Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Igbo Question – 25 August 2015

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

The “Igbo Question” is intrinsically linked to the Igbo strategic goal, presently, which is to end the occupation of their homeland, Biafra, by genocidist Nigeria – imposed since 13 January 1970. This is phase-IV of the genocide, launched by Nigeria on Sunday 29 May 1966. 3.1 million Igbo people or 25 per cent of this nation’s population were murdered by Nigeria and its allies including, especially, Britain, which supported the genocide right from conceptualisation to execution – politically, diplomatically, militarily. These were 44 months of uninterrupted, unimaginable carnage and barbarity perpetrated on a people. No single nation or people in Africa has suffered such a gruesome and devastating state(s)-premeditated and organised genocide in history.

(George Russell Sextet, “Thoughts” – personnel: Russell, piano; Don Ellis, trumpet; Dave Baker, trombone; Eric Dolphy, bass clarinet; Steve Swallow, bass; Joe Hunt, drums [recorded Riverside Record, New York, US, 28 May 1961])
Given the critical links between the salient features of the politics of the occupation and the overarching architecture of the genocidal campaign, most agree that the Igbo termination of the occupation is at once the beginning of their freedom march from Nigeria and the implementation of an expansive socioeconomic programme of reconstruction unprecedented in this southwestcenral region of Africa.  If this is the case, one does not need an Igbo “presidency” in Abuja to achieve this as some Igbo commentators as well as a few others have, at times, contended, but quite uncritically. Indeed no Igbo “presidency”, not even one reinforced with an all-Igbo personnel in the key cabinet military/police/“security”-positions can halt this genocide. This campaign has now acquired an inexorable logic to its being. What the emergence of Boko Haram and its other subalterns have demonstrated in Nigeria is that the prosecuting agency of the genocide has become very much decentred, very much motivated, very much engagingly virulent. The typical Boko Haram suicide-operating cell is a handful-strength, in single digits, and none in the group knows any of the others until they meet at the designated, targeted site of operation – in which they, invariably, are not expected to survive! If any survives, they, of course, become a member of new cell of hitherto unknown members and the cycle goes on... 


Prior to Boko Haram, still on the Igbo “presidency”, we mustn’t forget that Nigeria was under the leadership of an Igbo general when the genocide began on 29 May 1966. Thus, Igbo “presidency”, however attractive the proposition, offers no route to the Igbo halting the genocide. None whatsoever. The route remains Igbo freedom from Nigeria. This is an inalienable Igbo right with or without the genocide as I have argued severally. If the Scots, for instance, one-tenth of the Igbo population and without a genocide antecedent would wish to leave a union they have largely been exponential beneficiaries for 300 years (“Rights for Scots, Rights for the Igbo”, http://re-thinkingafrica.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/rights-for-scots-rights-for-igbo.html, accessed 18 July 2015), the Igbo, surely, don’t require any agonisingly turgid historical and sociological treatise to wish to leave Nigeria.


Contrary to the amazingly ahistorical discourses on the nature of the state and its survivability in some circles, particularly in Africa, the state is very much a transient relationship in human history: Kemet, Roman “empire”, Ghana “empire”, Mali “empire”, Czarist “empire”, Austro-Hungarian “empire”, Ottoman “empire”, British “empire”, Malaya Federation, West & East Pakistan, Soviet UnionYugoslaviaCzechoslovakiaEthiopia, the Sudan... 

Twenty-three (23) new states have, for example, emerged in Europe since the end of the 1980s. Even though a population of about 350 million, one-third of Africa’s population, Europeans presently have more states per capita than Africans! And as history shows, the catastrophe is not the collapse of the state; the catastrophe is to destroy/attempt to destroy constituent peoples within the state as the Igbo, for instance, have faced in a Nigeria since 29 May 1966. Here lies the Igbo Question.


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