Ozodi Osuji's Schizophrenic Critique of Achebe
By Emmanuel Franklyne Ogbunwezeh
Mr. Ozodi Thomas Osuji wrote an article titled "False Sense of Victimization in Achebe's Worldview", which was published on the Nigerian Internet portal Nigeriavillagesquare.com. This article dated 15th October 2008, was a supposed response to Achebe's Lecture marking the Guardian Silver Jubilee at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs in Lagos; in which the legend recapitulated his relationship with Nigeria. Osuji's pedestrian attempts to contribute a voice to such a discourse would have been wonderful if its contributions were an intelligent analysis or a logical and factual rebuttal of Achebe's position. But Osuji on the contrary achieved only a wooden advertisement of his schizophrenia. What that piece lacked in merits, it made up for with a mishmash of cheap innuendoes, false scholarship, self-loathing and a pathological attempt to throw Lilliputian darts at the tallest African in the house of literature. The pseudo-intellectual diarrhoea, which he dumped on those pages, was a lewd masturbation to assuage his psychological priapism. And from this psychological imbalance, no one can save him and his heritage of stupidity.
It has long been a personal principle never to dignify fools like Osuji with an essay-length rebuttal. This lies in the fact that there is no need joining issues with the ranting of depraved scoundrels, who, as congenital attention-starved underachievers are pathologically allergic to the achievements of genius resident in others. My stand here equally flows from some many veritable reasons. First and foremost, the truth will never convince a mind impervious to reason, or one in the thralls of intellectual leprosy, like Osuji's. Secondly, I have forever found other preoccupations pertinent than to treasure the irreverent conversations of this fool. This is a man, who was quite early introduced to his own insignificance, than he graduated into an underachiever per excellence. This is a mentally deformed man, with nothing more than a subsisting inferiority complex. The stupidity, with which he was favoured by nature, makes him think highly of his congenital allergy to reason. He thinks highly of his monumental indisposition and pathological rejection of his intellectual superiors. This guy is neither sensible nor agreeable. His society is irksome, and his occupations senile.
But responding to his latest gaffe became necessary because few simpletons have cut so an unglamorous a figure in their notorious tendency to capture falsehoods from the jaws of truth, like Osuji has grown adept at doing. I am responding to Osuji's latest celebration of ignorance also because of the fact that I nurse a derisive disrespect for pretentiousness. And the more he pretended to scholarship; the more his disabilities annoy and amply misinform other closet idiots of his ilk, who are wont to cheerlead his madness, or run the risk of running with the diet of falsehoods, which generate the kind of intellectual constipation required to smear a giant like Achebe. Suffice it to note that as there exists always an eager cast of spectators and captive audience for any dressing-up game or idiotic presentation, there is equally an appreciative audience for any doggerel performance, where an idiot chooses to show his undeodorized anus in broad public view.
We are finally called upon to battle a mad man because of the danger he poses to the unwary. His mismanagement of his diseased mind, and the toxic falsehoods generated therefrom, runs the risk of corrupting public place with the malodorous lies. The silence of men of conviction seems to have empowered the audacious impunity of Osuji's madness. The stream of outrageously nonsensical spoofs oozing from his sick head would have been taken as some soft porn for the lewd minds, who masturbate at his pseudo-intellectual obscenities, save for the fact that the unenlightened Nigerian accidents resident in his worldview, take his logical obscenities as kosher for their mental instabilities. What Ozodi Osuji lacked in taste and polish, he made up for in ignorance and envious denigration of others. That is why we have decided to give him a rejoinder.
I am not in this enterprise to defend Achebe. A legend needs no defence. He is more than able to do that for himself. A lion's aura is more than enough defence for him. (Ebube Agu na eche Agu!!!) Moreover, a critique of anyone who puts anything in the public space, including Achebe, is part of disputation, which has been of the most ancient provenance in the academia. Disputation has been an august part of the intellectual tradition since the earliest days of ancient philosophers. People, who have written "tractas", had seen others come up with "contra-tractas". This is because every thesis gives room for an antithesis in the spirit of dialectics. To that end, that Achebe generates controversies or that someone could criticize Achebe is not the point. It is a healthy way of furthering human knowledge and pushing back the frontiers of ignorance. It is in fact encouraged. In that way, Achebe and other greats of his ilk, are compelled or configured to yield the depth of their genius for our eternal edification and education. But a psychotic insult of a universal master like Achebe, in the name of critique, is a not only a crime against good sense, or a symptom of an idiotic mind, filled with no substance other than sound and fury; but a great disservice to genius and the spirit of achievement, which has forever driven human civilization. And such wooden apologetics of deranged nature should never be allowed to go unchallenged.
