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23 Jul

My Advice to the Igbo Race…, By Pius Adesanmi

Not everyone should be writing for the public. Sadly, the democracy of social media and the internet is such that we must endure the co-presence of all sorts of opinionated intellectual dilettantes who can wear the toga of “public commentator”.

There are always the giveaways. You will always recognize the dilettantes through their slippages and errors of the rendering. In the Nigerian context, you recognize them when you see the inexperience, the ignorance, often powered by an intractable, self-assured arrogance and presumptuousness.

There is the presumptuousness of thinking you have lessons and lectures for an entire race.

My advice to the Igbo…
My advice to the Yoruba…
My advice to the Hausa-Fulani…

Anyone you see wielding lectures and lessons for an entire race is an inexperienced dilettante who shouldn’t be writing for the public.

In the Nigerian context, those who are wiser, cleverer, and more intelligent than an entire race; those who are better positioned to lecture an entire race about what is good for them are very often outsiders to such a race.

These are always little intellects on high horses thinking they are wiser than a whole people combined. My friend, Sam Amadi, is the prompter and instigator of this update.

I am so mad at Sam I can hardly contain myself.

So I notice in passing that Sam is fuming and taking umbrage at some piece written by Reno Omokri. Sam says if it is true that Omokri insulted the Igbo, etc etc. Omokri rushes in to claim that he did not insult the Igbo at which point Sam tenders his apology.

I decide to do what Sam ought to have done before rushing to offer a nonsensical apology: go and check the article in question. Hear Omokri:

“My advice to you and the Igbo race, go and learn diplomacy.”

Omokri has lessons and lectures in diplomacy for an entire race? Allah be praised that he did not insult the said race!

My advice to Sam Amadi: withdraw your ill-reflected and hasty apology.

My advice to you, any you, writing for the Nigerian public. You are a member of a race that Europeans enslaved and colonized for more than 500 years. During those years, it was part of the scribal and epistemic culture of the white man to have lectures, lessons, and advice for your entire race. From time to time, an idle white man would mount his high horse and advise “the blacks”, “the Africans”, “the negro race”, “the natives”. Every white man assumed he was wiser and more intelligent and had lectures and lessons for your entire race.

The entire history of epistemic resistance mounted by your race is rooted in countering such rudeness and arrogance. This resistance has informed protocols of black and African writing and discourse. In other words, your sorry little outsider ass cannot have lessons and lectures for an entire race, perched on a dwarfish horse.

That is arrogance and presumptuousness taken too far. Every Nigerian ethnic nationality has a coterie of outsider advisers who invade social media with goatskin bags of advice.

I see outsiders advising the Yoruba race all the time.
I see outsiders advising Arewa all the time.

Outsider advisers of the Igbo come in truckloads and lorry loads.

When next you see a Nigerian wielding the stick of wisdom for an entire race of his compatriots to which he does not belong, skip the update. He is one sorry little fellow who should not be writing for the public.

NB:

This does not mean that you cannot have viewpoints on issues pertaining to other ethnicities and identities. If I need to break that down for you, you probably also shouldn’t be consuming public discourse.

Pius Adesanmi, a professor of English, writes from Canada.

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