We Are Biafran-Nigerians, We Are Not In The Clay Pot Business By Churchill Okonkwo
In Creative Evolution, Henri Bergson (1859-1941) expressed the opinion that the attempt to understand the self by analyzing it in terms of static concepts must fail to reveal the dynamic changing character of the self. His view is that instinct is limited in that although it grasps the fluid nature of living things, it is limited to the individual, and intellect is limited too in that although it constructs general truth, it imposes upon life the static character of concepts.
Reflection on static concepts reminds me of the Igbo proverb that “Onye ite abughi onye ahia” (A clay-pot retailer is not really in business). For some years now, several pro-independent Biafran groups have been promoting the tragic narrative that conjures calamity for Ndigbo in Nigeria. Using instincts, these clay pot retailers have been promoting a message that is premised on the notion that there is a systematic attack on the Igbo race everywhere in Nigeria.
Their intent is simple – impose upon Ndigbo an eccentric state of falling in love with ourselves. The allure of these tragic narratives is that it will trigger an awakening (similar to the pre-Civil War of the late 1960s), that will lead to a massive revolt against the Nigerian nation. The intellectuals behind this are attempting to impose on us a static state through the re-establishment of an independent state of Biafra.
Fortunately, the response of the great majority of Ndigbo residing and doing businesses in different part of Nigeria has been the opposite of the intended effect. Rather than embrace the static concepts, Ndigbo have continued to move out, explore, expand and establish themselves across the width and breadth of Nigeria. What these doomsayers have forgotten is the great Igbo proverb that, “The goat follows the man with the fresh palm fronds” (Onye bu igu ka ewu na eso). Clearly, it is Ndigbo who cannot make sense of this powerful proverb that refer to their brothers and sisters that flock Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Kano Kaduna and the rest as fools.
Marveled and angered by the rejection of their vindictive spirit, these lonely souls in clay pot business have been referring to the new generation of Biafran-Nigerians as saboteurs, irrational and foolish. The new reality, however, is that a new generation of Biafrans has arrived. The Biafran-Nigerians have evolved with changing times. We understand the dynamic and fluid nature of surviving in a globalized village. We understand the enigma called Biafra – complex with multiple realities. We have therefore chosen not to be reduced to static single constant.
T.S. Eliot once wrote that “Humankind cannot bear very much reality.” Here is one such reality in Nigeria; the 2017 budget of Lagos State Government is Eight Hundred and Thirteen Billion Naira. This is more than the entire budget of all the five southeastern states (Igbo states) combined. As a matter of fact, Lagos is the 5th largest economy in Africa. Biafran-Nigerians that prefer to do business in states that can owe civil servants for 6 months are free to do so. Biafran-Nigerians with the vision to invest and reap the reward of the investment in other regions in Nigeria are also free to move on.
Vision, according to Vaclav Havel, is not enough but has to be combined with venture. You can’t win any game unless you are committed to winning. To commit to winning you have to be at the arena. Once you are in the arena, you have to build a partnership, make deals and build a business relationship with diverse groups even as you compete to win. That is the vision and new reality we have embraced as Biafran-Nigerians.
A typical Hollywood film, like an American culture itself, is non-ideological and apolitical. They deal with universal themes: love, success, failure, moral conflict, and survival. Biafran-Nigerians anywhere in Nigeria should not just be spellbound by the images transmitted by the American media. The idiosyncratic charms of Igbo cultures should be harmonized and made to reflect the love and the dynamic nature of modern times.
Recently, these groups in clay post business promoting isolationism have been joined by some Igbo politicians in Ohaneze in prophesying calamity with the expectation that a revolt will somehow materialize.
The message from Biafran-Nigerians to them are these; we are not in clay pot business, so, stop slowing our momentous and quantum steps forward; we don’t want to be that sluggish tortoise held back by its shell. Stop tugging at our senses by urging us to stop eating cow meat; our aunts and sisters sells cow meat at Eke Awka.
The summary of Henri Bergson’s book, Creative Evolution, is that by the capacity of intuition, a disinterested and self-conscious instinct, a kind of knowledge is made possible which is superior to that provided by either instinct or intellect working separately. The decision-making process of Biafran-Nigerians is largely guided by a mix of intuition and intellect. We trust our intuition, which has allowed us to remain outgoing and fearless.
I will end this piece with this carefully selected quotation by Steve Jobs on intuition: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
This is the 21st century and the time to stop the politics of limit is long overdue. As Biafran-Nigerians, we will not waste our lives by living the life of resignation and division; we will not be trapped by the dogma of hatred and intolerance; our inner voices will not be drowned by the pessimistic views of people that are fast turning their back against the world. Most importantly, we have vowed never to remain in the static comfort zone of yesteryears that is a hindrance to creativity.
We are following our intuition; we have ceased looking at the storyboard of the doomsayers; we will not succumb to intimidation and harassment; we are configuring new perspectives; we have conquered our fears; we are not in clay post business; we are Biafran-Nigerians.