Because this nation is blind, we shall begin in lightning. Because this nation is deaf, we shall conclude in thunder. All else is in humor. Mother A’Endu.
20. Additionally, Professor Agozino writes: ”Similarly, the name of the town that they changed, Umuojameze, does not mean that the oracle is king. On the contrary, it means that the children of the flute, Oja, know no king, Ama Eze. It is the Igbo egalitarian philosophy that the Igbo know no king but it is understandable that after the military imposed chiefs on Igbo communities in 1976, those who wanted to be kings might be embarrassed by a name that said that the Igbo know no king.” https://opinion.premiumtimesng.com/2018/07/18/seeking-atonement-adaobi-tricia-nwaubani-on-her-slave-trading-grandfather-by-biko-agozino/
21. He gets it right and wrong again. In terms of urban translation eze as king is correct. But philologically, eze never meant kings in Igbo land. Eze means excellence. It is the modern day Igbo lexicographers, that conscripted or kidnapped eze to mean king. It never meant that. In Anambra their kidnap or ransom word-victim is igwe, which also never meant kings. These collusive lexicographers, beneficiaries and collaborators, of ezes and igwes are all bandits and in some sense cultural genocidaires. Please see our: Nigeria: The Unreported Genocide against the Igbo. The Generals Murtala Mohammed-Olusegun Obasanjo Diktats.
22. Even the fact of ezeship and igweship being newfangled is revealed in a signal historical or semantic data. As we have pointed out in an earlier book, all Igbo city states where kingship has been domesticated before the coming of the white man, king is never styled eze or igwe. The examples of Obi/King [not Eze or Igwe] of Onitsha and Agbor, are pointers.
23. Anyway, even in urban Igbo, you can still hear a man being hailed, correctly, as onye Eze. Please put it on notice that he is not being praised as a prince or king. Igbo don’t need or have use for Kings or princes. ”Onye Eze” is a man being hailed as a man of excellence. Its proper equivalent is Sir, of the old English order. That’s something open to all men as per achievement not genes. The other point is that the ordinary Igbo not driven by ambitions for power and others-dominance, instinctively know their language more than the new fangled kings, princelings, courtiers and collusive bureaucratic minders.
24. The takeaway is that these problems arise because the Igbo specifically and most Africans generally, are victims of colonialism. And African scholars have for reasons not clear, failed to help us retrieve, secure and insure who and what Africa and Africans are. It is this failure of scholarship in primary things that have led us to confuse the psychology of defeat with the defeat of psychology. That is, for our scholars, once their fathers were defeated, they their sons and cousins, will forever remain so – defeated.
25. Anyway, Achebe is one of the few who have tried to help turn us off our self-defeat. But that is via his novels. As a thinker and sometimes translator he too has fallen into the same avoidable pit of errors.
For example, in There was a Country, Achebe mistranslated ezebuilo. For him, it ”literally means, a king is an enemy.” It is an urban and wrong translation. Eze bu ilo means excellence breeds/brings envy. The bu in ezebuilo does not mean is, which wrongly pronounced it could. Igbo is a tonal language. The bu means to bring, as in bu te remu/bu nyem/bring to me.
The matter is not just that these translations are wrong. What is worse is that the protagonists, including Achebe, will want to reverse-engineer ezeship into Igbo self-chosen republican past. In fact, Achebe once ”absentmindedly” raised the issue that since the Igbo has the word eze, is it not suggestion enough Igbo had kings in the past. First of all, eze did not mean king in the past before colonialism. Second of all, Igbo being human could have imagined the idea of a king,
[while not practicing. After all the Europeans imagined the idea of phoenix,
26. The point remains that the Igbo had no kings and proudly so. Igbo who had were the western or outlier Igbo. Apparently, these Igbo city states imitated their non-Igbo neighbours. And boundary Igbo by the way never termed their kings as Eze or Igwe. Our point is that Igbo must resist any attempts by her misguided compatriots to smuggle or centralize monarchism into Igbo past or worldview.
27. Interestingly, Igbo forefathers, deliberately never had or design-created kings and princedoms. That, however, is an inert detail. The active framework is that their choice and institution of republicanism, history has revealed, is prescient. Additionally, it has proven to be one of the greatest sociological and civilizational building blocks ever constructed by man or his society, ancient or modern.
For instance, what the Igbo forefathers instituted has a parallel with the genius of the ancient Greeks fathers. And that was the only such parallel in ancient times known to this writer. Today, the Americans are latching on the Greek, Igbo-style genius, to come to things, the mightiest things. In fact, one can correctly conjecture that American greatness is in their Igboness writ large, as it were. No society has been better constructed save in terms of this Igbo-like sociology. This should be our pride, not our diffidence.
28. And Igbo were some of the first in history and honor to have pioneered and instituted the republican order. So, the Igbo have everything to feel proud of in not having or entertaining superfluous men – for that is what kings and monarchs are. To be prince or king is to be sociologically beneath the Americans, the Igbo and the ancient Greeks. This is the verdict of history. In other words, the Igbo don’t need to forge a past in which the Igbo had kings. We have the greatest of pasts – without kings and such superfluous men as dauphins.
29. A clarification is worthy here. The unparalleled genius of [Igbo] republicanism, is not that every man is king, in his obi. This would have been similar with and as cheap as ”every Englishman’s home is his castle.” That is a form of consolation. No, for the Igbo, it is that any man could be king… amaghi afo ga amu eze. The import is that man and his society are best served only where and when they are competitively driven in all spheres of life. So for [Igbo] Republicans, all virtues, all excellences, all ezes etc. are in open contests as the world today has in sports competitions. [And this, by the way, is an ancient Greece heritage.]
