According to a popular saying, he who do not know history is bound to repeat it. An Igbo proverb tells us that a man who does not know where the rain began to beat him cannot say where he dried his body. Most Nigerians (read as ‘most Africans’) have an unholy romance with intentional ignorance, acute amnesia and a chronic distaste for history.

This aches my heart, but what aches me the most is that same ignorant people will either fence you off or fight you if you dare reveal to them what they do not know but aught to know.

Nigerians do know there was a Nigeria-Bịafran war, but they do not know about it enough to know that the war was actually the world’s second worst genocide.

On the part of the government, there’s so much intent to cover it up, a deliberate politics to keep history far away from the people.

On the other side of the coin– the people– they tend to ignore, or overlook, or drag to the guillotine whoever dares to open history books and read out loud the ugly contents therein.

Ethnic group A will say “It’s not my business. Why should I bother?”

Ethnic group B will play down the severity of it: “This is just another mole hill to mountain scenario. It’s not as ugly as they paint it.”

Ethnic group C will blame the victim and constantly remind them of ridiculous reasons why they must shut up and stay down if they don’t want a repeat of history.

“The Igbo culture says no condition is permanent. There is constant change in the world.”

― Chinua Achebe, There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra

The circle goes on and on until history repeats itself, dispensing the ugly contents of books they refused to read, evenly amongst all who ignored, overlooked, silenced and blamed the victim. Not forgetting to unleash similar or worse mayhem on the offsprings of the predator, who danced and clapped while the prey sought for refuge, and half bread for a community of starving children, and a drop of water to quench thirst.

Because Nigeria and Nigerians chose to slam shut the doors that lead to a gallery of our ugly memories and learn from the past, there was Odi, Afara and the dancing pythons, Lekki massacre, Obigbo massacre, Ọlụ airstrikes, and many more to come if…

An Igbo proverb tells us that a man who does not know where the rain began to beat him cannot say where he dried his body. If you read to this point and still don’t know what you should do right, then your case is as hopeless as the future of Nigeria. Did that hurt? You’re welcome, patriot.

30, a collection of poems by Jaachi Anyatonwu
Jaachị Anyatọnwụ
Jaachị Anyatọnwụ is a poet, editor, and publisher living in the suburbs of Aba. He is the author of numerous poetry chapbooks and collections, and the Editor-In-Chief of Poemify Publishers Inc. Jaachị is passionate about discovering new voices and mentoring emerging poets. He is also a fierce advocate for the boy child and sexually molested.

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