M. O. ENE
Wed, July 14, 2021
“If peace means keeping my mouth shut in the midst of injustice and evil, I don’t want it. If peace means a willingness to be exploited economically, politically dominated, humiliated, and segregated, I don’t want peace.” ~ MLK, Jr.
“I don’t want no peace; I need equal rights and justice.” ~ Peter Tosh
The typical Igbo are a peace-loving people of a peaceful nation. As artisans, avid adventurists, consummate capitalists, expert entrepreneurs, and rugged republicans, they avoid making enemies of strangers, who might end up being brethren in distant lands: “Ojemba anaghị enwe iro. Nwanne di na mba.”
In consecrating kolanut, the Igbo propitiate deities and ancestral sprits for peace and pray that God’s favors rain on their nation and neighbors. The reason for the plea is obvious: As my mother posited, “Akpataghị akụ na-akpata ntụkwụwa ọnụ. Basically, destitution breeds contempt. Onye na-enweghi na-ene ajọ anya.” Hence the golden rule of Ọdịnanị, Igbo religion: Live and let live. “Égbé bere, ùgò bere.”
The Igbo sense of elevated equity shapes a society where everyone is contented, happy to live free and die happy. This is contrary to the saying attributed to Jesus of Nazareth that the poor will always be among us (Matthew 26:11), which may well mean that there will always be someone we can help. Igbo ancestors stated emphatically that when ‘the land is levelled’ with justice and equity, peace! “Àlà dị mma ọ bata onye ọbụla ọfụma. Udo adị. Ọha enwezuo.”
There is enough wealth in every society to sustain its people. Where equity is enthroned, no one envies the other’s good fortune. The major problem is the political class. For the sake of pure political power and economic extravagance, they embrace external forces, instigate crass crises in a community of otherwise easygoing ethical entities, and stoop low to divide and conquer. In the created chaos, they thrive disproportionately by impoverishing others. “Àlà adịghị mma bụ uru ndinze.”
So, seeking the sustenance of peace in any Igbo political space is romantic; formulating realistic management of political problems is more realistic. Igbo philosophy encourages preparation for political battles, even when unlikely. If battles do not arise, it will be because opponents perceive the delivery of a devastating defeat, not because of perspective peace. In a popular proverb, the legendary ground squirrel says it best: ‘Those who walk leisurely should sometimes break into a trot in case the need to run arises. “Ulili sị onye jekete ije ya tụọ nkwaọsọ maka ihe ọsọ emee mee.”
To win well, we must make cogent changes and correct certain courses. We must be transparent. We must make the marks of our vision and mission conspicuous for folks to understand. Truth is the essence of life: Eziokwu bụ ndụ. Alas, our people have been betrayed, blocked, and bruised into a corrupt contraption that beget bullies in leadership positions. We now have 1001 peace-preaching but capricious caprine cronies leading a legion of leopards. These goats will eventually run after the next person dragging fresh palm fronds across the village square. “Onye kpụ igu ka ewu na-eso.”
Every decent person wants peace, but permanent peace is for the dead! The dead rest in peace, eternally in silence of the cemetery. The living is in constant struggle to survive, live, and thrive in a perceived peaceful and enabling environment that is secure and sustaining. Igbo ethical philosophy does not abhor buying peace; on the contrary, the Igbo preach it: “Ndiiro gị karịa, ị dọọrọ ụfọdụ mmanya.” We can reach out and pacify our competitors, even when we have no clue why they oppose our good intentions. So why pacify them? Simple: To sleep with two eyes closed and to accomplish our mission and move on. “Onye mee iké ya, ọ laa ebe Chi ya,”
Therefore, the price of political peace in our communities is not an issue; of interest is the power of peace to bring progress. If peace brings no progress, then it is the peace of paradise. Utopia. Politicians promise to deliver more dividends of democracy. If they deliver, in peace or in pieces, the people will rejoice and produce more in an equitable environment. They will be accomplished. Like Nnamdi Azikiwe, MI Okpara, Akanu Ibiam, CC Onoh, and Sam Mbakwe, citizens will remember them favorably postmortem. If not, the peace that the current crop of politicians bought or brought is useless. “Ihe a na-ajụ dike jere mba bụ ihe o wenetere; ọ bụghị ihe o riri.”
Peace per se brings neither progress nor prosperity. On the contrary, strenuous struggle is the standard for peace, progress, and prosperity: no struggle, no success. It takes dark clouds, thunder, and lightning for rain to fall. Humans are a violent species; they slaughter animals for meat in waters and on land, and they violate lands for minerals and plants. The world respects USA for its ability to deliver violence and deliver it abundantly, not for hip-hop, hamburgers, and Hollywood. It is no wonder the Igbo often say, “Agha dawa ma mmadụ anwụna!” No one likes wars, but if it will take a war for a people to survive, bring on the proverbial war, and do not stop because someone might get shot. “E jighi mgbagbu aghara ogu.”
Peace or war in months ahead, the legacy of our current Aladimma politically prominent persons, the five fingers of a hurting hand, will be based on fundamental changes in the way dividends of democracy reach our people. Thus, they will etch their names on the marble of millennia. They have a last card to play in community government, including community development policies and community policing: Odoziobodo & Ọgbanaecheagụ.
Acolytes who hoist their principal’s legacy on peace, brought or bought, must also compile what was achieved with the ’peace’ that was supposedly secured by keeping “takeholders” happy and quiet while the stakeholders suffered. The people need justice, not proclaimed peace in a cowed ‘cowntry’ and not the outsourcing of good governance to God!