SURE, the poor shall inherit the earth. And the denied will,
some day be the giver. Beyond being a message of hope this is a truism that
often work for a denied people who work hard in the right pathway and pray hard
There is always a time for a Pharoah who will know Joseph but before that king comes, Joseph must be working hard to place himself in vantage position to be the crown prince.
Igbo should work hard strategically to place herself in commanding heights of the society and economy. The world has gone far distances beyond the hue and cry of marginalisation. Wallowing on self pity and expecting every other group or people to concede power,
position or one form of development or the other for Igbo because of her plight will not work. Solution is tapping into the provisions of contemporary time.
Modern democracy has thrown up a brand of liberalism and capitalism that offers huge opportunities for breakthrough for races like Igbo. What the University of Illinois at Chicago don, Deirdre McCloskey, described in his ode to monopoly as “an an explosion of bright ideas,”
has liberated hitherto margenised peoples, races and faith groups such as Jews, Irish, Chinese, Indians, Catholics, non-comformists, colonial peoples, women again, immigrants, teenagers, gays, among others. The world of now is entirely ruled by those who recognise that “novel liberalism of inclusion” rules economies, establishments, industrial sectors and states in the present. Through the innovation that the liberalism encourages, ordinary people have broken through glass ceilings and emerged at the top.
Monopolies of power and capital have been killed, market forces and big brands have been upturned and, most importantly here, hitherto strict entry rules into commanding heights and ruling class have eased.
The innovation that the liberalism encourages celebrates and empowers people who think out-of-the-box and concretely innovate. Jews, Chinese, Indians and even the universal Catholic church which has been the butt of western elite and critics have used the loopholes provided by the innovative thinking encouraged by the capitalist world since the last quarter of 18th century to recreate their images and relaunch themselves to the helm of the world.
But as Saul D. Alinsky, wrote in ‘Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals’ (1972) “If people don’t think they have the power to solve their problems, they won’t even think about how to solve them.” Igbo must first convince herself that she is beyond her current demons.
The free latitude in the realm of acquisition and expression of knowledge, provided by the age has helped many people, sects and ethnicities who have been unduly relegated to bounce back and claim the front row.
Igbo needs to know that they have more cultural predelictions to gaining from the values of a liberal capitalist society than many other groups in the country. What they require is a clear ‘thinking through’ of their endowments and the manner they would be of use.
Such thoughts, ferried by guiding philosophies such as Chelueuno (think home); Akulueuno (invest at home) and Okelueigbo (Igbo’s share) will definitely redefine the Igbo fate no matter the machinations of adversaries.
But the land’s vital institutions and arms such as monarchs and the traditional cultural institutions; town unions; churches and faith-based leaders; diaspora associations; states and local governments should lead the implementation. The intelligentsia, comprising social influencers and artistes should articulate and blow the trumpet.
In the concept of Chelueuno, most Igbo heritages and legacies that have long been lost or are being lost from use of the language to the indigenous traditions which agents of faith-based orgnisations are naively helping to suppress are retrieved (at least in contemporary forms).
Through it too, Igbo sons and daughters, especially the young ones and those Igbo who, in zestful pursuit of career and social relevance in the diaspora are gradually dropping any grip of their Igboness are consciously and creatively lured to remember their roots.
According to the reports of the global Jews news agency, JTA even as recent as June 2014, the Jews were seriously strategising in the direction of making all Jews living beyond their homeland think home. And the Jewish homeland government of Israel works hand-in-hand with the diaspora on it.
In a June 2014 JTA, it was reported that Israeli government approved “an initiative to strengthen the connection between Israel and world Jewry, as well as to strengthen the Jewish identity of young Diaspora Jews.”
Dubbed The Government of Israel-World Jewry Joint Initiative, Jewish Agency, Chairman Natan Sharansky who addressed an Israeli government Cabinet meeting on initiative, said that “the State of Israel needs a strong Jewish world and the Jewish world needs a strong Israel… for strong expression of the centrality of Jewish identity as the cornerstone of Israel-Diaspora relations” in global and local economics and politics.
One major plank in the strategy is to consciously make younger Jews in the Diaspora very Jewish and get them to think home. “We face a daunting personal challenge: how to Jewishly engage a cohort motivated by two basic impulses — personal and professional advancement and the desire to make a difference in the world?
Young adults seek their own networks and communities of engagement and spend prolonged periods forming personal and career choices. How can we best engage them Jewishly?” Sharansky said.
