Friday, October 30, 2009

FIFA U-17 World Cup Update, Friday, October 30, 2009

U-17 World Cup: Scandal, Scandal everywhere

The FIFA U-17 World Cup tagged Nigeria 2009 has been plagued by scandals from inception when a bogus budget of N35 billion was presented to a shocked Federal Government which initially subsequently announced its withdrawal altogether. After pressure was mounted by eminent Nigerians and some sports administrators who told the government of the consequences of its action, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua balked but said the outrageous budget must be slashed. N9 billion was then approved. <<< READ FULL STORY

Nigeria Under-17 2-1Argentina Under-17: Hosts Win To Top World Cup Group A

Hosts and defending champions Nigeria finished the first round of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup as leaders of Group A. They secured the position by defeating Argentina 2-1 at the Tafawa Balewa Stadium in Bauchi on Friday. The Golden Eaglets fought back from an early Argentine strike to record a win that ensures that they stay put in Abuja for their round of 16 match on Thursday. <<< READ FULL STORY

Decision day for Brazilian starlets as group goes to the wire

The Selecao, who are the favourites to win the championship shot themselves on the foot on Tuesday when they allowed Mexico to run out with a 1-0 scoreline. The result threw the group open, with Brazil and Mexico tied on three points, a situation that placed the South Americans in a must win situation at the National Stadium in Abuja. <<< READ FULL STORY

Seleção feel the heat

Brazil's passage to the knockout phase of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009 will be on the line on Friday when they take on Switzerland in their final Group B game in Abuja. The Helvetians, who already stamped their ticket to the last 16 with two wins from two, will be keen to maintain their winning run and take the scalp of the three-time world champions. <<< READ FULL STORY

FIFA referees stuck on bad roads in Abuja

(Xinhua) -- FIFA's refereeing officials at the ongoing Under-17 World Cup tournament were on Thursday in Abuja stuck for two hours at a bad spot on the road leading to their training venue. The bus conveying the officials from a training session at the FIFA Goal project could not move because of the bad road, the News Agency of Nigeria reported. The road which is currently under construction became difficult for vehicles to pass because of a downpour. <<< READ FULL STORY

Fifa U-17 - We Still Cheat, Amiesimaka

Scandals, scandals and more scandals appear to be the hallmark of the on-going FIFA U-17 World Cup taking place in eight centers in Nigeria. First, it was the issue of lack of funds, a feat that saw some sub seat chairmen threaten to quit their positions before they were cajoled by the LOC chieftains. The chairmen were not issued with funds to work few days to the commencement of the tournament. <<< READ FULL STORY

Nigeria 2009 - Reduce Pressure on Eaglets, Howard Tells Nigerians

Coach Franklin Howard has said that the Eaglets would give their best in the on-going FIFA U-17 World Cup if Nigerians could put less pressure on the team. He noted that because football fans and Nigerians in general feel highly aggrieved over the poor outings by the senior national teams in recent international competitions, there seem to have been a corresponding transfer of such dissatisfaction to the U-17 in the current competition, leading to loss of confidence. Howard, a former junior team captain and defender for the defunct ACB FC of Lagos, has therefore urged Nigerians to put less pressure on the team in this competition so they could do better. <<< READ FULL STORY

Young Ticos targetman primed

Currently lying bottom of Group D and having endured a 4-1 football lesson from Turkey, things may look dire for Costa Rica on paper but in reality the Central Americans maintain high hopes of reaching the knockout stage. Costa Rica face Burkina Faso where the winner will progress to the Round of 16, provided New Zealand fail to overcome runaway leaders Turkey. Even if the Young All Whites triumph in adversity against Turkey, a third-place qualification berth still beckons. <<< READ FULL STORY

Thursday, October 29, 2009

FIFA U-17 World Cup Update, Thursday, October 29, 2009

U.S. stops Malawi, 1-0, at U-17 World Cup

KANO, Nigeria -- The U.S. evened its record at 1-1 as it registered a 1-0 Group E win over Malawi at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup Thursday. Alex Shinsky volleyed in the rebound of a Michael Duran shot in the 54th minute for the Americans' lone goal. Malawi fell to 0-2.


Nigeria Under-17 Coach John Obuh Sticks With Misfiring Stanley Okoro

Okoro, nicknamed 'Little Messi', is widely regarded as the star of the host team but he has so far only scored a penalty as Nigeria aim to qualify for the knockout stage of the tournament.


Poor Scoring Form Worries Eaglets’ Coach

The Golden Eaglets Coach, John Obuh has expressed worries over the inabilities of his players to convert chances to goals in the two games played in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup so far. Obuh said shortly after the team managed a 1-0 victory over Hondura Tuesday night that he was however satisfied with the three points secured at the end of the match he described as very difficult for Nigeria.


