Igbos: Wealth gotten by force goes by force

Fri, Nov 10, 2023
By editor


By Prof Nkechinyere Nwokoye

ASUSU Igbo Ga-Adịrịrị’ is an annual program organized by Prof Kenneth Dike Library, Awka, to promote Igbo language that is being threatened by extinction. The paper focuses on the import of acquiring wealth through hard work. It discourages the quest to get rich quick among Igbo youths which has pushed many into various evil practices to acquire wealth just to show that “they have arrived”. It further highlights intelligence, physical strength and good health, among others as things that need to be cherished by Igbos, not just wealth in terms of money, cars and landed property.

Igbo people are known for their ability to hustle. They are very hardworking. It is their belief that no living and hardworking person should die of hunger. He who does not work, should not eat. That’s why Igbo people struggle a lot; entering everywhere, up the hill and down (North and South) to get wealth.

Our people, the question i would want everyone here today to answer is “do people chase wealth in order to catch it; do they gather wealth; or do they find wealth? Any answer you give is good because you don’t acquire wealth through one means. You may be able to grab it. You may gather it. You may also nurture it. These are various ways Igbo people acquire their wealth.

Wealth refers to whatever one owns with which he lives and takes care of his life. He can do this through hard work in handicrafts (skills), trading and white collar job. In the olden days, it’s one’s wealth like yam barn, cocoyam barn, big farmland, marrying many wives and having many children, having many domestic animals, etc that show how wealthy one is. But now, it is how much money one has, number of vehicles he has and number of buildings he has in different places. Number of people under his employ and numerous servants, etc show how wealthy he is.

Wealth is what is owned. Some are gained through inheritance like land, while some are acquired through personal efforts like money, vehicles, etc. Some are also gotten through various handicrafts (skills) or through white collar jobs, etc. Wealth is not only the things listed here but encompasses things like intelligence and physical strength. Wealth relates to things both seen and unseen like beauty, physical strength, intelligence, health. Wealth is what one acquires through personal efforts like domestic animals (goats, chicken, cattle and sheep), land, house, vehicle, economic trees (palm tree, pear, raffia palm, mango, orange, iroko, coconut), farm produce, etc. These are good means of obtaining wealth.

An Igbo proverb says, ” if the hand stays idle, hunger will kill the mouth”; if the lazy covers himself with a mat, hunger will uncover it(him); because the soiled hand brings oily mouth”.

Our topic today is saying that wealth gotten by force goes by force. What are we talking about here? What this means is that whenever man, a creature leaves the good means of acquiring things beneficial to him in this world to follow the evil way, that person will retire to bed before the fowl. That person will use basket to fetch water. An Igbo adage says, “he who gathers ant-infested firewood invites the lizard’s company”. Grabbing to fill up the bag is caused by greed (fọmfọju akpa bụ anyaukwu bu ya). It’s not good for one to choose weakness over hard work. One choosing stealing, making charms and various ways of obtaining wealth by force (money ritual, duping, land grabbing, terminating ones creditor to take over his wealth, stealing, kidnapping, etc) depict one as living beyond his means.

Wealth acquired through bloodshed will never be useful to one, rather, it will attract various problems like sudden death, curse, bad life, sickness, fire incidents in houses/shops, road accidents and other misfortunes.

I won’t fail to suggest to youths and some elders to be patient in life, be hardworking, truthful, respectful, humble, down-to-earth, contented, avoid anything evil and take life as you see it and do the best you can because  everything, including wealth will pass away. We will leave them one day and go back to where we came into this earth. Never try to do things others are doing when you haven’t reached the stage (no unhealthy competition. Be yourself, you are a unique individual). A lot of people who chased wealth with force are not alive today to tell their stories. Igbos should remove the hand of the monkey from the soup before it turns to human hand. Let us understand that one by one fills the house. Starting life from a good way attracts unlimited progress to one. Youths in a hurry should be careful because that which is sweet kills. Riding expensive cars are good but a youth who ties wrapper before his time will be swept away by the wind. Bear in mind that the leg that goes zam zam is seen by the eyes that goes wam wam. One day is for the thief, another day is for the owner of the house. One day, the snake and what it swallowed will be stuck. He who desires big thing will definitely wear the cow’s jaw. Death and punishment is the reward for he who acquires wealth through evil means.

Igbo that gave birth to me, my Igbo brothers and sisters, let’s eschew all evil means of acquiring wealth like stealing, killing, money ritual, making charms, prostitution, selling of human beings, kidnapping and forceful grabbing of people’s things, etc.

***Being a paper presented by Prof Nkechinyere Nwokoye of the Department of Igbo, Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), Awka, at the Prof Kenneth Dike Library, Awka, on November 8, 2023, during a ceremony to mark this year’s ‘Asụsụ Igbo Ga-Adịrịrị’. 

_Translation was by Rose Oranye of the Ministry of Information, AnambraState


-November 10, 2023 @ 16:35 GMT |