The Ndi-igbo I Know And Osuji’s Hypotheses (2)

Dr. Osuji {Ph.D} also asserts that “Igbos are an achievement oriented society; they reward achieving persons, and ridicule losers. Children socialized into this neurotic society tend to fear social rejection and struggle to become successful, so as to be accepted by members of their society”. This is the problem I have with psychology. So an achievement oriented society is a neurotic society? Haba! Dr. Osuji {Ph.D}, when was the last time you visited Igbo land? This your submission is absolute bunkum. In every achievement oriented societies, provisions are generally made for the weak. In the UK, there is a welfare system which caters for the weak and the poor in the society. Everybody cannot be David Beckham or Rooney. Those who cannot, have other provisions made available to them by the state. In Igbo land, they have theirs too. In fact what you call ridicule is called “banter, permitted disrespect or institutionalised rudeness” in social and cultural anthropology. In Igbo land, it is termed “njakiri” or “Ima-njakiri”. Yorubas tell a lazy person “ole jade ko lo se ise”. No tribe condones lazy people. They have got to work. How then do the Igbos take care of the weak. Simple: one of the ways they do this, is by attaching people to established traders and businessmen to learn a trade and to specialise in a particular field of trading. That is why when you go to any city in Nigeria you will always see one, two or three Igbos understudying a “master” in a shop, learning the curves and the nitty-gritty of a particular trade. They will later ‘graduate’ to become their own “masters”, absorb other new learners and the circle just continues. So, even before the Federal government started they self employment scheme, the Igbos, with their long foresight and understanding of the intricacies and unpredictable nature of the contradictions inherent in Nigeria’s dubious predatory practice of neo-colonial capitalism, had evolved the scheme. This is what obtains in the Igbo land that I know and have lived in. However, the cultural purpose of “Njakiri” or what you called “ridicule” is to make and encourage the lazy ones to sit up and work harder. There is therefore no conditional acceptance into the Igbo society. However, you can make a case for the Osu caste system which has become a recurring stigma in Igbo Land, just as it is also in India.

If a culture that celebrates success and achievement vicariousness is pathological, then I will advice Osuji {Ph.D} to drop his field and re-train to become a sociologist, a political scientist or an economist. So, to celebrate success and achievement vicariousness is pathological in America, Britain and other European countries? What then do you expect them to celebrate? Failure? Like I said, the problem with psychologist and psychiatry is that they are person-oriented courses and not society focussed. For example, If a person is lazy, they call him defeatist and escapist; if a person is always alone, lonely and not interacting, they call such a person retreatist, introvert or suffering from withdrawal syndrome; if a person is out going, interacting, socializing and energetic, they call him an extrovert who is suffering from either positive or negative superiority complex and projection. If a person, by his action, is a repented criminal and society refuses to integrate the criminal, they tag the person a potential recidivist. If a culture revolves on achievement vicariousness and success, they call it a pathological society. Where then lies rewards and positives in your psycho field? It is to avoid this type of academic pitfalls that some Medical schools had to evolve and incorporate Medical Sociology into their academic curriculum.

And for God’s sake, who told you that intellectuals who are “motivated by pursuit of knowledge, not material things” are seen as poor and not accorded respect in Igbo land? What a sweeping statement! Professor Onwuejeogwu did not die poor. It took him about 10 years to complete the building of his house, just as it takes an average individual in the UK, 25 years to pay off his mortgage and own a house. He also single-handedly trained all his children to university level. Dr. Chuba.Okadigbo did not die poor. He was active in the academia and politics. Prof. Ikenna Nzemiro {one of the best anthropologists in Africa} did not die poor. Professors Emenanjo, Obiechina, Ikoku, Mbanefo, Nwawolo, Nwosu, Onwuaji, Edozie, Elueze, Okoh, Emmanual Nwanze, Utomi, etc have never been mocked, these people are capable of taken care of themselves and families. Nobody fed or is feeding them. They are not beggars. They attend seminars and are often invited to present scholarly papers here and there. They make money out of these trips and augment their income with it. They have made it in their respective fields of study and do not need hand outs from anyone. In fact, Igbo intellectuals mock wealth, especially filthy wealth and not the other way round. So I beg to differ with you. If your definition of success begins and ends with having a chain of flashy cars and other assorted aspect of conspicuous consumption, then it is unfortunate.

