There Was A Country: Why Hausa-Fulanis, Yorubas Hate Igbos – Achebe

Africa’s literary giant and celebrated writer Chinua Achebe, has claimed that Nigerians, especially the Hausa/Fulanis and the Yorubas, do not like the Igbos because of their cultural ideology that emphasizes ‘change, individualism and competitiveness.’

He made this claim in his new book, There was a Country, which has generated controversy for his onslaught on the role of Obafemi Awolowo as the federal commissioner of finance during the Nigeria civil war. He accused Awolowo of genocide and imposition of food blockade on Biafra, a claim that has drawn rebuttals and contradictions of emotional intensity from some southwest leaders and commentators.

“I have written in my small book entitled The Trouble with Nigeria that Nigerians will probably achieve consensus on no other matter than their common resentment of the Igbo,” he wrote under the heading, A History of Ethnic Tension and Resentment. He traced the origin of “the national resentment of the Igbo” to its culture that “gave the Igbo man an unquestioned advantage over his compatriots in securing credentials for advancement in Nigerian colonial society.”

He observed that the Igbo culture’s emphasis on change, individualism and competitiveness gave his ethnic group an edge over the Hausa/Fulani man who was hindered by a “wary religion” and the Yoruba man who was hampered by” traditional hierarchies.”

He therefore described the Igbo, who are predominantly Catholic, as “fearing no god or man, was “custom-made to grasp the opportunities, such as they were, of the white man’s dispensations. And the Igbo did so with both hands.”

He delved into history with his claim, asserting that the Igbo overcame the earlier Yoruba advantage within two decades earlier in the twentieth century.

“Although the Yoruba had a huge historical and geographical head start, the Igbo wiped out their handicap in one fantastic burst of energy in the twenty years between 1930 and 1950.”

He narrated the earlier advantage of Yoruba as contingent on their location on the coastline, but once the missionaries crossed the Niger, the Igbo took advantage of the opportunity and overtook the Yoruba.

‘The increase was so exponential in such a short time that within three short decades the Igbos had closed the gap and quickly moved ahead as the group with the highest literacy rate, the highest standard of living, and the greatest of citizens with postsecondary education in Nigeria,” he contended.

He said Nigerian leadership should have taken advantage of the Igbo talent and this failure was partly responsible for the failure of the Nigerian state, explaining further that competitive individualism and the adventurous spirit of the Igbo was a boon Nigerian leaders failed to recognize and harness for modernization.

“Nigeria’s pathetic attempt to crush these idiosyncrasies rather than celebrate them is one of the fundamental reasons the country has not developed as it should and has emerged as a laughingstock,” he claimed.

He noted that the ousting of prominent Igbos from top offices was a ploy to achieve a simple and crude goal. He said what the Nigerians wanted was to “get the achievers out and replace them with less qualified individuals from the desired ethnic background so as to gain access to the resources of the state.”

Achebe, however, saved some criticisms for his kinsmen. He criticised them for what he described as “hubris, overweening pride and thoughtlessness, which invite envy and hatred or even worse that can obsess the mind with material success and dispose it to all kinds of crude showiness.”

He added that “contemporary Igbo behavior (that) can offend by its noisy exhibitionism and disregard for humility and quietness.

-THE NATION

87 COMMENTS

  1. I used to respect Chinua Achebe, but after reading that I can’t take him serious any more. It’s preposterous to even suggest something like that. I’m really disappointed and I think he should apologize.

  2. Achebe is a true nationalist. He tries to let Nigeria & Nigerian know that Igbos are not getting their full right in this country. So anybody or tribe that say they don’t respect should go to hell & kiss the devil

  3. @Adam.. Achebe dz regard d honour nd respect of ur wickd leaders, dat shows u dt he doesnt nid ur respect ok’ so go nd gv dt ur respect 2ur wickd leaders

  4. Back then in akiri during my NYSC(’11),a village in nasarawa state that shares boundary wit bakinchawa(an LGA in plateau state)which does not even ve a singular govt presence(light,road excpet d skl which was built by d community)…I claimed to be a niger-delta bcs youth from my host community always speak aloud their hatred for inyamuris(igbos)…
    So Achebe is definitely on point

    • @ceejay plateau and nasarawa states are in the middle belt and the indigenes are NOT hausa.There was a time when the middle belt was misled by the north to believe that Ibos are dishonest and sneaky people but today that has changed because thanks to Boko haram,the middle belter now knows that he has more in common with Ibos than he does with hausas.I’d rather have a hard working shrewd businessman even if he is money hungry than an islamic terrorist that wants to impose a 12 century lifestyle on everyone.All nigerians have contributed to the failure of nigeria because bad leaders come from all parts of the country.

  5. It is T̶̲̥̅̊h̶̲̥̅̊e̶̲̥̅̊ same ethnic α̲̅πϑ tribal chauvinism that is being exhibited here that T̶̲̥̅̊h̶̲̥̅̊e̶̲̥̅̊ literary icon, Achebe has derided in his very controversial book. We should learn to express an opinion without attacking personalities. We owe ourselves T̶̲̥̅̊h̶̲̥̅̊e̶̲̥̅̊ duty of unearthing T̶̲̥̅̊h̶̲̥̅̊e̶̲̥̅̊ issues in T̶̲̥̅̊h̶̲̥̅̊e̶̲̥̅̊ literary masterpiece published by a great mind. Let us discuss T̶̲̥̅̊h̶̲̥̅̊e̶̲̥̅̊ issues α̲̅πϑ not personalities α̲̅πϑ tribal affinity.

  6. The pedigree of an ace writer like achibie cannot but be lucidly spotted, but be that as it may i’ll say that this extract and the new book as a whole is his Sentimental view of the facts. The only way we can profit from this is to try to sieve out the pure facts out of his sentimental view of events.

