The case of Idoma: An unfortunate fate

By Olohy Ejembi

I have not read to know the actual reason(s) that made our ancestors to leave Northeast to the present land, but, considering the incessant crisis in that part of the country, I do believe that their gods were with them in making that decision. More important was where they finally settled down with their children; the present Idoma land, in my opinion, is very good and strategic geopolitically considering the composition of the country. Our ancestors unknowingly chose to settle down in an area where their children were supposed to dominate as the ultimate people.

The Idoma land covers an area in the Nigerian geography that ought to form, together with other neighbouring lands, a state to balance up the Southeast geopolitical zone. Idoma would not have been a marginalized minority, if the denied state was created. In that state we would have been an unmatchable forces in politics and decision making. As our brothers, the Iyalas, are in South-south, the Idoma land is supposed to be a state to balance the number of states in Southeast considering its location, not supposed to be in the obnoxiously formed North Central. The number one Idoma’s misfortune.

Another case is the language. Idoma as a language is linguistically elaborate; it has well defined syntax, morphology and phonology, despite the fact that it’s not yet codified. It’s semantically rich and expressive. According to a professor of linguistic stylistics, the Idoma language is the most romantic language. Notwithstanding, this naturally endowed language is heading towards extinction with many other minority languages – another bad fate. It may disappear before next millennium. This threat comes from the attitude of the Idoma people towards the language. Idoma people are among the people that are less proud of their native language; some of them are even ashamed of speaking the language.

Idoma has more than any language the children and youths born outside their native lands that cannot speak their native languages. The most annoying are children of parents that do not know how communicate in any languages than Idoma – that is, parents who cannot construct good pidgin not to talk of good English, yet their children cannot speak the only language they have. I come from a large extended family where my generation (35-40 age bracket) is the first to acquire education in its real sense. However, the number of children and youths that cannot speak Idoma language in my family is alarming, therefore asymmetrical to our parents who had poor background in the use of other languages. There was a day, knowing that an uncle of mine could not communicate well in any languages but Idoma, I asked him to tell me the language he used to communicate in with his children that they could not speak Idoma well. This actually pervades all Idoma families living outside their home land, and it is already found down home.

The aforementioned problem is part of the fact that our people do not seem to know or understand what gives meaning to or decrepits a people as a nation. They fail to realize that life is logarithmic, and that people must follow certain algorithms to get it right. I have said in a previous write up that we, the Idioms, are unbridledly perfidious towards our heritage – we show no regard for our own. As a result of this attitude we are the only people in this country without a kingdom.

In all histories, kingdoms only thrive in places where the people are good courtiers. The people, both great and low, place their paramount rulers next after their gods. In Nigeria here people treat their rulers in the same manner; whether trustworthy or not, they place their rulers above themselves, other people and other rulers elsewhere. They hold them high with great reverence in an obsequious manner, irrespective of the person wearing the crown. Their great regard for their crowns makes things propitious in their lands.

The Idoma crown, however, has been repudiated by its people, therefore relegated to a vicious background. It has been advertently made the least respected crown among its equals. Our negligence, pomposity, impetuosity and cultural infidelity have reduced the status of Idoma paramount ruler below the status of most wardheads in other parts of Nigeria, as a result the Idoma people lack an audacious sovereign representative in this country. Our notority towards the Oche’Idoma council is the greatest oddity that impugn our unity. To be successful as a people, and to build a powerful kingdom, the people must form a cult-like phalanx around their ruler, and draw great politicians and Generals from far and near to come beg for his blessings and to be given chieftaincy titles.

This infamy permeates the Idoma polity, thereby subverting its political iridescence. Susceptible to insolence and eccentricity, every Idoma man craze to be a lord over his brothers, therefore doesn’t want to hear that someone else is his leader, talk more of serving her/him. This attitude amplifies a vicious, unbridled hatred that brews from envy, and it traverses all our communities; and Edumoga where I come from is the hub of it – the reason the Ede of Edumoga is less recognized than his contemporaries in Okpoga and Ichama. This attitude is an offspring of an egocentricity which makes people not wanting to see a richer or more powerful sister/brother. This nature enthralls the hearts of many people so much that, in many Idoma communities, the lives of those who make fortunes are always crippled by their own people.

A friend of mine once told me a story that in a community meeting an issue which seemed a labyrinth ensued. All the so called great men tried to unriddle the enigma, but their contributions were imprudent, hence paltry. Finally a man stood up to speak, but was met with cynical eyes. He ignored the eyes and went on to make a veracious contribution which bore the answer that the people were scratching and drilling for. However, another man stood up and said to his face that what he said was the right thing, but he was not a personality that they would take any decisive comments from. This is exactly the way a typical Idoma man feels about his brothers.

Another painful trouble with Idoma is the near lack of institutions of higher education in the land to quell the frustrations our teeming youths face every year for either denial of admission or offering of admission to study non-befitting courses. That there are no Universities in Idoma land is a grievous negligence. As hubris, the Idoma people are lovers of education and are one of the most educated people in Nigeria. However, in spite of our quest for knowledge, and apart from the Benue Polytechnic in Ugbokolo, our land is bereft of institutions of higher education, thereby turning our youths into malicious victims in the places they jostle to acquire education.

Somewhat, Idoma as a nation is unfortunate: its land is geopolitically misplaced; its people are capricious; its language is denigrated by its people; its kingdom is repudiated and relegated; its society is without activities to promote oneness and allay the frustrations of the people; its culture and traditions are rejected; and institutions of higher education are lacking. Nearly everything that makes nations great and powerful is alien to Idoma land.

How do we succeed in achieving a common goal if we don’t solve all these problems?


About author


A prolific writer of about two decades standing experience
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