Nurnberg Chronicles (Part 2)

By Ikenga Chronicles August 27, 2019

Nurnberg Chronicles (Part 2)

— Onyemaechi Ogbunwezeh

  1. Million Dollar Questions

It was around 2.37 pm. I was on the microphone, pacing the hall, trying to call a rowdy hall to order. The hall was filled to capacity. Some few hundreds were still roaming around the hall, trying to find a place to sit, with their families.

All the colours of the rainbow, were in attendance, as Ndigbo dressed in every manner and colour of dress for this occasion. Many of them dressed to kill. Men, women, and kids, were all in the best regalias. The Ishiagu-the traditional Igbo dress of patriarchal provenance, testifying to the warrior spirit of Ndiigbo, was everywhere to be seen on most men today. The women were not left out.

Beauty was everywhere to be touched in this hall, as we began calling out the dignitaries. I began recognizing the invited guests, and beckoning on some of the nominated ones, to get to the table of prominence, befitting the invitation extended to them.

We were already informed that Nnia Nwodo, the President General of Ohaneze Ndiigbo, would not be making it, as his visa did not get to him on time, from the German embassy in Nigeria. So, I was to side-step his name, and call on the Deputy Senate President, Dr. Ike Ekweremmadu…
‘We now call upon our next guest, the former deputy senate president of Nigeria, Dr. Ike Ekweremmadu to please take his seat….’

That was when a guy ran up to me, and said “Doc. There is a war outside”….

In lieu of the security report and feelings from the grapevine, Nnamdi Kanu was reported to have threatened that if Nnia Nwodo made it to Nurnberg, that he wouldn’t make it out alive, I knew that something must have been amiss.

I dropped the Microphone and we all trooped out, only to meet a scene that is better seen than described.

All I could say is that on that day, the world was too much with us. In fact, a rough time, we had of it.

A rowdy scene greeted me on getting out of the door. There was confusion everywhere. It was a festival of chaos; a topsy-turvy scenery! Chinua Achebe complained about the noisy ostentation of the Igbo. I don’t know if it ever came to his consideration, how high the ostentatious decibel of the modern Igbo could ascend, when he is fighting. One doesn’t need a prophesy to know, that this noise level, was definitely above the pay-grade of whatever this quiet location has ever witnessed, since the bombardments of World War II.

Everyone seemed to be talking at once. It was cacophonous. I thought I was at a Nigerian Pentecostal church, where people were casting and binding demons, as has been the wont of the religious Nigerian lately. It was a massive wave of staccatoral inelegance. It sounded like a million-man orchestra, which never cared to rehearse; only to stage an inglorious assault on our collective ears. It was a high decibel, high octane situation. Everyone seem to have suddenly come into the possession of an ambition, to out-scream and out-shout the other.

I pitied many of the kids on the scene. Many of them surely, have never witnessed or experienced such a celebratory advertisement of violence, all their lives. Many of them stood mouth agape, eyes bulging in shock, fear and trepidation. One can only imagine the rearrangement of their neural pathways by such a bazaar of chaos.

I swallowed hard. I allowed my eyes do a quick scan of the moment. I was crestfallen. My sanity took a beating. I couldn’t understand what was going on. Everything was fast and in slow motion simultaneously. I could piece out some voices rising above the cacophony to out-shout other voices.
“They are killing our people, raping our women, gi abia nga bia iri ji”!!!!!
That was a refrain, piercing the afternoon sky, in shrill monotones.
“Where is that idiot…bring him out here, and we will show him…” Senator Ekweremmadu, at this point has been gotten to safety. His assailants were not spent yet.

Waves upon waves of many other ‘un-printables’ of violent nature, kept rolling like peals of thunder, from all corners. Many stood transfixed at their spots in shock. The shock was still palpable, covering the place like a pall of bad smoke, when the Police siren pierced the shroud of uproar, that hung over the place.