FIFA Under-17 World Cup: Italy & Turkey Advance To Round Of 16

Turkey trounced Costa Rica 4-1 in a replayed Group D match of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu. Meanwhile, Italy stopped South Korea 2-1 in Kaduna to qualify for the knockout stage of the competition.


FIFA U-17 World Cup: Turkey Players Charm Enugu Fans

Showing their resolve to get all the support they could muster from the fans, the Turkish players, before any match, come out for the customary warm exercise holding a Nigerian flag alongside theirs. And this singular behaviour has endeared them to the hearts of fans at the centre who in return have promised to support as long as they remain in Enugu.


Last Chance For Baby Scorpions

Gambia, with zero points from their first two Group C matches here at Nigeria 2009, can afford nothing less than out-and-out victory in their final section match on 31 October in Calabar. Unfortunately for the struggling African champions they will be meeting up with no less than Colombia - the stylish and technical joint leaders of the Group - in their final test at the U.J. Esuene Stadium.


Police & Ticketless Fans Battle In Kaduna At FIFA Under-17 World Cup

A Group F match at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup between Algeria and Uruguay was nearly marred by tear gas following a clash between police and fans, who were barred from getting into the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna because they did not have tickets for the match.


Iran tops Group C in U-17 World Cup

Iran remains top of Group C following a goalless draw against Colombia at the FIFA U-17 World Cup held in Nigeria. "We knew that Colombia are a good team. They take advantage of their technical experience and high speed," said Iran's coach, Ali Dousti, after the Wednesday night game. The Group C match was suspended for over an hour in the 55th minute due to torrential rainfall and a flooded pitch.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

FIFA U-17 Update Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009

Show of shame in Enugu

Who owns Greenfields? Is it true that a top non-African member of FIFA is strongly connected to the company which was awarded the contract to lay the artificial turf at the Enugu Stadium? READ FULL STORY

Costa Rica at home In Enugu

The Costa Rican U-17 team that is participating in ongoing FIFA World Championship at the Enugu centre is fully at home in the coal city as stated by the leader of the delegation of the Central American country, Victor Alfaro Gonzalez. READ FULL STORY

Gambia Lose, Burkina Draw at U-17

African champions Gambia suffered their second defeat at the U-17 World Cup after going down 2-1 to the Netherlands on Wednesday in Nigeria. READ FULL STORY

U.S. vs. Malawi in U-17 World Cup

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team will try to make up lost ground in the FIFA U-17 World Cup as it takes on Malawi on Thursday at 4 p.m. local time (11 a.m. ET) in Kano, Nigeria (ESPNU). READ FULL STORY

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Uzoma Nwachukwu is "Making it Look Easy"

By Brad Cox, The Battallion

Photo: Stephen Fogg/The Battallion

Uzoma Nwachukwu is on pace to be the most prolific receiver in Texas A&M history.

It should come as no surprise then that his first name literally means "the road is good."

"It's funny because it's motivating to me," said Nwachukwu, who is a descendent of the Igbo people of Nigeria. "Because I think that God has a plan for me, and that the road is going to be good and everything is going to work out the way it's supposed to."

The 6-foot tall freshman whose last name means "child of God" leads the Aggies with six receiving touchdowns and 445 yards after six games in 2009.

If junior quarterback Jerrod Johnson continues to connect with Nwachukwu at the same rate, the man nicknamed "Eazy" will make sophomore Jeff Fuller's record of nine touchdowns in a single season look easy.

Nwachukwu is on track for 12 single season touchdowns and 48 career touchdowns, and that's not including a rushing touchdown he scored against Utah State on Sept. 19. In that game, Nwachukwu touched the ball four times and scored a touchdown each time.

"He's growing as a player," said A&M Head Coach Mike Sherman. "He still has a long way to go to be the type of route runner and the receiver that I want him to be. He's not a complete receiver just yet but he's working towards it, and I think someday he will be."

In a 62-14 loss at Kansas State this past Saturday, Nwachukwu accounted for all 14 of the Aggies' points on two receptions in the third quarter.

On a team that is struggling at the midpoint of the season, he is doing what his nickname implies and is making it look easy.

"He's a great player and he's put in a lot of work," Johnson said after Nwachukwu's game against Utah State. "He's a young guy so it was exciting to see him get his first shot on Kyle Field. I'm happy for him, and I don't expect anything less from him."

Long before Nwachukwu donned the maroon and white, he had scholarship offers from across the nation from school such as Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Arkansas.

He was a four-star receiver on a state championship team. He could have chosen a school with a better record or a more pass - oriented offense, but he chose Sherman and the Aggies.

"A big part of it had to do with Coach Sherman selling the program to me," Nwachukwu said. "He said he wanted to install passing and he needed the receivers to do it. He sold it real well and everything just felt right coming here."

Sherman wasted no time throwing Eazy into the fire. In his first game, Nwachukwu had three receptions for 53 yards, including a 42-yard reception on A&M's first drive.

