Úgwú Nwasike: The Man ,The Name, The Monument.


Every effort put in towards the conservation of our culture, tradition, and also preservation of our story is always a welcome development for me.

This is because our story is us. And we are our story. Unfortunately, if we continue to lose grip of the direction of its narration, we may end up spending time trying to correct or demand retraction from those doing the telling.

The history of 19th century Igboland is basically the history of colonialism and Christianization.

As legendary Chinua Achebe captured it, "The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart".

This authorized biography of Warrant Chief Timothy Mụọdozie Nwasike (1879-1970) of Ikenga Ogidi authored by Chijioke Ngobili is unputdownnable. I would say it is a great effort at historicisation of a very important epoch in the lives of the Igbo, a period I would describe as when "civilisation slapped us on the face."

The British indirect rule system in Igboland highlights the shared colonial experience of every Igbo community especially through the warrant chiefs, some of whom were so dictatorial that they attracted far more hatred to the colonialists. But some became true agents of development in their spheres of influences.

Of all historical biographies I've read, I am yet to see any with as many appendixes and references as this. Replete with photographs, hand written letters, court proceedings some of which are more than 100 years old, it is like a visit to the archives.

While some biographies tend to manufacture events to block unexplainable spaces and times in the lives of their subjects, this one has back up photographs, letters, memos and circulars to bring the life of the subject as real as can be.

This is a work of extraordinary academic rigour and historical fidelity. I heartily congratulate Chijioke for this effort and closing some of the existing gaps in our history.

Reading through this book brought back all the stories of the love-hate relationship between the early missionaries, their colonial brothers and my people of Mbaise. It was one of such misunderstanding that led to the killing of Dr.Stewart on his way to Calabar to treat some colonial officers suffering from Malaria.

Because Capt. Brian Douglas earlier had altercations with Mbaise leaders when they refused to grant his soldiers a safe passage through Mbaise to Arochukwu during the Aro-British war of 1901-1902, he saw the opportunity to punish them.

Thus the reprisal action was aptly termed Ahiara Punitive Expedition led by Capt. Brian Douglas. That adventure led to the Mbaise-British war which lasted from 1905-1906. Our people called it Ọgụ Douglas in 1906 and it was genocidal in proportion. They poured their frustration from the Aro-Brirish war on my people.

This book is well researched, and may also help fill some gaps in the history of your own part of Igboland.

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