Ibusa Union, London Branch: Problems and Prospect 2

by Ephraim Adinlofu

First Part

There are also issues that have to do with heart, love, affection and domestic family relationships: there are problems we all have in our respective home fronts. They come in form of marriage disagreements between husbands and wives and they sometimes could even snowball into domestic violence and assault. We should not pretend that these problems don’t exist too, rather, we should be ashamed that because of our petty differences in the union and in a foreign land for that matter, members feel disenchanted, dispirited and totally discouraged not to share their domestic problems with union members who are supposed to act as a rock of support through the invocation of the spirit of “Umunna” and “Umu-nwanne”.

This is not the African kindred spirit of communalism that all, if not most of us, were brought up to admire and cherish. Due to this lacuna, most couples carry their cross and sorrow on their heavy shoulder because they want to avoid being gossiped about at either a pub or at most popular social gatherings. This is wholly unacceptable. As proper sons of Ibusa with pure and an undiluted Igbo blood, having thoroughly undergone disciplined and stringent socialization process throughout our life to our present mature adulthood, some of us cannot condescend so low neither can we start another process of mundane re-socialization because we are in Europe. Sifting is the game and the ability to sift is easy except one does not want to do it.

It is rather unfortunate too that “Ogbe”or “Idumu” and club meetings have effectively over shadowed ICDU meeting. Attendance at these meetings are higher compared to that of the ICDU. This is disappointing and a disgrace to all sons and daughters of Ibusa resident and working in London. In other words, the umbrella union, which ought to be our unifying force, has being relegated to the background.

That the sons of “Umejei” and “Nri” could be so divisive and divided is unfortunate. Most disturbing is the fact that these sons are resident and living in an advanced democracy – the UK- where almost all the necessities of life are in place. So what then have they learnt and are learning in the UK? Apart from distance, what is the specific difference in attitude between some of “them” and those at home? This is a great challenge and anyone who feels that it is not a challenge should take a critical good look at himself in the mirror.

The other aspect that tends to put people away is union dues. Most have accumulated over the years. My Yoruba friends call it “gbese”. We know that it is not easy here in the UK. Virtually every member is in debt and this has affected our execution of new projects in the town. It is these monthly dues that keeps the union going. Though, attempts are to be made by the new executive to explore other avenues of raising fund, there is a need for members to please try to meet up with their financial obligations.

There are some debts that are not only un-payable, they are in fact un-collectable. They would be looked into by members of the new Executive in particular and the House in general. However, this should not be an excuse to exclude one from attending meetings. The greatest country in the world today – America – is also the greatest debtor. You should not run away from your “Umunna” because you feel your debt is a stigma, it is not. It is a voluntary contribution that is used to embark on projects that will enhance the lives of our people at home. That you voluntarily make that contribution shows that you have enough compassion and milk of human kindness in you. Please don’t be discouraged.

What then is to be done? An objective analysis of these issues will come to the conclusion that the whole problem revolves around attitude. A number of us, despite Europe’s influence, have this maximum degree of attitude problem. The overall solution revolves on changing our attitude. The fact is that, which ever way you choose to look at it, we are all guilty in one way or the other. Staying away from meetings does not make one less guilty than some others who choose to virtually attend always just to come and “take everybody on in an impetuous way with little or no thoughts for the consequences.” Nobody should escape blame or apportion blames to others. It is a collective failure. The responsibility of the union as “Umunna” and “Umu-nwanne” is the responsibility of all of us just as its failure { and God forbid}, is the failure of all of us. It would be dishonouring to those who, out of communal spirit years back and having found themselves in a strange land, laid the foundation for this union’s existence if we should allow it to die.

I am bold to say that any sons and daughters resident in the UK who feels that Ibusa problems or the London branch problem is not his or her headache, is deceiving himself because one day, it would dawn on you that it is. If the present elected Executive members, who where elected on the 7th of June 2009, having tried its best, to restore orderliness, sanity and comportment fails, then we have all failed and believe me, it is a shame on all of us. If they succeed, then the success is for all of us and we pray that they succeed so that a successive leadership will strive hardest to build on their success or even perform better. That is not to say that subsequent leaderships and efforts are not recognised. To assume that position is to misunderstand the message of this moral appeal.

To this end, I will like to thank some of the former presidents for their commitment to the development of the community, namely, Mr. Peter Okeze {one of the best ex-president as testified to by our sons}, Mr. Frank Ushedu, Mr. Amaechi Nwaenia and Dr. Pat Okonta. They have all tried and may their efforts not be in vain. Amen. I will appeal to them to use their respective experiences to guide the new Executive team. Not to be left out in this thanks giving exercise are our elders, namely, Diokpa Lawrence {Laconta} Okocha, Diopka Peter Okonkwo, Diopka Ebele, Diopka Okonta, Diopka Barrister Ezechie, and Diopka Ben Okechukwu. Most of these Diopkas where the founding members of the London branch of Ibusa community Development Union {ICDU}. May we, the younger and coming generations, not betray their good and humane intentions.

