The Ndi-igbo I Know And Osuji’s Hypotheses

by Ephraim Adinlofu

Psychology is the study of personalities while psychiatry is a branch of medicine that deals with mental health. Psychoanalysis is a method seemingly used in both fields to tackle and advance solutions to problems sought. The emphasis of psychiatry {mental health} and psychology as fields of study, is on persons and not on society. That is why both disciplines are reversed in methodology, to Sociology and some other social sciences. While psychologists study persons to explain their conducts in society, Sociologists study the environments-cum-society to explain peoples’ behaviour pattern and conducts. Thus we hear and read such verifiable sociological statements like: “the way a society is organised explains the type of leader its gets or the way a people behave,” or that ” peer groups lure peers into crime, deviant acts and anti-social behaviours” or that “Society generates crime, the criminal only sees it and commits it.” Put differently, sociologist use the social to explain the social.

What Dr. Osuji {Ph.D} did in his analyses of his Igbo people, my people, in his three articles, titled: “False Sense Of Victimization in Achebe’s Worldview” of 15 October 2008, “The Igbos and I” of 18 October 2008, and “Why We Do Not Need Another Crisis in Nigeria” of 26 October 2008, is to try and foist his psycho field of study on a people. And on that score, he failed woefully. He tried but it was a comprehensive futile academic exercise. First and foremost, it has long been established by social anthropologists that a people can only be studied detached, objectively and dispassionately by a foreign scholar and not by a member of that tribe or community. This is because it has been discovered, based on studies like that of Osuji, that when a member of a tribe does the study, he is likely to reveal positive information, be bias, and sometimes hide information which he feels are not good for academic consumption. As a result of which, the research becomes incomplete, partial, subjective and bias. Osuji’s thesis and various sweeping assumptions he made fell into this category. He is not qualified to study the Igbos. A Yoruba, Ijaw, Bini, Berom and Hausa research scholar will do a more thorough scholarly job than him. To comprehend how social researches are carried out about a people, I advise Osuji to please buy and read just these four books, namely, Witchcraft, Oracles And Magic Among The Azande {1976} by Evans-Pritchard; Tiv Religion {1971} and Justice And Judgement Among The Tiv { 1957} both, by Paul Bohannan, an expert on Tiv studies. He should also read John Beattie’s Other Cultures.

I only read through some of Osuji’s piece to discover that he is an expert in psychological sloganeering. Typical examples are clothed in his wordings: Just look at the avalanche of psychological and psychiatric terms used by him to describe and berate his own people, their society and culture and see why social anthropologists are scientifically correct in their conclusion. Read my listings: Igbos are paranoid, narcissistic, anti-social personalities, pathological society, neurotic persons, bloody coward, warped personalities, arrogant egotism, rusted swords, apparent untoward character traits, delusion disorder, delusion disorder paranoid, antisocial personality disorders, pathological culture, infantile beyond comprehension, emotional immaturity, conditional acceptance, behaviour is terrorist, their childish culture, the poor devil {Achebe}, superiority, fictive, imaginary superiority feeling, childish ego tripping, swollen ego self concepts, deluded sense of special ness, grandiose persons, imaginary sense of importance and superiority, feel deflated, are neurotic, sick and need to be healed, terribly confused people, misguided arrogance and tendency to put other people down in pursuit of fictive superiority, that boy {Nzeogwu}, empty headed boy {Uwazurike}, his narcissistic ego’s quest for infantile glory { Ojukwu}, little delusion disorder, narcissistic and grandiose mind, foolish effort, unprincipled opportunists, habituated their minds to selling their people, in the Igbo unconscious is the savage that would not hesitate in selling other people, etc. etc etc. Virtually all psychological and psychiatric terms found in those fields have been used in one way or another to describe the Igbos of Osuji’s creation and imagination.

I will like Osuji to be invited by Ohanaeze to come forward and present a paper on his: “The Igbos and I” at the annually organised AHAJIOKU lectures where topical and cultural issues concerning Igbos are discussed and analysed by Igbo academics. There, he will meet academic colleagues who will take him on, on his sweeping falsehood about the Igbos, and perhaps confirm and commend some of his conclusions if indeed there are any. I can assure him that Igbo intellectuals will stand up one after the order to demolish his theory bit by bit. Of cause there are elements of truth in his ‘thesis’ but those truths were beclouded by his bias and angst. Whatever his grudges are against his people or a people, he is supposed to separate it from his psychoanalysis. If he had written an article titled: “MY GRUDGES AGAINST MY IGBO PEOPLE”, that would have been understandable, but he presented and combined his grudges and his psycho research findings about his own people into one. As a result, one could not decipher whether it was a research revelation or a presentation of grudges.