"At first, I was getting my juices going, my heart started beating a little bit," he said after the first game. "It was a good experience because of the Twelfth Man. It was amazing to see them twirling their towels around."

Nwachukwu continued to show off his abilities as the season progressed, sometimes looking like he was perfectly in tune with Johnson.

Much has been said in the media about the nature of the relationship between Texas quarterback Colt McCoy and receiver Jordan Shipley.

Though Nwachukwu and Johnson don't fish together or throw the ball to each other from land to boat, Nwachukwu said they might have to find something to do like that.

"Jerrod's a cool guy," he said. "We share a lot of the same interests and things like that. We joke around all the time. We have pretty good chemistry on the field and off the field. He's just a fun guy to play with."

One thing that binds the pair is their musical chops.

Nwachukwu, who likes to spend time with his guitar playing Gavin DeGraw's "Follow Through," said Johnson and freshman running back Christine Michael are two of the best singers on the team.

"They might have to have a sing-off because that is a real close one," he said. "They both can sing pretty good. I haven't tried to get at them or anything like that. We'll see."

Nwachukwu jokingly said he might join up with the pair and release an album. A song at the top of the list could be "Lean on Me," which has become an unofficial anthem for the Aggies.

"I get into that song because that's my song right there," he said. "I love it. I get real in rhythm. I get the guys going with that."

But the football field is never far away, as is his potential future in the NFL.

Sherman said it's too early to tell if Nwachukwu will be an NFL-caliber receiver, but he said Nwachukwu hasn't done anything to make him think he won't be.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Memorable Images and Time

Muhammad Ali sightseeing downtown Kinshasha, Zaire on September 17, 1974 greets fans before fighting opponent George Foreman, twice his size in Kinshasha on October 30, 1974. Ali gave Foreman a stunning defeat in "Rumble in the Jungle." (Associated Press Photo)

Nelson Mandela, center, sings with supporters and fellow accused during his first treason trial in Johannesburg. Mandela and the other 150 people accused were acquitted after a four and a half year trial. Photo taken in 1956 by Peter Megubane/Associated Press.

1961: Nelson Mandela and his then wife, Winnie, show off their firstborn daughter, Zindzi, at their home in Soweto. Mandela fled into exile overseas as the political situation in South Africa worsened, returning only to be arrested and sentenced to life improsonment in what became known as the Rivonia Trial. Alf Khumalo/Associated Press.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. presents his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial, August 28, 1963. (AP Photo)

The release of "Yellow Fever" was composed, arranged and produced at the Chief Priest, Fela Anikulapo Kuti's communal compound called Kalakuta Republik, located on Agege Motor Road. Who steal my bleaching...I buy am for shopping...your mustache go show...your nyash go black...I go die o...

The Showdown: Undisputed World Welterweight Champion Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas "Hitman/Motor City Cobra" Hearns battle it out in 1981 during the golden era of boxing when the sport was for pride and passion not for profit and commercial success. I had a bet with my brother, then, but Sugar Ray came from behind and knocked out Hearns in the 14th Round on a TKO.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cartoons and Nigerian Jungle Blues

Source: The News

Source: Vanguard

Source: Vanguard

Source: Sunday Trust

Source: Sun News Online

Source: Guardian

Churches involved in torture, murder of thousands of African children denounced as witches

This Aug. 18, 2009 photo shows children accused of witchcraft waiting for food at the Children's Rights and Rehabilitation Network in Eket, Nigeria. The idea of witchcraft is hardly new, but it has taken on new life recently partly because of a rapid growth in evangelical Christianity. Campaigners against the practice say around 15,000 children have been accused in two of Nigeria's 36 states over the past decade and around 1,000 have been murdered. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba) (SUNDAY ALAMBA, AP / August 18, 2009)


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chinua Achebe Still Got Game

By Ambrose Ehirim

The Education of a British-Protected Child: Essays
By Chinua Achebe
Alfred A. Knopf
208 pages. $24.95


Growing up and as youngsters dealing with academia at the secondary level, "we the boys" talked a whole lot about scholarship and applauded the works of our literary idols -- Chinua Achebe, John Munonye, Adiele Afigbo, Ngugi Wa Thiong'O, Wole Soyinka, Flora Nwapa, Agostinho Neto, Cyprien Ekwensi, Kofi Awoonor, Ali Mazrui, Meja Nwangi, Dominic Mulaisho, Elechi Amadi and uncountable others. We talked quite a bit as aspiring scholars to a point our mothers, whichever house we had convened would stuff our mouth with food to quiet us for the fact we talked too much on issues of the day as they did look forward to a developed youngish intellectuals. But time did fly, just like that.

