Efulefu Biafrans: How To Play The Ethnicity And Religion Cards And Lose By Churchill Okonkwo


With a clouded mind and distorted vision, you fabricate tales of absurdity in the name of braveness. You combine narratives of love and hatred; birth and abortions. You sneeze and crack your head in an attempt to force the transfer of Apapa Port to the dry banks of the Niger River. You turn your back against the world as if it’s an honor. Sounds like a good idea, but, permit me to peel back just the top layer of your over overstuffed ego and show you that you have lost your virginity – your virginity of pure heart and clear thoughts.

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A good friend of mine recently screamed on his Facebook page, “Fulani Herdsmen! Fulani Herdsmen!! Fulani Herdsmen!!!” After blabbing for a while, he provokingly concluded that in the “next 50 years children of Ndigbo will think Fulanis are their brothers by virtue of the dominance on the grazing reserves in Southeastern Nigeria where they have settled. And in the case of a conflict, you can’t send them back. Back to where?” he asked boldly.

For the record, I am in support of ranches as part of the solution to the herdsmen-farmers conflict, but when I came across this, I realized the dangers of allowing such misconceptions (in relation to who is a brother and who should be sent home) to fly and I felt the need to correct him. So, I responded by telling him that he is feverish.  I then reminded him that his Igbo brothers and sisters have settled in the north (since time immemorial), living in their mansions there and raising their families while speaking Hausa fluently. In return, I asked him to tell me what the Hausa-Fulanis are telling their kids now and what will they tell them in 50 years to come about his Igbo brothers?

After a while, he came back and saluted me, he then said that “there is a big difference between Igbos in the North that acquire plots of land disparately to build houses, than acquiring large expanse of land as grazing reserve and subsequently settling there with their Emirs, women, children and etc., etc.”

Again, I ignored his reference to grazing (that’s fear mongering) and focused on his allusion to “Emirs”, “settling”, “women” and “children.” So, I came back and asked him what if his Igbo people had been denied those plots of land in Kano or Lagos or Kaduna simply because of their ethnicity or out of the fear that they will settle and not return back “home”? I asked him whether he has ever heard about Eze-Igbo in Lagos and Kano; I informed him that his kinsmen come with their women and brothers in swoops, taking over all business ventures (as well as “terrorizing” the local population with their wealth) where they settled. At this point, he crawled back inside his hole (hopefully to digest the brief exchange).

I also want you to take your time to digest the exchange above.

As you attempt to come up with an excuse to justify your position (I know there are more than enough), here is my question: if it becomes the standard to send people of different ethnicities and/or religions “back home” when there is a conflict with their “host” communities in Nigeria, which ethnic group will be most affected? If Nigerians who move around to do their businesses are first assessed and approved based on the potential emotional, cultural, economic, religious or social pain and/or conflict that may happen up at some point, which ethnic group will be most affected?

Think deeply about that. You see, I have always wondered why people who live in a glass house are the ones provoking and demanding for a stone-throwing fight with their neighbors living in a mud house (I don’t mean any offense here).

You cannot have a sincere conversation (even with yourself) with a closed mind. Can’t you see that you are even betraying yourself? You tie yourself in knots as you call for the destruction of the “zoo” even as you open your shops in Alaba and Ladipo Market (in the same zoo) all in a single breath. In your crooked thinking you reminded me that the cattle belong to rich individuals and as such they should sort themselves out with ranches if they can. You forgot that States and LGAs all over Nigeria committed serious efforts and resources into providing land and market space for your Igbo brothers before its development and then heavy tax and levies. Why can’t the same be applied to the rich cattle owners by helping find land for ranches and then levy them? What will happen if states in the North decide not to help provide alternative market places for your rich Igbo brothers after preventing them from doing street business?

You are an Efulefu (take note of a redefinition of that word) when you attempt to portray yourself as the only wise man from the east, but end up betraying and putting the lives of your brothers and sisters all over Nigeria at risk. You are full of yourself as you go about bragging about your high level of intelligence oblivious of how your action is betraying your brothers and sisters in the Federal Civil Service, multinational corporations and other work places across Nigeria. Because of your actions and big mouth, they moan that they have been sidelined by other tribes in promotions and appointments.

You don’t have enough money to buy a shop at Ariaria Market Aba, so you hang around the market struggling to make ends meet. Your brother who has been living in Kano for more than 20 years with his family calls you to find out how mama is doing, you informed him that mama is not feeling well and needs to be taken to a hospital but that there is no money. You then reminded him that you have ran out of cement for his building project in the village and that he should send additional money. He agrees to send some money first thing on Monday morning. You drop the phone and join the mob on the street calling for the destruction of the zoo – the same zoo that is sustaining you brother, his family, you, your family and your mama?

As we all continue to fall in love with these seductive whispers of war, here is my advice: forget about your warmongers go and read about Burundi and Rwanda. If you cannot read, go and watch the movie Hotel Rwanda, so you can learn one or two things about brutal war and the real meaning of genocide or ethnic cleansing.

Flashback: try and remember what happened in 1993 during the last “Oso Abiola.” You all ran back to your enclave (surrounded by hostile neighbors) abandoning all your businesses and properties in the zoo. So, when the drum of war starts to beat again, where will you be? In a refugee camp in Cameroon, Togo, Ghana or Benin Republic?

I have stepped forward, raised my right hand and I will not run nor hide. Until I am confronted with a superior argument on why a people that have spread their tentacles and taproots across Nigeria are the same people going around and promoting hatred and cultural mistrust, I will never stop writing. All I know and care about is that I am standing straight. So, I need not worry about my crooked and odd shadow.

You can email Churchill at Churchill.okonkwo@gmail.com or follow on Twitter @churchillnnobi.

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