The efforts of the new Executive members is to build on their efforts, that is our prayer and I believed that that should be the prayer of all “Ibusans”. We are a unique and opened minded people who often seek for social justice in its purest form but are hamstrung by the most dubious amalgamation in human history. Most often we do not usually harbour inhibitions and unwarranted grudges but the historical amalgam has created tottering behaviour patterns in virtually all of us. The way we lived showed that our no is no and our yes is yes. We are not a slippery people in character. Our support to any group cause is often total. The nucleus of the Biafran Armed Forces comprised our people, namely, late Col. Nwajei, Col. Okwuechime, late {Dr} Col. Albert Okonkwo, Lt.Col. Igboba, late Oli-ewu-naaji {an accomplished Biafran militia who was angry that Biafra surrendered that he committed suicide by blowing himself up in the dense forest of Mgbotu-ukpe}, Nwaeke Nwanze, and a host of others. To date, some of us still have that Biafran spirit. Yes, Biafra is a spirit, a bold spirit that will live on and will never pass away. It is also part of our history. Those who did not experience it, write what they like but for those of us who were little then when it all started and had experienced it, the truama and scar will never leave us. This is just an

aside that needed invocation at this point because of the usual typical disjointed, hatefilled, and pompous write ups with bias info { pure lies and propaganda} being bandied about by Nigerian internet ‘Pol Pots’.

However, one of the solutions to social clubs, election, and domination problems in the ICDU is to rotate offices. It may sound undemocratic, but this will give every quarter {Ogbe} and clubs, no matter how small in number they may be, a unique sense of belonging. “Ogbe Umueze or Omeze” which seems to control the largest number in the London membership list, should be compensated with a compulsory executive post assigned to them in every election. They should also be commended for their efforts and strength of character for their unflinching numerical and financial support to the union. I praise them for that. They should please bury the hatchet and past animosities and come back en masse with the spirit of “Obi-Nwanne”.

That is why they are called “Omeze or Umueze” and perhaps, first among equals. We could also rotate according to the traditional war Chiefs’ groupings {“Otu”} to which each “Ogbe” belongs, namely; “Otu” Odogwu, “Otu” Uwolo and Otu Iyase. Or according to the ten Ogbes. This will give every one a sense of belonging and each Ogbe will have a sufficient sense of participation in the real sense of the word. Some of us don’t believe in façade. Let us face realities and confront it headlong. I don’t believe in pretences. I speak straight and write straight. Being diplomatic with words is not in my character. I am not cut out for that type of bullshit! I will speak and write the truth as I know it and I don’t care whose ox is gored. As a bold and a non hypocritical practicing Christian, I have already covered myself with the blood of Jesus Christ. Therefore, I fear nobody.

I believed that the influence and discipline in the advanced democracy we live in coupled with education, enlightenment, and interactions with far sighted positive thinkers, should have been enough to help bleach away the attitude problems out of our people. Our traditional socialization process, which inculcated native intelligence in us, was an informal education system. The deft use of this native intelligence is an asset that some can use to marshal their arguments. I have seen those who used it to good effect. They have used it to make their points so convincingly and some times far better than the educated ones.

Western education is not all in all. All those wrecking the Nigerian economy in one form or the other are members of the educated class, so where has that led and is leading the country if not to a confirmed perdition. We need to move on simultaneously but with a spirit of understanding and the desire to succeed. You don’t stay afar and criticize, you should come into the fold to make a difference. Inasmuch as all of us cannot be president, all of us can be floor members ably supporting the elected president and his team.

The new Executive members should candidly reflect objectively on the issue of domestic disagreement. It is not a peculiar problem but because we live in a peculiar but delicate foreign environment where the rule of law holds supreme, the problem now looks peculiar. I write not as an ordinary folk but as a sociologist. We all know that the practice of marriage in this clime is sharply different from what obtains back home. My people often admonished us with the word: “Onyeko-uwa-zulu?” or “Onyekozulu?” or “Ozulonye?”. It is one Igbo name or Igbo word usage that has a question mark attached to it. It is also one of the sayings of the wise.

The three derivatives above mean the same thing, which is: “who is it that is so content in this world that has not got one problem or the other?” If anybody can name one person in this world that does not have any, I will name one thousand people that has. “Uwa-diogbu” in Igbo means “ the world is deep”: deep in mysteries, deep in meanings and deep in other happenings in nature and life that have defied scientific explanation. That is why too our people use the term “Akalaka onye ne duye”, meaning “your destiny is directing your life”. In as much as I often question the latter saying, one should not allow one’e destiny to lead one to acquiring material poverty.