And as a whole lot, too, has changed over the years based practically on generational thing that popped up with new era, anyone who thought Chinua Achebe was done writing his fascinating stories or had called it quits in using his pen to express his feelings about societal ills and "naked dictatorship" of colonialism, and at the same time educating our minds with his brilliant essays, storytelling and wit in literature, ought to stop by any bookstore and ask about the literary giant's newest entry on the bookshelves.

Or if you are too lazy to walk or drive to a good bookstore in your hood, just google "The Education of a British-Protected Child" and sample a few of the hundreds of thousands of entries found there on the subject matter. I was even baffled from what I saw wondering about a book just released in less than a week and how it has collected over six hundred and something thousand entries. And who are these people curious about Achebe's new book? Would it mean they have been waiting for his new release since he has not written a book in twenty years? Or would it be the master storyteller is back again and everybody is eager to check it out, known for who he is?

Well, I did stop by many of the bookstores in my neck of the wood upon hearing Achebe has written a new book which would be his first new book in twenty years. First, I had called Random House for a copy which was kind of late not knowing the protocol was something I should have taken care of earlier; that is, if I had intended to read the book. I'm quite sure I have gone through that before, with a different publishing house, though. In that quest,I had called Borders to find out if Achebe's book has arrived the shelves. The sales clerk at Borders, the one at Howard Hughes Center Promenade in Culver City, told me they've "sold out." She requested for an order immediately which would however take about a week to reach me. I had no nerves to wait. I called some other branches in the Southland. All that I called either sold out or haven't received shipment yet.

As it happened and coincidentally, I was heading to Long Beach when I bumped into Borders on Bellflower Blvd. I walked in and asked for Achebe's new entry. The sales clerk ran the author's name and found out they haven't received shipment yet. He placed a copy on hold for me. When the shipment arrived, I was called to "come and pick the book up."

And I did get the copy on time for early review. From the preface in which the author tells us about the fiftieth year anniversary of Things Fall Apart, the breaking news of his auto accident relayed to his wife, his family's reaction to that and sixteen well-written essays, Achebe literally wrote his memoirs in The Education of a British-Protected Child: Essays." Achebe talked about his two daughters, Chinelo and Nwando; and his two boys, Ikechukwu and Chidi who gave him all the support he needed when he was involved in an automobile accident that nearly cost him his life.

In the first essay, The Education of a British-Protected Child, Achebe did not find colonialism funny, especially the result of lack of profound leadership in Nigeria, and even assuring his readers that he would not give "a discourse on colonialism," he could not "swallow" the fact that colonialism was damaging to the African continent pointing out briefly the evils of colonial rule:

"In my view, it is gross crime for anyone to impose himself on another, to seize his land and his history, and then to compound this by making out that the victim is some kind of ward or minor requiring protection. It is too disingenous. Even the aggressor seems to know this, which is why he will sometimescomouflage his brigandage with such brazen hypocrisy."

Achebe was born in Ogidi 78-years ago in what use to be a Southern Protectorate of British Empire, and then Eastern Region, now Anambra State of a fabricated nation-state ordained by the colonists. His father, an early convert was a teacher for the missionaries. Receiving his early education at Church Missionary Society Primary School, he attended Government College, Umuahia, and then proceeded to University College, Ibadan, for his first degree. He became a writer rather than "a clear-cut scholar," supposedly his dream when Trinity College, Cambridge, declined his application for admission. Being turned down for post-graduate studies at Trinity College, he found work as a producer at Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation.

On What is Nigeria to me? Achebe spoke very ill of a country that was just six years old with the sudden eruption of chaos leading to the pogrom and civil war. He applauds the country as a child that is "gifted, enormously talented, prodigiously endowed, and incredibly wayward." Writing with emotion, his tale of experience in Lagos during the crisis when alcohol-addled soldiers' crackdown on Igbos and their properties coupled with a telephone call alerting him "armed soldiers" who had been on the rampage came looking for him and in his own words because of the book that he wrote, A Man of the People.

Achebe wrote with anger and distress [my emphasis], a war that was deliberately programmed to wipe out the Igbo people from the face of this planet in retaliation to where a group of young military officers organized themselves in what would be Nigeria's first military coup and a topple of its First Republic. And just like the counter coup, J.T.U Aguiyi-Ironsi and his host Adekunle Fajuyi were kidnapped, flogged and murdered in the most brutal of circumstances on the orders of Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, while 4th Batallion commanding officer J Akahan kept himself busy rounding up Igbo millitary officers and killing them in an immense scale.

Or the six-year-old boy in Minna, at school and witnessing a band of northern nihilists and hoodlums walk into his classroom and stab his teacher with a machete, a native Yoruba who was mistaken for Igbo, bleeding from her wounds to death. That being emphasized by me, Achebe is totally disappointed with Nigeria not because of the hoodlums and nihilists but because of the federal government that stood by and allowed such horrific events to unfold.

