By SOC Okenwa
The Igbos are mostly found in south-eastern Nigeria. A great people with great culture and custom the republican lifestyle of the Igbos leaves them as a strong people who value personal liberty and choices. Sometimes described by critics as generally difficult to rule or control based on this principle of rooted republicanism the Igbos are fiercely independent and economically indomitable. Naturally imbued with deep convictions and conquering enterprising spirit the Igbos are very proud of their heritage dating back centuries.
They go to great length to maintain family ties in the unique spirit of brotherhood -- uncompromisingly attached to family values held sacrosanct for ages! This commentator is a member of this great community east of the Niger and he is indeed proud! Whilst that fact is established it does not in any stretch of imagination prevent one from speaking the truth even if that truth is against the interest of my people.
Last March I was navigating the internet one early morning as is usual reading up some home news when I stumbled upon a news item in 'The Sun' newspaper whose interesting title instantly drew my attention (http://www.sunnewsonline.com/webpages/news/national/2012/mar/31/national...). Perusing through I was somehow amazed at the extent man could go to be able to give vent to his 'manhood'. It was about the booming 'business' in Igboland of baby selling and buying! Security agents reportedly 'invaded' a so-called Orphanage Home in Anambra State where they made some arrests and freed some female 'hostages' -- some heavy with pregnancy!
I had wanted to do a commentary about this reprehensible practise of wilful trade in innocent 'angels' visiting a sinful world where morality is proving inexistent especially in Nigeria but on a second thought I somehow abandoned the idea preffering to concentrate my attention on burning national issues of the day.
But recently another similar news item in the same 'Sun' (http://www.sunnewsonline.com/article/babies-sale-soldiers-raid-aba-orpha...) elicited a concerned interest in me and I decided it was time to denounce this evil 'business' that seeks to exploit the weakness of some unfortunate girls in Igboland and elsewhere. The news was still about the raid carried out by soldiers in an orphanage in Aba Abia State. The soldiers reportedly arrested six girls (some pregnant!) for alleged child trafficking while six babies were recovered from 'captivity'! According to the report the owner of the home escaped arrest and was still at large!
When an African man takes a wife and a year passes by without the wife giving birth tongues would start wagging and in Nigeria in general and in Igboland in particular people, relatives and friends alike, would begin to ask questions as to the 'sexual compatibility' and drive of the couple. Misfortune always commands more attention than good news!
My late father always told me during his eventful years sojourning here with the living that the only viable 'profit' one could draw by associating with a woman is by having a child with her! Every other thing considered reproduction represents a sure way of maintaining man's dominance over other animals in this modern jungle we call planet earth; it is in perfect accord with divine exhortation and nothing could be compared to it. Bearing a child, therefore, constitutes a bundle of joy for any family since it assures the continuation of the family tree, generation after generation. I never knew the deep meaning of this parental joy until I had my beautiful daughter, Stella, last year! Inside her eyes I am daily seeing the image of God and the wonders of providence!
You see the truth here must be told no matter whose ox is gored. The problem of child trafficking is not limited to Igboland alone. No! But the difference here happens to be the propensity with which some Igbo men and women are desperate to 'buy' babies or use same for money rituals! While some couples are in need of babies to solidify their marital relationships others desire new-born babies for purposes of making satanic money! I remember how the late "Eddie N'awgu", the dreaded marabout in the east killed by the equally dreaded Bakassi boys, was alleged to be using innocent babies for rituals sometimes putting them in a mortar and pounding them to pieces!
In Igboland when you are married and bearing a child poses a problem then you are in trouble! All sort of stories would be making the rounds about your impotency or your wife's past wayward lifestyle leading to her committing uncountable abortions. The pressure from the village and elsewhere would force you to seek out a solution: visiting spiritual homes and pastors or going all the way to buying a baby which would then be presented to everybody as your own child! In this case of baby buying and selling a syndicate is involved; a network of baby-supplying chain linking the entire south-eastern states.