A lot of insight is not needed to understand that the scenario unfolding before me, would lend itself to various hermeneutics. One could also imagine hagiographies that would be constructed upon what I was witnessing here. Many of the guys, screaming their curses at the subdued object of their hate, as well as those being restrained from contributing further knuckled fists, to the festival of beatings, heaped on the unfortunate Ekweremmadu, were armed with phone cameras. They were dutifully recording the goings-on. It dawned on me instantly that this scenario was not an accident, but a well-orchestrated plan, designed to be opened to a variety of interpretations, misinterpretations, nuances, ontologies and gossips. It was being broadcast to the whole world. It was going viral. What I witnessed on this day can be considered in certain quarters, as the avenging of a wrong, in others as the unmasking of a masquerade, a deflowering of innocence, a deconstruction of privilege, which may grow to become the storming of the bastilles of elitist privilege in Nigeria.

All the ingredients for a salacious scandal was present. A highly placed man disgraced in front of cameras broadcasting their content in real time.
What I witnessed today could also mark the beginning of the unraveling of the Igbo, in all countries of their sojourn. It could also be that moment, that Nigerian elitism began a very painful and inglorious journey down the path of its self-constructed doom.
It could also be the beginning of a revolution. Who knows? I am thinking here alongside Ralf Dahrendorf, who contended in his book, The Modern Social Conflict: The Politics of Liberty, that;

“Revolutions are melancholy moments in history-brief gasps of hope that remain submerged in misery and disillusionment. This is true for great revolutions, like that of 1789 in France or that of 1917 in Russia, but applies to lesser political upheavals as well. They are preceded by years of repression, arrogant power, and malign neglect of the people’s needs. A stubborn old regime clings to privilege. By the time it begins to reform, it lacks both credibility and effectiveness. Conflict builds into a state of tense confrontation, like a powder keg. When a spark is thrown, an explosion takes place and the old edifice begins to crumble. People are caught up in an initial mood of elation, but it does not last. Normality catches up”

This scenario threw up a lot of questions.

Why this?
Why now?
Why here?
Why adequate security wasn’t provided Ike Ekweremmadu on that day, by his hosts, who invited him to grace their occasion? Why would they invite him only to expose him to the torrential rain of fisticuffs on his person? What if those guys have killed him on that day? What would have been the fate of Ndiigbo in Germany? What would have been the fate of the perpetrators? What would have been the fate of us all? What would be the status of Igbo organizations in Europe and every other place in the Western world?
Why was Ike Ekweremmadu attacked, at a festival organized by his own people?

Over and above these, the cardinal question or what some others may call the million dollar question have been broached in part 1. It goes as follows:
Are there conditions that would ever justify peddling violence in a foreign land; violating the sacred canons of Igbo tradition, all in bid to vent your anger, or exact vengeance, whether personal or political, on a political opponent? Are there unbearable moments, which could be pleaded as overriding all these pedestals of meaning and significance, to justify the assault that Ike Ekweremmadu received in Germany at the hands of some discontented Nigerians?
These are some of the questions that have kept terrorizing my waking hours.

In 1983, Chinua Achebe, in his epic pamphlet, The Trouble with Nigeria, excoriated Nigeria, and its corruption. He condemned this isle of his birth as “dirty, callous, noisy, ostentatious, dishonest, vulgar, and among the most unpleasant places on earth”. One could say with the benefit of hindsight that the situation was manageable then, against the audacity of impunity, which Nigerian politicians and elite brazenly stuff down our throat daily in this times. One may be forgiven for thinking that politicians of yore, stole with some trepidation, although Okotie Eboh, and Umaru Dikko in various political epochs, were bywords for corruption and veniality. Achebe knew that the African political class is a spineless aristocracy of myopia and corruption. But he wouldn’t have known how stupendous and bold they would become, as he departed. Many young Nigerians became sojourners in foreign lands, due to the visionlessness and dysfunctionality, convoked off our commonweal by our leadership and elitist class. Many young Nigerians surrendered their lives to the waters of the Mediterranean. Many were compelled to sell their kidneys in Malaysia to survive. Many turned to internet crime. Many roamed the Sahara until they died of exhaustion, trying to escape the hellhole that our elite have made of our commonweal. Many took refuge in ethnic parochialism in search for answers. The elite helped to accentuate this divide.

Is Nurnberg a stand taken by oppressed voicelessness, to send a message to a rotten establishment, that its days are numbered?

