The Final Journey: Ikemba Comes Home

I’ve been given to reflection lately. Probably the result of my mid life crisis.. I’ll be writing about that soon. Anyway I’ve been wondering what I really feel about the Ikemba.

Its so unacceptable for any Igbo person to criticize him. You are less Igbo if you do. He was the Igbo hero. The only one that stood up for the people when they were being slaugthered.

Awhile back a woman that dared point out the atrocities of the civil war he fought was roundly attacked online.

Can the Igbo’s ever be objective about the Ikemba and the civil war? As a child of Igbo-Nigeria I grew up in the 70’s with proud tales of the war. I also grew up surrounded by the damage.

The uncle who took shrapnel to the head and is never been quite right since. The cousin who had to drink palm wine instead of milk after her mother died at her birth. She never been quite right either.

The many that didn’t come back. The obvious signs of post traumatic stress disorder among those that did. The war widows and the war orphans.

What the Igbo-Nigerian has achieved in the decades since despite the blatant restraints is nothing short of an economic miracle.

As the Ikemba comes home to rest I am put to mind of the indomitable Igbo-Nigerian spirit. The spirit of the fighter, the warrior that will survive and flourish against all odds.

This morning I read an article in the Economist online about the too few war novels from Africa. The Biafran civil war wasn’t one of them. There is a lot written about it.

The author took Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” to relieve the idleness of waiting gor Africa’s big men to move writes about the war lord turned politician he was covering:

Another lesson of “War and Peace” is Tolstoy’s notion of causation in history. “Historians have assumed that events depend on commands,” he writes in the epilogue. But upon further examination, “we have found that historical characters and their command are dependent on the event.”

Could it be a statement on the Ikemba too? Was he nothing more than the pawn of events? Or was he a rash and impudent young soldier that led his people to slaughter. That of course is for each woman and man to judge.

He was a rallying point for the Igbo-Nigerians. Their ethnic and epic hero in a land and among peoples that privilege and proclaim their men of war.


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