Friday, April 10, 2015

Oba Of Lagos Threat To Igbos! Chimamanda Adichie Wades In

A few days ago, the Oba of Lagos threatened Igbo leaders. If they did not vote for his governorship candidate in Lagos, he said, they would be thrown into the lagoon. His entire speech was a flagrant performance of disregard. His words said, in effect: I think so little of you that I don’t have to cajole you but will just threaten you and, by the way, your safety in Lagos is not assured, it is negotiable.

There have been condemnations of the Oba’s words. Sadly, many of the condemnations from non-Igbo people have come with the ugly impatience of expressions like ‘move on,’ and  ‘don’t be over-emotional’ and ‘calm down.’ These take away the power, even the sincerity, of the condemnations. It is highhanded and offensive to tell an aggrieved person how to feel, or how quickly to forgive, just as an apology becomes a non-apology when it comes with ‘now get over it.’


Other condemnations of the Oba’s words have been couched in dismissive or diminishing language such as ‘The Oba can’t really do anything, he isn’t actually going to kill anyone. He was joking. He was just being a loudmouth.’

Or – the basest yet – ‘we are all prejudiced.’ It is dishonest to respond to a specific act of prejudice by ignoring that act and instead stressing the generic and the general.  It is similar to responding to a specific crime by saying ‘we are all capable of crime.’ Indeed we are. But responses such as these are diversionary tactics. They dismiss the specific act, diminish its importance, and ultimately aim at silencing the legitimate fears of people.

We are indeed all prejudiced, but that is not an appropriate response to an issue this serious. The Oba is not an ordinary citizen. He is a traditional ruler in a part of a country where traditional rulers command considerable influence – the reluctance on the part of many to directly chastise the Oba speaks to his power. The Oba’s words matter. He is not a singular voice; he represents traditional authority. The Oba’s words matter because they are enough to incite violence in a political setting already fraught with uncertainty. The Oba’s words matter even more in the event that Ambode loses the governorship election, because it would then be easy to scapegoat Igbo people and hold them punishable.

Nigerians who consider themselves enlightened might dismiss the Oba’s words as illogical. But the scapegoating of groups – which has a long history all over the world – has never been about logic. The Oba’s words matter because they bring worrying echoes of the early 1960s in Nigeria, when Igbo people were scapegoated for political reasons. Chinua Achebe, when he finally accepted that Lagos, the city he called home, was unsafe for him because he was Igbo, saw crowds at the motor park taunting Igbo people as they boarded buses: ‘Go, Igbo, go so that garri will be cheaper in Lagos!’

Of course Igbo people were not responsible for the cost of garri. But they were perceived as people who were responsible for a coup and who were ‘taking over’ and who, consequently, could be held responsible for everything bad.

Any group of people would understandably be troubled by a threat such as the Oba’s, but the Igbo, because of their history in Nigeria, have been particularly troubled. And it is a recent history. There are people alive today who were publicly attacked in cosmopolitan Lagos in the 1960s because they were Igbo. Even people who were merely light-skinned were at risk of violence in Lagos markets, because to be light-skinned was to be mistaken for Igbo.

Almost every Nigerian ethnic group has a grouse of some sort with the Nigerian state. The Nigerian state has, by turns, been violent, unfair, neglectful, of different parts of the country. Almost every ethnic group has derogatory stereotypes attached to it by other ethnic groups.

But it is disingenuous to suggest that the experience of every ethnic group has been the same. Anti-Igbo violence began under the British colonial government, with complex roots and manifestations. But the end result is a certain psychic difference in the relationship of Igbo people to the Nigerian state. To be Igbo in Nigeria is constantly to be suspect; your national patriotism is never taken as the norm, you are continually expected to prove it.

All groups are conditioned by their specific histories. Perhaps another ethnic group would have reacted with less concern to the Oba’s threat, because that ethnic group would not be conditioned by a history of being targets of violence, as the Igbo have been.

Many responses to the Oba’s threat have mentioned the ‘welcoming’ nature of Lagos, and have made comparisons between Lagos and southeastern towns like Onitsha. It is valid to debate the ethnic diversity of different parts of Nigeria, to compare, for example, Ibadan and Enugu, Ado-Ekiti and Aba, and to debate who moves where, and who feels comfortable living where and why that is. But it is odd to pretend that Lagos is like any other city in Nigeria. It is not. The political history of Lagos and its development as the first national capital set it apart. Lagos is Nigeria’s metropolis. There are ethnic Igbo people whose entire lives have been spent in Lagos, who have little or no ties to the southeast, who speak Yoruba better than Igbo. Should they, too, be reminded to be ‘grateful’ each time an election draws near?

