Nobody ever insults the Igbo race without getting a commensurate response from this column. So when a Yoruba man who usually flaunts his privileged background touched the tiger’s tail a few days ago, I thought of sending him to the knacker’s. I have been restrained by three things: other people already have his head on a platter; he is the friend of our friends; and my attention has been drawn to one of his challenges. Accordingly, I won’t even mention his name here.
A great essayist indeed, he wanted to prove the Yoruba’s superiority to the Igbo. But he couldn’t show how they triumphed through, as Achebe puts it, solid personal achievements – hard work, intelligence or good leadership. Each accomplishment was by an act of fate or betrayal: Returnee slaves in the 1860s who received education earlier. The early arrival of colonialists in Lagos. Watching and clapping as the Igbo were massacred. Abandonment of the Igbo during the civil war. Use of hunger as a veritable instrument of war. Seizing of Igbo assets including cash in banks – the £20 ceiling. Nationalisation of public assets soon after. Nigeria has failed to work mainly because it has failed to put the Igbo where they rightly belong. Compare Zik with Awo, Ironsi with Akinrinade, Ojukwu with Adekunle, Ekwueme with Obasanjo, Ukiwe with Diya, Anyaoku with who? Emeagwali with who?
I won’t bother to mention the many lies or errors of fact in our pen warrior’s essays. But Fajuyi did not offer his life to save Ironsi. Yoruba people staged the first coup but were caught before they could strike in 1962. They failed again in 1997! As to the Igbo ladies our essayist claimed to have befriended, well, nobody will sue him for libel yet. However, I lived in Lagos for nine years but couldn’t find any Yoruba good enough to be my girlfriend. Those with discriminatory taste like the essayist know where to find pearls: among the Igbo.
I guess our friend is also looking for a job. So long as he can write good prose, he could be commissioned to rewrite Nigerian history someday so he would keep distorting facts and painting pictures. He could also be appointed minister – anything is possible in a country that prefers to put its worst at the helm. After all, one timid Yoruba soldier who claimed to have ended the civil war went ahead to rule – and ruin – Nigeria for donkey years.
All the same, our friend needs pity. I forgive him. People should stop destroying him in the social media. If only he could go and sin no more, all would be well with him.
*First published in LEADERSHIP Sunday, August 2013