Osuji's critique of Achebe was a string of disjointed illogicalities scaffolded by his deep-seated Igbophobia. His critique of Achebe tells a lot about himself. This made us to run some searches on who this phantom is. And there is no better way to understand a man than from his words about himself and about issues. What we discovered about this man, was a frightening history of psychiatric illness, which has battered his mental landscape so much so as to left him a vulnerable ruin. That Mr. Ozodi Osuji is an extreme psychiatric case is not a metaphor. Read for yourself, what he wrote about himself in one moment of honest clarity. On the website http://magazine.biafranigeriaworld.com/ozodi-osuji.html; he wrote his profile. I reproduce that below. You can see Ozodi Osuji in his own words. Pay attention to the words. The fearfulness of this person's derangement becomes a worrisome reality, on encountering self descriptions like the one he made of himself as follows: Happy reading
I wanted to seem important, perfect, ideal, superior and powerful. I felt like I was not good enough and compensated with desire to be good, in fact, to be perfect.
Given my weak body and the toughness of the physical environment that I had to adapt to, I necessarily felt physically weak, and developed psychological sense of inferiority.
Later on in life, I developed an interesting lifestyle. When I did not immediately get what I wanted, I felt angry. For example, if I was kept waiting on a line before the school clerk etc got to me, I felt furious at her. To this day, I feel angry when I stand on long lines, waiting my turn to be served. For example, if a bank teller is taking a long time getting to me, I feel angry at her. Of course, I keep quiet about it and do not tell her what I feel. I know better than to tell her so.
I have been a failure in many areas of my life. I have been a failure at school, sports, interpersonal relationships, work and making money. The reason for my failure in these various arenas of life is my underlying sense of inferiority and desire to seem superior. I want to seem important and fear being unimportant.
END OF QUOTE:
One must remember for the sake of emphasis, the two characters at play here; namely, Chinualumogu Achebe, the greatest writer to come out of Africa; a social activist, and a social conscience of no mean standing. This tallest African in the house of literature needs no introduction. On the other side of the divide is Mr. Ozodi Thomas Osuji, a perennial underachiever; a non-entity; an internet apparition; and shady character masquerading under so many aliases, to ventilate his schizoid personality and its baggage of hatreds on the perceived objects of his hate. Achebe is a living legend, who left his name on the sands of time, while still alive. He is the most read author from Africa. And Osuji is a perennially angry nonentity, who purchased academic degrees that he was never worthy of, to profess the ignorance and hate that has corroded his mind all his adult life.
Ozodi Osuji happens to be one of those psychiatric wrecks armed with the diseased and fevered illusions of their pseudo-intellectual imaginations, seek to pontificate on issues that dwarf their incompetence and madness. This is a man who was introduced early to his own insignificance. And his only reaction instead of attempting to better himself, was to project the toxic wastes of his corroded psyche at others; accusing them of being guilty of his failures. He is one of those, who in long sentences of refined nonsense, celebrate their mental depravities and profess their ignorance just to attract the attention, which they have craved all their lives. His liberalism with falsehoods and suppressed facts is such a convoluted evidence of a man, whose mental hinterland rips itself asunder and digests every good sense. He exists in a universe that is an expired dream. He lives in a solipsistic universe devoid of rational meaning, and fabricates issues that are superlatively at variance with reality. His derangement has left his rationality paralysed that nothing can ever redeem or rehabilitate his battered psyche. In this man, reason and decency died never to resurrect. He is in dire need of a reality check. This is a pathologically sick man, who has developed a pathological rejection of anyone who is his intellectual or existential superior. Such people really require psychiatric help.
