I’ve often shied away from making a comment on this subject but a thorough analysis could provide an amelioration.
Firstly, a larger percentage of people who refer to themselves as belonging to the Niger-Delta region majorly believe Igbo people persistently display an arrogant disposition and a feeling of disdain towards their neighbours. Is this true? Well, I’m an all-around personality. One who likes interacting with every class of individual. It is therefore not unusual to find me in bars, sport centres, clubs and places where you mostly find people interacting with one another. My honest conclusion is that, “yes” most Igbo people tend to feel a whole sense of superior complex, not only to their neighbors but to almost everyone they relate to across Nigeria.
But before we begin to give a knock on the complexities of Igbo People perhaps we may want to ask where did this understanding of superiority complex emanate from? But before then let’s also identify how they exude this complex.
Most often than not, I’ve been constantly reminded by the less educationally endowed and the very intellectually gifted that igbos are created differently by God. And when you hear or read statement like this, it is suggested that Igbo people are created more perfectly than every other race in Nigeria. I’ve then asked, how is this true? Are Igbo people created taller, more handsome, more educated, with better intelligence, or perhaps with two heads?
In truth, the reason for this pervasive feeling is because of one common denominator – money! Almost every Igbo person believe the Igbo race are more financially successfull than others and by this singular denominator they are better than everyone. This is a wrong disposition if you ask me. Money can only provide you material acquisition and by no means provide quality of life and mannerisms. As a personal opinion I think the igbos have developed a culture where the worth of an individual is based on the amount of money and properties he possesses and this is where the problem of the Igbo man lies.
Success has many definitions. Material acquisition is one of them. Success is really the achievement of one’s aim or goal. Usain Bolt has broken all Olympic records in the Sprint events – he is a very successful athletes. Messi and Ronaldo are very successful individuals but they are known for their exploits in the game of football and not how much money they’ve acquired in life. Success is not quantifiable as it means different things to different people. Once you achieve a goal set by yourself, you have succeeded in that area. If my goal is to own a three bedroom apartment in life and I’m able to achieve it, I’ve succeeded in something. No one man’s goal or aim should be regarded as better than another person’s goal. Doing so only bring room for the display of arrogance.
The civil war experience is still a huge determinant of what the Igbo psychology has apparently evolved into. After the war, with everywhere devastated and ravaged by hunger, a psychology of survival was setup in the minds of the Igbo man. Till this day that’s what drives the Igbo man – survival. This is why you find igbos everywhere in search of what changes them financially. Becoming financially outstanding has become a measure of success.
I’ve said severally that hunger was not the only post war trauma suffered by igbos. There were other facet of life the war affected like basic psychology of being a victim of betrayal by neighbors, cultural displacement, and ability to exert humility and “me against every one” mentality. I can tell you that since the war, the Igbo people have not been able to shake of the feeling of being vanquished or humiliated. This is what really drives the arrogance we see today. To them, Nigeria tried to suppress them but they’ve been able to rise from the ashes. That’s true! But igbos have only risen from the ashes of hunger and financial suppression caused by the war. Any other tribe could have done the same thing if they had found themselves in the same situation. But they are not the ones who went to war.
I can opinionate now that igbos are better fed than other race today as they are very particular with what they eat. But have they risen from the ashes of not respecting other races, humility to others, the pain of humiliation perceived to have suffered during the war, and more importantly the mentality of “every man for himself”? Today, the Igbo man will describe himself as Republican suggesting he owes no subservience to another person. Well, I can’t say this is wrong for fear of attacking another person’s culture. But 90% of the world’s cultures owes subservience to those perceived as belonging to older generation. But today money now determines age in some quarters in the Igbo man’s culture. I have seen this personally.
The whole of this write-up is not an affront to Igbo people but an attempt to enable the Igbo man to have an introspective view of his problem. I think solving the Igbo man’s problem really will begin with the Igbo man. They must establish a system where people of excessive conducts can be called to other. a good example is Nnamdi Kanu. As much as this character is smearing the image of the Igbo nation, it seem the igbos are helpless as to how to restrain MNK. This would not have been a problem if there is respect for elders. The Igbo people should also learn to conduct their affairs quietly and in secret. The only people who today make the social media agog with personal secrets are igbos try to undo one another even if the cost is to ridicule the entire Igbo nation.
As for the neighbors to the Igbo people, they don’t hate igbos. Your neighbors do not want to be seen as second class to Igbo people on the mere bases of superior population of the Igbo people. Proliferation and reproduction is a choice. It is therefore wrong to have a contemptible disposition of those who chose to moderate their population. I think this is one of the significant problem of Africa. One major tribe brewing a feeling of dominance over perceived minorities. The niger-delta people are not people with inferiority complex. They are merely judging what a future with igbos will be like with the perceived arrogance aforementioned that we see still evident in your behaviors..
I believe in the unity of igbos and their neighbors but someone has to take the initiative and come down his high horse. Endear yourselves to your neighbors that you are capable of exerting humility and seeing yourselves as equal with your neighbors. If you continue to exert population or assumed financial success as a yardstick to feel superior then we will continue to be quarrelling with each other.
By Magnus Oraka
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