  7. @Adamu who do u think Mr. Achebe need to apologise to, infact i don’t blame u, u’re fooled by ur so called ethnic leader. If u are really a true Nigerian u should know dat Mr. Achebe is saying what’s happening in dis country. Nigeria is jxt scared of Igbo’s. You better believe it or not without Igbo’s Nigeria can’t archive VISION 2020.

  8. I cannot trust his (Achebe) views anymore they are sentimental and eccentric showing hatred towards other tribes. This should not come from him he is just futher disuniting a country that is fragile in itself.

  9. I am disappointed with Achebe,he has clearly display partial view,to say that his people were cheated is a total scrab,has he forgotten the deaths of likes of awolowo,abiola and the rest? Indeed he is a litrary giant without an open minded view….

  10. Achebe should cause another confussion bkoz to me igbo are the majority tribe controling all the trading activities in the not and i see how hausa partner with them without any trouble. So he should cast his net on the politician both igbo, hausa and yoruba and stop all this alligation bkoz both igbo, hausa, yoruba are living happhily hear in the north.

  11. Just taking a look across the multiple comments,one do not need to ask further questions,from the book to its comments to the reality in Nigeria.
    Nigeria is a fallen state because he that chases the chick,he failure is reserved for,but truth stings more than the bee,how I wish things might change through this book,ka ọnụ niile gbụrụ ogiri asụ rụrụ ya rachaa.
    The greatest ‘Nigeria’s’ problem today is the continuous existence of the Igbo race,because we are DIFFERENT !
    Only Igbos can stand up,and to your face tell you ‘you are wrong’,that’s our ‘soiled’ best political and religious culture,no matter who you are,and that is why leaders struggle to create a good impression anywhere,because they are chosen by the people,and improvement knocks at the door,but the reverse is the case in Nigeria,they struggle to be leaders so as to be revered and payed tributes,like the ‘Oba’ like the ‘Emirs’
    Tell us what is more bitter and sweeter than TRUTH,and we’ll know who you are !
    THUMBS UP MAZI ACHEBE,FOR COURAGIOUSLY STANDING UP,even when the so called ‘Igbo leaders’ lie under ‘naira’,we know they are dead,as the Nigeria had buried them with it ‘coward-heapful gravels of its ‘Naira’.

  12. Until the ibos realised and acept the fact that their major enemy is themself its only then they can claim their suppose rightful place in Nigeria. Fact; Awolowo name still win vote in yoruba land, can u say d same of Zik or Ojukwu. Ojukwu tried for the precidency ao many ibos vote for him then. I was suprised wen i see ndibo closin shops for his burial. Hypocrites!

  13. Nzeogu an ibo man carried out a coup and killed hausa n yoruba leaders and an ibo man was install as head of state. What did u xpect d hausas to do, they start killin ibo leadin to the conter coup den civil war. In d first coup yoruba leader were killed and in the second coup too. So y is the yoruba reapin all d blame? Y is achebe afraid to point finger @ Gowon who led d govt den is he waitin untill hes no more to defend himself? Time will tell

  14. I HATE these Igbos!! What the hell is wrong you people self? Who do you think you are! Sons and daughters of sodom and gomorah! Look let me tell you guys something here, you are all cursed okay! Who the hell is achebe to nbe bringing these nonsence in a time like this when we are trying to move forward as a people? Nobody and I repeat nobody has ever denied the igbos their place in the scheme of things instead they are their greatest enemies, yet they always come out to say rubbish! During the first installment of democracy they had up to 5 presidential candidates and many more competing with each other at party primary levels whereas other tribes united to produce single candidates, is democracy not a game of numbers??! When Goodluck came in some igbos clamoured for the presidency only for other highly placed igbos to say they are supporting goodluck bcos he is their brother! So who is fooling who here? If its that simple to grab power why didn’t ojukwu win when he started APGA? Wasn’t it your fellow Igbos that frustrated him? You guys should stop fooling yourselfs and stop crying wolf bkos unless you learn that North, middle belt and South West(including all yoruba speaking areas) are majority so you have to make peace and solicit their support you can’t win anything in Nigeria! Besides within yourselves there is no unity! I bet when election comes 2015 Igbos will have 20 presidential candidates! I’m not afraid of you guys and the truth must be said even though I know as usual a lot of empty heads will come to this thread(as usual) to start abusing me for my comments without reasoning with the truth. And mind you if you want another biafra war we shall fight again and this time you will be wiped out completely so you can go look for somewhere else to stay ok! Thives and criminals! How will you win when all you care about is accept bribe to support another group against your own? If not for these younger empty heads ibo generations who didn’t even experience the civil war, those ibos who really fought won’t come here and start saying rubbish bkos they know the evil war brings! Achebe never fought, he wasn’t even in Nigeria to start with yet now he sits where he is to say rubbish! Grumpy old fool! The truth is that no matter how educated a human being is his character will always be part of him, achebe you are just a self centered, hollow minded, myopic, and yes totally twisted minded fellow pls die quick and leave Nigeria alone!!!

    • it doesnt matter, hate Igbos, d same way Isrealites are hated.
      But remember:
      THE TICKNESS OF THE CLOUD DOES NOT STOP THE SUN!

      WHO GOD BLESS, NO MAN CAN CURSE!

      WHO CAN BE AGAINST ONE GOD IS WITH!
      bEWARE!!!!!!

