By Uzoh Chikwado
A man cannot be separated from the times in which he lived. All he does and says makes meaning chiefly within his context. Invariably, any attempt to interpret him outside this context will naturally fail. We are Africans and for time immemorial, the words of the elders have always mattered such that whenever we go contrary to them, the consequences are dire. The elders on their own part know the weight of authority and confidence reposed in them by the community. This makes them not to hesitate in voicing out their opinion whenever things are not going so well.
It s in this spirit of unrest in the face of impending danger that Ezeudu approached Okonkwo before the town set out to kill Ikemefuna. Achebe in his Things Fall Apart wrote about a certain boy who was from another village but was used as part of settling a problem between Okonkwo’s Umuofia and theirs. The respect the Umuofia people had for Okonkwo made them to entrust Ikemefuna in his hands pending when they will need him. Ikemefuna showed uncommon sense and adapted so well that Okonkwo preferred him to his own son, Nwoye. But as time rolls by, the villagers wanted to use Ikemefuna for what they agreed on earlier on.
Ezeudu, being an elderly man and in compliance with the adage that ‘an elderly person does not stay in the house and the goat entangles itself and dies’, went straight to Okonkwo to advice him.
Hear him: This child calls you father, do not have a hand in his death! The words were apt and the message sank in. But Okonkwo, being a man who cared more about how the people see him, given his father’s poor rating in the society, did not heed the advice. He killed Ikemefuna and that contributed to his eventual downfall.
Today in Nigeria, we have as President, a man who shares the nuances found in Okonkwo. He is more interested in how his Northern constituency sees him as against the words of wisdom pouring in every now again. Recall that when he went to the U.S.A that he reiterated his desire to be clannish hence he made the statement that has since been recognized as 97% vs 5%. The statement generated an uproar in Nigeria as it certainly runs against the ethics of democracy. Everyone MUST not vote for you. But again the President disregarded the outcries and perhaps treated it as coming from the ‘wailers’.
This year alone three prominent elders have spoken with a view to help us out of this sorry state. But the man, quite like Okonkwo, is adamant. First came President Obasanjo’s letter advising him to dismount from the horse of Nigerian leadership after 2019. Then came Ibrahim Babangida with his advice that Nigeria needs to move away from analogue to digital leadership. The above two elderly advice were dismissed and treated with levity. Perhaps, the exact way Okonkwo did to Ezeudu’s advice. Now, Theophilus Danjuma has spoken and everything seems to be scattering.
Perhaps, the end is in sight. Okonkwo for his failure to follow Ezeudu’s warnings had to pay with his life- taking his life on his own. To make matters worse, he was not buried, he was thrown into the evil forest- which is the place where nobodies are buried. He returned to the very place his father (whom he never wanted to be associated with) was buried. From all indications, Buhari’s actions and inactions seem to be gradually taking him to the very place his predecessor- Jonathan, was before he was sent packing.
From all indications, Buhari’s actions and inactions seem to be gradually taking him to the very place his predecessor- Jonathan, was before he was sent packing.
Uzoh, Chikwado sent in this from Badore, Lagos.