It was an assault heard around the world. Ike Ekweremmadu was assaulted in Germany. Anger and fear ruled many quarters. Schadenfreude in others. For some, it served him right. For some others, it was not right. For many pundits, and the Nigerian commentariat class, no rock was left unmoved, in search for motives.

Supporters of the assault, are of the view that the unmasking and embarrassment of thieving Nigerian politicians, is long overdue. Some have even gone to compose songs and deprecating slogans, off that assault. In mimicry of the comic mantra, deployed to laugh off Rochas Okorocha’s buffoonery, in littering his charge, with economically nonsensical statutes, dedicated to his megalomania; they are now in jest, asking: “ Nwanne akuola gi?”-Bro, have you received your own beating?-A jestful mimicry of “Nwanne akpuola gi?”-Bro, have they sculpted you?

Some others view that assault, as the settling of personal scores, between IPOB and Igbo leadership, who they claim connived with the Nigerian government to proscribe the group. For this set of pundits, it is a battle for the soul of Igbo leadership. It is a battle for supremacy on, who the legitimate Igbo authority should be. In this purview, they are of the opinion that Nnamdi Kanu wants to delegitimize Ohaneze and the present crop of Igbo leaders, in order to further his own ambition of replacing, what in his view is a derelict Igbo leadership structure, which has abandoned core Igbo principles and interests, and prefer another stance running contrary to his on the Biafran question. For others, it is the opening offensive in the war between the old vanguard represented by Ohaneze and Igbo leadership of today, on one hand, versus the youth vanguard hearkening the calls of the IPOB. And Nurnberg seems to be the first salvos fired in that war.

Be these divides as it may, one cannot but notice that a Manichean binary, has been empaneled by the prevailing punditry. It has been mostly like Bush and the Axis of Evil rhetoric. Either you are with us or against us kind of narrative, is making the waves. And to that end, epistemic tyrants have all gone abroad, psycho-terrorizing anyone, who does not support the indignity heaped on the person of Ekweremmadu on that day. Quite in contra-postures to the multiplicity of views and perspectives native to Igbo republicanism, they would readily label anyone, who does not subscribe to that canonization of indignity, as a saboteur. This hyper-partisan folks are absolutizing in their positions, and totalitarian in their stance.

For this class of parochial minds retailing their insular wares, the denigration of any human person, is a price they are ready to pay, to attain their political goals. Is that not the major furniture of every terror metaphysic, one may ask? Maybe for them, the opponents of their stance, who may also want the injustice of Biafra and the poverty of majority of Nigerians redressed, have become too human, as to accept totally, that the dignity of the human person, is inviolable. I must confess pursuant to full disclosure, that I belong to the camp of those who believe that the life and dignity of every human person, is non-negotiable. That is why I am an arch-opponent of capital and corporal punishments. They are not punishments per say. They are violent explosions of our bestial natures. To that end, I refuse adamantly, to subscribe to any anthropology or metaphysic, violating the dignity of persons. It is abhorrent to me. The visionary philosophy, informing Nnamdi Azikiwe’s establishment of the University of Nigeria, my Alma mater, molded me. That university’s motto was “to restore the dignity of man”.

So, I would never join any orchestra belching symphonies of schadenfreude at that disgrace. Indignity against a single person, is indignity against the whole human race. If the protest against Ekweremmadu ended with him being pelted only with eggs, or even tomatoes, I wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. It is a currency of politics. Politicians are subjected to that everywhere. Moreover, he represents a class that Nigerians hold responsible for their plight.
But to cross that Rubicon of civility, to beat him up, is unacceptable on any table of manners. It was condemnable. It was inglorious. It was not hospitable. It is not Igbo. Violence is not a civilized method of conflict resolution. Mitterand Okorie, the brilliant Nigerian Conflict Resolution student explored this in his book on Conflict Resolution.

Once we abandon peaceful methods of fighting for our rights, we open ourselves up to becoming like those oppressors we detest. This may be why Friedrich Nietzsche warned us in Beyond Good and Evil §146, that “If you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you”. Here he warned us that he who fights monsters, risks becoming a monster himself. History is replete with examples of this. This according to Prof. Dolan of the University of California at Berkeley, means that “Someone who sees nothing but monsters can’t fail to develop an affinity with monsters”. This means that you may become the kind of monster known as a “moral saint.” This in my view is a path the IPOB should eschew, if they intend on maintaining the moral integrity of their cause; as not to give their opponents and enemies a credible opening to attack the integrity of their cause.