In addition to that Ozodi Osuji is the biggest cyber-Baby of all times. He hawks falsehoods and ignorance. And whenever challenged to substantiate his assertions runs to the classical refuge of all rumour mongers; namely argumentum ad hominem, instead of addressing the points raised by his ruthless mangling of facts. This is one symptom of his mental imbalance. He is a schizoid personality who is afraid of everything around him. He is a stereotypical portrait of a mental patient in denial. His madness, self-loathing, and supreme lack of self esteem and sense of self worth drove him into calling for a nuclear annihilation of Africans. This is because, in his estimations, Africans are inhuman. He is a failure who hates anything that reminds him of his existential self-inflicted failures. He sees Ndiigbo as his problem. He hates the fact that his colour is black. He hates the fact that he is a mentally challenged hunchback. He hates the fact that he is impotent, and a perennial failure. These postures are understandable. But to take it out on other hardworking individuals, who happen not to be you, is really a psychotic situation that urgently screams for help. Let's sidestep his toxic mental situation and look at the evidence that justifies the conclusions of our assessments of him.
2. The article under review
I will concentrate less on his person. That will be left for the individual assessment of the audience. His personality could be gleaned online in dozens of the self-adulatory and revelatory articles he has written to advertise himself and his psychiatric predicament. I will take issues with the write up under review. This is because I believe it is expedient to set forth to all and sundry the reasons by which I was convinced that Osuji's depraved assumptions and outright hawking of lies is a fiction of a man composed of wickedness, scurrility, and mean-spirited mendacity. His habitual appeal to the primordial hatreds of the unthinking Nigerian is one of the things that affront the intelligence of enlightened Nigerians. This is a sordid, slovenly way of ventilating his Igbophobia and self-hatred.
His first paragraph was brimming with the conceit and haughtiness which profound ignorance breeds. He wrote as follows:
Chinua Achebe is a literary writer, not a social scientist. Perhaps, his lack of training in the social sciences mitigates his lack of understanding that he tends to see himself as a victim, an especially immature approach to living.
This silly assertion from a man whose name amounts to nothing is really the benediction that failure pays to hyper-achievement. Osuji says one thing when he is normal and another when his madness pays him a visit. He contended in the paragraph cited above that Achebe is not a social scientist and to that effect, his views are in his crazy estimations, disqualifies him from understanding social issues; and that Achebe's lack of formal training in philosophy, psychology and the social sciences disqualifies him to enter an opinion on issues of social standing. We respond as follows: First and foremost, Osuji has a lunatic tradition of making categorical accusations without facts or evidence to back them up. Only a liar fights against facts and evidence. In actual fact, Achebe was a student of Classics. And that was a discipline that was among the cr├Ęme la cr├Ęme of the arts and humanities. Besides the unicity of knowledge, the line between the humanities and social sciences are so very thin as to be insignificant and infinitesimal. For this to escape Osuji pretensions to knowledge is really a grievous deficiency. It may be a premium symptom of his mental incompetence.
Being an artist, Achebe intimately shares in the universal heritage of the masters. And being a master of his art, he was a creator of universes. This made him a living legend, who has taken a shot at immortality. Achebe wrote himself into our choicest esteem, creating conceptual and ideological universes in the process. He fought and overthrew the entrenched prejudices of an imperialistic narrative, which sought to embezzle African reality, life, and history. He wrote himself into eternal remembrance. History and memory will forever pay him homage. Posterity will forever bow at his memory. Scholarship will forever knock at his door. He has etched and enshrined his name in consciousness. Whenever the African narrative berths at any port or enters an appearance in any arena, the name Chinua Achebe will appear forever as its proudest trail-blazer. Achebe has achieved what many Africans can only dream of. In all that, this great head has maintained him humble cool.