    • I am a yoruba man and i grew up in a small town called Oshu, located between Ile-Ife and Ilesha. As a young man i was living in my grandfathers house at Oshu and an Ibo family named Chinwumba(sorry if the spelling is wrong) was our tenant. I grew up with their children, and i was regarding him like my father. It used to be so when a young yoruba child sees an elderly man that can be his father, automatically he says with respect “Baba”-father. So i did not see any difference between this Ibo family and my own family. I loved them, and when i was disobedient to my grandmother, this Ibo man always discipline me like my father. I never say he was not my father. This is how i grew up.Then the civil war started, automatically i was supporting the ibos and felt sad that they war been slained like goats in the north. After my secondary education ( G.C.E. University of London) i was employed by nigerian airways as reservationassistant, then the government was circulating letters during the civil war, inviting people with WASC to come and join the army as 2.Lt in training. I went for the exam having it in mind to join the nigerian army and then to jump over to the biafran side. Thank God, i failed the physical tests. I could have risked my life for unjust cause. When i came to europe, i have more ibo friends as my native yoruba people. It is then i fully understood the ibos. They are very greedy and if you take them as guests, they want to overtake your home. This is what happened in the north in the 60s. Go to every country in the western world, you hear more about ibos engaged in criminal acts smuggling deadly drugs like cocain and heroin. So i do not pity them again for what happened to them during the civil war. They have big eyes, they want to be rich very quickly. It pains me that a well known author like Chinu Achebe is now sowing tribalismus in his new phamphlet. Let the war come, we shall deal with them this time all these Ewus and Nkitas.

      • Dear Sir,your exposition started off so brilliantly and then faded to a racist shadow. How and why did we criticize Adolf Hitler for his brazen assault on the Jewish race with a mindset such as what you just exhibited Sir, please we are one Nation and to remain so, we should alienate ourselves from the concept of Igbos being ursurpers. I thank you again my brother and wish you well. For me, Achebe’s latest work is brilliantly toned and remains what it is, “literature”. It does not represent the collective view of any one tribe and is not meant to incite resentment for anyone. It is an individual account of an exhilarating experience and should always be treated as such.

        • hi emeka, nice piece from you,but if the truth be told pa achebe reignited ethnic tensions in his book with the way he attacked personalities and this might not help the igbo cause in the forceable future

        • Emeka, you wrote well, if what Ayo Ibikunle thinks about igbos are tell, which i know it false why not allow igbos and other ethnics to form their biafra.

    • I wish to meet you in person, abuse those that exchange words with you and not to Igbos in general. Be careful. Yorubas are known to be cowards and you’re no exception period.

    • Have you finished insulting your father this is why you asked your father to die quick well watch your family die quick from now.

  15. is this the way forward?looking behind and instigating ethnic rancour will only heat up the polity.Achebe may have a good intent buh he is doing more harm than good.i think so

  16. @oodu bio u are wrong to say that we do not love ourselfs the igbo u know before is not the igbo u know now and beside we love each order more than other tribuse in nigeria or don’t u think so let me tell u we igbo do not worship any body ok.

  17. Thank you adewole and odua boi!! Look me I used to hate anything war but these igbos are beginning to annoy me and as of now I am ready to join the Nigerian army!!! Let’s go there!! If you want another war you shall have it fa!!! Gaskiya za mu chi gindin ku! Ma su banza kawai! Talking rubbish all the time. Achebe is enjoying in America you are here supporting his misguided talk when trouble start now you will be the one to die not achebe.maukachi banza

  18. Achebe is an old fool…dat should not be taking serious. He is realy suffering from old age and ethnic jingoist.
    Yes we hate IBOz, include you achebe, we hate u so what?

  19. U guys were born after the war, achebe wrote what he experienced and saw. Few days before the war he was in lagos as the director ‘natioal broadcasting corporation’ he knows best what happened. Besides he is an old man and about to die, he wants to say the truth before he dies!

  20. He is having mental problems that is associated with old age! This kind of people should be assassinated lest their utterances lead to war! His death is better than many more innocents that maybe killed due to his careless talks.

  21. About the Nigerian Civil war, published by The Punch Newspaper

    Quote

    “Although Chief Obafemi Awolowo is not alive to respond to allegations levelled against him by renown novelist, Chinua Achebe, an interview he granted during a town hall meeting in Abeokuta, Ogun State in 1983 could as well pass for a defence.

    Fielding questions from members of a panel and the audience, Awolowo explained his policies as the Federal Commissioner of Finance during the Nigerian civil war.

    The town hall meeting which was part of his electioneering as the Unity Party of Nigeria presidential candidate in 1983, lasted for 90 minutes. It was aired live by some radio stations.

    Awolowo, who was then 74 years old, spoke on his roles in the civil war, especially the 20-pound policy, the alleged use of starvation against the Igbo and the change of the national currency.

    He said those castigating him on the basis of his roles in the civil war which began in 1967 and ended in 1970 were those who felt the only way to remain popular was by peddling lies against him.

    Achebe, in his wartime memoirs entitled, There Was A Country, accused members of the Gen. Yakubu Gowon cabinet, particularly Awolowo, of making “regrettable policies” aimed at deliberately reducing the number of Igbos.

    The novelist, whose most popular work, Things Fall Apart, has been published in more than 50 languages, said Awolowo came up with the starvation, 20-pound and currency policies with a view to exterminating the Igbo.

    According to Achebe, the late sage and former premier of the defunct Western Region, perceived the Igbo as his enemies.

    However, Awolowo, in the interview said contrary to the claim that he used starvation as a weapon against the Igbo, the then Federal Government was actually sending food to civilians in the war region.

    He added that government stopped sending food to the region when it was discovered that it ( food) was being hijacked by Biafran soldiers, who in turn gave the food to their “friends and collaborators”.

    Awolowo said, “We were sending food through the Red Cross, and CARITAS to them, but what happened was that the vehicles carrying the food were always ambushed by soldiers.

    “That’s what I discovered and the food would then be taken to the soldiers to feed them, and so they were able to continue to fight. And I said that was a very dangerous policy, we didn’t intend the food for soldiers. But who will go behind the line to stop the soldiers from ambushing the vehicles that were carrying the food? And as long as soldiers were fed, the war will continue, and who’ll continue to suffer?

    “So I decided to stop sending the food there. In the process, the civilians would suffer, but the soldiers will suffer most.

