Times Are Changing In There


Uche Nworah



I sometimes wonder why we have to spoil a good thing. What’s wrong in helping to sustain a process or a system that has served and is still serving us well? The buzz word all over the world at the moment is sustainability. That means using less of today’s resources or rather using today’s resources in such a manner that there will still be plenty left for the generations coming after us.


As a writer, one sometimes does get the finger itch to write but still one should always excise caution in the things we spew forth from our keyboards. We should always bear in mind that words are powerful; they could damage careers, hurt relationships and friendships and even leave permanent scars on people’s minds. The Bible also tells us that the power of life and death lies in the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21).


I think that the moment we move away from discussing our social, economic and political issues and get into attacking personalities, that we will no longer be any different from those we have so conveniently blamed for our problems in Nigeria.  


Lately, I just keep thinking that things are no longer as they used to be on the website – www.nigeriavillagesquare.com (NVS). Could it be that the operators of the website are now so busy with their professional lives, and thus have very little time to actually edit or evaluate the quality of articles being posted on the site?


Time was when NVS was high on debates on topical issues of interest to Nigerians living at home and in the diaspora. I could still remember the corruption stories that broke on the website, the daily debates on Obasanjo’s infamous third term misadventure etc. But it appears the focus is now shifting to the discussion of individuals on the website.


My worry is that if the owners of NVS do not check this emerging trend, it may end up scaring long term visitors and contributors away, some of whom have through personal interactions expressed their shock at what is now being allowed to be published on Nigeria’s flagship internet discussion forum.


Now that the furor generated by Sabella Abidde’s scathing attack on Reuben Abati on the website has died down, one would have though that both NVS owners and writers on the site have learnt their lessons – to keep attacks on individuals to the barest minimum but no.


Pray, what is the motive behind Chidi Anyaeche’s article - Leery Writers like Okey Ndibe? What is the article meant to achieve? Did the article aim to ‘unmask’ Okey Ndibe and did it achieve that purpose?


What has referencing Mr Ndibe’s town (Amawbia) in the article got to do with anything at all? As someone who recently participated in the celebration of the 2008 Egwu Imo Awka cultural festival, a festival aimed at reviving the dying Igbo culture in some our communities, I feel embarrassed reading the following lines from a fellow Igbo man:


“Okey is from a little town in Anambra state called Amawbia (Ama Ndi Obia) meaning ‘settlement for visitors’. It is a settlement given to some roaming nomads years ago by the good people of Awka but rather than show gratitude to Awka people these Amawbia people decided to pay them back with ingratitude, with uncalled vengeance. So you can see that Okey’s writing vengeance is genetic just like his premature greyness”.


Unless, I can no longer read the English language properly, I see only wicked insults and callous attempts at distortion of history in the above lines and feel further embarrassed that a website that we all have come to love will allow such to be published on its index page.  


When Mr. Anyaeche was given the platform on the website to publish his vainly article (Who is Chidi Anyaeche?) last week, I thought to myself, what next? To also allow him the platform to attack a town and one of its illustrious citizens is indeed taking this free speech debate a bit too far.


I do not know Mr Ndibe personally, neither do I Mr. Anyaeche but I see ominous signs in the path Mr. Anyaeche is currently threading. He knows his motives but we should not all stand and applaud his naked dance in the village square. ‘Though the mad man may feel no shame, his people actually do’ goes another Igbo proverb.


Recently at the 2008 Aka Ikenga lectures held at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, prominent Igbo citizens gathered once again in search of a roadmap for the progress of the Igbo nation. At the forum, all kinds of phrases were thrown around by the speakers with ‘the Igbo man at a cross roads’ being the one that was most highly favoured and used.


As we debated the Igbo man’s fate in today’s Nigeria on our way back to the office from the event, my boss, Tony Chiejina raised one pertinent question. He wanted to know when the Igbo man will finally cross the fabled cross road. Reading Mr. Anyaeche’s article once again and thinking back, I can see why many of the speakers at the Aka Ikenga lectures blamed the Igbo man for his many woes.


At the slightest provocation, justified or not, we seem to be so quick at condemning, tearing down, mauling over and pulling down our own people. Perfect these people may not be but at least they are clearly doing something. For that which they may not be able to do, we can lend them a hand in accomplishing. They call this cooperation or rather collaboration (Igwebuike).


You may also wonder where respect and dignity for the individual has gone to in our world today. Just what would the founding fathers of the University of Nigeria (UNN) who gave it the motto – To Restore the Dignity of Man think?  What was Mr. Anyaeche thinking when he referred to Mr. Ndibe’s grey hairs as premature greyness?


NVS should not encourage opportunities that detract from the more noble cause of building and sustaining a more united and progressive Nigeria, one where her citizens can freely express their views while also respecting the rights of others. I’m afraid that lately it has not been doing that.