No law-abiding Nigerian should be expected to show gratitude for living peacefully in any part of Nigeria. Landlords in Lagos should not, as still happens too often, be able to refuse to rent their property to Igbo people.

The Oba’s words were disturbing, but its context is even more disturbing:

The anti-Igbo rhetoric that has been part of the political discourse since the presidential election results.  Accusatory and derogatory language – using words like ‘brainwashed,’ ‘tribalistic voting’ – has been used to describe President Jonathan’s overwhelming win in the southeast. All democracies have regions that vote in large numbers for one side, and even though parts of Northern Nigeria showed voting patterns similar to the Southeast, the opprobrium has been reserved for the Southeast.

But the rhetoric is about more than mere voting. It is really about citizenship. To be so entitled as to question the legitimacy of a people’s choice in a democratic election is not only a sign of disrespect but is also a questioning of the full citizenship of those people.

What does it mean to be a Nigerian citizen?

When Igbo people are urged to be ‘grateful’ for being in Lagos, do they somehow have less of a right as citizens to live where they live? Every Nigerian should be able to live in any part of Nigeria. The only expectation for a Nigerian citizen living in any part of Nigeria is to be law-abiding. Not to be ‘grateful.’ Not to be expected to pay back some sort of unspoken favour by toeing a particular political line. Nigerian citizens can vote for whomever they choose, and should never be expected to justify or apologize for their choice.

Only by feeling a collective sense of ownership of Nigeria can we start to forge a nation. A nation is an idea. Nigeria is still in progress. To make this a nation, we must collectively agree on what citizenship means: all Nigerians must matter equally.


56 comments:

  1. Abegi I don't know why igbo r making a big deal about wht the oba said,lagos is for the oba he can dam well say as he pleases if igbo pple don't like wht he said dey should go back to their states,fyi igbi pple r the tribalic pple in nigeria,the go every were in nigeria and set up business witout interference from the pple,woe betide any other tribes that fo to igbo to do business dey will frustrate u out of their town.they will to other pple town and comadare the whole town

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chief Ujo goes anonymous.

      Delete
    2. Shut up brat she has called you ppl out and u are talking crap it's like saying black ppl in the USA shld be grateful to whites for allowing them go about their regular business.

      Delete
    3. You shut up tribalistic goat. Ibo people want to he treated the way they don't treat other people why? You have to respect the Oba otherwise go back to where you use kicks to wake your parents.

      Delete
  2. If can't take the heat,get of the kitchen, if igbo pple don't like wht the oba said, they should go back to their village

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lack of courage make them come out anonymously to speak. Ndi ujo.

      Delete
  3. Beautiful piece. Well said!

    ReplyDelete
  4. the OBA's words are wrong,but that is the situation which we have found ourselves in today,every Nigerian partial to his or her ethnic group, and the igbos can't pretend that they don't treat people as second class citizens in their domain,what the OBA might have said is what igbos say and do in their domain in the eastern part of the nation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank u jare...Oh ho! We are great pretenders. Pls let everyone leave matter.if we wanted ibos out of lagos they'll be out, election or no election. So no one should act the victim. People have said worse......and who doesn't know they make bad tenants......try renting to them.it's the same way Yoruba womenn are notorious for shoutin etc. Pls Chi I love you but try to be fair in this matter. The oba is clearly sorry and has taken reasonable steps to make amend...what more can be done.Pls drop matter.my best friend is ibo and I love her like my blood....so pls drop the victim card....he was addressing ibo audience not like he sat in his palace and said it........and this is yet another reason...smh.....sigh......

      Delete
  5. Really?! This? This side-show gets a write-up? Please. Get off blogs, go write a book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Always come as anonymous. Smh. Lack of courage.

