Why she wrote Oprah Winfrey for help By CHIKA ABANOBI The letter from Ms Chioma Ogbu, the 31-year-old Nigerian lady, born with cerebral palsy (the congenital lifelong motor neuron disease said to have no cure), to Oprah Winfrey, the world-acclaimed TV talk show host, philanthropist, film actress and anchor of the popular “The Oprah Winfrey…
At Ofo Regency Institute, we have just perfected the first draft of a new economic paper. And as is the tradition we circulated the draft essay for previews and peer comments. The paper earned honorable previews almost universally. However one, just one particular reader took a rather violent exception, verbal, to our opening paragraph.
And for him therefore the rest of the paper just cannot hold. And our sins? It is just that we had opened the essay with: that but for the Biafran-Nigerian civil war…. And this respondent went ballistic. The Igbo are suffering from victimhood personality, he charged, almost like a rogue elephant. And it was the season of the Achebe’s There Was A Country, which appeared as a perfect alibi for him. Continuing, he berated, that we had to cure ourselves by removing such offensive and victimhood trite, including of course Achebe’s.
I was bemused. One I am not Igbo. I am Oru. And the two are not exactly the same. And why bequeath the alleged sins of the one to the other? But I understood. My friend was suffering from a certain psychological deficit, which we may call the victor-neurosis. Now there are only few great Generals in history who have been humbled by victory. I can only think of one. And that one is not Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan, who each never lost a battle, but was ruined by hubris, by victor-neurosis.
The only man who won all and kept his cool is the Russian, the ablest general of them all, Alexander Suvorov. And as is apparent we have not mentioned any Nigerian, military or their inheritor civilians. And Achebe’s book betrayed them to no end. We will make a few observations on those and let things be the way they are. Now in all the rebuttals on the Achebe book, by commentators on the other side, one obvious sore point was insistent.
They all to the last, compared and justified the treatment of the Oru, the Igbo and other Biafrans, who allegedly are fellow countrymen or supposed to be, with bestialities that happened inter/across and not within/intra other countries’ wars. The worst and most ignorant offender is of course Femi Fani-Kayode. He is, because he prefaced his contention with a bogey warning, that he is a historian. We were immediately at a loss to understand what manner of history he studied, who taught or qualified him, and why?
Where and when? And our worries became apparent when he started comparing the inhumanities of the Biafran-Nigerian civil war and those of international wars; that is fellow countrymen at war and peace, with Germans and French/English/Russians at war. And this mismatched comparison was repeated by all analysts, whether they wrote in from Canada, USA or Ile Ife, professor or lay journalist.
The question is, were they so illiterate of history and its civil war examples, they he couldn’t find one to cross compare with ours? Or were they so untutored, that they group-think international wars and civil wars are one and the same? The answer is perhaps not too farfetched. For those who followed our last two missives, the answer is that Fani-Kayode and the rest of them are Ogboni and in Ogboni. So in their sub-conscious cultural worldview, those who are the Ofo or in Ofo; are other peoples, strange and stranger elements.
It therefore follows they are the irritant hell; and needed to be taught some mortal lessons, perhaps mass-exterminated, even while being tagged brothers, to deceive even the very elect. That is in summary, what FaniKayode and hordes are saying wordlessly, is: We are not one people. Perhaps the high point of the self-betrayal is that of Odia Ofeimum, a poet, an Ogboni poet?
Now is the first great duty of all true poets, not to evangelize and share brotherhood with all men; across borders, of geography, race, and beliefs? Are poets no longer Ojemba, men without borders, whose prejudices must be lighter than the breath of even the dying? Or didn’t our ancestors tell us so? Or Odia, the poet, has preferred and chosen the path of Cain?
Where Cain, sorry, Odia, is your brother? Or have you murdered him? However immediately it is understood that theirs is the cruelty of the Ogboni poet or historian, upon the non-Ogboni, even their claims to being a historian/poet or sharing brotherhood with those they approve of their mass murder, makes sense and is reconciled. The only lesson is for all, to quickly come to knowledge, that we are not one people as the Ogbonis confirm.
We are one country, one spatial jurisdiction. We are not brothers, we are neighbors. Our common project is to be good, but eternally vigilant neighbors, not brothers to one another. This point may be elaborated later if we find time and schedule. The next strand of argument is the type typified by Femi Okunnu. He seemed genuinely bothered. This appears so when he wonders why we won’t gird ourselves together for the greater tasks ahead.
And I laugh. Which tasks? Are these tasks between brothers or neighbors? These things need urgent clarifications. And in some sense it sounds like an extortion racket, some blackmail, to speak of a joint great future ahead, when you refuse to settle the paltry accounts with the past. It is like we done business together and the accounting year comes to an end. And rather than share out the profits as should, you keep all to yourself, only to canvass for a working unity, based on alleged long term futures and profit inflows.
My advice, affirmed by historical records in Europe, is that history is too important to be given up for the future, no matter how allegedly conceived as paradise. Triumphant Europe suffered this same victor neurotic madness, for a golden future after the First World War. And this, it is worthy to remark was against the advice of Maynard Keynes. It is on record however that all Europe returned back to their history, in the guise of the Second World War. Is it what our great man is counseling?
