Many Igbo of Nigeria may not appreciate this commentary. However, there is an Igbo proverb that reminds us that “the enemy will tell you to shoo the flies on your wound while friends tell you how to cure the wound so the flies go away.” Take it or leave it, but I am a friend.
The most powerful tool in the hands of an oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. Unfortunately, the chains of slavery are off the ankles but transferred to the mind. This has been so painfully obvious over many years, and is getting worse. Many Igbo people are the by-product of colonialism and the mental oppression that is its modus operandi. They are oppressed each and everyday by a news media at home and in America that feed them negativity about themselves and Africans in Diaspora, of which the religious and academic institutions are the greatest tools.
First, the religious institutions and their Holy books tell them for instance that the people of Israel are chosen people of God while Africans are descendants of Hamitic nations who deliberately rendered themselves devoid of all saving knowledge of the One True God. “‘It is observed that Ham and his family, were the only far travelers and stragglers into unknown countries searching, exploring and sitting down in the same: as also it is said of his family that what country whatsoever the Children of Ham happened to possess there began both the ignorance of true godliness” Consequently, to these particular people the Africans no matter where they come from, are ungodly bring ungodliness.
William Strachey added to these words in 1612 the following indictment, accusing Ham’s posterity of instigating ‘…the Ignorance of the true worship of God…the inventions of Heathenism and adoration of false Gods, and the Devil…’ (Hodgen p. 262,). This messaging affects how many Igbos view themselves, making them not want to associate with others who are of the same ilk and instead search to become one with those perceived as holier than they, even when they are being abused and ridiculed, as in the push for Jewish ancestry.
Secondly, the educational institutions focus on Eurocentric processes that remove African relevant information and promote Eurocentrism. Those who wish to promote African centered thinking are rejected and ridiculed.
The attempts by many African Americans to become members of the Nigerian community requires association with individuals who do not have the negative mindset that I have described. You can spot them immediately because they will beat you down with why they must OBEY the Holy Book that tells them that God made them less!
It is equally important to note that there are African Americans who engage in similar behavior, believing the hogwash they hear about Africans as 419 perpetrators and devoid of knowledge of self and God. I have personally met African Americans with very negative view of Africans and want nothing to do with us. Many are so anti African that hey find African things frightening. I gave a Christian pastor the Igbo Chalk Paste Charger as a gift and she threw it away because she thought it may be evil while at the same time trying to put oil on me while uttering gibberish as in possession by the “Holy Ghost!”
There are very progressive Igbo people who have regurgitated the Kool-Aid, and do not share this misinformation about Igbo Jewish ancestry and who embrace Diasporan Africans, and likewise African Americans who embrace their African ancestry.
We just need to find each other.
Oke Dibia, Uwa Onyioha Osimiri
Hodgen, M. (1971). Early Anthropology in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.