I watched the reactions to yesterday’s ?#?HistoryClass? with quite some amusement. Let’s face a bitter truth, we are not ready as a people for progress. Progress is something that comes when you know, and admit, where you are coming from, so that you will not make the same mistakes where you are going to. Too many of us have been sold false narratives about our forefathers, we have accepted those narratives hook, line and sinker; and what is worse, we are evidently quite willing to go to war over narratives from more than a century ago. Is that not silly?
Now a bitter truth: the area that became Nigeria was as of 1850, filled with a lot of warring groups, and only one group that saw itself as a nation, going by pseudo-modern definitions. That group was the Fulani. This is a fact that will be dwelt on in a future #HistoryClass. Our current “contraption” is full of ethnic nationalities that have a 900 year history of conquest, slavery, murder and genocide. You know what? Someone won those wars, someone else lost. Some peoples, like the Okun in modern day Kogi state were sold into slavery en masse by Bini and Nupe slave raiders. Some, like the Bekwara in modern Cross River state, were forced to trek 750 km from their ancestral lands in modern Jigawa state, to escape Uthman dan Fodio’s Jihad.
Personally, I have accepted the maxim that when you dig six feet you find one body, but when you dig twelve, you find forty. I have made efforts to research into my ancestral past. What I have found is that ancestrally, my forefather came from Idah in today’s Kogi state. When the Bini Empire attacked the Igala during the reign of Aji, my ancestor and a group of others sailed down the River Niger, and disembarked somewhere around Onitsha. There they found that the Bini Empire was also active in their war of expansion, and so moved on and settled around Nteje in today’s Anambra State from where some others, including my ancestor, moved on. Did Anambra exist at the time? No it did not. Anambra was created by a Hausa military dictator, 441 years after this chap who happens to be my ancestor, left Idah. The problem I have faced at this point of the search is this: the given name I have for my forebear is Igbo, and as Solomon Apenja can confirm, we hit a roadblock in Idah because they want to know what his Igala name was. I will find it one day, and continue tracing the trek of my ancestors. What I have also found in this search is that some of my forefathers were not good people. I have accepted that. Someday, when the story is complete, I will tell all in a book.
The lesson in all of this is simple: when I go back far enough, I find that I am not Igbo, I am not Nigerian. Igbo was created in 1947. Nigeria was created in 1914. Our people should stop trying to rewrite history by suggesting the existence of nations of antiquity to which Igbos, Ijaws, Yoruba, etc can return to.
If my search is blessed with success and I am able to dig into my own past beyond that exodus from Igala, I will find at some point that I am from the Garden of Eden, or something of that sort. What I can assure you is this: I will tell the complete story. I will accept my forefathers for all their errors and achievements. Will you?
Article written by Cheta Nwanze
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