Ndigbo and Jewish lessons

By Nwohonja on 24/07/2014

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Most expectedly, the major thoughts that would be agitating the minds of many Nigerians this season would be the recent two-week ultimatum given by some Northern elements, telling Southerners in the North to vacate their parts and go back to their states of origin. They warned that those who fail to heed the warning would be visited with grave consequences.

With history in mind, it is expected that people from the South-east and South-south geo-political zones would be most troubled by the ultimatum, especially those of them privy to past atrocities perpetrated against their kind by such elements with such threats.

It is instructive to note that the mindset behind this present threat was similar to the kinds that led to genocidal actions against Ndigbo in the past. From the year 1945 till date, Northern elements have always visited their failures, disappointments and frustrations on Ndigbo and other Southerners living in their part of the country, to kill, to maim, and to massacre scores of them; and looting their possessions as well.

Fresh in mind was that of Boko Haram in early 2012, which was followed by bombing of Churches, markets, Bus Stations and plazas where Southerners, mostly Ndigbo, congregate in large numbers to do their businesses. This is why those who have expressed fear about the current ultimatum should not be accused of being in any flight of fancy; they have every reason to be fearful.

Hate is always behind the attacks because from earliest times in Nigeria’s existence, there have been hate statements that shaped the mindset of the people. For instance, it was recorded that the late Sadauna of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello, once declared after Independence in 1960: “We cannot fight to dispense of white masters only to be ruled by new black masters called Ibo. Even here in the North, they run the post offices, railways, civil service and they have taken up all the shops we create. Call them Ibo, but you can also call them Zionists, but we shall not relinquish the estate of our fathers to such wretched people who have never had an administration before."

After that, one Major Gibson Jalo was said to have moaned in Officers Mess in 1964 that, "we are captives to this Ibos. We can never enjoy our new nation until we chase every single Ibo man out the North."

Another was a quote credited to Inuwa Wada, who said in 1967: “For long, we had cried that these vermins, Ibo, must be removed from our soil. Now we have seen the result of our negligence. A new opportunity of reducing the population is here (the war)." And they did; nothing less than 3. 5 million were killed.

Sani Abacha, as an Army Captain, was once reported as having thundered as an Army Captain that it was their “duty to teach the Ibos a final lesson and they will never leave their regions anymore".

These were a few of many quotes that were indicative of excessive hatred against Igbo. It was this excessive hatred that led to the killing of nothing less than 200 caught up in the Kano riot of 1945; 150 massacred in Jos by 1953; and over 50, 000 losing their lives in 1966. In 1967 to 1970, over two million were killed.

In Kano in 1980, over 1000 Igbo were killed, and in Maiduguri in 1982/1983 over 500 Igbos were equally killed. Another 1, 500 were killed from 1984 to1991. We are not talking about those murdered because of a Miss World beauty pageant in Abuja in 2002; or because of a cartoon in faraway Denmark in 2006.

Recounting these atrocities against Ndigbo in the past is neither fear mongering nor engender like hatred against the Northerners. It is meant as a reminder for those who have forgotten and a clarion call for those who truly need to know. That no Igbo should leave his life to chance; and that no Igbo should take the ultimatum and the threat for granted, is the crux of this article and the thrust of my argument.

This threat by the Northern Nigerian youth group, Northern Youths Development Forum (NYDF), now leaves Ndigbo, the most travelled Nigerian ethnic nationality group, in the lurch as to what to do and how to respond. Apart from a daring statement by George Obiozor, former Nigerian ambassador to the United States of America (USA), almost all Igbo groups and personalities have been taciturn on the issue.

Anti-Igbo sentiments that breed such hate words and destruction of Igbo lives and properties, as well as Igbo economic interests resemble – in several ways – anti-Semitism. Like Ndigbo, the Jews have suffered at many times in their history just for being who they were, Jews.

For instance, from 140 to 312 A D, the Jews flourished in Rome and had imperial favour and had a great part in the persecutions of Christians. When Constantine became emperor, they lost imperial favour and became a condemned sect.

In England, in 1020 A. D, Canute banished them from the country. In 1096 A. D, a war was waged on the Jews who would not submit to baptism. Henry 11 made them pay $291, 000 to help the crusades. In 1189 A. D. murderous riots started against the Jews, and every Jewish home in London was plundered. In 1190 A. D the chief rabbi of York and 500 Jews were besieged until they slew one another. In 1272 A. D. Edward 1 claimed to own the Jews and all they possessed, and he let them get rich in order to rob them. He finally drove them from England, and for four centuries no Jew was found there.

In France, in 1306 A. D, 100, 000 Jews were stripped, robbed, and banished from the country. In ten years they were allowed to return, but fanatical shepherds killed thousands of them. In 1683 A. D. they were again ordered to quit France and her colonies and were not permitted to own real estate therein until 1723.

In 1348 – 1350 A. D. the black plague swept through Europe as a whole but affected the Jews but little because of their simple life and the hygienic requirement of the law. They were suspected of poisoning the waters of Europe. In Germany thousands were killed by cauldron, fire, and in many other ways. They were banished from Prague and Constantinople.

In Spain during the inquisition” thousands disappeared never to return. They were finally banished from Spain. Many were sold into slavery. Their sufferings were indescribable. For 200 years they were not permitted to enter Spain. (Culled from Finis Jennings Dake’s God’s Plan for Man; page 317).

A good close look will show us that the situation Ndigbo found themselves in Nigeria, is not too far from the situation the Jews found themselves in the world.

It is however interesting that despite all that happened to the Jews in countries that were not their own, just as it has happened to Ndigbo in lands that were not their own, when the likes of Weitzman started preaching the need for a homeland, they ignored and labeled them. It was until Adolf Hitler appeared on the scene and killed up to six million that they began to give heed.

It is however regrettable that in the case of Ndigbo, when their own version of Hitler came in the form of Yakubu Gowon supervising the death of more than 3. 5 million of them, they still cling to one Nigeria like a saviour, instead of thinking seriously about a homeland with full sovereignty. Perhaps they were waiting until up to six million of them are felled in one swoop, like the Jews, before they realise the need to disentangle with everything Nigeria.


Posted on July, 24 2014

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