary Icon, Professor Chinua Achebe (Ugo Belu N' Oji) whose masterpiece, Things Fall Apart, is based on our Igbo cultural heritage, exemplified the virtue of our cultural heritage. Professor Herbert Ekwekwe has done series of academic research in view of the Igbo nation, more importantly on Biafra, so as to unravel the hidden truth. Same applies to Professor Catherine Achelonu whose research work on the origin of Igbos debunked the notion that the Igbos are descendants of the Jews but rather that the two nations at a certain point in history happened to live side by side each other, and that is why they share certain cultural similarities.

The National leadership of Oha na Eze ndi Igbo should take a much needed responsibility to develop a monitoring and evaluation technique which will instill high level discipline amongst the Igbo leaders, which will definitely trickle down to the entire Igbo nation. The criminal activities of some traditional leaders should be investigated and be brought to limelight so as stop the incessant embarrassment and devaluation of our rich cultural heritage.

Immediate condemnation of conducts and behaviors that are unbecoming of Igbo traditional rulers and high profile personalities should always be made through constant release of press statements to the public, so as to avoid sending wrong signals to our young people. It is a mark of poor leadership that Oha Na Eze Ndi Igbo in Nigeria as well as our Igbo traditional council of chiefs and Ndi Eze have not been able to take a strong position regarding accusation of alleged involvement in kidnappings by some traditional rulers. We need to arrest this very ugly situation urgently because a "stitch in time saves nine". Our Igbo proverb says it all; "Onye ana agba nkili anaghi ekpo ntu".

Peter Emeka Nwafor is a lawyer, currently an LLM candidate, International Economic Law, University of South Africa

advertisement
IMAGES IN THE NEWS