HOW THEY LISTEN TO NNAMDI KANU: PICK AND CHOOSE. By Emeka Maduewesi

He killed his brother and blamed the Bible. Being a Christian fundamentalist, he had made the decision that he would always consult the Bible before doing anything significant. Although he had read the Bible from cover to cover, whenever he wanted special inspiration, he would close his eyes, open the Bible randomly, and point at any part of the opened pages. He would then open his eyes and read the verse on which his index finger rested. Most times he would make a second trip before forming his opinion and taking the necessary action. He would first open the Bible from a position that would likely be the Old Testament, before validating it with the New Testament.

The day he killed his brother, his index finger had rested on these words, “Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.” It was from the Old Testament. Following his custom, he did a second take for guidance and validation from the New Testament. His finger rested on these words, “You go, and do likewise.” So, he killed his brother and swore Jesus specifically asked him to do what Cain did to Abel.

That’s how some Igbos listen to Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. They pick and choose which aspects of his broadcasts they want to “hear” and react to. If during an hour-long broadcast, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu spent 3 minutes calling out Igbo pastors, they will use their index fingers to point at the 3-minutes tirade on the pastors. They will forget that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a pastor who died for civil rights.

If in a two-hour broadcast, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu mentioned stoning Igbo political leaders and elders, they will forget everything he said in that broadcast and leech onto the stoning of elders and politicians. No one has yet stoned Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi who at one time encouraged Nigerians to stone their leaders to deter them from looting our commonwealth. I guess Nigeria’s public funds are safe now.

We like cheap shots. We love finger-pointing. We pick and choose what to react to and what to “jump and pass” in any broadcast or publication. Gradually, the Igbo nation is crystallizing into three camps; on the one hand, are the “One Nigerians” who oppose the IPOB and the quest for self-determination, and on another are those who support the IPOB to the hilt, and yet another are those who support the IPOB but oppose the methodologies. I am more concerned about the last two groups. They bring to mind the story of the last two Jews in Kabul, Ishaq Levin, and Zablon Simintov.

For years Afghanistan’s last two Jews carried on a bitter feud. From the Taliban tyranny to the American occupation, Ishaq Levin and Zablon Simintov squabbled and plotted against one another in Kabul’s Flower Street Synagogue. The only thing they could agree on was their mutual loathing. The pair lived at opposite ends of the synagogue, refusing to speak except to exchange curses. Both were jailed and tortured by the Taliban. Each accused the other of betrayal.

The acrimony first erupted in 1998 when, according to Simintov, Jewish elders told him to bring the elderly Levin to Israel. Levin refused to go, and each man accused the other of wanting to sell the synagogue. The rift deepened when the Taliban took their Torah Scrolls, a lambskin containing Jewish law. When Levin died, police suspected Simintov of murder until a post-mortem examination showed natural causes.

So, what’s the update on Kabul’s Flower Street Synagogue (which I liken to Igboland) that Ishaq Levin and Zablon Simintov refused to unite as brothers to protect? After Levin’s death, Simintov was alone in the two-storey complex. His carpet shop was long gone, he lived in penury, asking visitors for whiskey and phone cards. Down the hall, tattered religious texts were piled in a cupboard, and thick dust coats the altar along with globs of excrement from birds which nest in the light fittings. Levin’s apartment is directly underneath. It has been sealed by police but through paint-splattered windows can be seen broken furniture, clothes spilling from a chest, and stacks of useless banknotes from the former regime piled on the carpet.

Ishaq Levin and Zablon Simintov simply refused to coexist. They had survived the Taliban, but did not survive each other. When Mr. Levin died in January 2005, it would seem that Mr. Simintov won. He got the Synagogue to himself and in Kabul’s soaring property market, the building is worth several million dollars. But he was alone in the two-storey complex of empty rooms, lived in penury, and depended on strangers for sustenance.

Those against IPOB in any form seem to lack the brains to appreciate the monstrosity of the problems facing Southern Nigeria generally and the Igbos in particular. Like Ishaq Levin and Zablon Simintov, they continue to cast blames and point fingers over the future of Igboland, as if we have simply refused to coexist. But how much is Igboland worth to you? How would Igboland be saved from the Fulani scourge?

The truth is that the only credible opposition against the injustices and the monumental failure of governance in Nigeria is the IPOB. The IPOB is the voice of the voiceless. Fortunately, this same IPOB is the only group the federal government of Nigeria pays any attention to, knowing that IPOBians are not political prostitutes. Ask yourselves, “While Ishaq Levin and Zablon Simintov survived the Taliban, will you survive the Fulani invasion?”

Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is the voice of millions of voiceless Nigerians who are being physically and mentally abused by the Nigerian state every day, year in year out. Nnamdi Kanu is the voice of millions of Nigerians, irrespective of their ethnicity, who have no platform to put their point of view out there for the world to hear. Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s mouth is their only weapon against the ruling class and those of you who enable them. Nnamdi Kanu is a non-violent protester. If his sharp mouth shoots you or any of your loved ones, (like your elders or pastors), consider it a shock therapy to rouse you from your sleeping state into rethinking your circumstances in the failed Nigerian state.

While the world sees Nnamdi Kanu as the symbol of Igbo resilience and Biafra’s self-determination, how does the world see you? Who are you? What do you represent? Where do you stand on the Igbo question? How exactly will history remember you? That you stood firm in opposition to tyranny, or that you prevaricated and ran around like the testicles of the village lunatic? Go ahead, pick and choose; will you rethink Nigerian’s failed state and actually do something about it, or will go about complaining about someone who poured cold water on you to wake you up for the journey of your life?

Permit me to conclude this essay with the immortal words of Frantz Fanon, in African Revolution: Political Essays, “The future will have no pity for those men who, possessing the exceptional privilege of being able to speak words of truth to their oppressors, have taken refuge in an attitude of passivity, of mute indifference, and sometimes of cold complicity.”

Éméka Maduewesi, Esq., LL.M
(Emeka Maduewesi is an Igbo Nation Activist. He practices Intellectual Property, Technology, and Antitrust law in Silicon Valley, California)

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