NDIGBO AND THE OSTRICH IDENTITY
I had once called an Isu man
"Nwa Onye Igbo". I did not understand how he felt with that until I went to Onitsha and I was also called "Nwa Onye Igbo".
I was pained. Pained because someone I spoke the same language with called me derogatorily using the same language we spoke, but indirectly implying that he was not Igbo. The way I was called Nwa Onye Igbo pained me so much because even while I was calling someone else "Nwa Onye Igbo", someone else was calling me "Nwa Onye Igbo". At Onitsha, both the Isu man and I become "Nwa Onye Igbo" to the Onitsha man.
The called it with so much derogation that it sounded as if it was a bad thing to be Igbo or identified as Igbo, even if everything about them pointed out to Igbo.
It was like a thief who sees another thief and denied being a thief but kept taunting the other thief for being a thief!
Guess what? I moved to Asaba and the people call the Onicha man (who called me "Nwa Onye Igbo" ) the Same thing he called me. The Onitsha man feels bad. At Asaba, the Onitsha man, the Isu man and I all become "Nwa Onye Igbo".
It is so funny too that the man from Akwukwu-Igbo and Igbo-uzo see the man from Igbo-ukwu and Ama-Igbo as "Nwa Onye Igbo" while exempting themselves.
We moved forward to Agbor, and the Asaba man is identified as "Nwa Onye Igbo" too. There, both the Asaba, Onitsha, Isu and me become the same Nwa Onye Igbo....and then we move to Benin city, and the Bini man sees all of us from Agbor to Isu as "Ovb'igbo".
What's the need of the resentment?
It was like the proverbial ostrich who had its head burried in the ground and had the rest of its body exposed to the world yet it screams "You can't see me".
Is there anything bad about the identity "Igbo"? We are one but we have failed to admit it. I don't believe that there was nothing like Igbo Ethnic identity until the coming of colonialism.
It had been existing and had been documented as far as the 1600's.
Igbo existed in our Language. It was what each Igbo Group called the other, while excluding itself.
And so, the outsiders who could see us as one People knew "Igbo" was a uniting factor. Since it was what these groups called each other, then they are all Igbo. Igbo was the uniting factor.
It was just that our people didn't take it up with pride. Many of our people in the past felt bad about the identity and would not want to be identified with it. Some as a result of slavery or contact with centralised and trading states.
If you point a finger at someone, the remaining fingers are pointing at you.
If you speak a similar dialect that I understand very well, with same Culture and you call me Nwa Onye Igbo, and then someone else call you Nwa Onye Igbo because of the same fact, and you get angry?
When will you stop being the Ostrich?