Now That Arewa Has Finally Changed Its Mind On Ndigbo, By Emmanuel Bello

Please don’t go! That’s new thinking in the camp the quit orders givers who, in a Breaking News today, worked back that blood curdling, chilly order. The news was  scant but the headline was so reassuring I’m sure many would be relieved. Honestly, I didn’t want to see the Igbo go! No one wants them to leave. The guys who gave the quit order did so out of frustration, it appears. It’s even like screaming at a lover to go after several threats of leaving from her. You know, in some dark recesses of your soul, that you don’t really mean it.

Conversely, the lady threatening to leave also may not necessarily be serious about bolting away. These are the tests of love. Who wants the igbos to leave? Not me. I grew up in Wukari with Igbo as neighbours from where Osita Osadebe, Oliver d Coque and Bright Chimieze provided me with the soundtrack of my childhood. The wisdom of Chinua Achebe in Things Fall Apart, Elechi Amadi in the concubine, Flora Nwapa and others fired in me a love for writing. The chemist down the street, some of my teachers, the genial baker…they were all  Igbo. I learnt to satisfy my palate with Igbo cuisines not in Owerri but Wukari in Taraba state today. That’s where I fell in love, to this day, with white soup, onugbu, nsala and ogu soup. Not forgetting abatcha and that thing that looks like rubber (don’t remember the name)!

So it was scary, this the sceptre of fleeing Igbos, chased out of their big fancy shops or the countless edifices they have built across the North. I couldn’t contemplate it. I recall the pain I felt when, in the 90’s crisis, Wukari became practically a ghost town because Igbos left. So, yes, we love Igbo. What is painful is the relentless threats of leaving, the snide remarks that suggest the rest of us are less than human, the proclivity to put profit about persons, the intense solidarity with fellow igbos that stifles good neighbourliness, the deep sense of commerce in everything, even social things that leave many baffled. Many Nigerians think Igbos can do anything for money. It is time to deal with that stereotype. Others are worried about their penchant for tenaciously chasing anything. These are some of things agitating the minds of fellow Nigerians when they look at Ndigbo, fixated as we are with this race’s excellent creativity and love for life.

If only  Igbos would agree to embrace the rest of us, see us as brothers and sisters and not ewu, nama or akuya (as we would also have to stop calling them anyamiris), accommodate our peculiarities, share their love and get a closure on Biafra, we shall be one big happy family again. Believe me.