While the high cost of marriage in Igboland discourages eligible men from marrying and settling down the unwritten rule that forbids a girl from having any child before marriage forces girls to either go for abortion in the event of an unwanted pregnancy or contemplate even selling off the baby once it is delivered. The situation is that serious and something must be done by elders in the villages to reduce the prohibitive cost of marrying our girls in the village or towns in Igboland.
The quest for easy riches does a lot of damage to the values hitherto held sacrosanct in Igboland! Or how else does one explain a situation where no one asks any question about how anybody suddenly becomes rich? Be he a politician, a businessman or whatever as long as you have money in the east then you are a law unto yourself -- doing no wrong and becoming 'King Solomon' the wise-man! Your pedigree no longer matters since richness (no matter the source) is seen as a virtue worth worshipping! Whether you are a graduate or an illiterate does not count here; what counts is your capability to break even no matter the company you keep or how dirty your past or present.
Living in a society where marriage, in its pure sense, remains a social compact many Igbos try their best to 'comply' with this social contract by 'contracting' a wife, whether love is involved or not is never an issue in some marital union. That is why today people (especially young ladies) go for rich guys without giving a damn about compatibility. If you make a 'mistake' by marrying a poor man you will live to regret your choice even though he loves you! Love is now a buyable and sellable commodity and the price varies from region to religion, tribe to tongue.
The truth is that in Igboland some people see survival economically as the only thing 'holy' enough to sacrifice whatever it takes for even if it involves selling a human head! When it comes to making money by whatever means some Igbomen and women have proven to be animals in human skin without conscience! That is why today you hear about the Igbos languishing in jails in foreign countries and others doing evil to be able to 'belong'. They go to any length to be rich -- be it drug trafficking or internet fraud, armed robbery, kidnapping or whatever! In this circumstance politics is left in the hands of the corrupt who use same to enrich themselves to the detriment of those that 'elect' them in the first place.
With many Igbo boys belonging to the league of the uneducated; that is, ignorant of happenings around them, they see money-making as the only way and means to achieve fame and success in life. The idea is not that bad but the problem lies in the fact that in this bizzare world-view of the illiterate personal survival and interest matter only to the 'victim'! And in that regard he sees governance or any struggle to achieve a collective social cause as a waste of his time and resources preffering to be 'imprisoned' in his little world dominated by little minds and little thoughts. Pity!
Igboland suffers today because the giants like the Azikiwes, the Ojukwus, the Mbakwes, the Okadigbos are now in their graves! The vaccum they left behind has proven to be too big and too sophisticated to be filled by the pretenders masquerading as "Igbo leaders". Whenever issues come to applying consensus in the interest of the Igbo presidency or Igbo renaissance you begin to hear discordant tunes dished out by smart crooks who have become stupendously rich by either cutting corners or becoming professional blackmailers, sycophants or political prostitutes.
What we have today as Governors, Ministers and politicians in general are nothing but political whores and embezzlers who see governance as means of expanding their 'estates' and conquering more 'territories' for their future generations! In this climate of selfishness and wickedness the average Igboman and woman is left to fend for himself or herself. This abandonment has led to the propagation of all sorts of doctrines and dogmas leading invariably to self-help.
One must state here clearly that he respects deeply the sanctity of human life and whoever takes what (s)he cannot give ought to be destined for the Hades! In this wise, therefore, whoever is impotent should declare his impotency and seek divine or medical assistance. (We have seen cases of men whose manhood was 'dry' receiving miraculous healing). And whoever is barren should make open her case of barrenness. Solution could be found through medical or divine intervention.
According to the French philosopher Roger Fournier: "Le miracle de l’amour, ce n’est pas d’aimer un homme ou une femme: c’est de s’aimer soi-même juste assez pour être capable d’aimer vraiment une autre personne". Translated to English it simply means: "The miracle of love is not to love a man or a woman; it is to love yourself well enough to be capable of really loving someone else". When we love ourselves and our neighbours respecting the sanctity of human life we may not consider 'stealing' or 'buying' babies to satisfy our clearly dysfunctional marital responsibility.
The booming baby 'business' in Igboland in particular and Nigeria in general must stop. For it is a big shame, an indecent and diabolical act that is calling the attention of Heaven! Let righteousness prevail, please!
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