To that end, what applies to every creator of universes finds full expression in Achebe. Achebe does not need any formal training in philosophy to peddle his art. He did not need to go out into the world to find the world. An authority like him with an eye for the weakness and the strengths, the folly and the wisdom, the glory and the dishonour, the malice and the vicissitudes of humanity finds the world daily beating a path to his door; presenting itself in every encounter in forms not available to mere mortals. Knowing the rottenness of Nigeria his home country, he remains far too intelligent an author to despair. He saw other things in Nigeria too. In the persistence of the Nigerian poor to survive and their patient optimism; in the cheerfulness of the sick, who though dying, are courageous enough to wear a thin smile on their faces, murmuring "O ga adi mma", when asked "how are you doing", in the crave of the ordinary Nigerian for social justice; and the honest efforts of millions of ordinary Nigerians who are daily betrayed by their government. In all these faces and their various experiences, Achebe sees equally the potential nobility of human existence, and how worthwhile life in Nigeria could be if Nigerians are courageous enough to patronize justice, which would lead to the propitiation of the grave injustices like the Biafran genocide.
This is the vision of genius, not that of a victim. And for Osuji to accuse Achebe of lack of understanding, which makes him see himself as a victim; is really a no brainer. Achebe has never been anybody's victim. This was the guy who took head on, the entrenched interests of an imperial historiographic establishment, hawking prejudices as the African reality in their narrative of exploitation. He never cowered nor shirked in cowardice on the face of such an onerous task. He attacked Joseph Conrad and his heart of darkness. That was not the property of victimhood. To say that Achebe lacked understanding showed that Osuji is either a congenital idiot, or an irredeemable moron. A man who confronted the metaphysic of oppression sold the world by imperialism can never be an ignoramus. Metaphysic is a product of history and the evolution of the human story. For anyone to confront a metaphysic peddled by power, that person must have deep and entrenched knowledge of the world and how it functions. This arms him with the facility to confront the citadels that manufacture consent, and dethrone the cant they peddle in our name. A man, who had enough knowledge to confront the entrenched and establishment-supported darkness in the hearts of Joseph Conrad and his likes, can never be accused of lacking understanding of any branch of human knowledge. Achebe is a legend, not because he purchased it with sordid money, like Ozodi Osuji bought his academic degrees. He is a legend because he paid for it in the coinage of hard work. He was so intelligent as to use one stone to kill a swarm of birds. With "Things fall Apart", he deconstructed the citadel of derogatory bigotry and the racist narrative that dated back to Plato and Aristotle, reaching their inglorious apogee in Hegel, who stated that the Blackman had no soul and cannot philosophize. That is not only the work of intelligence. It is an affirmation of genius. This is why I am affronted by dim-witted fulminations of a frustrated old man that calls himself Ozodi Osuji, who as Achebe's age mate has failed woefully to achieve anything worthwhile in his life.
The question should be asked, who is the subject of the social sciences? The answer is the human person. Achebe's understanding of the human person is too deep and multi-dimensional to be captured only within the narrow limits of the social sciences. Osuji, in making this bland assertion shows himself a spoilt child, who on getting his first hammer views the whole world as nails. He feels that since he got a degree in a social science, that it qualifies him more than any other person, to render a factual and truthful opinion on an issue. This worldview is the property of eternal childhood. It is beautiful in a child, but a dangerous fixation in an adult. It is symptomatic of a life filled with un-reconciled and treatment-resistant psycho-sexual dysfunctionality. This is why Osuji needs some psychotherapy.
In his second paragraph, Osuji ignorantly submitted as follows:
Apparently, Achebe does not like other people's negative views of Igbos and tries to put a positive spin on Igbos obvious political underdevelopment; he saw virtue where others saw primitivism.
Osuji's mental deficiencies begin to shine through from this point on. One then wonders why someone would be making extraordinary efforts to celebrate his ignorant and self-loathing. It is either that the person is mentally deranged, or he has been frustrated by his history of existential failures. I think both apply to Osuji. I challenge Osuji to tell us a man worth his name, who would be celebrating the negative views of others about his own people. It is only men who had no dignity that would subscribe to that. And this is Osuji's province. He lacks integrity and he has nothing else to do other than to rail against anyone whose progress invites his disgust. Osuji is on written record as calling for the annihilation of Africans, the extermination of the Igbos. He did not stop there; he went on to celebrate the Nazi extermination of European Jews. Does this not show a man in the slavery of an obsessive paranoidal hatred of anyone whom he perceives to be better than him? Is this not symptomatic of a conceited man with very low self-esteem?