Osuji {Ph.D} then said that Igbos call Hausa people Nnama {cattle} and other derogatory names and perhaps that is the “aspect of Igbo behaviour” that they don’t like. And as such, the Hausas have no choice than to attack them at the least provocation, even if the provocation came from a cartoon of Mohammed in far away Sweden! He failed to tell us the names that Hausa people call the Igbos. What is the meaning of ‘yanmiri’ which the Hausas still use to this day against the Igbos? Does Osuji {Ph.D} know the meaning of ‘Power do le’ which the Hausas use against the whole South? Does Osuji {Ph.D} know the impact of statements from a member of the ruling Northern cabal that “the North is born to rule”, on the psyche of people of other regions in the south? Again, nnama and yanmiri are both banters and the ability of a tribe to absorb banters without resorting to violence shows the level of maturity of such a tribe. It is a fact, that there is no known derogatory names that Yorubas and Igbos have not used against each other on the internet, on the pages of newspapers, in Oshodi, Idumota, Esale Eko, Mile 2, Ketu, Yaba, Ojuelegba and Ojota and yet both have so tolerated each other that it has never resulted into any major bloody skirmish in Lagos. Even where there is exchange of fisticuffs between a Yoruba man and an Igbo man in Obalende, the fight starts and ends in Obalende. It does not spread like wild fire to other volatile areas of Lagos as is always the case in the North. That is what the English people call maturity and TOLERANCE. The Hausas don’t tolerate at all. At the least provocation that borders on banter, they infuse Islam to it and start killing. They are the people who should be tagged with negative superiority complex because of their political domineering attitude and not the Igbos.

Dr. Osuji {Ph.D} called Hausa people, “kind people.” I will advise him to pack his belongings and relocate from his cosy USA apartment to either Kano, Katsina or Sokoto to live with this kind people for just one year. He lived most of his life in Lagos and the East before he migrated to the USA, let him relocate for a sabbatical, to the far North, not Markudi or Jos, for just one year. He will be shocked beyond his imagination what he will experience. “On July 10, 1981, a renowned political scientist, a prominent political activist and a one-time Dean of the Faculty of Management and Social Sciences at Bayero University, Kano, Dr. Bala Muhammad was assassinated inside his house at Kano by paid and organized political thugs”. Why? The progressive civilian government of Kano state with Abubakar Rimi as the governor, issued what was purportedly read by the public as a query to the Emir of Kano, then mayhem was let loose. In a well planned and properly coordinated massacre with set targets that is typical of the far North elements, Dr. Bala Mohammed, a serving Commissioner in the then Rimi’s government, was brutally and mercilessly butchered. Just because of a query! “Kind Hausa” people indeed! Please buy and read POLITICAL REPRESSION AND ASSASSINATION: A Tribute To The Late Dr. Bala Mohammad {1983} Edited by Asikpo Essien-Ibok. Most tribes are kind to foreigners. It is not an Hausa trait of character. I am Igbo from Delta State, after my studies, I was posted to Imo State in 1987/88 for my youth service and I knew how I was nicely treated as a foreigner. The same experience my spouse had when she did hers in Kano state but, as soon as she finished, she fled Kano with the speed of lightening. So, naturally, most communities have patterned and peculiar ways of treating foreigners.

Dr. Osuji {Ph.D} then called Africans, criminals because of their role in the slave trade. Here, in as much as I partly support his view, he should also know that it takes two to tango. Slave trade is a historical phase and epoch which was later negated by its own internal contradictions and replaced by other phases, namely, legitimate trade, colonialism, and neo-colonial capitalism in that order. During the slave trade both the seller and the buyer were guilty of that greatest shame on humanity. Without a buyer, there would not be a seller. The same principle applies to the sale of hard substances. If there are no buyers the drug world will not flourish. It would extinct. Both the buyer and seller of stolen goods are guilty of crime. However, when a member of the British monarchy was asked on the BBC about the legitimacy in the claim that Britain should compensate Africans because of the enormous profit Britain made out of slave trade. Do you know the royals response? They claimed that as at the time of the slave trade, it was not an illegal business, it was a lawful business. Good response, isn’t it? You can see that the criminality you assigned to Africans was germane but the buyer was more inhuman, “savage and primitive.” Legitimate ko, legitimate ni! For more academic action, please buy and read HOW EUROPE UNDERDEVELOPED AFRICA {1980} by Walter Rodney. I will also advise you buy and read THE WRETCHED OF THE EARTH by Franz Fanon and to specifically read chapter 5 subtitled, “Colonial war and Mental Disorders” where Fanon, using dialectical materialisn as a powerful scientific method of social research and analysis, ably and logically applied the principles of psychology and psychiatry to a dangerous economic phenomenon called colonialism. This was what you failed convincingly to do.

Fela sang a song titled: “Follow, follow”. The import of that song for academics of your ilk is that when you read these western books “in pursuit of knowledge,” you should have the ability to separate those theories which fit into your culture from those that do not. Do not manufacture or cleverly import dangerous terms and try to foist them on a people. That is abuse of research and knowledge. You should be capable of sifting. That was what Franz Fanon perfectly did. Besides, all those psychological and psychiatric terms you used on the Igbos are found mostly in countries where people abuse drugs and substances like cocaine, heroin, marijuana, alcohol, etc. These people are found in your capitalist America and most other advanced countries where people are always on the high, especially celebrities and role models; where paedophilia {a heinous abnormality in which adult males make love to children as old as six months and then strangle them as if they are squeezing a pillow} and where unnatural acts of homosexuals and lesbians have evolved into gay marriages and are now normal ways of living. So, let your analysis and therapy begin and end in those climes. The Igbo culture area is not a drug culture zone where people lazy about and hallucinate under the influence of substances. They are “talented”, work and trade hard despite the well known and glaring conspiracy against them by the Nigerian state since the end of that genocide, that some people still wrongly call civil war.

