FOR the SEVERED and LOST IGBOS in and BEYOND the NIGERIAN DIASPORA, patience and programs of INCORPORATION DID EZE CHIMA NOT RETURN TO HIS ROOTS Eastward when he was threatened in Benin, stopping Westward before the Niger while his sons and followers continued beyond the Niger to parts of the East for absolute assurance of safety and adventure? Eefe kpoaa, oso asuaa; when danger strikes, racing for escape commences. Did it matter to Eze Chima/Chime at that moment whatever wealth, influence and power he had wielded before he had to clash with the tyrannical palace of Benin? Did he even look to the part of Yoruba land bordering Benin where he was greatly influential for safety? Was it not at Onitsha long after the confrontation against palatial tyranny and the escape that his offspring who settled beyond west of the Niger remembered to name Onitsha with a compound name? A name that included his roots or sojourn from that part of what became Yoruba land where the Igbo were aboriginal dwellers of Ife and beyond before the Yoruba settled among them till they became one and later split by a resident stranger from Benin called Oduduwa. The point being made is that when push comes to shove, all those denying their Igbo origins will speak to their heels as Eze Chima was forced to. By which time I hope they would not be left with a colony of leprous and lepers' embrace. IGBO SHOULD LEARN FROM THE FULANI The Igbo who are just as restless of feet as the Fulani, have more to learn from tgeir cultural, Islamic and political cohesion among themselves and amazingly among the Habe/Hausa people whose thrones and territories they made theirs. The Fulani are by far more scattered and even rootless in Nigeria, yet a Fulani in Niger state in the Middle belt of central Nigeria, or a Fulani in Adamawa in the North East is as good as the Fulani in Sokoto, the North-West mainland where they dominated and are well mixed with the Habe/ Hausa people who are better found there. Are we Igbos as scattered as to cover three regions of Nigeria? So what the heck? The riverine Izon/Ijo people who must be found wherever there is water, our much culturally confluent neighbours before and during slave trade are even doing better than us. Chief Edwin Clark speaks for the Izon nation. Yet he is not even from mainland Izon in Bayelsa state. The only people the Igbo appear better than, are the over-politically fractionalised Gbagy, wrongly called Gwarri people of the North designed to weaken their numerical strength. They have not only been scattered like a broken egg and made to appear un-packable, they have gone ahead to turn their ancestral land into the Federal capital territory of Nigeria and hardly thought good enough to be chosen to preside over it. THE LAGOS EXAMPLE OF INCORPORATION OF IGBO TOWN UNIONS But I enjoin patience for our "diasporically lost and severed brothers and sisters." Had they the benefit of a unifying cultural festival, had they a more culturally minded political leaders with the unifying vision and practice that was in place when all of Igbo ethnic groups in pre-independent and colonial Nigeria dwelt in the Lagos of the 1930s made their American returnee scholar born in the Northern part of Nigeria, schooled in part in Igbo land, Efik land and Yoruba Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe President General of IGBO UNION when they saw themselves as one in a "foreign land". And like Chima, Achebe would have us know that even "an enemy at home, is a brother abroad." The Lagos Igbo town unions that sprung in part from the umbrella Igbo union remains the biggest agent of development all over Igbo land with their beautiful aspirational names coined after "progress" and "development" which Achebe adopted for his UMUOFIA PROGRESSIVE UNION in his classic novel on the diasporic Igbo in Lagos, No Longer At Ease that is sequel to Things Fall Apart. It is the story of Obi the son of Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart was sent abroad by the ethnic union to read law in order to advance their pride and interest and defend their cases in land disputes. He returned to them instead with a degree in English, disappointingly speaking "is and was"; over-simplified English after the secretary who introduced him had broken their ears with all the big English words. Worse still, he returned from England bent on marring Clara, an educated Igbo girl abroad who happened to be cultural outcaste, OSU. Those family and ethnic unions that began in Lagos and spread across Nigeria showed the way Igbos all over Lagos converted their Sundays longer after their short church services at the time to addressing family or extended family and town union matters with many of them calling themselves, DEVELOPMENT UNIONS. None Igbo's particularly from the Niger Area and other parts of the North were to follow this peculiar Igbo export across Nigeria. While their ancestral siblings the Yoruba chose Saturdays to do what they are better known for - partying and merrymaking; a mode of relaxation which the Igbo too need to temper down their extreme hard work. For those of us born in Lagos and therefore far from the culture, these extended family and town meetings were the places where we learnt the ABC of the collective culture as a group. We were lauged at for our inability to speak Igbo without constantly mixing them up with the English language in a code switch and code mix. Those who were not patient allowed the bush villagers in Lagos to intimidate them with their false cultural superiority rooted only in the soil and not in the womb nor in the blood. Those of us who stayed back and played functional roles as secretaries since we spoke and wrote better English than those who largely spoke Igbo with very poor English from their village schools where they were taught by only slightly better teachers long after colonial and colonially trained teachers had come and gone. Whenever it was time to deal with formal experiences requiring professional and knowledge of the city and the sophisticated world, those of us who spoke better English and our circumstantial weak Igbo were always the appropriate and chosen ones for such tasks. But we similarly took the back seat whenever it was time to exercise cultural knowledge as a delegation home, to the dead or in land matters. So to our brothers and sisters in Anioma in Delta state, Edo, Rivers, Cross rivers and even in some parts of the north among the Igala and Idoma peoples, let us mix patience with programmes in educational and entertainment re-engineering of our Igbo-wide brothers and sisters in primarily teaching standard or central Igbo that would first, foundationally and fundamentally make communication possible before cultural deepening takes place. This programme of action must include those brothers and sisters abroad scattered across the continents of the world as a result of Atlantic slave trade and economic adventures and the general spirit of the Igbo man and woman to be a world player; leading to cross-cultural marriages across the world begetting sons and daughters who have become culturally rootless. WE MUST GO BEYOND REVULSION TO INCORPORATION OF THE SEVERED AND ROOTLESS We must therefore go beyond revulsion for those whom we cannot understand as to why they do not see themselves as Igbo. To realising that you do not miss or love what you never had. A metropolitan or cosmopolitan person is often a rootless sojourner or citizen who may not or never miss home if he or she has created a new home abroadcas did Jaja in Opobo, or found home abroad as many Igbo in America and beyond. You therefore have no right to keep feeling disgust for one in ignorance, however annoyingly he or she manifests the ignorance. You have no right to make a man feel the culture you feel when he never had. They are as deprived of the binding roots as you are as deprived of the branches that have made them the best of many worlds; a cultural mishmash that you may even be too rooted and rigid to ever experience. To push them away is to push them into the hands of political enemies who have always preferred such that speak their language whenever they ever look for A PRESIDENTIAL NIGERIAN OF IGBO EXTRACTION; they would be too determined to choose the rootless ignoramuses as their candidates. So too for governors and Chief Executive positions in the corporate world or in government circles. So, ndidi, patience folks ! Article credits to Chika Ofili.