A new magazine, which will address the tribal challenges and issues of Igbos of Nigeria, hit the newsstands in Nigeria last week. Branded Igbo Life, it is the magazine of the Igbos, by the Igbos, and for Igbos. It has been long overdue for a race of people that are so educated and articulate, found all over Nigeria and millions in the Diaspora, to have a magazine that solely addresses their interest. Yet they do not have a mass circulating regular publication that unveils who they are, how they live and work, their culture and tradition, their people and places, their successes and failures and their contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria. This is what this magazine has set out to do with courage and honesty.
The starting point is: Who are the Igbos. A historian describes the Igbos as a Negro race that belongs to the Kwa linguistic group of English speaking West Africa. The have the rare gift of an unusual supply of commercial business sense which they use to excel in business. They can improvise, can turn anything…be it land or space, consumer items or ideas… into big business. They are very tolerant and democratic and have an unromantic approach to life.
Despite their spread all over Nigeria and beyond, they have not forgotten their roots. But they are fast losing their cultural heritage. Among the 3 main tribes of Nigeria, Igbos have played (and are still playing) leading roles in different sectors of the Nigerian economy. They are excelling in business, commerce and industry, sports, entertainment, transport, etc. They are as educated as they are entrepreneurial. They are born entrepreneurs, importers and traders. They largely control trading, the distributive trade, and luxurious bus transport business in Nigeria.
The Igbos are very cosmopolitan, and widely dwell in different parts of Nigeria. They are like Jews. You can find them in large numbers in virtually every city, town and markets in Nigeria. They are the most diversified tribe in terms of living in different parts of the country, speaking the languages of other tribes, learning their culture, and even dressing like them.
But behind these seeming façade of successes and diverse nature, they have chronic problems too. Top on the bill are negative the perception by other tribes, the bad condition of roads in their land, dilution of their culture and tradition especially among the youths, many of whom cannot even speak the language. And these have largely remained because these is no exclusive medium that tells their story, and tell it well in positive light even if reporting the good, the bad, and the ugly about them.
And so this tribe remains largely mis-understand by other tribes who know little about Igbo culture and tradition and way of life. They believe that Igbos love money so much that they can do anything to get it. Their dream to produce a Nigerian president remains unfulfilled. The scar of the 1966-1970 civil war is still evident in many of their communities. The network of roads in their homeland remains in disrepair and Igbos still complain of being marginalized in the Nigerian political space.
There are other challenges. The Igbo culture is being heavily eroded by Western and other influences; the young generation, those born in the last 30 years can hardly speak the Igbo language; school enrolment for boys are decreasing, and that of girls increasing; the young ones hardly know culture and they do not care; kidnapping and 419 (scam) has become their trademark; the cost of marriage and burial rites remain comparatively high , keeping thousands of their single girls unmarried, and their unbridled of love of money has assumed embarrassing proportions. The belief of other tribes in Nigeria is that, “Give Igbo man money; he can do anything for you.” These and more are some of the many factors blurring the identity of the Igbo race.
In the midst of it all, there is no single publication in the Nigerian market that tells exclusive stories about Igbo interest. That is why Igbo Life has come on board to fill this gap. This magazine will speak with a distinct, unique, audible and recognizable voice. It will build bridges and enduring relationships with other tribes. It will uphold the ethics of objective journalism. Its reportage will be fair, just and bold.
Igbo Life will report with objectivity and candour. It will be authoritative so that it can command attention, respect, patronage, and loyalty. It will not discriminate against other tribes or race. It will discuss every facet of Igbo Life, from culture, to business, people and places, how they marry and bury the dead; how they fight over land matters and more. It shall tell the truth no matter whose ox is gored. This magazine is not out to promote tribalism in the sense that most Nigerians understand it. It will promote the interests of a tribal market which Ndigbo constitute.
Eric Okeke is a storyteller, editor, business writer, motivational speaker and author of the best selling book: I Want a Husband. He is one of Nigeria’s most experienced financial journalists. He has published several articles in local and foreign publications and in websites such as http://www.ezinearticles.com, www.ezinearticles.com and www.writingcareer.com. He is currently running Infomedia Company, a media consulting and information marketing company. Visit his blog at http://sallywantsahusband.blogspot.com