Re: Cutting off a descendant from his root due to Economic migration abroad
Thank you Anayo Nwosu for this write-up. As much as I agree with some of the arguments you made here. Your characterization of Mr Ọfọefuo and how you attempted to dramatize the situation as if the problem is living abroad is wrong and disappointing.
The key point in your essay is about cutting off a descendant from his/her genealogical tree/root. I am afraid that you decided to be selective in your proposition as if cutting off a descendant from his/her root is only when one is living outside of Nigeria.
Cutting off one’s roots can happen anywhere. To be clear, so many Igbo people I know in Nigeria are also like Mr. ofoefuo. For the sake of economic migration or seeking a better life or opportunities, many Igbo people migrated with their families to Kano, Lagos, Abuja and other metropolitan cities in Nigeria in search of better opportunities. Some of them purchased land properties and built houses in those areas and have lived there for 30 years or more with their families just like Mr. ofoefuo and have never kept in touch with their roots as you mentioned. So, the point here is to address the issue of being home-minded but not talking of living abroad as if those other economic migrants who are living closer to their home country are better off.
I know of so many of my folks who live with their families in Lagos. Particularly one of my rich extended uncles who lived in Lagos with his family. He acquired land and built his house there. This is because my uncle rarely visits home even though he lives close to home. I even visit home more often than him, even living in Lagos. Strangely, too, his kids have not even visited his home town until his death last two years. The first visit of my uncle’s kids to their ancestral home was during the burial and even at that, some kids did not return home from the burial for one reason or the other. They traced their way to their father’s house.
With all due respect, your essay is one-sided because you failed to point out or address the common denominator that propels migration and the impact it has on our people. I would like to draw your attention to a term called economic migration. I believe you know what it means. For the sake of your readers, I will explain that an economic migrant is someone who emigrates from one region to another to seek an improvement in living standards because the living conditions or job opportunities in the migrant’s own region are not sufficient. If we are not economical with the truth, I will dare say that most of our people are economic migrants either you migrated to the city nearby or you migrated to Port-Harcourt, Lagos or Canada or the UK. All of them are economic migrants. This is a natural phenomenon. At least dating back to history, migration has always lived with man.
Drawing my point home, as our sister Nneka Agina had mentioned here, it depends on what you like or want in life. This is a personal decision, and everybody is entitled to make such decisions, whether one chose to migrate to Abuja or Canada is one’s decision. In making this decision, a lot of things are factored in. There are so many people who would like to come to Lagos or Abuja but have no means, network or opportunity, and they may remain in their villages, just as many of us here would like to travel abroad, but no opportunity has come their way.
The point here is teaching our folks to be home-minded, but not to discourage them to go anywhere they feel they will have a better opportunity to live a fulfilled life. Nneka asked in her rejoinder for you to explain the opportunity cost of living abroad. Is it a bad road, bad government, robbery, no light, being sacked without notice, sending girls to solicit funds for banks, ritualism…. a place where nothing works? Everybody wishes good to his/her children. And no one in his right sense would see a better opportunity for his/her children than will try to tie his kid’s future down simply because of cultural superstitious tenets. There are so many folks abroad who visit home with their kids once or thrice every year, whose kids speak their mother tongue very fluently and understand their culture better than those whose kids live in Lagos. Personally, I came back with my kids last summer and surprisingly my uncle’s kids could not even speak the Igbo language with my kids that eat and breathe out the Igbo language.
So many of us applauding your write-up here are victims of this cutting off from the ancestral root. Some of them, if they are given an opportunity, will not stay one extra day in Nigeria. It is always good to see a thing from the other side. So many of our folks who live outside their ancestral home cannot boast of taking their kids home, they cannot boast of teaching their kids the cultural values or language. Your essay should address that.
In case you decide to make a case that Lagos or the other cities I mentioned here are within Nigeria. It doesn’t really matter because the point here is cutting ties from your root, and it can happen in Cameroon, Ghana or any city outside your village. I think there is no need for throwing stones or sitting on a wisdom chair to make pronouncements when the problems are close to home.
Lately, many folks abroad are the chief proponent of culture transfer. For example, if you go to YouTube or other media outlets, you will see that cultural festivals and values are promoted by the diaspora. They are the people who even remember home more than those who live closer to home. They are the ones that celebrate all the forgotten cultural festivals in their various countries of abode like Afiaolu, ilu nwanyi etc…they do their Umunna meeting etc…
Asking people to return home where Mr Buhari is the CEO of the company…where nothing is working, where you have no right to question anything, where you can be fired without valid reasons and nobody will speak for you, where there is no health care, no quality tuition without paying through your nose, where nothing virtually works simply because you don’t want to cut your descendant from their root is not a justifiable reason as long as you and your kids are living your dream. If not, all those who live outside their villages should also return to their town and villages in order, not, to sever ancestral ties.
You gave examples of Nigerians that have returned home and are doing great, you didn’t mention Nigerians that returned and are very frustrated. You also did not mention the great Igbo people and Nigerians that are doing great for themselves and their families abroad. Nigeria of our dream is far-fetched. Everybody I believe will like to return home to help in developing Nigeria, but we don’t have such opportunities or a conducive platform to do so yet. So many Igbos in the diaspora are great doctors, lawyers, engineers, educators, skilled labourers, scientists, and great administrators in different countries where they reside …, but the Nigerian current environment is hostile for these great men to come in. The few people you mentioned may have become successful because they have a solid network or father figure in the corrupt government to have survived. But the case is not the same for others…
Let us all join hands together to let our people know whether you live in Lagos, Canada or the UK. it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you should think of Home. There are so many Igbo in the diaspora who have promoted “think home initiatives” projects and are more connected to their ancestral home than those that live very close to home. We should support them, not vilify them. We must advise parents whether they live in Abuja, Kano that we must teach our kids our language, and our cultural values. Make sure we let your kids be connected to their ancestral home. If you are opportune, help to develop your village, instead of building in other places, build in your home town. These are the cardinal point here and not about Mr Ọfọefuo and his Canadian dream…. because there are so many Mr Ọfọefuo in Lagos, Aba, Ghana etc… .@Chinenye Momah Gozie Oramah Omoba Isaac Okoye