The diverse human experiences and artistic dimensions in Chinua Achebe’s works capture how Igbos distaste laziness and drunkenness. In the rich Igbo culture and tradition, for example, drunkards are not given a position of authority. They are laughed at for their buffoonery and refusal to work to discourage the young ones in the community from towing that line.
In Achebe’s Arrow of God, after Obika was whipped by the white man, Ezeulu, the Chief Priest accused his son of being “blind by palm wine when he left [his house] in the morning.” He added that “even when he came back a short while ago, it had still not cleared from his eyes.” Ezeulu’s good friend, Akuebue, reminded him that the story going around was that Obika did not strike the first blow in the fight. The Chief Priest wanted to know whether Akuebue “would swear before a deity on the strength of what a drunken man [said].”
In the excerpts, above, Achebe was painting a picture of how unreliable drunks are in Igbo society.
In the real-life drama unfolding before us in Nigeria, Nnamdi Kanu was blinded by wine when he left the United Kingdom for Nigeria, in pursuit of the elusive, yet enigmatic Biafra. In Nigeria, he drugged himself with palm wine. The same palm wine was still not cleared in his eyes when he “resurrected” after he was “crucified” by Buhari, and returned to the U.K. via Israel.
From the comfort zone of Oyibo man’s land, Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB are now calling for the stoning of hardworking men and women of Igboland. This is a senseless and self-destructive utterance that best be characterized as words of palm wine.
A feature of alcoholism is deception. Once drunk, alcoholics start lying about the quantity they have drunk. They start lying about where they have been. Because alcohol has taken control, chaos and disorder reign. Those who live with an alcoholic will tell you that it is a rollercoaster ride.
Since we embraced IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu, our life has been in a rollercoaster ride. Here are some samples of their words of palm wine: "No referendum, no election”; It is either Biafra or death"; "President Buhari is Jubril from Sudan" "Atiku Abubakar is from Cameron"; "signed sealed and delivered." And the latest is “refuse to sit-at-home and be stoned.”
Here are some actions of an alcoholic and how IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu have exhibited them. After drinking too much palm wine, you start making ridiculous claims like claiming that your president is an imposter from Sudan. You also start using abusive language: IPOB has abused all the ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.
With additional palm wine, a drunk start acting like a complete idiot: It is idiotic for IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu to keep claiming that President Buhari is a Jubril from Sudan.
As it gets worse, you start peeing on yourself and your followers: IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu peed on themselves when they called for the boycott of the 2019 Presidential election, only to reverse themselves and declare support for Atiku.
Then, there is the hangover. For IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu, the hangover from all the hallucination and wishful thinking is that they remained lazy.
Laziness is often symptoms of a bigger problem. Having failed in the lackluster attempt to instigate conflict between different ethnic nationalities, IPOB’s default resort to issuing “Sit-at-home” orders is an act of laziness. Calling for the stoning of Igbos working hard to feed their families is a symptom to the bigger problem – inferiority complex.
Nigeria’s multicultural character is a permanent feature that is expanding exponentially. As such, promotion of isolationism by any group could be an act of fear, fear that is driven by laziness and absence of courage to embrace and compete in the inevitable cosmopolitan nature of our cities and even villages.
For Ndigbo to remain focused and competitive, we cannot make the mistake of having a drunk in charge of a motor vehicle when you have sober men around. Why have Igbos allowed men who do not understand the value of labor to keep manipulating the Biafran Spirit? How can we stop the derailment?
Some self-reflection is needed if we are to wiggle ourselves out of this. As Igbos, even though the palm-wine drinkers in IPOB have lost their senses, we as a tribe must remain wise and be faithful to our age-long traditional understanding that the medicine against palm wine is the power to say no.
So, we must say no to the weaponization of the Biafran Spirit against Igbos by IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu. Igbos must start challenging IPOB’s ideology and strategy of misinformation. We must counter their buffoonery with sound and a superior argument backed by facts and not lies.
I will end this piece by returning to Chinua Achebe. In Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo's father Unoka was a drunkard who owed money to everyone. Unoka was not a good provider, and his wife and children often went hungry. As Chinua Achebe narrated, Okonkwo was ashamed of his father and was determined to rise above his upbringing to become a successful citizen and brave warrior.
To rise above the increasingly shameful utterances of IPOB, Ndigbo must begin to distance ourselves from this plague that we embraced. If an arrow has not entered deeply, then its removal is not hard. Before this arrow called IPOB penetrates deep into the heart of Umu Igbo and cause collateral damage, we must pull it out NOW.
The antics of a village drunkard or a market buffoon will provide laughter, but nobody prays that his child becomes a drunk or a market buffoon. With the latest words of palm wine from IPOB that the hardworking Igbos who refuse to sit-at-home should be stoned, the buffoons we sent to the market square are turning to koboko wielding masquerades, threatening to flog us for exhibiting the Biafran Spirit.
The Biafra land is under attack by the self-acclaimed Supreme leader of Indigenous People of Biafra.
What an irony!
You can email Churchill at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @churchillnnobi