    “When you saw Ojukwu’s picture after the war, did he look like someone who’s not well fed? But he was taking the food which we sent to civilians, and so we stopped the food.”

    On his reasons for changing currency, Awolowo said it was to prevent Ojukwu, who is now late, from taking the money allegedly stolen from the Central Bank of Nigeria by his soldiers to buy arms abroad.

    “We did that to prevent Ojukwu from taking the money which his soldiers had stolen from our central bank to take abroad to buy arms. We discovered he looted our Central bank in Benin, he looted the one in Port Harcourt, looted the one in Calabar and he was taking the currency notes abroad to sell to earn foreign exchange to buy arms.

    “So, I decided to change the currency, and for your benefit, it can now be told the whole world,that only Gowon knew the day before the change took place. I decided, only three of us knew before then- Clement Isong, who was the CBN governor, Attah and myself.”

    Achebe had written in one of the chapters of the memoirs published in the UK Guardian on Tuesday that the policy was orchestrated “to stunt or even obliterate the economy of a people.”

    But Awolowo said the policy was what government resorted to when depositors could not show proof of what they had as deposits.

    “All the banks’ books had been burnt, and many of the people who had savings didn’t have their saving books or their last statements of account,” he said.

    Awolowo, who reiterated during the town hall meeting that he was “a friend of the Igbo,” said he saved the accrued revenue for the Eastern state during the period the war lasted and gave it back to them at the rate of 990,000 pounds as monthly subventions.

    He said, “I didn’t go to the Executive Council to ask for support, or for approval because I knew if I went to the council at that time, the subvention would not be approved because there were more enemies in the executive council for the Igbo than friends.

    “And since I wasn’t going to take a percentage from what I was going to give them, and I knew I was doing what was right, I wanted the Eastern state to survive. I kept on giving the subvention of 990,000, almost a million, every month.”

    He said he also ensured that the houses owned by the Igbo in Lagos and on the other parts of the country not affected by the war were kept for them.

    He said, “I had an estate agent friend who told me that one of them collected half a million pounds rent which has been kept for him. All his rent were collected, but since we didn’t seize their houses, he came back and collected half a million pounds.”

    My opinion, read and investigate more before coming to a conclusion. If we must stay together as a country, then we must see ourselves as Nigerians not as Yorubas, Igbos or Hausa. Ethnicity can not bind us together but Nigeria. It starts from you! One love

    • Well done for all your contributions. If I were you(contributor and writer), I will be talking about the future and not the past. We must forget what must have happened in the past and join hands together to uplift our country, Nigeria. Nigeria as a country needs prayers from every single soul as well as positive contributions for her growth and not criticism of any form. I therefore urge every nigerian, race, tribe, etc to embrace peace and harmony for development of our country, Nigeria. It pains me to the core if I see things of this nature. One love

  22. This article was subjective and try to raise social,political,economic discontent among tribal group.let try to examine the event critically and be objective not bias or sentimental like the author because it might led to tension,inter tribal conflict and create disunity among group.

  23. By Ayo Adebanjo

    There was a country: The Achebe, A great debate

    I AM sad and distressed that a literary giant and an elder statesman such as Professor Chinua Achebe should be credited with the statement attributed to him in his latest book on the Nigerian Civil War at this time in Nigeria’s political history, over 40 years after the end of the war.

    His statements, however, are not unfamiliar to those of us who were around during the civil war, and who knew what falsehood and half-truths were bandied around then especially from “Biafra Radio” and supporters of the Biafra cause, notable amongst whom was Professor Chinua Achebe. Some thought they were effusions from supporters of Biafra in order to enlist international support for Ojukwu, but many on the other hand, attributed Achebe’s position to his pathological hatred for Chief Awolowo and the Yoruba race.

    Achebe has accused Chief Awolowo of being part of General Gowon’s cabinet that initiated pogrom and genocide as a policy against the Igbos. Yet, Achebe cannot claim ignorance of the fact that specific recorded instances of pogrom and genocide were a consequence of the second military coup of July 1966 in which northern soldiers and northerners committed series of atrocities against the Igbos in the North.

    At this time, Awolowo was still in prison in Calabar serving his jail term for treasonable felony. It was after his release from prison that Gen. Gowon invited him to join his cabinet as vice chairman of the Federal Executive Council and Minister of Finance. The war was already brewing at such time. At the risk of his life, and against the advice of his cabinet colleagues, Awolowo made contact with Ojukwu and met him in Enugu to dissuade him from going to war. In his one-on-one meeting with Ojukwu, Chief Awolowo tried to persuade Ojukwu to come to a round table conference with the Federal Government to iron out his differences with the government. But despite of the assurances the then Colonel Ojukwu gave to Awolowo that he had accepted to dialogue, Ojukwu reneged and a few weeks later attacked the Midwest and thus declared war against the Federal Government. Which is how the civil war became inevitable. The above facts are verifiable. Fair-minded persons cannot accuse Awolowo of being part of the intellectual arm of a cabinet that intentionally initiated the pogrom of the Igbos, when in fact the record shows he took positive steps to persuade Ojukwu to avoid the conflict.

    Whilst the war was raging after the liberation of part of the then South East, which then included Port Harcourt and Calabar, Awolowo visited Enugu and Port Harcourt where he saw Kwashiorkor (malnourished) victims for the first time. He wondered how this could happen in view of the quantity of food items sent through international agencies to the civilians in these areas. He was then informed that the food never got to the civilians as the items were cornered by the soldiers, who were feeding to the detriment of the civilians. One can imagine such a report being provided to a cabinet filled with military officers conducting a war. It should not be surprising that to avoid feeding enemy soldiers, the Federal Government at the time put a stop to the delivery of food meant for the civilian population that was being hijacked by Biafran soldiers. This is what Achebe mischievously called the deliberate starvation of the Igbos. I would like Professor Achebe, if he can, to make reference to any publication, where Awolowo made the statement that starvation was a legitimate tool of war. Furthermore, if such starvation ended with the end of the war, Professor Achebe should explain why, if the specific objective of the policy was to reduce Chief Awolowo’s enemies, did he not influence the continuation or doubling up on such policy when Nigerian troops had control of Biafran territory at the end of the war. One would have thought the charge of genocide should have been better directed at the leaders of Biafra, who had first hand knowledge of the starvation in the area they controlled, and yet did not as they could, bring an end to the war sooner before two million people, mainly members of future generations had died of starvation as Achebe claimed.

