By Chiemeka Iwuoha, Daily Champion/All Africa
It could have been George Orwell who reputedly quipped in contempt that 'nationalism is the last refuge of the scoundrel'. Or, it may also have been George Bernard Shaw, who had said that. But, certainly, one of those Georges must have said something like the above quote.
To this Englishman's keen insight on 'nationalism', we might add the equally dangerous phobia of other nations and nationals that borders on the paranoiac and leads spokes-persons of this group to generalize, selectively using attributes that, sublimally, demonize target groups and peoples and cheerfully cast them in bad light.
What is distressing about these fear-crazed critics of others using racialist parameters to pass judgment on the essential character/characters of target groups like the Igbo, the Tutsi of Rwanda, the Jew, Arab or Hausa-Fulani, is not the fact that they, these critics generalize about ethnic groups they neither belong to as in shared national experience nor are ethically justified in judging. The tragedy here is that these closet psychoanalysts of the 'others' do not themselves have any discernable tribal world-views. In the overall picture of events, they are peoples whose cultures face Darwinist extinction.
In most cases, these knee-jerk and superficial 'experts' on targeted racial groups usually mimic the adopted view-points of 'other' hegemonic neighbors as 'embedded' parrots - a craven Freudian stratagem of sharing in the economic booties that these dominant cultures may have aggrandized. It is all very sly, this thing. We are talking about individuals or peoples appearing to be holier than the Pope. About which, once in a while, one might stumble on cases where an Irish, (for example, during the British occupation days) could surprisingly have turned out to be the staunchest supporter of the British cause, even when a majority of his/her (Irish) compatriots risked life and limbs, engaging Whitehall, and being engaged in turn, by the British!
This, one thinks, must be a puzzle that must baffle Prof. Dora Akunyili, the information and communications minister, who is trying to 're-brand' Nigeria, as though our country was just one pile of 's..t'. We empathize with her.
Disturbingly, in the Nigerian situation, where individuals who have been suborned psychologically and neutered from years of servitude to superior races and tribes, goad themselves into engaging in this apparently harmless blood libel of 'others' from amongst Nigeria's over 250 ethnic groups, this is done behind the invidious veil of 'objectivity', 'speaking the truth' or from some fictitious 'love' for the demonized groups! These Igbophobes hide behind the tattered, jaded or insincere masks of the arts - literature mostly and contemporary sociology of re-active survival mechanisms that the Igbo, like other migrant groups adopt while in the Diaspora, scores of millions of them!
Nothing raises the heckles of these intellectual pretenders and 'closet Igbo lover/haters' more than whenever the Igbo may wish to exercise their rights to existence as free men, within the confine of the laws of the land, as everyone does, or ought to do, in Nigeria.
But, as they say, even the paranoid has real, concrete, enemies. And, usually, the 'fact' that a multitude of unemployed, rationally unemployable characters who masquerade as politicians, pop up at each election time to vie for the highest office at stake, lends pseudo-credence to the purported view that the Igbo cannot manage themselves and therefore would be incapable of managing the whole nation. Frankly, one does not know which evidence contributed to this view of the Igbo as unreliable. Agreed, as our Janus-faced Igbo 'lovers' force us to believe, that excessive individualism could be dangerous for a group such as the Igbo (that have direct knowledge and experience of being hunted); are there other ethnic groups in Nigeria that have shown more reliability than the Igbo? Are these in any way all from the minority tribes?
Just for the case of argument: If the Igbo has been collectively subjugated by craftier blocs of Nigeria's post-colonial and pre-civil war tripodial power arrangement because of the much bruited allegations of over-weaning Igbo sense of self, a socio-political and economic disposition towards subversive individualism and other alleged pretensions and ambitions; what reasons do psychoanalysts from cultures, political traditions and back-grounds that are currently facing extinction in the land proffer to explain their suicidal acquiescence to being used as cultural, and therefore, ideological attack dogs for cultural pay-masters who would not lift a finger to save their (critics') tribes and cultures from extinction?.
