Igbo And ‘Love Of Money’ Myth

     Igbo And ‘Love Of Money’ Myth   

The most common gybe against the Igbo race is a certain dry thirst for money and wealth. In social circles, the Igbo man is regarded as pricing the acquisition of money so highly that even life and death come after. EMEKA CHIAGHANAM probes the veracity of the assertion. He writes:

To other ethnicities in Nigeria, an Igbo person’s love for money is unprecedented. Their love for money can drive them to do anything to acquire it. In the local parlance, it is common to hear phrases such as ‘Igbo man and money’, sometimes, you hear them say, ‘Igbo people love money pass anything’, at other times you hear, ‘There is nothing an Igbo person cannot do for money’ among other phrases suggesting the peoples love for money.

Performing comedians have taken it to another level to establish the idea that an average Igbo person will do bizarre things to make money or that money will entice an Igbo person to go unconventional. Though, this sort of jokes peddled by comedians running out of jokes doesn’t regale people, as it used to be, but it is still in circulation. 

One comedian made effort to regale his audience of how an Igbo man was placed in casket and about to be buried, when someone flashed banknotes in the corpse face, and a whiff, the man came back to life. In another instance, a comedian endeavoured to amuse his audience of how an Igbo man was greeted in the morning by his neighbour and he replied with certain amount in the Nigerian currency. Jokes like this, tries to establish such misconception as true with the Igbo people.

Who are the Igbo people? They are the third largest ethnic group in Nigeria. They can be found in South East, South South zones of Nigeria and parts of Kogi state in the North Central zone of the country. Before amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914, the Igbo people lived in city-states. 

They are republican by nature, who believes in individual aspiration towards a common goal of the society. Most communities vest their power in the council of elders than in monarchical leadership or individuals. The British colonial master discovered this and decided to use indirect rule in the old South Eastern Region, and direct rule in other parts of Nigeria.

European colonial masters in Africa had a productive venture of favouring an ethnic group over others, hence the divide and rule policy. The idea was to protect their interest. In Rwanda, the Belgian colonial master issued identify cards to the Hutu and Tutsi, these are people who speak the same language and of the same religion, but differs in stature and occupation. The Belgian colonial masters chose to favour the Tutsi over the Hutu majority. The tension it created after independence culminated into the crisis that led to the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.

In Nigeria, the British colonial master issued no ethnic identity card, but did issue one in their mind. It was not hidden of their choice ethnic group, because they found them malleable to suit their interest.     

In the beginning, the Igbo people love no money than other ethnic groups in Nigeria and till date do not. Before the partition and amalgamation of Nigeria, most Igbo people as other ethnic groups lived within their communities. The European colonial masters’ effort to create homogeneous entity called Nigeria made some adventurous Igbo people leave their homeland for other parts of the British controlled territory. They see it as second home, this when other ethnic groups find it difficult to leave their homeland.

British colonial and pre-Nigerian Civil War civil service was assumed to be dominated by Igbo people. It also had the average Igbo person who was into farming or commerce. Before the war, nowhere was it mentioned or heard that Igbo people love money than other ethnicities. The people have done so well for themselves, acquired wealth and properties in their new homes than their homeland, as it applies today. For some people, there is nothing wrong with this, since it is one Nigeria, but charity they say begins at home.     

Everything changed with the Nigerian Civil War. The two years, six months, one week and two days war had a somersault effect on most Igbo people fortunes. Their land devastated by war, starvation stalking the people, infrastructure gasping for repairs. If there was a time to settle score with the Igbo people on the seemingly edge the people had in some areas, this was the best opportunity it offered to place them where they ought not to be. 

Unlike the children of Israel, whose exodus was from Egypt – land of captivity to their Promised Land, for the Igbo people it was from their war torn homeland to other parts of the country to make a living. Survival was the key word here. Some dashed back to their base to regain ownership of their properties, but discovered it tagged, ‘Abandoned Property’, strange it sounds for this to have happened in the former South Eastern Region. Those that pressed further for their properties never lived to tell the story.

Then the big blow from the federal government, an order that no Igbo person from the newly created East Central State withdraws above 20 pounds of Nigeria’s legal tender from their bank account; however the amount they had or the number of accounts they operated before the outbreak of the war. The directive rendered millions of Igbo people poorer, their plight compounded by the federal government agenda to scheme them out of the federal civil service and ensure that the newly created East Central State has no federal government presence.

The ‘You-are-on-your-own’ posture thrown to Igbo people by federal government drove the people to find other means to survive. Their land devastated, properties claimed, access to their bank accounts denied, the people took to commerce that they can be found in the breath and length of Nigeria, than any other ethnic group. They prospered in this new found trade that it attracted more of their people into trading. This informed the notion why most Igbo people never took interest in government jobs, particularly federal civil service jobs, immediately after the war.

Those that claim not to love money as the Igbo people have looted the enterprise called Nigeria than the Igbo people. Check the list of those that have looted our treasury from the First Republic till date and count the number of Igbo people among them. Looting our national treasury since independence has been the bane of Nigeria’s development. The Igbo people love money, yet the richest Nigerian is not an Igbo person, among the richest Nigerians, no Igbo person made the first ten. If you don’t love money, you won’t endeavour to make more. No person or ethnicity has declared their hatred, or even dislike for money.

Kidnapping as a lucrative venture for some people did not start in Igboland. Internet fraud called ‘Yahoo Yahoo’ did not originate from Igboland, nether was it spearheaded by the Igbo people, nor was ritual for money making idea exclusively an Igbo affair. Years back, some people from eastern Nigeria would travel to a town in the western part of the country to get what they called ‘powerful charms’ for money rituals and other diabolic ventures. Money when made in a clean way is good. Nobody who doesn’t need, want or love money; none hates the sight of money. That the Igbo people love money than others is a misconception. It is accepted that are tendencies by Igbo people to flaunt their riches.

When the Igbo people work hard to make money as others do and are prudent enough with their attainment, judging from their experience, they are adjudged to love money than others. This also comes when the economy is in depression and only a few people enjoy the ‘National Cake’. When the ubiquitous Igbo people dominate the commerce that seems to drive the economy, hence others claim they love money than them.
Igbo And ‘Love Of Money’ Myth                                           Igbo And ‘Love Of Money’ Myth   Reviewed by Unknown on Saturday, January 06, 2018 Rating: 5

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