    Also, during the war it became known that the Nigerian currency, which Biafran soldiers had looted from Central Bank locations in Biafra-occupied areas were being exchanged to buy harms for the Biafran army. To put a stop to this, Chief Awolowo, as the federal Commissioner for Finance, suddenly changed the Nigerian currency without the prior knowledge of members of the cabinet. Even General Gowon, who was the head of state, was informed only a day before the announcement. These two major policies of stopping food meant for civilians, which was being ambushed by the Biafran soldiers and the sudden change of Nigerian currency were the two factors that quickly brought the misery of the civil war to an end.

    It should be noted that Chief Awolowo’s prudent management of the Nigerian economy made it possible for the Federal Government to prosecute the civil war without borrowing a kobo from the outside world. This achievement was acclaimed globally. It is this policy that quickly put an end to the insurgence that Professor Achebe has interpreted as a punitive measure against the Igbo.

    At the end of the civil war, a problem did arise with respect to how to verify the amounts creditable to Biafrans, who made claims to money held in Nigerian banks before the declaration of war. Unfortunately there were no records to confirm the amount in savings or current accounts held by a good number of such Biafran claimants. As a result, a committee was set up by the Central Bank, the members of which were unknown to Chief Awolowo. Such committee recommended an across the board payment of £20 to every claimant. It is therefore most uncharitable for professor Achebe to put the blame of the payment of this amount on Chief Awolowo.

    Furthermore, to extrapolate from this policy, a deliberate policy to stunt or obliterate the economy of the Igbo does not stand up to critical review and is rather far fetched. Firstly, what is an administrator to do in the face of such unverifiable claims? Pay every all and sundry claim? As Awolowo had stated, doing so would have bankrupted Nigeria at the time. Secondly, common sense would suggest that claims that such sums as were left behind were very substantial needed to be substantiated. It should be noted that the percentage of all Nigerians in general, with substantial amounts in banks during that period was limited. In addition, with the advent of impending war, the natural reaction is a run on banks to withdraw all such sums or as much as possible, particularly for Igbo then deemed to be fleeing to a new country Biafra.

    Under such context, the payment of £20 pounds (a substantial sum at the time) to all claimants without proof of specific amounts due to them was not altogether an unreasonable policy. More to the point, this was not a policy recommendation that can be specifically attributable to Awolowo, but rather the recommendation of a committee of the Central Bank set up at the time.

    It is noteworthy that after the division of the country to 12 states by General Gowon in 1968, the East Central State composed mainly of Igbo people emerged. Awolowo then diligently saved the monthly allocation due to Igbo during the war and released same to them at the end of the war. The African Continental Bank (ACB) and the Cooperative Bank for Eastern Nigeria, the two main financial institutions of the Igbo at the time, which had become moribund during the civil war were rejuvenated by Awolowo by releasing substantial funds to them for active operation. Achebe would have to explain how these actions beneficial to the Igbo emanated from somebody who, he claims had hatred for the Igbo or harboured any intent to deliberately and systematically exterminate the Igbo or deny their right of existence as a group. Furthermore, after the civil war, Achebe cannot claim ignorance of the fact that Awolowo personally wrote to prominent Igbo people (including Achebe himself), who had fled the country during the war to come back home. One of those, who responded to the call and whose home coming was facilitated personally by Awolowo was the late Chief M.C.K Ajuluchukwu, the former editor of Dr. Azikiwe’s Newspaper, The West African Pilot and his wife, a medical doctor, who were then based in Germany. Chief Awolowo facilitated the employment of the wife at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital and also latter employed Chief Ajuluchukwu as the director of research and publicity of his party, the Unity Party Of Nigeria.
    If it is true that Chief Awolowo was such an architect of pogrom and genocide against the Igbo, how would Professor Achebe explain the fact that there were no incidents of pogrom or genocide against the Igbos in any part of the then Western Region composed mainly of the Yorubas, and Chief Awolowo’s primary sphere of influence. Rather, the Igbo, who fled the West on the clarion call of Ojukwu for them to return to the East had their property kept safe for them, with the rents collected on the property duly accounted for at the end of the civil war and paid to such Igbo owners.It should be noted that no incidents of “abandoned property” occurred in the Western Region-Chief Awolowo’s zone, rather the controversy around such property were restricted to areas such as Port Harcourt and the Northern Region.
    Whilst it is true to say that Awolowo had the ambition to rule the country, it is unkind to say he wanted to achieve this by wiping out the Igbo, whom he considered an impediment. On the contrary, Chief Awolowo’s position had always been to rule the country with other progressive elements from all parts of the country including the Igbo. This he demonstrated in 1959 after the pre-independence general election, when he offered to serve under the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe as Prime Minister, with him as Minister of Finance. The NCNC (the party led by Dr. Azikiwe) turned the offer down and preferred an alliance with the NPC under the late Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello. This incident was referred to, by the late Dr. M.I Okpara (former Premier of the former Eastern Region in an interview in the New Nation Magazine published in 1977 by the veteran journalist Chief Gbolabo Ogunsanwo. In the interview Dr. Okpara said he will regret to the last day of his life that he did not support the alliance between the Action Group and the NCNC, which could have made Dr. Azikwe the Prime Minister and Chief Awolowo the Minister of Finance. Even before the general election of 1983, there were attempts to form an alliance between the UPN led by Chief Awolowo and NPP led by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe all in an attempt to have progressive forces form an alliance against the conservative NPC. Again this attempt did not materialise due to the opposition by the Yoruba leaders in the NPP at the time. It is also interesting to recollect that at the demise of Chief Awolowo, Chief Ojukwu, himself, remarked that “Awolowo was the best president Nigeria never had”. None of the foregoing suggests a man with hatred for the Igbo. Yoruba leaders led by the late Senator Abraham Adesanya have been working in close political collaboration with prominent Igbo leaders like Admiral Ndubisi Kanu, a former Governor of Lagos State and Admiral Ebitu Ukiwe, a former Chief of General Staff and Professor Ben Nwabueze, in an honest attempt to find equitable solutions to the problems of the country. The leaders of both ethnic groups have been putting their heads together for the emergence of a progressive Nigeria in peace and unity. It is sad that instead of Professor Achebe joining this progressive movement, he has chosen to bring into the front burner, the dark period of Nigeria’s history. What he stands to gain by repeating such falsehood, I cannot honestly comprehend. I believe however it is clear from the historical record that Awo had no Igbophobia, it is Professor Achebe that has to be cured of his Awophobia.