Thus to the extent, it is humanly possible, no Igbo man is granted, institutionally, a head-start. The race is for all, for the fleet-footed and for the lame. That is perhaps why the Igbo have this redeeming proverb: If the rat cannot flee fast enough, let him make way for the tortoise. That is to say for the Igbo, even they who are in excellence must fight to maintain their lead. And that that lead must be open to challenge and never be institutionalized secured. This is pure genius.
This spirit of open sports-like-contests constitutionalism, founded independently by the Igbo and the Greeks, has an admirer in Frederick Nietzsche, a German thinker. To him: ”Their whole [Greek] art [and life] is unthinkable without the contest.” He continues, ”Hesiod’s good Eris, ambition, gave wings to their genius.” That is republicanism in life and imaginations gives wings and the sails to our genius.
30. The result of this open contests-constitutionalism, has a report card of the following. It generated and produced the most influential and thus greatest empire of all times – the Athenian Empire. Of modern times it has produced the greatest modern imperium, the American nation. Even the other empires and states of history have achieved their greatest imports only in their being more republican, or more Igbo, not less if you liked. This is an iron lore.
Now, the real and unspoken scandal is that the Igbo have not woken up to being fulsome Igbo, to the greatest gifts their forefathers bequeathed them – the untrammelled genius of republicanism. And these are the same constitutive and constitutional gifts that have made America, that made ancient Athens. And that would make the Igbo if they did rouse or be roused up to it. And they shall because they can. And if they do, the rite of the Igbo going to the moon – metaphorically and otherwise – will come as easy to the Igbo as eating foofoo with ofe ukazi. Ahiazuwa. And the rest of the country or entire black race, may hike a ride and borrow on being Igbo-centric. That is if they are still lame enough not to have found their own ways around or to the higher havens.
31. But what do we have now? It is that Igbo sons are now forging a narrative that the Igbo once had kings and scholars are joining to author the fiction to stealthily destroy our republicanism, our sociological genius, the greatest cosmological endowment ever made by man. And that was pioneered by the Igbo and others. The Greeks in ancient times and Americans in the modern era.
32. In other words, this is the hour for a complete and total repudiation of monarchism and kings in Igbo land and throw them back to the genocidaires who imposed those on you, in insidious envy of who you are. Their plot is to destroy who the Igbo are and make you inferior copies of their inferior selves. Please see again: Nigeria: The Unreported Genocide against the Igbo. The Generals Murtala Mohammed-Olusegun Obasanjo Diktats.
33. Post-face: Why is it ubani and not uba-ala. For non-Igbo, Ubani and Uba-ala are possible dialectal variances. Our conjecture is that the first wave of Igbo who made the list of the gold rush was the riverine Igbo. First, they were in contingent places and travel by way ways was easier and safer than via jungles and forests. And the dialects at those riverine zones are often ani, not ala. That is they triggered the name Ubani, and had it copied off them. A similar example must be Abacha vegetable salad, the now famous fast food pioneered by the Igbo.
The point is that it is called Abacha in Enugu/Ebonyi State Igbo etc. But most Igbo did not call it Abacha. However, with Abacha’s successful invasion of the bellwether Lagos market, all Igbo are calling it Abacha almost. It is largely the Ebonyi women entrepreneurs who pioneered ”the export trade into Lagos.”
The menu name abacha across all Igbo land is due largely to the cultural overlordship of Lagos market over the provinces’. In other words, Igbo in Lagos are re-exporting the name abacha to all Igbo land, including, say Nkwerre. Before now, abacha in Nkwerre for instance, was called ihe ahia or mpataka or
Eberebe, never Abacha. In other words, what would have happened is that the riverine Igbo first identified this ubani phenomenon and interloper heartland Igbo re-exported it to the mainland. Names, not goods are also moveable cargo. It is almost certain that in the next 50 Abacha would have wiped away eberebe as a name in all Oru an Igbo. A Darwinian struggle? Anyway, names and not just goods are moveable and by Jove habituatable assets.
Balzac gives a hint on the world of words: What a marvellous book one would write by narrating the life and adventures of a word! Undoubtedly a word has received various impressions of the events for which it was used; depending on the places it was used, a word has awakened different kinds of impressions in different people; but is it not grander still to consider a word in its triple aspect of soul, body and movement.
And lest we forget, there is more than a passing chance that a hardworking young Igbo scholar can make a name for himself tracking the urban mistranslations of Igbo and concepts. And these mistranslations it is meet to recognize happen under the canopy of Christianity and colonialism.
That is there is a subtle even if unintended denigration of and on and about being Igbo. It may not be studied, but the impression one gets is that all Igbo words and concepts have surface and no in-depth, associative or stretch meanings. For us, the most pitiable is the misconception of the humanistic Igbo concept of egbe bere ugo bere nke si ibeya ebele nku kwa ya. For urban Igbo it is nku akwakwala ya maya gosi ya ebe oga ebe. What nonsense and capitulation to ill-digested Christianism. Such corrections are urgently needed. And one can find many of those even in the great Achebe classics.
Finally, let it be put on notice as follows. We are around and here to make uncommon sense. We are not senators, bandits, governors, ex-coup makers, presidents, petty thieves or thugs. We are poets and philologists and the uncommon is our common fare. All else is humor. CONCLUDED.
Coming next: 1. How Lagos is a no man’s land in Nwa-Ubani terms and 2. Ubani, the Oru connection.