His presentation concludes that “in order to foster a robust sense of Jewish peoplehood across the Jewish world, it is critically important to cultivate a strong sense of belonging and commitment to the Jewish people and heritage.”
That is what Chelueuno will do for Igbo land and diaspora.
Akulueuno pursues the economic potentials of Chelueuno. The earlier actually makes the latter yield enduring prosperity and continued development. Given that Igbo have an edge in individual enterprise and to some extent commercial operations across Nigeria Akulueuno may appear easily achievable.
More so, the gains of such philosophy, evident in a study of the emergence of such Igbo cities as Nnewi in Anambra State makes the explanation of the concept somewhat unnecessary. But Akulueuno is not easy to effect, let alone transform a whole land through it.
It requires a deep inward look to fish out the land’s real strength, her area(s) of comparative advantage, and careful deployment of policies, qualities and practices towards a desired result. And as times change, the Igbo society should be flexible enough to respond with policies and social tools that make the concept relevant to the era.
Dr. Alinsky in the same Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals notes thusly in his first six laws: “Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have. “Never go outside the expertise of your people. “Whenever possible go outside the expertise of the enemy.” “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”
Though all the six rules (of a total 12) stated so far are apt in this piece, the first three and the sixth are very noteworthy in this section. If trading, for example is Igbo’s comparative advantage she should use it maximally to get what she desires. If it is technology, she should plan and push with it.
The Indians are good examples of a people who succeed through such a use of the Akulueuno concept. From poor artisans and near-illiterate traders who left their homeland in Asia in early 20th century for greener pastures all over the world, the Indian diaspora surprisingly emerged in the 21st century as the leaders of vital sectors in the commanding heights of the economies of big nations in Europe, America, the Gulf Region and Asia. They have dominated the Silicon Valley as well as the US and Europans health and academic systems.
In their work ‘India’s Transformation to Knowledge-based Economy – Evolving Role of the Indian Diaspora’ Abhishek Pandey, Alok Aggarwal, Richard Devane, and Yevgeny Kuznetsov noted that this was a result of strategic planning.
The “worldwide success and impact of Indian diaspora” has rubbed off heavily and positively on the homeland, as from almost nowhere, the Indian country which was only an emerging economy yesterday is now a developed nation.
Pandey (et al) writes that among emigrants to the countries they studied, “have dominated some of the key old economy sectors such as trade in diamonds, etc. In the post-World War II period, Indians, and other South Asians, provided the labour that helped in the reconstruction of war-torn Europe, particularly the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
The Indian Diaspora of more than 1.2 million has become particularly prominent in the UK with significant presence in various businesses and high skill professions such as Information Technology (IT) and medicine. The medical professionals from India are in great demand in the National Health Services (NHS) in the UK. According to the NHS, of the total 100,000 doctors in the NHS, nearly 6 percent are of Indian origin…
“The Indian community has also been active on the political front in the UK. In 2000, it had four elected Members of Parliament and 11 Members of House of Lords. At the lower level of political participation, there are 250-300 councilors of the Indian origin across the UK .
“In recent years, unskilled labourers – along with some skilled ones – from India have been the main force in transforming the physical landscape of Saudi Arabia and some other middle-eastern countries.
These contract workers have repatriated most of their earnings to India, thereby contributing significantly to the Indian economy. In developed countries – particularly in the United States and Canada – Indians have been very successful in most knowledge intensive professions including engineering, information technology, medicine, finance, business administration and accounting.”
For instance, the Indian rise to conquer Silicon Valley and the information technology sector was not outcome of policies from their homeland. Diaspora’s Success in the US Industry.
In 1947,when India became independent the land realised the country’s lack of engineers, medical doctors or scientists. In 1953, India’s Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru, established the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in order to build an engineering and technological talent within India.
The IIT has given birth to seven such schools that now compete with one another in IT innovations. There is now, as Pandey (et al) reports, an estimated USD 400 million admissions’ test preparation industry within India.
The students from IITs, mostly from poor or middle class homes, often end up in the Indian Civil Services or go for post-graduate education in US universities. Given their strong technical backgrounds they mostly excel in the US information technology industry or academics.
According to reports, from 1985 through 2000, Indian students constituted the largest group among all foreign-born communities in those that received doctoral degrees from US universities in computer and information sciences. Hence the high number of Indian technocrats entering the US workforce, in the science and technology sector.
Igbo governments and individuals can invest strategically, in such a visionary molding of future local and global leaders through the Akulueuno concept.