It’s just the right season to bless the world and ourselves with the gifts of goodwill. As writers, there are perhaps no greater gifts than the word, and in the word. So we bring to readers and the world excerpts of our latest work: Nigeria: The Unreported Genocide Against the Igbo – The Generals Olusegun Obasanjo-Murtala Mohammed Diktats. Published by The Stone Press Publishers, 2017. Kindly read and enjoin others:
Let’s begin with a tale. A young boy, who is now grown up, Dr. Agu Smart, once called me to inquire whether there was a king called Eshi in Nkwerre history or mythology. What is the matter, I asked? And he told me there is a signpost opposite his old father’s country home at Nweke Nkwerre saying Kamgbe-Eshi Palace. I was alarmed. First of all, there is nothing un-Nkwerre as a palace. Nkwerre are free and proud republican peoples to repeat and have no need for palaces, kings, princes and subjects. Or fools.
Anyway, Kamgbe-Eshi metaphorically means before or since time immemorial in Nkwerre. However, for a philologist, there are other hints. One of which is that Nkwerre people say Oha-Eshi, meaning the crowd/community (of Eshi). Also, Nkwerre people would praise sing or name themselves Nkwerre okwara-eshi, meaning Nkwerre firstborn/male of Eshi.
But the matter is not as simple or exhaustive as this. The other facts are: a neighbouring town bears the name Umueshi, meaning children/descendants of Eshi. However, a little furtherer away at Oguta, the Oguta people take pride in their group cognomen; Oguta nwa amaeshi, which translates roughly as, Oguta, princes and princesses or scions of the Household of Eshi. Nkwerre, Umueshi and Oguta are all in Imo State.
More interestingly in Anambra, some towns go by the names Oraeri/people/community/crowd of Eri, Umuleri/heirs/children of Eri, agulueri/out compound or outpost of Eri.
From all these, the following are generally clear for what they mean for the Igbo. Umu/oha/agulu mean children/heirs – crowd/community/multitude – compound/outpost. The mystery is what does Eshi or Eri mean, are they not depicting one reality? Are the differences not only dialectal? Our answer is yes. Eshi and Eri are not synonyms. They are one and the same word varying only dialectally.
The fact of this is given out by the following philological revelations. In Nkwerre, phrases like: kamgbe oleshi ka mu nagi huru? /meaning, since when did we last meet? – are a staple. Even more telling is the Anambra zone of Eri (ngbe) nine/since all of time literally. Its dialectical meaning is that Eri is of the beginning of time. So for the Igbo, time begins with the Eri/Eshi.
In a majority of Anambra Igbo communities, a common variant is: Eri olengbe ka anyi fulu? Since when did we last see? In Mbaise and Mbano areas of Imo State the same question is asked as: Ehi olengbe ka anyi huru? The greater point is that Mbaise and Mbano stretch is the heartland of the Igbo and the so-called Igbo official autography is central to them. That is, a large swathe of Igbo speak Ehi or a close dialectal variation of it. When you put those who speak Eshi, Eri, Ehi as one, the numbers are overwhelming. And more interestingly, it is not within a restrictive belt or region of the Igbo nation. It is as far apart as Oraeri/Umuleri/Aguleri in present Anambra State, Nkwerre/Umueshi/Oguta Nwamaeshi/kamgbe Ehi in the sprawling Mbaise/Mbano zone, which butts into Abia State. These areas are random, unconnected enough, they don’t constitute a lineage or a sub-group Igbo. That is, the phenomenon of Eshi, Ehi, Eri and other dialectical variants may be easily deemed to be pan-Igbo. That is, Mbaise/Mbano, Oraeri/Umuleri/Aguleri do not constitute a sub-clan of the Igbo.
However the conjugation of verbs goes, in the above examples among the various Igbo, the point remains that Eshi, Ehi or Eri signifies time, actually a point in time. And this same Eshi, Ehi or Eri is also used severally to signify a certain human being as in son/umu, compound/agulu, followers/crowd/oha of Eshi, Eri. And it is used in the line of a paterfamilias, a founder father. And in Nkwerre there is specificity to it: okwara eshi – the firstborn of Eshi. Therefore, the phenomenon or object that is Eshi, Ehi or Eri was a man, a paterfamilias. The fact of this paterfamilias is acknowledged universally by the Igbo as we have illustrated by the prefix of umu/okwara/oha prefixing Eshi, Ehi or Eri scattered all over Igboland.
Our contention is that Eshi, Ehi or Eri, who is the same person though dialectally variant, was metaphorised into representing time, a point in time past, time lost. That is, Ora-eri in Anambra State and Oha-eshi in Nkwerre, Imo State, mean one and the same. They only suffer dialectal differences. However, since the words Oha, Ora, Eshi, Eri are all common Igbo words, pan-Igbo assets, there is no immediate suggestion that Oraeri people and Nkwerre people are direct cousins, though that can’t be ruled out. By the way, both Oha and Ora are dialectal variants of one reality, crowd/community.