In his submission, he asserts that “Igbos did not evolve large scale political organizations. Their socio-political organization begins and ends in the town…..the consequences of this problem are that the Igbo do not really know how to operate in large scale political entities. Igbos come into the modern polity with political behaviour more appropriate for the villages”. This is a myopic and a support thesis for tribal politics in an evolving nation called Nigeria. Second, this applies to all the tribal and ethnic nationalities that made up lord Luggard’s Nigeria. It is therefore not an Igbo problem alone. All the tribes and ethnic nationalities were playing micro politics in their locale before our colonial masters came. The amalgamation of Nigeria only gave impetus and acted as catalyst for micro-politics to either give way to macro-politics or to evolve into it. It was that evolution that created alliances and acquaintances across the country. Then Dr. Osuji dropped one of his salvoes on Major Nzeogwu by calling him a “boy”. A Major in the army, who, rightly with some of his colleagues, did not believe in such tribal and village politics. Perhaps it will be pertinent to recall and avail people with the historical facts and circumstances that led to that coup, and then balance it with Osuji’s thesis that all human beings are equal.

Nzeogwu’s coup must be understood within its context. Any attempt to analyse a coup and divorce such analysis from its historical contexts, that analysis is bound to be flawed. You will end up analysing persons leaving out the social variables. That is one of Osuji’s flaws, which as I had earlier stated, had to do with his academic discipline. Chief Awolowo handed over to Akintola as Premier of Western region only for skirmishes to emerge between them. The region was up in flames because of that persistent political wrangling, which later led to crisis in 1962 in then Western House of Assembly. In 1963, Awo was charged for treasonable felony, sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and incarcerated at the Calabar prison. Putting Awo away in far away Calabar did not stop nor reduce the political tension in that region. Again, the Tiv riots of 1960 and 1964 and the bloody way it was suppressed by the then {NPC} led Federal government of Tafawa Balewa, left a terrible bad taste in people’s mouth. It was the same NPC that was propping and prodding Akintola against Awolowo. Dr.Osuji {Ph.D} should buy and read: Violence And Politics In Nigeria: The Tiv And Yoruba Experience {1982} by Remi Anifowose. There were also established cases of corruption against “unctuous” political “toads” and even traditional rulers, one of whom {traditional ruler} had six million pounds in his account. That money, up to this date, was never retrieved. The chicken then finally came home to roost during the October election of 1965. Confusion, pandemonium, anomie was let loose in Western region. Akintola’s NNDP ‘won’ but the man could not even rule. Political assassination was rife, ‘wetie’ coined by political thugs in western region, then found its way into Nigeria’s political lexicon. The police, judiciary, top generals of the army and other state apparatuses have been compromised by Tafawa Balewa’s government.

Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, in that government, was only a ceremonial president who could only bark but could not bite. Even where he decided to bite, only God knows whether those bites were well felt. He was a complete figure head. This however, does not excuse some of his actions. However, all aspects of governance in the western region were grounded. The Prime Minister- Tafawa Balewa, Akintola and their collaborators had, based on security reports, put finishing touches to invade the region and deal with the situation decisively and restore sanity. Now, If the number of those killed in the Tiv riots and in the Western region are not food for thoughts for adults like Dr. Osuji {Ph.D} who preach equality of man on earth, then it is, for those who will like to fight and die for justice. Every human being, whether he is an almajiri or a beggar in this world is a human being and has a right to life based on the principles of equality, justice, and fairness. If a legitimate central government could choose side and not thrive to restore genuine order, peace and security in a region and, allowed fellow human beings to be killed and assassinated with reckless abandon simply because the weapons of violence were under that govt’s control, then that government should be ready for the fallout of its action. If you escape your social and political responsibility, you should be ready, because there is the overwhelming possibility that you might not escape the consequences of that responsibility. That Majors Nzeogwu, Ademoyega, Ifeajuana, Okafor and others formed a seemingly national alliance – dictated historically by our amalgamation in 1914 and 1ndependence in 1960 – and decided to struck to restore sanity in our body polity was a just duty. What happened after the coup? There were jubilations in both the north and the south. Sanity was restored in the West, Fajuyi was made the governor of the region and Awolowo was later released. Whether Awo was released by Gowon or Ojukwu does not matter here. Even Ironsi wanted to release him but people should read THE MAN DIED { p.68} to know who kept “raising objections” about it.

However, what matters was that part of the fallout of Nzeogwu’s coup was that the Chief, whom most Yorubas loved so much was released. Of course they have a strong reason to love him. There is no doubt that as the Premier of Western region from 1954 to 1959, he performed wonderfully well. Major Ademoyega, in his book; WHY WE STRUCK also made it clear that Awolowo’s release was part of that coup’s objectives. Igbos therefore should not have been expected just like any other tribe to be playing village politics in an evolving Nigeria. The coup was not tribal. It was a national coup despite it flaws in execution in the South, and I believed just like Ademoyega said in his book, that if the coup had succeeded those mistakes would have been rectified. Apart from the Igbo officers involved in that coup, Dr. Osuji {Ph.D} should note that the Northern senior officers involved were, namely, Capt. Gibson Jalo, Capt. J Swanton, 2Lt. Dambo, 2Lt T. Katsina, and 2Lt. John Atom Kpera. Yoruba officers, apart from Major Ademoyega, involved in the coup were Captain Adeleke, Lt. Oyewole, and 2Lt. Olafumihon. Compared to Nzeogwu in any material particular, Osuji {Ph.D} is a coward and a very dangerous conservative { a siddon look expert who will jolly well like to sit on the fence in the face of glaring injustice}. How do you fight to entrench your equality of human race? By theorising in the USA? There must be various approaches to entrenching equality. Your approach, which is highly conservative, does not appeal to radicals like me. A lot of people believed in peaceful coexistence and peaceful social change. However, where “mental adults” in political positions of trust, control state apparatuses of violence and deliberately use such privilege to make progressive peaceful change impossible, then violence change becomes inevitable. Adults, who are mentally developed, are supposed to know this simple scientific fact. The June 12, 1993 election and its annulment was a classical political example of adult deliquency.