Why the pogrom was going on in the north, Igbo people were also sought in Lagos by drunken "federal troops" who had launched a search and kill attack. Meanwhile, Achebe had whisked his wife and kids back to the East while he stayed-put to await the outcome of the carnage unleashed by the nihilists, hoodlums and "federal troops." In Lagos, Achebe hid from place to place until he luckily escaped the federal troops who had launched a manhunt for him. In that very situation, Achebe finds it difficult to forgive "Nigeria" for what it did to his kith and kin. The northerners and their collaborators had a masterplan since the revenge in the counter coup, allegedly, wasn't enough, and if the conflict had ended after the counter coup, Achebe had this to say:

If it had ended there, the matter might have been seen as a very tragic interlude in nation building, a horrendous tit for tat. But the northerners turned on Igbo civilians living in the north and unleashed waves of brutal massacres, which Colin Legum of 'The Observer' was the first to describe as a pogrom. It was estimated that thirty thousand civilian men, women and children died in these massacres. Igbos were fleeing in hundreds of thousands from all parts of Nigeria to their homeland in the east I was one of the last to flee from Lagos. I simply could not bring myself quickly enough to accept that I could no longer live in my nation's capital, although the facts clearly said so. One Sunday morning I was telephoned from Broadcasting House and informed that armed soldiers who appeared drunk had come looking for me to test which was stronger, my pen or their gun!

The offense of my pen was that it had written a novel called A man of the People, a bitter satire on political corruption in an African country that resembled Nigeria. I wanted the novel to be a denunciation of the kind of independence we were experiencing in postcolonial Nigeria and many other countries in the 1960s, and I intended to scare my countrymen into good behavior with a frightening cautionary tale. The best monster I could come up with was a military coup d'etat, which every sane Nigeria at the time knew was rather far-fetched!...

As one reads on, Achebe tells us about his travels to many African countries in which he acknowledged "the chief problem was racism." He did go on to tell us about Christopher Okigbo, Gabriel Okara, Elechi Amadi, Chukwuemeka Ike, I.N.C. Aniebo and Ken Saro-Wiwa who were all products of Government College, Umuahia, and what they read in those days at the school library -- Treasure Island, Tom Brown School Days, The Prisoner of Zender, David Copperfield -- which had nothing to do with African literature.

In Politics and Politicians of Language in African Literature, and as a founding editor of The African Writers Series, he told us about the gathering of African writers in 1962 at Makerere University , Kampala, Uganda, which included the poet Christopher Okigbo, Wole Soyinka, Ngugi, and Obi Wali he said "was himself a teacher of literature and a close friend of the poet Christopher Okigbo, might have been expected to lead the way along the lines of his prescription; but what he did was abandon his acdemic career for politics and business." Achebe was disappointed in Wali's move.

Achebe wrote extensively on African Literature as Restoration of Celebration, Teaching Things Fall Apart, Martin Luther King Jr. and The University and the Leadership Factor in Nigerian Politics.

The book, a reflection of events takes us aback to take a look at Africa's past which literally has been a tragedy. Nobel Laureate, Tony Morrison simply put it thus: "African literature is incomplete and unthinkable without the works of Chinua Achebe. For passion, intellect and crystalline prose, he is unsurpassed."

Without question, Chinua Achebe still got game.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

EHIRIM FILES CLASSIC: Igbo Political Errors and the Leadership Debates

The following article was published all around the web including Kilima on October 01, 2000. I am dedicating it to Egbebelu Ugobelu (Samuel Obi) who passed away last month after a long battle with cancer. The last time I spoke to Ugobelu was sometime in 2003 when he shipped to me some of his published books. In the symposium following this article in Igbo Forum, Ugobelu wrote;


Mazi Ehirim's argument on this topic is unimpeachable. I thank him very much for taking his time and patience to go to the length he went to. In doing so he was able to delineate the facts about Igbo culture and the modus operandi of Igbo government. His statement that things worked very well under such a state of affair is also true and unimpeachable. Those of us who are not aware of these facts or gospel truths are aware of the present state of affairs with the Igbo or Igbo government,which is another truth he talked about.The question then is if it worked so well with the former system, why should we try to replace it with something that is not working, hasn't worked and never going to work?

Our forebears built an enviable egalitarian system. A system where everybody is equal. A system where the leader is only a 'figure head.' We can even call this leader orator or speaker. A condition that the rest of the world dream of achieving.

Ehirim did not try to state his idea of the solution except in the insinuation of writing that we would be better off going back to the old system. I am not given to such political finese or Western way of writing. I do like to think and write the way we do in Igboland. As people who are nuts about justice, we cannot help by being judgemental and we are. It works too. We see things and we say them the way we see them. If we think we have an answer to anything, we do attempt to be diplomatic about it..."

