I saw the palpable looming danger coming and I spoke like an elder but they will not listen. I drew their attention to history they called me names: Yorubakwe, Hausakwe, saboteur, traitor, attention seeker, rabble rouser, coward, slave, ofeke, efulefu, anumpama, anuofia, ewu awusa, atulu awusa, efi nama etc. I endured the name callings and swallowed it hook, line and sinker. I was not deterred. I have been a student of history, an activists and manager of controversy.

I told them about the book, IGBO: 25 YEARS AFTER BIAFRA. I told them about the book, IGBO: 50 YEARS AFTER BIAFRA. I went into history to take my argument home but they will not listen. I spoke to them about power of critical thinking, the power of thinking in terms of the others, the power of weighing all options, the power of building bridges and not burning bridges, the power of cultural competence, the power of emotional intelligence, the power of dialogue, the power of conflict resolution, the power of grace and humility, the power of politics with principles, the power of education with character. They ignored me and rained more abuses.

Their brains refused to work. Their ears remained blocked. Their eyes could not see. Abuse, hate, bigotry beclouded their senses of reasoning. They began to trust in their horses and chariots. The workers of iniquity took control. The stoic philosophers among them remained rigid. The epicureans among them paid no attention.

The economic refugees outside Nigeria lost their faculties. Some peace time generals who could not come down from their Trojan horse to reason poured invectives. Wealth without work nonentities seized the center stage. They were calling the shots. Emergency activists with no brains began to see themselves as heroes of Igbo. Charlatans, cultural savages, pathetic bigots took control. The voices of reasons were drowned. The rest is now history.

Igbo intelligentsia, Bishops, Traditional rulers, Governors ,Senators, House of Reps members, Houses of Assemblies in the South East , Professionals, Business Moguls, Igbo intellectuals in Diaspora, University Teachers etc maintained a grave silence in the period of emergencies simply for fear of being killed. The bubbles burst and many of our inexperienced and unlettered young men in the South East who declared war on the Nigerian police and police formations and killed many of them were neutralized for nothing and for no just cause.

They did not know that killing policemen and burning police stations, and opening the prison gates is an attack on the government of Nigeria. By the time the elders found their voices a lot of water had passed under the bridge, the falcon cannot bear the falconer and anarchy set in. Again the rest is now history.

I am in pains because the overwhelming majority of our leaders in Igboland chickened out for fear of their lives and we witnessed an unmitigated disaster. Men in Igboland swallowed their voices and children began to play with poisonous snakes. The snakes bit them.

But I remember the admonition of Professor Nnoruka Udechukwu, Professor Obi Nwakanma, Dr Ugo Egbujo, Mr Peter Opara, Emmanuel Onyilofor, Martins Nwabueze, Emeka Ugwuonye and many others who spoke before the children began to take laws into their hands.

I salute your courage.

by Joe Igbokwe