Counselling may be working for the English people but we should know that we came from a place with culture and a tradition. I do not buy the idea that our traditions should be disregarded and rubbished because we live in a foreign land. That is pure intellectual balderdash. If an average English man who lives with his family in Nigeria, does not do away with his English idiosyncrasies, why should we do away with most of ours here in the UK? If counselling works for some, there is no problem with that but there are those who the kindred spirit of “Umunna” and psychological blood spirit of “Umu-nwanne”, can also help. But because of negative gossiping, which sells and spreads like wild fire and bad news, most people simply stay away and keep dying in silence.

When one unburdens one’s domestic problem to a selected, mature, disciplined members out of one’s own volition, but with a guaranteed secrecy, it goes a long way in freeing oneself. Traditionally, “Umunna” and “Umu-nwanne” spirit is a strong liberating spirit but most of us are neck deep in foreign values that we tend to underplay its relevance. This tendency to buy and incorporate “wholesale” without “retail”, the white man’s ways of life is utterly condemnable and shattering.

Consequently, the new Executive members should set up an advisory tactical committee whose modus operandi and guidelines would be made known to its selected members. The committee will be made up of both male and female mature ICDU members, not the cha, cha, cha characters: chatterbox.

The Ghanaian Community in the UK has such a tactical committee. I have watched them on sky BEN TV and information gathered shows that they are doing really well, helping Ghanaian families to resolve problems in their marriages in a foreign country whose values, norms, and MORES are out rightly outrageous and at cross roads with most of our African cherished values, thus the emanation of conflicts most of which, when clearly and cleverly understood, are uncalled for and unwarranted.

Again, the meetings being held by each “Ogbe”, out of its own volition, should continue but all sons and daughters of Ibusa, who have chosen to attend only their “Ogbe” meeting leaving their overall umbrella body in London { the ICDU} to die a slow death, should bear in mind that the ICDU is like our “Grundnorm”. Without being funny, all members of “Ogbe” meeting are compulsorily supposed to be members of ICDU, and all our unmarried daughters are supposed to be full fledged members of the ICDU men’s wing. {Un}-fortunately, we live in a society of choice and authoritative assertiveness. This was what obtained in most ICDUs I have been privileged to attend in Nigeria, for example, that of Jos, in plateau state and Agbor, in Delta state. However, these members should know that the ICDU is supposed to be the “chi nedu anyi ni ne” in a foreign land. It is by our national constitution, head and shoulder above all the “Ogbes” put together.

It is our unifying force and our ‘Su

preme court’. Therefore, heads of those “Ogbe” meetings should endeavour to encourage their members to come back into the major fold. They should not allow the ICDU to die otherwise history and our ancestors will not forgive us. I believed that if Ogbe “Omeze” and its leadership will take the lead, others will respond appropriately and follow. “Omeze” should lead. One of them once argued with me that since they have the number, they should always provide the leadership of the London branch of the ICDU, I told him to sell that theory to the American marines in Iraq.

I posited to him that in essence, what he is saying is that since the people of Urhobor are in the majority in Delta state, they should {which they are doing} continue to lord it over us by providing state governors or that since the Hausa/Fulani are the majority, they should { which they are doing anyway} continue to rule Nigeria. You see what the leadership pattern in Nigeria has done to the mentality of an average Ibusa son? Every ethnic group wants to be seen to dominate Nigeria. The same terribly negative theory has streamed into the thoughts of a small group of people in just a small community! There may not be anything wrong with the idea but it is the arrogant insinuations, which most often goes with it, that makes it practically problematic.

Such warped thinking has never taken us anywhere and will never take us anywhere neither will “Ekwem ne Ekwem” or “dog-ga dog-ga”. Granted that democracy is a game of number, those in the majority should always use their number for the positive development of all. They should use it to sponsor quality candidates and people with unquestionable character into positions of authority so that the union will take its rightful place in London’s ever expanding ethnic communities. I hope I have candidly made my point and sent messages across to, not only Ibusa people resident and working in the UK specifically London, but to our brothers and sisters in Maryland and New York branches in the US of A – God’s own country.

This article is a clarion call to Ibusa sons and daughters to please bury all past animosities and primordial sentiments and return to their union. We are a people with history; we know where we came from; where we are headed and when we will reach there. We have always fought for justice both in war and in words and we shall never ever be deterred. Never! I rest my case! {CONCLUDED}

You may also like

1 comment

gnwanze@yahoo.com September 2, 2009 - 9:26 am

Great article, Nwanne Ephraim. Bortherliness ans sisterliness are next to godliness.


Leave a Comment