THE IGBO WERE IJAW SLAVES - ASARI DOKUBO
One thing I find very difficult doing is to write of speak something I know could be proved against me. My fear for doing so is that when the true story is unveiled, I would worth nothing to my long enjoyed audience. I cannot claim that my noble community founded by the legend Onoja Oboni is older than Eha-Amufu or Umuhualu, when I know that my community derived her name from her peaceful passage through Eha-Amufu; and also that the traditional saying which places Umuhualu above my community is said even hitherto. But in doing this I would possibly achieve one thing. I would by that trigger sumptuous research and uncontrollable writing trying to confute what I have said. By this I successfully draw people to a retrace of history, even spontaneously. That was what Asari’s video of last month has succeeded in doing to me.
The Igbo and Ijaw are two distinct people whose relationship may not be vividly explained without stretching two parallel lines apart. And remarkable enough, there had never been any intertribal war contained in history between the two for one to win and in turn enslave the other. This was the crux of my confusion. As a student of comparative history specializing in matters of African prehistory I still find it difficult to fathom the concealed meaning in the saying,
“Who no know, no know; Igbo and Ijaw nobi mate. Abi you no know history? Let me tell you, if you don’t that the relationship between Igbo and Ijaw was a master-servant relationship; and we bi the master while Igbo was our servant…”
For a man I respected for his accuracy of data during the one week open hearing of the matter between him, Ateke and Rotmi Amechi to speak this way, it is apparent that the removal of history in Nigerian schools is simply to clear ground for a man to openly insult his grandfather or his ancestor. If I may ask, who is older than who; the Igbo or Ijaw? Throughout history records of antiquity I have not seen the war fought by the Ijaw apart from the Niger Delta militant escapism. Ijaw history claimed that Prince Ujo, under the heavy injunction of the father, came to the coastal corner of the Niger Delta to conquer and he eventually met the Oru. Yet Ijaw writers still claim they are autochthonous in the area. Does one become autochthonous in the place already inhabited by another? From all indications, it is clear that Ijaw does not know her history. Let me explain why.
(1) All the Ijaw historians claimed they had travelled through Egypt, descended partly from Oduduwa and Edo from where Ijaw had travelled to the Niger Delta. How would anyone feel after reading “The Peopling of Ancient Egypt”, published in General History of Africa Studies and Documents 1, by Jean Vercoutter to hear that no people in west Africa originated from Egypt. Or to read the Egyptian Bookof the Dead to understand that Horus and Osiri are traced to Nsukka.
(2) If the Igbo was Ijaw’s servants probably after travelling from Odudwa or Benin, what would the reaction look like after one reads Euba, Titi’s Ifa Literary Corpus as Source-Book of Yoruba History in Alagoa(edt), 1990; Osare Omoreghe’s Great Benin I & II and see that the Yoruba father was Igbo, and that the Benin owed royalty to Nri. In fact, Major G.A. Leonard in the Lower Niger and her Neighbour made it clear that as at the late 19th and early 20th century, that Obalike was Eze Nri and crowned the kings of Benin and presided over all the religious observation of surrounding peoples.
History shows that the Jukun came from Ethiopia; the Takes (the oldest tribe in Congo) and the Limbas (the oldest tribe in Sierra Leone) were all Bantu who had travelled from the Central African plane. How did Ijaw migrate from Egypt without any trace of it in the Egyptian record. Lastly, who knows the language the Oru spoke in the days the Ijaw encountered them? Major G.A. Leonard who wrote in 1906 remarks as follow:
Comparing the language as it is spoken in all of these different localities, the dialectical variations are not very marked, the purest dialect being spoken, as already pointed out, in Isuania and neighbourhood, while the most pronounced difference is to be found between the Niger dialect, especially that which is spoken right on the river or on its western bank, and that of the more eastern sections, which lie nearer to the Cross river and in proximity to the Ibibio. It has been suggested by missionaries and travellers that the languages spoken by the Ibibio, Efik, Andoni, and others have all been derived from Ibo at some ancient period; also that there is a distinct dialectical affinity between the Ijo dialects of Oru, Brass, Ibani, and New Calabar, and the Isuama dialect of Ibo. Indeed, Dr. Baikie, in his Narrative of a Voyage on the Niger, expresses the opinion that all the coast dialects from ' Oru ' to ' Old Calabar ' are either directly or indirectly connected with ' Igbo ' (p. 43).
Now, with all these details and the ones not sampled here, is Kalabari fit enough to make the Igbo subservient, I think not. I challenge Asari Dokubo to read history books and disprove the content of this paper and tell us when, how and who was involved. The evil of slave trade should not be generalised to connote the Igbo. The Igbo had not been servants to any tribe. There was no such anytime.