Moreso, contrary to Osuji's characteristic falsehoods, Achebe is not a guy to put a spin on anything. His name is authority enough to legitimize any action he supports. He is a universal brand of wonderful quality. The people who put a spin on things are scoundrels in Osuji's class, whose names are associated with depravity, knavery, lies, pseudo-intellectualism and rascality. Achebe is a guy who has never been afraid to say his mind. He challenges comparison with giants like him from other climes. Liliputs like Osuji cannot understand or appreciate that. Their worldviews are too myopic to appreciate the Iroko we have in Achebe.
Some dim-wits have consistently railed that we do not take on the issues raised by Osuji in many of his diatribes. They are correct. This is because Osuji raises no issues. He recycles tired falsehoods and pedestrian prejudices making rounds about the Igbos, which have been treated and laid to rest, just to play to the gallery of Igbophobes. A perfect example of this could be seen in his fourth paragraph, where he wrote as follows:
Achebe tends to minimize serious issues. Igbos did not evolve large scale political organization. Their socio-political organization begins and ends in the town. This has serious ramifications for Igbos political culture and behaviour. Igbos are socialized to see politics as that which occurs in a small town, in a family, really where every man is an active participant. Igbos do not have the political culture that sees politics as taking place in a large polity, such as is now in Nigeria. The Igbo psyche is not habituated to politics in large structures by centuries of exposure to such political superstructures. The consequences of this problem are that the Igbo do not really know how to operate in large political entities. Igbos come into the modern polity with political behaviour more appropriate for villages. Igbos political behaviour lacks the sophistication expected in large complex political entities.
We respond to this paragraph as follows.
First of all, I wonder how this man claims to be an intellectual, let alone a thinking man. One of the basic principles of logic is that every generalization is generally wrong. And this man dumps a whole range of unexamined and unqualified generalizations here and expects that we are as intellectually indolent as he is, as to swallow his illogics without question. Well, I will disappoint him. We will never swallow falsehoods, even if they are hawked by a mad man.
I wondered the conjunct between Achebe minimizing serious issues according to Osuji, and the assertion that Igbos did not evolve large scale political organizations. This ÔÇśsocial scientist' chose to embezzle facts in subservience to the lies he wanted to tell. I wonder if this is what one learns in social science! He wrote that the Igbos were not sophisticated to spawn large political organizations over and against what history and anthropological findings have shown. The Igbos had enough sophistication to be a practicing, egalitarian democracy, when others where basking in primitivity, abandoning their destinies to feudal lords and kings. When ancient Greece slumbered in primitivity, Ndiigbo had a democracy that was local and functional. The discoveries of the archaeologist Thurstan Shaw in Igboukwu, which situated a high civilization in the Igbo area very much earlier than 450BC was a perfect proof of that. Elizabeth Isichei, Parrinder and the rest of other experts in this field have lent credence to this fact. Osuji's understanding of political sophistication is the kind where perfidy and conquests are political instruments. This is a portrayal of Osuji's mental hinterland. His intellectual landscape is not really developed. For him political sophistication is the equivalent of a sheepish following of a particular idea propounded by one individual who wants to rule over the rest. Political sophistication for Osuji is the equivalent of abandoning one's brain at home to swallow the trash purveyed by others, whose interest is only the exploitation of others for their own selfish ends. Ndiigbo believe in liberty. They believed in equality of everyone. This republic race has never marched under any banners of oppression because their culture and sophistication made them impervious to dictatorship. Ask the British colonialists, the people that gave them the greatest headache in their sojourns to pacify the lower Niger?
For Osuji to sell the lie that the Igbos lacked political sophistication, he disingenuously forgot that Ndiigbo was the foremost tribe in Nigeria, which like the frontier Americans craved liberty or death. They did more than any other tribe to achieve Nigeria's independence. That explains the British hatred of this race that could not march under the banners of imperial oppression. All the major uprisings in the fight for Nigerian independence took place in Igbo heartland. Igbo women were sophisticated enough to know that you can't tax people without their representation. The 1929 Aba women riots took place in Igbo heartland to drive home this point. The 1949 shooting of coal miners was in Enugu, also in Igbo heartland. The Zikist movement equally had the impress of Igbo love of liberty and sophisticated appreciation of freedom. These were the drivers of Nigeria's drive for independence.