And giving an eye witness account to the pogrom and Civil War, Ugobelu in his book Biafra War Revisited: A Concise and Accurate Account of the Events That Led to the Nigerian Civil War, wrote:

“…Before long we were eating rats, lizards, grasshoppers and frogs. Snakes and tortoise were known to be eaten by some towns... The first time I tasted a snake, it was just the juice…We would be searching for food at times and encounter some civilians who braved it and came to search for food also, I mean within a mile to the forward location. Often they came to see if there were some ripe palm fruits to cut down or some fairly ripe bananas and plantains to cut down…When someone discovered a bunch of bananas somewhere, he kept checking and praying that someone else didn’t see it; sometimes he covered it up. The idea was to allow it to be fairly ripe. Nine times out of ten, he lost because maybe ten or more others had indeed seen it and were also waiting and praying….Besides, I was looking for a family member principally for the purpose of knowing his or her address in order to fill out an allotment form so that he or she would be drawing my allotment, and in the event of my death, if it so happened…”

I salute your courage and Rest In Peace!

Once upon a time, it was easily perceived and predicted with near-certainty where people actively concerned about Igbo leadership would stand on any issue that might arise from an economical, social and political standpoint. But since the end of the civil war and especially with the eruption first of Igbos marginalization, the Abandon Property Case, reparations, and the cleansing of ethnic minorities, so many have taken positions so different from what would have been natural to them in the past that it has become impossible to tell where they will come out in any new situation.

This weird occurrence has triggered a whole series of heated debates over Igbos role in Nigeria--in which again, many people, Igbo intellectuals, hardliners and merchants, have sided with ideas they once battled against with all their might, and have allied themselves with longtime ideological enemies. The case of MASSOB is just one example. The result has been to vindicate, to a degree that may be unprecedented in the annals of political warfare and leadership crises, the old adage that Igbos have no king (Igbo enwe eze). The most general of these debates has focused on an old question since the tussle for leadership began over which Igbo intellectuals, scholars, professionals, merchants, thoughtful laymen, have never stopped quarreling; whether or not the Igbos need a leader.

Let me pause here and recall an incident from my childhood. This was an era when my friends and I would go out into the fields or parks and play football just for the sake of it, until sunset, while our parents would hold meetings long into the night with the abstract points of Zikism, Michael Okpara, K. O. Mbadiwe, Akanu Ibiam, Nwafor Orizu, Mbonu Ojike, and other notable Igbo intellectuals and pragmatists. It agitated and excited them; my non Igbo friends would say to me, your people are always "together and conferencing"--which is good. My father with no formal education headed these meetings, then, and it turned out with prospects. It was collectivity that led to utopia. These were Igbos of the 60s.

My question here is, do Igbos need a leader as in monarchical imperialism? Would that change our ways of thinking to "bow" because it is a prescription? Or do we appoint our leaders based on wealth, academia, privilege and flamboyancy--the ability to influence a local village chief in order to be ordained the "Ogbuefi 1 of Ugwumagala?" That these questions were anything academic or farce was made patently clear, when on this past August 12, 2000, Chigbo Tagbo wrote:

"In Nigeria, Igbo society has always been something of an anomaly in not having power concentrated in a few leaders. The British on conquering the Igbos in the nineteenth century were frustrated by the absence of traditional rulers. Where is your Sultan of Sokoto, your Ooni of Ife, they asked? Receiving the answer in the negative, they sought to create them for their new subjects and came up with the much hated and politically ineffectual warrant chiefs."

I would agree partly. But I would add that the "devaluation" of leadership was a nasty contention over this matter and it helped destroy Igbo organizational effectiveness, in its entirety. On the other hand, I would say I had problems agreeing that the adoption of chieftaincy titles was not influential. The obvious reason here is, the chiefs whether through coercion or by merit were kingmakers, whether in their locality or at the elite levels. That era, however, saw the steady crystallization of some principles carried out by these chiefs in its entirety which was a mark of leadership.

For nearly six months, Igbos mounted a heated debate to determine an Igbo agenda with a profound Igbo leadership come the just concluded World Igbo Congress (WIC) convention held in Dallas and sponsored by Igbo Cultural Association of Nigeria, Dallas/Fort Worth. The decidedly mixed reaction to the convention and its report, and the persistent Igbo problems have raised more questions about the plight of the Igbos in Nigeria and the Diaspora. From the report, many questions should be asked dating back to the First Republic with a clear acknowledgement of errors. Errors, so pervasive that it is now baked in every Igbo gene.

In 1978, when the Murtala Mohammed/Olusegun Obasanjo administration lifted the ban on political activities, Igbos did not have a sense of direction, while Obafemi Awolowo had already scheduled his plan as a prospective leader of the Second Republic and other political parties in the making, Igbos had no agenda; without a political party and without form. It was not until Ibrahim Waziri invited Nnamdi Azikiwe and other Igbo dignitaries to his party that they became actively engaged in the political campaigns of the Second Republic. On that note, and on the course of Shehu Shagari's ruling party (National Party of Nigeria) in the Second Republic, Igbos, confused, lacking political wisdom and tact, formed an alliance with NPN whose accord would head to "splitville" in a matter of time. However Awo maintained opposition, normal of nascent democracies.

