But since July 29, 1966 when the Igbo domination of the armed forces was decapitated and since 1970 since their domination of the bureaucracy and other services were dismantled, and replaced with Hausa/ Fulani and Yoruba and the Southern and Northern minorities, whence comes the source of the phobias against the Igbo? The answer lies in the ethnic character traits of the Igbo. As recognized by the respondents to Donu Kogbara’s queries, the egalitarian nature of the Igbo, their industry and competitive spirit excite fear and envy especially if these traits led to successful outcomes in socio-economic terms.
The Igbo is not the only ethnicity in the world visited with loathsomeness and socio-cultural hatred cum attacks. The world prominent case was the anti-Semitism against the Jews during Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian, Roman Empire era, European anti-Semitism in Britain, France, Spain, Russia, Britain and Germany leading to the Nazi Holocaust when the Jews suffered over six million deaths in the Gas Chambers and Concentration camps. What brought about this anti-Semitism? Fear! Let’s take just few cases of anti-Semitism and how they were resolved.
Jews originated from a tiny clan of Ur of the Chaldeans in modern Iraq and that clan still maintains its uniqueness in Iraq as the clan is largely Christian and holds its own by producing such highly prominent persons such as Tariq Aziz, former deputy to President Saddam Hussein who rendered global services as Iraqi diplomatic wizard.
Jewish ancestor, Abram later renamed Abraham left Ur of the Chaldeans to found a new home he envisioned God had promised him. He led a nomadic life and found a family whose offspring were Isaac and Ishmael from Sarah and Hagar. From Isaac the nation, Israel was born while Arabs claim ancestry of Ishmael. The two brothers went their different ways and found three world religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Jews has had very difficult existence starting from when due to family squabbles, Joseph the youngest of Jacob’s (Israel) 12 sons was sold into slavery by his brothers out of jealousy that emanated from fear by the brothers that Joseph’s dreams were tantamount to subversion and insubordination.
Joseph having been sold into slavery and ended up as a slave to Egyptian military official utilized his gift of interpretation of dreams to come into prominence in Egypt as the Egyptian Pharaoh appointed him Prime Minister after saving Egypt from famine by correctly interpreting the Pharaoh’s dreams. The entire Jews were uprooted from Canaan to Egypt due to world-wide famine and resettled in Egypt where Joseph had become Prime Minister.
After over 400 years’ in Egypt where they lived apart from Egypt having been settled in Goshen region, and having multiplied a thousand folds population wise, the Egyptians under a Pharaoh that knew not Joseph that saved Egypt from famine feared the Jews and rose against them by subjecting them to persecutions culminating to genocide. Out of the genocide, Moses was rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter who adopted him as an Egyptian Prince but Moses has had twelve-year tutelage under his mother who brought him up under strict Jewish culture and traditions.
He rebelled against Egypt and led the Jews out of Egypt to found the Promised Land. It was Moses who gave the Jews a definitive character of Judaism by writing the Five Books of Moses otherwise called Pentateuch in Greek or Torah in Hebrew, which are the bedrock of Judaism, the religion of the Jews. And so, Jews survived the Egyptian anti-Semitism which had its origin out of fear by Egyptians. Joshua led the Israelites (Jews) into the Promised Land but two major powers, the Assyrians and Persians almost destroyed the Jews by taking them captives. They survived these national calamities.
Having survived the two captivities, Jew returned and settled in their land but Greek and Roman conquests almost destroyed the Jews because Greek culture almost assimilated Jews and their religion. Rome became world power and colonized the Jews like other known worlds but the Jews never submitted to slavery and bondage and so they revolted against the Roman empire on several occasions of which the Ben Yari’s guerrilla resistance was world-famous leading to the siege of Masada where Ben Yari and his resistant army and families committed mass-suicide instead of being captured by the uncircumcised Romans before the eventual destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD and the dispersal of the Jews.
It is worthy to note that while under Roman colonisation, the Jews were subjected to harsh treatment of racial discrimination that made Emperor Nero to hold them responsible for the fire outbreak that gutted greater part of Rome. Jews survived the Roman anti-Semitism. After the dispersal of Jews in AD 70, they migrated to many European countries and settled there but they were severally subjected to anti-Semitism as was the case in Spain, Britain, Austria, Germany, Russia, Po-land and even France whose governmental action against Captain Alfred Dreyfus based on anti-Semitism actuated an Austrian Jew in 1895, Dr. Theodore Herzl to found the Zionist Movement to establish Jews in their own homeland.
The world powers – Ottoman Empire and later Britain tried to frustrate the Zionist quest until the 2nd World War when Hitler’s Germany and Russian’s (USSR) ill-treatment of the Jews made the new world power, the United States to facilitate the declaration of State of Israel on May 27, 1948.
The Jews in several countries they settled tried to be good citizens and were noted for their industry, education and entrepreneurial acumen evidenced in their members garnering several Nobel Prizes in medicine, sciences and literature and it was on record that Albert Einstein was already world renown as a scientist in Germany before migrating to USA where he joined the group that discovered and created the atomic bomb that helped the Western Powers to defeat Germany and the Axis Powers.
The story of the Jews makes the case of the Igbo in Nigeria not to be taken as hopeless for the rejected stone as Jesus Christ predicted will eventually become the corner stone of the building just as the Jews are now the cornerstone of present world civilisation in culture (Christianity and Judaism), arts, science and international finance. Like the Jews, the hatred or fear of the Igbo is a human error emanating from fear but as has been shown fear is a disease and it hurts the hater more than the hated. In the first place, the history of Nigeria should have been a sufficient lesson to Igbophobes because upon all the accusations heaped upon the Igbo between 1947 and 1966 leading to the pogroms and eventual Biafra War whereby the Igbo were conquered and subjected to the worst war reparations in African, yet they have survived the ordeal and came out triumphant to the consternation of the victors.
The average Igbo has his faults like other Nigerian peoples which ordinarily his fellow compatriots should tolerate and give allowance for the sake of common citizenship or brotherhood but there appears to be a gang-up by those whose culture is antithetical to Igbo libertarian, republican, democratic and egalitarian culture that eschews nepotism and feudal principles. It is this culture that counts it a divine mission to hold the Igbo down thinking that the Igbo, as a group is the major bulwark to its nefarious designs on Nigeria.
Nothing more! It is the fear of the Igbo and what they stand for or represents that is contrary to this present ruling culture that is promoting Igbo phobia thinking that this propaganda will last forever. Nothing lasts for ever. Like the Jewish experience, all the world powers that desired the destruction of Jews have all become extinct and a footage in world history but Jews have endured and remains constant references of progress and development.