Furthermore, to write that the Igbo psyche is not habituated to politics in large structures is a denial of the clear fact that all politics is local. Ndiigbo ruled themselves and organized their society from since time immemorial before the White man came to our shores. This sophistication proved its mettle in the period between 1966 and 1970 under the most challenging of conditions; with a success unparalleled in the history of black Africa. As the bombs were falling, the Biafran administration was operating efficiently; delivering relief to the victims of Nigerian genocidal fury; refining petrol for domestic use, manufacturing their own weapons and other sundry services that ensure Biafran survival for three odd years. The Igbos in Osuji's estimation, were not politically sophisticated, but all Nigerians merged together could not defeat Biafra until the combined perfidy of Britain and Russia came to do it for them. The Igbos were not sophisticated but since after Biafra, Nigeria with all her sophistication and wealth underwrite that crudity cannot refine petroleum for domestic use today.
In continuation of his lying habits, Osuji scored so cheap, peddling Nzeogwu's coup as an Igbo coup. This was a conscious attempt to regurgitate the ancient propaganda produced by the British intelligence M-15 and sold to the North after the coup, in an effort to recalibrate the power equation in favour of the conservative element in Nigeria, which will give Britain unlimited access to the newly discovered southern oils fields. Whitehall knew that Ndiigbo in power would forever know what is good for Nigeria; and will defend Nigerian interests, against foreign neo-colonial thieves; and that the conservative Hausa-Fulani oligarchic elements in power, will sell Nigeria to British interests since they never wanted a Nigeria or independence. Quite contrary to Osuji's misreading of history, Nzeogwu's coup was never an Igbo attempt at empire; it was the attempt of some young, brilliant Nigerians who were forced to watch as the vision of greatness they nursed for their fatherland, was being frittered away by the first republic politicians, controlled from Whitehall through Sokoto. It is on record that most of the infantry-men, who handled guns on the night of that operation code named ÔÇśOperation Damisa', came from various Nigerian tribes. If they had not supported the coup, they could have mutinied against their commanders. But the rotten trajectory that Nigeria took immediately after independence equally angered and worried them, as to attract their support and enthusiastic participation. Osuji cleverly sidestepped the fact that there were jubilations all over Nigeria immediately after that coup. And that the idea of an Igbo coup started seeping in like a drunken gossip, very much later when two illustrious Igbo sons; namely General Aguiyi Ironsi, and Lt. Col. Chukwuemeka Odemegwu Ojukwu, rose up to crush that coup. If that was an Igbo coup, why would Igbo men be the ones to crush it? If that was an Igbo attempt at empire, why would Igbo sons stand against the imperial ambitions of their people? Osuji and his supporters may do well to give us an answer here!
For Osuji to talk about Nzeogwu's "inner political landscape" as being of the Igbo variety is to all intents and purposes a quack refuge of a lost soul. Nzeogwu was a Nigerian soldier trained in the best British military tradition, and a great Igbo son. This was a Nigerian who intelligence and greatness was so much respected that when he fell on the field of battle, those who faced him on the opposite side of the battlefield gave him the most befitting burial with full military honours. He is probably the only man in history, who exerted such awe on his friends and foes alike, as to attract such an honour from his enemies. In fact, to paraphrase Winston Churchill: never in the field of human conflict was such an honour granted a man by his enemies". Osuji's poor attempt to coax from a historical fact, some virulence to embellish his ignorance, is really appalling here. In Igbo political life, there exist no room for coups. No one can unseat his father or the elders from their places of authority. But one cannot abide anyone who bears his Ikenga lightly. Achebe painted this so well in "The Arrow of God", where a man had to kill another who threw his ÔÇśIkenga' on the floor. Ikenga is the Igbo symbol of destiny. Nzeogwu knew that these political pretenders on Nigerian power corridors were never elders. Elders are not wont to feed themselves fat at the expense of the children. The politicians never behaved like elders, who normally put their interests at bay in furtherance of the common good. They were pretenders who bore our destinies lightly. This explains why they needed to leave the scene. Like Achebe said, Nzeogwu coup is never a justification for the British orchestrated and Northern executed genocide against the Igbo race. This is a crime which has absolutely nothing to do with politics. It is a cosmic crime! And for Osuji to downplay that is a testament that we have a closet murderer in our hands here.
