Nsibidi: Education in Nigeria Before Colonisation

The Unknown Nigeria Blog: Nsibidi

It is the simplest thing in the world to assume Sub-Saharan Africans were illiterate and uncivilised before the coming of the White man. Such is well-embraced by the African – if you are well educated. Empire Day celebrated throughout the Commonwealth colonies reminded Nigerians that the King or Queen of England liberated them from bondage. The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, one of the best-loved works of Western literature describes the African as a savage and languageless, communicating with grunts like apes. The Father of Modern Social Anthropology, Alfred Radcliffe-Brown, swore that Africans had no institutions until the White man arrived – Africans had no marriages, kingdoms, trade, hierarchies, architecture, alphabet, medicines etc. of their own. All these facts are false but very rarely challenged by African scholars. Literacy and education did exist in South-Eastern Nigeria, for a millennium before colonisation. Let us talk about Nsibidi.

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Understanding Akpunwaism

Akpunwaism is a cultural reaction to defeat and the subaltern status of an ethnic or regional group within a state. Akpunwaism is unique to the Igbo ethnic group but its manifestation is not exclusive to it. The Japanese and Germans have their unique forms of Akpunwaism as a reaction to their defeat and domination by the Allied Forces during and after World War II. Many wars have produced the same in other parts of the world but with varied approaches and circumstances. Misunderstood, Akpunwaism is often portrayed by other Nigerians as a composite of greed and domination by the Igbo man and woman. To the Igbo people, on the contrary, it is a necessary and peaceful approach to both survival and prosperity. One then wonders what Akpunwaism is after all.

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Obasanjo is neither Fulani nor Igbo

In 2012 an Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) operative intimated to me very intensely that the then President Olusegun Obasanjo was a traitor to the Yoruba race citing many things he did as military and civilian head of state as proof. One accusation was the nationalisation of Western region-owned assets to the federal government dominated by the Hausa-Fulani. Another accusation was the initiation of the transfer of the Nigerian capital from Lagos in the South-west to Abuja in the North. There were other accusations mentioned and they were supposed to persuade me and others that Obasanjo was a thoroughgoing agent extraordinaire for Northern hegemony or imperialism. In the 1960s and 1970s, the nationalisation of major industries was a global vogue and blaming Obasanjo as one head of state in a thoroughly global trend is harsh. Continue reading

Nigeria in Pieces: Biafra & Kanu

Nigeria

It was a grievous mistake on the part of the Government of Nigeria (GON) to arrest the Biafran secessionist activist, Nnamdi Kanu (See; The Government Has Jumped Up “Biafra” http://wp.me/p1bOKH-pt). Apart from Kanu’s new status of cause celebre due to his arrest and the risk of his martyrdom, the GON has continued to escalate the problem for itself. Many said Kanu’s arrest was a “non-event”. Now a peaceful protester has been shot dead by the police in Port Harcourt. As Ghandi famously proclaimed “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”. Kanu was ignored, laughed at and now he is being fought by the GON. The question is, will Kanu eventually win? Continue reading

Wole Soyinka and Traditional Forgiveness?

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After innumerable citizens indigenous to Lagos and the South-West region in Nigeria roundly criticised traditional ruler Rilwan Akiolu, the Oba of Lagos, for his unfortunate ‘warning to the Igbos’, one should be impressed that there is hope in Nigeria even though not immediately convincing. The warning the Oba meted bordered on vicious tribalism and tribal cleansing. It provided an opportunity to witness social and political maturity and sensibility in the entire South West that is alive, sensitive and robust. Wole Soyinka, a South Westerner himself, and  Nigeria’s most influential intellectual cum human rights activist – did not say a word.

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