Equally sickening is the fact of making too much matter of the reputation of the characters. Reputation is not defense, and is anyway personal, like ones anus. It is the duty of the bearer to keep it antiseptic and not the observers’. If the author of Things Fall Apart, or the self approved dictator, or a clan acclaimed sage is wrong, he should be told so in whatever choice of words that one fancies, so long as it is not libel. Oru has some advice on it and we stand by that. Nke asi akona nsi asi ro efena aju. Aya na efe aju nu. Loosely, we are allowed to dizzy up but not to persecute. Njakiri must go on.
That is why our ancestors invented njakiri. Its purpose? It is to sacrifice the hero for the good of the community, and never vice versa. Therefore no moralists should fool himself by wanting to set an Orwellian shop, as a Semantics Inspector General of Police, SIGP. Anything short of libel is approved of the Lord, and the law. Anyway the lawyers are unemployed enough to sniff out libel where there is none.
So let’s allow them earn a living, after all there is too much hunger in this land. The phrase we may again recall, is victor-neurosis, and this is not njakiri. And nothing ruins like it. But it was only Atiku who has confessed to it. In a remarkable mental ablution, Atiku said he had opposed the Ekwueme six geopolitical zones on one singular account. And it was that Ekwueme was an ex-Biafran (as if there was anything better to be). What Atiku’s confession means even without his knowing or intending it is as follows; that he suffers the victor-neurosis.
And consequentially by this, nothing from the defeated, from an Ekwueme and his kind, that is the Oru na Igbo, will ever be for or of good to Nigeria. That is for him, behind every thinking or acts of an Ekwueme, is a booby trap against Nigeria. Or to put it clearly, the Igbo are guilty in Nigeria even before being charged. They are so distrusted they are not Nigerians or shall remain guilty as Nigerians. And this is Atiku the most cosmopolitan of Northern power princes; so we can extrapolate the mindset of IBB, El Ruffai, etc.
And they done that to Ekwueme, their beloved political page boy; now imagine what they take the rest of us to be? Perhaps more tellingly, the claim that Buhari’s coup was the military expression of the Northern/Atiku’s anti Ekwueme anti-Igbo anti-Oru closet convictions begins to take historical form and concreteness. It is only that Buhari, as insistent as a pole star, refuses to confess his sins, if any, known, unknown or unknowable.
However, with Atiku’s un-prodded for confessions, and its implications, it is clear he has betrayed the long held secret. And it is that the power-victors are still counting the Igbo as enemies; and why integrate your enemy into your victorious society? Is there then a greater proof for the Achebe assertion that his Igbo kinsmen are yet to be let into Nigeria or that the cost of that political victor-neurotic madness is unbearable? The great Atiku conceded that much again?
••• Okonjo-Iweala too
We have just done an article with a title: How Nigerians who go to Harvard, return home to betray their alma mater. Anyway in our wildest imagination we never thought Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala would make the list. Unlike the other hustlers, she apparently has everything going for her. The best of Ivy League education and a World Bank work credit; and this at the highest levels.
She almost nearly got elected to the presidency of the bank if you recall. She was refreshingly different. And we were proud she is of us, Naija. Yet apparently she disappoints and makes the non honorable list after all. And now while in service and office, she has written or signed a book. The truth and this is known to her or should, is that if she were a serving minister in any European/North American country she dare not pretend to write a book while in public service.
And to worsen matters she came up with the dubious project of actually abandoning her duty post, to launch a personal book and beg for cheques. In all civilized parts those things are done outside the corridors of power. Public office is like a sacred ground, and to merit a place in her, you must play by the innocence of vestal virgins. Yes, some other kids, crooks really, have exploited their positions and have had books written by or about them launched, and made millions. But those were fellows with the morality of whores, pimps.
They were in it like vultures are, feeding fat and healthy on rotting corpses. And we left matters at that, because we thought these are street urchins, who no thanks to Naija morality, made it into high power. But Okonjo Iweala, ex-MIT, ex-World Bank, and we thought she was the role model others are to copy. And we thought she could withstand the rot of converting, misappropriating public office for private or dubious good. And to repeat this is something she dare not imagine, if she were in a European cabinet. Her excuse that proceeds of the launch or begging for cheques, are to be donated to flood victims begs the question and raises others.
She is part of a government that has declared and accepted the flooding as a national disaster? Does it follow that the matter is beyond her government as a corporate person, and desperation has set in? And that to save the day ministers are asked to write books and beg for cheques, by which to augment government efforts to stem the flood and fiscal crisis? What she has done suggests that she has no time for her day job, which is to be minister in an economic situation that is declared an emergency, on par with the flood she is dancing in the sun for?
As for me I just cultivate my gardens, in knowledge that Nigerians wherever or however far it is they go or get educated, they return no better than compatriots who never left Nyanya market Abuja or Ose Okwodu Onitsha. That is, a PhD Harvard or Yale may not be culturally superior to a seven year apprenticeship graduate from Oshodi Under Bridge in the event the characters are all Nigerian. Hello, hello, this is the 2TG calling.
Am I through to the Minister of Finance? Yes you are. This is Okonjo Iweala, ex-Harvard, ex-MIT, ex-Yale, ex-World Bank and ex-Everything else. My dear and beloved 2TG, I am forever Naija. Ahiazuwa.