In 1992, when Ibrahim Babangida wrote the platforms of the still borne Third Republic and gathered his cronies--Moshood Abiola and Bashir Tofa--as presidential aspirants, Igbos still marginalized, divided and conquered had no idea what to make of the widespread scandal of "wuruwuru," "jipiti" and "magomago" in Humphrey Nwosu's organized infamous June 12, 1993 elections. Save for the fearless and no nonsense Arthur Nzeribe, who assembled his own gang and threatened the formations of a Third Republic for Babangida's "wizard dribbling" and Abiola's neglect of the Igbos, thus, (Abiola) adding more insult to dishonor, Igbos had no practical endeavor to be part of the Third Republic had it survived the hostilities tailored by Babangida and his gang of Northern ruling elites. That election was declared null and void on the grounds of too many irregularities, while Babangida left office under pressure and in disgrace. Nigeria, henceforth, would never be the same again.

The transition that brought in Sani Abacha was the only administration that got Igbos into mainstream Nigeria politics since the post Civil War era. Though not very fanciful as in Abacha's reign of terror with a service chief to their credit, the descendants of Oduduwa, once again, grouped and formed an opposition using all diplomatic tools within their reach to unseat Abacha. And what would that diplomatic tool be? An effective and efficient press. Luck and psychology had played its role and Abacha would die in office.

In 1998, as the government of Abdulsalami Abubakar lifted the ban on political activities, Igbos, again, would be divided to a point finding the needed populist theme was bastardized by some Igbo cohorts who parted ways with Alex Ekwueme and found solace in giving Obasanjo all the votes he could lay his hands on during the primaries. Obasanjo, just out from prison and close to death, rose to the occasion, fully backed by his American cronies and the Hausa-Fulani Brahmins he has dined and wined with all his life. Ekwueme lost in the primaries and the rest is now history. Igbos would never grasp with the simple truth; that they are a finished people.

Somehow, it sounds plausible that Igbo politicians are particularly uncomfortable with the role history has thrust upon them: the people of ideas and intellectualism in an era well defined by the exhaustion of academia and powered by a centered and efficient press. Axis press as a form of propaganda has played a more important role in partisanship based on the interest, causes and effect. To take the salient example, during Abacha's reign of terror, NADECO and the press sent Abacha to his grave without bombing Aso Rock. If the Igbos think they can win the nasty war of political impotence, they must have an axis press; of a complete conservative Igbo writers and thinkers.

Igbos seems to have abandoned their original faith. Both home and abroad, there are thousands of Igbo organizations, all with a seemingly equally intense inclination towards political errors, often crossing over into the realm of the politically suicidal. My experience has shown me how totally disorganized the Igbos are. For instance, their meetings, at special conventions like the one just concluded in Dallas, and all gatherings of that nature, in most cases, end up in chaos. The well publicized Dallas Convention was no exception. Our meetings are no longer a place of solutions and dialogue, rather the magnitude of wealth and showing off hauls of academic records indicated who would be honored, applauded, and for money worshippers, kow-towed.

But that wasn't the case in the 60s. The meetings I watched my father and his Igbo colleagues conduct in the 60's, as a seven year old child, are no longer the same. Then, in the 60's, they were so organized they spoke with one voice. There was no leaning to the left or right, no preaching of sort (pacifism and isolationism), neither were there "hawking" and "doving". It was an atmosphere of diplomacy and dialogue programmed unquestionably to effect change in Igboland. It was transparency and accountability. It was full of objectivity from which standpoint they dominated Nigeria's polity.

My real question again here is, what accounted for so momentous a change in the ethos of Nd'igbo, Ohaneze and local chapters of Igbo organizations? The short answer, as it is clearly known, was the civil war. "Igbo enwe eze," we must divide and conquer you. The Eastern Region prior to the civil war had been an Igbo state with ethnic minorities widely distributed down the riverine areas and being economically and politically revamped by Igbo merchants and politicians. But the key element to this dramatic change was honestly the creation of more Igbo states.

At the same time, the progress Nigeria made steadily was more states created in Igboland giving it a great boost to the final call: a defeated and conquered people, as land and border disputes between these new states (Anambra, Imo, Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi) became inevitable. It became a brothers war over who is the superior Igbo and who merits the leadership. The uprisings between Akokwa and Osina; Umuleri and Aguleri are perfect examples of ugly seeds of discord sown in the Igbo nation. I have taken these issues very seriously and I'm greatly perturbed by it, seeing in it how we allowed external forces and influence to destroy our myths and legends.