      Delete
    2. Who the heck is Amy? Not much better than Anonymous. No one even knows if that's your real name. And where's your pic? Where is your address? Where do you live? Smh. Lack of courage. #Troll #Bully #Focusontheissue #Nonsense

      Delete
    3. Shirap anonymous, ure no better cow

      Delete
  6. This just reiterates the point I made about the igbo's earlier. Take a look at how many of them (even the enlightened ones) have been playing the victim role like drenched chickens since the oba made his yeye statement.
    But does anyone remember how they all kept mute when Patience Jonathan called for the stoning of all APC supporters? Where was the outcry then? What's the difference between the Oba's comment and Patience. Jonathan's comment? These hypocritical bunch can milk their pity party for all it's worth. Sooner than later, everyone will get tired of listening to them play the victim card.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am Igbo but i decide not to take sides, your comment is harsh, but then its also the truth when Patience Jonathan was saying all sort of ills about her opponent, no one came out to condemn, like i said this matter should be dropped, all this politicians are not worth it, being ibo or yoruba,, they will come together to shake hands after the election

      Delete
    2. Love u for this comment flakkie Chris.......let d politicians be deceiving them .......

      Delete
    3. @Chidnma your type dey rare aswear. If I sound harsh, it's because I like to call things as they are. No sugar coating or soft pedalling. People like you suffer collateral damage.... It's unfortunate but that's what happens when the majority are similar in traits. No one can argue that the Oba didn't receive enough condemnation from the yorubas, as opposed to the reaction of Igbo's when Patience Jojo said hers. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. Life no hard like that. 

      Delete
    4. @chidimma, I'm not sure your stand here; did you read chimamanda`s article very well? How could you compare Patience`s remarks with what oba said. Did Patience ever mentioned a particular tribes throughout her remarks? She used generalized political parties name. Oba singled out igbos in entire Lagos. That's what is called "Hate" in a civilized world. You don't know yorubas don't like igbos? They feel intimidated around the igbos and hated our guts. Don't say drop this issue because you have no idea what you talking about.

      Delete
  7. Another trash from an over rated IGBO trash.
    Because this one can put words together to write story books, she now thinks she is one great thinker.
    Wandering pigs.
    You and your people have out lived your usefulness in SW NIgeria.
    Go home and stop all the rants.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's obviously you're jealous of this young lady who can put words together. See your cowards statements"you and your people.. " Are your people somehow intimidated? You scared to lived the challenges in Lagos with the igbos. Oba started the ranting, and trust the igbos, they will not let go. Hey coward, let me remind you that the days has passed when the igbos feared last. Even in 1967, igbos stood their ground and fought Nigeria country. You people are just minor.

      Delete
  8. Nne thank you. What some people were afraid to voice out while others like Pat Utomi for fear of his LBS treated it as an off-handed talk, you have said it. As for the renting of houses and co, if you check the statistics, after rent comes property ownership. They buy up the property right in their faces. Whoever threatens anyone, be it any tribe, threatens himself. Simple truth and fact.

    ReplyDelete
  9. There was a country......not now any more

    ReplyDelete
  10. Keep flogging this dead horse for all it's worth and expect the local perceptions of what some locals think about Igbos in Lagos to change. Didn't the Obi of Onitsha in 2012 or thereabout curse and kicked out the whole bunch of APC members from the SW when they went to campaign for Ngige in Anambra because the Obi felt disrespected that they came on a day he had a festival of tradition? Nobody raised an eyebrow then. And yes, I am posting as Anonymous, so go take Panadol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are a fool for this comment. That festival of tradition is the single most important tradition in onitsha land. It is a celebration of being onitsha and u think it was right for ngige to disrepect that. He disrespected the whole onitsha people and this is the single reason a woman relatively inexperienced like Ekwunife beat him to the senatorial seat. Stupid ignorant fool.

      Delete
  11. Madam,we are sisters thou but i think it his time we all drop this Oba;s issue, enough has been sai already, lets all go out to do justice, which is to VOTE,i know that the Obas comment will discourage lot of people today, but then life has to go on

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Who is this? You're whose sister? Are you dating oba`s son or any sw guy. Why are you so myopic in your reasoning and statements? If you let this go so cheaply, another idiots will step up again with a lousy mouth on igbos. Your comments is irritating, stop please. I don't want to be rude to you "sister"

      Delete
  12. justlikeme@live.com11 April, 2015 09:10

    The Oba is wrong no doubt but Igbo people should calm down! I don't expect Chimamanda to say this abeg! She is also inciting things. There are 3 igbos in Lagos cabinet under this same APC. There is no yoruba in ANY CABINET in Igbo land. My Igbo friends should prove me wrong!

