JUDAS Iscariot is not a good name in the ears of Christians. Not many of them would stomach a mention of the Judas name but there is a lot of things to learn in the sordid Bibilical narative of the characterwho was one of the beloved of Jesus Christ’s 12 apostles. He was the holder of the purse of Jesus’s ministry. Trusted but he betrayed Christ and sold him to those who killed him.
However the story of Judas is deeper, richer and more philosophical than the plain narrative many deem it to be. That is the gospel of Judas which simply teaches that some oddious people or circumpstances are bound to occur before a predestined turnaround would be fulfiled in an entitty’s life.
Pondering Monday, October 1 – a date deeply etched in the annals of Nigeria – a consideration Judas’s gospel and Igbo land became apt.
Yearly, Nigerians commemorate their nation’s independence on the first day of October. The day offers opportunity for discourses, chitchats, ceremonies and feasting of sort on the nation. The mass media often rides on the back of the independence day anniversary to serve articles and programs that dwell on the feats and fate of Nigeria. In some quarters, the streets quake in festivities as vibrant colours display outdoor and happy youngsters ensure that everywhere rumbles in warm pulsations in commemoration of the anniversary.
I recall that as children growing up in Enugu of the 1970s, we looked up to the date with almost equal enthusiasm as we gave say Christmas. To us, Independence Day was a big date with fun. It offered a deluge of pomp and ceremony. Every October 1, we headed to a stadium or the then rallying square of the Coal City, Polo Park for our all-schools’ match-pass contest. On such days we were sure of watching or performing in an all-city masqurade display event in Obiagu or the streets of Coal Camp.
We were sure of good meals of white rice, stew and chicken. We were sure of returning home to our yards (not flat) to behold our parents and guardians hubbled together with other elders around draught boards to chat over the contents of the day’s broadcast by the Head of State.
Those were the years of enthusiasm for the national day. I am not very sure that most of the children of contemporary Nigeria will be able to imagine let alone enjoy what the October 1 of those years was like. I am afraid that we may never be able to get back such enthusiasm or have children who will have a beloved nation to relish and adore with such depth of emotion.
Trends may change and such communal connection to the ‘birthday’ of Nigeria could return at least in some parts of the country but chances of that possibility in the South East are becoming remote day-after-day with events of current times. When one goes down memory lane to recall that the passionate celebration of Independence Day then happened in the 1970s in such a city as Enugu, headquarters of the Eastern region, less than one decade after the region’s loss in a bitterly fought Nigeria Civil War in which Biafra (the Eastern region) lost, there treasure of that era becomes more valuable. There was a deep feeling for the country then despite the horrible things the federal forces did to Ndi Igbo in the happless East during the 30-month-long- war.
There was still the feeling of a country. But on Monday when Nigeria will turn 58 one is not sure whether there will be emotions for the country. Should there be fanfare, bontings, parades and drumbeats one cannot guess even without bet. One thing that is most certain is that if ther will be festivity for Nigeria at 58 it may be outside the South East – homeland of the Igbo nation.
Most likely, if you turn-on the radio, television on the independence Day you would have little or nothing about the anniversary on air. Where there is, you would likely be inundated by moans and whines that communicate general angst and apathy. You would hear a litany of complaints and possile calls for the head of anyone that deems it apt to mark the date in the East.
Yes, the popularity of the the word Nigeria is that bad in the East. One really wonders why. But there are many reasons for the disenchantment if not disdain. The reasons are well known to many.
Ndi Igbo are not sure that Nigeria loves them. Nigeria can equally not swear that it accepts Ndi Igbo. Since the 1967-1970 Nigeria Civil War in which the Igbo nation, under the defunt Biafra Republic, fought Nigeria ‘to finish’ and the conflict ended with victory to the federal troops of Nigeria, things have not been sane and smooth. despite the “No victor, No Vanguished” slogan the marked the end of the crises there appears a clear plot to eliminate the Igbo nation and her people from all sectors of worth in the country.
Evidences from the citing of federal industrires and other vital facilities; development projects; national appointments, employment, incentives and even plaudits show that things have been skewed against Ndi Igbo. Even in social and political arrangements, the eastern region especially the South East is being forced to regret the fact that she had her Biafra Republic that fought the rest of Nigeria 48 years ago and lost. Yet it seems the more the squeeze the more the people opt to retain their disgust.
One of the results is that the region is bare of federal structures and barren of opportunities that appear abound in other parts of the nation. Worse still other things that federal goverment provides elsewhere to encourage even ordinary people and the most unfavoured to thrive or at least struggle to live tolerable life are not there, from electricity to basic pipe borne waters supply to good roads and hospitals, the list of absent facilities or insufficient development incentives is long. Even internet and telecoms networks lull in the East. The youth lack jobs.
Similarly, the number of government schools cannot take in even a quarter of children of the region.
Indeed, opportunities to cry and vent are plenty in Igbo land and there are many reasons to back up the tears with swear words like “E no go beta for Naija for purnishing Igbo!”
But assuming that such mindset is the best reaction, the question to ask is : Is such a development neglect after the war enough to keep Igbo down?
An Igbo proverb asks: Onye a juru aju, ona ju onwe ya? (The one who is rejected should he reject himself?). Let’s for the sake of discourse accept that Igbo is still being punished by the rest of Nigeria for the Biafra of half a century ago, does Igbo not have enough to call the bluff of Nigeria? Igbo needs to thorougly study and understand the message in the Judas’s gospel which the aftermath of Nigeria Civil War has turned out to be in their life. Beyond the current handwritings on the wall the real essence to the trend needs to be appraised.
Truth is that the world, since the last quarter of 20th Century has grown beyond relaying on government for development , creative entrepreneurship; consciousness of the need to turn one’s victim status to a victory position; group aggregation; tactical investment; strategic leadership and strong sense of universal sufferage among other factors have made races, tribes and cultures that face(d) worse economic, social and political onslaught than Igbo land turn around and be in control of powerfuls states and the commanding heights of vital local and global economies.
From Russia to China to Israel, to the Gulf region we have seen people and nationalities turn around such odd fates to positive twists.
To be continued