Somethings don’t always sound right, even though, more often than not, they are the offshoot of overactive imaginations left unchecked. Last week, news sauntered in about Northern youths asking Igbos residing in the 19 states of northern Nigeria to vacate the north by October 1, 2017 or risk another pogrom.
Yet another pogrom—as if to say—the pogroms of 1945 in Jos; Kano in 1953; the whole of Northern Nigeria in 1966 into 1967; Kano again in 1980; Jimeta in 1984; Gombe in 1985; Kaduna, Bauchi, Katsina and Kafanchan in 1991 weren’t enough. And this is aside from the casualties of the Civil War, often termed, a genocide of three million people between 1967 and 1970; the beheadings of Gideon Akaluka in 1996 and Bridget Agbaheme as freshly as 2016; and the several nameless people of Igbo extraction lynched over the 72-year period.
Certain, people flirting with the idea of exterminating any particular group of people should be condemned in the strongest terms in any country not just because this type of killing by itself is evil, but because it comes from a place of ideology—difficult to pinpoint or control—and can easily get out of hand when we keep quiet about it.
As with the Nazis, the Hutus or the Serbs, history shows that the loud and unchecked genocidal ideas of a few were what led to the extermination of millions of people. I have often written about how Nigerian history may not exactly repeat itself but it rhythms. If the definition of a generation was every seventy years after World War II, fifty after the Beatles, twenty after AOL and ten after YouTube, it is almost as though our generation gets confronted with the same questions, the generation before ours stumbled at, and this is a case in point.
The need for us to learn our country’s history can no longer be overstated as we are now confronted with the same tests that our fathers failed at a rate of recurrence, almost seven times as fast as in the middle of the last century when Nigeria was born. Simply put, knowing our history will help us answer these perennial issues that question our quest for nationhood.
Are we going to baulk at all this noise that threatens our unity? Are we finally going to answer the Biafran question our forebears went tried to answer by war? Or are we going to quietly watch another pogrom unfold as many generations before us did?