    We have apologised on his behalf yet you won't listen. What do they want again? Will an Oba be suspended in his home because of Igbo people in his own house??? This same chimamanda's book (Half of a yellow sun the book not movie cus the movie has been censored over and over again) is tribalist but we see past that! Linda take shots at Ibadan people but we laugh at it. Don't we see Igbo people who act up too ni?

    Respect to igbo people but y'all need to calm down. If someone says sorry....i eat my words. What else do you want? An Oba can't be suspended because of you abeg!



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If your fool of a Oba decides to trample on the civil rights of the Nigerian citizen, dnt u think he should be checked?
      The Ibo ppl in LASG cabinet are indigenes of Lagos State. If u dnt realize that u ar as foolish as your Oba.

      Delete
    2. Exactly! Must we incite violence? The elections have come and gone peacefully, is it one unreasonable statement that we want to accord so much importance to? Those were hurtful words, yes. But, thank God He does not have the power to do as he threatened. When we keep reminding ourselves of his threat, you whip up nationalist sentiments.

      Delete
  13. Igbos are pure trash we have had enough of them in the SW Oba said everything we feel. I never want anything to do with Igbos both the women and men they are bad news. Who is this Chimamanda anyway she should go and treat her psychiatric illness instead of wading into what doesn't concern her. Let her go and sell books in Anambra.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. People are talking then this dirty, bleached up yoruba trash is still talking. Are they not hausa and other tribes living in Lagos? Why is it that the igbo is the only problem you guys have? Jealous frustrated people. Very soon igbo will tale Lagos from yourba sef.

      Delete
    2. Its just politics people. Don't be fooled. The elections will be over soon and things will get back to normal. Just watch.

      Delete
    3. Yorubas will go to bed and be thinking about their hate against igbos and may not wake up. Leave igbos the heck alone, they never stopped Tinubu and Fashiola corruption in lagos. Don't be intimidated around igbos, warm up to them and feel good. Hey, I'm not a racist, just to let you know, I have nice Yoruba friends and we get along. My comments are not published here...

      Delete
    4. Tell your filthy Yoruba men to leave Igbo women alone. Anytime they see an Igbo woman even the married ones, they start running around like mad dogs. The Igbo's for SURE don't want ANYTHING to do with your lazy, dirty and ugly self.

      Delete
  14. Ibos should go to hell

    ReplyDelete
  15. Yes, Akiolu's words matter, call a spade a spade. Pat Utomi, take note.
    No law-abiding Nigerian should be expected to show gratitude for living peacefully in any part of Nigeria.
    Envy and jealousy will get all of you and your children nowhere.
    All Anti-Igbo, I CURSE you, your family and all your generation will know no peace!!!

    Thanks Chimamanda

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. May God Bless You, but few minutes later you will be screaming peace. wow just wow.

      Delete
    2. Civil discourse is beyond some people's abilities. Chimamanda wrote an epistle without cursing a single person. You wrote four lines cursing and praying for yourself, your family and all your generation to know no peace. Just focus on the issue at hand without resorting to cursing. It's QED.

      Delete
    3. Ok.yet another reason....smh....... and even signed Chimamanda...why why why....on top swimming in lagoon....Pls unite and start going back pls....the insult is teww much....mscheeeeeeeew ......it will all end today......tick tock disrespectful tribe.......,#sighforuna

      Delete
  16. Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely in any part of Nigeria and reside in any part of it. S.41

    A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not...be subjected to any disability or deprivation by reason only that he is such a person. S.42
    That is from a legal perspective, if it comes down to the law, provided one is a Nigerian can reside anywhere. People should stop talking rubbish about chasing Igbo's out of Lagos, they should first go and change the constitution before ranting.

    What the OBa said is completely wrong and he should be put in check.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Can't believe they took the oba words seriously. It was all jokes
    don't let it stop you from doing the right thing

    ReplyDelete
  18. Yoruba people with their tribalism. Ur brains are too small. If Igbo people leave Lagos, what do u think will become of Lagos? And u Ladun, I can sense tribalism in ur blog. U will not post the response of the igbos. Just like u wouldn't post this. Am not Igbo but I think Yorubas are jealous of igbos. Even the oba go fear if igbos say them wan leave Lagos. There's no Lagos without igbos. Check out what happens when igbos leave lagos for Christmas how dry Lagos dey look. Na una get Lagos?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh oo, now I know why my comments are not published. The moderator is a Yoruba. Ok this blogger is going to stop if you employ racism in this.