The Igbos, according to Osuji { Ph.D} are “selfish and greedy”. These are symptoms of the cankerworm called neo-colonial capitalism and capitalist practices which you failed to take into account before condemning Achebe for not reading foreign philosophies. Having read so much philosophical books, you should have been well grounded enough to analyse and understand the basic philosophical principles guiding the workings of American capitalism, its intended and untended consequences, and its poisonous global spread to other climes and its devastating impact on those climes. Just a snippet, capitalism exploits and dispossesses the working class to make profits, it promotes nothing but selfishness, egotism, pervasive corruption, mental disorders, weird behaviours, suicidal tendencies due to economic crunch and individual failures, greed, grab, grab and excessive individualism. With capitalism, says Karl Marx, “accumulate, accumulate is the law and the prophet.” Unfortunately in our Nigeria brand, there are no checks and balances. People of all tribes and professions steal left, right and centre and manifest their greed and selfishness in various forms. The police and the judiciary have been compromised. It is a dog-eat-dog society. Everybody for himself and God for us all. Greed and selfishness are therefore socially generated attitudes and behaviour pattern conditioned by the swinging tones of capitalism. But will the trend continue just like that, unchecked? With conservative thinkers like you, yes! But with the progressives, No! “Every situation”, says Wole Soyinka, “creates its own response” and every dog has his day. Your confederal suggestion for Nigeria is not new, it has been tabled by lots of other people. But do you know the tribe that is obstructing its actualization? Your guess is as good as mine.

As for your unwholesome attack on Achebe, the literary intellectual giant and academic “Iroko” is capable of defending himself. In fact he is billed to present the 2008 AHIAJIOKU lectures on the 12 of December at Concorde Hotel in Owerri, Imo State. You are invited to come and rub minds with Igbo academics and intellectuals with fine minds and good kindred spirits. You are invited to also come and present your thesis on “Igbos And I”. Besides, having read all the books in philosophy and world Religion, what stops you from writing your own novel, at least if not for anything, to correct the flaws in Achebe’s written works and project the Igbos of your own creation? After all, Dr. Festus Iyayi was a lecturer in Business Administration, not in literature, at the UNIBEN but has written novels like VIOLENCE {1979} and HEROES {2007} among others. He has also won international awards on some of them. So, a psychologist and psychiatrist of your status can afford to do better. The late Cypril Ekwensi was also a pharmacist. Yet he wrote JAGUA NANA {1961}, BURNING GRASS {1962}, and PASSPORT OF MALLAM ILLIA{1960}. Besides, in psychology, there is what the psychologist called the “THE PERSONALITY THEORY”. That theory clearly established that individuals have their peculiar traits and characteristics. We may be equal but we are not characteristically or by trait, the same. If that postulation is correct, why should Achebe be or write like Tolstoy, Chaucer, Dickens or Hitler or vice versa? Every writer has got his or her style and audience. Food for thought: “Specific media messages”, says I think, Berelsons, “are meant for specific audience and are expected to elicit specific response or responses” from the target audience.

In your write up however, I only hope humanity and Nigerians will take solace in the following, among others, that “ truth is love yourself and love other people as you love yourself; see all people as the same and equal and as members of God’s family….. To look down on another human is a sign of insanity”. In political idealism, fine, but in the political realism of Nigeria, we have got to fight for those words of wisdom to be made existentially manifest. If you are a conservative humanist, you are invited to join progressive forces to help actualize those words. There should be ” unity of opposites” of all progressive and patriotic social forces as a front, to try and fight corruption to a stand still and seek earnestly to dethrone the “unjust order” in Nigeria.We have members of a ruling cabal with dangerous fangs that are literally deaf to hearing. I rest my case!

Written by
Ephraim Adinlofu
Join the discussion

  • Your write-up was so spot on and well delivered! we need more people like you.

    I’m guessing the Osuji guy is voicing his inner identification with Igbo people (lol thats what psychologists would say) . If he feels something is wrong, good, let him proffer solutions. An unhealthy analysis of “perceived” problems is just that-unhealthy.

    I think he’s better off analysing solutions to his “perceived” faults among Igbo people (I’m assuming he’s interested in the progress of Igbos as a people) rather than displaying a sickening western-oriented mindset typical of people who have lost their sense of pride.

    Igbos are a justifiably proud people and the last time I checked no tribe or race is perfect and wholly to be emulated.

    He forgets that cultures and tribes have a “collective consciousness”, I think he should be asked-“what did your father or grandfather do about it?”

    That said, I think it’s time Igbo evolved their political consciousness. That I think is our greatest need.

  • Let us be available to criticism. We need to come down from our high horse and learn. Like the bible says, whoever exalt his name himself “unnecessarily” shall be brought low.

  • Two thumbs up, bro. Letting stray literary icons run lose is quite dangerous. The Igbo nation needs more people like you to call underdevelopers to order.