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    Author of this article: Ayo Adebanjo

    • Beutiful idea by BABA ACHEBE.For how long will the hausa fulani tell us that we are one nigeria
      , but openly segregate in favour of hausa fulani. cudos to the igbos abeg.

  24. @Sunday I thank you so much for bringing this article to bare on this thread! It is an indepth explanation of what really went down during the dark days of Nigeria history, I am however disappointed that most of theIgbos who come here to comment do so based on emotions/sentiments rather than facts. Even so it’s more unfortunate that somebody of Chinua Achebe’s calibre should deliberately at this point of Nigeria history choose to concot lies and imaginative stories which I’m sure are just his novelist instict, but to want to write a novel by twisting the truth is to say the least despicaple and treasonable. Futhermore how come he has finally realised Awo championed genocide? Was he, Chinua Achebe born after Awo died? Why didn’t he bring this matter up when Awo could have had answers for him? I think Achebe is a chronic coward, no wonder he fled the country while other Igbos where fighting the war now he accuses a dead man of an event which happened over 39 years ago! How low can a human being go? I’m happy he even rejected the National Award because he has showed why he was so unqualified to receive such. He should consider himself lucky to come from a race of people who are themselves not rational and incapable of using their discretion if not I expect by now Igbo elders should have cautioned him and called him to order. At 80 what one expects of him is to prepare to meet his God by repenting of all ill-intentions, preach peace, forget about the perceived past hurts, and think of his children and grand children who will bear his name and by consequence suffer whatever legacy he bequeaths to them.

    • Your aimless rantings and accusations are just that, rantings. You may be entitled to your own opnions about Prof Achebe, but no to your own facts. The facts are there for all to see, nothing is made up. Awo himself confessed that he used food blockade which led to starvation as a justifiable weapon of war. Achebe did not make that up. The truth is bitter but must be told.

  25. All I can say is that you need to be an Igbo man, working in a public institution that is dominated by other tribes, to fully understands what profesor Achebe is saying. Igbos are closely watched and monitored by other tribes of the country. Every move he make is seen as ambitous. Other tribes could be doing it, but as soon as Igbo man does it, it becomes a subject of scrutiny. The reason couldn’t be anything else except jealousy and fear . I am talking from experience. Sometimes, I feel like it is a crime to be an Igbo man. But I am proud to be an Igbo man.

  26. Ibos sef una own don too mush as for me if na anoda war una want me I’m ready to go and join the Nigeria army so we will panel beat una once again. Una forget say the war was caused by ibos from the start when major Nzegwu went about killing highly placed northern officers and yoruba officers only to swear in aguyi ironsi as head of state! What do you guys expect? Infact ibos should appologise for to Nigeria for the war and trying to divide the country ileegally

  27. God bless Nigeria, bt Nigeria does’nt bless God. In Nigeria 2day de prblm we hv is tribalism, each tribe is trying 2 be ahead of others. Hausa, yoruba shld apologize 2 igbo or Nigeria as Nation wil never in life history see PEACE…A word is enough 4 a wise

  28. Ugochukwu it your life and family generations that will never know peace amen. What a big fool you are! Did the igbos not start the war by killing tafawa balewa and several top hausa/yoruba officers and politicians? You igbos were only being paid back in your own coin! Maybe you guys should appologise first igbos my nyash.

  29. pride goes before a fall. It is a Gospel truth that any tribe who claim superiority on the face of the earth had and must be humbled or wipe out. Pride is so poisonous that it can debase a nation and destroy it unity. The Igbos should blame their pride and repent cos they are reaping God’s natural harvert of the fall that result from their empty pride. Let them not blame the ir harvest on anyone or tribe, period. Everyone must avoid a proud people.

  30. yes, lack of respest for humanity…arm robbers, ashewos, blood money makers, manslaughters of strangers, cheaters, 419ers, waiyo jubiti thief thief all glorify and celebrated among igbos as open eye, smartness and sharpness. You igbos have spoilt our country.

    • Lmfao. The most wanted nigerians in usa, uk, and canada are YORUBA. Go to.DC, Atlanta and texas, th nigerians commiting fraud, drug dealing are predominately Yoruba. The nigerians that made guiness world record in terms of most digested illegal drugs are all YORUBA. Efcc most wanted list are predominately again YORUBA. the city which caters to 419 are all yoruba cities i.e: lagos being the highest, ibadan, oyo, etc. The fact that horubas try to imlicate igbos as the biggest contenders in nigeria criminality by their waste of excuse news media and son to speak of areas igbo are higher in them in terms of aboard in i.e: asia and imdia, does not remove the fact other nation havr a list of their most wanted intheir nation. In isa, your people are nothing but fraudster, criminals and the main reason, nigeria is hatef by everyone

  31. In nigeria, i knw we have hausa, yoruba and others. Which one is this ‘Igbo’ u guys talk about? Are they some life threatened cow dunk seekin assylum? Or are they some group of old feeble tattered toilet mushrooms, who feel the world shd care 4 their oozes? Somebody pls, wich?

