How I Suddenly Started Loving the Igbo.
– by Tyrano Tsunami
As a boy growing up on the street of Port Harcourt, I was told so many horrible things about the Igbo. I was told that the Igbo were planning to push Rivers people to Abia state for the people of Abia to inhabit Rivers state because of our resources. I was told that Igbo people enslaved and ruled over my people in Bori, the traditional headquarters of Ogoni Kingdom. I was told that Odumegwu Ojukwu, Onyeka Onwenu and other prominent Igbo personalities brazenly rejoiced over the execution of my uncle Ken Saro-Wiwa because of the role he played during the Civil War. I was told that it is better to be slaves to Hausa/Fulani than to be brothers to Ndiigbo because the Igbo are worse than Hausa/Fulani.
These things made me to detest the Igbo beyond what you can imagine, I was always skeptical, cynical and suspicious while dealing with an Igbo. It also affected my friendship with Igbo guys; I was always careful not to be a victim, no matter how they value the friendship; as long as they are Igbos, they were bad eggs to me.
It also severely affected my relationship with Igbo girls. Seventy percent of the girls I have seen are Igbo girls, but I have never treated any of my Igbo girlfriends fairly because I programmed my mind not to be interested in anything beyond the fun attached to the chemistry of boys and girls stuff. While dealing with an Igbo girl, I didn’t want to make the mistake of dating an Igbo girl to the extent of marrying her.
I was posted to Akwa Ibom State for my National Youth Corps Service in November 2013. There, I made so many Igbo friends; almost 60% of Akwa Ibom corps members are from Igbo extraction, mainly from IMSU, FUTO, ABSU, UMUDIKE, ESUT and IMT. There, I saw how determined a typical Igbo youth is. There. I saw the natural tendency for economic success in a regular Igbo guy. There, I saw the reason why the Igbo are entrepreneurs all over the globe. There, I saw that God especially gave them the metaphysical eyes to see money in things and where you don’t even think of smelling money. There, I saw that even though the Igbo have had severe political travails and marginalization, they will forever remain the economic salt of Nigeria, even after the restoration of Biafra.
While we were serving, those of us who are Port Harcourt-bred – UNIPORT/RSUST corps members – were always complaining that Akwa Ibom is beautiful but not groovy as Port Harcourt. We were always complaining that the town is dry with no nightlife as Port Harcourt. But our friends from the Igbo extraction saw things differently. They saw Akwa Ibom as a beautiful virgin land highly in need of economic exploration. They saw huge business opportunities where we saw boredom.
We were complaining of the insufficient N19,800 “alawi” while they saw it as potential small-scale business capital. We used our “alawi” to club in one night because we didn’t see it as good enough to help us while our Igbo friends injected theirs into their small-scale businesses. We were always going to Tropicana to see movies while our Igbo friends are busy going to Lagos to bring wears and pieces of jewelry for us to buy. We were always calling home for money, but our Igbo friends were sending money home instead.
At the end of my service year, I said I was going back to Port Harcourt because I believed Uyo was too dry for me to hustle. But my Igbo friends stayed back because they saw Uyo as a land lacking business and as such, it’s good for them to make money through the introduction of different businesses.
I came back to Port Harcourt and then pondered on my experience with these Igbo brains. I realized why people hate them. I felt bad seriously for wrongly hating them all these while. I decided to love them because they have the kind of zeal I’d love to emulate.
When I was fully convinced that the Igbo are not only my role models but also my blood was when they went against all the odds to make Goodluck Jonathan their own. They loved him even more than some us from the Southsouth. They gave him their full support at the polls, not minding the consequences. Ever since, I couldn’t stop loving the Igbo; I love them even more now.
The Igbo drive the economy of every town and city in Nigeria; nobody can change that. So, instead of hating them for doing business in your place, I’d advise you instead to compete with them, even if you know you can’t beat them because it is your land that is benefiting economically and otherwise with such healthy competition. It is a win-win situation.
Ndiigbo are subject of hate in this country apparently due to wrong perception. But I, personally, think Ndiigbo are cool like any other tribe and bad like any other tribe too. Though my main problem with them is that, they never admit their flaws, no matter how glaring but they are always quick to lampoon the slightest folly of other tribes.
If you want to be successful economically, think like the Igbo!
Yes, the indomitable Igbo spirit.