EXAMINING THE POLITICS OF IDENTITY FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF ANYIAM-OSIGWE’S GROUP MIND PRINCIPLE
Part 1 of a 6-part scholarly examination by Tetsekela Michelle Anyiam-Osigwe of the Igbo condition in Nigeria from the perspective of her grandfather’s (Sage Philosopher Chief Emmanuel Onyechere Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe) Group Mind Principle.
“The Group Mind is essentially the collective will of a group of people. It is the force that propels their collective vision towards realisation.”
– Michael Anyiam-Osigwe
Among other things, the Nigerian news-cycle today focuses on the renewed Biafran movement: the ongoing struggle of Igbos (many, not all) to detach themselves from the rest of the country. Whilst the views of proponents and opponents continue to prevail, I think a deeper understanding of the “Igbo condition” must be put into perspective.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that there is a hierarchy of identity. At a nation-state level, we might perhaps identify ourselves first as Igbos, before we become Nigerians. To this effect, we prioritise our indigeneship over our citizenship. This already poses as a significant problem. Our loyalty lies with our ethnic attachments rather than a necessary sense of patriotism or nationalism.
At this point, you are likely to tell me that the main problem, however, also lies in the lack of inclusivity. As an Igbo indigene, I choose consciously not to be ignorant of the lack of inclusivity of our group, especially within the national government.
However, as a Nigerian, I should find myself conforming to the dictates of the power players in the political arena. I should see public officials as simply “Nigerian” office holders, despite the fact that the party-political electoral process has been consistent in marginalising certain tribes, particularly and surprisingly Igbos (surprising given that we are the third largest ethnic group in the country), from reaching the highest level of public office. There is already evidence of ethnic and regional cleansing from many administrations since the end of the Nigerian civil war– whether it is deliberate or inadvertent is where the question lies. It is easy to surmise that we have an ethnically fragmented national psyche.
The intricacies of the Nigerian nation (not country), is complex; the concerns over its stability given the present socio-political environment is even more worrying.
Regardless, I am still hopeful that the Nigerian psyche would be elevated beyond tribal and ethnic tensions, and in doing so, overcome the limitations of post-amalgamation. This optimism is however premised on my hope that other tribes will try not to succumb to fanning the embers of ethnic rivalry, and justify arguments of pro-Biafra agitators with “Igbophobia” tendencies.
Our country is simply more than a geographical expression. We are a nation. That means inclusivity. Until we realise this, there will always continue to be an identity crisis of our Nigerian Personality. Where this becomes increasingly salient and not just something we privately or passively acknowledge, the attainment of any level of unity within the country remains simply wishful thinking.
Tetsekela Michelle Anyiam-Osigwe a writer and social commentator wrote in from London