Our point is that Eshi, Ehi or Eri is used in the same dialectical sense in which Christ says before Abraham I was. That is, Abraham was more than just a father. He was the first patriarchal father and thus a big and decisive point in time; times ancient and perhaps lost. So, before Abraham I was, is the Jewish equivalent of kamgbeshi, a metaphorical flashback to the beginning of time for a people. It means in the beginning of time/I have ancient provenance or in the ancestry of time/time past. More, we have formal time marking equivalents like since, 1. The birth of Christ, 2. The Hegira/the emigration of the nascent Muslim community led by a significant figure, the prophet. Also, one commonly encounters diverse Igbo communities speaking: kamgbe nna anyi ha/eri [ngbe] nna anyi fa/ehi mgbe nna anyi ha. These are dialectally same, meaning since our fathers. Since our fathers, is generically the same as since in the specific case of since our paterfamilias, Eshi. And it is universally used in Igbo land to authenticate a tradition/our fathers instituted or founded this practice. The Jewish equivalent, for example, would have been, it is a practice founded since the time of the Patriarchs. Simply, it is universally human to date an era from its big events or its big founders or characters, like fathers and patriarchs. Kamgbe eshi/ehi/eri/eri mgbe niine, is in character.
What a philologist or historian can thus deduce is that Eshi, Ehi or Eri is a mythical or factual founder paterfamilias, but now preserved and mythologised into metaphors. However, the fact of his being a founder father is generally accepted in Igboland even without awareness. Anytime you ask eshi/ehi/eri olengbe you are recognising a fact of your founder ancestor being Eshi, Ehi or Eri…
Perhaps, we may now declare as follows: Igbo have their own Abraham and his name is Eshi/Ehi/Eri. And there is nothing to be troubled in this. As the Igbo say, Ihe ana ezi nmadu ezi wu nwanne ya owuhu enyi oji akaya mere. It is our relations that are revealed to us, not our friends of our own choosing. A friend is a choice. A relative is a fate, something that is to be revealed…
Ofo is a shoot of ofo tree, whose botanical name I am told is Detarium Senegalensis. It self-destalks itself. That was what our forefathers chose. It was not for lack of carving ability. The purpose of Ofo’s being not just un-sculptured but beyond sculpturing is to establish its supra-man and immaterial credentials. So like with all great ideas ofo cannot be personally possessed or kept. So we must all learn to be humble and not claim possession or curators of ideas. Ofo is not in its representative stalk. It is an idea, a bundle of precepts. It is larger than its symbol, just like the cross.
In fact, Mike Ejiagha the famous minstrel is head and shoulder above these ofo possessing chiefs when he sang onye obula ji ofo ma ofo mara onye ji ya. The intuitive Ejiagha genius has spoken and correctly. And those words of his are the Christian equivalent of god (god is another big concept) knows your heart. That is, Ofo, which is supra-man, knows best who plays by her rules.
Anyway, we are all Igbo and won’t let political falsehood pass as philological truth. Like we have said, these men are talking politics. They are politicians hunting for power. We are scholars, philologists and lay historians in search of truth. While one may use lies to trap and hunt for power, lies vitiate the very rite of search for truth.
And The Guardian pays us tribute: Ego-Alowes is a master of mercurial logic. In this book, as in all others, he brings innovative, faultless, cutting-edge erudition to bear on his thesis. In Nigeria: The Unreported Genocide Against the Igbo, Igbo will pay him tribute for advancing liberation erudition to save an entire race from self-annihilation! The Guardian/http://guardian.ng/art/aberration-of-kingship-in-igboland-and-a-return-to-republicanism.
The Unreported Genocide Against the Igbo… still selling. Now available at: Patabah Bookshop, Shoprite, Surulere/Lagos. Knowledge Hammer Bookshop, Dolphin Restaurant, GRA/ 08065764065/Enugu. Jibo Bookshops, 135, Market Road/08074762452/Aba. Chris Ajugwe & Associates, 43, Old Market Road/08036680177/Onitsha. Nwakanma & Co./08063022520/Owerri. Nsukka University Bookshop, UNN. Life-Changing Booksellers, opposite Diamond Bank, Uruagu-Nnewi/08037989. Abuja Maxwell Opara & Associates, Suite B, 402, Global Plaza, off Awolowo Way, Jabi, Abuja. 08036680177
The Unreported Genocide… is not just another book. It is an idea whose time has come. Igbo redemption must begin with knowing all who we are. This begins with knowing the name of our father at least. FYI: It’s under the aegis of the Brace Institute, certainly one of Africa’s most fecund think tanks, that Nigeria: The Unreported Genocide… was produced.