Oghom and I had one thing in common. We brushed our teeth daily with poverty while growing up. Oghom’s parents were from a neighboring town and had lived in Nnewi since Nigeria’s Independence in 1960.
Being the children dubbed “Aghaebie” meaning “those children born immediately after the war”, we grew up in lack as our parents tried to adapt to post Biafra-Nigeria Civil War era even though we were luckier than those other children that saw the war many of who died of kwashiorkor.
Our early childhood was very unique and interesting.
It was easy for children in the late seventies to pass through primary and secondary schools courtesy of Obasanjo military government’s free Universal Basic Education programme for primary schools. The old Anambra State also offered free education in the secondary schools.
Only parents’ teachers association(PTA) fees were charged in schools then. Even as at that, it was a paltry sum.
Oghom and I had no difficulty raising the PTA fees and money for uniforms because we engaged in sundry menial jobs like cultivating farmlands for people and plucking palm nuts from palm trees for a fee. It was not a big deal.
While Oghom passed through Okongwu Memorial Grammar School, I attended Nnewi High School. Both of us passed our school certificate exams at a sitting with good grades. We became instant stars and could toast any girl in the community. We nursed ambitions of furthering our education and making our marks in the sands of time.
I was happy when Oghom secured scholarship to read Engineering in the USA. He promised to return to Nigeria after his education. He left and remained in the USA many years after graduation.
Oghom has been in America since 1988. He married an American, had his kids, bought a house and helps to grow the economy of the USA. He had only returned home twice. The first was to bury his father and two years later to bury his mum. Ever since then, he has remained in America even though he ensured that his children answer Igbo names.
On my last vacation in the USA, I visited my friend at his Baltimore home and was convinced that he would have achieved more if he had returned to Nigeria few years after graduation. He did not know that money is in Nigeria.
America has deprived Oghom’s town named Akwa Ihedi in Nnewi South Local Government of Anambra of the benefit of one of its most brilliant persons I have ever known.
Oghom’s hometown needs human capital to develop their community and to make it great but their illustrious son is in America contributing to the greatness of a foreign country.
For how long shall our communities be losing our best to foreign lands in the name of reaching or fulfilling their great potentials? How can we ensure that our sons and daughters would return home after acquiring educational and developmental skills and use their acquired knowledge to improve our towns?
Any Igbo parent planning to send the children to school abroad should have a strategy to get the children back to improve our home land. It is a curse for us to export our children to live and die abroad.
My job has exposed me to relationships with wealthy people that exported their children abroad to study and who now grieve over their children’s refusal to even return to take over the management of their conglomerates. And the kids are not even doing any better abroad. They just don’t want stress!
I have been compiling notes on how well the children of wealthy men from Nnewi sent their children abroad are doing as compared with those who returned home or didn’t go abroad at all. The initial results are quite damming.
Economic emigration is understandable but not that in which comfortable parents don’t have post-education strategy for the children they ship abroad. In some cases, it is a status symbolic act gone so sour.
No community would develop as long as their best heads live outside their shores and don’t get involved in the progress planning of their community. If the good heads leave and don’t return, the bad ones remaining would continue to give the community a bad name.
Imagine what Africa would have become if Herbert Macaulay, Zik, Akwaeke Nwafor-Orizu and Obafemi Awolowo didn’t return from abroad after education. They would have sought employment and remained abroad.
What would have been the developmental fate of many of our Igbo communities if Akanu Ibiam, Uche Oga, Soludo, Peter Obi, Sam Mbakwe, Okwadike Igboukwu, Prof. Anya, Barth Nnaji, Matthew Anayo Nwosu etc stayed abroad? Our communities would have been worse than they are today.
Anybody could live anywhere but must always come home once in a while to contribute to “ana amụ nna ya” that’s to day “your homeland”. It is the responsibility of the citizens to lead the development of their communities.
Go home and collaborate with others to build schools, industries, hospitals, houses, markets etc. Government is a group of citizens making and implementing policies.
Go and form your community government structures and play the role God entrusted on you by giving you that brain. It’s for your people’s own benefits.
That’s why ndi Nnewi are different.
We come back home.
We know that as Nnewi people, we strive and must continue to maintain the status of the great town we inherited from our ingenious ancestors. Even when an Nnewi citizen dies abroad, the corpse must be returned home for burial. He needs to attend meetings of the ancestors.
Every Nnewi child born of his real father knows and feels the weight of the responsibility of his nativity. He knows that his greatness lies in how well he has contributed to the upliftment of his town just as Dr. Ifediaso Innocent Chukwuma of Innoson. He has not only done well for Nnewi but for the entire Igbo race. Innoson has disrupted the automobile market to the confusion of his enemies, our enemies in Nigeria and abroad.
Touch Innoson now and you touch an Nnewi and Igbo citizen home and abroad. That Igbos are not united is not to the extent of not rising in instant defence of any of our illustrious sons. We know who we shall fight or die for. We fight for those who become Igbo icons by excellence with visible contributions to our common good and by making us proud.
The zeal to do my own quota has led me to launch a massive enlightenment initiatives through writing to share what I know and I guess that the impact is being felt by many. I acknowledge that sometimes I write nonsense too.
May I never lose my bearing. God forbid!
I live in Lagos but am also being felt in my small Okpuno Otolo Community in Nnewi. My kinsmen feel my existence. I grew up knowing that I belong to my town and my people.
How many of our sons abroad feel this way? I know some that do; but many have been lost, died and buried with their greatness in foreign lands while their communities never felt their impacts.