  32. Reading all these comment have really shown me the kind of hatred the Yoruba tribe have 4 Igbos. Wow I thought we were only hated by the Hausas. As for Prof. Achebe’s book its Literature!, Awolowo has his documentary showing his views why can’t an Igbo man express his views. You talk of one Nigeria when some persons are ready to kill, because an Igbo man wrote a book. Am so disappointed reading all these comments filled with hate and wickedness from people I presume to be adults. All this hatred cause of a BOOK, Nigeria won’t grow like this.

    • You are young and this shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. The hausa are prideful ppl that if they hate you, they speak it with no fear. Similar to igbo and other tribes, the yoruba on the other hand are cowards that would hide their feelings until they feel save to speak it. I used to be clueless of their hated, feel into two faceness until i joined a forum created by one of their own called nairaland, till i learned how despicable this people are and as an Igbo you should be weary of them. Go to that website to learn the truth about this ppl. For a set to rejoice over the death of your own in terms of boko, Biafra war, etc speaks volume. Their words do not faze me because i know this is how they are yet always writing articles talking about how Igbo should stop seeing them as an enemy and join hands with them to fight off the lt northern reign of terror.

      To tell you the truth, if you are in a disagreement and an Hausa our Yoruba offer you help, deny both and if you have to choose one, trust me choose an Hausa help over the Yoruba.

  33. Igbo Overcame the Yoruba’s? Another Joke..Although i’ve always been a big fan of Sir Chinua Achebe, but all i can say is that he got it wrong this time, if you look into Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa’s History’s, then surely you will understand it all… Biafra war was just a waste, well when Obafemi Awolowo agreed to help the Hausa’s… I know alot about History but i will love to read your book

  34. i don’t believe Chinua Achebe wrote this book because when you are experienced in life, i dont see a reason why you still have to talk or act like a kid, maybe Chinua is being affected by his age or something.
    when you talk about Tribalism, culture, i can’t compare Igbo’s, Hausa’s or Fulani to the Yoruba’s… The Only Reason why Awolowo cut of the bridge that supply Igbo’s food was simply because Ojukwu didnt take him out of prison after there plan, so Alhaji Gowon was smatter, he took him out, so if you were in Awolowo’s shoe’s what will you do? Kill someone that saved you? Although am an Igbo man but with our greediness i dont see Igno’s moving forward..

    • Igbo man my foot. Even a moron from far away can tell you are yoruba isinh an igbo name similar to the ugonna name underneath your own. Who knows, both statement might actually be yours. You people are such cowards, always pretending to be igbo when someone speaks the truth about you peopl. Tufiakwa.

      • Many thanks noneya for stating the obvious as light cannot be intimidated by darkness . Moreso masqurading in name of Igbos is in the characteristic of these dangerous species that has remain the bane of the present state of Nigeria among the leag of Nations.
        Only accepting the truth and apologizing can heal and bring the desired peace to the Nation

  35. I don’t believe this is coming from our well-respected prof. Achebe. All i see out of this is that he wrote that book based on sentiments.

  36. The truth is bitter they say. If Achebe lied i can get the judging and puffing by the Yoruba and Hausa youth but he did not. Awolowo admitted he used starvation as a fighting stench against Biafra. The northerners committed genocide against people that weren’t even part of Biafra during the war but wee still considered Nigerians but simply because they are Igbo. Maybe Nigerians can explain what triggered the killings of Asaba and other anima a indigenous. As for the Hausa and Yoruba speaking of the coup, maybe you people can inform us what triggered the killings of Igbo people living in north during colonization, also what is triggering the killings now, meds.world contest, etc. lmfao, he said the truth, despite Nigeria and awolowo theifing igbo people wealth, property and all living standards, tried to.send us back to the dark ages in terms of development, we have actually passed you people in every category, overtaking your own cities and pretfy much more advanced than you all together. The north is living in dark ages ehile those they seek to hold back are above them. I laugh harsh ly. the truth is a bit tter taste to those that wish not hear it. Achebe, thank you for wisdom. May God continue to bless you with more knowledge.

  37. I always thought education would make an igbo man different, but i guess i was wrong.

    FACTS:

    1- 95% of Nigerians in Jail Abroad are all Igbos.

    2- 80% of thieves and crooks arrested in Nigeria are Igbos.

    Is that Yoruba-Hausa racism?

    Igbos are a disaster and a disgrace to the nation of Nigeria.

    Shameless, desperate, criminally inclined, greedy and crooks- Those are the acronyms of the Igbos.

    Achebe is suffering from old man’s disease or maybe he was looking for popularity.

    • You are shameless generation, a disappointment to God, tell me who are drug peddles in u.k and America.are they not Yoruba shameless people like you?.on Nigeria corruptions list. Yoruba top the list.Angola the chief of fraudulent act is he from onitsha? Obasanjo & Abiola international thief thief, history has it.that the Yoruba race is the problem on nigeria today.ask fela kutiand chief Hubert ogunde, they will educate.because I cast see that you are intellectually lazy.

    • @Mike..I believe you are intelligent enough to know that IF the statistics of – 1. 95% of Nigerians in Jail Abroad are all Igbos -and 2. 80% of thieves and crooks arrested in Nigeria are Igbos – are correct (we know they are not), then its a consequence of the deprivation experienced by the Igbos since after the war. How do want a rejected tribe to survive?. This simply points to the facts of what Sir Achebe is trying to bring out.