However, were the Yorubas happy that Chief Awolowo was released as a result of the fallout of the action of a “boy”? Yes, all the progressive Action group politicians were happy. Soyinka called some of those Akintola’s NNDP politicians “irredeemable species, varying only in degrees of animality or time-serving”. He was happy even though, as he had rightly averred, the coup was “a mismanaged affair. The idealists were there and the basic motivation was of genuine revolutionary zeal. But the group also contained those who were not so pure in their motives.” Tai Solarin, {may his soul rest in the most perfect of all peace} was so grateful, that her daughter accompanied him to Enugu because she really “wants to meet Nzeogwu”. In the end, after the war, Tai Solarin, appreciative of Nzeogwu’s action that restored peace in western region and the release of his icon, Awo, went in search of Nzeogwu’s family, picked them out and took Peter and Theresa Nzeogwu to Mayflower school to continue their studies free of charge. That is the meaning of gratitude. I am therefore not surprised that some Yoruba folks have very, very bad attitude to gratitude. But the gratitude of Soyinka, Tai Solarin and other progressives is enough for some of us. Please buy and read MAJOR C. K. NZEOGWU, Fighting the illusive Nigerian Enemy From Childhood to Death {2003} by Peter Okeleke Nzeogwu and, NZEOGWU {1987} by Obasanjo. General Adebayo too was appreciative in his own way. After the war, he also went to Ironsi’s family, took some of his children and gave them education. I call these people complete human beings. Also, Obasanjo, despite his flaws, took care of Nzeogwu’s mum until she died.

Dr. Osuji {Ph.D} asserts that Igbos claim and suffer from superiority complex and that some tribes take offence to it. How? I don’t buy this thought. What he sees as superiority complex is a personality and individual trait and not a group trait. How does the average Igbo man exhibit such trait of character? Besides, it is also a form of defence mechanism. In the UK, if you are not assertive and tend to exhibit inferiority complex, people would trample on you and ‘smash‘ your head. They will use, cheat, fleece and squeeze you and make you look stupid. That is a fact. So to adapt, you must be assertive and clever but not to the point of being a bully and, you have to bury your inferiority complex. In Nigeria where law and order has since gone berserk, corruption has become so perverse and irredeemable, social services and infrastructures are merely on papers and not on ground. The people have also evolved survival strategies. And one of which is the projection of superiority complex. Nigeria is a complete hostile environment. It is one of the most abnormal countries in the universe. All the governments we have had, have been hostile to the people they were meant to serve. In return, the people themselves have become hostile to one another. Superiority and inferiority complex are therefore socially generated. In Nigeria, if you want to become what the Yorubas call ode or the Igbos call Onukwu, then you will find your self in soup. Again, are you by “superiority complex of the Igbos” inferring cultural ethnocentrism? I give you a typical example, if you come to London, you will think that all the Blacks in London are Yorubas. This is because the Yorubas and believe me, I praise them for that, anywhere they go, they project their language and culture. They speak their language on the streets, in the shops, train, buses, and anywhere you meet them. They do not play or joke with their language and culture and that is one of the distinctive features of cultural ethnocentrism – a people boldly proud of their culture. Posit that with my Igbos in London and what do you get. It is a people that are afraid or shy to speak their language even to their children. I have had cause to rebuke some of them to stop the act and follow the Yoruba foot steps. Recently, anthropologists, have discovered that some languages are gradually dying out. And I hope the Igbo language will not be one of them in the nearest future.

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Ozioma November 26, 2009 - 3:14 pm

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.

Anonymous April 25, 2018 - 10:46 pm

My guess is that both of you approached the issue of Igbo as a people from the purely professional point of view. While Osuji dissects the issue from the clinical psychology perspective, your counter perspective came purely from the sociological school of thought. In order to get the synthesis out of the two hypothesis, I believe we need someone from a different school of thought, which school I do not know. However, I believe there is an element of truth in both arguments to describe the people in question and harmonizing the two perspectives might be what is needed to put together the missing links.

Onye Eze August 9, 2009 - 10:16 am

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.

ifeanyi June 7, 2009 - 1:50 am

Bro,you are a true ibo your response!!!!

Reply January 19, 2009 - 9:45 am

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.

lovenest nwachukwu November 6, 2008 - 11:49 am

Good response and please keep it up.


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