The renaissance of the Igbo is on going. The reawakening of the Igbo spirit. The revival and the rebirth of that that made Ndi Igbo stand out among other people.
The Igbo as a people has undergone many ups and downs, including the death of millions of their own in the making of a country called Nigeria. The coming of the British colonialists into the Republican enclave of Ndi Igbo started with the distortion of the Igbo spirit. The British explorers saw the strength of the Igbo and wanted it subdued. This halted the Igbo development and kind of dampened the Igbo spirit. Even with the Western education that came with the arrival of the white man, Igbo people still resisted their coming, due to their intention to enslave the people. This resistance is evident in the Arochuchukwu war against the colonial masters that lasted for many years. Another of it’s kind is the Ekumeku war that also so saw many recorded defeats on the side of the white invaders. That’s the Igbo spirit. They love and treasure their sovereignty and freeform. And they can never just give it up.
The failure of indirect rule is also another insight to who the Igbo were. The Igbo has no centralized leader until Odumegwu Ojukwu and Mazi Nnamdi Kanu came. They love and trusted them. Ndi Igbo have their Ezes and Obi in their various communities. These Ezes are not vested with absolute power to dictate, that’s the reason they instituted the Eze in councils who help in taking decisions that will be acceptable to the people.
The amalgamation of Southern protectorate and Northern protectorate, brought Ndi Igbo into what is known today as Nigeria.
It should be noted that the name Nigeria has nothing relating to the people that are today called Nigeria. It’s not about the people, their environment or anything. It’s just an alien name of no significance. The British saw their equals for the first time in Ndi Igbo and hence worked so hard to subdue the Igbo spirit. The more they try to subdue the Igbo spirit, the more Ndi Igbo grew higher and higher.
Igbo people embraced education. They didn’t wait for the government to spoon feed them. When leaders of some tribes that became Nigeria in 1914 were begging their own people to embrace education, Igbo communities were already contributing money sending their brighter ones abroad and sponsoring their education. Parents who didn’t go to school went hungry and denied themselves good things of life to make sure they see their children through school. Many first born children in Igbo land became accidental parents to their brothers and sisters. They learnt trade and some learnt hand works and saw their brothers and sisters through school.
Some of them that have reached the age of marriage even suspended marriage, all for the education of their own younger ones. ‘I won’t marry until my brothers and sisters finishes school’ is what you hear them say. That’s the Igbo spirit. The life of the Igbo man is all about sacrifice for others.
Chief Akanu Ibiam had to strip himself off his British title from the Queen of England over the involvement of Britain in killing more than 3million Igbos during the Nigeria/Biafra genocidal war that saw Igbo defend against world powers.
The war was seen as an avenue to defeat forever the courageous Igbo spirit. Even when it’s obvious, clear and certain that a genocide have been carried out against the Igbo, yet Britain supported Nigeria to wipe the Igbo out. After bombing hospitals, schools, agricultural lands and markets they also instituted lies that can divide the Igbo against their brothers.
They divided the Igbo into two and moved some parts into what they today called South South, even to faraway North. Those remaining in South East they treated as those that was defeated in war. It became so dangerous answering Igbo in Nigeria. With these action, other coastline Igbo people started denying being Igbo. We started hearing statements like ‘ I am Obi Okonkwo and I am not Igbo.’ Some started saying that Igbo people in South East are forcing them to become Igbo. Some started claiming Bini origin. They were so shameless to force themselves on Bini, even when Oba of Bini told them right into their faces that they aren’t Bini people. Many more started changing their personal names and community names. Letter ‘R’ was included in some Igbo names as to distort its Igbo sounds. Even some Northerners will be quick to tell you to leave them alone if they say they aren’t Igbo people. And these identity challenged Ndi Igbo will mock you together with their northern slave masters.
The coming of Nnamdi Kanu brought the wind of renaissance back to Ndi Igbo. It were like the Igbo man got reborn and started asking some reawakening questions like ‘Who Am I.’ All of a sudden they removed that thing holding them down and proudly call themselves Ndi Igbo. Nnamdi Kanu made these possible. The rest of Ndi Igbo who still deny their identity have seen how insulting and lowly denying their identity can be.