It is when issues like the stampede to join the governorship in Anambra state begins that one sees these nwanne di nambas, the lovers-but-haters of the Igbo, roll out their de-marketing ideological guns and forked tongues to, subconsciously, libel all Igbo, to the point of annihilation. While ostentatiously ruing, along with Igbo commentators, the contemporary 'Igbo conditions and question', these die-hard detractors, in fact, sub-consciously gloat over the destructive, even suicidal, aspects of Igbo character, notably the metaphysical preference to the ideology of dying on one's feet for his beliefs, good or bad, rather than living on his knees, as most Igbo critics have done in the past, and still do today - just to eat.
Still, even believing that it is possible to tell something about Greeks and their culture and life-form, for example, - to tell about their tradition, arts, scholarship and martial prowess, from just a handful of sources like Homer, Plato and Aristotle only - one could still be wrong about one's overall conclusions. And, even though this illogical de-constructionist fallacy is more observable when quacks psychoanalyze dead cultures, traditions and epistemologies (such as those of ancient Egypt, Greece, Ashanti, and Hindu), it is hardly true that any one could say, least of all an outsider, what the SOUL of an existing culture harbors, what it feels, what it knows and the extent which this knowledge has taken him.
So, why has it been that human beings, especially weak-willed ones, leave their immediate, clear and present concerns only to pursue the ephemeral distant, unrelated and unachievable goals? This is precisely where this psychoanalysis business comes in. Why do debased, conquered racial types adopt the most heroic tactics of their subjugating masters in order to denigrate 'others' that may objectively be better than their originating ethnic groups?
Some have recently fingered the Stockholm syndrome that was first noticed in America when supposed Black Panther 'terrorists' abducted Ms Patricia Hearst, said to be an newspaper heiress, but was later caught and shown on video participating in a bank robbery organized by her supposed captors! It is a baffling thing, this thing we are talking about. So, why do domesticated, broken, slaves, derive vicarious pleasure in attacking the beleaguered but free men in their society whose march to freedom is accompanied by monstrous costs along the way, like the Igbo?
Some have said that this impulse to denigrate 'others' arises from the notorious green-eyed monster of cultural envy, a thwarted, secret, desire to be exactly, or more than the denigrated, maligned, ethnic groups. Maybe, but these things are not very clear, even to the most discerning. Still, a situation where moribund, cavemen, tribesmen, ethnic groups or other interests feel that they can not get cultural relevance and recognition within the nation's political equation unless they tangentially denounce the Igbo, no matter how unfair or justified, is very dangerous for the Igbo.
Alright, there are 'traitors' among the Igbo against their own causes, as there are among other national groups in Nigeria; but could this then justify the caption in an article published in a daily that claims to be national, by these chameleonic and diabolical columnists pretending to be helping the Igbo cause as: 'Igbo traitors'? Do the semantic connotations not portray all Igbo as 'traitors' to some cause or causes, preferably some self-serving and non-existent national cause? As those who, theoretically, would betray the Nigerian republic, are the Igbo any different from other ethno-tribal groups today who have brazenly raped the country and are proud of it because their acts further impoverishes the Igbo?
So why do they do it, these merchants of Igbo ancestral guilt and subject to eternal restitution? We are bound to put this down to tribalism. But it is more a result of the ignorance of generalists who would talk as specialists and other specialists who would generalize in issues they know nothing about. It is not important, nor relevant, that any Igbo critic has had some critical knowledge of the Igbo through friendship or other associations like marriage: The critic can never understand the Igbo as an intellectual dilettante.
That is why we appeal to the governorship position seekers in Igbo States like Anambra to exhibit some sense of decorum in their pursuit for power. Their scramble for temporal power simply empowers ignorant Igbophobes whose knowledge is restricted to visiting Igbo government houses on invitation, after which they clandestinely engineer and orchestrate pogroms against the Igbo.
A word, they say, is enough for the wise.