There are uncountable Igbo organizations in the Diaspora. But one cannot count any of these organizations as being feasible, profound and intact in addressing the plight of the Igbo man on the street, in a hospital, in jail unjustly incarcerated, or the flea market; rather, one would easily encounter an Igbo man speaking ill of his own kin. It is, in fact, disturbing. So where does this leave us? Well, at the very least, there remains not a shadow of a doubt that standards so recently prevalent in the areas I outlined--politics, cultural organizations, and collectivism and/or utopia have dramatically surged and gotten worse. Of course, I consider these fragile issues a problem.

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, in his speech at the WIC's Dallas Convention had warned that if the mantle of Igbo leadership is not given adequate attention, emphasizing on the privileged Diasporan Igbos, that we are destined to collapse as a nation (Igbo nation). He told the Dallas audience he did it at a very young age, urging Diasporan Igbos to "grab" the mantle of leadership for onward objectivity. Rudolf Okonkwo who took note at the convention, in his translation summed it up; Ojukwu's speech:

"I am now an old man. I have done mine. I have not seen who will take the baton from me. I was 33 years when I did it. That the old did not agree to hand over power is not true. Come and take the baton. If we refuse to give it to you, grab it by force. You Igbos abroad are the window of the world to us. Don't turn your back on anything Igbo. Come and join. Our time is gone."

It is an earnest call for action required of the Diasporan Igbos. The question here is, can the more privileged Diasporan Igbos willing by a consensus take over the affairs of state in the much craved Igbo leadership? Are we determined to make that sacrifice in order to effect change? Do we have the "guts" to be tolerant and accept the nonsense that comes along with true leadership? Are we (Diasporan Igbos, particularly the American sojourns), we who do not exactly have a brilliant record and competent enough to bring about the desired result? Can we "wholly" achieve this very phenomenon, in other words, community in propelling the Igbo nation to the forefront and back to its past path?

I must freely admit, I am too disturbed by these list of questions, to which I freely confess I do not have answers. But there is one thing that I do know. Igbos of the Diaspora are skeptical and can no longer trust themselves. In fact, the "most disorganized bunch" as specified in several occasions by many Igbo writers and commentators. The question may then lie on what do the Diasporan Igbos believe in? Are our children being raised as Igbos or Americans? Do they speak Igbo fluently? Are we becoming to the fact Igbos of the Diaspora have pursued away and lost the true meaning of our creed? And what are we doing about these rigmaroles seemingly destroying the way things use to be--the 40's, the 50's and the 60's? Who among our children in the Diaspora, even at home, for example, reads Flora Nwapa, John Munonye, Ogbalu, Cyprien Ekwensi, Emmanuel Ifejika, Arthur Nwankwo, Adiele Eberechukwu Afigbo, Obi Egbuna and of course, Chinua Achebe today? When I was growing up everyone read all these authors I just outlined. They were Igbos leading writers, political philosophers and thinkers. These writers are not read anymore in Igbo literature, political science classes and fundamentals in cultural anthropology. Some of these books are out of print and no one cares to reprint them for the elegancy and ideas of enduring value they contained. These are the Igbo thinking one should rely on, of permanent term and relevant and not contemporary as "this is America, man," has destroyed the good fate of Igbo ideals.

If we could go back to this tradition, our children in the Diaspora would have the enabling factors to know, have the awareness, in its totality, their origin and where they came from. To effect this, we must have Igbo institutions of ethnic and cultural studies. It has become obvious and really dramatic, a problem for the Igbos in the Diaspora, since we appreciate the importance of freedom and democracy; hence, now having difficulties understanding the role played in a healthy society by tradition and vice versa.

So far, we have gotten away with this arrogance. We have abandoned our culture. We are lost. Within this range, how do we take over the mantle of Igbo leadership seriously asked by Ojukwu. Ojukwu, once again, (from Okonkwo's translation):

"My people, I will not lie to you. We came from home, we laugh and embrace, but I can tell you that big rain is falling. Our land is not good. Our condition is like a war. Nobody loves Igbos. The person who is scared of you will not love you. But that we are not loved is Nigeria's problem not ours. If they love you, it is good. But the greatest is to be feared. We want to be feared."

The various disputes now unfolding, even with the recent mess at the Dallas Convention, and since the post civil war era, are not unprecedented, with respect either to the basic issues they raise or to the intensity with which they are being fought, can be attributed to the same question being asked over and over again: leadership. Ojukwu is worried and I too 'am very much disturbed by this phenomenon.

We must act now to bring about change. There is much work to be done in Igboland. Leadership, education, technology, industrialization and employment opportunities are the entailed issues that must be addressed immediately. These issues cannot be done by our Igbo brethrens at home alone. A greater input is required of the Diasporan Igbos. Without our brethrens at home, the Diasporan Igbos cannot survive and without the Diasporan Igbos our brethrens would not survive. And neither community can survive without working together for the development of a sound Igbo tradition which will teach us among many things: our history, our culture, our economics and relationships with our neighbors. We must help ourselves now because our destinies are fused.