Igbo Gbako Nu: A Call for Unity

I consider the greatness of some nations and how they got to where they are today and I see that they have so much in common with regards to their development. At some time, they were just scattered tribes with their own governments until a certain leader or tribe decided to take the elusive task of unifying the tribes.

Map of Nigeria showing states

Germany, China, Korea, Italy. You name them. Even America proudly announces their over 250 ethnic groups to my amusement. Yet, in all their diversity, they are the world’s super power. I begin to look closely and I realised that there was always the yearning for a nation to be born through the unification of its various components peoples. But who will take on the task?

The Korean peninsula contained several Korean tribes until the leader of a northern tribe established the Old Joseon, or Gojoseon. In later years, various kingdoms would break away and regroup until the Korean peoples became more and more unified. Today, due to the problems of the early 1900s, they are still two countries. But their unification started when Joseon united the tribes.

Germany is today a federal republic. Centuries earlier there were several German states. But under the leadership of Prussia, the German states are today the federation that it has become. In spite of the division of Germany in the later 1900s into the east and west, their need to become one yet forced the walls of division to be broken.

And I so I ask myself, what happened to Igbo? The Chinese have a multiplicity of dialects. The dialect of one region is hardly understood elsewhere. In fact, in some places, speaking the dialect of one region to a Chinese from another region only conveys half or less of your message. Yet, China with more that its 30 tribes uses Mandarin as the official Chinese and keep themselves together, even threatening established world powers with their rate of development.

Why then do Igbo tribes (if I may call them that) decide to alienate themselves. What’s with all the separatist postures of a few of them: Ikwerre, Ndoni, Ekpeye and a few more. I choose to think of the various Igbo speaking peoples as tribes of the Igbo nation. Only a leader with transcending leadership can unite these peoples. I do not doubt that there is a yearning for unity. A yearning to define our purpose as a nation. Not that we should be separate from Nigeria. Instead, it is that we become who we are meant to be, earning our respect, maintaining our dignity, commanding envy yet being admired.

After all, because you speak a dialect in which half of your meaning if lost to me doesn’t mean your culture is different than mine. What other things make you so much more different to other Igbo tribes? Are we not all culturally similar? Afikpo, Orlu, Owerri, Ngwa, Ikwerre?

I would like to believe that when the leader who transcends dialects and boundaries emerges, he’ll invigorate our pride in our culture. The French have the French Academies for various disciplines. Maybe we’ll have centres where language and culture are developed and studied even deeper, where history is kept, where our technology is developed and where our people are people are proud to refer to as icons of a growing nation.

The leader who transcends boundaries will draw on the energy of the people’s innovation and hard work until our businessmen become entrepreneurs, our students become scholars and our politicians become leaders. He’ll see to it that people in places such as Aba and Nnewi with a desire to manufacture great products put creativity and innovation to work, developing brands that last, brands that have value, brands a nation can identify with.

The leader who transcends boundaries will give a nation its purpose. America defined itself as a champion of freedom. Japan defined itself as a champion of innovation. Hitherto now, England defined itself as the champion of civilizing the uncivilized world, and they colonized more places than any other country. When the leader who transcends dialects emerges, we won’t be fighting for national politics or for money. He’ll make us choose who we must become as a nation.

I choose transcending leadership. Let no man reject brotherhood for fear or for unfounded reasons. I choose unity.