Once that assault went viral, the hagiographies began. One cannot be amazed by the Nigerian blogosphere. Freedom of speech is Nigerian. Nigerians love exercising that freedom to the fullest construction of that term. Little wonder Nigerians scream while praying, shout while conversing, and yell, while fighting. A Nigerian is one creature that would talk, even when he has nothing to say. Even if it means getting up to say, “I support what the last speaker said”.
Emanating from the eminent quackeries of the Nigerian commentariat, the sweeping generalizations of the pundits, as well as the naïve simplicity of the streets, is the presumption, whether real or perceived, that those slaps of Nurnberg; heard around the Nigerian world, is the beginning of the Nigerian revolution.

In spite of one’s stand on the credibility of the hagiographies of the pundits, they are raising salient questions that cannot be ignored. One of them is: Is Nurnberg the first shots fired in the battle to bring down the Nigeria citadel of mediocrity? Nigerian politicians better take note. The dam of reticence has been breached. The possibility of a flood of assaults against their persons, are now a possibility. The citizenry are damn angry. This anger has been bottled for decades. And 1789 France, would be the antics of spoilt kids, in comparison to the rivers of blood, which would flood the Nigerian streets, the day this sleeping crocodile is roused out of its timorous slumber.

Why is that the case? Why do I think so? Why am I nursing this fear?

Just come with me.

William Golding won the 1983 Nobel Prize in literature, for his epic work, The Lord of the Flies. In that book, he ‘explored the dark side of humanity, and the savagery which underlies even the most civilized human beings’. Like in Golding’s book, Nigeria is an essay in savagery, ingenious in elitist decadence and cruelties. She seems to be a ship marooned on the sandbanks of deceit, with the pilot or captain dead, and the kids-read citizens; abandoned without adult supervision. Buhari happens to be the latest summary of incompetence, misgoverning her at this time. It is just like the plane shot down over an unnamed pacific island, leaving a bunch of school boys without adult supervision. In the book, the conflict between Jack and Ralph — and the forces of savagery and civilization that they represent — is exacerbated by the boys’ literal fear of a mythical beast roaming the island. This could well be read as the conflict between the alliance of Nigerian State and her elitist establishment, versus the popular uprisings of disgruntled citizenry, one of which the IPOB represents. The mythical beast could be a conglomeration of our primeval fault lines like ethnicity, the fear of marginalization and social implosion, as well as the poverty and exclusion, which that abundantly represents.

Another question pleading for answers has been: Why would the Igbo be the ones, to unmask their own masquerade? For Nigerian some pundits, especially that class of prefabricated dislike for anything Igbo, the Igbo are always fighting themselves. For this class, that lack of unity and little respect for authority and authority figures, attests to a political naivety unparalled in the history of African politics. For those, irredentist supremacists of Igbo origin, who would sing Igbo praises, even if the Igbo walks around with shit at the end of his dress,this disrespect for authority is the major furniture of the Igbo-enwe-eze principle.This principle etched in the genetic codes of the igbo, a congenital suspicion and contemptuous disdain for tyrannical authority. This fearless posture, which stretched to the extreme becomes pregnant with arrogance, happens to be the metaphysic of Igbo achievement, the propeller of Igbo drive, and the scaffold for Igbo enterprise. It is also the explanation for their uncommon strive for excellence, even to the extreme peripheries of legality.

When Achebe wrote in There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra, that;

“The Igbo culture, being receptive to change, individualistic, and highly competitive, gave the Igbo man an unquestioned advantage over his compatriots in securing credentials for advancement in Nigerian colonial society. Unlike the Hausa/Fulani he was unhindered by a wary religion, and unlike the Yoruba he was unhampered by traditional hierarchies. This kind of creature, fearing no god or man, was custom-made to grasp the opportunities, such as they were, of the white man’s dispensations,”

He did not let the world in on the other side of that equation. He did not clearly state that the Igbo is prone to Deicide. But the Igbos are. The Igbo can kill their gods. The Igbo is not afraid or fearful of gods. His gods did not create him. He created his gods. That explains why ‘if an oracle becomes unruly, the Igbo, would show it, the tree stump, out of which he sculpted him’- Alusi kpakali ike, e gosi ya osisi e jiri we tuo ya.