      MY GREATEST WISH IS THE THAT THE OTHER TRIBES OF NIGERIA WOULD WAKE UP ONE DAY AND SAY: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, PLS LETS LET THIS IGBO PEOPLE GO. THEN WATCH THEM AND SEE WHAT THEY BECOME IN JUST 10 YEARS.BUT WOULD THEY? NO. WHAT DID PHAROAH DO AFTER LETTING THE ISREALITES DEPART EGYPT, HE WENT AFTER THEM AGAIN? HAVE YOU ASKED WHY?

      PEOPLE OF NIGERIA JUST DO……PLS JUST DO IT. LET US GO……AND WATCH US!

  38. a man that has seen a lot is prone to talking alot, the man dat spent the night in d pit latterine shld be able to call each fly by name at dawn, Igbo, Yoruba n Hausa. dont be fooled d old man talks from his depth of experience. let him who has ears hear. There was once a NIGERIA very true to d latter. dis my humble logiomarchy void of sentiments

  39. yorubas are the worst enemy of the ibos and not hausas.i wish yorubas do not exist.very dirty people,occultic,juju and jazz people.their young girls and women both educated and uneducated are dirty and always smelling.they claim they are educated,but what have they contributed to develop nigeria.their girls are the cheapest prostitutes all over nigeria.they hate us because we have overtaken them in industry,commerce,entertainment, and even in education.one day earthquake or tsunami will wipe out lagos the sodom and gomorah of africa.the worst criminals in lagos are the yorubas.they do a lot of rituals.they mix religion with occultism.look @ their brother t.b joshua an occult man and anti christ in disguise and yet many don’t know.even though hausa have boko haram,yet i prefer them to yorubas.i can never trust a yoruba no matter how good he is.that adewole will die of motor accident on 31 dec 2012 for his wicked comments on ibos.i have no regrets.

  40. FACT: the hausa’s are without ambition, the yoruba’s are clueless and without courage, an average igbo man possess both qualities, now tell me, why won’t an igbo be hated? Islam has blinded my brothers from the north and kept them in a mind state of retrogressive thinking, Ethnicity is our greates un-doing.. If you lot argue that the igbo’s are a problem to themselves, why won’t y’all let them establish their own nation? My heart especially bleeds for my yoruba brothers, the don’t even know their left rom right, it is well, Achebe has spoken fearlessly, they igbo’s have clearly shown what individualism can do to a man first, and the society at large. While y’all on here displaying ethnic supremacy maybe you should channel that rage to critical thinking and not relying on ur block headed leaders to do something for y’all, having lived in Jos all my life, I can categorically tell you the northerners are the biggest problem this country and they found allies in the south-west!

  41. Chinua achebe, talks like a true igbo man, a small brain and a large mouth, not in ur wildest dream will igbo’s overtook yoruba’s in culture and academically, why is it d@ you are ranting after awolowo’s death now who is the coward. And to show that we will always be ahead as a yoruba Awolowo outsmart the whole igbo tribe, and to those cruxifying awolowo, read carefully, he cut the supply of food bcos biafra soldiers are collecting the food from the civilians. They always talk before the think “IGBO’S” we yoruba’s are always ahead of you in good things, but you’re ahead in term of Criminology

  42. Yoruba yo yo yo bi ina ale, Yoruba ro ro ro bi omi okun, Yoruba ba ba ba bi baba nse.yo yo yo Yoruba ro nu oh.these are the words of one the greatest dramatist.Hubert ogunde.his view about the Yoruba race.calling the Yoruba a chameleons

  43. DECEITFUL YORUBA S…… ON FRIDAY, U SEE THEM IN THE MOSQUE BOWING FOR FUCKING MOHAMMED, ON SATURDAY U SEE THEM IN OGBONI SHRINE MAKING FETISH INCANTATION FOR THE DECIMATION OF SOMEONE BIGGER THAN THEM(IGBOMAN)…. ON SUNDAY U SEE THEM IN THE CHURCH DISPENSING FALLACIOUS PROPHECIES TO PEOPLE IN THE AIM OF DUPING THEM………….. FUCKING YORUBAS JUST IMAGINE AND RECALL THE GREATEST ACHIEVERS IN NIGERIA AFTER THAT U BOW TO THE IGBOMAN INSTEAD OF FUCKING MOHAMMED and silly ogboni

  44. Seriously, we igbo people have inferiority complex, we feel inferior τ̲̅ǿ the yorubas and that’s y we try τ̲̅ǿ defend ourselves easily. In terms of education, yorubas are more read, they hv the best n cheapest federal and state universities in the country, even achebe studied in Ibadan, UI. The first radio and TV stations are in the west. Yorubas are the most accommodating and their region is fertile enough that they don’t have τ̲̅ǿ go τ̲̅ǿ other regions in Nigeria. We, igbos keep rushing τ̲̅ǿ Lagos for greener pastures, we contribute τ̲̅ǿ high crime rate there, our girls act Like prostitute just τ̲̅ǿ meet the demand of a mega city like lagos. We are greedy, give us a like space, we will want τ̲̅ǿ dominate and take the whole city. Yorubas are accommodating and friendly, they make us feel at home. If u think we r contributing τ̲̅ǿ the economy of Lagos, let us go bk τ̲̅ǿ our lands since yorubas don’t want us and let’s see if we won’t suffer. Let’s thank the yorubas for their transparency and tolerance τ̲̅ǿ accommodate us despite the fact that we r dubious and terrible. We are not even united. Yoruba has better culture, moral values and enlightenment. Which igbo governor can u compare τ̲̅ǿ Fashola, Amosu, Aregbesola, Ajimobi or Fayemi apart from Rochas. The yorubas n their lands are indispensable, we can’t do but go there cos there’s nothing in our land. .

  45. I’m an IBO lady born in Lagos ,I hate dem all,their ladies r prostitutes,mannerless,useless,and their mumu men very lazy ,woman wrapper cannot leave IBO women alone as if we love dem,we don’t like the yoruba s let dem leave us alonec

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