“That boy calls you father – do not bear a hand in his death.”
Mr. Dede (an Igbo man) sneaked into the class echoing the sentence above repeatedly. My young mind got to work, enraptured by the solemnity of Mr. Dede’s tone and the import of the statement he was repeatedly making as he stole his way around the class. I was hypnotised trying to figure out what father was going to kill his son and why. The ensuing pin-drop silence in the class was an indication I was not the only one mesmerized by Mr. Dede’s solemn drama.
It was in my JSS 3. We were unto Chinue Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart’: The Death of Ikemefuna. Ironically, Chinue Achebe was himself another Igbo man.
Mr. Dede, our literature teacher, took that statement from elder Ezeudu Ogbuefi who was telling Okonkwo not to partake in the execution of the boy Ikemefuna given that the later addressed him as a father… Okonkwo didn’t listen – on the day of the execution, he pulled out his sword and took Ikemefuna’s head. Okonkwo was famous for bravery in Umuahia, ever after defeating Amalinze the cat in a wrestling contest and being the first to return with a human head in local battles, and was worried his reputation will suffer if he hesitate to do the wishes of the gods, even though Ichie Ogbuefi had told him the gods wanted the boy killed, but they didn’t say Okonkwo should do the killing.
Mr. Dede went on to tell us about a new kind of fear – a fear of not being seen as fearful. Okonkwo was afraid he may be seen as afraid, and Mr. Dede told us that was a very rigid and unpalatable self imprisonment.
Puzzlingly, it is these Igbos who are busy contributing their own quota to develop the North that a group of faceless northern Youth coalition deem appropriate to give quit notice from the north, when we have bokoharam and killer herdsmen ravaging the country, enjoying their stay with overt support from some of these Arewa Youth with misplaced priority.
Unsurprisingly, an elder who has been trapped by his own vanity didn’t consider either bokoharam or killer herdsmen as the problem of the North and ought to be expelled by this coalition, but fancy Igbos as the problems. Preparatory to the 2015 elections, this elder, Professor Ango Abdullahi, was heard threatening fire and brimstone if power does not return to the north. Today, he is supporting the Quit Notice given to Igbos by the northern youth coalition. Being a former VC ABU, he is usually taken serious. But Eugene Enahoro (dr firstname.lastname@example.org) in his article, ‘Lunatics don’t unite’ on page 43 Daily Trust June 13, 2017; has this to say:
“…Thankfully Ango Abdullahi is not the North, he is only one of over 70 million northerners. He is of little consequence and speaks only for himself, since he has not been elected to represent anyone… ”
Enahoro cannot just wish Ango Abdullahi away with the above statement, because yes, Ango was not elected, but has more influence than even those elected, as his influence cut across senatorial and state boundaries. Barrister James Kanyip, on the other hand, expressed disappointment with an elder playing in the mud with children. The good Barrister frowned at the elder because the elder who was there during the civil war, should know better – instead of joining children, who had no idea what the horrors of war are, to play in the mud. Barrister Kanyip didn’t dismiss the influence of Ango like Dr. Enahoro. Barrister Kanyip dismissed instead, what Ango was supporting and that is more effective. However, methinks Ango himself has no idea what the horrors of war are even though he was alive then. He has to repeatedly fiddle with the idea of a war, because no single bomb landed in the core North where Ango was cringing in fear for the three years the civil war lasted, and shouldered by the middlebelters. Even today, Ango knows that he has attained a height where he cannot be consumed by war. Most of his fellow war-mongers, know they have attained that height. The only people not in the know, are the already impoverished who will bear the brunts of war whenever one should come up. Unfortunately, those who will bear this brunt will dismiss it as the will of Allah not understanding that it is the will of war-mongers like Ango Abdullahi and his ilks.
Ango Abdullahi would never have become the VC ABU if not for northernization and islamisation of the University. He was a product of sectionalism not merit, and feel indebted to the policy of sectionalism and divisiveness. He is nourishing a system that birthed him, thus guided by dangerous primordial sentiments. In this quest, he wants to show himself the champion of the north, and is terribly afraid not to be seen as anti-north or complacent in the face of northern interest or agitation. He is suffering from the Okonkwo fever and would kill a million more Ikemefunas, even though they call him father, to sustain a false impression that he is not a coward. Interestingly, Ango is huge coward and that is why he could be easily cowed to play in the mud with children, in the vain hope the children will consider him their hero. He will kill a million Ikemefunas, even against the good counsel of a million Ogbuefis in the vain belief that his reputation as a man of valour would be sustained. Ango is a slave of his own illusion of valour. He is a prisoner of his own vanity. He is a toxic force against himself and consequently against Society. Nigerians with any sense of direction, should learn to dismiss Ango for what he truly is, and not through the wishful thoughts of Dr. Enahoro.