Anambra: An Example Of Anukili


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Anambra: An Example of Anukili




Obi Nwakanma



culled from VANGUARD Sunday, November 28, 2004

IT is no longer news that Anambra is under threat from quarters that are desperate, who no longer even pretend to hide themselves or their intentions or their methods. Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, the presidential Goebel, describes the situation in Anambra State as a "factional war." It is also no longer a secret which faction of that war is supplied fully with the apparatus of state power, to levy war, against the people of Anambra State. Given that the constituted government of Anambra State, bears the mandate of the people, the faction that Abuja supports, fights the Anambra people.

It is therefore no longer a battle between the Governor, Chris Ngige, and this revanchist group funded massively, to destroy Anambra State by the use of terrorism. It is also very telling that Mr. Fani-Kayode uses the term "war." This is the first time an official slip of the tongue, indicates clearly, that a real war, with a real marginot line drawn, is being prosecuted in Anambra State. The purpose of it, apparently is, to make Anambra ungovernable, and offer grounds for instability.

With the consequence that the social, economic and cultural life does not thrive. The most ridiculous thing out of what is happening is the reported insistence by this faction, with its war room in Abuja, that for peace to reign, Chris Uba, the minion of the dark forces waging this infernal battle against the people and government of Anambra State must be made deputy governor.

They want Governor Ngige to sign his second Carthaginian treaty. Prominent people, including Chukwuma Onoh, but notably Professor Chinua Achebe, has pointed at the presidency’s collusion in the situation in Anambra State. Of course, Fani-Kayode, speaking again for the President, denies this. He says any one who makes that claim, should supply the evidence that President Obasanjo’s is the monkey’s hand in the pot of soup.

Well, indeed, how does anyone supply evidence, when all the instruments of law enforcement, and detection are concentrated at the center, in the hands of the President? Fani Kayode’s insistence on evidence linking the President is a mere attempt to fob off a gathering truth. Meanwhile, Governor Ngige, like every other governor in the federation, is merely a sitting duck governor, incapable of executing the laws and mandates of the state on which he presumes executive authority. He is unable to defend the state to which he swore a public oath of office, because a fundamental flaw in Nigeria’s sham "federal" constitution strips him of any authority to constitute a police force. I think it is time, at the minimum, for states of the federation to revisit the issue of state police departments.

If Anambra State had its own police department, and its own constitution and laws, characters like Chuma Nzeribe, a creature of the Nigerian security underground, would not be getting away with what he was alleged to have been doing. I say this, only if allegations of his involvement in the abduction of the governor, and later the recent criminal incendiary of the property of the state are true. Meanwhile, even as both Chuma Nzeribe and Chris Uba constitute themselves into the great powers who allegedly tyrannize the vulnerable people of Anambra State, I urge seriously that we look to history for stimulus and action.

One of the things about history is that it offers us a narrative. From its narrative we may discover some value: grounds for immediate action; a moral, the basis for establishing an a priori consequence. History offers us a usable past. In the Igbo past, especially through its stales, we inherit an important narrative about the power of the collective. It is in the story of Anukili, the giant. In the days of yore, Anukili was born. He was an unusual child. He was born with a full set of teeth. He came to earth not uttering a cry, stolid in his silence, his full gaze fixed almost unalterably at the world into which he was born. It was a world of oracles and rituals.


How could a child come into the world with teeth. He was a child of strength, of the will rather than of the senses. Afa decreed, and the child was taken to the forest of the spirits, to return to the spirits through a lonely and quiet death. So it happened with Anukili, except that his mother would not let go. Ugly or not, a child is the product of a womb. The womb does not let go easily. Anukili grew, and grew in secret. By the time he was fifteen, he was already a giant. By the time he came fully of age, he towered over every man. With his bare hands, he could uproot the most stubborn of trees. As it happened, his people at Agukwu went to war, and Anukili led the battle, and wrought a bitter victory over the enemies of Agukwu. His fame grew across the known and unknown world. He became the hero of Agukwu.