Osuji's logic shows his lack of intellectual depth and ratiocinative discipline. He cuts and pastes disjointed words that bore meanings quite foreign to the issues on discourse that anyone, who like him happens to be a poor student of history, will go home impressed with his advertisement of capital ignorance. For instance, he wrote as follows in his 8th paragraph:
What did Ndiigbo expect when they killed the Prime minister of Nigeria, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the Premier of Northern Nigeria, Ahmadu Bello and the Premier of Western Nigeria, Samuel Akintola and did not kill a single Igbo leader, such as Nnamdi Azikiwe and Michael Okpara? As in George Bush's invasion of Iraq, did Igbos expect to be welcomed as liberators? Of course they were perceived as enemies, hence Igbos were killed in a countercoup of August 1966.
Here, I will go to the logics. Just take a good look at that excerpt. You will notice a chain of corrugated thinking and illogics. The first issue to be tackled is: Did Igbos kill those listed? We answer follows: Kaduna Nzeogwu, an Igbo, was a leader of a coup, which had some other Nigerians in the plot. Does that mean that Igbos conspired to kill these guys? No is the answer. Did the Igbos ever conduct a referendum on whether to kill the guys listed above? No! Did they through their elected representatives decide to kill the guys listed above as Osuji tends to suggest? No. There was never such a thing. The coup was a military affair, which wanted to take over power. Ndiigbo never killed anybody. They never marched with an army into the north proclaiming "mission accomplished", like George Bush did in Iraq. So the comparison is tasteless, wicked and of mean-spirited mendacity. The last line of this paragraph was a capital lie. This inheres in the fact that the sentence tried to link the perception of Igbos as enemies in Nigeria to the failed Nzeogwu's coup.
The killing of Igbos in the North of Nigeria started as early as 1945. It was not an event, which was the resultant effect of the 1966 coup. No, it has been a process that has been going on since 1945 till today, reaching its apogee in 1966, which left Ndiigbo no other option than to head home to the land of their fathers, since their lives were no longer guaranteed by the Nigerian state. Furthermore, if the counter-coupists wanted revenge: why did they not kill Igbo leaders, like they said that their own leaders were killed? To show that the North's genocide was a calculated attempt to deal a crushing blow on the Igbo, facts are there that the British intelligence and Northern leaders both civil and military held series of meetings on how to massacre Ndiigbo and then secede out of Nigeria. ARABA was their watchword. But British talked them out of it due to their greed for the southern oil fields. And to show that there was never an Igbo conspiracy to take over Nigeria, Ironsi spent his time in office trying to further the dreams of one Nigeria, by placating the North whom he believed where unfairly targeted by the coupists of January 15th, 1966. But on the other side of the divide, Bala Usman and Hassan Katsina, Murtala Muhammed, Theophilus Danjuma and Yakubu Gowon were all privy to a meeting where it was decided that Igbos would be massacred. But what they never foresaw or included in the equation was the courage and intelligence of a Chukwuemeka Odemegwu Ojukwu. The rest is history!
