MY PEOPLE OF SOUTH EASTERN NIGERIA
IGBOS

By the end of the Nigerian civilwar in 1970, my Father moved to Midwestern Nigeria from a little town namedNnempi, in the present day Oru west Local Government Area in South EasternNigeria. By that time, Eastern Nigeria had suffered heavy losses during the warleading to mass exodus of the people of Eastern Nigeria to other parts of theCountry. Even though I wasn’t born by that time and didn’t quite grow up inEastern Nigeria, I am opportuned to have firsthand information from my fatherwho was part of the Igbo struggle. The Igbo tribe which is the dominant tribein Eastern Nigeria, lead by Major Odumegwu Ojukwu, rebelled against the FederalGovernment, lead by Major Yakubu Gowon and supported by Britain. This changedthe faith of the Igbo’s in Nigeria till this day. The Igbos today cover fivestates in Nigeria namely Anambra, Abia, Enugu, Imo and Ebonyi. Known for theirresilience and determination which was in display during the war, the Igbo’shad since put behind them the anguish of the loss and picked up ever sincethen. Rising above all odds of marginalization and resentment expressed againstthe Igbos, the Igbos are today one of the wealthiest tribes in Nigeria. Today,the Eastern region boast of small, robust and economically viable cities likeOnitsha, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Awka, Owerri and Aba. Excluding Port Harcourtwhich is an oil producing city, the economy of the other cities in EasternNigeria is sustained basically by the ingenuity of the people. The people ofAba are known for producing quality textiles and foot wear. They get theirmaterials from neighboring Cameroun and other parts of Nigeria. They produce beautifulfinished work, thereby attracting buyers from the same people who they buytheir raw materials from. The people of Onitsha are good traders. It isbelieved that the Onitsha market was the biggest economic hub in West Africa.Today it survived the devastation of the war and stands as one of the mostpopular markets in Nigeria. A neighboring town, Nnewi boasts of the biggestAuto spare part in West Africa. They also have the Innoson Motors, the first IndigenousAuto Company in Nigeria. The People of Awka are known to prefer learning skillsto getting formal Education. Their young men attach to already establishedskilled or business men, serving them for an agreed period of time before goingtheir way to establish themselves. The People of Imo state invest their moneyin Hotel business and are one of the most successful Nigerians in that field.Imo states also boast of some of the most Educated Igbo’s. It is believed thatthey prefer the civil service to trade. The Igbo People of Enugu are known forfarming and Academic exploits. They host the popular first Nigerian IndigenousUniversity, The University of Nigeria Nsukka. The Igbo’s in Ebonyi are alsoknown for their Agricultural acumen, and are the biggest rice farmers inEastern Nigeria. Politically, the Igbo’s had not done well. Their inability touse their large population to assert themselves in Nigeria’s Politics stillremains their undoing. The Igbo’s are believed to be democratic in nature, astheir kings are usually chosen by election. The rising of several Kings hascreated the vacuum of an Igbo Leader as there is no one Leader who is mostlyrespected and accepted as the single Igbo Leader. There had been severalreported cases of infighting and disunity among some of the Igbo leaders. TheIgbo man does not accept any form of autocracy but always want to air his voiceon decisions that affect him. Some of the Notable Igbo personalities ofInternational repute today include Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, a former managingDirector of the world Bank and current executive board member of Twitter, ChileEboe-Osuji, a Judge of the International Criminal Court, Obiageli Ezekwesili,former vice President of the World Bank, Chimamanda Adichie, a novelist andwomens right activist, Chukwuma Soludo, former Governor, Central Bank ofNigeria and many more. Today I sit back, far away from South Eastern Nigeria reminiscingthe stories told of my people, our home land and our struggle. I sometimesthink about the cause of the war, the setback and the mistakes our Leadersmade. I love to talk about the bravery of young igbo boys, who fought againstall odd and never gave up even in the face of death. I remember stories ofvolunteering tenagers who stood against British armoured tanks and paid thesupreme price. I can never forget stories of frontline battles told by myfather, how they did everything but failed to defend South Eastern Nigeria. I alsoremember the the beautiful climate of interchanging rainy and dry seasons, thethick Savannah forest and cool breeze at the river banks. I remember the brownsoil that turns dusty during the dry season and muddy during the rainy season.I look back and realise the mistakes of our Fathers and hope my generationlearns from it. These memories are engraved in my mind and would be passed onto coming Generation. I am Chukwuma Kelechi Innocent of the Igbo tribe,Nigerian, Christian, Health Blogger, Sales man, ajolly good fellow and everything i need to be.

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