This fearlessness and the refusal to be hindered by a wary religion, or hampered by traditional hierarchies, is extended to all aspects of Igbo life. That explains why Igbo slaves were ready to drown themselves in Virginia, rather than march into slavery. This is why Igbos have no respect for tyranny in any form. That is why the Igbo believe firmly that ‘asokata eze anya, ekpuru nkata n’ihu gwa ya okwu! The Igbo was smelted in the fires of rebellion. He respect neither gods nor fears man. For the Igbo, respect is earned. Not bought or compelled. That explains why ‘ugwu jiri buru nkwanye nkwanye, nwanyi jiri muta ibe ya”

But be that as it may, the IPOB views Igbo political leaders of this dispensation, as either actively collaborative or naively silent, while the Nigerian government, shamelessly labelled them a terrorist organization, and proscribed them pursuant to that; while posing a nelson’s eye to Boko Haram; and morally and financially supporting Myetti Allah, with 100 Billion Naira of Taxpayer’s money. Members of the Miyetti Allah, one must remember, have been accused as being the militant Fulani nomads, who have been on a killing spree across Nigeria, especially in Igbo country.

I make bold to say that with the benefit of hindsight, that the old guard may have been sleeping on their charge, as to realize that the torch seems to have been passed to a new generation of Igbos, who unencumbered by the trauma of the Biafran war, are ready to confront the injustice without the historical baggage of having experienced the war. This comes with the boldness, but one must say, lacks the experience. This may not be altogether a great asset. But it is not altogether a liability. It would be a capital mistake for the older guard to ignore or denigrate this youthful discontent
It has been close to 50 years after the Biafran war. Most members of the IPOB are youths below the age of 50. And many of them are losing respect for the older generation, due to what they rightly or wrong view as their contribution to the marginalization of the Igbo. Wale Adebanwi in 2004, beautifully articulated some of the reasons which may have been fueling IPOB’s anger. For Adebanwi;

There has been a terribly regrettable, if not shameful culture of “avoiding Biafra”, particularly among the power elite of other ethnic nationalities, but also among some Igbo leaders. The Yoruba power elite have been careful not to acknowledge the display of superior technical competence and resilience that marked the “Biafran enterprise”, while the Hausa-Fulani power elite have made deliberate efforts to efface the very notion of Biafra, let alone accept the dynamics of the attempt to build a putative Black power nation, which memory will continually shame this cabal in terms of how its actions squandered the Nigerian Possibility-represented in the failed separatist enclave. And some Igbo fear the political backlash that may come with the invocation of a “dead” enterprise-Biafra. This represents one extreme among contemporary Igbo politician, the “Biafra-phobic” elements, who see their future in politics as tied to the denial of their Igbo-ness. The other extreme are the “Biafra-philic” elements, who see a conspiracy against Ndiigbo at every turn and permanently overlooks their own complicity in the fate that has befallen a proud people. (Wale Adebanwi, Ohaneze and the “New Aburi Accord”Thisday Newspapers, Saturday, May 8, 2004, p.2)

This may primarily be the reason, why some Igbo, harkening to Nnamdi kanu’s call, decided to unmask one of their own masquerades, Ike Ekweremmadu.

On a general note, IPOB’s assault on Ekweremmadu is like the Boys in Lord of the Flies, spilling the first blood. When that happened, it opened the floodgates for subsequent brutalities that marked the end of innocence. IPOB’s assault may be the end of innocence. Nigerian politicians should be aware that ‘mass-beating’ of their asses are now real possibilities, once the people feel that their hold on power and abuse of it, is no longer tolerable.

Is this fear of beating, becoming the beginning of wisdom? Is that a positive fallout from a negative occurrence? Only time would tell.

You can think about this why waiting for chapter 3. But don’t come inbox to ask me: ‘nwanne akuola gi’!!!

Gwazia ndi yard unu