Igbo Stay - At - Home : A Mistake That Must Not Be Repeated - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE



Monday, May 31, 2021

Igbo Stay - At - Home : A Mistake That Must Not Be Repeated

By Vitus Ozoke

Look, I am all for the liberation and unleashing of the Igbo entrepreneurial spirit, which has been stifled by its unholy incarnation in the Nigerian body. The Nigerian body has proved, time and time again, that it lacks the moral capacity to host the Igbo spirit. So, as a pragmatic Igbo man, I'm all in on the Igbo liberation project.

That said, I do not have patience for nonsense. And by nonsense I mean things that don't make sense. As a matter of fact, I have zero tolerance for them. Liberation movements must be mass movements, not cults of personalities. Unless, and until, the Igbo liberation movement, be it MASSOB, IPOB, BIAFRA, or whatever name called, gets its acts together and formulates a tenable and sustainable strategy, one that recognizes the unique contextual and existential realities of the Igbo, it will continue to run in circles - all motion, no movement.

The Igbo are entrepreneurial by nature. We are adventurous. We go out before sunrise and we don't come back before sunset. It doesn't matter what it is that we do, the Igbo just don't stay home. Therefore, this new practice of arbitrarily commandeering the Igbo to stay home is not just stupid and counter-productive, it is as un-Igbo as it is anti-Igbo. If it is not stay at home in commemoration of Biafran declaration some 53 odd years ago, it is stay at home to boycott municipal, state, and federal elections while the rest of Nigeria elect leaders for the Igbo. Nothing can be more asinine!

Let's face it and have an honest conversation. If there is ever a day not to stay at home, it is the anniversary of the Biafran declaration. If there is one day the Igbo should all be out on the streets, it is May 30. Ojukwu did not declare Biafra on May 30, 1967 hiding in his mother's hut. He did not declare Biafra so that the Igbo would stay at home. Secession does not mean seclusion. What brand of sense does it make for a people whose livelihood depends on their itinerancy to shut themselves down as part of its liberation campaign? That is irony on steroids! 
                •Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu

The tragedy of the current Biafran crusade is that it often tends to be divorced from the Biafran essence and history. Ojukwu led Biafra from its beginning until his death. Not a single day did Ojukwu ever order the Igbo to stay at home. He understood that entrepreneurial drive in the Igbo. Ordering the Igbo man to stay at home and not open his shop is like cutting off oxygen to his life system. As the Igbo would ask: if mother hen gave up clucking, with what would she feed her children?

Our Biafranists must rethink some of their strategies. Those who have used the pretext of Biafran memorial to force the Igbo to stay at home are being utterly disingenuous. This is not about Biafran heroes memorial. This is totally and exclusively an ego trip and a self-serving powerplay. It is civil disobedience packaged as what it is not. Don't read me wrong, there's nothing wrong with either Biafran memorial or civil disobedience per se, but this whole business of force must stop.

You can't force people to stay at home to observe a memorial. How do they get to the cemeteries where their heroes and loved ones are buried to go leave flowers at their tombs? How do they go sit and pray at their tombs and clean their headstones? How do they attend memorial services, lectures, and other commemorative events? A Biafran memorial day is not a day to sit at home to drink beer and eat nkwọbi.

Look, the Igbo have suffered so much and enough in the hands of Nigeria, what they do not need is to be subjected to senseless and arbitrary diktat by their own. For a people whose businesses have taken major hits due to weeks of coronavirus lockdowns, an ill-advised stay at home for Biafran memorial is nothing short of economic sabotage. For the Igbo, the one tragedy worse than escaping injustice in the hands of Nigeria is to be subjected to home-made dictatorship, one that is oblivious to their collective existential realities.

There is nothing memorable about a forced memorial. Using the Igbo as pawns in ego play is sad and must stop. There are only two reasons a people can be ordered to stay at home: (1) public health, and (2) as a form of civil disobedience. Countries have been ordered to stay at home during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. That makes sense from a public health standpoint. An oppressed group can withdraw and deny their labor and services from their oppressors by staying at home. None of those is the reason for the Igbo May 31 stay at home diktat. We are not withdrawing our services from the Nigerian state. Instead, we are withdrawing our services from ourselves, and, in the process, hurting ourselves and our livelihoods. You don't go cutting your nose to spite your face. That is stupid and must stop! 

May the souls of our fallen heroes rest in peace, and may their memories be a blessing.

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