The Historic Igbo-Yoruba Handshake: The Key To Southern Unification -By Charles Ogbu

Filed under: Forgotten Dairies |

Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolow

I have said it before and it bears repeating now, the day Ndigbo and the Yoruba decide to bury the very destructive but senseless rivarly between them and forge a common front on issues of common interest, that is the day the #TheChildrenOfTheSouth, and indeed the whole of Nigeria, will experience a new dawn.

I have always waited for this day and as it would seem, January 11, 2018, appers to be the day my long wait will take its last breathe for that is the day these two great peoples will gather in Enugu in celebration of their age long but almost forgotten brotherhood in a historic event tagged “Handshake Across the Bridge” being put together by an Igbo socio-cultural group – NZUKO UMUNNA (The Bridge Builder) – under the auspices of the two apex socio-cultural groups of both peoples, Ohaneze Ndigbo and Afenifere.

It is the day the ‘Who-Is-Who’ from both sides will come together to re-ignite the unique bond examplified by their two brave sons, late General Aguyi Ironsi, the former Head of state and Col. Adekunle Fajuyi, the former governor of South-Western region who were both murdered in cold blood by disgruntled soldiers in the counter coup of 1966.

But beyond the euphoria of the expected brotherly handshake between these two great Nations, the question is, was there any justifiable reason for unhealthy rivalry between them in the first place?

Has there been any record of tribal war, clashes or any form of direct ethnic confrontation between Ndigbo and the Yoruba? (The answer is no.)

So why the destructive competition rather than constructive collaboration?

For ages, generations of young people from both sides have been fed with the wrong account of the Civil War, an account that is replete with cherry-picked quotes, facts and figures, self-serving selectives, a basket of distortions, misrepresentation, misquotation and misinterpretation.

For instance, those who wish to keep us divided will always feed an average Onye-Igbo with the devilish propaganda that the Yorubas starved Igbo kids during the war while Ndigbo attacked Lagos, Yoruba-land, in a land-grabbing quest. And with these distorted war histories, our children will grow up inheriting a mutual antagonism while our region and our people will keep wallowing in socio-political/economic Egypt.

How about telling the Yoruba man that an Igbo man, Ojukwu, it was, who released Awolowo from Calabar Prison and sent a security team to escort him to his village?

How about telling the Igbo man that Adekunle Fajuyi, a Yoruba man, died with his guest, Aguyi Ironsi, an Igbo man, rather than give him up to Northern soldiers during the 1966 counter coup?

We owe it to both man and God to put the wars and woes that happened five decades ago behind us and build a long-lasting mutually beneficial alliance in the interest of peace and economic emancipation of our two great peoples and the country in general.

It is for this reason that I find this event as uniquely significant as it is strategically desirable. I say a very big thank you to Mr Ngozi Odumuko-led NZUKO UMUNNA for conceiving and organizing such a landmark Bridge-Building event. And even a bigger thank you to Dr Patrick Ifeanyi Uba-led Organizing Committee.

With the likes of Chief John Nnia Nwodo, the Ohaneze Ndigbo PG (the Chief host) and the Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti and the Publicity chief Scribe -Yinka Odumakin plus the Obi of Onitsha and Ooni of Ife as the Royal Fathers of the day, I have no doubt in my mind that our journey out of Egypt has just entered the next stage.

May this new bridge never break!

 

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