Achebe Should Not Be Clebrated In The North

Posted: December 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

I sat down at the Accounts section (that is where i work) of Gotel Communications, Yola, watching TV Gotel. it was morning and the popular morning show Safiya, which meant ‘morning’ in Hausa language was on air. The program finished and then there was something on the TV that got me very angry. I was so agued that i had to turn on the computer to write a personal letter to the MD of Gotel Communications, expressing my displeasure on the recklessness of his staff in the programs department or whatever department it was that handled jingles like that. I decide to post the letter to my blog. Before i proceed, let me share this:

“Was Biafra ever really a “country,” as Achebe would have it?

It had ministries, oil wells, a ragtag army, an often-shifting capital,

official cars (Achebe had one) and a famous airstrip.

But as a “country,” it was stillborn.”

—Adam Nossiter

And here is the letter i wrote my MD, Mr. Joshua Hassan.

I hope you are well with all you care for. This is a personal letter to you, sir, albeit I strongly felt the need to make it formal.
I hardly watched TV Gotel due to the nature of my work and the fact that most of the programs aired rarely interest me, except Safiya which had Quadragenarian-ish looking presenters that are very right for the screen, particularly Aaron.
So this morning I watched the last part of Safiya and happened to see this “African Quotes” after the credits. Chinua Achebe’s good quotes were featured, but some of them were also irking to any Nigerian who nurtures Unity and Progress at heart. In fact it should irk even an Igbo if they are peace lovers.
Chinua Achebe, lately, is not a favorite of the north particularly the muslims, because of his latest work, There Was A Country. In this book he leveled a lot of ridiculous accusations against the North and the Yorubas. My concern here is the North so I will stay within the context.
This one time hero of mine said the Nigeria-Biafra War was a jihadist agenda…in the book. Who spear headed the war? It was Yakubu Gowon. Was Gowon a muslim? No. if it was a Jihadist agenda, wouldn’t the late Gen. Shuwa or late Murtala Mohammed be at the helm of power, then? There were countless muslim military officers that could have been chosen to fight the war. And today Gowon is seen as war hero by Nigerians, just as the Igbo people (two-facedly) still see Ojukwu as their war hero.
This idea is clearly an American-conditioned kind of idea. The words are evidently put into the man’s mouth. Plus, what do we expect of a man who has been in the US for decades? He is just a wounded lion roaring painfully to existent and non-existent afflictions. He tasted politics and found the atmosphere totally unfavorable and he had to take an unwanted bow…sadly also, he made no impact and therefore no ovation when the bow was taken. Now he has decided to throw accusations to every direction in ‘his story,’ There Was A Country, not ‘history.’
Agreed, the interests of the Igbo people is imperative to him and he had to and still have to strive towards serving them but to unabashedly go out of control in the course of achieving them is utterly shameful especially of a man like Chinua Achebe. Every man with a heart dislikes and feels a heart rending sadness when one reads about the Nigeria Biafra War regardless of the source of read. The hardship that the Igbo was subjected to was inevitable because the losing side of every war is bound to suffer greatly. It is sad indeed that they had to and it still remains a mare to al peace lovers. Here I ask why no Igbo have blamed Ojukwu for dragging them into that war in the first place. Another devastatingly disappointing thing about this book is the period within which it had to come out. Couldn’t it wait until all this was over? Was he so eager to tell his story that he didn’t care what it did to the perpetual growth of violence in his country? This gesture of Achebe confirms our suspicion that his book was an anti-peace propaganda fuelled by none other but the world governing bodies of the CIA, IMF, UN, NATO, US, Israel and the etcs I don’t know of, to further divide this country and increase the imminence of a war. Our own Achebe had been close to the US for some time now, – US being so far the most fundamental part of the machinery of global deceit, manipulation, several successful attempts at mind control and general chaos.
“There is no story that is not true, […] The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others.”
Surely the world has no end; there are different kinds of people in it. I know of the muslims who see violence and chaos as an abomination, not as Chinua Achebe is wont to imply otherwise. I know of a people who once raided the North, killed its core leaders and until date, mimic and jubilate how those leaders squealed when they felt the pangs of death. This made some historians deduce that the Igbo people have a plan to dominate and conquer the region. The holders of that view have their proof but I don’t think that is even conceivable.
And, determinedly, I don’t hold it that “every story is true”. A lot of stories are made up to suit particular purposes or to attain a certain level of brainwash. Today people read and listen to history recklessly and without being wary of lies just like his latest work would be read by the Igbo folk innocently while subtly being conditioned to see the Yoruba and the muslim Hausa as bad. What happened to the Achebe that used to be blunt and fearless in the face of our rotten leadership? Is this same man now playing roles like these? He should remember that war history is celebrated in America via academia or something…Nigerians celebrate it in an entirely different way. Achebe might claim to be a witness to some of the stories he was telling but he couldn’t have witnessed just everything, certainly not everything. And those things he didn’t witness could be witnessed by others – from the other camp. The Nigeria Camp; the Yakubu Gowon Camp.
Besides, what did Achebe see in “a people” that made him write what he wrote in Things Fall Apart, seeing that the book was published before the war? What did he see then?
Sir, I am sorry for beating about my request, which is, in this AFRICAN QUOTES thing, Chinua Achebe’s (possibly and subsequently others’ that could also be) inciting quotes like “if you don’t like someone’s story, write your own,” or the one quoted earlier, should not be included among well meaning quotes like that of Biko or Tutu. If the media should be neutral and foster peace, then the selection of those quotes should be made with a look out for bad ones. The selection must be neutral as well as aim to project objectivity instead of promoting prejudices that could be very dangerous for the current situation of the country. Achebe has a lot of quotes that touch lots of issues. They are useful. Not these ones that are belied by something completely out of the spheres of Unity and Progress.
You have been indulgent to a lot of people in the organization and particularly me, my appreciation will never fade. I implore you to indulge me on this one, too.
Thank you sir.

Mukhtar Muhammad Iya.


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