For Osuji to assert that Achebe was minimizing the action of Nzeogwu and his fellow Igbos is a calculated falsehood designed to achieved his love of perfidy. To underscore that, he traded on insults to score cheap points. But this happens to be the lowest moment of his vile presentation. This conceit reached its apogee in the 12th paragraph of his long, insipid piece. He wrote out his idiocy as follows:
I understand that Achebe is a simple story teller, his novels are secondary school variety and lack what for lack of a better phrase can be called philosophical and psychological thinking. Achebe writes for teenagers but not for adults. His reasoning tends not to be analytic; his writing is what one would expect from a secondary school graduate but not from a sophisticated thinker who understands the nature of man and the ways of the world. Achebe tends to appeal to his readers emotions not to their reason. (Par. 12)
I respond as follows: Achebe is a simple story teller because he is among the greatest minds ever to come out of Africa. Simplicity has been the property of genius since time began. It is fools who love complicating matters where a simple story could deliver the intended impact more efficiently. Achebe is a functional and efficient genius. That is the beauty in him and his works. Simplicity is a metaphysical attribute that geniuses share only with divinity itself. If he is to tell his stories in complex images, nobody will understand him. Jesus the Christ who laid claims to divinity was equally a simple story teller. He taught deep lesson in parables. Achebe himself delivered age long wisdom and truths using the medium of simple stories. Fools think that by complicating matters, it shows their brilliance. But the fact remains that the most brilliant things in life have been simple. And that young children and babes could understand Achebe is a testament to his genius. This shows a deeper understanding of human nature more than the entire heritage of Osuji's fooleries could ever understand. Some of the greatest philosophers of all times like Socrates are all story tellers. Achebe in a series of strokes consistently proved himself, and gained admittance into the company of world's most revered writers. He won our hearts as the most enduringly readable and lovable literary genius ever to come out of Africa. That Osuji fails to understand this is thanks to his ignorance and pettiness. Well, I don't blame him. I blame ignorance.
For Osuji to accuse Achebe of arrested development because Achebe stood by the truth of his convictions is to my mind the height of stupidity. I have resisted identifying Osuji as a castrated idiot. But his submissions make that choice a herculean task. For Osuji to utter that word shows that he is beyond all redemption. From his assertions, it so very clear that he has never read Achebe. (See Line 1 of the above cited paragraph 12 of his article). Achebe is the most widely read African on the face of the earth. And that this idiot has not read him shows his arrested development. Every kid from Lagos to Cape Town, from San-Francisco to Seoul has read Achebe. But Osuji has not. And yet, he sees himself fit to pass judgement on genius. I think that is the furniture of madness.
To show you that Osuji is a man with a legion of demons fighting a war in his head, one simply needs to juxtapose the citation above with what Osuji's said about Achebe on another occasion. Read him yourself:
1. I used to wonder why Chinua Achebe wrote a book whose chief character exhibited primitive, and in street language, crazy qualities? I wished that he had made his chief character a civilized and sane person! It took me the longest time to RECOGNIZE that Achebe is A GREAT ARTIST, as such, is beholden to the truth, only the truth and may God help him. He did not write his book to please his readers, to present a character that would universally be appreciated as a decent human being but was, apparently, motivated to portray a real Igbo character.
2. It has taken me many years to understand the difference between a great artist like Chinua Achebe and ordinary folks like me. Artists capture the human condition in a few words, perhaps, without even consciously knowing how they did it. Achebe wrote "Things Fall Apart" when he was still in his twenties. It took me many more years than twenty eight to understand what the man was trying to tell us. And I suspect that many folks out there have not understood what the man is telling us.
(See Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Revisiting Chinua Achebe's Okonkwo Character. http://bnwblog.com/archive/reference_librarian/2006/08/01/revisiting_chinua_achebes_okonkwo_character.php#more)
In the citations above here he recognizes and bows before Achebe's genius. And in the one we are reviewing as his bout of madness was visiting him, he accused Achebe of arrested development. What accounts for this Hyde and Jekyll posture? What does this polarized contradiction say of the character of this man? He is in the clasp of schizophrenic amnesia. He speaks from different sides of the mouth. This is a tragic character flaw and a dangerous endowment for someone who claims to be an intellectual. Osuji is a walking embarrassment. I am afraid to connect to intellectualism after encountering the formidable ignorance of people like this man. ┬┤
I wish to go no further to analyse the pieces of disjointed nonsense he wrote about Achebe. His madness has been exposed. Going further to flog him would be like killing a fly with a sledge hammer. I do not hate this man. I pity his family and all those who are forced by acquaintance to tolerate his despicable presence. For fools like Osuji to shoot irrelevant darts at Achebe and his greatness is to be expected. But such fools must always be made to find their place. Water will always find its level. As Achebe soars like an eagle that he is, Osuji eats himself up in envious hatred.