The travails of Agaracha the Lagosian Igbo boy and Failed Parenting , A true life story – Chijioke Ngobili
Let us call him Agaracha, for that’s not his real name. However, may we establish that in Igbo thought and worldview, “Agarachaa” stands for the sojourner who travelled to distant places with the arrogance of looking down at his background or where he set out from, only to find himself again at the same place he regarded lowly out of humbling circumstances.
Agarachaa is my friend’s cousin. His wealthy parents birthed and bred him in what could be taken to be the highbrow areas of Lagos. He’s currently in his earliest 20s. His both parents are Igbo. Agarachaa often brandishes his inability to understand or speak Igbo fluently even when he was ‘yabbed’ for that. He doesn’t even care to learn for he was ensconced in the craze of “Lagosianism”— the crazy culture often found among many Igbo youths living in Lagos which maddens them with the love of identifying themselves ‘Lagosians’ while detesting their original backgrounds first as Ndi Igbo!
“I be Lagos Boy—Omo Eko”, Agarachaa often bragged to his cousins and friends who visited Lagos from Igboland. “What do I need Igbo language for?”, he’d add to make you stew in your annoyance at the arrogance of his ignorance. His parents never spoke Igbo to him and his siblings in the house. At school, it was English. At home, English. On the streets, it’s either English or its Nigerian Pidgin. At 20, he could neither speak nor comprehend his own Igbo language fluently—not even Yoruba! His parents barely brought them home in their hometown in Anambra State. All he knew was and is Lagos! At any mention of “IPOB” or “Biafra”, his fangs would be activated and he’d be ready to mangle you even in his childishness and little experience, not minding his intelligence. He used “IPOB” – in the terrorist sense – to identify anybody who tries to preach some sense into him about Igbo solidarity. He had no patience for “Igbos” (as he is given to call them).
University of Lagos had admitted him not long ago and asked for his Certificate of Origin among the required documents to be presented, but he had it not. Naively, he marched to Lagos Liaison Office to get it but he was shocked to receive a hard-nosed “no” for answer because he was not Yoruba and had Igbo names. Indeed, he didn’t know Nigeria and was beginning to learn the realities of the environment he thought he knew painfully and slowly. He had another option left to do it right without engaging in corrupt practices: To go to his Homestate, Anambara!
In Anambara, he barely knew his relatives and people. At the Liaison Office in Oka, he couldn’t understand Igbo language let alone the Omambala dialect in and around Anambara State. It was not funny for him because Ndi Anambara are always quick to speak Igbo in their dialects even at official gatherings without caring whose ox is gored, and so, the attendants were a bit sceptical if the Agarachaa was Igbo at all or he pretended to be one with Igbo name. In the end, he got the Certificate of Origin but not without paying more and going through interrogations that shouldn’t have been, if he showed practical evidences of being Igbo. After the whole experience, Agarachaa slowly began to adjust his beliefs and tone down his ‘Lagosianism’ having experienced some realities he couldn’t have had in the comfort of his parents who are to be blamed greatly for their lazy and indifferent parenting as pertained to his origin. Agarachaa now shows interest in comprehending and speaking Igbo and has started appreciating what his cousins, including my friend, do tell him about the Nigerian reality and Igbo solidarity.
No thanks to his parents who scored zero in bringing up the young man to know who he is and where his greatest solidarity should be directed. Understand some significantly instructive things in this story:
· It took Agarachaa 20 years to fully realize that he was neither Yoruba nor Igbo and that he must have to be one above ‘Lagosian’ or ‘Nigerian’. The end is that he had to unlearn some of the stale, watery, empty ideals he was taught about Nigerian patriotism in primary and secondary schools for they were impracticable and mere lip service.
· As I do say, the typical emigrant Igbo elites (and their off springs) would never care about the Igboland until their comforts are threatened directly or indirectly. Agarachaa is one example out of many, but it’s a thing of joy that he’s ‘coming back’ with that experience!