The Folly Of Tribalism

Posted: August 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

I am doing a little history writing of my town, Umuohiagu, especially my village, Umuorisha. Umuorisha has three groups: Umuorum, Umuogi and Umuekwune.

Do you know what I found out? The three primary groups that make up my village were not always together! Each of them came from somewhere else in Alaigbo and joined the others (a war somewhere displaces a group and they moved and joined whoever would welcome them to their fold).

For all I know, one group could have come from Ngwa (Aba), another from Anambra area and the other from Umuahia area. And it does not end there.

In my own group, Umuorum I found out that the principal kindred came from different parts of Alaigbo. The original group, my kindred, Umuamadioha has no relationship with the groups around it; Ndiegbuelu, Umuokoronkwo and so forth, folks I had assumed were related to us, turn out to be from faraway places in Alaigbo!

In the entire village we are only related to our immediate neighbors, UmuNzewuloba. Nzewuloba and Njoku had the same father, Opara, but different mothers. Njoku’s mother was from Enyiogugu, Mbaise whereas Nzewuloba’s wife came from/Nnaze/Urata area (now part of Owerri city).

Now, let us expand a bit and talk about the entire town of Umuohiagu (ten miles from Owerri city center).

Umuohiagu has four villages plus an osu village. The villages are Umuorisha, Umuagwu, Umuanyamele and Eziala (plus the osu village called Amuga).

Do you know what I found out? The four villages came from all over Alaigbo. We are not related to the other villages at all!

As in my own village, in each of the other three villages the groups in it came from all over Alaigbo (some from Ngwa area, definitely).

Amazing, eh?

I always wondered why members of my family look different from the other people in the village. Why Grandmother Martha (Mgbere), for example, spoke a bit of Efik language and called God Obasi, not the typical Igbo Chi-Ukwu. Now I know; her folks probably came from Calaba area!

Grandmother and grandfather both looked white. I performed a genetic test on me and found out that my suspicion is true: we have European genes in us. This accounts for what occurs in the family: occasionally, some child could pass for a southern European.

Apparently, during slave times the white slavers at the Atlantic coast had sex with local women and their genes moved inland, as their offspring married Africans. This may sound unacceptable to Igbos but the truth must be stated: folks like to marry fair complexioned women! The well to do families went far and wide to marry fair complexioned women; they did so especially if they were fair complexioned and they did not want their children to be very black!

(Emeka Ojukwu was very proud of his left over bedmate, the fair complexioned Bianca…left over from Femi Fani Kayode doing to her you know what!)

Africans do not like to talk about these things but folks like me with unquenchable curiosity do like to find out the truth of things.

When I was a little kid I knew that I am not pure black: my brothers and I looked different from the other kids. My senior brother could pass for an Italian; I myself could pass for a first generation mixed white-black kid (Obama is not lighter than I am in complexion). Moreover, our family members’ gentleness as opposed to the African rowdiness that used to annoy me begged to be explained why. Our love of classical music asked for explanation. I now understand why we loved to listen to Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Handel, Wagner and other German classical musicians while our neighbors liked their African loud music.

The point is that our people came from all over Alaigbo, Ijaw land and Efik land and from overseas. As such, it is really stupid to identify as only Igbo, whatever that is.

Now that I have embarked on the project of trying to explain my people’s origin there is no doubt that by the time I am done I would have shed light on Igbos.

Hopefully, this project would help Igbos begin to have a real documented history instead of the nonsense some of their historiographers are spilling out as Igbo history (I am talking about the likes of Obi Nwakanma’s propaganda to make Nri people the center of Igbos; Owerri people are the center of Igbos and Owerri must be made the capital of AlaIgbo; there is no compromise on this subject).

Just out of curiosity may I ask: where did my children come from? Their father is ostensibly Igbo. Their mother is a mix of Russian and German. Their great grandparents are English and German. So, where did they come from? They came from planet earth.

And where did the people on planet earth come from? Can you answer that question definitively? Of course you cannot do so.

(See my paper on the origin of human beings. In it I explored Urey’s hypothesis that elements, especially carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen mixed in a primordial pond and lightening from thunder led them to form the molecules that produced amino acids, protein and eventually biological organisms. I also explored the contending hypotheses, such as the one that amino acids came from space, and so on.)

For our present purpose, we came from all over planet earth. Those who make noise about their Igboness or Yorubaness or Edoness or Ijawness do not know what they are talking about. In my family are Ijaw, Efik and European people. So what is the best way to characterize us?

Call us human beings and stop the small mindedness, the foolishness of identifying with this or that tribe, only.

Ozodi Osuji

August 16, 2013

ozodiosuji@gmail.com

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