      Delete
    2. Please leave! U kip saying if we leave if we leave. LEAVE alreadi nd go develop ur place.

      Delete
    3. I laugh at your stupidity. Lagos is nothing without ibo pple according to you silly self. Pls, let them go back to their villages and letz see who would suffer more. Foolish soul, they r tribalistic and I m saying this from experience, the same way yorubas r tribalistic as well. If we cn't learn to live together peacefully then let everybody bear their fathers names and move the fuck to their villages.what fuckery!!!!!! Yoruba pple r jealous of ibo pple?? Taaaaaaaaa mofo

      Delete
    4. Paranoia .......gosh...no one can help you o.......this is really irritating........#victimcardoooo

      Delete
  19. At anon 9:32 it's not the same thing with black Americans they were forcefully removed from their land to the white man's land long ago,many can't trace back their roots,igbo pple carry their leg waka come lagos and can trace back their home. So if they don't like wht oba said make dey carry that same leg waka go

    ReplyDelete
  20. The Oba's comment was not good, that's very true...but only for the electoral process. In my opinion, Ibos are several magnitude more guilty! This overrated Adichie forgot to cite Asari Dokubo, Tompolo et al., threats? She is the one who is disingenuous! Go to UNN and other Eastern universities, count how many Yoruba HODs, Deans and VCs you find and compare with what's obtainable here in SW Nigeria. Igbos are just inconsiderate and self centred rabble rousers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. U compare recognized militants to ur supposedly respectable Oba? SMH. Nuffsaid.

      Delete
  21. The Oba's comment was not good, that's very true...but only for the electoral process. In my opinion, Ibos are several magnitude more guilty! This overrated Adichie forgot to cite Asari Dokubo, Tompolo et al., threats? She is the one who is disingenuous! Go to UNN and other Eastern universities, count how many Yoruba HODs, Deans and VCs you find and compare with what's obtainable here in SW Nigeria. Igbos are just inconsiderate and self centred rabble rousers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shut up and find facts b4 inciting rubbish. Proudly commenting from unn and I'm sure of 7 Yoruba dean's and hod's that divided by 3 is the population of igbos in the Yoruba place or shd we enter the indiginisation experienced by igbos in gaining admission in Yoruba universities? I think D problem has to do with the fact that Ur oba feels like a god (note the small letter g) and cannot apologize bcs he's so... who cares? thts how yorubas sold out the igbos during the Civil war... smh! or shd I talk abt Kunkle afolayan? Hmm! Pls think b4 insinuating crap Abeg!

      Delete
    2. justlikeme@live.com12 April, 2015 09:42

      Anonymouse 06.19 Why are you so so so so foolish. Kunle Afolayan is very very right. Don't even bring his case. You arrest 20 pirates and 18 of them are Igbo and you say most of them are Igbo? Its normal english...he is right to say so. He didnt say most igbos are pirates.....he said most pirates are igbos. Are you stupid or you didnt go to school ni?

      Most scammers in US are Nigerians....is that not a true statement? We know and we unite to thrash those who scam but when it comes to Igbo, people like you will be shouting nonsense. Talk to your kinsmen who do to stop and even you will benefit. STFU abeg

      Delete
  22. this igbo people have a big problem.. your unrepentant,umforgiving attitude will not kill u. You give birth to your 4th generation u tell them about biafra. why is your heart soo strong,why are u so evil ,why are u so unforgiving,check your useless selves and trust me when u all leave lagos will be just fine. Everywhere u guys go to if they make u feel comfortable u want to send the owner of the house parking.live and let live wicked sould,after all he yorubas have even condemned the oba and begged u what else do u want.awon alaseju

    ReplyDelete
  23. Olu@atlanta is now writing as anonymous.
    Lousy mouthed cowardly PIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIG, suffering from inferiority complex. In order to show he is not cowardly, he will pass the next comment using his stupid name. ANUMPAMA.

    ReplyDelete