GETTING close to fifth decade now when the sustenance of key valued traditions of the Igbo extraction of Nigeria began to wallow in yokes of neglect, pollution and abandonment which in the main is disturbing as if no legacy was bequeathed to them.
If the truth must be said, three revered institutions – namely family system, which womanhood is the key; the participatory governance with its inclusive attributes and the language structure, along with its bank of knowledge were not surrendered to imperial administration nor compromised with any other force by our distinguished progenitors from 1857 to 1960.
Keeping the institutions intact during the period of imperialism was not miraculous but by rugged and dogged struggle against draconian laws, policies and imposition which in 1929, turned berserk.
It was sparked off when imperial government reportedly invaded the privacy of the hallowed womanhood institution by imposing tax, a measure taken to be affront and sacrilege by the menfolk.
However, the tax law was in no time repealed while the kinship system dubbed warrant chieftaincy earlier imposed on the communities suffered reversal order after series of resistance.
On this, we can easily see that our ancestors followed the part of circumspection in view of the fact that it is from these institutions that the customs, traditions of the Igbo nationality derive its strength, values and character which are basically in harmony with the ethos and values of Christianity, and thus made their tolerance a distinction.
Unfortunately, the tragedy of the current reality so visible from the mid-1970s is that the cherished institutions jealously protected and handed over to next generation and others are ceaselessly facing battery of assaults through iniquitous actions by the people of the race which tradition abhors.
Of course, the portrait presented is informing and therefore in order since the incumbent Governor Chukwuma Charles Soludo of Anambra State appears to have taken the bull by the horn and leading the vanguard to recapture the lost values of the Igbo nation for the first time in the history of post Nigeria-Biafra war.
His dream, vivid in the mantra-promotion of core-Igbo values which is revealing has gained practical effect in the past few months of his leadership. In Nigeria, it seemed incredible that a leader of government would go all out to start action simultaneously as he took over power but Soludo proved himself exceptional. His dress pattern is typical of returning Igbo core-value which is consistent from his first day in office.
The importation of six million each of palm and coco-nut trees special breed seedlings now being distributed free to the people is perhaps with a view to reclaiming the lead in palm oil produce export as it were before 1970 and for cheap local consumption.
Related to this is the emergence of a family court which has swung into action after its opening by Chief Judge Anyachebelu. This will tackle debasement of womanhood, incest, rape, child labour and abuse, widow and orphan issues etc.
There is need to mention the reintroduction of handicraft and skill acquisition scheduled to take off at resumption of schools this September 2022, hitherto abandoned in 1970, after missionary groups were sacked from running schools. This wisdom corresponds with over 6000 persons eye-marked for teaching job having successfully passed through series of rigorous tests with unprecedented transparency. Also fighting anti-Igbo values has led to registration of traditional medicine practitioners after government intelligence burst open a link between a ring of vicious criminals and dreaded traditional medicine professionals with magic power.
In as much as these are high point landmarks already contributing to refocus and reconcile the present with the past reality and to make the contemporary agenda a good thrust into the future, it makes commentators on national issues to see the difference between a government leader with vision for action and the one that keeps his vision waxed on the drawing board and forgotten. This is the character of most Nigeria government.
No doubt, the promotion of core-Igbo value is a difficult assignment given the enormity of work to be done, in view of the colossal damage already inflicted on the terrace of the Igbo traditional institutions but since Governor Soludo has started to show capacity and ability our prayer is for him and his team to go ahead unhindered.
In this context, action is imperative to resolve the corruption of the Igbo language and its bank of knowledge. The Engli-Igbo mix speech pattern adopted wittingly and unwittingly by both the common people and the elite is continuously making nonsense of our vernacular.
How come we have descended and reduced ourselves to this low of abandoning the mother tongue to begin the journey of extinction even when Christianity and imperial government did not tamper with the virginity and structure of the Igbo language?
Moving further, the Igbo democratic ethos which held sway in the past but now has lost its significance and grip of its political texture is a consequence of the alien traditional kingship and the town union institutions. While the former position itself as monarchical, the other operate from Plutocracy point of reference leading to polarisation, clash and war in communities. Matters are made worse as age grade structure, elders group and other valued institutions whose members contribute to debates at community cum village levels have been abandoned to the dogs.
In another sphere, the sanctity of womanhood, the bedrock of family institution are being debased and devalued as extended family culture is no more in vogue, hence the rights of widows, orphans, underprivileged are denied through various forms.
Although rape, incest, ritual killings maybe seldom in Igbo land but abuse and battering of wife, children, child labour, indecent dressing, dreaded cultism, cheating by spouses, ritual murder cannot be defended in contemporary Igbo race which among others, lower the core Igbo values.
To fight these cancerous tumors to a standstill, devoid of sentiment and pretense, all hands must be on deck, including more of religious leaders, who must evoke serious preaching and preaching with actions.
.Okonkwo is a veteran journalist