Songs were made in his name. But fame is like "nkwu-enu." Those who drink of it know what it does to the head. You become a "godfather." And soon, it would require the mobile police to clear "jaga-jaga" from your private road. So it was for Anukili. Soon, his own people at Agukwu became his victims. He went into barnyards, and took people’s yams with impunity. He took other men’s wives and daughters by force, and if they whimpered, he crushed them under his mighty feet. He took the ofo of the umunna, and dared anyone to speak before or after him. He silenced the will of the people. He levied tax, and whoever could not pay, forfeit their lives or property.

Anukili unleashed terror, razed houses, burned the shrines of the clans. The people of Agukwu thus began to live in awe of the giant. Wherever Anukili’s shadow was cast, dread and silence settled. His spies and thugs were everywhere. But one day, the men of Agukwu met in silence and whispered. The elders remembered the days when the skies were still romping grounds for squirrels. They decided that they wanted a King, like the people of Oban’Idu. "A king! That’s what we must have! But whoever shall be King in Agukwu, will only pass one test!" And what was the test? Contenders must be able to bear the roof of a house from the market square to the great river. It was a test of strength. And who would be King, but Anukili?

The day came. It was Orie – the day of the ancestors. Anukili arrived for the test. Agukwu showed him the tatched roof. Anukili quickly heaved it on his mighty back. To make the roof firm, the rafters were tied on his arms with ropes. The procession began from the market place. They were clamorous. Anukili’s panegyrics rented the air. "Who, but Anukili, can be our King? Who but the giant shall be King?!"

The long drums and canons, the voice of praise-singers, the ululation of virgins, gave Anukili the extra uumph! But half-way to the river, the song changed. A new fierceness had entered the space. A defiance in the voice of those who had glimpsed freedom. Anukili’s hands were tied to the rafters. And the voices of the youngmen of Agukwu began to rise: "But, which child sleeps, who keeps his mother awake?" Anukili’s ears heard it: "he who defies a people, must also eat the broth of their anger!" This was no longer the ritual of affirmation. From somewhere, bramble and fire emerged.

Half-way to the river, his hands tied to the rafters of the roof on his back, the people of Agukwu set the thatch on fire. Anukili broke free, uttering his death-cry, and ran, and ran, towards the river, the flame consuming him. Anukili became a burnt-offering, to appease the conscience of a much abused people, half-way to his goal – the great river.


This story is my preface to what is going on today in Anambra State. A man who sets the shrine of his ancestors on fire, commits a high abomination, and has symbolically discounted himself from kindred, and the rights pertaining therefrom. Those who, goaded by forces within and outside Igbo land, set the symbolic public institutions in Anambra State on fire, daring the will of the collective consciousness, have taken a public, symbolic stand against their own people. This is the example of Anukili. What is going on in Anambra State today is the very beginning of a civil war. Its purpose is basically, I suspect, to enact a final solution; and which ever paymasters are instigating the disruption of peace in Anambra, apparently intends that the place become a permanent ruin.


Anambra opens another front into the Igbo theatre, of a war that still rages in some heads. I say the Igbo are under a vicious siege, and should utilize everything within imaginable possibility to resist this continued dehumanization. Perhaps time has come to remove the kid gloves in dealing with the Anambra problem. Perhaps it is time for the people in Anambra to rise, and enact a political "boys oye!" and chase their oppressors into the river Niger. Run the bastards out of town. Hound them by night, and by day, so that nothing remains of them to trouble the sleep anymore.

Each one, tell one. It is the right of every people to defend themselves against aggression. Since the law enforcement agencies have shown themselves to be particularly partisan against the people of Anambra State, it is incumbent on the people of Anambra State, now, to raise a parallel police organization – a properly constituted citizens militia – to defend themselves, against the recurrent terror of the federal might. The times call for it.


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